Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Commonwealth Games 2010

Indian government set itself a very high goal of getting the 2010 common wealth games in India. At the time it was said that necessary efforts would be made to ensure that the games would go smoothly. While a lot of effort has been put into placing proper infrastructure in the place including construction of places where the sports would actually be played, hotels etc for all the visitors to stay at and other such physical work; there is still a lot of ground to be covered before actually relaxing with regards to quality and quantity of the work. Admittedly Delhi has benefitted a lot from the commonwealth preparation with many flyovers and others such infrastructure developments taking place. Even DMRC is expediting their work to complete a major portion of the Delhi metro before the games. The entire NCR has been set on a beautification drive including renovation of the Victorian heritage, revamping business areas like Connaught Place etc, paving roads, street lightings, flyovers, underpasses and what not. But are these efforts enough? Will the work be done by the time games start? Repeatedly, Sheila Dixit and Suresh Kalmadi keep on assuring people that the work will be completed on time, but did they ever stop and think as to why people are needing a reassurance from them? Nobody asks DMRC about assurances.

Even amidst all the work, I feel that several softer aspects have been forgotten, or at least been put on the back burner. I have listed some of the issues that come to my mind: 

Teaching Delhi manners – With nearly six months to go before the games start in the capital of the country, I don’t see enough effort on the part of the government to inculcate a sense of Mannerisms to dilliwallahs. And I am not even talking about “Atithi Devo Bhav” or being proud about the games being held in India and all. I am talking about people learning basic manners like driving in lanes, not spitting beetle juice, not peeing in the open, charging proper fare for the ride etc. To my mind, six months is not enough time to teach something of this magnitude to so many people especially when the habits have been developed over such a long period. After all, a flyover with people peeing on the footpaths and no space to drive would be same as a pot-hole ridden drive for all it matters. 

Making Delhi safe for women – This topic has been molested so often in the media and yet the government chooses to turn blind eye towards the case. If India as to host any kind of foreign games, awareness has to be generated among the people as to the behaviour expected of them. Is it so difficult for people to look at a firang and not leer at her? I am sure that most of the people are not animals... Hence these urges can be suppressed, cant they? If the people can not get acclimitised to Indian women roaming in the streets, how will they take to the durations of foreigner women on the streets? Or perhaps the foreigner women would be better off not coming to the country at all. 

Making Delhi foreigner friendly – You see a (white?) foreigner in the middle of the street and it more than likely that you will also notice at least a dozen people gawking at them as if they are some alien life forms who have just materialised out of previously unknown dimension, creating a rift in the time-space continuum. These poor entities are then bound to be over charged and gawked upon at every nook and corner. No to mention the judgemental stares and the numerous comments in Hindi that they will have to suffer through. Imagine what impression would they then carry home. And then people grumble after looking at “Slumdog Millionaire”. 

Disaster management – when would the proper disaster management plans be made for the games? How would so many people be managed? What about policing? How would the government ensure that all the people do not fall prey to some bombing by terrorists? What would they do if the people do fall victim to it? What about the hospitalizations and development of other such medical facilities? When would all this be communicated to the country and more importantly what about the dry runs for the same?

Of course at the end of this all, an important questions that I keep on asking myself is that was it really worth all the tax payers money to host these games at this point, especially since India is comparatively lacking in resources for it daily operations. Was it worth spending crores of rupees in these games and the beautification drive of a single city especially when the money could have been put to better use by providing employment opportunities to the millions suffering from hunger each day?

PS: All this rambling because driving that I am close to 50 kilometers a day, I find the overall quality of road, driving etc not very well developed (still!) despite the fact that we are only about six months away from the commonwealth games.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Farewell Kolkata - Part 2

A brief about some of the friends that I was with at CIL. It was a unique experience being with all of them and we shared a lot of memories amongst us. Ones that will surely last a lifetime.

Jaggu: Let him be the way he is… If you disturb him you will be greeted with a baleful stare. He is odd but in a good way. He is one person that will do weird things, or not do sensible things, just because his mood dictated him that way. He is also a terrific cook. He makes food for the most of us over there and boy was it tasty or what. He used to make lot of PJs but now, apparently, he has given them up (Raaaaaiiiiiight!). Check some out here. (I know right isn’t spelt like that but I wanted to make it sound really long)

Sachit: At more than six foot, and a burly physique supporting it, this giant of a guy could not be in more contrast to his true nature. He is a real soft spoken person and likes to watch TV series… A whole lot of them. Every week. But he is one person that you know that you can depend upon. I am sure that he will do wonders in the world of I-banking once he gets there.

KK: If I have to picture him, I will picture him as wearing a half sleeve T-shit, faded blue jeans, S**** in the left hand and mobile in the right (Talking to a particular female... same always). As a friend of mine said, KK has only ON and OFF stage. This person doesn’t have any intermediate stages. He will either sit (or rather talk on his phone while smoking) or just blow his top off. And that has nothing to do with the significance of the issue at hand.

Raja: A white Sardarji who is known for wearing Sunglasses all time long (atleast when he is not in his room). He has some particular habits like having some “calls” at odd hours and at strange frequency, or like his sleeping habits (I have only heard of it) but none of which I would get into now. He always has a smile on his face and he is always looking for an opportunity to what’s called in hindi as “kisski maarna”.

Gopesh: “Yaar roti kyyon nahin mangwayi?” would probably be the first thing that he would say at a dinner. He is a fanatic about proper food and having rotis with his food. He is a good person, albeit with a strange sense of humour which may not be digestible to all. And heaven forbid if you are stuck with the diabolical combination of Jaggu and Gopesh.

Priyanka: I think the smallest in the entire gang of MTs, don’t let her size fool you. She is sharp as a thorn (oops!). She is a good company to be with, fun and really smart. But one thing that you remember the most about her is her smile and her unique way of saying Bye. And she is a reasonably well cook as well (No offence Jaggu.. You are the best)

Ritu: She cooks really different kinds of foods but that’s not to say that it is not good. In fact, it is amongst the more tasty ones that I have had. But she is very unique in the way that despite the fact that she had a paternal aunt in the city, she decided to go solo and fend for herself by staying in the guesthouse. And with her mellifluous tones, she makes sure that you can’t ignore her as you feel she is all around you. But she has an amazing patience with kids running all around her room and even making an effort to teach them a thing or two.

Aniruddha: God forbid if you dare to surf net when it is his chance to. Be prepared to be faced with a sulky Pal. An avid gamer by nature, he loves playing DOTA, Warcraft and what all. And he actually loves to play all these games. I mean REALLY LOVES. At all times. Even between breaks from his extensive SUTTA and Phone routine as well. And he gains an otherworldly joy when he defeats the CPU in any game. Since he was with my field training, I spent an extensive time with him. One instance I remember is when one of officers staying with us at the MCL guest house said to me “Please tell that guy with you… you know the one that is on phone at all times, to smoke less”. And that was whne we were almost next door neighbours for more than a month and a half. One thing that is very particular about Pal is that he doesn’t like to eat Roti… Either Poori Sabji or a non veg item or South Indian. Period. Don’t ask me why.

Sarita: “Ungli Neeche”. She is very particular about these things. But I must admit she is one hell of a person. Very hard working by nature; I have seen her read through reports so thick none of us would have ever dared to even open them. Even some of the senior officers were exceptionally impressed by the thoroughness of this gal and the due diligence with which she is known to read through the report. Though, in their group (you know which one I am talking about), she is notorious for not keeping back the laptop at the designated place.

Sorry that I can’t write about Pooja, Vineet, Gaurav and Shivaji because I couldn’t have a lot of interactions with them and so couldn’t catch a lot of their traits… Except one thing for Vineet.. That guy loves his bed (Wherever or whichever floor that may be :D)… There was a phase when we would see him in bed when we leave for office and then see him in bed when we come back from office (Still talking about the same day)

PS: If you notice that in this and the previous post, food was mentioned at a lot of places and you felt it out of place… Well food was an important part as being in Kolkata is not easy for Northies especially if one is Vegetarian.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Farewell Kolkata - Part 1

Friday, 12th March, 2010
3:45 PM

I finally left the Kolkata office Coal India for the last time. I really do hope that I don’t have to return to it again... At least not for paper chase. But I would certainly not mind making a trip to meet several of the friends that I made over there.
As I left the office, I was accompanied by Prakash Sir, Rahul, Sachit and KK. Must say that I was truly touched by the gesture because these people took out an hour of their time to drop me to a cab and bid me a farewell… Touching indeed.

A few of the friends that I would like to make special mention of…………………..

Rahul: His name springs first in my mind because he was the closest that we had in our age group in the company. He was an excellent friend and always there for us. We had oodles of good memories, good food (cooked in his kitchen) and lot of good ole bhasad. After all “Bahut Mazze Liye hain humne”.

Prakash sir and family: Theirs was immediately next door family to my apartment in the company allocated accommodation. Their young son and daughter and all the family noises helped me get comfortably settled in the new and never before explored “environment”. They were always there to help us out and of-course sometimes (okay a lot of times) with freshly prepared home cooked delicious food that would sustain you for days altogether. But all said and done, I couldn’t be more thankful of the homelike feeling that they developed on our floor.

Reddi Sir: He may appear to be strict but let me tell you… It’s all a fa├žade. This person really is a very good natured at heart. You ask him something and the first thing that he will do is scare you or question your question your question or something like that before he gives his advice. But truly speaking his advice is amongst the best that you can get.
Vijay Sagar Sir: With more than 6 feet to his stature, and a crop of dashingly white hair; you might think that the guy must some kind of actor or something. Well, partly true as he is in the crop communications and public relations department so that a bit of acting and the stage persona involved there. But that apart, this guy is one hell of a knowledgeable person. Truly intellectual, he can talk on any subject with amazing fluency that you would think that he must have prepared for it before hand.

A special mention to Warriar madam: Thank you very much for those very very tasty Idli, Sambhar and Chutney. Can’t forget it… EVER.

This is but a fraction of the people that I met their and frankly I was surprised how wrong first impressions can turn out to be. When we think of PSUs, we think of old archaic people who do not want to change, still working in the old manners and probably still speaking Victorian English. But I couldn’t be more wrong. True that still a lot of the oldies do actually work in the closed, insulated environment and don’t want to change. But that changing and fast… not as fast that I would have preferred but steadily indeed and I expect that in the next decade or so, the reforms would really take place fully

PS: I am not mentioning other Management Trainees like me because they are all my friends and of-course we were all bonded by the common “sufferings”. :D Though something on them in the next post.

PPS: If you have noticed that there is a lack of mention of Female colleague, it is simply because there is a dearth of them at CIL. OF course MTs don’t count as they have a separate post for them.
PPPS: Everyone mentioned above, other than Rahul, have crossed their 40s.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Holi - Festival of Colors!

At the best of the times, I am not interested in playing with colors. Least of all at Holi. I somehow, feel that this is all a childish kind of a thing and that we should grow out of it.

This was the reason that this year, I did not participate in the Holi celebrations in our Company Society. Some of my friends did venture out amidst "Abir" and "Gulal" and lots and lots of "Pukka Rang" (admittedly they bought it themselves). And I thought that I was free, yet again, from all the colors and hours of bathing and scrubbing to rinse out the color. Little did i know that the fate was ROFLing at me at that instant.

A quick knock on the door and suddenly i am drenched in something of a blue-green colour. The effect was such that it made me look like something out of the movie "Avatar". The only think that I think was missing was some kind of Glitter to get me that native Pandora-ish of a look.

Post this, it took me an hour's wash to get the worst out of my hair (Literally!) and even after two days of normal bath after that (including trying F, soapm Shampoo, Rin, Vim etc to get the colors out of hands etc); I still look like some person green with envy (Believe me... I am not envious... Green though I am)