Saturday, March 21, 2015

Whose Culture is it Anyway!

How can one describe the culture in a big and diverse nation like India? Today we have grown to understand our unity in diversity while the astounding truth is that we have united without any fragment losing its individuality. Our culture is our way of life and we have learnt countless way to live, woven by a single thread which is the pride of being Indian.  The fabric of India cannot be described any better than the words of Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore—
“Hethay arjo hetha anarjo hethay drabir chin
Shak hoon dal pathan mogol ek dehe holo leen
Paschime aji khuliyache dar setha hote sobe ani uphar
Dibe aur nibe milabe milibe, jabena fire
Eai bharater mahamanaber sagar tire”
I will not go in to the length of translating the texts but in gist our place is the confluence of all culture. Aryans, non Aryans, Dravidian, Chinese, Shaks, Huns, Mughols to name a few have all contributed in developing our culture, our belief, our tradition, our values, our way of life and above all our guiding light. But this also sets the norms that form the basis of our social rules and govern our countless societies.
In an ideal world, where everyone abides by their selfless moral conscience, there would not be any need for social laws. But unfortunately the real world is far from being ideal and today’s world is place best described as a place where dog eat dog. Here the survival is not for the fittest but snatched by someone who is cunning, opportunist and powerful. The civic society has surrendered itself to the community leaders and their henchmen for self-protection and willingly or unwillingly has handed over the sceptre of freedom and right of self determination into another set of people who are also strong, cunning and equally opportunist.
Our culture which belongs to each of us is now shackled by the skewed interpretation of old traditions and we are too weak or preoccupied to challenge it. We feel insecure and dare not be the rebel and at the same time, the very thought of putting our loved ones in the harm’s way make us shudder even in our deep sleep. Today we are caught between the devil and the deep sea and not knowing whom to embrace or abandon. We dream of a saviour, for a messiah to arrive.

But soon a day will arrive when we will take control of our own destiny and bring an end to the way people dominate each other. There is strength in the mass and nobody should underestimate the power of the common man.

Friday, March 20, 2015

What's in a Surname

This is the 100th post of my blog and dedicated to the Indian Woman.

Why should Indian woman change their surname after marriage? They are one of the most educated people in this universe and stand shoulder to shoulder with the men folk. Their contribution in our society is immeasurable and so is their dominance. Most of us were taught in our school and colleges by women and we still fondly remember them with respect and sometime with fear.  In brief they are smart, capable, respected and in charge. So changing their surname is their decision similar to visual symbols of marriage, like saree, mang, bindi, mangal sutra and the likes which some might consider as adornment.
But like a celebrity once said, India is so vast and so diverse that whatever we say about India is true but incidentally the opposite is also true. So on one side there is equal opportunity for all and all genders or more appropriately equality exist among equals and on the other side a vast majority of our women are shackled by injustice, primitive mindset and cruel male ego.
While there is no need for a surname to provide an identity for a self respecting independent individual male or female, there is a need for a family name for the weak and dependent. Every child needs one during the growing years and so does some women by necessity or by choice which could be love, prestige, privilege or anything in-between.

A man too does not need to carry the surname, family name or fathers name along with their own but most of the time they chooses to do just that...

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Construction Man

This post is designed to make the ace construction manager look like a super hero, a character that is larger than life and well deservedly so. Getting skyscrapers, high risers of even a 30 storied building for that matter is not a child’s play. Anyone who had tried playing with block during childhood will know what I mean. If you are still not convinced, try your hand making a sand castle on your next trip to the beach.

The construction industry is very diverse and could easily challenge the nature with its variety.  One has to be brave, assertive and at the same time demonstrate agility in approach to survive in this industry. Unlike the designers, who are primarily dreamers, the construction teams deal with harsh reality and transforms ideas into built forms. There is no gate pass to the top for the timid or the weak. But that for the top, not all who fall on the line are smart, most of them are as clumsy as they come.

A complex construction project has the prime contractor and the lead consultants the construction managers of the PM-CM firm who represent the project. The leaders of each of these three are the lead characters of the construction project and can make a difference between success and failure. They are the boss-man and more often than none demand the top dollar. They are the Construction Man (agers).

But to be there one has to prove his mettle and that it is not easy to navigate through the crowd of alpha males without stomping others foot or stabbing in the back. It requires solid foundation built upon technical as well as managerial strengths. The multitude of the qualities necessary will give any superstar from a Bollywood or Hollywood movie a run for the money. Nevertheless, I will list those below anyway:

·        Core knowledge competencies in either civil, Structure or MEP
·        Knowledge of building materials and construction methods
·        Knowledge of contract and specifications
·        Effective communication and presentation skills
·        Team building and resolving conflicts
·        Capable of estimating and cost accounting of the project
·        Knowledge of Value Engineering
·        Project controls and schedule development and analytical know-how
·        Familiar with business law and Labour laws
·        Construction claims and Negotiating skills
·        Awareness of integrating building systems including Fire and life safety systems

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The power of Woman

This Post has Won "WOW Badge" from Blogadda

I believe that our society is still matriarch in its structure. There is at least one woman who motivate, inspire of dictate us at various point in life. In the chronological sequence we get introduced to them within the family. We see the dominance of Grandmother give way to our mother followed by sisters, wife and finally our daughters.  
Even today how many men leaving aside the rogue ones, the ones defined by the dictionary meaning of a dishonest, knavish person; scoundrel can dare to disobey their mother. This love and respect for mother has been glorified in our movies in all Indian languages. There are instances, not very old when the mother had intervened and brought some kind of resolution when the two famous Mumbai bothers fought for the family billions. This power of the mother probably has inspired our ancestors to perceive women as the Goddess and place them on the high alter. 
But once outside the family limit, the male of the species seems to be a different animal. They seem to classify the rest as other women and other's women look at them differently. We are extremely worried about our society particularly the way it treats our women and the concerns are reinforced every morning once we get over the newspaper. When it comes to the other women and other's women, they end up being simply object de desire and even the age cease to be a factor.

This is not only in India but a global phenomenon. A quick look at the statistics extracted from paints a gory picture. 
A new case is reported every 20 or 22 minutes and in 2012, the conviction rate for rape was 24.2%. “Adjusted for population growth over time, the annual rape rate in India has increased from 1.9 to 2.0 per 100,000 people over 2008-2012 period. This compares to a reported rape rate of 1.2 per 100,000 in Japan, 3.6 per 100,000 in Morocco, 4.6 rapes per 100,000 in Bahrain, 12.3 per 100,000 in Mexico, 24.1 per 100,000 in United Kingdom, 28.6 per 100,000 in United States, 66.5 per 100,000 in Sweden, and world's highest rate of 114.9 rapes per 100,000 in South Africa.”

While there is no comfort in the fact that other nations are worse than ours, there is one thing that we need to do. We need to start to bring a change at this very moment and this change has to start from individual homes. We cannot expect to see the changes next morning but without doubt we will leave a safer and better world for the future generations to come. We do not have to treat the women as Goddess but fellow human beings with the equal right to live and let live.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Stress Deducted at Source

We all are running the rat race having plunged ourselves into this knowingly or unknowingly.  At times we get the urge to excel more, while for some it’s a matter of sheer sustenance. No matter who pushed us in, this generates a lot of stress. This stress is a stealthy killer. There could be uncountable sources of stress but it all end up by us committing ourselves to unrealistic schedules or imposed with unachievable targets that we accept. This weighs down on our shoulder and makes our life miserable and deprives us of the finer things in life. We are not able to sleep like babies any longer.

The management gurus will tell us that at its core lies “Time Management”. Our ability to manage our time is the key to lead a stress free in our day to day life under normal circumstances.  Time, interestingly is a great leveller. Rich & poor, weak & powerful, the oppressed & the oppressors, all have the same number of hours in a day as they have the same number of days in a week.

The following are some of the tips that will go a long way to help us in managing our time and achieve “Stress Deducted at Source” status.

Organize works at the beginning of the day.
Prioritize the works based on urgency and difficulty levels.
Say No to task that you cannot complete.
Concentrate on the task at hand and do not get distracted.
Use waiting time that we spend being restless. It would be while we travel or stuck in the traffic. It could be waiting for a doctor’s appointment or any other engagement.
Keep the tough one for the prime time as everyone has a part of the day when they are most efficient. Someone is a morning person and some are night, while others are in between. Leave the tough ones for time when you are most efficient
Reserve your personal time as we take all the trouble of work only to be able to take care of self and family. There need to be a time for enjoyment and retrospection.
Celebrate success. This is the most important of all. Any achievement no matter how big or small it might be is a success to celebrate. This is a treat that we deserve.

But we are aware of these and conveniently seek solace in Shakespeare’s quote from The Merchant of Venice. “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men’s cottages princes' palaces.”
So we also have to have ways of getting stress out of our system and everyone have their own methods. I have a few favourites too.

  1. The first one is to shrug it off the shoulder. It involves physically shaking it off by shrugging both the shoulders together.
  2. The second one is to scream alone and vent it out. The best place for such an act is inside the car with windows drawn up.
  3. The third one is to listen to soothing music.
  4. The fourth one is to have a bath with warm water.
  5. The last and best one is to give a warm hug to my child. That simply transport me to another world.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Revive the Tradition

The last festive season, we embarked on a mission inspired by a lady in a far away country. It was beginning of December of 2014 and the time when most of the places in the world are in a festive mood, some more than others. We were on a train and we saw a lady, from a couple of generation before us, having a glass of wine and writing the Xmas and New Year cards.
I thought why not try revive the old traditions of sending cards for the festive seasons to some of our friends and relatives. That way we will give a chance for the postman to shake their legs a bit. . Cards and letter are fast getting extinct and by now and I do not see anyone campaigning to save the post box.  My last “partner in post” has also given up about two years back and got baptised to the internet. When I started to receive response to my letters through emails, I did not know how to react. It took the experience out of getting informed though I got the response almost instantly. I had no idea if I wanted to get a response so instantly but in the process brought the whole communication business to a standstill.
So we bought some art papers and started to create our cards right from the scratch and managing the envelope was as difficult a challenge as the card itself. Trust me it is not as easy as you would imagine when you start something that you have not done for such a long period of time. It reminded me of Shakespeare’s quote from The Merchant of Venice.....
“If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men’s cottages princes' palaces. “
But there was no going back and I took out my old address book form an old trunk (the one made of real paper) and drew up a list of friends and relatives with still valid addresses. The list was as follows:

Kolkata -              8
Mumbai -             2
Pune -                   2
Delhi –                 2
Bahrain -              2
Bangalore –         1
Agartala -            1
Doha -                 1
Al Khobar -         1
Muscat -              1
London -             1

Finally it was time to go to the post office and buy the stamps, stick them to the envelope and drop those in the mail box. Even though it cost a small fortune, it was worth it as my daughter got the first taste of writing and posting a real letter. This was our contribution in reviving the tradition and also give “Stamp collection” another chance.

However, 4 months later there seems to be still 6 cards undelivered. It appears that it will take more effort to remove the rust out of the postal system. Come December, we shall have another attempt.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Vocabulary & Whit Reading

The other day I came across a promotional bus, while driving down the road. But I managed to take a picture with my phone camera taking advantage of the traffic congestion. I am of the habit of clicking an odd photographs while waiting at the signals if something fancies my taste.
But this time, I was not sure if this sentence reads correct. It would have been quite normal, had they written " Paint your life with reading". But they chose not to and I am sure that they did it in purpose. Interestingly the sentence makes perfect meaning when we break it.

Paint your life
Whit Reading

In other words paint your life with a little bit of reading. It did send me out reading, even if that was a dictionary!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Can Money Buy Spring

Bengal is the land of 6 seasons unlike other parts of the world with only four. Spring is the last season in the Bengali calendar and the most pleasant time of the year when the winter is on the way out while summer is yet to set in. Be it east or west, spring has inspired the poets generations after generations and they have generously adored it with prose and poems.
Festivals bring people together and the more inclusive a festival is the more popular it is. There is no better time to celebrate than when the climate is good or rather the spring is in the year. Holi, the festival of colors beats all other hands down in its variety, rendering and inclusiveness. It is simply breathtaking and comparable only to the festival of lights.
But this nice weather that we love so much is also conducive to the growth of micro organisms and spread of diseases. In the earlier days these colors were made out of various natural elements were believed to have properties that enhance our immunity system. What better ways to could you imagine immunizing the entire community? But it was then. Now everything has changed in our personal, communal and social life. The number of bad and not so good people are growing fast and taking over and spoiling the celebrations.

But our winter is devoid of ice and things are different for those who wait for the ice to melt and bring some reprieve. They wait for the foliage to return to the trees, they wait for the flowers to bloom, they wait for the cherry to blossom, and they wait for the sign of life and the sign of youth...... they wait for the spring.

Money can change our life in lot of ways. HVAC system for example has detached us from the nature. We do not wait for the spring so eagerly any more. We have pleasant and controlled climate at home, at work, in our cars or wherever we are. We have the fruits of all seasons all around the year. But what does the youth of yesterdays do? The spring of the life has visited quite a few years back and there are no signs of its return. They try to justify the situation with statements like “life begins after forty”.  Is there a way they can get back the spring? Can money buy spring for them.....

Friday, March 6, 2015

That White Elephant

                                          Photo courtesy: AFP

These days one is seldom adequately shielded from news intrusion into the daily life. First it comes through the phone, which is smarter than its user and quite efficiently manages all the apps and news sites. If you ignore those during the day, these are repeated on the Ipad alibi their secret relation over the cloud relation. The next front off course the good old idiot box for those who have access to its remote control. Till recently the confusion for me was to determine who was the idiot in this relationship of beauty and the beholder. With the advent of the smart TV, I have somewhat reached a resolution with a great deal of reluctance. And if you managed to escape all of these, the morning newspaper compensate for the great loss.
Earlier in the week I was made aware that a white elephant has been found in Myanmar. I thought what’s new in that? Most of us have grown up knowing the metaphorical meaning of this word. A white elephant, is not a possession and is usually out of proportion to its usefulness. Most of the times, its owner can neither maintain it nor dispose it off and eventually goes down with it. There are plenty of White elephants all around the world and abundant in the private sector and public sectors of our beloved “land of joy” which used to be filled with milk and honey. At least that is how the famous poets, writers and littérateurs have presented it to us. Once in a while, we find a few of those  in our personal sector too ...  like I have this blog.
This term, I am told, have its origin in the story of the monarchs of Siam. They used to give away one of these animals as a gift to the overzealous courtiers in order to ruin the recipient with the cost of its maintenance.
But this news actually referred to an elephant which is white in colour. Something akin to the mythological creature Airavata, the white elephant that carries the king of Hindu gods called Indra. An animal that befits the king of the king, the lord of the lords. The urge to know a bit more about this animal sent me scrambling for the internet. It was to seek the assistance of Mr Google to be more precise and ended up being a little enlightened, acquiring some fascinating details about white elephants. My special thanks goes to Wiki ( and AP (The Associated Press).  
Unlike the mythological Airavata, mortal white elephants are rather pinkish in colour with fair eyelashes and toe nails. They are actually albinos. They have been revered for centuries in Siam and Burma, the present day Thailand and Myanmar. They were traditionally the royal pets and usually very well pampered since they symbolised power and prosperity. According to history Siam and Burma had fought a war in the 16th century over the possession of 4 white elephants.

This one is a 7-year old female and was captured on 27 February 2015 in a forest of the western Ayeyarwaddy region of Myanmar. This is the ninth such elephant in captivity in Myanmar, while the other are housed in various zoos and parks. Those who are interested in meeting a white elephant now know where to go...

Most importantly they are many times luckier that the Albino boys of Tanzania who are regularly snatched from their family and sacrificed  for black magic.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Live & Let Live

A famous tomb stone screams out to all willing to listen, that he was neither born nor died but visited the planet earth from one date to the other. This, if at all anything, spells out one fundamental truth about our existence. We are mere visitors to this planet and there are only few circumstances that we controlDespite our presumed progress in science, we are not sure where we came from and where we are going and if there is a life after death or the reason behind this illusion, we call our mortal existence.
However, while we stay here, we try to believe that we are permanent and should have everything that we set our eyes upon. We have to control the lives and wish of every living creatures around us including the fellow human beings and other beautiful body & souls’. We wish to dictate what they ought to do and what not to do, what to wear and what not to wear, where to go and where not to go, whom to befriend and whom not to  and the list doesn't stop here. We also want to have everything that is nice and good for ourselves, be it food, wealth, land, forests, water or any other resources. We want it all and we want it for ourselves or for our tribes and we want our tribe to "live long and prosper" and it is true for all living creatures too. This excessive craving for power and lust compounded with uncontrolled greed makes our as well as others live miserable.

My wish is to do away with all these in my new world. Leaving that aside, there is nothing wrong in this mortal world full of unpredictability and surprises. Yes there is nothing wrong with our earth along with its celestial system. I therefore wish not to change any of those.

I would only make a minimal reprogramming of the genes that dictates these characteristics of the living visitors to this planet. This is to ensure that our needs never exceed our requirements or vice versa. We are not driven by greed, our ego doesn't threaten the peace of others and we do not kill each other. Most importantly we have a world devoid of any “arms race”, neither literally nor metaphorically and not even genetically.

Imagine there’s no weapons… imagine there’s no greed… imagine there’s no ego…
Imagine all the beings, living life in peace …Uh ho!. This would be the song of life in my "Remade World" when sung in Lennon's tune.