Friday, December 12, 2008

Aspirations of a worker ant

Our regular lunch meeting today had an interesting twist. Lemme share what happened.

As we looked outside the window, we noticed workers hoisting large machinery atop the skyscraper coming up next door. The equipment looked uncannily like a giant's shoe, and then, next thing we know, the conversation had moved from giants to little people to life cycles of insects like ants. How long do ants live? Why do they work so hard all year round, if they know they are not gonna live to see the next winter? Do they even know? Do they even consider all this as they toil? Someone said, they are wired to perform whatever role they have in the nest--all instinct, not much thoughts put in there. Very true.

But what if? It would be interesting, if at all, consciousness became a part of worker ant's life, and it suddenly realized that it's working away without putting self-interests into the picture. What then, would the ant want to do? Would it ever aspire to be queen? Would it instead want to be a warrior ant or a drone? Would it spread its thoughts to its fellow workers, much like an enlightened guru or leader do? Would we see revolutions to bring about social change in the ant world? Would the queen ant ever agree to abdicate, or would it heave a sigh of relief at having been decommissioned from bearing armies of offspring? How about the drones? Would they still want to lead the elite life, of being fed and tended to, or would they want to do something more meaningful, like talking about the futility and banality of the bourgeois life? Would they want to be commissioned into the army as a warrior ant or become a worker?

Read all about an ant's life here...meanwhile, for those of you who like to fantasize, you can watch Antz!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Jack of all trades in a box--my journey

The title is a play on "jack of all trades" and "jack in a box"...Do I see potential in the term "thinking out of the box?" Anyway, here is a capsule of my journey. From being a student of Physics to a student of Linguistics. Not very conventional, but not too unexpected either...From being an aspiring university lecturer to becoming a corporate training specialist...some overlap of functions there. And then with more changes in life, getting exposed to business, psychology, conflict management, and other previously uncharted territory like TRIZ and ASIT and Six Thinking Hats!!! Also, what about having to possibly becoming, as my colleague Ajit says, a chartered accountant, a market analyst, and a God-knows-what!!?
That makes me a sorta jack of all trades (all would be a hyperbole of sorts, but...what the ****?) and I also feel like a jack-in-the-box as I see myself springing surprises at myself (how redundant that sounds!!!). Imagine having to think out of the box just to find yourself in a totally new box don't wanna end up like a round peg in a square hole.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Living or Being Your True Self

This one is inspired by a comment on my first post.

One of my friends said, “At last, you are living your own true self.” That set off a chain of thoughts in my mind. What does it really mean to live or be your true self? Who knows your self better—you or people who surround you? Do we always live our true self? I reckon, the answers to these questions are deeply linked to the concept of identity. I am who I think I am and also am the sum total of my beliefs, my worldview, my likes and dislikes. It’s about labels that society gives an individual—about norms and deviants. It’s about whether I choose to fit the norm or stay deviant, and the degree to which I choose to apply these to my life.

Who am I?

I am a person. I like to believe only that matters. However, the world we live in operates on the basis of labels. Should it matter? In an ideal world, nothing matters—all adjectives that talk of differences like race, ethnicity, religion, gender are meaningless because only one word matters—humanity. But we do not live in an ideal world. And therefore, we are surrounded by label like the hip and happening, the worldly wise, the na├»ve, the rich, the poor, superior and inferior…Has anything changed? Humans, in the times of crises, have risen beyond labels to stand united as one. But after the crisis passes, the labels surface again…maybe it’s in the nature of things to be this way. But I digress.

Coming back to the question of being your own true self, I think it starts from identifying and knowing yourself. What do you like? What do you enjoy doing? Has that been submerged somewhere along the way as you face life’s journey? Have you compromised on your beliefs to make others happy, and did that satisfy you? As life itself is the journey to seek your self, did you find it unnerving? Did you face your fears as you embraced your likes? What did you choose? When you chose what it did, did you unintentionally or intentionally hurt others? What did you do after that—made amends or let things be? Did you ask yourself all the uncomfortable questions that point that you weren’t human all the time? What is more important—to fight for your beliefs that would hurt others or to concede because you care more for them than your beliefs?

About me…I know I have shades of gray in my personality. My journey is in trying to identify with the light, after facing my fears. I live for myself, but I also live for my family, my near and dear ones. I know all of us have our demons to face, we all are different. And I respect those differences and try and understand where the other person comes from. Empathy or sympathy doesn’t come easy to me, but I recognize that fact, and try to overcome it. I listen. And I try to understand. I wouldn’t hurt others because I don’t like being hurt myself. I wouldn’t pinch the chubby cheeks of a child because I remember, as a child, I used to hate it so. That’s not about empathy to me, but that’s about respect. I respect the fact that a child is a human like me. My true self is all that I want to be and all that I can be; all I feel and all I enact; all my potential and all that shows at present; it is what I choose to show and what I choose to let remain…

Only I know what it means to be or to live my true self.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Looking Sleepy Dude!

Monday mornings and that's the first thing I hear as I walk in to my team bay area. Reach the cafeteria, and more on the same lines follow...Turns out this is becoming a refrain every working day of the week! "Looking sleepy!" "Hello, are you sleepwalking?" "Did you sleep in the cab?" followed by "...Your eyes look half-closed!"

Why should it matter???

Maybe it's supposed to be a north Indian greeting on the lines of "My, you look tired today!" People don't realize it's as rude as telling someone they are looking fat!

Last time I heard "Looking sleepy!" I retorted, "My! And you look astonished!" Laughter.
I said, "I think it's racist to tell a person of Asian stock that they look sleepy just because they have smaller eyes. How would you like it if I told you that you look astonished all the time because your eyes are so big/wide?" That person got the point.

1 down. How many more to go?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Grammar agony

How do you like "everybody have done this" ?
@@?? Everybody have??!!***??

And how do you like, "I complete an year at my workplace today" or "My daughter is an year old"? An year??? Looks like someone mistook year for ear...hilarious! Next time don't be surprised if someone says "my an-year-old daughter has a ear-ache"!!!

Monday, September 8, 2008


Copped NS's idea of creating a mosaic...

1. let the pilgrims and indians live together in peace and harmony, 2. Feeling spicy..., 3. bless, 4. Like the Sphinx, 5. i can taste summer! a.k.a. childhood summer! a.k.a. childhood reminiscence! a.k.a. those were the good times!, 6. The Trifid Nebula, 7. just pretty, 8. Meeting the pregnant princess of the forest, 9. Meitei Traditional Dress


This picture is from Ningngol Chakkouba last year: sometime in November it was. The festival itself is a lot like Bhai Dooj celebrated in north India. In the Manipuri version, married daughters are invited for a grand luncheon and showered with gifts. Post lunch, they bask in the afternoon sun, have paan, and catch up with their moms and aunts. Children have a gala time of course...

I miss the days I used to go to my Grandmother's place with Mama. Now that I am no longer a kid, I don't feel like tagging along when she visits her maternal home and I would really prefer to stay at home to meet my paternal aunts and cousins. Still, those were the days...Papa would drop us brothers and sisters there on his green scooter. It was a Lamby (or Lambretta) and really huge and noisy...I being the eldest used to ride pillion while my brother would stand in front. We'd take a lot of fruit and snacks with us for our Grandmother...except that she'd usually distribute them among all her grandchildren rather than having them herself. We'd get to meet and play with our cousins whom we don't meet otherwise, so it used to be a lot of fun. Post lunch, when they distributed gifts to Mama and her sisters, all of us cousins too would get a "dokhina" of INR 10.00 (a lot of money to a 5 year old in the 80s) from all the uncles. The fact that my mom had a lot of male cousins ensured that we at least got INR 30.00 each. And then we'd splurge on Parle Poppins candy...and greeting cards for Christmas...what fun. Sigh. Life was so simple then....

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Surviving a Long Commute

A long commute, as you may have heard a lot of times, is a pain. On an average, I spend 2 hours daily commuting to work and back. I stay in Delhi; my office is in Gurgaon--in the neighboring state of Haryana . Compared to my colleagues who come from places like Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, I must say my commute is better (I spend only 2/3 hours on the road), but of course, the ideal thing to have done would have been to stay in Gurgaon, but that's not an option I like. So how do I survive the commute? Here's how:
  • Since I don't drive, I can afford to nap while the driver does his job. I sometimes nap on the way to work, and it never fails to give me an extra zap of energy.
  • I listen to the radio. FM radio is so very entertaining. I ignore the highly repetitive songs that are aired, but thoroughly enjoy laughing at the RJ's wisecracks.
  • I use the commute time to catch up with family and friends. Thank God for the cell phone!
  • I take a book or a magazine along and use the time to catch up with my reading. This is sometimes quite a strain to my eyes, so I limit this as far as possible.
  • What I NEVER do while commuting: working on my laptop. A strict no-no as it's stressful to my eyes.
What else can possibly help survive a commute that long?

These are stuff I read about or have thought about doing, but haven't really started:
  • Taking pictures
  • Trying to see patterns in vehicle number plates; things like the total, or quirky looking numbers
  • Trying to remember the various makes of cars that zip past
  • Trying to solve the Rubik's cube puzzle
  • Buying flowers from the vendor at the traffic signal
If you have recommendations, do drop in a comment.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hail the Snail!

This week's secret: I simply adore snails. Not all of them, mind you, but to be precise, freshwater snails. Not as pets in my aquarium (I have one back in Imphal). You guessed right (or didn't?) I adore them on my dinner plate! That's right dearies! Did I hear a yechhh! and a yuuckkk!? Lemme tell you, before you curl up your nose in disgust, that the French consider snails to be one of the ultimate delicacies. They have them cooked with a variety of condiments, picked out of their shells with a special fork...but I like snails cooked the Meitei way--stir fried in their shells with potatoes, seasoned with herbs and red chili peppers--chewy and yet succulent. Yummm. The other recipe is equally tantalizing: herbs, chili, onions, garlic, potatoes and peas all cooked with the snails in their shells to a gravy like consistency...Another yummm. Pick out the snail, scoop up some gravy, and suck out the flesh...quite a task, but entirely worth the effort.

The recipe is of course a secret known only to Meitei moms. Not a mom yet, though I am a Meitei, so I cannot tell you yet! But if you are lucky enough to be visiting Imphal, do visit the local rice hotel and ask for tharoi thongba. Who knows, even if you have been to Paris and tasted escargot, you might want tharoi more!

...Hail the snail
Without fail...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

On Boredom 2: Secrets to Snapping Out of the 'Talle' Moment

Yeah...Talle...but it's better not to be, as any of you will attest. I have tried on occasion and succeeded (yippee!!) at beating boredom. To be honest, I have to keep up with the momentum by distracting myself from time to time. But yes, it works.

Here are some secrets (or non-secrets) to snapping out of the talle moment:
  1. Make sure that your brain isn't idle when you are free. This is an old one, but the adage, 'an idle mind is the devil's workshop' is indeed true. What this means is that you need to have a hobby, or many hobbies--something you are really passionate about--so that you aren't bored when you have free time.
  2. If you find that you become restless very soon while doing, make a list of the steps involved in the tasks at hand. Then look for the obvious ways to sort the problem out. Most likely, if the solution is an obvious one, it can bore you. The trick is in making it challenging by approaching it from a different angle. Think out of the box.
  3. Meet friends and see if they need help with something. This will not only make you feel good about yourself but also give you a chance to catch up. Of course, the bonding comes as a bonus.
  4. Learn something new--a foreign language, sign language, knitting, origami, whatever! The sky is the limit!
  5. Volunteer for social work: you could spare some time to mentor neighbors' kids, your nephew or cousins, or you could spend some time at an old age home. It's very rewarding.
  6. If you like animals, offer to look after your friends' pets.
  7. Surf the net, try out Google's free products.
  8. Build your aunt a website or blog.
  9. Paint/doodle.
  10. Tell someone a story. That someone could be you. Or listen (I mean really listen) to someone's story. It could be inspiring and it will make the other person feel good too.
  11. Learn math. Maybe teach math.
  12. Use the time to sort out your finances and keep track of your investments.
If all these fail, and you are still bored, take a walk. It doesn't matter where. But do stop to smell the flowers and enjoy the sights and smells around you.

Happy snapping out of the talle moment! If you have more to add to this list, do write in.

On Boredom

"Talle"-- that's the word a Meitei would use to say they were bored. It can mean I feel lazy, I don't wanna do it, I am bored, or it can even refer to the state of inertia. Nice... one word for all these states of being...not too different from one another, but that subtle difference is captured in just one word. Is it economy or being lexically-challenged? Who knows? Who cares?

All I wanna say is, "Talle."

Friday, July 11, 2008

Secrets be damned!!! Gonna spill them here!

I have a secret...that's gonna be out now...I love cheese and crackers, fruit, and nuts...and the diet bar too...certainly.