Sunday, July 15, 2018

Why Jagir Kaur and SGPC should not create trouble

I've learnt one thing from Islam. That it is not the violence of a few that kills a religion. It is the silence of the majority.

And I don't want to let that happen to Sikhism. I do not want to be the majority that stayed silent because 'it wasn't such a big issue.' It is.

So here goes:

1. Guru Nanak said "Ek Onkar" - There is only one God. There is no difference among his people so long as they are all devotees who do good deeds (Kirat Karo) and Recite his name(Naam Japo), preferably as a group united in devotion (Sangat). From the first Guru to the Tenth, the MOST IMPORTANT tenet of the religion has been to get over our caste identity, our superstition and belief in ritual over devotion.

So, if you are a person who uses his caste name in spite of the surname given by Guruji - Singh and Kaur, then you have failed a very basic teaching of the Gurus. You can either be Singh or Bedi. You can't be both.

2. You belong to  a religion which does not even allow different names for boys and girls. Which allowed a woman to reach the highest administrative role in the religion - heading SGPC. A religion that simply requires a member of the family to read from the prayer book. That member of the family can be male or female and usually, it is both. So when you try to honour kill your daughter, what exactly gives you the right to certify other Sikhs after that?

3. Guru Gobind Singh told us before he left his mortal coil - henceforth, the Hukumnama can only come from the Guru Granth Sahib. Not from any human. There will be no more "Gurus". The Granth Sahib is all the spiritual guidance that you need.
So if you try to issue religious edicts, you are directly violating the most fundamental, sacred tenet of the religion -  Sab Sikhan ko hukam hai, Guru Maanyo Granth. Don't you EVER dare issue an order on behalf of the religion.

4. The SGPC is an administrative body - it stands for Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee. - The chief body for administration of the Gurudwaras.

It is neither the religious head nor the spiritual guide of the Sikhs. The Sikhs do not have a religious head. Unlike the church, we don't have a hierarchical structure of spirituality that rolls up to the Golden Temple.

We were told to recite our Bani wherever we were. We were told to keep our heart pure. When you try to take on a spiritual or religious policing role, the rest of us need to stand up and remind you that the Granth Sahib is our Guru and the Bani is our spiritual guide. The Sangat is where we gain our spiritual salvation. The feature of the Sangat is that every human being is equal. Which is why you see people doing Jodon ki seva (cleaning the footwear) at a Gurudwara. We grow up learning that all human beings are equal and deserve the same respect.

No one can tell a person if they are a Sikh or not. There is no indoctrination ritual. No Kalma to read and no baptism to be performed. No one can decide the "degree" of Sikh that one is(another post on that). And if you are so free, work to ensure that first, you read the real teachings of the Gurus and then, you take them to a state that is getting buried under a pile of drugs. And please make a public apology to Karenjit Kaur on your way.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

I've started forgetting
A lot
Where i am
Why i am there.

Today i realised
Making me forget my life
Is anesthesia
Of the Gods

Friday, July 13, 2018

Dowry Deaths in India: The role of the parents

Growing up in Hyderabad, I used to open the newspaper to the crime page and read daily reports of women who had either died, or had committed suicide as a result of "stomach ache."

In some cases, there were clear reports of burning women to death. On average, there were 2-3 such reports every day.

On growing older, I wondered, if there are 3 reported deaths per day in one city, how many would there be all over the country? NCRB answered that question - roughly one dowry death every hour in India. Consistently. Since 2001, that number(deaths per hour) has not crossed 2.

What is the problem?

Dowry Deaths in India from 2001 to 2016 Source: NCRB data
I have added a Trend Line to the graph so we can clearly see the DIRECTION of the crime. In 2014, the worst year yet, a woman lost her life to dowry every 52 minutes.

This is not going to be a post about the causes of dowry. We all know the causes of dowry deaths.

What can we do to stop dowry deaths?
Here is what you need to consider - of the literally THOUSANDS of cases that I have read over the years (all the way from 1988), not ONE has happened right after the marriage. All deaths, every single one of them, is preceded by abuse. Months and years of abuse. Abuse that the woman almost always reports to her family.

There is a separate legal clause that deals with harassment for dowry.

The ratio of abuse to death cases ranges from 13:1 to 10:1. For every woman who is killed, at least 9 to 12 other women suffer dowry related abuse - so much that they make a formal complaint.

This is what makes one angry:

The parents, in every single case, turn a blind eye to the plight of the woman. The dowry death happens in the marital home. If you know your daughter is being abused or harassed for dowry, what is she doing in her marital home?

If a parent endangers the life of their daughter by forcing her to stay in a physical space where it is known that she is in danger, should the said parents not be prosecuted? In suicide, this is abetment to suicide. In murder, this is being a complicit accomplice.

I honestly feel that there should be a change in the law. Parents who ignore a daughter's plea related to dowry abuse, should be prosecuted. They should not be the petitioners. They should be the co-accused. How can you put your own child in almost certain danger, and then cry hoarse when that danger comes true?

Counter - For every woman who dies, 9 to 12 do not. They continue to live in their marital homes. So if the daughter raises an alarm, should she be removed from that danger?

If you were a husband or in law abusing a girl for dowry, would you stop, if you knew that the girl will be removed from the marital home AND there will be a police complaint against you? Yes, I think that a lot of men will stop then. Because dowry harassment is bullying. And in its most fundamental form, bullying is an act of cowardice that cannot stand up to courage. In the face of courage, it wilts and succumbs.

Yes, the problem and the solution are not that simple. But I simply cannot find a way to forgive parents who allow their daughters to remain in danger in their marital homes and then cry hoarse when the girl dies.

The problem is with the perpetrators. But the perpetrators are not just the people who commit the crime. The definition of "perpetrator" must be expanded to include the people who, through passive complicity, allow the crime to happen and in fact, create conditions that give the perpetrator the courage to take the step from harassment to abuse to murder. There were no consequences for what was done earlier. Why should one fear consequences for this? (At a conviction rate of 34%, the absence of fear is completely justified, but that's for another day)

I don't usually agree with Gandhi, but this one: "The criminal commits the crime, the society prepares it." , can be completely translated to "The in laws commit the crime, the parents prepare it."


I don't know whether its ironic or apt, that my staple medicine is called Tears Naturale Forte.

Blood Diamonds

Blood Diamonds... 2 तरह के होते है. पहले वो, जिनको पाने में खून बहाया जाता है. दुसरे वो, जिन्हें खून के आंसू पोंछने के लिए खरीदा जाता है.

इस धरा का, इस धरा पर, सब धरा रह जायेगा

 - Heard from somewhere. Loved it.

Lessons Learnt


I sat down to deliberately
peel the thin skin
that had just started to form
on the just-beginning-to-heal wound.
I thought it would be fun.
It wasn't.

Don't do that
to your wounds
even if they heal now
they will come back to haunt you

Today, I learnt
that the rights we sometimes do
are so wrong.

This isn't making sense
to anyone but me.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

On Living, recrafted

The previous post, On Living, was inspired by the style of a real poet - Arvind Joshi.(I have posted one of his poems on this blog earlier).

And he very kindly agreed to review and improve that poem. Here is the same piece, after coming out of the "playhouse" of his imagination. Same thing, supposedly, but how different and nice it reads now!

“It is hard,” he had said, finally.
Living on a raft is hard.
Some days
you keep them all out for many hours,
the people, the talk,
for many days sometimes.
you spread out the tarpaulin.
it’s safe then.
lonely, but safe.

Some days,
it gets rough outside.
it’s like the sea gone rough
the tides gone up.
you don’t know how long
you can keep up.
if the raft will hold.
but you know how it is.
the barest things don’t break easy.
Some days, he said,
it gets nice.
there’s sun.
it’s like hearing the waves
in gentle splash.
you don’t want to be closed in then.
not even on a raft.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

On living

He did confess then.
“It is hard,” he had said,
Living on a raft
Some days
The tarpaulin needs to be brought out
For hours, even days,
Keeping out
a cocoon
Equal parts safety
And loneliness
Some days,
It is
The rough seas
The tides
And then
For hours
One doesn’t know
If the raft
will survive
or capsize
But that, he had said,
is the beauty
of the raft.
You cannot easily break something
that is already
broken down
to the barest bits.
Some days, he had said
are pure bliss too.
When the weather is calm
you can hear the waves
create that gentle splash.
on those days
he understands
how little we need
the walls
we are constantly building
around us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Someday, it will happen.
They said
the morning.
It comes

I must have been living
on a different planet.

They sent me
some strange stuff
"believing in yourself"
and "finding your cause"
and some such.

I stared at it
a long time.
Didn't understand
a word.

Them Thai footballers
who got out of a deep cave?
They had rescuers.
They wanted to be rescued.
And that
is the difference.

Dil Naumeed to nahi..

दिल नाउम्मीद तो नहीं 
नाकाम ही तो है 
लम्बी है ग़म की शाम 
मगर शाम ही तो है….

Because sometimes we need to remember the obvious..

Friday, July 06, 2018

Lessons learnt and remembered

Many years ago, my father was in the ICU. With a brain stroke. For 8 days.

In those 8 days, a profound change happened. I realised that no amount of money sits outside an ICU. People do. Families do. That people are not forever. That fights are useless things.

When I came back, my currency had changed. It was time. The concept of wealth had changed. It was relationships. Real conversations. Nothing virtual. Physical coffee.

It has been 5 years. And every day, even more strongly, I realise the importance of the lesson of those 8 days.

And the inherent sense of peace. Anything for that.

How are you?

'How are you? '
is such a difficult question to answer sometimes.

You just nod, or make some sort of "hmm" sound indicating "ok", and move on to other things.

The grass looks so tiny to us, and so giant to the ant. It is the same with the question - How are you? Innocuous to most of us, and to the rest, an incredibly tough question to answer.

PS: Yes, there is a trigger to this particular episode. And yes, I will come out on the other side. He who has a why to live can always find a how.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018


Some where
There must be a safehouse
for tormented souls.

I'd like
an asylum
on grounds
of Threat to life
from the Monsters
in the head.

Good Morning Smiles

What amazes me:

We live this life as if we had a second instalment waiting.

We treat this planet as if we had another to go to.

We wait for 'opportunities' as if there was a better time than now.

We treat progress as a linear chart and not a radial graph.

And then we teach our children the same things!

Monday, July 02, 2018

सिर पर बस 
एक हाथ चाहिये 
जो 'ओ तेरा बेङा गर्क ' को 
'तेरा बेङा तरे' 
बना दे। 

Happy Birthday, Papa.  

On being a vote bank

There are a lot of communities - in India and around the world, that believe in voting en masse - as a group, because they are a "vote bank" and they truly believe that this will give them bargaining power with the politicians. 

Here is what you need to read:

It is the need of the politician to ensure that  a vote bank remains a vote bank. Which makes it important that there is little development in this category. The minute development or even relative prosperity happens, you stop being a vote bank.

It is important to keep a vote bank a vote bank. Poverty necessitates that and false promises effect that. If any people in the vote bank get rich, they will stop voting as a group.
So the first condition for a politician to retain a vote bank, is to ensure that they remain poor and in need, so that they vote as a group, not as individuals with individual needs.
If you vote as a vote bank, you are, in effect, signing your own poverty warrant.

The Parsis are not a vote bank. The Sikhs are not a vote bank. The Jains are not a vote bank. Think about that.

Now, think about the state of people who have voted as a vote bank. In 70 years, not ONE of these groups has been able to step out of their existing domain.

Unfortunately, this is true of EVERY vote bank, all over the world. If you are a vote bank, it is time to step out of that and become a voter.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

On Depression

That moment when I'm quiet and reticent and say that i don't want to be around anyone, especially you?

 That is the precise moment when you should not leave me alone.

When i ask you to leave, stay.  When i say I'm not hungry, make sure there's food in the kitchen.  When i say I'm not sleepy, dim the lights and don't leave the room.  Pat me gently if I'll let you.

We are all children, living in a country of djinns.

You and I, we live in the same city, but in 2 different worlds.  My side is like the dark side of the mountain, and yours, the sunny side.  We cannot understand each other.  We miss the smallest cues, the biggest signals . The guides to Depression are confusing.  That's why i make it simple and easy. I come to your side of the mountain sometimes- sunny and bright and all that.  I've seen your village.  You've seen mine.  Like a badly made film, it's always gray in here.  

On Instinct

This is why you should trust your instinct: Your instinct is this massive AI engine inside your head, with a processing power for which we have not invented a term yet. It is hooked to the giant internet of other energy fields, other people's brains and it takes and processes inputs faster than your senses can acknowledge things. It knows, identifies and processes the micro expressions and the other sensory inputs, combines them with the wisdom gained from its own historical experiences and gives you a directive output.

Its not "intuition." - Its the world's best known super computer at work. And that is why you should listen to your "instinct". Its pure science.

PS: Within a week, two of my contrarian "instincts" have come out to be true. Am waiting for a third to happen. :)

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Loneliness, and Investment in not being lonely

What is the problem?
With 3 celebrity suicides, the world is currently focusing on depression, mental health and allied issues. But long before these happened, I have also seen loneliness become almost an epidemic.
And I have been thinking deeply about it. Where does it begin? How do we get lonely in a world full of people?

It is, I think, basically this - deep connections are hard work. They need a lot of repair and revival. They need a lot of conscious effort. But they are not necessary on a day to day basis. On a day to day basis, shallow 'positive strokes' that come from other places - office, for instance, or buddy lunches, or conferences and events, are quite enough. We only realise that we are lonely after a few years. But by then, it is too late. We are not able to trace the cause back to fundamental absence of deep human connect. And then begins the downward spiral into depression.

The picture above is the first part of a sketch note. I wondered why, on a day to day basis, we find more gratification in our offices than in our homes. All of us know that in office, we are just cogs in a wheel, but at home, we are the centres of an entire universe. Yet, across gender, age and level, most people find more gratification in office interactions than in family ones.

Why does it happen?

After thinking a lot, I could isolate 3 major reasons:

A. Instant Gratification / Minor Appreciations - Finish a report? You get a micro compliment. Helped a colleague? A minor positive stroke is immediate. There are tonnes of instant gratification moments in a work day. These include everything from the smile of the tea boy to appreciation from a senior.

B. Sense of tangible achievement: Everything from the annual PMS to minor tasks that are "Complete" - give a sense of accomplishment. No such luck at home. Leaky pipes, faulty switches, dirty dishes give no sense of tangible achievement.

C. Novelty and Variety:  A family has perhaps 10 stakeholders - including the gardener and the milk vendor. The office, by contrast, offers twice that number at least. Further, there are groups and sub groups, and an opportunity to do gossip. There is variety of both stakeholders and interactions.

Suppose I want to change that. What can I do?

A. Instant Gratification: "Good Morning" , "This is good" - common courtesies and small compliments(aka Positive strokes) that are so basic to office behavior need to be re-introduced to the house. With positive strokes, instant gratification will return to our lives.

B. Sense of Tangible Achievement: 2 ways -
1. Create goals as a family  and track their progress. "We will take a foreign holiday next year.", "I will score above 80 in science this year end." , "I will lose 10 kilos of weight." And needless to add, in tracking those goals, build each other, don't run each other down. Don't laugh at failures, and don't equate the failure of the initiative with the person.

2. Simple, but powerful - play games as a family. Don't underestimate the power of winning and the lessons of losing.

C. Experiences: This can be done in 2 ways -

1. Widen your social network - grandmother's friend, the neighbour, wife's childhood buddy - open your heart and calendar to get to know the social circle of all family members, widening your own horizon in the process.

2. Share experiences that anyone in the family likes. One person likes adventure holidays, all of us go. Another likes the hills, all of us go. Wider social networks and more varied shared experiences will provide the variety that is the spice of life. Of course, when you see the happiness on their face, that will make it all worthwhile too. 

And finally, here is the complete sketch note. It took me weeks to think this up and a whole day to make (yeah I am kind of slow that way)

Dealing with loneliness with the help of families

Friday, June 15, 2018

समझाना / Samjhaana

एक प्रयोग था विज्ञान का 

एक बन्दर
और उसकी माँ 
बच्चे को खिलाती, सुलाती 
और बहुत प्यार करती थी 

एक दिन 
माँ को 
वहां से हटा दिया गया 
कुछ समय बाद 
जब माँ को वापिस 
बच्चे के पास लाया गया 
तो बच्चा 
बजाये खुश होने के 
या माँ से पूछने के,
"माँ, कहाँ गयी थी तुम?"

माँ को नोचने, मारने लगा 
उस पर गुर्राने लगा.

बहुत हैरान हुए.

अब  समझ आया 
क्यों नाराज़ होती हूँ 
जब घर देर से आते हो?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Arvind Joshi's poem, a translation, and a rejoinder

Read this poem by Arvind Joshi on facebook:

don’t tell her
such things like my name.
let her figure.
say, i am his friend.
say, i have a letter.
he said to see you
in the rains, and
let her figure.
speak softly, with poise,
she likes that.
a strong boy with a low voice.
maybe small talk will help
break the ice.
something about
the traffic, something
about the roads. something.
but look away when you speak.
give her time to fix her eyes
gather her hair, button this,
unbutton that.
to bend and tighten
a toe ring
and to loosen another.
but mostly
time to figure.
[Cantos 38, Book 2: Letters in the Rains, from the series Monsoon Letters]

ये कविता ऐसी थी कि पढ़ते पढ़ते अपने आप हिंदी में तर्जुमा हो गया:
उसे,मेरा नाम मत बताना 
उसे बूझने ही देना।

कहना, "मैं दोस्त हूँ उनका।"
"आपके लिए चिट्ठी है।"
"आपसे बरसातों में मिलने आने का कहा था उन्होंने… "

उसे बूझने देना।

बात धीमे से करना, तहज़ीब से 
उसे अच्छा लगता है,
सख्त, मज़बूत बाज़ुओं के साथ
नर्म लहज़ा।

इधर उधर की बातें करना 
कुछ भी,
ट्रैफिक के बारे में,
सड़कों के बारे में,
कुछ भी. 

पर बात करते हुए 
उसकी ओर देखना मत. 
उसे वक़्त देना 
अपनी आँखें जमाने का 
बाल समेटने का,
ये उठाने का,
वो रखने का.
पैर की बिछिया 
मोड़ कर सीधी करने का. 

पर असल में 
सिर्फ बूझने का. 

And then, a rejoinder also came on its own:

बङी पहेली सी भेजी थी तुमने?
जैसे रबङी जलेबी से पूछे,
'मेरा नाम क्या है?'

बूझने को
कुछ अजाना होना चाहिये।
याद दिलाने को
पहले भूलना ज़रूरी है।

चौमासे में मिलने का
वर्ग पहेली संकेत (Crossword puzzle clue)
अपने पास ही रहने दो।

मुझ से दूर हो
इसी बात से पता चलता है -
तुम उतने समझदार हो नहीं,
जितना खुद को समझते हो।
Rough translation of the rejoinder (for you, kj and Z):

That riddle that you thought you sent?
Like the square asking,
"How many sides do I have?"

To guess
there must be an unknown.
To remember,
one must first forget.

That crossword puzzle clue
that you thought was so brilliant?
'To meet in the rains' ?
You can save it.

That you are not here
is proof enough
that you are not
as wise
as you think.

Monday, June 11, 2018

the difference between dreams and reality is that dreams come in ur favorite colors, and reality comes in only one color - black.
lonliness, like a bird, perches on the branch of its choice in our heart.
we shoo it away with sticks called lovers, friends, things to do..

but like the sparrow who has decided to roost, it comes back - perseverant, undaunted... and it always gets what it wants..

women and cloud computing

Being a woman is like being a cloud computing solution. Pay as you go,
use only as much as and whenever u want. No investment required -
neither initially nor for maintenance. in fact, its even better -
automatic maintenance.the self regenerative cells take care of all maintenance.

The adaptive technology leads to automatic capacity management and the
processing power adjusts to your needs. You tell her to not think, and
she stops thinking. you tell her to use her head, and she does. The
capacity is also self adjusting - her heart expands to absorb
everything when its needed, and vanishes to size zero when you dont
need it.

Even the physical size of the server is adaptable to the client's
needs. Put on weight, now lose weight..

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Viky Arya's Banjare Khwaab/Nomadic Dreams : Review ; समीक्षा

I made a theory many years ago - the best things are NOT on the market. They are not marketed. The best things, the best experiences, the best people - you have to go look for them, you have to search to find them. Because mediocrity finds itself so easy to be accepted, excellence tends to withdraw from the larger world and keep itself in a corner where it is at peace.

Over the years, that theory has only proved itself over and over again.

I met Viky Arya ji before reading her work, and had the good fortune of hearing her recite her own work. To say that I was transfixed then is an understatement. She manages to weave magic through her words. "Dhaaga" is a poem that she recited in a poetry gathering and it has not gone out of the head since then. "मैं धागा हूँ, मैं कुछ भी बन सकता हूँ."

So when I found a book of hers in a Chandigarh bookstore, it just had to be picked up.

The book was read in a train, sitting next to a window, and late afternoon turned to dusk and disk turned to night. Every few pages, I put the book down to fully experience the emotions that the book evokes. You want to feel this book, and everything in it, completely.

If you read only one new poet this year, let it be Viky Arya.

We'll let her words do the talking Most of these are complete poems, though some are parts of a not much larger poem. Consider the universe each one evokes: (scroll below the Hindi translation of review)

बहुत साल  पहले,मुझे दुनिया के बारे में एक बात समझ आ गयी थी. इस मध्यम दर्ज़े की दुनिया में, उच्च कोटि की चीज़ मिलती नहीं है. उसे ढूंढना पड़ता है. सागर में मोती की तरह. वक़्त के साथ ये विश्वास  और पुख्ता ही हुआ है.

मेरा सौभाग्य है कि मैंने विकी जी की कविता पहले उनकी अपनी ज़ुबानी सुनी, और बाद में एक किताब घर में दिखी, तो झट से खरीद ली. ये "खरीद" बड़ा अजीब सा शब्द है. कुछ किताबों को हम खरीदते हैं. और कुछ किताबें हमें खरीद लेती हैं. बंजारे ख्वाब , दूसरी प्रकार की किताबों में से है. किताब है छोटी सी - १०८ पन्नों की. पर आप इसे एकमुश्त नहीं पढ़ सकते. थोड़ी थोड़ी देर में, किताब को नीचे रखना पड़ता है, उस एहसास को महसूस करने के लिए, जो इस किताब के पन्ने पैदा करते हैं.

उनकी कविता के बारे में कोई समीक्षक क्या कह सकता है. बात उनकी कविता को ही करने दीजिये. इन में से ज़्यादातर पूरी कविताएं हैं. कुछ अंश हैं, पर पूरी कविता भी बहुत लम्बी नहीं है. 

रईस बहुत देखे 
तुझ सा नहीं कोई 
जो दिल को कहे हीरा 
ख़ाक में फेंका करे

लौटाता है वही
जिसको जो जो मिलता है 
औरों को काटने से पहले 
सान पर 
खुद चाकू छिलता है


प्यार है पानी 
चेहरे पात्र 
हर चेहरे में 
उसी रूप ढल जाता है

सीप, शंख,
लहरें और यादें 
समंदर को बस 
देना आता है

ज़रा सी नाम हवा मिले 
जमने लग जाएंगी 
आदतों का क्या है?


Saturday, June 09, 2018

War Games based on Indian History

So, it has been a long pending dream of mine to create city building and other games based on Indian history (OK, my dream was limited to the Indus Valley civilisation)

But, Surprise, Surprise! Look what we found on the internet today!

Civilisation 6 features an Indian king!

AND there is a board game named after Chandragupta!

How awesome is that

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Tough questions, tougher answers

If there is a question that we need to start asking, it is "Why?"

Why do the backward classes need reservation in promotions?

Why are certain communities always impoverished and asking for benefits, while others continue to rise like Phoenix from the ashes?

Why are locals everywhere angry with "outsiders" if we have a concept of united India?

Why are Indians the worst flyers and tourists?

Why, after 70 years of independence, are we still dependant upon rain water irrigation for more than 50% of agricultural land?

Why is the Indian farmer punished for creating bumper crops?

Why have we made road corridors for industry but failed to create a cold storage infrastructure pan India for farm produce?

Why does India see one dowry death every 4 minutes even today? Why do marriages not happen without dowry? What is the pull of dowry?

Why is the CM of Sikkim asking for SC ST status for 17 tribes - all Nepali, without telling us what happened to the Lepchas and Bhutias - the majority demographic when I first went to Sikkim in 1999, and why their tribes are not a part of the SC/ST list.

And before we start asking why, we have to acknowledge that these problems exist. We have to stop being politically correct, we have to stop looking the other way and we have to stop airbrushing numbers and reports. And for God's sake, we have to STOP hiding behind the easy answers.

The price of inaction is violence. We all believe that such violence will not touch us, that things like that always happen to "other people". But we all should know better. Way better.

So the next time you meet a beggar on the street asking you for food because he can't afford to eat, ask him/her "Why?" And you will discover a story of parental neglect, not poverty. "My parents don't have money to feed me." "Did they not know that when they were planning a child?" "Yes they did, and they thought God will take care of all His children." That's not just parental neglect. That's parental cruelty. And parents should be criminally prosecuted for that. To bring a child into the world knowing that they cannot even feed that mouth 2 square meals is planned cruelty towards the unborn.

As much as we need to hang rapists, we also need to hang mothers who keep quiet when their daughters tell them that they have been raped by a close family member. Ask yourself "Why are the child abuse numbers so horrific?" And you will get the answers - Majority of child abuse, sexual and otherwise, is done within the family, and mostly within the house. So, who saves the culprits? And what gives these culprits the confidence that they will remain undiscovered? We are quick to blame the cops for not firing FIR. Let that FIR include all "close" relatives who protect the perpetrator.

What happened in Meghalaya? Why did it happen? What happened in Kashmir? Why is Kashmir the only state whose residents believe that they can live off subsidised rations from India, get Indian tourism dollars, relocate Kashmiri Hindus outside Kashmir and not move their backsides to another part of Kashmir - their "dream" side? What gives them the confidence that India will put up with this nonsense?

Of late, a very funny thing has happened with me - An increasing inability to remain politically correct, especially in the face of ridiculous assumptions being broadcast in drawing room political discussions.

This post will not win any popularity contests. Chances are, some of you will even be offended. But if you can use that sense of being offended to go back and ask "Why?" at least 2 times a week, and not stop until you know at least 2-3 reasons, the post will have served its purpose.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Mt. Abu and Udaipur

I'm not big on travelogues and destination pictures, but the travel partner this time, somehow got me to remember that I used to love photography once upon a time.

So after a really long time, I took pictures. For what they are worth...

A mural at the Connaught House, Mt. Abu. I couldn't take eyes off this one.

Blind School, Mt. Abu

Connaught House

Our table at the restaurant of Connaught House, Mt. Abu. What's to not LOVE?

My favorite-st part of our room - the corner of the study with a window on both sides. I moved the sofa to face the window and spent a lot of time just looking out.

Because I loved the logo and the old style key.

At the Udaipur palace. View of the city from a 10 cm window

Udaipur Palace
Nakki Lake - early evening 


There is a lie that Apple started in the Tech World and it has now reached ridiculous proportions. The lie was - "The user doesn't know what it wants."

The commercial success of Apple products probably convinced the tech world of the truth of the statement.

BUT, the graveyard of user content based platforms should tell us the exact opposite. These platforms decided to create engagement modes based on their own understanding, tailored the feed to suit their business needs, and generally, forgot to ask the user.

When we design algorithms that learn purely from user behaviour and forget to ask the user, we are basically propagating the myth - the user doesn't know.

Well, here is the new theory - the average user is a reasonably intelligent person who DOES know what they want.

So please change your algorithms to include a module - ASK THE USER. And surprise! You might find a bunch of really intelligent people telling you what you should be doing right and how. They will tell you what they really want to see on your product, what their pain areas are, and how they really want to engage with people they know.

I think this is also relevant for designing enterprise applications (in fact, I have been a huge votary of keeping the end user in the design discussions) - Don't just ask the business process owner. Ask the user.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Kijaana on India's top blogs :)

Yeah, I am not one to gloat normally, but this is my personal favorite list and I LOVE being on it!

The top 100 blogs are curated by a real person. The selection is NOT based on an algorithm, and we have no idea when the process begins or ends. But what I love the most about this list is this - all the blogs that are here, are here for one reason only - content. NOT the number of followers, not the technical jazz, and definitely NOT the amount of traffic and followers and google page rank and other stuff that has overwhelmed and choked the simple pleasure of blogging.

The blogs I find on this list are uniformly AWESOME.  So to be on the list IS something to gloat about!

This is the list of top blogs of 2018 and each one is a gem.

Monday, May 28, 2018

On dealing with the 'personal effects'

Above all else, every parent must deal with the embarrassment of having their secrets unfold - after they're dead.

What is driving the automation epidemic?

Where automation is driven by humans

Last year, we let go of our part time cook. That was just 72,000 pa clean out of the GDP. Not a big amount by any standard. Last month, the maids took a month off to go vote in the state that thrives on illegal migrant voters.

The result: We bought a robotic vacuum cleaner and a dishwasher. When those maids return, they will find that their jobs now pay less because a part of their work has been taken up by the machines.

In both cases, what led to the automation was not a love for robots. It was, quite simply, the unprofessionalism of the human workers. Not their productivity, but their unprofessionalism. We only looked for options when it became impossible to continue with the human option.

I suspect something similar is happening in the manufacturing space too. The automation is a result of our inability to do things as they need to be done (at the very least). And perhaps, this is also the reason that there is so much algorithm driven trading, automated data analysis and other white collar jobs that are now automated and handed out to algos.

And where it is not
But there is one more area where automation and bots are taking over. The area of affection. And in this domain, I think we need to make an important distinction.
The reason that someone would replace automation for affection and s#$, imho, is simply this - an unrealistic need for compliance.

Biologically, we cannot exist alone. Yet, over the last few decades, we have almost made a religion of "individual self actualisation" - that a person must reach their pinnacle of self satisfaction. This self satisfaction must happen, even if it is at the cost of social isolation. We have forced infants to sleep alone without the warm snuggle of another human body (while entire tribes sleep in 'sleeping huts') - teaching their subconscious minds that it is every man for himself.

This then, leads to a situation where the individual finds it impossible to make the necessary bends required to sustain a relationship. Our need for compliance is so absolute that we have forgotten the fine art of "getting along".

A love poem

When you fall in love with me
It will not be
for my eyes (beautiful though they are)
or lips
or the shape of me.

When I fall in love with you
it will not be
for your kurta (though I dig them so)
or the shape of your jaw
or the shape of you.

When we fall in love
it will be
for reasons unknown
and never understood.

When it is over
That, too,
will be for reasons unknown
and never understood.

Some people,
they write
long, long love poems
God knows what all.
You and I
will be
a saga
of reasons unknown
and things never understood.

Sunday, May 27, 2018


जब कोई नहीं होता है पास
तब तुम्हारी याद बिलकुल नहीं आती.
जब किसी का साथ होता है
तब समझ आता है
कि तुम
कितनी ज़रूरी हो 

Friday, May 25, 2018


अरे तुम! इतने साल बाद!

हाँ. बड़े साल हो गए न! कैसी हो?

अच्छी. और तुम?

मैं भी ठीक ठाक. अच्छा तुमने वो कमरबंद खरीदा?

तुम पागल हो गए हो? उस चीज़ के बारे में पूछ रहे हो, जिसकी मुझे १५-१६ साल की उम्र में चाह थी?

हाँ. १५ - १६ साल की उम्र के बाद, तुमने छोड़ जो दिया - चाहना।

Thursday, May 24, 2018

एक हमारा छोटा बाल

एक हमारा छोटा बाल 
करता देखो कई कमाल 

बस्ता, मेज़, खिलौने, किताब 
किसी चीज़ का न कोई हिसाब। 

सुबह से शाम तक बस शैतानी 
सब को सताने की इसने है ठानी 

न खाने की सुध है, न पीने का ध्यान 
माँ को बस करता हैरान। 

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

What do you think?

All professionals learn from 2 sources - the formal (aka, the degree or the certification or the conference) and the anecdotal (aka, experience).

The formal is generic. Anyone can read the same books and become a doctor, engineer, IT person or CA. Everyone who holds that degree knows the exact same things that you do.

The latter - the anecdotal, is where things get really interesting. Doctors learn from listening to patients, that what the pharma company tells them is not true. The medicine does not work as intended on some patients and instinctively know when to not prescribe that drug in the future. Consultants learn from businesses how processes actually work and how every workplace does the same thing differently. Automation experts learn from clients about all the small things that make each assembly line unique. We, the IT professionals, learn from our clients how they can use the system to do the things that the user manual said the system cannot do.

Which is why, the breakdown of listening skills, in the long run, hurts the professional more than it hurts the client. The doctor brushed off my concern that this vaccination did not work so well for my child the last time. I change the doctor, but the doctor has lost an opportunity to understand when a vaccine will not work. The IT consultant who just shook his head and said, "The system does not allow for reference check data" missed the chance to learn that the applicant quiz functionality can be applied to report ref check information easily.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Elements again

There was a
 shaped hole
I was trying to fill it
With 'Anyone else'
Sized peg.

Didn't work.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Butterfly Effect

The IIP was at 4.4% for the April-Mar2018 month. 

This was the result of a long journey, as macro numbers usually are.

A couple of years ago, a need was felt to increase tax collections. There were 2 obvious ways to do it - 1. Increase the tax payers' base, and 2. Keep tax rates high or raise them further on at least some items.
Obviously, the most direct effect of that was on the middle class.

Here are the 2 things that the government did not prepare for:
1. Faced with a strange tax regime and the suspicion placed upon all high value purchases, the middle classes will pull their purse strings tight.
2. The sheer magnitude of the Indian middle class, and the butterfly effect action(1) above will have on the rest of the economy.

The squeeze was on the individual, but observe the Domino effect...

The Domino Effect on the economy of squeezing the middle class under taxation

Everyone made small changes. Someone stopped eating out as often. Someone else postponed a big TV purchase. Someone stopped the tuition teacher. But the numbers of the Indian middle class are such that even one action by one household (and it was not as tiny as that) led to a huge overall impact.

How big is the Indian middle class? Find out for yourself:

Tuesday, May 15, 2018


मुझे लगा था तुम भी कवि हो 
तुम तो यार, सयाने निकले


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Indus Valley Civilisation - More questions

This evening, one attended a very informative and thought inspiring lecture at the National Museum. (Cities of Indus Valley Civilisation). One of the questions asked after the talk was - 'How did the cities die?' The answer was rational and well balanced - different cities died in different ways and for different reasons. But most of those reasons had to do with the environment. Either the rivers dried up or they changed course.

That got me thinking. We know that in Rakhigarhi at least, DNA material has proved that there is continuation of the genetic stock from at least later Harappan period - 2500 BC. Which means that the skeletons received from the Harappan period were the direct ancestors of the current residents of Rakhigarhi.

What if...
What if, there was no vanishing? What if the citizens who remained, merely migrated? And took the civilisation with them?

When I discussed this with another person who was present at the talk, she said, "But the next urbanisation in India does not appear until 600 BCE. If the people did not perish, where were the city building skills for that whole time?"

So now we have the following statements:
1. There is continuity of genetic stock from at least 2500 BCE to present day.
2. There are many, many elements of cultural continuity - the shapes of cooking pots, the bangles and the adornments, the bullock cart designs and the images of the Gods.
3. Yet, the next urbanisation is not found until, as the lady suggests, 600 BCE.

So, where was town planning during this period?

On another note, the speaker did say some things that gladdened the heart:
1. They were largely a mercantile civilisation (I have maintained earlier that the inscriptions we have seen on the seals are positively mercantile in nature and since there are so many of them, mercantile activity had to be the economic backbone of the civilisation.)

2. While there was an astounding standardisation of weights and measures across vast geographical regions, the political leadership does not appear to be imperial or monarchical. I also feel that the earliest political establishment, and one that sustained, was of janapadas - republics, with ministers/ representatives of various citizen groups making it to seats of power so that all interests are safeguarded. (as indicated in the movie Mohenjodaro)

I think what happened then was very similar to what is happening now:

The janapadas were from various mercantile groups. They did not pay attention to the ecological price of their frenetic economic activity. They grew more and more prosperous and less and less sustainable.

Slowly, the inevitable happened. They had ravaged their ecological balance so completely that no U turn was possible.

So, as indicated, they migrated. And this is where it gets interesting. The migrating populations were not homogenous. Both, in their skills, and their ability to move, there were many classes. But broadly, I see at least 2 categories of people - the knowledge workers (the white collars) - the merchants, bankers, quality control state executives and the implementers of 'the system',  and the hand workers (blue collars) - the artisans, the bead makers, the farmers and the plain labour.

There was, therefore, no single, homogenous migration. As it would happen today, different people migrated to where they thought they could survive. The knowledge workers had the resources and the inclination to move to a place where they had contacts - the West. The hand workers, on the other hand, had no way to move to the West, and didn't know anything about whether they would be welcomed. They were more likely to choose the path towards the East - where there were denser jungles, more water and perhaps, lands to grow crops on and someone to use their pottery and jewelry.

Some classes definitely moved towards Central India, and perhaps the boat makers went further South.
Even if some people with knowledge of town planning did move to Eastern and other parts of India, they moved to agrarian or primary sector based economies. Primary sector/production based economies have neither the need nor the resources to invest in town/city planning. (As we also know in modern times).
Since it takes only 2 generations to lose a skill entirely, it is safe to assume that those sections who had knowledge of city planning did not retain this knowledge for more than 2 generations. A similar parallel would be people who migrated from Bengal and Punjab. Some skills were native to the lands they came from. In the new country, there was little opportunity to practice or bequeath those skills to the next generation. So now, even though we are descendants of the same people, we do not possess the entire skill set of our grandparents.

To sum up:
In short, the people migrated - short and long distances. So town planning may not have survived as a skill in this part. But the people did not just up and go. They are still here. There wasn't a vanishing act. There was, just like in a magic show, a change of place. We have to find out where all they went, and then, a lot of the things that appear disjointed today - the Dravid origins of IVC, the Gond script connection et al, will make a lot of sense.

Post notes:
1. There was, a 900 year long drought between 2450 to 1450 BCE, which was roughly the period when our civilisation died. This drought was apparently caused entirely by weather conditions. The study does not mention any human causes of this long drought. But maybe there were. Water is, after all, a cycle, and we, the people living today, know exactly what it means to lose sources of fresh water due to "weather disturbances."

2. Another hypothesis that we are familiar with, is that the saline content in the land grew because of the crop mix, and little was done to restore the alluvium of the soil. This led to gradual depletion of ground water.

3. The largely mercantile nature of a civilisation cannot be unique to the IVC. Why is the IVC among those that did not survive climate change?

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

On kicking the bucket

I think
We all need
One final human connection
To say 'Goodbye' to.

Edited to add: Little did I know that within 3 days of writing this post, I will have to deal with the loss of a very respected person in our sector. Time has stood still since last afternoon, when a simple, one line message appeared "He expired today. Funeral tomorrow." The voice that answered the phone when I called back resembled my friend's voice so much, that for a minute, I thought that a practical joke has been played just to see who calls back to check. But it was his brother on the phone. The joke was played by God. He really was gone.

The world needed you a lot. You were fighting on behalf of lots of people who cannot fight for themselves. You have moved to a better world, but this battered one was not ready for that change just yet.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Hindi Muhavare

भैंस के आगे बीन बजाये, भैंस खड़ी पगुराय .

He sits and plays the been (a musical instrument) to the buffalo, but the buffalo is only interested in her food.

Meaning: To try and educate/explain something to someone who is not interested.

Monday, April 30, 2018

आओ नया इक खेल बनाएं

आओ नया इक खेल बनाएं 
चंदा तारों की रेल बनाएं 
किला बनाएंगे धरती पर 
फ़ौज बनेगी हम सब की 
दुश्मन दूर आसमान से 
किसी दूर के ग्रह पर बैठे 
विचित्र तरह के प्राणी 
कैसी अनोखी सी शक्तियां 
विधाता से हैं पायी 
कल्पना के हम हथियार बनाएं 
असीम शक्तियों वाले 
ब्रह्मास्त्र को भी जो हरायें 
ऐसी ज्वाला वाले। 

आओ नया इक खेल बनाएं।
उस से सबका मन बहलायें

Sunday, April 29, 2018

3 saheliyaan 3 premi: Book Review/ Pustak sameeksha

इधर कुछ दिनों से हिंदी में नयी किताबें मिलना और भी मुश्किल हो गया है. लघु कहनियाँ और भी मुश्किल.

आकांक्षा पारे काशिव की किताब बड़ी उम्मीद से उठायी थी, और वो उम्मीद से भी बेहतर निकली। किताब पर लिखा है कि ये स्त्री मन की कहानियां हैं. पर ये तो मानव मन की कहानियां हैं.

अमूमन कहना चाहिए की शीर्षक वाली कहानी पुस्तक की सबसे अच्छी कहानी थी. पर ऐसा नहीं है. हर कहानी अपने में अनमोल है. हर कहानी कम से कम १ -२ दिन आपके साथ रहती है. हर कहानी के आखिर में हम मुस्कुराते हैं. 

"जादूगर" जैसे एक बच्चे को हम सब जानते हैं, और "ठिकाना" जैसी देवी जी भी सब के जीवन में कम से कम १ तो आती ही है. "पांचवी पांडव" पढ़ कर, मैं बहुत देर तक सोचती रही, कि क्या गलत है - जो हम लड़कों को सिखाते हैं, या जो हम लड़कियों के साथ करते हैं. न ये कहानियां १ मिनट के लिए भी ध्यान हटने देती हैं, और न ही कहीं कोई भाषण देती हैं. सुघड़ बुज़ुर्ग की तरह, मनोरंजन भी करती हैं, और अपनी बात भी समझा जाती हैं. 

"प्रश्न" कहानी मुझे बहुत अच्छी लगी, और सर्वाइवल,  बहुत सच्ची थी. हर कहानी का यही दोष है इस किताब में - बहुत ही सच्ची है, इस लिए चुभती ज़्यादा है. थोड़ी सी झूठी होती, तो अच्छा होता - जैसे कड़वी दवाई में मीठा मिलाया जाता है. पर मीठा मिला देते, तो ये स्वाद कहाँ से आता? इन कहानियों में न तो ऊपर से मीठा मिलाया गया है, न बेकार की कड़वाहट घोली गयी है. ये कहानियां परफेक्ट (perfect) है. हर कहानी, अपने आप में परिपूर्ण।

मैं पुस्तक समीक्षा २ ही सूरत में करती हूँ - या तो किताब बहुत ख़राब होनी चाहिए, या बहुत अच्छी. ये वाली दूसरी श्रेणी में आती है. ज़रूर पढ़िए. 

Sunday, April 22, 2018


जब लोग दिल तोङते हैं
तो कोई उन से कोई सवाल नहीं करता 
पर जब मैं कांच तोड़ती हूं सारी रात 
तो हर कोई मुझे पागल कहता है। 

तुम ही कहो 
क्या दिल 
कांच से भी सस्ता है आजकल? 

मैं इस दुनिया में नही रहती 
मुझे कुछ पता नही चलता। 

 और मुझे आज तक पता ही नही चला
कि कांच ज्यादा important है
कि दिल।

17  साल हो गये। बताओ!  


I'm going down a tunnel. Like Alice in Wonderland.
Will you take the love along?
No. No. NO.

Will you take mom along?
No. No. NO.

Will you take me with you?
What other way is there?

Does the tunnel end?
We don't know. 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Book Review: Namak Swadanusaar by Nikhil Sachan

It took me a long time to decide whether or not to write this review. Usually, when one doesn't like a book, one just tosses it off and moves on. Life is too short for things that you don't gel with. Like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, we are better off finding our own groove and leaving behind the ones where we don't fit.

But here is the thing. With bad eyes, here one is, sitting and writing a review. Because, in this book, one kept waiting fro that one spark of brilliance. Mugalte was the story that provided it for me. Sadly, also the only one.

The thing about any piece of writing is, that while reading it, we should be able to feel the characters right there - in front of us. Their emotions become ours, their words play in our heads. This is why its so hard to let go of a good book. We live a good book while we read it.
In this case, the only voice that keeps playing in the head is that of the writer. The writer just never leaves the stories alone!

It is not the personality of the characters that shines through his words - it is the personality of the writer.

For the first time, I realised that writing a story is like a mother creating a child. When you see a child, you know that s/he comes from a parent, you can just about see the shape of the mother's jaw or perhaps her eyes. But what you see and experience is the child - an individual with its own soul, and its own personality. That is what is missing in Nikhil's writing.

So why is one taking the trouble to write a book review? Because 10 years later, I want someone to read this review and say "You were so wrong."

Nikhil has a lot of great stories inside him. His writing style is fresh and his own. The only thing I would like to see, as a reader, is the crafting of the story.

In short, I am writing this review because I believe in this writer, and some day, I want to read more by him.