Thursday, December 16, 2010


I apologize at the very beginning of this post. I might miss some words here and there as I write on a half empty stomach. What is worse than an empty stomach? Half an empty stomach! It is akin to taking a scoop of chocolate cake, placing it in your mouth and unable to bite it. I wonder how Swami Vivekananda survived a sugar cube on his tongue. May be he was diabetic. Ok! I digress.  

There ain’t no such thing as a Free Lunch.

Let me give you some background. Today morning I took laziness to a whole new height. I did not make my breakfast, which was take cornflakes out of the box, place it into a container and pour milk. No couldn’t do sire! I walked into office a tad bit late, and it took me about an hour to cajole myself to getting a cup of coffee from the pantry, which is diagonally opposite to my bay. So, you get the general picture right? Moreover, I realized that I did not keep cash inside my purse today. My friend generously offered to pay for my lunch. To which I said, “I don’t taking money from people.”

Of course, that was not a cue for wanting a free lunch! But again, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

Anyway, I walk downstairs to the canteen. Oh! I need to tell you this - my office is situated in a God forgotten place. There is a “mall” near by, but has no food court - at least not a good one. The nearest restaurant is a Kerela house, which we soon realized that our stomachs cannot handle the food. The fat boiled rice isn’t for most North Indians and the South Indian me! Getting back to the canteen, I order the simplest meal – chapatti lunch and what do I find in it after eating half of the plate? A cockroach! Yuck and unhygienic, but what do I do? Gag? Not really! Then the questions flew across the table. Was it a small cockroach? (Yes and the portions wasn’t enough) Was it dead? (It sure was. DOA! Likely cause of death? Steam, heat and Indian spices)

Sigh. I repeat! There ain’t no such thing as a Free Lunch.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Femme Fat All!

"Experience is the only thing which will explain the logical reasoning that you have been waiting to understand."

Had a confusing, and ultimately revealing conversation about feminism with a friend recently. I never considered myself a feminist and honestly, I do not completely understand the concept or theory behind it. I read some articles on feminism and the general idea is women fought for rights to be treated equally with men. This goes to show that I never felt that someone else was chosen over me because I am a woman and as of today, I consider myself lucky. However, I see this theory applicable in certain areas such as some countries in the Middle East where a woman is not allowed to vote or study or work. Otherwise, I think men and women have different strengths and weaknesses and natural talents cannot be thrust upon each sex.
As the conversation moved on, self-choice of every woman came into the picture - her choice to marry or not, to have sex with her husband or not, claim the right to property and higher education and to say no to dowry among others. Then I realized that for me feminism is about empowering women to take a bold step, against the world need be and most importantly to take a difficult emotional decision that “society” and “they” do not expect a woman to make. In the least way of explanation – what if a married woman with no income and has three children losses her husband? Of course, you cannot expect a chunky trust fund. She cannot depend on others but needs to stand on her own feet. This is where an empowered, educated woman stands up to the melee of life. Theoretically, she should right?

I am fat. I am not pretty and the people who think I am beautiful are my friends who see my heart and are positively biased toward me. But that’s not the same way a person of interest views me. To him I am fat and not an eye candy, which sometimes is all that is needed. Young blood et all. But when the topics of physicality comes into play while I am already emotionally attached to the person, it is really hard to see things straight. This is at a point when I am in no marital commitment, societal or otherwise. If I can – an empowered, strong, independent, educated woman – can feel like shit, clingy and unable to move on in my life what can I expect of a woman who has been oppressed (harsh word but usage due to the lack of better word) all her life will tend to hold on to thin air. The friend then asked/said so “women are weaker?!”

I am now more tolerant towards women who give into their life’s non-choices. I don’t endorse it but I am definitely more tolerant and now more than ever believe I am a feminist.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Meri Mannat

December is finally here and I saw some resemblance of the Mumbai heat taking a hike. Yet I have friends in Bangalore talking about the pleasant weather, also surprisingly the beautiful climate in Chennai. The jealousy is not helping my case. So I decided to go ahead, venture forth in to the sweltering Mumbai heat and humidity armed with sunscreen in my hand and sun glasses on my face.

However, I quickly retreated and took asylum in a mall. So much for being an adventurer! As I had thoroughly disappointed myself I promised myself that I would definitely do something “touristy” this weekend. And then this idea struck me. Despite my friend swearing to disown me I forced him to take me to Mannat, the abode of Bollywood’s super star Shah Rukh Khan.

I was thrilled to see his house, to see that I wasn’t the only fan, to see how much people value him as they have taken time out to stand in front of his house, facing away from the wonderful beach. Although he did not make an appearance, boy! Was I glad that I went there.

SideBar- Also wanted to go and click pictures of that hideous addition to the Mumbai sky scape by Mukesh Ambani. Apparently there are cops outside, chasing away photographers and pesky people who take pictures of their house. Mr. Ambani, the Queen of England doesn’t have a problem if the “aam junta” takes picture of her palace. You are no greater than her or anyone else in this planet, please understand that!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I Googled Myself

Yes, I am probably a year late in writing a review for this book. Nevertheless, I feel compelled enough to write about it, which in itself is a big deal because most of the books I read do not seem to warrant being talked about.

The book in question today is “Googled”

I use Google. The person sitting next to me at work uses Google. The person in the train at the farthest end with a phone in her hand uses Google and I sometimes wonder if there is anyone alive in this world, with internet access, who hasn’t been saved by the awesomeness of Google. So, most of us know the end product and now New Yorker Ken Auletta gives us a peek in to the inception and the growth of a company that started in a garage and blossomed into a massive organization, which has left many media moguls trembling. With just one aim in mind – to empower the users and to give relevant answers to searches that are not plagued by hovering advertisers- the two geeky Stanford dropouts Larry Page and Sergey Brin went on to create Google.

In the book, each of the initial recruits into the company are revealed in details, along with angel investors and also mentions the close relationship with Nobel price winner Al Gore. Auletta is clearly mesmerized by the extra perks a Google employee gets and he justifies these steps by explaining how each potential job seeker is grilled for four to five hours before being hired. Of course, only if your SAT scores are off the charts. Massages, free food made by a gourmet chef, physical training and a free hand to work on any project that pleases you is Google’s retention policy. At various moments in the book Auletta repeats Page and Brin’s mission statement as if his own. The envy and fear felt by others in the market is spelt out loud and clear. The book is a nice Sunday read!

My thoughts: Although I seem to have gotten to this book a year too late, the significance seems to be high even today, in 2010 because of the problems Google has lately been facing. China challenged the company’s policy to provide relevant searches and stalled access to the search engine in the Asian region. More recently, the company fired an employee who released an internal mail sent by CEO Eric Schmidt, containing information about a 10% raise and $1,000 holiday cash bonus. The reason given by Google? - “The leaker selfishly and thoughtlessly put 20,000 co-workers in immediate danger of being mugged while carrying holiday bonus cash on their way home in the dark that very evening.” Mugged? Really Google? For all the relevant information your search engine hopes to give can you not give us a good and relevant reason?

May be Google’s downfall is nearer than we can envision.

WSJ's review of the book