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Live and Express


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The collective Karma! #India #Asia #Population

I was walking hurriedly near Jyothi Nivas bus stop in Bangalore, It was almost time for my appointment, and I did my usual fast stroll, which is faster than the average walking speed for a stroll! I was walking on the road, as several vehicles were parked against the footpath, and I was not able to navigate myself to walk in the footpath alone. And then, this gentleman comes along from the footpath, takes 5 steps, walks in front of me, and starts staring at something behind me. I could not stop myself at that speed, so I took his two hands, moved him out of my way, and kept walking. He started yelling at me, but I didn’t care. I kept walking.

Has this ever happened to you? People suddenly coming in your way without giving due thought and consideration that you might bump into them? To be precise ‘StumbleUpon’ into them?

This indeed set of a series of thoughts in me. I usually scan the area around which I walk or drive, and I make sure that I give space to people who are coming into my zone. I either stop, or move away, or do something such that there’s no crash. But sadly, I have observed that many in India do not do that. They stare somewhere, have their own thoughts going in their minds, and walk or drive right royally into me.

So, is this my karma ? I broke my head almost 10 years thinking about this since I moved to Bangalore. Someone close to me always makes fun of me that I attract such people to me unconsciously! But, today, I would and have definitely concluded that it is not MY karma, but the collective karma of India.

Before you start showering obscenities towards me for taking India’s name, let me explain myself!

I think it’s the collective karma of India, in terms of population.

Already absent-minded and the free-flow Indian who does not have the concept of queue or discipline in their blood – if the numbers of those multiply, the StumbleUpon crashes also multiply!

I sometimes wonder that if I had been in New Mexico state of the United States, where in some areas one can’t see human beings for miles together, or probably even in Arizona state of the United States, I would be able to do my fast straight stroll without a problem! And yes, I could have my own thought process going on and jay-walk along till that 24-wheeler truck comes and hits me or scares me off the road with that loud honk!

Yes, it’s the no. of heads, people. Nothing else. India has 17% of world’s population in 2% of world’s land, and what else can you expect from that Koramangala uncle ?

And being quiet, abstaining (ahem, ahem…) or may be adopting would be a good collective karma for India moving forward!

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A sand called me

In the sands of time, I am just a speck, an insigficant one at that, compared to the grand schemes of the windmills of God. Oh, now I sound like Sydney Sheldon, but, that’s how it is, in spite of the master plans that my mind try to weave.

This sand has been observing its mind these days, and it noticed that the thoughts (the so-called intellectual leanings) is all just a projection, like a cinema of the impressions of the past, and the fear about the future. It’s fear because no more appropriate word for the games the mind play – for survival. It’s a well played mind, no complaints, its doing it’s work in a very fine fashion.

This sand, though, has its role to play. Sometimes its stagnant, sometimes its constipated, sometimes its bursting with energy, and sometimes its wayward, but, it exists. Just by the existence, its role is defined, not by its action. If this sand is just happy of what it is, that would be ideal. If this sand connects with the other sands and forms a beautiful conglomerate, that would be great. But, that cannot be forced as the way to look at this sand, because it becomes the perception of who looks at it. And that’s not the fair way to judge this sand. It just is.

This sand is expected to run along with others, but this sand is peacefully idle without any consciousness of time. Because this sand does not look at watches, does not draw a salary to be driven by a boss, does not have big goals to be achieved on time. The never-ending, sweet, stream of being – is – this sand. The waves come and go, the people with lemonade and a book come and go, the speedboats pass by – but this sand is still.

This sand could even become a temple, for, if this sand is blissful, if it could radiate its bliss nearby, people can come and sit in its shade – like they do under a tree. The sand need not become a tree, but it could still be like a tree. Like an eternity – no end of bliss, even if the body of this sand dissipates away.


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#Gift an #Education, Make a #Life ! – #Isha Vidhya

5 months ago, #IshaVidhya applied for accreditation with #GlobalGiving, a respected online fundraising platform which partners with corporates, employees and individual donors around the world.

Isha Vidhya crossed the fundraising requirements of $5,000 from 40 donors in just 23 days to become a permanent online member partner of GlobalGiving, thanks to many general public, supporters & wellwishers worldwide. They recognize Isha Vidhya’s work in transforming the rural education landscape of #India, and especially in #Tamilnadu. With its high quality education through carefully crafted methodology to the most economically backward children, Isha Vidhya is making a signficant difference in the lives of many rural families – many of them are first generation school-goers.

The fundraising was started to fund the critical infrastructure needs of the rural school near #Dharmapuri in Tamilnadu, needs like academic material, furniture for classroom and staff, compound wall, water facilities, digital class room, etc.

IshaVidhya has obtained $10,175 in donations from 104 donors. It’s heartening to see that 13 of those donations are from #corporate employees through employee gift cards, whose companies are partners with GlobalGiving, and be able to donate to Isha Vidhya through the GlobalGiving portal.

There’s still a long way to go to reach the fundraising target of $97,750, so awareness about this good work need be made to spread the word far and wide so that many more can support this building of rural India through education.

And the good news for the existing donors is that your project Isha Vidhya is in a very good standing at GlobalGiving, in many categories including donations, no. of donors, number and quality of project reports, and frequency of donations. It is expected that IshaVidhya will soon be in the ‘Leader’ category at GlobalGiving, at which time it will be introduced to more corporates, employees, and offered more exposure opportunities.

On February 12th, 2014, between 9:00 AM USA Eastern Standard Time and 23:59 PM USA Eastern Standard Time (between Feb 12, 2014 19:30 PM Indian Standard Time and Feb 13 10:29 AM Indian Standard Time) (what would be the time at my place? : http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html), donations made to Isha Vidhya at the Global Giving portal will be matched 30% by Global Giving, upto a maximum of $1000 per donor, till the Global Giving matching funds of $75,000 run out.  This is a great opportunity for everyone to donate and show their support for Isha Vidhya’s work. The link is:

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ishavidhya

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Muhammad Yunus – the inspirator!

My friend, who works for RangDe had invited me to watch a video that was to be screened on the event of RangDe’s 6th birthday, on January 26th.

I was a bit familiar with RangDe’s work, and I have had the opportunity to interact with their people a couple of times. I was thinking probably it’s about the work that RangDe is doing in the areas of microcredit to needy people in India.

What I saw was totally incredible – it was a documentary video called ‘Bonsoi People’ by Holly Mosher, which talked about how Muhammad Yunus transformed the lives of millions of people in poverty-stricken Bangladesh. The model is ‘Teach a man to fish’ instead of giving them the fish. It totally made sense to me, as I think – enabling them with the little capital that they need to stand on their own legs will make them take their lives in their own hands and thrive.

A typical example was shown in the video – an enterprising mother, who started with a small loan – how she expanded her economic wellbeing by slowly – educating her child and making him to dream to become a fashion businessman, constructing a house, helping her neighbors by giving them work, etc.

This particular case in Bangladesh – The Grameen bank – for which Muhammad Yunus got the Nobel Price for Peace (Note: not for economics) – strongly displays the point that microcredit is not sucking money from people, but enabling them at grass roots. Muhammad believes that peace can be achieved only if there’s economic wellbeing among the masses – and it shows. His Grameen bank has touched the lives of millions of people in Bangladesh to take their lives in their own hands. 97% of them are women!

It was also interesting to note that Grameen Bank didn’t just stop by giving loans and then collecting them- they have a bank representative who becomes like a family member and cares for what’s happening on a day-to-day basis with their clients. If they have a problem, they try to address it. They give directives to the people on how to live – for example, they stress that having a strong house and roof is important for people – because if they get wet or infected, their health is affected and sometimes they even die.

They have 16 such directives. The one that touched me the most was ‘Limit the no. of babies that you have, so that you can care for them’. How true! How much I wish this message is passed on to the central Indian states where people are having babies just for labour! How are we going to spread the message of having less children, so that they can care enough for them, and also thus not contribute to the country’s burgeoning population! Yes, I feel, an attempt should be made.

India might be a different story from Bangladesh. The dynamics might be different, and the approach could be different to eradicate poverty, bring economic wellbeing, and then bring sense into them to make them not have more and more babies. But, the concept is the same. How it needs be made aware, communicated to the most economically backward rural, is what needs be worked on.

If you are interested in this area of work, please leave a comment with your contact information in the comments section, and I will get in touch with you!


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#IRCTC woes of #India #Railways

Every grand stuff has a not-so-grand thing.

In case of Indian Railways, it’s the IRCTC’s online web-site for reservations & catering.

As a traveller and a techie, I am just amazed by the sheer negligence of the IRCTC authorities of how a simple thing of handling user traffic in their website has been ignored careless – leading to loss of revenue and discomfort of the passengers.

Recently, there was a talk in Twitter that Indian Railways passenger information is a great #BigData opportunity. The people who started the discussion were awe-ing about the new dynamic fare system introduced in some of the trains. Big Deal? Well, if I am not able to login to IRCTC web-site, what’s the point in even discussing about the features at the web-site?  Even during non-tatkal hours, I get communication failure many times.

It’s a simple matter of introducing cloud to the infrastructure. There was a time when server redundancy & traffic optimization was required.  Extra servers had to be installed, so that they can all share the traffic between them. This required buying additional servers, provisioning them, and writing the software logic to balance the user traffic.

With the advent of cloud computing, server redundancy has been moved to the cloud service provider. All IRCTC needs to do is to sign a service level agreement with the cloud service provider that the service need to handle whatever be the volume of traffic at any hour – the cloud infrastructure would do that by dynamically handling the requests with the servers at THEIR end – instead of IRCTC needing to invest in the physical servers. This way, capital investment is avoided – especially makes sense where in today’s scenario the server features getting outdated in 6 months because of bulkier hard disks, more powerful memory and processing power occupying lesser space.

Instead of investing in cloud service, IRCTC has recently launched a light-weight application, which will be launched during tatkal hours. Well, it’s a stop-gap quick-fix arrangement, but, it will also fail due to the ever-increasing demand of incoming user traffic. Also, who is going to handle the non-tatkal hours traffic which is also significant after 7:00 PM IST ?

I also saw a funny thing – one cannot register an ID between 7:00 AM and 11:00 AM. Why is this?

To summarize, I think the technical knowledge of IRCTC technical staff who are handling the web-site is outdated, and probably 10 years old. I don’t know if IRCTC has outsourced the technical part to a software service provider, but if this is the case, the service provider is doing a pathetic job, and need to replace their architects and engineers who are working on the IRCTC part – to upgrade to new software solutions which can handle the real time situations.

I told my friend – if I have to ever curse someone, I would say that their life be dragging for ever like an IRCTC user session! Hopefully, IRCTC will fix their web-site, and get out of the situation of being a laughing stock and a subject of online jokes in Facebook & other social networking sites.


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Which city should be the administrative capital of #Tamilnadu ?

I was just browsing the Google map of South India casually, and one thing that struck me was the geographic placement of the western and eastern ghats.

While the western ghats seem like a protective layer from the ocean entering the earth on the Kerala side, eastern ghats run suddenly through the middle and meet the western ghats near Mettupalayam. This invoked a series of thoughts in me.

I thought about the Tsunami that hit the South Eastern India in 2004. And how the water came inlands. In Chennai, I heard water had come deep inside till Mylapore households. Several coastal villages were destroyed and lives lost.

Though it was huge and unfortunate for human lives, In terms of magnitude as far as ocean is concerned, it seemed like the ocean was just licking its lips by its tongue. ‘No big deal’ it would say, ‘and wait till I really grab you like a crab holding its prey’. Now that would be really really disastrous for human lives.

If you look closely at the Google map of southern India, and especially the Tamilnadu coast and inlands, you would see that there is no protective layer of mountains on the eastern side. No stopping of water from entering deep into the land to cities like Chennai, Puducherry state, Trichy, Madurai and Tirunelveli. Don’t think water will not come that deep inside the land. It could – because the entire South East Asia starting from New Zealand through Indonesia till Burma is under seismic stress, and earthquakes are happening there on a hourly basis and huge Tsunamis are bound to happen. For more information, see this map: http://www.iris.edu/ieb/index.html?format=text&nodata=404&starttime=1970-01-01&endtime=2025-01-01&minmag=0&maxmag=10&mindepth=0&maxdepth=900&orderby=time-desc&limit=200&maxlat=12.68&minlat=9.30&maxlon=80.62&minlon=74.82&zm=8&mt=ter

The west side is arguably protected by western ghats from the ocean, and the chances of water entering huge scale into the land are less, and on the western side, there are no possibilities of large scale earthquakes, and thus less chances of Tsunamis.

This line of thinking also brought me into thinking what would be best place to live in Tamilnadu. If one has to live safe enough inland so that they are not affected by Tsunamis or the sea water level increase encroachments, it looked like the city of Erode is safest bet. Fair enough, the whole population of Tamilnadu cannot go and live in Erode, but then atleast the important aspects of running the state like administration can happen from that place – to provide emergency time care to all the other portions of the state during distress.

Erode is snuggled between western and some portion of eastern ghats so, it would be a long long time before any significant Tsunami or sea water erosion touches it. It is also next to Cauvery so sufficient water supply is there. It’s relatively close to all the three southern states of Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh than Chennai – which is close only to Andhra Pradesh, which is an added advantage.  All the administrative offices, documents, safeguarding could be moved to Erode. Coimbatore is too close for comfort as it is very near the mountains.

If not today, in 50 or 100 years time, sea water is going to eat up much of the Indian south-eastern coast through Tsunamis and sea water level increase, and it would be naive to not to plan for that eventuality.


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Death

Disclaimer: I am not qualified to write about Death, as, as far as I can remember, I have not died before….oh wait.. may be I did…well, what the heck?!

So, this happened some 15 years ago…1998…I was lying in my bed with no thoughts, wide awake and staring at the ceiling. Slowly and steadily, the heart-beat started becoming loud, and it became so noisy as though it was happening on my face!  Have you ever noticed that when you and your surroundings are silent, you could feel the blood flow in the way of a hiss noise near your ears?  What happened to me was that this hiss noise because so loud and prevalent and I totally lost control of myself and didn’t know what to do.  The heart was beating like a goods train on an old bridge.  I could not think of anything to do, nor could I even if wanted to. I thought I was finished. So, I started calling our family deity – to save me – not to take me away!  After a long wait of around 2 minutes – like the waiting to see whether Dhoni’s helicopter shot will clear the boundary line or not – the drum beats of my heart subsided, breathe came into control, and the hissing noise reduced.  Probably, it was an heart attack!

There you go, my “near death” experience for you !

Couple of years back, I was thinking about living for 1000s of years. And I was pondering the implications and consequences of such an event. One thing, the body cannot sustain itself for so many years unless you have some magic to retain your body as it is. They say some techniques are available, but I am not sure what will work for me..you know, who knows what will work for whom?

But the psychological implications were mind-blowing.  The people whom you love and want to be with you will all age away and die right in front of you. New people will come, look at you like a creature, and they too will die eventually. If you are particular, you could have multiple families and then send each one of them off right in front of your eyes.   Civilizations will come and go, cultures and customs will come and go, and you won’t be able to complain as the old people do “See, in my times,…..”. No your time, my time anymore. It’s all one time and you will have nowhere to go.

All this “Live the moment Live the moment” talk business looks funny to me. Yes, one should not be burdened by the memory of the past, or by the anxiety of the future. But what exactly is “living” the moment?  This sounds like utter non-sense to me, as there is no other way except living the moment anyway – even if you are totally perturbed by past and future. I figure this has a close relationship with the death, but again as I have not experienced death, I cannot authoratively tell anything about this.

At one point of time, it sounded to me that the whole life is just a put-up game that we play to amuse ourselves till death comes. Practically, if not spiritually, that’s the reality. Most of us if not all, try to amuse our five senses and the ego built on top of the experiences of the five senses and dance our funny dance, till that one day we lay still. And no, I won’t know what happened. I will be perfectly fine bothering others to the maximum extent that I can, and then suddenly I will lay down without any movement forever after that. Sounds crazy.

One of my relatives came to know that I do yoga. I was joking to my wife about death, and this person overheard that. He became so curious and started asking “How do you experience death? Is there a way?”  He thought I was going to give him some method to die without dying.  I called my wife and told her “Hey look, this guy wants to know what death is. And he is ready to die for that. Isn’t it true?” and I looked at that guy. That guy was taken aback and started giving excuses – “Oh, how can I die? I have not even married. I have not even settled in life….” and left the scene. Boy it was fun !

So, that’s death for you, folks. If you want to experience death, Die !