Thursday, 14 April 2016

Because Am HAPPY :)


“What is this life if, full of care, 

We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows..."
- W H Davies

Not long ago, it was a common practice in schools to have exams in which you had to rewrite one of the  poems in syllabus from memory. The above poem is one among them. I liked to memorize the poems, but never really cared about the meaning or the thought process behind any poem. But as I look back, I should have done that. This is one such poem which would have set a lot of things in perspective. 

I have a fairly well paying job, but work consumes most of my time. Including weekends. So, is it a good practice to have a job just to pay the bills, but not have time to enjoy some things that money can never buy? Work has become an all consuming activity which goes on and on. You have no respite from it. But is work alone to be blamed. It never came chasing me. I went in search of work, and after much hard work got it. So who is to be blamed here?

The final question that we should ask ourselves is "Are we happy doing what we are doing?" Happiness should be the ultimate acid test which should determine what we really want to do.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

The Grand Anicut...

Some of the most interesting academic subjects are sometimes the most boring while in school. History is one such subject. No matter how hard the teacher tries, history, by virtue of its structure manages to put to sleep even the most studious of the students. History provides us with perspectives and some lessons. They have an uncanny resemblance to the case-studies in B schools.


A grand structure, which has borne the vagaries of time and yet maintained its stoic posture, is the Grand Anicut- A check dam built in the 2nd century AD by Raja Raja Chola. This structure helped to increase the cultivation in the regions of Thanjore and nearby areas. This structure bears a testament to the skills of artisans of that age. The Cholas were nighty conquerors and able administrators. They have to their credit various conquests and were noted for their mighty naval force. The Cholas were also great patrons of arts and music. They have to their credit temples like the Briuhadeeswara Temple and the Gangaikonda Cholapuram


The Grand Anicut is a beautiful sight to behold. The paths are dusty, but the lush green paddy fields on both the sides are a feast to the eyes. There are numerous birds that abound in the vegetation near the Grand Anicut. There are flocks of migratory birds that grace us with their visit. The cacophony of sounds is something that is priceless. On a misty morning, when the smell of dew rises up, it lifts our spirits and for a moment, we transcend the earthly states and enjoy bliss.



The take away from the history lessons are not just the moments of wonder. They should ideally stimulate our thinking –on the motives that went behind these events. May be we can think what we would have done, or does what they did back then hold true even today? Answers to such questions will provide the fodder for further forays into history- Where only perspectives hold true.



Football Frenzy...

There was a time when we would speak only one language- Cricket. It used to be the ice-breaker, the group bonder and the relationship builder all rolled into one. But if the viewership for the EPL and the like are any indicators, we are on the way to becoming multi-lingual very soon.

Although football is the world’s favourite game, it has garnered our attention fairly recently. However there have always been some pockets in India which were home to the football fanatics-Kerala, Tripura, West Bengal, Assam and the like. There have been instances when near-riot situations have happened when the favourite team lost.

In India, Mohun Bagan is the oldest club. It is also one of the oldest clubs in Asia, having been established in 1889. It has its home ground as the Salt-lake stadium and is known for its rivalry with the East Bengal Club with whom it contests the Kolkata derby.

In spite of the early start, why has Indian football not picked up? Is it the lack of sponsors or is it the lack of infrastructure? Is it the lack of fine talent or is it the dwindling number of viewers? In any case, if recent indicators are to be believed, we are poised to take off in football in a very big way. We have got a chance to host the 2017 Under 17 Football world cup. Also, some of our budding players are being offered international trainings in the best of football schools abroad, not to mention the star players in India getting a chance to sign up with the teams abroad.

With the kind of talent that we have and the atmosphere that we create, we can certainly be hopeful that we can have an alternative to cricket. Not that cricket is not entertaining enough, just that another sport to kindle our imaginations is the need of the hour.




Monday, 30 December 2013

Sound and Memories...


What has been the one aspect of human life that has remained constant with the passage of time, yet has been the harbinger of change? It is communication with fellow humans, especially with sound as the medium. As R L Stevenson has put it, “ Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone, but primarily by catchwords.” Even though we could easily be one of the weakest creatures to walk the surface of the earth, we could transform our environment to suit our needs by our ideas and by communicating them through words, or in the very basic form -Sounds.

Some trivia about sounds to substantiate my case:

A human baby's sense of hearing is up and running even before  birth. When a human baby is conceived, it learns its mother's sound before her face.

Also, the sound of each individual is unique. It is due to the shape and size of an individual's vocal cords and the shape of the vocal tract of the person.

There is also enough research on the topic of hearing related memory in babies, which is said to be amazingly long in human babies. During one study, pregnant women played a song of their choice to their unborn babies. As part of the experiment, the mothers did not play that song for a year after birth. Even after not hearing it for a year, the babies showed recognition when the familiar song was played. Suddenly the story of Abhimanyu, Arjun' son in the Mahabharath, learning to break the chakravyuh (circular formation of the battle troops) does not seem so far fetched.

The research on emotional memory says that the sights, sounds and smells can all evoke emotionally charged memories. The same part of the brain that is in charge of processing our senses is also responsible, at least in part, for storing emotional memories. What it means is that there is now proof that our memories, good or bad, can be linked to the sounds that we heard during that time. If we hear a song which we used to listen to during our childhood, it bring about a flood of memories. Suddenly, the home works not done and the “get out of the class” brings a smile on our face, albeit with a pinch of nostalgia, on the times that have past. And have left nothing but memories to us.

As some one have rightly said “ It is strange that we hold on to the pieces of the past while we wait for our futures”



Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Brihadeeswara Temple:

India, as they say, is a land of myriad cultures. Cultural diversity is one aspect of India that probably no other country can boast to have. History is one unique aspect of this cultural diversity. A glimpse into history gives us an idea about the rich traditions that our country followed and how the cultural fabric was influenced by it.
One look at the grand majesty of the Brihadeeswara Temple at Thanjavur, and we can be in awe of its grandeur. It is a monument replete with superlatives. And to think that it was built in 1010 AD, makes us wonder if what we call scientific development is actually a way forward or backward. This temple is part of UNESCO “World Heritage Site”.

The construction of this grand temple began somewhere in 1004 AD and was completed in 1010 AD. It was dreamed of by Rajaraja Chola-I and follows the pure form of Dravida type of temple architecture. One mural apparently has Rajaraja along with his guru.

A look at the statistics of the Temple:
The shikhara is about 60 metres high and there are 16 stories around it which have some very intricate carvings.

About 130,000 tons of stone was used to construct this structure.

The kumbham, which is the stone atop the main gopuram is weighs around 60 tons

The gopuram of the main entrance is 30 m high, again with a lot of carvings. Probably the sculptors in that age used to work magic on stones to allow for such fine detail which is alive even now after a 1000 years of existence.


Another interesting aspect about this mega structure is that the stone for the kumbham was placed on top of the 60 m high structure when there were no cranes to lift such massive stones. It is said that a mud slope was made from a nearby place and elephants pulled the stone up.


Friday, 6 December 2013

Memories...

Life has been hectic for some time now. There have been umpteen assignments, project submissions and presentations to bother about. Being at an IIM has certainly started to take its toll and mental fatigue has started to set in. It is during moments like these that I get all philosophical. I start reminiscing about the time past by and the things that I really miss in life. May be it is for times like these that W H Davies wrote:
“What is life if full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare? ”

So out from my treasure-trove of wonderful memories comes out the images of the times that I spent in my hometown of Perumbavoor in Kerala. I used to commute to work on my bike on a road that criss-crossed the paddy fields. You can see the Cattle-egret (Not sure of the name of the bird) and the cow feeding together- one of the best examples of a symbiotic relationship. On a lucky day, I could even spot a hare jumping across the road. Then there was the famed Kerala monsoon. The sound of the dark clouds rushing in, with a violent thunder, and then, the downpour, this joy is worth more than anything else. I have been drenched from head to toe on many occasions, but the experience lingers on in my mind.



I miss my bike, the joy-rides and the monsoons. But the memories are worth their weight in gold.




(PS: The photo can speak to you. Just listen closely :)  Courtesy: http://www.pikspeak.com)



Sunday, 20 October 2013

Hindi Film Industry: Is the success sustainable?

Films have been a steady source of entertainment for the people in India. We have long been used to seeing films of a specific kind. Films, having a set formula of six songs, some comic sequences, some action sequences, some drama, and the end. This had led to a situation in the 90s where the films started to lose the connect with the audience. And then the rot started. Films started to flop and the industry was in a crisis. From this crisis, the industry realized the importance of keeping the audience in mind while designing a story.

However, I sense that the lessons have been forgotten by the insiders of the industry. The movies are churning out hits-100 crores is now a common figure, but the audience is not getting the value that it wants. Most of the 100 crores are earned within the first few days of the screening. So by the time word-of-mouth kicks, the revenues are already earned. Negative reviews do not seem to affect the earnings, and the producer laughs his way to the bank. But a good film is one which should have a good theatrical run. At least a fortnight is a decent number.

The industry seems to have run out of ideas, the back bone of any creative industry. This is evident in the number of remakes it is churning out every year. While I am not denigrating Hindi film industry, I feel that it needs to buckle up for some rough ride in the future. Hollywood is making its mark in our country and in the years to come, if new ideas are not there to compete with the English films, we might see that the revenues go on a free fall. And it would be difficult to get back an audience one it has rejected your offering.