Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year Wishes!

Dear friends and colleagues,

Here’s an original New Year wish from the top of my mind and the bottom of my heart –

I wish you ~

Righteousness above Religion
Wishfulness above Woefulness
Compassion before Creed
Passion before Polarity
Joy before Pleasure
Thoughtfulness before Thanklessness
Duties before Rights
Globalisation emboldened by Localisation
Selflessness before Selfishness
Giving nature before Greed
Happiness before Hatred
Health before Haplessness
Wisdom before Vices
Assimilation before Differentiation
Love of nature before Love for lucre
Hard work before Hardship
Helpfulness before Harping
Caring before Carping
Action before hollow, meaningless Acts
Power before Pompousness
Experience before Aging
Mind before Might
Intelligence before Insinuations
Ingenuity before Insipidity
Zeal before Jealousy
Revelry before Rivalry
People before Politics
Reasoning before Rebellion
Spiritual before Material
Goodness before Greatness
Solemnity above Sadness
Godliness before ritual based Religiosity

I wish and pray that 2009 brings hope & happiness, peace & prosperity, wisdom & positive action for you and yours.

Sincerely,

Aruna Dhir

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

THE LOST CITY OF LAKHAMANDAL!





Picture Courtesy - Pankaj Asundi

About 20 kms. out of the pristine hill station of Chakrata, from the other side diagonally opposite to the entry from Kalsi, we hit the dirt road that would take us to the very historic Lost City of Lakhamandal, situated on the banks of river Yamuna. The road, moderate in size, neither too tiny nor of urban proportions, is carved out of the side of a mountain and moves ahead in an undulating fashion along the natural curves and bends. The drive, sandwiched between the mountain side and a ravenous dip into the valley, is both hair-raising and adventurous at the same time. As is often the case, in these hilly terrain of the beauteous Uttarakhand, the drive is the most charming part, with the individual seasons of winter, autumn, monsoon and spring adding admirably to the charm quotient. The road is intermittently dotted with small huts – just one or two, not a settlement; sheds for the cattle, dried up thin trickles of water fall and shacks doling out lip-smacking fare of pakoras and paranthas made with hygiene standards of an Indian home. There’s never a dull moment as you take in the beautiful surroundings of the Uttarakhand hills, wave out in merriment at the village folk who reciprocate with equal gusto and become a piece of attraction for the mountain kids excited at the sight of urban vehicles and its strange occupants. The pit stops are something to look forward to as you refuel yourself with delectable street food fare churned with a lot of pride and attention.

While we got to Lakhamandal from Chakrata covering a distance of 66 kms., Lakhamandal is 125 kms. from Dehra Dun via Herbertpur and 111 kms. via Mussoorie. Lakhamandal is only accessible through road. Dehra Dun Railway Station is the last station and Jolly Grant Airport in the outskirts of Dehra Dun, the only airport in the vicinity. Which means that a trip to Lakhamandal, inevitably, becomes an extended vacation as you cross through at least three major tourist attractions in as many directions of this spiritual spot. Yet another tourist spot is Tiger Fall, about 52 kms. from Lakhamandal and ideal for nature lovers.

Lakhamandal instantly gives credence to the belief that India still presents a magical confluence of mythology and spirituality, just as it surges ahead to chart a new course in the technologically advanced world. It is said that whatever may be said about India, the very opposite is also true. And that is an absolute fact.

At the first glance, Lakhamandal can be dismissed as a small village tucked away in the gut of a mountain. But it is when you trudge further that the historic site unravels its mythological past and spiritual essence.

The village is charming with its stone-topped roofs and houses with exquisite wood carvings. And the people extremely warm, honest and welcoming. It is easy to befriend these simple folk, engage them in an animated conversation about the piece of history they seem to be the custodians of and saunter into their houses for a warm broth or a platter of home-style food. These people are proud of their heritage, extremely congenial, shorn of the urban prejudices and honest to the core. While walking through this quaint region, we forgot our handbags carrying our cameras, mobiles and wallet in the temple complex for a good hour or so. A shocking realization that our shoulders felt very light led to a frantic search before we reached the spot where we’d initially left our bags. It was a big relief to see them untouched while unmonitored for all this time, with all the things intact. Definitely a rare phenomenon in India’s other tourist destinations. We were of the strong belief that the influence of Mahabharata with its overriding principles of Dharma and Karma, had something to do with the inherent morality in the keepers of its tradition.

Lakhamandal figures prominently in the pages of Mahabharata – one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. Mahabharata, as we all know, chronicles the story of the dynastic struggle between sibling clans of Kauravas and the Pandavas for the throne of Hastinapura. There was intense rivalry and enmity between the Kauravas and the Pandava brothers, from their youth and well into manhood.

Legend has it that the Kauravas ordered for a Lakshagriha (House of Lac) to be built in order to burn alive their cousins, the Pandavas. The Pandavas, however, escaped unscathed with the help of Lord Krishna. The Pandavas escape by digging tunnels with the help of a miner. There are a number of cave formations near Lakhamandal. It is believed that the Pandava brothers took refuge in these caves. You can still see the cave openings on the face of the hill range in front of you. If you are adventurous enough to walk through a colony of bats hanging eerily, you can explore these dingy cavities with the help of a local guide.

Old temples of Shiva, the Pandavas and Parsuram are aplenty in this area. There is a historic cave here and an eighth century temple with a number of carved stone figures and two big Shivalingas, all of which are of considerable archaeological importance. The temple has gigantic statues of Gods, royal guards and musical instruments cut from large blocks of shining grey and granite like stone. The temple structure itself boasts a fine architecture, decorated as it is with carved figures of gods and goddesses. The figures in a myriad poses seem to be telling the story of the great epic of yore. Just as you enter the temple complex, you are greeted by the priest who performs the traditional puja for you. There are giant drums atop a loft from where the temple drummer spreads the news of your arrival to the entire region. Sometimes the village kids, tiny in size and dwarfed by the drums but robust in spirit, merrily beat away on the drums in a surprisingly mellifluous rhythm. A local assumes the role of a guide as he walks you through the complex spanning from the main temple to the area dedicated to the large Shivaling at the far end.

The area falls under Jaunsaar-Bhabur, a tribal land where people practice polygamy and polyandry, in keeping with the customs of the times of the Pandavas (the five Pandava brothers were married to a single woman, Draupadi). The Jaunsaaris are known for their sharp features, big eyes, rosy cheeks and a flawless peaches and cream complexion. Their language is certainly different. And coupled with decidedly different mannerisms of the denizens, this exotic region transports you to a foreign land of the folklores in an entirely different era.

There is a saying in Sanskrit - atithi devay bhava (a guest is God). And the people here seem to live this dictum. There are enough invitations that spring up from our new found friends of breaking bread with them and spending a night under their modest yet beautifully wood-carved roofs. The people are extremely hospitable.

It is quite interesting to watch the villagers go about their daily chores – a young tyke herds his tribe of goats, an elderly man puffs away on his chillum as another sips from an earthen cup, a young girl beats the grain from the husks in a giant mortar and pestle, a group of traditionally clad women huddle away perhaps to share the gossip of the day – but all beam at the sight of the visitors, atithis (guests) for them and pose away for some happy memories.

If you happen to visit the historic St. Mary’s City in Maryland, USA, you will see that they have created a premier outdoor living history museum and archeological park, located on the site of the state's first capital and the fourth permanent British settlement in the New World. Within the 835-acre site, visitors may step on board a tall ship, explore a Woodland Indian Hamlet, help Godiah Spray in his tobacco field, tour the 1676 State House and watch the ongoing reconstruction of the original brick chapel. The site also has a visitor’s center, a museum shop and hiking trails. This is a reenactment of 17th century America. Now think about the period of the Mahabharata. The scientific calculations date the Mahabharata war to around circa 3130-3140 BC. Imagine the ancient setting, the mythological legend, the naturally beautiful environs, the mystical caves and the time-warped living of its people, and you immediately see possibilities for turning a visit to Lakhamandal into an exquisite and alluring trip.

While a quick Google search reveals that there is a Tourist Rest House at Barkot, about 27 kms. from here and a Forest Rest house at Kawa, 6 kms. away, our local guide promises that there is a very habitable ‘hotel’ within the village that would not disappoint us. So the word of advice is to go with minimum expectation in order to enjoy the unpretentious yet clean hospitality.

The places around Lakhamandal are as pleasing, making the region a nature lover’s delight. You could drive to Bernigaad and continue the journey to Nowgaon, a small town about 12km from Bernigaad that offers the best view of the Bandarpoonch Peak (6315m). Or move onto the Purola / Jarmola regions through one of the most beautiful pine forests in Asia, with spectacular views of the Purola valley and the Kedarkanta Peak (3813m). 16km downhill through the pine forests and apple orchards is the village Mori, the gateway of Tons valley, purportedly the legendary realm of Duryodhana, in north-western Garhwal.

BLACK OR WHITE!!!
































Pictures courtesy - www.deviantart.com

Black and White. Right and Wrong. Day and Night. Yes or No. True or False. Good and Bad.

There are always two sides. Two distinct sides. No shades of gray. No ambiguity.

Either there is or there isn't. It is or it is not.
Either you can or you cannot. You do or you don't. You will or you won't.
Either you could or you could not. You did or you did not.

There is this road you can take or that. There is no middle path.
Either you get onto this boat or the other. You cannot sail in two boats.

Either you swim with the current, or against it.
Move up stream or move down. Race ahead or cease your pace. Soar above or nose dive.

It is either heads or tail. Up or down. Top or bottom. Right or Left. If there is a beginning then there is an end. Either you come up trumps or you are down in the dumps.

Either your heart beats and you are alive. Or the heart does not beat and you are dead.

Either the mind thinks and you exist, being in a state of action. Or the mind goes numb and you are lifeless, dead as wood.

Either your eyes open to the world, and resting in between, stay open till you live.
Or your eyes close for eternity, waiting for your body to be consumed and cremated.

There are only two choices. The choices are in black or white. Either you take it or you don't!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

FLOGGING THE FLOGOS?


Summer of 2001 is finely etched in my memory as one of the finest. I was selected for a cultural-ambassadorial fellowship to the US of A by the Rotary Foundation under the aegis of Rotary International. This meant that I, along with four others were sent to Washington DC and the State of Maryland on a red carpet for a really VIP trip. The agenda was to familiarise the decision makers and opinion leaders of these two geographical locations with the culture, the heritage as well as the charm of contemporary India. As a quid pro quo, we were allowed to be keen and close observers of the quintessential American culture and lifestyle. This was a five week programme, but I decided to extend it to a four month stay travelling from the east to the west coast and spending sizeable time in places like Florida, LA, San Francisco and New York in addition to the two mentioned above. With invaluable help from my boss at the time and the one more recently so, I managed to turn it into a busman's holiday as I not only experienced the American way of life at close hand but also got to meet important hoteliers and stay at some of the nicest hotels......... Ritz Carlton, Pasadena; The Campton Place and Fairmont, San Francisco and The Pierre, New York.

But back to the American culture. It was in Frisco that I was hugely entertained and amused. For something to click, it is always about being in the right place at the right time. And I happened to be in this lively city at the time of the Gay Pride Parade. Having heard enough about it and not wanting to miss it for the world, I coaxed my husband's cousin on the said morning and off we trotted to the area where all the action was to happen. Once there, my Asian sensibilities were teased by the occidental forthrightness. I saw handsome men baring their well rounded bottoms, revealed cannily in strategically snipped leather pants. The toned bottoms were then used to talk about the gay-issue-of-the-day. A few steps on to the Union Square, and I was greeted by the frontal view of a lesbian beauty in the nude (covered tantalisingly with the bare minimum of faux fur), who had used her bountifulness for yet another bold, in-the-face, in-the-eye message on the strong take on her personal preferences.I was quite taken in by America's ingenuity in this exercise of branding & marketing.

On another trip, this time a pure vacation, my husband and I found ourselves slaking our thirst at the famous and naughty Hooter's Bar in Interlaaken. The sprightly, gym-toned waitresses are known, not only to satiate the thirst and hunger of the guests, but also titillate their other senses as they go about flitting in body hugging cropped tees and hot pants. Their well-endowed bosoms are used to full effect to advertise the famous Hooter's Bar logo, thereby leaving an indelible impression on the consumer. Playboy bunnies have been better known to use their twin assets to advertise the company they represent.

Come World Soccer time and we see the choicely shaved heads becoming billboards for advertising the various teams as passionate fans campaign for their faves. The act is so sacred that die-hard fans cut, colour and create mind-boggling hair styles as they sacrifice their hair at the altar of idol worship.

Even in the subcontinent, just as in every other part of the world, the female fans too trade their much-coveted make-up routine for face art as they go about getting their country flags painted on this very visible medium.

So that's back, front, face, head of the human anatomy ingenuously used by the advertising and marketing world.

Very recently I read reports of the latest bastion conquered by advertising. It is called Pitvertising and it uses the arm pit as the possible backdrop for advertising for deodorants. Simply brilliant and mind blowing, I think.

Man's reach in advertising has known no bounds - under water, giant air balloons set soaring in the sky, food packaging, kiosks, bill boards, airwaves, the tele medium, camouflaged as news, insides of public toilets, poly wraps that magazines get couriered in, air ticket jackets, birthday coupons, landscaping done creatively to convey a message, steps to or the wall by a holy shrine, tea stall shed, back of a car, front of a cart, train sides, plane sides, cycle carriers, scooter stepneys (spare tyre at the back), pouches of new products stuck messily inside popular magazines, book jackets publicising other books, patches of pitch on sporting grounds sacrificed to the might and the moolah of advertising............

The accent and onslaught of advertising is everywhere. Everywhere where the eye can see, the ear can hear, the nose can smell, the hand can touch, the mind can feel, the tongue can taste..............

The deluge is devastating. Eating into the mind scape, relentlessly. You laud some efforts and then you loathe some, but you cannot remain impervious to any.

Most you have come to terms with and accepted as a way of life, as it were.

But you need to raise an alarm when some things sacrosanct enough begin to get threatened. Like the sky above that has come to mean so many different things to us at different times of our life - sun-kissed sky, a cloudy sky, a rain-soaked sky, a clear blue sky etc. etc. A muse for poets and writers, a source of inspiration for others, a sign of faith for the believer and just a matter of fact for the agnostic.

But now, we have flogos coming up. Short for floating clouds, flogos are meant to be logos of companies shot out like clouds in the sky for everybody to see and hence to maximise the eyeball capture. "Flogos are a revolutionary new way to market your event or business," proudly state companies who deal in this line of business.

"Its not a bird. Its not a plane. Its Flogos," state some others. Brainchild of designers behind companies characteristically named as Snow Masters and Foam Masters, FLOGOS, according to me are a bright idea gone bad. A spot of brilliance turned devious in this big bad world of commercial success.

Companies are bound to lap it up, given their incredible reach. But it touches a raw nerve. It hits on to a space that has been held sacred by all, almost universally. With children getting robbed of their innocence in today's texted, short messaging world, here's another pitfall that takes away from traditional lore and the romanticism of the bygone era.

When we were young, we went to play in the outdoors, picnics were a fun activity, we had real time friends, we wrote letters, we went to the parks and museums, we had excursions as part of our botany classes, chasing butterflies in the daffodils or mustard fields was playful activity with cousins during vacations, zoos were places for a Sunday visit with parents, we squealed at the sight of the rainbow across the sky and shot up a silent wish.

Now we send SMSes, we have play stations, Second Lives, virtual friends, Facebook / MySpace / Orkut relationships, virtual pet Societies. We give Endangered Hugs virtually, develop our own and friends' green patches on our personal computers without having to pick up a shovel and get our hands dirty.

Given the disassociation and dispassion of the new world, it is a miracle that we still can talk of a sunny day, a rain-soaked morning spent indoors, a clear sky with wisps of white cotton wool clouds or a cloudy one garbed by the dark nimbus.

But not for long. With flogos looming large over the heretofore pristine sky, we can all look forward to telling our kids what the real clouds looked like when their sight was unmitigated by the ugliness of these fake ones that assume the shape of companies that pay for their genesis.

Let the debate begin. Clear sky vs the one fed with flogos? Let the good man win, in this tussle between the ethics and everything-goes.

Lets flog the flogos before they fester or else be flooded by this fascinatingly fiendish new medium.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Which is that item that has very high `COLLECTIBLE VALUE'


Picture courtesy - www.deviantart.com

MEMORIES!!!

A plethora of them get tucked away in every corner of your brain.

Depending on how you use them they end up becoming either stumbling stones or building blocks!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

MY FATHER AND MOTHER!


Picture courtesy - www.deviantart.com
By – L. Aruna Dhir
Penned on 7th September 2008


My Father lived and died a man,
while I whimper and whine in vain;

My father stood up to challenges
and squared up his shoulders in courage,
While I beat up the dark and the negative
and flare up in rage;

My Father lived a life of responsibility
with arms spread like a giant umbrella,
While I cringe and corners cut
a shame ’am not a patch on the good gone fella;

My Mother spent her life alone
but never was she lonely,
I set out to live amongst a crowd
but remain isolated amidst many;

My Mother took on burdens with glee
and thrived on a sense of duty, merrily,
I trudge along and crush under the weight of goodness
wearing righteousness like a bloody harness;

My Mother abstained from little indulges
and lived a life of divinity,
I crave heights of love and attention
and hark untiringly about faith and conviction;

My Mother preached ’bout the virtues of frugality
while giving thought and lucre to the needy,
I subdue myself to the everyday pleasures
and rein in my mind as with temptations it staggers;

My Mother shunned religion
while giving into spirituality,
I chant mantras a couple of hundred times
and become subservient to idolatry;

My Father and Mother were two of a kind
they lived a life exemplary,
I enslave myself to the emotions of this world
while aspiring to live in the pages of history;

My Father and Mother, now angels in heaven
send blessings and watch over me,
While I live in conflict with the worldly beings
and count the trees as the forest I forget to see.

***********

Monday, July 28, 2008

What would you prefer in an employee, if you had to choose only one? Why?


Picture courtesy - www.deviantart.com
Here's my pick -
It is definitely, Passion, Zeal, Enthusiasm, fire in the belly........and any other name that you may call it by.

Passion for ones work ensures that the tiller paves smoothly all the paths that lead to his work or Goal. Be it, then, the path of wisdom or desire or honesty or punctuality or efficiency or being not just able to lead but always blend well with the team.

And because one has the passion, it certainly means that one has made sure that the essential requisites that arm him well for the road ahead - such as education or experience - are well honed.

Likewise, while passion can make people feel flighty, it still is going to ensure that for the success to be achieved again and again, shades of wisdom are roundly and squarely employed.

Finally, if it weren't for passion, then serendipity, creative genius, excellence, going beyond the brief and the marvel in the mundane would well be lost.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Hotel industry seems to be shy selling its product except some seasonal offers in fine print? Do we agree?


Picture courtesy - www.deviantart.com
A lady working for a marketing firm asked me recently. And this is what I had to say -
"Not at all. As with any other product, hotels too are extremely discerning about their target audience, the messages they want to put out and the vehicles they choose to put those messages out in.

Internet is a very popular vehicle as a new media. Weblogs, banners, company's own website, tie-ups with booking engines and other travel companies are common options.

Depending on the geographical location of the end user, hotels have also used the traditional media rampantly, including the extremely expensive option of advertising in mainline media - think International Herald Tribune, Conde Nast, Travel & Leisure, L'Art de Voyager, Vanity Fair AND closer to home The Times Of India, Hindustan Times, India Today and the like.

But straight advertising in mainline media or travel trade publications may not get the desired eyeballs and volume driven traffic due to the publications' mass and non-specific reach.

Hence hotels end up using other avenues prolifically, such as Direct Marketing, tie-up with related business group such as credit card companies (depending on the profile of the hotel and its target audience the continuum would run from AMEX Platinum or VISA Platinum to SBI Card), appearance in travel companies' directories and brochures etc.

On account of the allocation of marketing budgets and the need, hotels draw up a matrix plan that includes both the old and new advertising and promotional techniques."

By posting my thoughts on the blog, I welcome all views - agreeing with mine or in dissent. :-)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What do you do with your ideas?


Picture courtesy - www.deviantart.com
Isn't that a lovely question. One that already sets off a stream of new ideas.

My ideas are like my companion, soulmate, friends, family.........however one may want to put it.

Some ideas I go to walk with. Others go to bed with me. Some others pop up when I am on the treadmill or eating or reading or watching TV.

Some ideas I wrap up neatly and put in the safe corner of my mind, to be able to take out at the most opportune moment.

Some others fade away into oblivion. And some pop back like a long lost friend.

The most important stay right on top, waiting to germinate and take root.

Wishing you an 'idea-full' life.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Do you usually dress-up for the special occasion? What's the most expensive outfit you ever wear ?


Picture courtesy - www.deviantart.com


As for me, I don't know about the most expensive outfit. What I usually carry is the most appropriate attitude. And that is priceless. I have to assume the roles of the ring leader or the main cheerleader or the ideator or even a she-Santa around Christmas so this really comes in handy.

As for the ordinary occasions, I always carry my big Cabas Alto Louis Vuitton bag that cost me a bomb ;)

Would you rather work in a progressive organization and achieve more or stay put in a mediocre one striving to improve it?

We all have worked in both kind of organisations. There, really, is no ideal organisation and every place has its mixed dynamics as much as there are a matrix of people who work there and bring in their set of values, drives and energies adding to or depleting the corporate culture.

I used to lament about the deep-rooted politics, credit-stealing, clique driven and yes-man culture in my last organisation. And now when my niece (adopted daughter) talks of her experience with a Swiss MNC or a progressively Indian Legal Services sector, I notice that things are not very different.

I am sure, most of us want to work with wonderfully progressive organisations with utopian work environments without realising that each of us are essential cogs in the corporate wheel.

My experience says that we need to do a lot of internalisation and introspection in order to make our organisations optimum places to be in.

Yet, having said all this, when the going gets really tough (and absolutely against your grain) then the tough get going (to find another place under the sun).

POV

That's the latest buzz word. It means your "Point-of-View."

Someone asked me recently, "Your views . Do viewers value your valued views when viewed, in the same vein, as you would view them?"

This is what I had to say -

Two important pointers here.
The viewer's point of VIEW - and this to my mind encompasses the external frames of reference. Their surrounding environment, personal experience, societal influences and so on.

The other is the viewer's set of VALUES - and this provides the internal impetus and inclination (favourable or otherwise) towards the presented view.

The heart of the matter should be that while all or most would welcome the views that are in sync with one's own, we need to also value those that vary and use them in accordance with our driving forces.

That in a nutshell is my bird's eye view ;)

Friday, July 11, 2008

"What's the very first thing, you think about, when getting up in the morning? "


Picture courtesy - www.deviantart.com

Two years back it used to be, "Get up.....rise and shine....go to work.....' while the body gave entirely opposite signals."

Seven months back it used to be, "I am alive, I don't have to rush out of bed, I can keep sleeping while I get the Goodbye kiss."

And then I read something really meaningful and meditative so, since the last year it is a quick, short prayer and a chant to 21 times of 'I AM GOOD.' Makes me feel like a better person already!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

What is the answer to the question: what is the the ultimate question!!!

Are you leading the kind of life HE wants you to?

Did you lead the life that HE wanted you to?

Have you decided how would you live your life in... 2008 or any other year?


Picture courtesy - www.deviantart.com

This is what I have decided......
BE!!!!!!!!!

*Be more alive in every moment.
*Be a better daughter, wife, mother and whatever role life gives me.
*Be a better writer and reader.
*Be a better being.
*Be back in action on the corporate ladder.
*Be more fun, kind, passionate and compassionate.
*Be more grateful for all that I have.
*Be and let others BE.

Monday, July 07, 2008

How Does One Feel About The Efforts of One's Co-Workers?

A Mixed bag of thoughts and feelings depending on the personal and professional characteristics of the person in question.

There are great and efficient workers with questionable personal attributes.
There are excellent people with poor set of work related skills.
There are pathetic workers with deplorable personas, AND
There are wonderful, top notch colleagues with exemplary attitudes.

No organisation is immune to this awesome foursome of categories.

Our response to them, our dymamics of equations at work and the matrix of relationships therein is a result of the chain of reactions set off by each of these conductors.

Isn't it???

Thursday, June 26, 2008

If I could change one thing in the last century what would it be?


Picture Courtesy - I Remember You All by YamiChi

In the last century or the one before that or even earlier......actually from time immemorial - to wipe out the gene that makes us jingoistic, belligerent, battle-minded, war crazy, strife happy!!!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Significance and Importance of My Marriage to Me :-)


Picture courtesy - www.deviantart.com

Companionship, the undying enthusiasm to enjoy each other's company not just after 14 years of being together but for life and the challenging idea to create our joint footprints on our chosen patch of sand.

My husband remains my soulmate and best friend even after our marriage. The rose tinted glasses we wore during our courtship period are still intact with us. The only difference is that they have been appropriately enhanced with the tints of realism.

The significance for both of us is togetherness stemming out of trust, understanding, love, mutual respect, common interest, desires and ambitions. Also a deep understanding about what makes each other happy, content, satisfied, animated and rejuvenated.

It really comes from the thrust that we are two distinct individuals who respect each other's individuality and difference in personas but have worked out a highly compatible synergy.

WHY?


WHY? BECAUSE!!!

Because I want to know
Because I want to grow,

Because I want to explore
Because I want to implore,

Because I want to do
Because I want the thought to brew,

Because I care
Because I want to further share,

Because I want to question
Because I want to leave an impression,

Because I have a mind
Because I wouldn't mind,

Because I am intelligent
Because I want the knowledge to be permanent,

Because I am a thinking person
Because I may present an interesting subversion,

Because I want to act
Because I want to reach the fact,

Because I am curious
Because not knowing would make me furious,

Because of serendipity
Because I want to show productivity,

Because, at every moment, I am alive
And till my very end, I want to strive!!!!!

SO WHY NOT!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What qualities make you the leader of the pack in your chosen profession?

Here's my analogy worth its two cents -

Sight -

Far-sight
Foresight
Hind sight

Vision -
for self
for team
for society
for world

Sound -
Ear to the ground
Great listening skills

Mind -
Active
Fertile
Growing
Sharing
Caring
Thought

Touch & Feel -
Humane
Concerned
Motivating
Mentoring

Smell -
scent of opportunities
stench of trouble

Taste -
the sweet taste of success
the bitter taste of failure
the spicy taste of efforts put ceaselessly
the sour taste of rivalry
the salty taste of sweat over the big (and not small) stuff

And that to my mind is the recipe for a great leadership template.

Monday, June 23, 2008

UNCHAINED MELODY!

The song by the legendary singer is rather nice. And I use it here only because it is catchy and has a sense of instant recall about it. I also use it to draw a pun on the word chain as I talk about the food chain here. But the issue that I want to bring out here is far from nice and palatable for many.

Man is easily on top of the food chain, today and was always I guess. But does that give the right to man to disturb the other links in the food chain in order to pander to his undying gluttony and utterly lascivious lifestyle that reeks of selfish desires and self-centered needs.

Sample this -

Was man, as an integral link in the food chain, meant to devour the prized sturgeon's priceless eggs in the name of luxurious living. To please his palate and to beautify himself, man goes about it in the most barbaric fashion. Did you know that "the fish are stunned and transferred to a fish barge in fisheries, where they are kept alive until processing. Then the sturgeon is cut open while still alive, and the roe is scooped out and placed in buckets" (Stewart 1992).

Was man meant to grind the tiger's teeth or claws or penis or whatever into a potent potion, thereby turning the mighty beast into an endangered species, just to increase his own libido. Which the man sadly has, libido I mean. The figures, just for India, are shocking. "India holds over half the world's tiger population. According to the latest tiger census report released on February 12, 2008 by the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the current tiger population stands at 1,411." - states Wildlife Protection Society of India.

And then there are the lions, elephants, rhinos, wild boars, black bucks.......... the list is fast becoming endless.

For leather, for fur, for shahtoosh, for ivory, for jewellery ........the mighty man goes for the big kill to make himself beautiful and ultra comfortable.

Caviar, Paté, shark's fin, tiger paws, ground deer antler, deer blood wine, and three variations of deer penis......... man partakes of this and more to satiate his most basal of physiological need as defined by Maslow.

There are two sides to this coin, two sets of arguments in favour of and against man's role and impact on his environment. Both are strongly, vociferously and vehemently put in varied fora.

My last blog on man's lack of responsibility towards his environment seemed to have kick-started a debate. An anonymous reader quoted Michael Crichton, of Jurassic Park series fame, extensively and commented thus -

"You think man can destroy the planet? What intoxicating vanity! Let me tell you about our planet. Earth is four-and-a-half-billion-years-old. There's been life on it for nearly that long, 3.8 billion years. Bacteria first; later the first multicellular life, then the first complex creatures in the sea, on the land. Then finally the great sweeping ages of animals, the amphibians, the dinosaurs, at last the mammals, each one enduring millions on millions of years, great dynasties of creatures rising, flourishing, dying away -- all this against a background of continuous and violent upheaval. Mountain ranges thrust up, eroded away, cometary impacts, volcano eruptions, oceans rising and falling, whole continents moving, an endless, constant, violent change, colliding, buckling to make mountains over millions of years. Earth has survived everything in its time.

It will certainly survive us. If all the nuclear weapons in the world went off at once and all the plants, all the animals died and the earth was sizzling hot for a hundred thousand years, life would survive, somewhere: under the soil, frozen in arctic ice. Sooner or later, when the planet was no longer inhospitable, life would spread again." - Michael Crichton, Jurassic Park.

Another reader, thelonelytrader, had the following to say against what Crichton upholds has his belief. I quote thelonelytrader here -

Quote begins -
(1) Destruction is always, always, always an easier and quicker process than creation and evolution.

(2) Destroying the planet and destroying life are two completely different events. One is a lot harder than the other. I'll let you guess which.

(3) It is not a proven fact that life would survive a total nuclear war. (The converse also holds, but who wants to test that theory?) It is a huge assumption (and a bit absurd) to go from total nuclear war to, "Sooner or later, when the planet is no longer inhospitable...."

(4) "Ultraviolet radiation is good for life." Yes, in measured quantities and in combination with an as yet unknown array of other physical events. We are still discovering what makes life work. To make any presumptions while apologizing for human progress is, simply put, stupid.

(5) If we are gone tomorrow, the earth will not miss us. Life on earth, however, just might go with us. It is how we go that matters. We have only been around for a blink of an eye on a cosmic scale, but most catastrophic events happen on such timelines. And we, as a collectivized organism, are fast becoming capable of triggering such events.

But that is beside the point. We really must err on the side of wisdom and responsibility. If not, then we should at least err on the side of caution. - Quote ends.

And to the dismay of many who fall under the other category and continue to distort science, life principles and Darwin to prove their point, I must state that I am all for making thelonelytrader less lonely. For I espouse what he puts down so passionately.

Here's another fact - "When we spray pesticides, we put the food chain in danger. By breaking one link on the chain means all of the organisms above that link are in threat of extinction (like the domino effect). By hunting animals nearly to extinction, everything above the animal in the food chain is put in danger. A 'chain reaction' in the food chain can be perilous! Since the food chain provides energy that all living things must have in order to survive, it is imperative that we protect it." - library.thinkquest.org

"Humans kill wild animals for many reasons. These reasons can include primal needs for critical nutrients such as protein and energy (as discussed above), fear of death or injury, the desire to eliminate competition for economic resources, the desire for wealth and related power, or spiritual incentives. Some of these motives
are rooted, in the most fundamental sense, in our own imperatives to survive and reproduce. The first three reasons fall in this category Manifestations of the other motives are substantially influenced by culture, and thus potentially subject to long-term change or considerable variation among societies and nations," writes David Mattson in the International Journal of Wilderness, Volume 3, Number 4.

All I would like to say, as a humble and polite reminder to my fellow travellers on this universe is that, it is not survival of the fittest but the hunger of the avaricious. It is not need but greed; not survival but a sense of self destruction.

Are we prepared to live with this Karma in the face of an utter lack of good dharma!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

GO ON, EAT CROW!

As a little girl staying with my parents in Kanpur, I was brought up in a typical Punjabi cosmopolitan family thanks to my father's career in the Services. As an Officer and a Gentleman, he was posted to various Indian cities, a piece of which we seemed to imbibe in our lifestyles. So, after a four year stint in Calcutta, my mother began to devour every part of the fish - eyes, fins, tail et al like a true blue Bengali. My Dad spent a sizeable time in the heavily British influenced Ambala Cantonment as a bachelor with an Anglo-Indian caretaker and Khansama taking care of his personal needs. The Khansama spoilt my father like hell and presented a veritable feast on his supper table night after night. So much so that my father had refined culinary tastes that my mother had to live upto and present, in her capacity, the best of mughlai, Indian and continental cuisine to him without fail. Thankfully, because Mum was an avid cook, this remained a happy demand on her and didnot turn into an ugly domestic battle between the two sexes.

But lets get back to my days in Kanpur, the heart or atleast the lung of Uttar Pradesh, if you really must argue that Lucknow (Kanpur's neighbouring and legendary city) was the real heart. Like I said, we soaked in the diversity, the culture, the habits of the locals and took away some in order to internalise them as our own. So, in Kanpur, we began going to the weekly vegetable Haats (weekly markets) and bought the fresh produce, meats and fish and ate a stomach full of our favourite Chaat - Aloo tikkis, gol gappas, papri chaat dished out from the chatwala's busy cart in the most unhygienic fashion. We also sat on tongas and Ikkas, celebrated Goburdhun in our large courtyard and enjoyed pre-diwali festivities with our dolls in a mud house built by Mom in the yard.

The other very-UP thing we did was getting attuned to the Crow's cry as he sat on our parapet announcing the arrival of a house guest. And if our comb fell to the ground after getting entangled in our tresses, we were bloody sure that the crow was a harbinger for the guest, who actually turned up on our doorstep the same day or the next.

And this brings me to the moot point of my discourse. These days I keep waiting for the crow to sit on my courtyard wall, to either steal some grains or cry hoarse about an impending visit of some distant relative. But the crow and his gang seem to be busy elsewhere. Mind you, I stay in a very green colony with the house surrounded by parks and overlooking a thickset of trees. But the sight of the crow eludes me. I don't think it is just me. I am sure you have noticed it too.

And then there are the mynahs. All through the school and college years, we used to go .......... one for sorrow, two for joy, three for letter, four for boy! Now, either we replace it with another bird or dump the routine entirely as the mynahs are not easily spotted.

Its monsoon time and anybody who comes from hill stations or valley stations like me, would say that we are or were used to spending our rainy seasons with frogs and toads. They stealthily trundled into our house hiding in corners or behind cupboards or under the beds, croaking at all odd hours and stubbornly resisting all our efforts to oust them. Cut to today and forget about Delhi, even in Dehradun, my hometown where I cohabitated willy nilly with these amphibians, I must admit that I miss them.

In my mother's home in Doon, I remember throwing grains out to the house sparrows - those lovely brown birds with their streaked backs. They perched themselves on the myriad trees in my mother's orchard-like backyard and scooped onto the pucca area where we had strewn the grains. Until a couple of years back, I found these friendly birds enjoying sunshine even in the tiny courtyard of my Delhi home. Alas, I haven't spotted them either this season or the one before or the one, a year earlier.

These are just some of the personal examples. A net search offers a report that featured in The Guardian and states; I quote, "Climate change over the next 50 years is expected to drive a quarter of land animals and plants into extinction, according to the first comprehensive study into the effect of higher temperatures on the natural world."

Another search throws up a mindboggling list of endangered species - tigers, walruses, polar bears, certain kind of fish, African penguins, butterflies, Musk deer, rhinos and a host of flora such as the prized orchids.

Another report talks about the horrific disappearance of glaciers and rivers, land mass and mountain ranges and forests .........

So what's happening? Is the man eating not only the crow (pun intended) but also everything else? Is the human gluttony devouring everything in sight? Is everything non-human being sacrificed on the altar of commercial greed at the hands of utterly selfish short-sightedness?

Perhaps until such time when Nostradamus' prophesies ring true and this Kalyug (bad era OR the fourth age. One in which there is lot of violence and falsehood. The current age is Kalyug. It started with demise of Sri Krishna) according to Hindu mythology comes to an end.

So who remains, when the big scale tips? Just man and cockroach or only the latter???

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

And then HE took his day of Rest!

God toiled away for six long days and six long nights, chipping away on his mould till he got his perfect masterpiece just the way he had intended it to be. He had dreamt of his universe to be a pretty place with beautiful things - flowers, trees, oceans, seas, mountains, snow, rain, rainbow, sunshine.... He had dreamt of his world to be intelligent, to be full of life and love and caring...........He had dreamt of his creation to be righteous, to be mindful of the good and the great, to be aware of and responsible for one's actions, be it beast or man.........

God had intended his dream project to be a model for centuries, nay, aeons of time to come.......So He worked hard and He worked relentlessly, with passion and persistence. And then, He took His day of rest on Sunday.

And that's when the Devil came into play. With God off to his place of R&R, the Devil had a field day, a free hand to carry out his will as his whim and fancy urged him to. He brought in the dark clouds, the droughts, the typhoons....... He, with a villainous flourish brought in a deluge of the Seven Deadly Sins - Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride......... - sins that we are beseeched with even today. Sins that we commit with gay abandon, with no care for past, present or future life. The sins that have become our nemesis. That, in the eternal battle of good vs evil, continue to singe our souls and punish our bodies on this planet and in this life itself.

And so when God took His day of rest, the Devil raised his ugly head and created a race that would be diabolical and double faced. A race that would worship both God and the devil. Does this explain why the human race has been a perpetrator of so much crime, corruption and gore from time immemorial and continues to be even today? Is it why a father kills his daughter in cold blood and with clinical precision? Is it why a husband burns his new wife even before the ambers from the holy pyre of their matrimony settle down? Is it why a son, fed on the mother's milk straight from her bosom, grows into a monster and beats her black and blue before deserting her on the street? Is it why parents, who have brought up and doted on their daughter, later kill her in a rage garbed with honour, across the world? Is it why a young, opinionated girl aid and abet the killing of her second boyfriend at the hands of her first paramour? Is it why greedy hands snatch jewellery off the corpses left to decay under an earthquake hit rubble?

Can God show me the reason and give me proof of His BEING and His UNDOING!!!!!!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Programming without passion, purity & piousness of intent and poise!

We have recently lost Vijay Tendulkar - one of India's best known playwrights and dramatists as he passed onto another world after an eventful and meaningful life on this one.

The Times of India's obit on him mentioned, in passing, the other illustrious member of his family - his fiery, actress daughter - Priya Tendulkar, who the art and entertainment world (as much as the viewers) lost to death a few years back. Priya became best known for her apocryphal portrayal of Rajni in the eponymous TV show that ran to high ratings and very high viewership, I guess sometime in the eighties. What stood Rajni apart, besides Priya's inimitable histrionics, was the content of the show. It seemed to have a compassionate soul, a caring heart and a mind that thought out solutions for a common man's everyday woes. The programme was a true change agent and brought in a wave of reform, as the man on the street took up cudgels against the system and the perpetrator, bringing about a conducive environment denying scope to crime and corruption.

But that was then. When TV was an intelligent medium, the choices were few and sensible and the commercial hunger for space and money had not eaten into sense and commonsense. With more choices of channels and programming fighting for the same pie of viewers, the bastardisation of culture in programming, I guess, was inevitable. A lot of television critics bemoan the loss of news sense in the sacrosanct news as well, that has been whoppingly dumbed down.

While America, a major TV viewing country, where even the Presidential battles are won and lost on the small screen; may still have a TV evangelist in the likes of Oprah (never mind the happy coexistence of Jerry Springer and his ilk), we in India, unfortunately are going down the other way.

Quickly count on your fingertips any programme of real import across the channels. At the risk of admitting that I am no couch potato and do no more than 1-2 hours of TV per day, I can just muster a few names - perhaps "We the People" on NDTV and the other programme hosted by Gitanjali Kirloskar that ran for sometime on another channel. I can't seem to come up with any more names. Perhaps you could do better, if you have a better memory than mine and are exposed to better and more programming than me.

The point I am coming down to is that when we all agree that things are getting from bad to worse (more crime, more corruption, more chaos, more anarchy......), why isn't a powerful medium such as television rising up to the challenge and bringing out something really meaningful and productive instead of the plethora of all that song and dance it makes about well, song and dance in various hues and avatars. Even the news centers on sensationalisation of news with true bollywood touch given to the representation of the facts and the faces that have suffered.

The media is the mirror of its society. When do we stop seeing distorted, exaggerated and unreal images of ourselves as if we were all taking a jolly ride in a fair detached from reality and life.

When does the media retrieve its soul, do some realtime soul-searching and make a trailblazing impact on the mindscape instead of gunning after eyeballs that have become stupefied with the senselessness and unreasonableness of it all.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Nothing to Cheer About :-(

Several column cms of space, decibel levels, words and sleepless nights are being lost over India's latest import - the svelte, sprightly, sexy, energetic and cheerful babes who earn their livelihood as cheerleaders.

When the issues of IPL, cricket teams being sold, their owners from the Indian film industry, Indian cricketers getting more aggressive and abusive like their counterparts from Down Under etc. etc. have done the rounds to death; there crops a new issue - that of the cheer leaders and their attire.

The heckles are being raised against the innocently focussed and unsuspecting girls for the following reasons -

1. It is not an Indian phenomenon. Lets replace it with Bhangra. Or maybe Kathakali, Bharatnatyam or Kuchipudi.........

Do you think Malls, eating out in glitzy restaurants, spending unabashedly on credit, showing off bosom and butt cleavages in Malls and cineplexes, public exhibition of personal emotions in parks and gardens and monuments.........to name but a few, ARE Indian in ethos.

2. The dress is vulgar.

What about the top and bottom cleavages being shown boldly by the young metro girls. What about TV actresses wearing extremely revealing dresses in some of the reality dance shows, what about lewd gestures and vulgar jokes on the comedy shows and what about abhorring gyrating movements and pelvic thrusts done by young and old alike - who may not be at all healthy and appealing and hence an eyesore while making these grotesque gestures - on some other dance shows that rope in the entire families.

Because the TRPs are good, because this entertainment is dished straight to homes and because the channels must have greased enough palms, all this is OK for an Indian's consumption.

But not the innocuous victory dances in the international spirit of things because -

1. They provide an issue to beat around when the other issues have been milked.

2. The voyeuristic politician has to hide his depravity under the shield of Indian culture.

3. The politician would not be a politician if he did not raise his voice against empty issues and did something about the real issues instead. Because then he would be a citizen officer and an honourable gentleman. But he is far from that.

Who am I to complain? Just a law-abiding, patriotic, God-fearing, conscientious citizen.

So lets just go ahead and cover up these beautiful bodies and tone down their enthusiasm.

But please let us also just go ahead and rape, grope and molest our women, play with our crotches openly, piss, crap and spit everywhere and on everything, make out in public places, bastardize our culture on television and beat and throw our old in institutions or on streets. For, that is a sign of globalisation, coming into our own and emergence of a new power.

Viva la New India!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

SUCCESS MANTRAS

My piece on Success Mantras, given below, has appeared on Prabhjot Singh Bedi's career-related website - www.myeclatcoach.com

Prabhjot is a Hospitality professional, trainer and life coach.

GUEST POST| 3 Attributes of Success

Aruna is an experienced Corporate Communications, Marketing Communications and Public Relations professional with 15 years of experience in the Diplomatic and Hospitality industry.

I asked her to do an article on 3 Attributes of Success.

As a keen observer of people from different walks of life and their behaviour, I have come to the conclusion that success is not only the life-force of an Identity, but that it is also subjective.

While to the world, in its most generic manifestation, the rich entrepreneurs and businessmen, the heads of organizations, famous people in sports, media and entertainment are all supremely successful, I have a skewed view on that. To my mind the cobbler-by-the-street corner who has been practicing his craft over all these years and has become the colony favourite is a successful man. The deft nurse who gets asked for by most of the patients, who does her work with utmost sincerity to the Hippocratic Oath and ably assists the doctor in saving may lives yet many a times remains nameless, is a successful health provider. The teacher who has earned a reputation of churning out students who go on to become stars in their chosen profession yet she stays on at the same school year after year content with practicing her job to the best of her knowledge and with a rare sense of commitment, is a highly successful Guru.

Many years back we had a lady who used to work for us at home, tending to our domestic needs. Like other members of her profession, she worked in several other houses besides ours. But what stood her apart was that she was never short of work. People asked for her to come and join their households, she was bestowed with a lot of gifts both on occasions and otherwise. We took turns in giving her money if she ran out of cash or needed the extra buck for getting herself or her husband treated. When she decided to leave this line and join a school as an administrative support, we all gave her glowing references – all true, mind you. Even now she visits us and is welcome anytime. And I think she is one of the most successful people I know. She is not rich, mighty or famous, but she IS successful.

If Sunita Williams is a successful astronaut, so are the set of skilled workers who work hard to ensure that every cog in the wheel of her spaceship works smoothly. If the flamboyant striker in a football league team is successful then so is the goalie who does not drop even a single ball.

If we must take names of the very famous, then Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan and Akshay Kumar - India’s celluloid superheroes - are all successful. Yet each has had a different approach or strategy. Shahrukh is populist, has a lot of fire in his belly, is hungry for recognition and for being the best in whatever he does and plays unabashedly to the gallery. He has a deep need to be the number one in whatever he chooses to dabble in – movies, endorsements, cricket, television, even awards and the recognized lists of the rich and famous. Aamir is more niche, likes to do only what he really likes to do; makes wonderfully intelligent and sensitive films yet refuses to fill nominations for the popular awards, turns down million bucks offered by corporates for making run-of-the-mill films. Aamir has a maverick approach to his art and follows his heart and breaks several moulds in the process. Akshay cashed in on his strengths – action, martial arts, dancing – to gain a foothold; worked on his weaknesses – voice modulation, dialogue delivery; and added to his skill base – drama, comedy, romance. Three people, three strategies and three success stories.
Having established that success permeates through caste, creed, colour and social standing, I would like to state that there are several common threads that run through the successful people in their respective ilk and genres.

The first thread or quality definitely is hard work or smart work. If you need to get somewhere you will have to burn the midnight oil to get there. There are no short cuts or quick fixes. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow uttered the following famous words, definitely my favourite quote –
Lives of great men reached and kept
Were not obtained by sudden flight;
They while their companions slept
Were toiling upwards in the night.

That was then, but even now look at the success stories of the geek-entrepreneurs dotting the Silicon Valley skyline and you will discover that many of these young guns end up sleeping for only a few hours putting in 18 working hours to realize their dreams.

If you want to be promoted, if you want to move up the corporate ladder then you need to be a fast, smart worker who packs in quite a punch in terms of his deliverables and quantum of work.

The second quality would be persistence, perseverance and a consistent internal push. We would not have had light bulbs or telephones or planes or the revolutionizing concepts of relativity and Archimedes principle, to site a few, had it not been for the never-say-die spirit of these zealous, determined folk. How many times have we been told by our seniors – If you try and fail once then try again. Would any of us have learnt any of the stuff we did while growing up, be it academics, sport, dramatics, elocution or hobbies had we just tried them once and not gone back, again and again? Ask the innovators, developers, manufacturers and entrepreneurs and they will reel off some mind boggling numbers for the times they tried, failed, tried again, failed once again, re-attempted ………………till they finally succeeded.
With persistence I would link in grit and tenacity that keeps you in the groove of your chosen activity.

So go for it and keep going till you get there.

The third most important quality is, undoubtedly, passion. That definitely is the main driver in your path to success. If you don’t let that little light within you extinguish or quell the inner voice that eggs you on or keep the fire in your belly alive and stoked then it is passion that does it for you. It is passion that keeps you motivated in the face of flak, failure or fear.

Fervour, ardour, enthusiasm, zeal, craze ………………..call it by any name but it is passion that is your undying spirit which keeps your dreams alive and brings you a step closer to your coveted calling.

Vincent van Gogh, Christopher Columbus, Johann Sebastian Bach, King “Tut” Tutankhamun, John Keats …….. some of the world’s super famous and successful who either died poor or unknown and gained fame only posthumously. But it was their unstinting passion that kept them at it as they went about churning masterpieces after masterpieces.

If I could get to vote a fourth quality then it would be serendipity. The streak that sees the need, that truly believes that necessity is the mother of invention, that takes risks and craves for finding the extraordinary among the ordinary. It is the curious, insatiated spirit and the un-accepting diehard mind that lets you chart a new course, YOUR course in a direction uncharted before.

To sum up, lets coin the ‘W’ factor – Winning attitude with a high winsome quotient; Want as in desire or ambition; Way as in methodology, strategy, action plan; Wisdom as in assimilation of knowledge with practicality; Why – the curiosity, the thirst to know more and do more; Where to – the vision, the far sightedness; Will as in determination and fanaticism and finally Worship – by that I mean faith, veneration of the one above (whatever shape and form he or she takes for you) and a belief in yourself as an integral part of HIS universe.

So, success is an attitude and a way of life. And yes, nothing succeeds like success.


For comments & further talk…write to arunadhir@hotmail.com

The power, the influence and the ethics of advertising!

Monday, April 07, 2008

The power, the influence and the ethics of advertising!

Going through the full page advertisement of Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre Ltd. in the latest issue of City Limits today, I was taken back in time to Circa 1999. I was at The Oberoi and had just got initiated (courtesy my company) into the benefits of an Executive Health Check-up offered by biggies such as Apollo and Max. Once my regimen was completed, I was tempted enough to get one done for my Mother. That is when we found out that while my Mother had a heart as strong as that of a young man, she had several almost fatal blockages in her aorta and other main arteries. We began taking her around to Delhi's best Heart Institutes. For the Angioplasty and stenting routine (which was going to save her life), we spent sleepless nights tossing over the options of Apollo VS Escorts. We sought opinion of family and friends and received equally divided votes between the two medical health providers. For us personally, the swankiness, the cleanliness, the international appeal and the strong buzz for Apollo veered us towards them and that's the way we went for my Mother's treatment. Again, personally for us (and I am sure not for everyone), this turned out to be a hazardous step. The consulting cardiologist had a private practise on the side and that's where he liked to consult my mother often. We spent money like water but I eventually lost her within eight months of her Angioplasty. Lot of friends, sharing our unimaginable grief, lamented that we should have gone to Escorts which minus the Apollo lustre at that point of time, boasted of some of the finest cardiac experts. We had been sadly taken in by the hype that the other Hospital had created and the superficial sheen it presented. The permanent damage had been done.

This is not the first case for me or for you, as we turn out to be suckers for fancy advertising, giving in to their agressive, above-the-line and constant persuasion. We are constantly urged to drink fizzy drinks, eat trans-fat rich, preserved and packaged foods, buy over their prime as well as, sometimes, their expiry date international products that have been dumped into the third world super / hyper markets, exercising the optimal pull and push factor on the crazy mall novices from these places. We get done in by the promotional offers, on-site advertising and discounts that play on our minds heavily while shopping in these glitzy places. Pushpa Girimaji, a consumer behaviour expert, warns us against such shopping pattern with dire consequences both on our health and pocket.

Every waking moment, we are attracted to a product by our favourite celebrity endorsing the product unabashedly with two hoots given to its overall brand value. Aerated drinks eat the biggest share of the pie. So, while Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and their ilk, put the might of their immensely appealing persona to persuade us to buy stuff that they would think twice about using so rampantly themselves or allowing their kids to do so, there is little thought, if any, given to the hazardous effect of some of these products on the people of a country which is fast becoming the Diabetes capital of the world, for one.

While earlier we would pay heed to what our mothers told us OR our Nani-ke-Nuskhe (grandmother's tried and tested tips) OR some of the relevant old wives tales and passed the rich knowledge down to our progeny, today it is blatant and pretty often unethical advertising without a conscience that rules our mind.

The moral order crumbles down ever so often in the face of the commercial greed. Sadly, in a country where millions are spent on advertising and celebrity endorsements on stuff that has very less realtime value for its masses, there is pittance reserved for health care and educational initiatives.

Do a quick stat analysis or reality check and see how many Indians are denied the basic right to proper health care, hospitalisation, education............. even three square meals a day. Then look at the reach of advertising even in the back-of-beyond hinterland where real and spurious drinks or foods do brisk business. And then somewhere in your heart and mind, the little voice will grow into raging anger against the immorality and unethicalness of it all.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

WHEN DID I LAST TAKE THE BULL BY ITS HORNS!?!?!?

Several things, people, issues, situations take on the persona of a bull in one's life. And depending on your personal mindframe at that given point of time, you either take it by its horns or duck away. And there in lies your wisdom.

I took on a major bull (French, not Spanish) in my last job and decided to go my way. No regrets, so far!

Then again, life serves you challenging aces again and again, that you need to be able to take by the horns, face them and solve them to your advantage. Isn't this what life is all about!

Like I said, sometimes life is the bull and sometimes you are the bull in somebody else's life.

Or you could also be the bull in a China shop if you donot integrate your personal wherewithal.

So the mantra is, no bull'ing around just finding the best of solutions at the right time.

WHAT MAKES ME HAPPY!!!!!!!!

The ability to make a difference, the will to do so and the energy to actually do it.
Share my life, time and resources with the less privileged.
To be able to dream and at some point turn it into reality.
To be able to share my life with the best soulmate ever - my husband.
To spend lots of time with my two four-legged children.
To have the perspicacity for being hopeful, positive and optimistic for myself and for the world around.
To be able to pen down my thoughts and try and shape it into a book.
To enjoy the satisfaction of my protege(s) achieving success.
To strive to be a good human being and live by the rules my parents taught me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

MY PR MANTRAS

I was once (in 2002) voted as the best PR person in the hospitality industry by the Hospitality editor of Indian Express Newspaper in India. A highly satisfying and motivating recognition that, today, gives me the confidence to share some of MY tricks of the trade -

1. I try to be a good strategist and look at new avenues (even unprecedented) to get my company's story or message out.

2. I have tried to develop a reputation of reliability and responsiveness in good turnaround time, even if sometimes the response is in the negative. I always try to respond and close the communication loop.

3. Employ lateral thinking and use varied, multi-level opportunities, some of which are freshly created, either in isolation or in sync with a co-worker.

4. Understand the media's perspective instead of being a push-over and forcing someone to give you column cm space.

5. Be a good ideating, fact-crunching support that the Boss can fall back on at interviews. Be his mouth piece without taking the credit and the shine away from him.

6. Be an excellent writer and an eclectic one, so that one could be good at doing the press releases, articles, speeches, manuals, business letters, web text and so on.

7. Be a good public speaker.

8. Build long-term relationships with the media and the other significant publics. Respect even the cub reporter (regardless of one's own seniority) and watch the relationship blossom once the cub grows into a lion of an editor.

9. Be abreast with current, business and industry news. Not only does that make you intelligent but also a lot of ideas come from there.

10. Be adaptable and flexible and thin yourself out in terms of gaining experience and meeting new job requests. At my last job, I got to train even the telephone operators on communication skills, write manuals, prepare lot of archival documentation, write most of the business letters regardless of the department, write the web text myself without outsourcing it and enjoy the privilege of designing, writing and creating a lot of marketing communications collateral.

11. Be eager to learn and raise my personal benchmark at every instance.

12. Be a good mentor and trainer to my subordinates.

13. Be able to integrate the PR function into the larger business plan of the company and cease to see it as a soft, fluffy side-function.

14. Play an integral role in Company's profit protection by honing a lot of in-house skills.

Do I Believe in DESTINY!

I am a liberal Hindu with a missionary-led convent education so you will get a mix of both beliefs with my own thrown in for good measure.

I think Destiny (what is pre-ordained) and your Deeds are two important wheels of your cart. They both get you going ahead and if one or both the wheels are not working well then you are bound to slow down or stop.

While Destiny gives you the canvas, your deeds are the tools with which you paint that magnificent art piece on your lifescape.

On the dismal note, there have been cases of people who gave their best but didn't get back their due or there were those who got famous only posthumously. There are some among us who may not be as intelligent or diligent or industrious yet they seem to be making a killing and then there are some others who have all the qualities but may remain unsung and unrewarded.

On the sunny side, one needs to persevere and continue endeavouring to see what lies in store. If you donot get up and open the door, opportunity would knock and walk away. With incessant effort there is the satisfaction that YOU did your best AND that's more than half the battle won; for you are the master of what you can control, the rest is beyond you.

While Destiny is a formidable ally or adversary depending on YOUR roll of the dice, but it is best to be a KARMAYOGI (continue doing your deeds without worrying about the fruit - as the great scripture GITA propounds).

Be ready, sharp and shining when HE throws a SIX at you.

Why do People GOSSIP!

Gossip, almost always, has a negative connotation.

Wikipedia gives the following formal definition of gossip, "Gossip consists of casual or idle talk between friends. While ostensibly value neutral, the term often specifically refers to talk of scandal, slander, or schadenfreude relating to known associates of the participants, and discussed in an underhand or clandestine manner."

Having established that, I would attribute the following reasons for people to engage in gossip -

1. Misplaced priorities and misuse of time - otherwise those people would busy themselves in more useful and productive work.

2. Insecurity - it provides one an affected sense of importance and power as you seem to be the holder of some information, however false it may be. As someone else above said, it gives you a false sense of a skewed social standing.

3. An inherent sense of curiosity - I have this story to share (and most often IT IS a rumoured story). So what's yours.

4. Predisposing factors - I saw my family members engage in it and that may have conditioned me in developing a mindset that there is nothing wrong for me to engage in it.

5. Entertainment value - The gossip mongers, even most of us, see a high level of entertainment value in it. A lot of us find it more amusing than a good film or a good read or a good piece of music.

6. Habit - We all know that old habits die hard. If gossiping becomes a habit for whatever reason, it is difficult to unlearn it.

7. Peer pressure - We see people in our subset of contacts at work and socially, enjoy a good piece of gossip and keep the ball rolling and we feel compelled to belong.

8. Negative trait / devillish streak - Perhaps there is that, perhaps so far loosely defined, gene of negativity in all of us that urges us to hurt, harm and be hellish even when we have no concrete reason or motive to be so.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

My MOTTOES in Life!

My very personal favourite is -

"Heights by great men reached and kept, were not obtained by sudden flight;

They, while their companions slept, were toiling upwards in the night! - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Some others that keep coming back to mind and that one tries to adhere to are -

"Live such a life that when you die even the undertaker would be sorry," - Mark Twain

"If you don't stand for something, then you will fall for anything," - Malcolm X

"If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything."

"Do unto others what you'd like them to do to you," - I wish I could follow this one religiously.

And since I am a self-proclaimed Dog Whisperer, here is an absolute must -

"Dear God, please make me the kind of person my Dog thinks I am."

RECOVERING MOTIVATION AFTER FAILURE!

Each of us faces small or big failures in the course of our lives. But the idea is to get up, shake up a bit and get going. Staying motivated is the key.

Some other tricks -

Self Esteem and positve visualisation -
Positive strokes entailing thinking of all the wins in the past, the triumphant moments and the glorious feedback on outstanding work, glowing references - once you have been an excellent and above-the-target worker you tend to collect hordes of such gems in your kitty.

Get on to Plan B - all good workers will always have a Plan A and a Plan B and implement that effectively.

Circle of family and friends who tell it like it is, yet know your actual potential and stoke that in the right direction.

Promising self talk and introspective moments guiding you to learn from the failure and turn it into a good learning exercise that eggs you onto the next level.

Also, always facing the issue full on - with tears or other emotional display - and getting it all out so that one can start afresh with no extra baggage.

PASSING ON TO THE NEXT GENERATION AND BEYOND!

Hmmm!!!! Let's see. What would I like to pass on to the next generation and beyond.....

VALUES!!!

RESPECT - for one's ownself, parents, environment, animals, others...., their religion .....

UNDERSTANDING - unity in diversity

SENSE OF PEACE

Ability to look at the simple things and enjoy them without being too materialistic about wants and desires.

Creativity and an inherent inquisitiveness that leads to remarkable innovations and makes one ask just the right questions at the right time.

Above all, deep faith in the one above, no matter what caste, colour, creed, tenets we thrust on him.

What about you?

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

POPULATION COPULATION!

Please stop!

Is it too difficult for us to see that the gravest malaise afflicting us is the swelling up of our population.

Common people, village yokels, urban intellectuals, politicians or vote-bank seekers, policy makers,Godmen, God forsaken men..............I mean all you guys out there who are numbed out to the bomb we are building - not so slowly but ever so steadily.

Please wake up OR better still get some sound sleep in the time that you would otherwise use to contribute to this societal affliction, considering the conservative viewpoint that it is the night time that is the right time for you.

More mouths to feed, more eyes to show, more hands to train, more beings to take care of and finally more bodies to bury. Where is the good economic, social, business, political, religious sense in this.

You get the population in control and YOU get to enjoy better healthcare, civic condition, transportation, education, sanitation, more food and water and fresh air, less global warming and carbon footprints, less conflicts, less stress, less depletion of natural resources.............

Why should mankind, particularly that centered in the subcontinent be so self-destructive???