Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Fair play

Sitting at a negotiating table with my client and the other party, this thought keeps recurring in my mind - Why can't one be fair and balanced while negotiating a right or a deal or drafting a legal document ? Whats the big deal in being fair and ethical ? Why cut corners ?
Should winning be at the cost of another ?

(Of course, now we swim in the dangerous waters of who is right, fair, ethical..... and the endless debates around it)

"The law, for all its failings, has a noble goal – to make the little bit of life that people can actually control more just. We can’t end disease or natural disasters, but we can devise rules for our dealings with one another that fairly weigh the rights and needs of everyone, and which, therefore, reflect our best vision of ourselves." says Scott Turow.

I do not intend to or set out to make a moral argument for any one profession as such, but perhaps that is something worth sparing a thought to.


I make a conscious effort not to write about my profession and genuinely try to focus on things outside the immediate spectrum of what I do to earn my bread and butter (not to forget the jam, cheese and icecream!) but at times, I feel a compulsive need to write about related topics. Is the dividing line getting thinner between life and work ?!

Monday, October 29, 2007


"Did I create you in my image

or did you create me in yours ?"

Postcards from God, Imtiaz Dharker

Friday, October 26, 2007

Farewell, dear Inzy!

In a way, the Cricket World Cup made and marred his career.

Inzamam-ul-Haq came into the limelight as a young and dashing batsman who played a key role in ensuring Pakistan lift its maiden World Cup in 1992 and it is indeed ironic to note that his end as a cricketer was hastened by Pakistan's shock exit at the 2007 World Cup in West Indies.

Right from 1992 till his retirement, I have enjoyed watching him play and plunder the opposition. The enjoyment was marginally less when he played against India nevertheless what I really like about this amazing cricketer was the simple, unassuming way he carried himself off the field. No wonder he was often famously referred to as the 'gentle giant'.

What a batsman/cricketer he was on the cricket field - dominating, aggressive and attacking and just the opposite off it! In his interviews to the media, he comes across as a humble and simple guy who would rather be left alone after his game of cricket was over.

Of course I remember with great amusement the incredible number of times he lost his wicket (and lost his partners too) for sloppy running between the wickets or his laziness to take a single! But the very next time he came to the crease, it would all be forgotten when he would whack the ball all the way to the boundary or hit a smashing six.

I felt sad when I watched on Television his emotional announcement of his decision to retire from ODIs post Pakistan's disastrous world cup and it again saddened me the way he bid adieu to Test Cricket after the Home Test Series against South Africa. So much so my dad consoled me that this is a definite consequence of every world cup/major tournament. New heroes emerge and the older ones depart- some go out in a blaze of glory while others leave with ignominy. That's an occupational hazard of being a sportsperson, I suppose.

Farewell dear Inzy! You were an awesome cricketer! I will miss you! (and the run-outs also!)


"It's important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse."

- Life of Pi, Yann Martel

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Coffee Tales

Coffee…..the very word makes me cringe!

Don’t ask me why or how, but the fact remains that I have never liked coffee, especially the filter coffee they make at my place – in true tam-bram style.

My grandmother recalls the days when she as a young bride, had to wake up early to brew the ‘decoction’ for the entire household (consisting of parents-in-law, husband and 4 brothers-in-law). It was the job of the mother-in-law and with the arrival of the eldest daughter-in-law in the house, the job was entrusted to her.

Coming back to the coffee preparation part, my grandmother would boil the water, put the freshly ground coffee powder in the coffee filter, sprinkle some cold water over the powder, pour hot water over the powder to let it flow down in a thick concentrated form. The thick coffee decoction would go down the filter in about 20 ~ 30 minutes. Then it would be mixed with varying proportions of boiling hot milk and sugar (depending on how strong the person wanted his/her coffee to be).

Off it would be poured into the coffee glasses of each male member of the family who would be out in the verandah reading the newspaper and discussing the day to day affairs of the town and shooing away the flies with their cotton towels waiting for their early morning dose of coffee!

(I am also informed that as the aroma of the coffee would spread to the household in the early hours of the morning, the male members would be salivating at the mere thought of the piping hot coffee being prepared and eagerly wait for their morning cuppa!!)

Also, the coffee had to be served to all the males and other elders of the family at just the right temperature (read : just after removing from the stove). I find it incredible that one can gulp down the piping hot coffee when my few attempts at drinking a hot glass of milk or tea burns my tongue.

My grandmom recounts as to how she would first fill all the glasses with decoction, add sugar as per the individual’s requirements, remove the boiling milk from the stove, add milk to the glasses, mix it well in the “davara” (small cup) so the froth sits on top of the glass. Nothing would distract her while she was going about doing this in that precise order as that was the only way she could satisfy 5-7 people’s yen for early morning hot coffee!

I quiz her about her cup and then she makes her startling revelation – she does not like coffee at all. Hence she has her cup of hot milk after serving coffee to the household. She further adds that she has neither liked the taste nor smell (okay - aroma for the coffee fans!) of coffee. And so it has been for the last 60 + years.

Similarly my mother also never used to drink coffee and I suspect it passed over to me and has something to do with my drinking lot of milk and tea to this day. In fact the only kind of coffee I have once in a while is flavoured cold coffee, usually coconut, where the flavour of the coconut absorbs the coffee taste. So much so that while I enjoy the drink, my coffee buddies are appalled at my enjoyment and delight of something that is so ‘not-coffee’!

So it was with a fair amount of surprise that I noted the latest conquest of coffee.

Yes, imagine one morning when I notice my grandmother with a hot cup of coffee by her side, I am about to ask her if she would want me to call my father or brother to take their cup, when she just gulps down the coffee!

I am perplexed at this sight and immediately quiz her : how come she is drinking coffee ?

She gives me a wide smile and replies casually that she has taken to drinking coffee of late as she started liking it and now craves for her two cups of coffee per day. It’s what gets her going, she adds! How come she never had it all this while, while she was in the joint family or thereafter with my grandfather, I ask, not wanting to give up easily. Totally unperturbed, she mentions she drank a small portion some days back which my brother (a die-hard coffee addict) had kept aside and from then, it got her hooked! She realised that she really enjoyed it!

I am totally confounded by this rather candid admission. All I can do is marvel at the adding numbers to the coffee world!

No wonder more coffee shops open up in every part of the city. Café Coffee day is on an expansion spree globally after painting Bengalooru and other cities red - Sorry, this is not your brand of red, Mr. Karat and Mr.Yechury! Nevertheless it is a ‘C’ revolution of a different kind, taking hold of the masses in a way the other ‘C’ could not!

While writing this post, I just googled the word “Coffee” – it throws up a whopping 215,000,000 results as against 166,000,000 results for “Tea”!

On a recent visit to the US, I met an acquaintance at the ubiquitous Starbucks café in one of the malls there. We walk up to the counter and he orders a hot espresso in a jiffy. Meanwhile, I am looking at the menu and searching for something besides coffee. It apparently surprises him that I take this long to order a coffee at Starbucks. Finally, as I order for my “chai”, he gives me a weird look and informs me that I must be mad to come to a Starbucks café and not drink coffee!

Well, some things in life are best left unexplained! :)

Monday, October 22, 2007

One fine day....on Whitefield - ITPL Road

This incident, happened sometime during the course of the last fortnight, stood out in my mind :

On a busy road in Whitefield leading to ITPL, a Honda Civic bangs into a Hondo City ahead of it.

The lady driver of the Honda City gets out of the car, charges aggressively towards the male driver of the Civic. By this time, the guy is also out of his car and trying to mumble some apology to the crowd gathered around. The lady, apparently in no mood to listen, goes up to him and catches his shirt collar!

There is an eerie silence amongst the crowd of onlookers, each wondering how nasty it is going to get now and going over the next few seconds in one’s mind.

Before we know it, the lady dishes out her cell phone, takes it close to the guy’s face and clicks his picture using her camera phone. All this while, still clutching his shirt collar with her other hand.

Done with her picture, she lets go of his collar, walks up to the rear of his car, takes another picture of the number plate of the Civic and walks back to the guy. Again catches hold of his shirt collar and drags him to the police constable who has just arrived on the scene.

Smart attitude and good presence of mind?!

Perhaps even dispensation of justice should go the high tech way!!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The "feel good" factor

It is not tangible or measurable yet makes an ocean of a difference, permeating across innumerable aspects of our day to day life - personal, professional and social relationships.

We leave our workplaces. Let go of family and friends. Elections are lost and won. Even the stock market gets affected. Thats the power of the "feel good" factor.

This is a key element to reducing friction and promoting healthy interactions between two individuals forming a micro unit and the same being extended to large organisations, societal groups.

It could range from a smile, a small gesture, a thoughtful act, a kind word or just being there - whatever makes the other person feel good - we do it because we the process, reach out to the concerned person, group to infuse this feeling. Mere thought alone may not suffice but perhaps needs to be accompanied by action of some kind, an external manifestation that we care, perhaps.

And its an open field. Anyone can take the initiative anytime, sans reasons or excuses.
If we only care.

Its after all, just "feel good"!

My day just began on a "feel good" note. Climbing the stairs to my workplace, I noticed the leaning lady mopping the stairs. When I excused myself to pass through, she turns towards me, moves back and gives me a beautiful, radiant smile!