Thursday, April 25, 2013

Having your cake and eating it too ....

So there we were waiting to place our orders at the coupon counter of our office cafeteria when we noticed that a bunch of people were crowding around with absolutely no intention of trying to stand in the queue patiently behind us. My friend very politely tells a lady from the above mentioned group that we have been waiting  in the queue and that she needs to get in line when she rudely replies "There always is a separate line everywhere for women. Why isn't there one here and why should I stand in this line?"  

Sometimes I think that for every guy out there who quietly keeps chipping away in his own way to break our Indian society's deeply ingrained perception of women in the workplace and help them scale new heights, we have an equivalent hypocritical lady who shouts from the roof tops and clamours for women's equality but wants all the perks associated with being a woman.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

So I gotta have faith ....

I've become a cynic and I don't think I can be blamed for it. Its reached a stage where even stories like how people-centric the new Pope is has me shaking my head in disbelief, coupled with the setting in of a firm hunch that is all part of a marketing ploy to reinvent the Chuch. What? Don't tell me you didn't think the same thing too. But once in a while, I stumble upon an article like this which restores my faith in humanity. The article below has been reproduced in its entirety.    

Every athlete has to let go of his or her career at some point in life, whether due to eroding talent, old age or injury. Collegiate track athlete Cameron Lyle is bringing his career to an end for a much greater purpose—to extend the life of a man suffering from leukemia. 

The Eagle-Tribune reports the University of New Hampshire star shot putter will call it quits for the rest of his senior season, missing his team's last meets so he can donate his bone marrow to someone he's never met:

Lyle will be donating his bone marrow to an anonymous recipient on April 24. As a result, he will have to miss the final two meets of his career, including the America East Championships, where he was hoping to throw shot put.

According to the report, Lyle decided to have his mouth swabbed and his name placed in a bone marrow database back when he was a sophomore. Remarkably, he would later find out he was a perfect match for a "28-year-old male who is suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukemia":

They told me it was a one in 5 million chance of me being a match for a non-family member. They gave me the timeline and everything’s been moving quickly after that. ...

He has six months to live and I have the possibility to buy him a couple more years.

Lyle would love, as any athlete would, to extend his playing days. It's rare that someone who has competed for much of his life walks away completely fulfilled. However, these extraordinary circumstances make this finale easy to embrace. Lyle even mentioned that he never really gave it a second thought, saying, "I knew right away I was definitely going to donate." After the procedure, Lyle will be unable to lift 20 pounds over his head, which makes his specific athletic demands—discus, hammer and shot put—far too strenuous.

Those around the young man are understandably taken with the kind gesture, if saddened by the abrupt end to his career. His mother, Christine Sciacca, is very proud of her son, saying, "He’s my hero. I couldn’t be more proud of him and how he’s been so humble about it." However, she added, "It’s been painful. I don’t know of many 21-year-olds who would give up their last year of track to help another human."

Lyle's coach, Jim Boulanger, was on board from the start despite the apprehension of the athlete telling his mentor. Boulanger offered, "I told him, you either do 12 throws at the conference championships, or you give another man a few more years. It was easy for me."

As for those few precious years, Lyle stated that he would love to meet the man he will donate bone marrow to. Per the report, law mandates the two remain strangers for at least a year after the donation. 

While others want to applaud this amazing act, Lyle continues to place the attention on the man whose life he is extending. "I’d love to meet him someday," Lyle said. "He’s not that much older than myself. I just can’t imagine what he’s going through."

Lyle is a fantastic athlete, but he is clearly an even better man.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Old is gold

So one of the inadvertent benefits of gifting myself a 7” tablet last year (seeing as nobody else was gifting me like anything but that’s another sob story for another time) was the emergence of me reading literary classics. Well I’m only 5 books down in 7 months and that definitely isn’t a whole lot but it’s a strong start and hopefully is a harbinger (I’ve always wanted to use that word in a post) of things to come. It all started off with a couple of the ever popular Sherlock Holmes stories which I fondly remember reading almost 15 years ago. What a difference your age makes when you read a book!

Now I’ve seen countless interpretations of Count Dracula make their way into movies, music, comics and pop culture but I had never really sat down and read the original. Thankfully I read it now and not a decade and a half back! I’ll be honest, the book on several occasions sent shivers up my spine and it probably is the first time that it’s happening to me while reading a book. When you are curled up at 1 AM and reading a genuinely scary (e)book, you know that you’re not going to be falling asleep easily. Gulp! Blame my limited productivity in office (what productivity I hear my boss asking…) on Bram Stoker’s masterpiece that needs to be read. Just make sure you don’t jump out of your chair if someone knocks on the door while you’re alone and reading it.

I had read an abridged version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea when I was pretty young (yes yes, I was a child prodigy when it came to reading) and I loved it then. Underwater exploration and virtual prisoners with nowhere to go made it an story to remember so I was looking forward to reading it again. I quickly realized that the attention to detail was mind blowing in the non-abridged version but after a point all the scientific explanations did get ponderous. What remained the same was the sense of adventure that is prevalent throughout the book and the fact that this was written way back in 1870 makes it more impressive.

All these were just the appetizers to my most recent read – Pride & Prejudice. Before I go any further, I need to mention a couple of things. One, Pride & Prejudice really is a classic (you’re probably going Yeah tell me something I don’t know). And two, it is not a ‘girly book’! I’m still recovering from the shock of being told that it is a well-established fact that it is a ‘girly book’. Ok let me not go on lest I be branded a MCP! The underlying themes and the characters and their development are handled masterfully. Seriously even in this day and age, who doesn’t know a charming Charles Bingley or a pompous William Collins or a strong, independent and captivating Elizabeth Bennet? The Fitzwilliam Darcy’s of this world seem to be a dying breed though. Nowadays the first impression is the only impression as people just don’t seem to have time to overcome their misconceptions but I’m just rambling here. Pick it up the next time you find the book, its definitely way better than the modern stuff that proudly masquerades as literature.

So old is gold or is it? With gold prices sinking faster than my mood on a Monday morning, everyone including my neighbours seems to be on a gold buying spree. Except me. Which reminds me that I really need a pay hike. To be able to afford to continue gifting myself stuff. Who knows what inadvertent benefits they would bring? 

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

True Callings : Part II

For the benefit of my new reader (how I wish it was plural!) writing best-selling books for the Indian audience was what I thought a walk in the park and my erstwhile true calling. Trust me, I did my research, got feedback on character development from the other side (who wanted me to change the plot so that all the guys were bad and women were angels!) and had it all mapped out in my head. More than a year back I had started working on not one but two drafts but the sad truth is that they haven’t been touched in close to a year. I think the only way I will ever get to work on them is if I quit my job or get fired. Given that I don’t seem to possess any skills that will get me hired elsewhere I will be left with no option but to sit and write. But I digress once again.

My new reader(s?) is in part responsible for the recent enlightenment. Sometimes I suspect that Anony is actually the entire roster of the Indian Hockey team and players take turns commenting and putting up lyrics of their favourite songs. Sometimes I suspect Anony secretly has multiple personalities which would explain a lot. Sometimes I suspect Anony is a music director who only listens to music, eats and sleeps. Sometimes I think Anony is far far away from Indian shores and that my blog is a lighthouse of sorts. And sometimes I think Anony is an office colleague who has too much time on his / her hands. 

Irrespective of who Anony really is, it all started with my new reader posting the lyrics of the song by Zac Brown Band “As She’s Walking Away”. Which is a really good song and which also got me listening to more songs by ZBB. It also helped that ZBB plays a few songs which have also been covered by one of my fav artists of all time Jack Johnson.But the one song that converted me into a ZBB fan was Junkyard. I don’t know how to describe the effect that the song had on me but the closest I can get is to say that the depth of that song is absolutely mind blowing. And I’m a sucker for powerful songs.

Which got me thinking. I play the guitar fairly well for an amateur (yeah yeah nobody else had heard me play but that is totally irrelevant). I listen to a lot of songs so that takes care of the research bit. I am moderately creative (arise not in protest) but it comes in bits and pieces. Hence song writing is just perfect for me.

Ok so I haven’t really been blessed with a great voice (and that is an understatement of epic proportions) so humming is more my thing. But that isn’t going to stop me. I already have a few ideas in mind (long time readers are rolling their eyes by now thinking ‘here we go again’) and I should be able to come up with a few songs in a month’s time or so. Knowing myself, that’s just the sort of kick in the derriere that I require to reignite the currently dormant drafts. The sky is the limit, isn’t it? Songwriter. Hummer. Band member. Book writer. And a full time job as well. Looks like the following months are going to be rather tumultuous.

True Callings : Part I

Tumultuous. I think that best describes the last month and a half. There was the work. A whole lot of it. Then there was the touristy sightseeing. There was none of it. There was great weather. Snow and flurries. And then there was the exhaustion that came with it all.

Now I thought that I knew what exhaustion was all about. With sleepless nights completing assignments during my post graduation, long nights on the phone with my sales folks to submit proposals at the last minute, 550+ kms in a day on my bike during one of my many solo trips home (never going to stop talking about it), I thought I knew the very tipping point of exhaustion. But nothing prepared me for the absolutely overwhelming tidal wave of fatigue that hit me at the end of this work trip.

My local flight from Memphis was an hour late and we were noticeably grumpy but the sweet elderly airhostess brought out her funny side and had us laughing as we buckled up and waited for clearance to take off. I remember chuckling at one of her jokes and just closed my eyes for a second. The next thing I knew she was asking me what I would like to drink. Strange, I thought to myself, we haven’t even taken off and she has started offering drinks. Which is when I realized we weren’t waiting at the airport any more.

A quick glance at my watch made me realize that it was over 45 minutes since I closed my eyes and I had slept through the take off like a baby. No wait, scratch that. Babies are terrible when it comes to flights. My globe-trotting cousin once suggested that we should be allowed to carry cough syrup on flights so that we can hand it over to the parents of the wailing child sitting next to us. And I agree. Trust me it gets maddening. But I digress.

Back in India, I had work, work and more work (though my boss will vehemently disagree) and absolutely horrendous jet lag as an ever faithful companion. Nothing beats getting up at 3 in the morning and watching Japanese wrestling till the sun comes up. Nothing except sleep that is. Add to that the summer heat and Easter holidays in the middle of all this work and you can understand why it could have all gotten overwhelming. And yet in the middle of all this i somehow have stumbled upon what I think is my life’s true calling.