Day 118: It’s raining ameeras

Speaking of the dead

ChemProf was in town to attend to his familial duties, and I tagged along. We went early in the morning and paid our last respects to a granmy that passed away. It was funny to listen to all the planning, and the beliefs behind them, that went into checking on the dead, in fact on the living left behind. It’s preferable to go in the morning, because you anyway have to come back and shower; so might as well club it with the daily wash. You must have coffee at home and go, because it’s generally not recommended to eat at the house. Once you’re back, you should make sure you don’t touch any item of clothing; or be ready to do a lot of laundry. When leaving their house, you’re not supposed to say goodbye since it would tempt more mourning in the house; we left with a lot of awkward nods.

The conversations there, however, were all over the place. There was a lot of sharing of sob stories of every other oldie that one knows, that suffered more than the one in question. There was some fond reminiscing of the life lived and the love shared. There was a lot of rationalizing the death over the suffering. At the end of it all, the adults seemed like awkward teens at the class party, making small talk and waiting for closing time so they could leave. And like young adults, the men were more out of place in such a setting than the women.

The Kabir within

I dropped ChemProf and the Mrs off at their bus, and was an hour early for today’s kabir session. Unlike the last session where there was a nice quiet before the class, today was mayhem. There was a ballet recital coming up and the overly British-accented tutor was screaming her lungs out to get her students, ranging from 5 year old girls to 25 year old boys to follow instructions. I spent the 45 minutes before the session trying to not listen to her while trying to digest the lyrics for today’s kabir song.

However, the magic from the first session continued when we holed up in the room, the noise of anticipation and eagerness drowning out any external sounds. Tu  peele ameeras dhara, gagan main jhadi lagi – go ahead and drink the stream of nectar, there is a huge downpour in the sky. Yet another wonderful pick for the class, by Vipul. Catchy tune, a much happier number than the last one. The conversations were much deeper than the last, if you asked me. The interpretations for true knowing, a drop vs. the plenty, thirst, and the guru were inspiring to listen to.

In the end, the message that I took away was simple – There is nectar in the guru or the teacher’s words. And do not look for the guru outside you, he resides within. Simple. Indeed.

Sneaking coffees

I had a cross-country trip from South to far East, for the last event of the night. And fancy ideas snuck in a coffee break on the way over. SilverGhoster was free and saturated from the prep for his exams and I needed some filter coffee. So, off we went to grab a cuppa from some good ole Udupi bhavans in Koramangala. As we passed by a couple of CCDs and Costas, brim with their falsified lights and promises of caffeine satiety, I was reaffirmed of my love for pure, simple coffee, the traditional Indian way.

The conversations were haphazard, but I left with a feeling of glee. There was a strange, and yet familiar reaffirmation; the kinds one feels when you know that this would not be a graduate-and-forget kind of a friendship. Not reading too much into what lay within either of us, I felt a platonic comfort that I haven’t formed with another in a while; not since I let MalluMan in and paid for it.

As I drove back to the last event for the day, I wondered what the universe’s grand scheme of things was. Both of us joined the university at the same time, both of us had similar aspirations of leading an educational institution at some point, and both of us loved classic rock in this day and age of the Biebers. And yet, the universe did not put us in the same class. It did not even find reasons for us to meet until an entire year was spent going ahead in the same direction, but on parallel tracks. The logic beats me. If it had put us in the same class, we may have been at each other’s throat by now; there is that commonality of being the loudest in the class between the two of us. If we had met sooner, the circumstances would have made it just another trivial acquaintance.

Whatever it’s strange plans were, or are yet to unfold, I met the SilverGhoster at the apt moment that the universe intended for us to. And we shall wait and watch what lies ahead.

Petting projects

The final event of the day was a dynamite explosion. I was in the company of two, young and overly bright minds – the GardenMan and the ProjectPetter. GardenMan and I were both a little skeptical when ProjectPetter told us of her plans to be in Bangalore, and to meet up. But the first few minutes into the conversation and it made sense. We all loved education, and it’s state in India, how could we not connect?

ProjectPetter told us a lot about the extended personality development program that she was on. I’d probably try it when the timing is right, because the energy levels in the young lass were very evident. Something that she asked me has been plaguing me for a while and could be the answer to a number of the country’s youth hoping to contribute to education. What truly creates the most impact to the education space – working with the government, working for an NGO, or starting a localized program of your own? A worthy thought with no easy answer yet. Do we shoot for quality or quantity? Do the sprout of localized agencies truly justify the impact? The questions are still afresh in me.

Overall, a very eventful day indeed.

Eventful indeed. But is that some interesting food that you gave up there? When are you going to make me taste them?” Scotch 

Advertisements

Day 99: Any job that pays me enough to get off the student loans

Newbie at IIMB

Gardenman, his senior and I were off to IIM early up, to present our final proposal for the case study on rural electrification in Arunachal Pradesh. First timer at IIMB; so, I had the newbie looks, and Gardenman was anyway impressed with the greenery on campus. So, we ambled to registration, taking detours through their beautiful gardens, the open air theatre, the tall stonewalled corridors.

Registrations done, and we were the environment-saving rebels that returned our welcome packet – a notepad and a gel pen from Classmate, casually inserted into a paper-cloth envelope, all things that we’d never use again. It was funny and inspiring to listen to Senior talk of how she had never looked at these everyday products from such a long-term perspective. If I had made an influence by making one person think of their impact to the Earth, it was all worth it.

Vidheyak

The event itself was in one of the classrooms, and Mr. Dinesh Arora, the impressive IAS officer that led the Rural Electrification Commission, was a break from the stereotypes that go with Government agencies and officials. He was crisply dressed in his suit, brought two of his associates along, and walked the aisles between the seats as he listened to our presentation.

The competition was all from IIM Delhi, ISB and IIM Bangalore itself. There were two other teams from Christ U as well. So, we were placed in a very weird position. As we waited for our turn to present, we snapped views of charts and graphs with the other teams, and knew that the various teams had approached it from a different angle entirely. The pressure was ON during the presentation, because we were the last team, and so Mr. Dinesh invited all other teams in to listen in and flow into the conclusion section.

Turns out, the solution to the entire case study lay in the politics of the state. Su-kam, the one that we started off with high respect, and dropped through our analysis of the case because of all the text presented, were the pawns in the whole proceedings after all. As was the one Commissioner who kept popping up as the deviant that kept questioning the tendering process.

It was definitely a huge learning experience; made me realize that nothing is evident from the face of it, and those that might come off as the enemy or the traitor might be the victims when looked close enough. The whole process also made me realize the long, corrupt hands of politics into public service and the persistence that one needs to get through to the expected results.

While we didn’t win the 15000 cash prize for winners, we did receive compliments about our presentation itself, and our proposal delivery from the judges as well as other participants. So, with a little content knowledge and expertise, we should be well-equipped for such discussions in the future.

After Party

We were all lost in our own thoughts at the end of the event; I was lost wondering if I really missed this life of business proposals and budgeting that I had left behind. I wondered all the more, if the career that I had picked for myself mid-life was overflowing with the same as well.

We went to Yellow Submarine to hear each others’ thoughts out, and the winners from ISB came along. So, a big after party it was. It was a fun conversation, ranging from climate change, to Antartica’s open waters, to life in the metros. One thing that became evident was that the prized MBA that they were all pursuing was taking them to a similar end as each one of us were at – an insecurity about the future and what lay ahead.

As the 2+1 beers flowed in, they shared their fear of building student loans, and how the MBA, especially at institutes as fancy as the ISBs or the IIMs, was just a glorified placement agency. It was something that Mr. Dinesh Arora recommended for students interested in contributing to public policy as well – get a well-paying job, earn enough to sustain yourself and then come on over!

Life is so hectic at ISB that we barely get to socialize, or research on topics that we care about. And by mid-term, we are already preparing our resumes for placements. Before we know it, we are making career judgments purely based on which company can pay us enough to buy more beer and rid us of the student loans.

Pee OK, Park NO

We came back from the after party, with plans of an after-after-party at my house (not the ISB folks), and found the Red Beast missing. So, earlier in the day, the security at IIMB didn’t let us park on campus, because all their parking spots were full for the event. He assured us that the spot he recommended to us wouldn’t be a problem, and it wouldn’t get towed. It got towed.

We took an auto to the police station, argued a little with the towing fellows, and gave up a full grand to unclamp the car.

That was enough time for our after-after-party to sound like an extremely stupid decision and that plan dropped. I was actually very surprised by how easy the whole process of retrieving my car from the traffic police was. I was anticipating a lot of haggling and arguing, and money-snatching. I hid away a lot of the money that I had in my wallet, just in case it would come to that. But, nope! They took in my details, uploaded a picture of me parked in front of a wall with the “No Parking” dubiously painted, printed out a challan, and off I was on my way.

You seem to have had a busy busy start to the weekend. Meanwhile, in another part of the world, we’ve been relaxing and living our lives.” ~Goose

Day 96: I wanted to go alone, and be invisibleĀ 

Drama, drama, drama

We finally got the teaching practicum report printed, collated and spiral bound, only for SrA to realize that two of her pages were swapped and out of order. Well, too bad. That’s exactly why I’d handed each one of them the report before it was bound. That time was spent staring at her own pictures and now she was in a fit. A and I tried to pacify her, suggesting she put page numbers to clarify. But before long the whole spiral binding had been ripped out.

A and I agreed; had it been either of us, we’d have submitted the report as is and dealt with the consequences later on. But somehow, because it was SrA, the value of our time was immaterial. It frustrates me more than while printing itself she took twice the time as the other two, and claimed some of her reports had ‘disappeared’ although she’d put them in. Whacky-O!

Vidheyak

GardenMan, his senior and I have been working on submitting a policy proposal for an upcoming competition at IIMB. So after all the drama of submissions, I read up about the case and worked with GardenMan while Senior joined us. We spent a lot of time traveling between one workspace and another: no access, no charger, whatnot.

When we finally got discussing, I realized that public policy, especially the tender and bidding process was something I knew very little about. It also became evident that a lot of work in India is wrapped in so many litigations that the good ones chose to stay away from it while the bad ones make all their money. What also got me thinking was how we’d picked sides with a company in the case, purely because we knew it and had heard about it, while the other two was very new. Branding and marketing definitely plays into our psyche.

Plans on the fly

As we were driving back, Gardenman and me at our usual cynical best, he told me about a play that he was planning on attending in the evening. Societal Woes, st Jagriti Theatre. Both the location and the topic were close to home, and I agreed to join him.

He willingly invited me along and then told me something that sent a chill down my spine. ‘I was tired of being social all week. I wanted to put on my black sweater and black jeans, and be invisible for the night’, he said.

How often have you felt the need to disappear? To feel like you dint exist anymore? Wouldn’t it be powerful if we all had an invisibility cloak? We could walk into and out of situations, unnoticed. We could read, learn, explore, and grow, all while going unnoticed. We wouldn’t have to put on this mask that we all draw over our true selfs every morning. We could cry when we wanted, yell and scream when we pleased, and not worry about what the others would take out of it.

Restaurant with the perfect garden

The evening began with a great dinner at The Fat Chef. I love this place for its ambience, the garden at the back. There’s always a dejavu of walking in with H the very first time and being thrilled at the garden. The food was good too. I let myself fall off the diet and enjoyed an all American dinner. Funny how all I craved when I was in the USA was for good old parotta and egg curry.

Societal Woes

I was watching a play after ages and the feeling of sitting amidst the actors, with the scenes unfolding around us, was exciting. All the characters were very relatable, right from the Kasi mama and NRI Rahul, to the skimpily clad Roshni. The story took an unexpected twist from the mirth and banter to suicide and societal pressures, and the entire audience drew silent after the concluding soliloquy.

An amazing performance by the actors, and to think that most of them were senior citizens, well into their 60s, was very inspirational.

White’s Field

I’ve always had a pessimistic view of Whitefield, because of the manic IT crowd, the ever-changing migratory population and their lack of regard for what the city originally stood for. Thanks to GardenMan, I saw a certain side to Whitefield that I did not know existed.

We drove by the twin lanes, Inner circle and Outer circle, encompassing this huge garden at the center. We drove my the oldest villa in the locality, a 150 year old house; Paul uncle is a sweetheart and he lives with his mother, he said. We drove by modern, posh houses, complete with their security cameras and their neighborhood watches.

Seemed like the place Whitefield Rising would rise from.

After all your shenanigans of the day, all I get is a single carrot to munch on? Unfair. 

They should make a play called Doggie’s Woes and I will lead the cast.” Scotch