Monday, August 31, 2015

2245 : Politics by Identity

I was speaking at work (with my broader team ) about the subject of diversity and what it means to us. Every American firm, worth its salt  puts a premium on diversity.

Unfortunately by the time it translates back to the floor the message is fully lost.

It becomes more of a box ticking and less of a real issue.

Here is my take. Real diversity happens when we can encourage thought diversity, make it safe for colleagues to shoot down each other, and when we truly and sincerely encourage thought and intellectual debate.

There is one more important and subtle aspect of diversity though. Real diversity incorporates identity as the root of all differences.

So what is identity?
Rape is identity.
Any form of abuse is identity.
Any form of a debilitating disease (cancer) is an identity.
Any disability is an identity.
Sexuality is identity.
Race and gender are most definitely so.
Isolation is identity.
Economic demographic is an identity.

and I could add a few more. Get the drift?

Read Andrew Solomon's Far From the Tree if you have to.

Include both diversity and identity and you have real diversity in a team, firm/group.

Go include the people on the outskirts and see the magic they really can bring into a median team.

Monday, August 17, 2015

2244 : Find the poet

He caught her off guard and said "Hey, you want to listen to my latest piece."

"Sure fker, you are my Pablo, go on :-)", she said with a facetious smile.

He ignored the dig, and fished out a sheet of paper. He still liked writing on paper with a fountain pen.


"Yes. Go on, vomit your master piece."

As he began reading the poem, she closed her eyes and was steady and still. She always did that, both while listening to songs (she liked) and his poems. When asked, she would say "I like your voice, I like your baritone, and I don't want other senses to corrupt my experience."

As he continued for the few remaining seconds, she nodded at points, as if she agreed with the line/word, and at other times, her forehead grimaced.

At the end he asked "What do you think?"

"You know why I like listening to your poems? I get to know you better. There is a shared intimacy in these poems. I want to know you better. Your poems help me find the you." she answered orthogonally.

He stared hard at her and then at the floor, and then added wistfully...."I want you to listen well too. Though not as a promissory vehicle to find me. I want you to find the you in there. You are within me. You are me. Go, find yourself."

2243 : The charades begin (all over again!!)

They both were playing a game of charades. He smiled wistfully and told her, "a very easy one"....

She said "shoot fker" !!

"What do you call a turbaned person, with a long beard and a sword?"

"Fker, is this some kind of a perverse joke. Surd?"

"Another word..."


"No no....whats their name..."

"Fker....lucky, goldy, preet, harpreet and the ilk....what are you driving at?"

"Common name?"

After another 10 odd tries a very frustrated looking her finally got it "Singh".


"What do you call a little lady girl?"



Mix both up, what do you get.

She said the words aloud "Miss Singh".....

and then smiled wistfully and added "thats easy....."


Saturday, August 15, 2015

2242 : Dirty laundry

Its probably just me and my dirty I am walking through a complex today, I come across a door, with a title board attached calling it the"shafting area". (Assume this was related to plumbing or electrical equipment).

Had a good laugh. Really good one. 

2241 : The memory of water

From where he stood, he could see her.

She was across the small water tank - almost the size of a 20*20 swimming pool - more like a giant bath tub really.

She stood there, totally demure and totally self involved.

A young girl was with her, presumably her daughter or niece or an acquaintance. She was talking to the young girl, not really looking up to see the few faces which were around the pool.

At some point, she made a tiny paper boat and she set it afloat on the pool. The slight wind was blowing from behind her. She continued making a few more boats and setting them afloat.

The boat(s) were trudging along - pushed by the drift in the air.

He oscillated between gazing at her and gazing at the army of boats riding towards him.

In his head, this was metaphorically the messages she was sending to him - him who was a complete stranger to her. Yet he believed he knew her intimately, as if something in her had a connection - some resemblance, some trait that he could not place completely.

As he watched the boats, the leader of the pack was approaching his end of the pool. A bend in the water (due to a broken tile) caused the boat to tilt over a bit. It was about to capsize, he reached out and steadied its course.

When he looked up again, he could see her staring at him with a fixed long stare. He was unsure of whether she felt transgressed, whether she felt angry, or whether she felt obliged that he had saved the day.....her gaze was fixed.

He tried to peer into her eyes. She immediately looked down again. She collected herself and then followed the young girl who was by now chasing something distractedly.

Not a single word was spoken. No signs were made. Boats reached his shore from her. She was now going away.

He wanted to say "wait", and yet his lips did not move, and everything in the universe had frozen.

What could not have been possible had he gotten a chance to speak to her. She was now part of his imagined possibilities.

She was gone now. Some of the boats were still afloat.

....and the memory still remains.

Friday, August 14, 2015

2240 : Don't leave me from Conversations

I have posted on this song multiple times. This composition is from L Sub's and Stephen Graphelli's path breaking album called Conversations (which should be around a 1987 release date or earlier...web says 2013....thats patently wrong....I remember have the tape of this one in 1987).....gosh there I said it I have heard this album for 18 whole years. Thank you L Sub and Stephen...take a bow....!!!

As I was hearing the massively addictive title called "Don't leave me" from the album( its the very first song)....I realized that every single time I have spoken about this song I have used the world dueling.

And today - as I heard it first thing in the morning, an insight occurred to me - it is indeed a war within the song.

Somewhere around the center of the piece for about 50 seconds, the violins actually talk. And bloody how ........ (this is my fav section of the piece, I can hear just this piece on repeat for a few hours).....

Both violins take turns in becoming more louder than the other. At least at two distinct points, one of the violins starts playing before the other has stopped - almost out of turn. There are distinct notes, where you can almost feel one of the violins dying off abruptly, as if it did not have the energy to even complete the quarter note it was voicing. And yet in another note, you can hear one violin gasp, and in another poignant part, the other one violently sighs, and in another haunting part, one of the violin just gives up, loses steam - going just dead silent. For the entire 50 seconds, neither of the violins relent....gradually gnawing at each other, till both of them have moved so far away, so distanced from each other's notes....that the only way is to move to start playing the solo end notes, at least a few notes of these on completely different scales.

Sounds eerily familiar? A conversation like that can only end with a beseech "Don't leave me...".


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

2239 : The boat that capsized the river

As she took the steps into the boat, the old boatman helped her onboard. She was in the town after many years. This had been her playground. This river knew all her early stories, her secrets were fashioned here.

She remembered seeing the boatman as a youngster, but did not believe he would remember her. As he had helped her onboard, he had smiled genially at her, and she could not guess if this was because he had recognized her, or because he was just being the kind soul that this river had transformed him into.

She sat facing him, alone. On this old ragged wooden boat, she looked like a lone princess out on a war.

She looked periodically into the water, all along the shore, and sometimes at the base of the boat. She rarely allowed her eyes to gaze onto the boatman.

Minutes had passed and as she was staring deep into the city that lined its shores, the boatman abruptly said "If he is not right for you, remember you still chose him. You have to be okay with the consequences of your actions."

She looked up, broken from her reverie. She was unsure he had spoken to her.

"You chose him right?".

"What are you talking about?"

"About you. Are you not thinking about him?"


"The one you chose, him."

She said indignantly, "How do you know anything about me?".

"I don't know anything at all. You are staring into the river and the water is reflecting your soul off. I can read off the reflection. I learned this early when I was a teenager. My father taught me."

"Really, are you serious?"

He ignored that question, and added "What about him bothers you?"

"I am driving him onto the road to hell."

"And he? Does he drive you mad too?"

"Yes, he is cramping my space."

"And what about this other Him? Does He give you the peace you need?"

She appeared jostled, disturbed, as if her inner sanctum had been violated. "How do you know that?"

"The river tells me that again. You are being forced to choose between a life that your planets chose, and a life that the stars divined."

"Between the planets and stars, who shall win?"

"The planets are currently drowning. As I am rowing, the oars are cutting across the water surface. With every cut, the very depression which is being created, that is gobbling up the planets one inch by one inch."

"And the stars?"

"Every tear into your eye, is catching the light. That is birthing the stars. The wind is giving life to the stars, blowing them off your eyes into the river. The river is loving the stars, they are its foster children."

"That is poetic.", she said and she braved a tiny smile.

"No its not poetry. Its true. I am 71, and I know this river like I know my mother's bosom. She can quite literally eat up planets and birth stars." He added with a smile, "We already know - She can also reflect the soul."

Her brave tiny smile continued, and she asked "So, between Him and him - who shall win?"

He looked at her and told her "Neither." and with a long pause added "You will win."


"Yes. As long as you not blind. One day He shall come calling, embrace Him for what the greatness He brings out within you. And on the day he shall dial out, cremate his memories."

"What if He never comes calling?"

"He will. The river tells me He will. Just make sure you make Him smile. He needs to feel that."

"And what if I cant cremate the 'him'? What if his bones refuse to die?"

"If he is stubborn, and his bones refuse to succumb to the embers....get his remains to me. I will offer him to my mother, her water will drown him."

"And I?"

"You will live. You will live because life emerges out of you. You dont know this, but He was born out of the very you. You dont remember, but you implicitly chose Him when he was in your womb. Remember you are the only one who can make Him laugh. Knowing that secret, He can never make you cry."

And then with a pause the boatman added " I have rowed through this river for the last 65 years. Its taken me my lifetime to know a simple secret - its the river that is constantly moving. The boat and me, I am rowing to just stay still. You are the river's daughter. Keep moving, let the world of Him and him row just to keep up with you. "

2238 : Have you ever seen the rain?

Picture this.
I am at Malad today driving at around 4, and its pouring as if the heavens had a leaky shower. Visibility is low and all cars are driving very slow with the "hazard" light on.

As I am driving and reaching the inorbit signal....the road is completely devoid of 2 wheelers and individuals...its just cars.

And in my slow pace (probably less than 20km) I see this tall girl (really tall by Indian median standards, she should be around 6ft) walk past.

She is wearing blue pair of jeans, a black short sleeved t-shirt and has long flowing hair. She is walking across without an umbrella, and the effect she has is magical at least on me (and not really because she is stunning).....but because she is such an unexpected aberration. She is almost surreal. Walking past without any protection, drenched in this really pouring rain, totally oblivious to us and the whole world. She just seemed focus on her life as she walked past. Almost like a buddha in the modern world.

What gives some people such a level of un-self-conscious-ness....almost a sense of being so sure of themselves that it makes others pause and it made me wonder, do we even need umbrellas? Why?

This was beauty. This is greatness. She had shown that to me, to anyone else who could see.

The world never ceases to show me a door when I am most desolate. Thank you uncle universe.

Monday, August 10, 2015

2237 : House speaking

At the same airport, I am near gate number 39, and the janitor's manager come around to check at the loo. I think he means to come to the entrance of the loo and scream "house keeping" "house keeping" to get both sets of cleaners out.....instead what he screams distinctly sounds to me as "house speaking", "house speaking".....

I had a good laugh on that one :-)

Saturday, August 08, 2015

2236 : 3 is my lucky number

Picture this.

We are at the Delhi airport T3 terminal. With a group of colleagues, we enter Guardian to buy medicines.

As we pick up necessary supplies and stand in the queue, the person ahead of us is having this conversation.

"Don't have a pack of 3 kya?".

We look and we figure he is angling for a pack of condoms. The clerk looks at him straight in the eye and says "Sir, I only have a 10 pack in Durex."

"Any other brand, any other flavor, do you have 3 in any of that?".

"No sir, I have only pack of 10s."

"Ok. Thanks", he said that walked out of the shop.

We start our billing, and as we are proceeding, about 40 seconds later, the same client walks in again and approaches the clerk who is billing for us, "Please check na, are you sure you have no 3 packs at all?"

"No sir, I am really sure, I dont have a 3 pack in any brand."

The guy is sullen and walks out dejected.

Coming out of the shop, us colleagues, had a good laugh about this fixation with 3. But seriously I did ponder quite a bit later, for someone who is desperate enough to pick up a pack of condoms at the airport, why would you want to buy only 3, and not 10. Think, this is a bit a like a Zen Koan, I really cant explain it, no matter how hard I think about it. Nothing seems to add up. Definitely cant be the cost, or any other mundane operational matter.

So what was it? Would you have such a request? Can you rationalize this? Write to me if you can. Truly a lateral puzzle.

2235 : Love and longing

(contd. from my previous post)

The other day I was talking to her and asked her, how long does it take to get the correct pitch on the tanpura. She said usually a few hours, but sometimes longer.

I asked her, "And you still strive for it?"

"Yes the perfect pitch and the precise note are both a longing. You can never satisfy your soul on that ever."

I asked again, "And you still strive for it?"

"That I still want it is love. My story is one of unrequited love and lifelong longing.", she answered cryptically and walked away.

2234 : Tanpura

My sister was chasing me up saying she needs to find time to go and pick up a Tanpura. I always knew she had a keen interest in music, but this request will still a little too serious for her types.

I asked her "Tanpura? Serious kya?. Now whats up?".

She said, "I am finally getting serious about my classical stuff."

"You know right that it is usually tuned to G# in case its being used by a girl."

"Of course, duffer, I obviously know that."

"How long does it take it learn a composition or a raga well?"

"Usually a lifetime."

"And? You have a lifetime?"

"Yes. I am willing to die learning this. I have finally decided."


"Remember good music is a bit like us. If we decide to stop seeing the notes embedded in our conversations, or if we decide to stop improvising with each other, then our relationship dies even before the Alaap starts. But if we really see another human being, for what he or she really is, and we wish to get into their skin, we can spend a lifetime, but it will never be enough to get under the skin. A good composition is like that, you can never get into its skin enough. Never is enough. Everytime you involve yourself into it, its yet another layer that emerges."

"Thats deep."

"It is. And hence music is a real metaphor for our lives. I think of you and I or all our relationships, a bit like music."

And then she added with a pause, "Also remember that sometimes when you plateau with a piece, the best way to conquer it, or befriend it, is to let it sleep and seep. Let it go from within your psyche. Just like human beings, a raga can never be owned or conquered by trying harder. The best way to win over a raga is to let it free. Let it go. At least for a good period of time. Sometimes for years. And then one day, when you least expect it, it will come back, like a lover who has chosen you again...and on that day, it will be sublimely divine."

And further more she added, this time with a chuckle "And how often we forget this na. With our spouses, with our parents, with our children and even with our friends.....we dont let them fly, in the optimistic hope, that clutching onto them will keep the strings alive....and reality is so bloody counter-intutive..... Invariably the raga never comes in our grasp. Its a life half lived, its a raga that was stillborn."

Take a bow my dear sister. There is truth in your words.

Friday, August 07, 2015

2233 : The fire eater

She was grinning cheek to cheek, as if she had just goofily walked into a potluck. He noticed and asked her, "Whats with that edge to the edge brimming pearlies?. Lost your marbles kya?".

She looked at him, and with a very serious look, said "I have eaten fire today.". With that she paused.

"And?" he asked.

"It tastes like life. It feels like exactly the taste that I have always wanted, but I have always missed."

"How do you eat fire?"

"You can eat fire. You drop your tongue into fire and let it roll around. Roll the heat onto yourself. The fire will either singe your soul, or it shall be dimmed by your saliva."

"And in your case it?"

"Singed my soul. Felt great, my soul flew off a wing and a prayer."

"Really? I have never tasted fire, I have drank a few flamers and that the closest I have ever come to eating fire, if that is possible at all."

"Let me tell you a secret. Like cold water on a winter morning, after the first 10 seconds the body gets used to the shower....just like that, once you taste fire for a few seconds, you want to flirt with a little more. A slow growing obsession. Its very compelling."


"Yes. I mean it. Fire eating is - actually at - The edge of reason. The wedge of treason. The ledge of the season."

With that she goofily smiled again and walked away chirpily. Leaving him to sort out the metaphor.