Saturday, November 21, 2009

Owner is God!!

Every day, for 8 hours I am surrounded with hundreds of trucks. The truck wallahs have a penchant for writing quotes on their vehicle. The most popular one is the famous,
“buri nazar wale, tera mooh kaala”. Then there are some good intentioned people who say, “Buri nazar wale, tera bhi bhala”.
The most common one I have found on side of trucks is “God is One” while many of them advise against AIDS with a “AIDS se bachen”
Today I saw a rather confusing one. It said, “Owner is God”.
Well don’t know if the truck owner is calling himself God or he has simply translated the hindi saying – “Bhagvaan Maalik hai”.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

'Work'ers or 'No-Work'ers

I have been observing this for the past couple of months now. Today an incident marked the tipping point for me writing this.
The incident that happened was a boy at office happened to vent out his frustration to me. This boy who has been contracted to do some particular work at office is asked everyday to do a variety of jobs – the real responsibility of which lies with the ‘staff’ of the company. (Graduates and Post graduates join at the Officer level. The staff level is the one below them). What led to this boy’s vent of frustration was that not only was he told to do jobs which were not his, but also he was scolded, threatened to do them.

After having seen the attitude of majority of workers or staff people, it is no wonder that pressure (and responsibility) is put on a person who is not an employee of the company and who has no “associations/unions" to support or back him up. The rest of the junta is happy munching peanuts in the warm winter sun – a typical picture which comes to mind when you think of a government owned or run organisation. A mere 4 months in the organization and I have been witness to people openly saying that they don’t know the work. You can’t force things as the threats to go to the union can be issued at the drop of the hat. There is no propensity to learn because without that too the monthly cheque is coming to the bank account and joining a “Government company” has already allayed all their ambitions.
Bland refusal to follow orders does affect the ego of the officers, who then vent it out all on the contracted guy who cannot reply back in fear of getting his contract cancelled.

There were talks that the organization is trying to move away from hiring people at the staff level instead outsourcing those works.
The benefits are many.
First, there will be no union, hence no complacency. A negative point can be that who does the contractor go to in case of any injustice. Well, I guess the answer to that is that if he is good, the organization would not like to let go of him and his concerns will be addressed.
Secondly, the thing they call – job security won’t be there. The staff level knows that even if they don’t do any work, they cannot be fired. This problem takes a colossal shape in case of state owned enterprises.
Third - the cost. By outsourcing, we are changing the fixed cost to a variable cost component making the organization leaner and flexible.
Fourth – safety. Recently we have seen a major disaster due to negligence. If a contracted labor, whose work is that of a sweeper, is asked to operate those huge, deadly things called oil tanks or may be the complex machinery like oil pumps, a disaster is waiting to happen!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sachin !!!!

The other day someone asked me, “You call yourself a big Sachin fan, so tell me the exact number of runs he has scored till now”
“12000 something and 16000 something”
“Haa ! Sachin fan!”, came the sarcastic reply.
“OK. how many centuries and half centuries”
“well 40 something and 90 something”
“What the hell! How do you call yourself a Sachin fan dude”.

That got me thinking, introspecting.

I don’t remember how many 100’s and 50’s He has scored
But I know, it is way more than anyone else.
I don’t remember the runs he has scored
But I know that no one will be able to reach those numbers in my life time.
I don’t remember what shot he played to which bowler, on what ground against which opposition.
I simply know that the shot must have given me immense pleasure, thrill and excitement.

And I think that is all what Sachin is all about. For me, it’s not about the numbers it never was. He hardly raised his bat when he reached the 17000 mark recently but you could see the joy on his face, in his body language after he punched the ball through the off side for a boundary. And that is why me and probably numerous others watch Him.
When he comes dancing down the pitch, it is as if the seconds move slowly. As soon as you see that aggressive stance, then the legs moving, the heart beat literally stops. There is that deadly mix of fear and excitement - something that Michael Douglas would have felt in Basic Instinct. It never feels the same when other numerous other batsmen do the same.
There are plenty of shots like the cover drives, straight drives, sweeps and paddle sweeps, gentle nudges and the on drives – which are replayed time and again. But there are those some special ones which are at top of the mind – fixed permanently there. One being the upper cut off Shoaib Akhtar in World Cup 2003. There had been some boundaries hit before that, but may be that shot “opened the floodgates”. I remember, watching it at Lolly’s place where we friends had gathered to watch the match. Oh, we jumped off our seats – again the fear followed by ecstasy – all in a matter of seconds.
Then there was the ferocious pull off Andy Caddick against England. It went soaring past the boundary – not of the ground but of the stadium. I was sitting in at Bulls Eye, doing some DI problems for CAT, which was some 9 months away(Damn!! ). That shot “opened the floodgates” of sms’s, prompting me to calculate the percentage increase in sms before and after the shot. Of course, I literally ran back home after the class.
The next one is a six of Fleming at Sharjah. It was not a sweetly timed straight batted shot over the bowler’s head but was intended to hit hard. It went soaring over the long on.
All the three were seen on TV. There was one special one seen live. I was sitting just to the left of deep mid wicket at PCA, Mohali. It was a full pitched delivery and I saw the ball move in 2 directions. First, it moved perpendicular to my line of sight and then a few seconds later, moved back in exactly the opposite direction as if it had hit a wall – Action and reaction. I don’t know why, it was beautiful to watch.
There was a beauty even when He got out on 99. It was the beauty of sadness. I have never seen Fifty Thousand people at one place absolutely silent. It was amazing – the spell that He cast. It seemed like the shrieks of the Pakistan team was swallowed in that silence. Half the stadium had their hands on their heads, the other half on their faces, just showing the sad eyes.
This silence was also the sound of shattering of one of my dreams to watch Him raise his bat Live – in front of my own eyes and applaud Him. It is tough for such an occasion to appear where He raises His bat if He has not scored a century so technically numbers are involved here. But the dream is just to see his bat raised – possibly in His last match. I wonder what will that be like – the last match. May be all the flood lights will get automatically turned off and a light will appear from the skies directed in the center of the ground which will follow Him as he walks to the pavilion, one last time. Meanwhile the dream still remains.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Visiting 2 banks – a public sector and a private sector one can be a bipolar experience. Some key differences which I observed in a matter of minutes were:

1. Written Application:
In a public sector setup, a grumpy looking person asks you to go to a corner and write an application for xyz purpose. If you ask for a blank sheet of paper, you will get a hard look before it is presented to you. God help you if you ask for a pen. After all being a banker to every Indian can be a tough ask!
Quite contrastingly, on my visit to the recently ‘rebranded’ private sector bank, the application was written by the representative and all I had to do was read and sign it.

2. Computer Savvy:
The generation who are lifers at the Public Sector banks are yet to get comfortable with computers. Of course, it’s been tough on them but, well, you can’t help but see the difference at the private banks where instead of finding some form through a sheaf of forms, all they do is to type in the IP of the server having soft copies of all docs and get a print out. It was quite funny watching a middle aged employee getting up from her computer terminal and sulking like a child, calling out loudly to someone because she got a error message.

3. Customer Satisfaction:
Is customer the king or the employees? Well, if there is a line of customers on your counter, and a fellow employee comes behind in the counter and asks for some work should you do it on priority? That was the thought with which I left this Public Sector bank.

Many things which happened in the public sector bank must be happening in private sector too. But may be the inherent attitude which makes the DNA of any organization is definitely different!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Bhagat Singh and Mumbai

On a 'Geri' of Punjab University, I saw the building where I gave my NM entrance test. Its called Bhagat Singh Hall.
It led to a train of thought where I found that Mumbai part of the life had some more relations to Bhagat Singh.
Not only the hall in which I gave the test which led me to Mumbai was named after my favorite hero but also my address during the first year was Bhagat Singh road in Vile Parle.
To add to the coincidence, my last day in Mumbai was on 23rd March - the day on which Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were martyred in 1931!!