Dependence… To Interdependence…

Friday April 29, 2016

4 Sundays ago…

7am… DEPENDENCE…

He knew these were the last moments in the nest… his father brought the seed, the berries, the fruit and the nectar home… his mother kept his nest warm and protected him from the weather, at times taking him under her wing… his younger sister provided for playing the occasional bully that she allowed him to be…

7am to 11am… INDEPENDENCE…

A thousand revolutions blowing in his mind… away from Mummy and her tantrums when he does not complete his homework… away from Papa – at least he will not be forced to watch that stupid sport called Cricket anymore on TV, he can share the TV in the common room with friends, and cheer Messi… do things that he wants to do in all the spare time between 0540 to 2200…

iGovern… iControl…

11.04am…

“Hi… I am Krtin…” my son extends his big palm… factually yes – he is as tall as I am at 14, and his palm is bigger…

“Hi… I am Parth… I am Kshitij… I am Jitesh…”

4 adolescents… 4 different sizes… 4 different backgrounds… 4 different cities… yet, it takes 4 minutes for them to walk up, stand tall and short… shake hands… and meet their eyes for a lifetime…

… Because… some of these relationships that you forged early in life at the hostel… do last… a lifetime…

——————-

“Hey you… Pharst Year…” roared Pradeep Sinha’s (name changed) voice from the corridors of the Pharst (first) floor of the hostel… almost 30 years ago when I stepped into one at the Institute of Hotel Management in Bhubaneswar…

Sinha sounded like God and the Devil welded into one… Yama… far from benign… and you could just imagine two horns jutting out of the top of his head and a couple of teeth hanging out of the upper lip… and with all the air of whip-handedness that he could muster, Sinha stopped us in our tracks…

Thank Yama for small mercies… we were on the ground floor… fairly grounded… else we would have been bumbled away by the boom and the rumble…

My newfound friends of about an hour – Rakesh, my roommate in Room No 3, for the next 3 supposed years… and Sanjeev from Room No 6… almost took to a flight to hide in some yet-to-be-discovered corner in the open corridor… you see… they were in hostels before… and all of 19 years of age that I was, I hadn’t been in any…

To my friends, Sinha’s call tolled a death knell… a clear call that was expected to bring in the charms of a much-loved and sure-to-unfold process called… RAGGING…

The next thing I was doing… was peeling and chopping onions in the hostel kitchen… now that’s something that I had done at home before… except here I was… with a sack of 20 kilos of onions… and with Sinha supervising me…

Sinha was a second year ‘student’ for the last 3 years… from Jamshedpur (Tatanagar, Bihar of those times)… balding… potbellied… smelly… with the best of public mannerisms that they do not bother to teach you even in a Hotel school… and those that many of us envy deep down our hearts… like drumming your nose… or scratching your private parts… all this with an air of nonchalance…in public…

And for all that I know, Sinha would not be reading this… not because he is incapable, which he truly was these many years ago… but the very fact that he was still making Pharst Year students peel and chop sacks of onions in the Bhubaneswar Hostel when I had graduated 3 years later… was testimony to the premise that he was gifted to humankind to turn the art of peeling onions into a cognitive and a psychomotored science…

Trust me… I have ‘Facebooked’ Sinha… he isn’t there… the onions must have got him eventually…

The onions would not leave me during all those years at the hostel… and in the ‘Industrial Training’ – a 6 month mandatory deployment of troops into various hotels that the Hotel School did during the second year of the scholastic curriculum… when I slogged in a hotel doing the onions in… a sure sign in the hotel kitchens that thaws the ice between the Chef and you when the Chef deposits the sack in front of you…

Till the onions did me in… one of the early warning signs that I did not belong here…

After all… in 1990, I could not presuppose my Facebook Profile Picture with a Chef’s Cap on my head… a knife in my small palm and a sack of onions on the table…

I am told one of my Great-Grand-Uncles used to run a restaurant… till the Economic Depression of 1930s in the west did his restaurant in… in Bobbili in Andhra Pradesh… well… that was the most plausible postulate that my father had for an explanation…

——————–

Krtin is in his Pharst Year of his hostel life… he hasn’t met the ‘Sinha’ of his life yet… yet, he wants to be a Chef… is it genetic…?

And since he wanted to be a Filmmaker last month… an Actor last year… and an Astronaut the year before… I would not run the microscope on his DNA…

He started good though… Krtin, Parth, Kshitij and Jitesh… from Navi Mumbai, Nai Dilli, Hyderabadu and Amdavad… quickly figured out the best way to arrange their cupboards and the suitcases that they brought along with them…

“Let’s arrange Jitesh’s cupboard first… all of us… and then we could go to Parth… Kshitij… and finally we could do my cupboard… what do you say”

Krtin’s natural leadership was palpable… after all he has a ‘Trainer’ father… and there was a definite pre-orientation to the first 10 minutes of his hostel time that I had trained him on…

But what he said and did in the next half hour… I had not trained him on…

Krtin was the tallest… they used him to place the empty suitcases in the top shelf… Jitesh, the shorty… helped them all with arranging the bottom most… they were done in the next half hour…

From DEPENDENCE… to INDEPENDENCE… to INTERDEPENDENCE…

A short journey that took Krtin through an experience that will stay with him for many lives that he will live…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

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Emily…

Friday April 15, 2016

“The moment you start recognizing the faces and remembering the names of the air hostesses… it’s time you realized you are spending too much time in the air…” said my Cousin Krishna Kodukula…

“It’s Scary…” he added…

I had met Cousin Krishna after some years this Saturday morning… at his sprawling 1 acre country home in Princeton, New Jersey…

Since he did not give me express permission to talk more about him… his scientist life… and his scientist wife… and his 27 year long relationship with Uncle Sam… I take here, the liberty of talking about Emily…

——————–

Emily…

Walks into her workplace at the start of an 18 hour work day… meets and greets, shakes hands with 29 other colleagues of hers whom she has never met in her life despite her being employed with her firm for more than 4 years… has to spend the next 18 hours with them as each of their lives depends on each orher…

Emily symbolises for me life at work… for most of us… when we walk through those doors each morning, afternoon, evening… depending when we start our workday… some of us walking up with a sordid frown on our faces… and with the deplorable thought in our tummies – What the f***… got to meet the same Boss again…

Or for some of us who punch our fist in the air and when that last dream wakes us up with a twinkle in our half shut eyes… Yeah Yeah… got to meet the Boss today… what a wonderful day…

Emily has a Boss too… except she does not know who it is going to be today… it was Charlie… last Sunday… and Natalie, the Tuesday before… and Sameer, two weeks ago… and today, it is Murtaza…

Emily is from Scotland… her colleagues today come from 21 different countries… speak 17 different languages… walk about 8-10km every day at work in a physically and emotionally pressured enclosure… serve 500 odd customers 36,000 feet above the ground… in the A380 from Dubai to New York… today…

For Emily, it’s a regular day… all the 14 hours of the flight… and before and after managing the turbulence all the time… turbulence in the air… and turbulence largely in the minds and lives of the customers that she serves…

Two of Emily’s customers today are happy… new fathers travelling across to meet their newborns in New York and Chicago… it’s a long haul flight for both of them… one mid staged couple going across to spend the next one month in New York before they join their daughter at her convocation in Philadelphia… one white haired man is travelling from Hong Kong via Dubai into New York… his mother is no more… he is travelling to attend her funeral…

Emily knows about them all… she has these conversations with complete strangers knowing well that she may not meet them ever again… and they may not recognise or remember her when they meet her the next time… but for those 14 hours, Emily is with each one of them… in their joys… their happiness… their sorrows… maintaining a professional, cheerful demeanour of having done a great job for another hard day…

Emily strikes a bond with her colleagues… those that form part of the 20,000 cabin crew workforce… all base stationed out of Dubai… but all of whom, most of the time, are either in the air or some other destination in the world… all come together as a team for that day… for a singular purpose and mission… to hold aloft the brand promise of Emirates… serve the customers that they do… and yet – never to meet the same colleagues again for many months to come…

Last Sunday… chatting with Emily for 15 minutes at the A380 Lounge up in the air… brought in many reflections… going back to the same Boss and colleagues days, months and years together… forming those bonds for a life that depends on each other… with all the similarities and differences… attitudes and idiosyncrasies… common successes and failures… the living in and breathing together for that common purpose…

Life is not too different on the ground… amazing as it is… except…

Is it SCARY to meet the same faces again each day and every day… as Cousin Krishna puts it… even as colleagues…?

Hmmm… he may never have meant it this way… but…

Happy Week Ahead…

From the Dubai International Airport – on my way back home…

Ravi Kodukula

C.R.A.P

Friday, April 8, 2016

C.R.A.P – Cold… Rolled… Annealed… Pickled…

RELEASED… 

——————–

 

C.R.A.P

COLD

On the contrary… Warm… VERY WARM towards my 2 young children who are my biggest teachers in life; my parents; my friends… in real life where I can touch, hug, feel and kiss them… on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter – the SIXTH ESTATE – where I can poke, calm, hurl my compliments and abuses… my colleagues; my bosses at school, college and my workplace… and the world in general…

Most specifically, Smee – my wife and my significant partner in all that I do… and all that she warns and cautions me from doing… the umpteen sermons that she serves me each time before we step out for the next life… always assured that I have this uncanny knack of making an ass of myself…

ROLLED

The emotions in this book do not make any sense whatsoever when written with a straight head… so, I rolled them straight from my heart…

ANNEALED

Have emerged absolutely tough as steel after each of my life experiences… have been cooled slowly after the heat in each situation… so that I could reflect into the past and find some meaning…

PICKLED

Written DRUNK… edited SOBER… the pickling has been somewhere in between…

 

C.R.A.P … Happens…

PS. I could have called this book W.R.A.P… Warm instead of Cold… but my editor told me C.R.A.P is catchier… Trust me… what you would read is Warm…

Available at :

amazon.in

http://www.amazon.in/C-R-P-Cold-Rolled-Anneale/dp/1482872668?ie=UTF8&keywords=c.r.a.p&qid=1460138383&ref_=sr_1_2&s=books&sr=1-2

amazon.com

http://www.amazon.com/C-R-P-Ravi-Kodukula/dp/1482872668/ref=sr_1_22?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460138802&sr=1-22&keywords=c.r.a.p

amazon.co.uk

http://www.amazon.co.uk/C-R-P-Ravi-Kodukula/dp/1482872668/ref=sr_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460138871&sr=1-11&keywords=c.r.a.p

amazon.ca

https://www.amazon.ca/C-R-P-Rolled-Annealed-Pickled-ebook/dp/B01DYKF6UG/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460138717&sr=1-2&keywords=c.r.a.p

barnesandnoble.com

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/crap-ravi-kodukula/1123620332?ean=9781482872668

 

Thanks for Dealing with this CRAP!

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

 

Venky Needs Some Space…

Friday, April 01, 2016

“Papa – why is everybody pushing each other here? Why can’t they simply walk one after the other and everybody gets to see the Bhagwan (Lord Venkateswara)…”

Kavya… my daughter and the youngest of the 6-member entourage – my parents, my only wife, my son, my daughter and I… had entered the Sanctum Sanctorum at Tirumala, the abode of the Lord… had asked herself loud… amidst and above the din of “Govinda Govinda”… chanted with hysterical fierceness by half a million voices around us…

Actually… a 50,000 of those voices in front of me – in a space that was hardly 100 metres between the idol of the Lord and I… and the rest of the half a million was snaking itself through the endless, serpentine, multi-filed queues that were behind me… next to me on my left and right… some above and below me… some hovering and sortieing in unimaginable space out there… in nowhere…

Tirumala… atop the 7 hills above the quaint old town called Tirupati in Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh… has now grown into a bustling city… with all visible symptoms and symbols that signify a commercialised pilgrimage… where basic conveniences come at a cost… where human life is noticeably a level below the Lord… and where the Lord means Business at every stage of the journey…

Like any of the busiest airports in the world… where flights coming in from different parts of the world converge… into that one runway when all others are suddenly shut down for repair… and there is an unanticipated scramble on the tarmac, the taxiway and the runway…

Except… this busiest airport for pilgrimage in the world continues to have a single, broken runway for years now… where basic tenets of a concept called Space, symbolise the way the larger Indian Humanity… succumbs everyday at the most opportune moment to be human…

After all… it was ordained by the Lord to be this way…

——————–

“Sir – we have a new project coming up in Kharghar (Navi Mumbai)… with all the modern luxury amenities… yet styled to reflect how Caesar and Cleopatra used to live (till Brutus did them part)… and how the Greeks and more importantly Alexander lived… and a few other Roman and Victorian kings and queens lived… Coliseum sized gymnasium… Olympic sized swimming pool… Spartan war-field sized podium garden… a Nile shaped water body running through the 8 acre complex… 6 residential towers of 30 floors each… each tower named after the kings and queens… the ambience of the entire 8 acres will symbolise a lifestyle of a king like you… Sir…”

Solanki… my realtor friend for many years… who keeps calling me now and then… specifically in February, just to test whether I got my bonus and that increment… which he believes I would pump into real estate investment… had called me 3 weeks ago…

“And Sir… the best part… we will have a spacious Ganesh Mandir right in the middle of the complex… Smita Madam will be very happy…” he added my wife’s name… for all that he thought about an inclusion that ordinarily brings Godly austerity in my life…

I thought of all the Victorian and the Roman and the Spartan kings and queens… their soldiers and their wives… the harems and the concubines… and their lavish lifestyles all packed in an 8 Acre complex that Solanki was building (sorry developing)… and with the Ganesh Mandir added with a good intent…

For the East must meet West… and Time must meet Space…

I was curious… I put the Lord’s (Ganesh) comfort before mine…

“How spacious is the Ganesh Mandir, Solanki…?”

“Sir… very big… 2,000 square feet…” Solanki said in all earnestness and respect for the Elephant God… I am sure he would have stood up from where he was sitting in all his reverence for Him…

“And how spacious are the flats…?” I wanted to check for some human comfort now…

“Sir… we have options… 1RK (Room Kitchen)… 1-2-3BHK apartments; and 3.5BHK Penthouses…”

Solanki clearly steered around the word “flats” and called them “apartments”… when I had first met him a few years ago, he had asked me what my Room Number was… that’s what they call apartments here in Mumbai… Rooms…

I pressed for the apartment sizes… knowing very well that if the Lord’s agents have allotted Him 2,000 sq.ft. for his elephantine proportions… I would not get more than anything that Alexander’s concubines would have got… neither in reverence for their beauty… nor for mercy for serving his carnal interests in between his conquests for world space…

Solanki told me… the most lavish space in town… the 12’ by 10’ Master Bedroom in the Penthouse was the most attractive proposition for me… at least this would ensure I do not wake up with my feet on the window sill… in the Top Deck… and drop into the Olympic sized swimming pool down below if a pigeon were to drag me down from the window… feet first…

I don’t know about Solanki… but Alexander occupied only 6’ by 2’ feet when he went away from the world… so my guess is, his chamber in the Alexander tower will not require much space either…

——————–

Macrocosmically, no wonder then… Venky did not demand much space for Himself at Tirumala… nor did his agents give him much either… neither to him… nor to the millions of devotees that throng Him every day…

And no wonder this time then… last weekend when Kavya and I went visiting Him… the agents had moved Venky back, away by another 100 ft. from the nearest human touch or sight… on the previous occasions a few years ago, He was 10 ft. away from me…

“But that’s what will happen na, Papa… the way people are pushing each other… no surprise they will fall on to the Lord too and push Him as well one of these days… so, it’s good the agents have moved Him to safety…”  

Space… the primal posterior… at least by the way Kavya and I were pushed and punched on our backs and backsides… 

As time passes by… a sea of Humanity floods the Lord’s Tirumala every day… in and out… for a glimpse that lasts 10 seconds… of the Lord of faith… of belief… of hope…

Except… Kavya thought it was a sea of Inhumanity…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Venkat Kodukula