Directioner, Selenator… and Fuddunomics…

Friday, June 24, 2016

I had almost given up on the next generation… when it came to taking the English language to the next level of revolution… what with the onslaught of the most truncated spellings of words in the SMS era… and then the WhatsApp era… and then every other era that came up in the last few years…

At times, the pre-mid-and-post-terminated words… and the creation of all kinds of acrimonious acronyms, abbreviations and mnemonics… gave me enough brow-raising and nerve-wracking moments… enough to launch me into an imaginary, fictional future state of green algal vegetation… where my unicellular macrobial existence grew on the red, hardbound 65 year old Chambers 20th Century Dictionary… published at the turn of the last century… and bought by my father a couple of decades before I was born…

Particularly when the Chambers used to, without fail, fail to illuminate my grip around my newfound word stock through the SMSes… and WhatsApp texting…

Until last weekend… when a team of four 15 year young bloggers on WordPress.com – the blog-site where I host Fursat Friday… sent me a message with a comment on one of my recent blog-posts…

So… if I lost hope on the next generation i.e. Gen Y (or the Millennials)… the Gen Z comes to the rescue… THERE IS HOPE…

One of the four girls is a Directioner… and another is a Selenator…

Stumped – are you?

I have this habit of having a silent, closed-eye go at the etymology of any new word that I hear or read for the first time… some patient nano-seconds of figuring out what could be possibly the root of these words… which most normally lead me to a Latin, Anglo-Saxon or a Germanic origin…

Now obviously… my inherited nerves blipped a cue for me to reach out to my Chambers… but I knew I had little hope there…

As more habitually these days… my newly acquired digital nerves guide me to all things that are Google…

If you have already guessed what these words mean… you are in the same league as my newfound friends on wordpress.com… but if you have not… do not lose heart… the Urban Dictionary provides the succour…

Directioner – I learnt – is one who stops short of worshipping the all boy band – One Direction… so, unmistakably a lot of young girls… and that includes my 13 year young daughter…

Selenator – I learnt – is one who is a pronounced, obsessive fan of Selena Gomez and who loves everything she does… to the brink of impersonating her if she were to be suddenly engulfed by mother earth… her fandom… or the innumerable rival gangs – the 25 million Beliebers, seduced by Justin Bieber on Twitter following… or the thousands of Lovatics, the Demi Lovato idol worshippers – who are often at loggerheads with the Selenators – like “Barbie in the Princess Power” project…

Now… just when I thought I was almost done with my weekend allowance of commissioned neologism… my friend Saurabh Khullar right from an alcove in an Adelaide pub… dreams up a new word dedicated to the world of humanitarian sciences…

Humanitarian – because the cause is pious… the intent is revolutionary… and the science impacts the largest of all human communities – the sanely stupid and un-dubiously dumb…

Evidently the Punjabi word FUDDU… is the latest addition to many a Gen Z vocabulary… and, of course, a lot more in-glorifying in the Urban Dictionary since the release of UDTA PUNJAB, last weekend… a film that my wife and I went to see in a nearby cinema along with a host of Sardars (Sikhs) and their families… a rare yet a pleasant sight in the locales where I live… and a film that I shared my views on… quite privately on Facebook…

Close on the heels then… was Saurabh’s unadulterated articulation of how the science of FUDDUNOMICS works… except that one censored cut where he uses the forbidden F word as an adjective with the noun Fuddu…

“A Fuddu makes a film thinking the audience is all Fuddu… Fuddus then go and pay to watch the film wondering if they were being Fuddus for not watching it… the rest of Fuddus deliberate and beam that they were lesser Fuddus than the Fuddus who saw the film in the first place… but will still end up watching it on TV when the Fuddu (this is where I have censored the forbidden F word)… who made the film sells TV rights for it…”

But because the Fuddu who made the film… deliberately inserts the forbidden F word in the film most innocuously only once… in an otherwise saintly script devoid of any bad language… the Film Certification Board at the highest level objects to the forbidden F word… the film goes into a controversy… the Fuddu filmmaker goes to court… makes a Fuddu of the judge… and lo and behold… the movie opens to Fuddu crowds teeming to the cinemas… and the Fuddu filmmaker rakes in the moolah…

Meanwhile… the war rooms are readying to heated TV reality shows in Uncle Sam’s land… between the Selenators… the Lovatics… the Directioners… the Beliebers… 3 fans from each of these fandoms put in a room together for 2 months… a la Big Boss…

I am thinking of planting some Fuddus from our filmdom there… as wild card entries…

What do you think…?

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

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Blow My Mind, Ma’am…

Friday, June 17, 2016

“Do you have your mind between your legs or what…?”

When you are vertically challenged and anybody a few inches taller than you, cannot see your 5ft-2in frame from a distance of more than 5ft-2in… trust me… you are walking with a distinguished dominance…

And when you carry, on your squarish shoulders… a roundish head… in which is housed a wise and witty mind that is ever ready with repartees to such statements as the one about the mind and the legs here…

Now… if such a proclaimed reference to mind and legs were to come from a stunningly gorgeous leggy lass… whom you had accidentally brushed your arms with, while walking in an equally mind-blowing neighbourhood at Basant Lok in Delhi in the late 90’s… you would either be downright dumbfounded… or would come up with a repartee that Aaveg had… on that bright sunny winter afternoon… early 1998…

Aaveg Anand… my 5ft 2in friend and colleague from my life at American Express… had an incendiary mind about him… not because his mind was combustible or he himself was a supporter of combustion… but Aaveg’s upbringing in an all boys residential school in Dehradun with an excessive access to all that is prohibited and short supplied in an otherwise mortal world – like Playboy and Penthouse – helped develop a mind beyond human engineering…

As he would often say… he was designed for Indianapolis… but the stork dropped him in India…

Destiny… has its own design…

——————-

Like it normally has… with a good part of my Team members in the Learning and Training space who are destined to be a part of my team… but who often need reminding… of the demands that this space has…

For example… in all the 20 odd years that I have been in Training, I always made it a practice to reach the Training Rooms, at least a half hour before the program start… a Gen-X orientation – you would say… but I have often struggled to cement this behaviour in many of the younger people in my team… who would walk in just about when things are to start…

Some years ago… I had one of my Gen-Y team members lead a series of Training programs all packed into one busy week dedicated to learning…

For kicking off a particular program at an unearthly 0800 in the morning, I had half expected her to have reached the venue at 0730 and set the place up…

At just about 10 minutes to the start when I did not find her around in the Training Room, I called her at her home… only to discover she had a strong trace of sleepiness about her…

I asked her about this sleepy tone of hers… her repartee blew my mind away…

“The program is called “Why Sleep Matters”, Ravi… so, I thought I should start putting into play – what you might learn through the program…”

I clutched my belly… rolled on the floor… laughed my guts out… and let her be… for that day, though…

My mind raced back to one of the earliest repartees I had used on my Physics Professor in my senior school… well – in school we were normally used to TEACHERS… but here was a septuagenarian, Einsteinian look-alike, who would forget the simplest of the concepts mid-sentence and would remind us 11th graders of how he has been a Professor in college all his life… and now teaching in a senior school… and how Professors are often…

He had stalled himself mid-sentence… most obviously, he had forgotten what Professors are… often… and it took a young Kodukula, to complete the inevitable…

“… absent-minded, Sir…”

Much to the chagrin of the Professor… and to the much-awaited amusement of a 50-student class… young Kodukula spent the rest of the term, outside the classroom… as that was the only corporal reward Einstein could mete out to an 11th grader…

… To the more recent repartee earlier this week… when I was the Professor in my own class full of senior managers… discussing chaos and confusion in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) world… and deliberating what causes this chaos…

I had asked… “so what do you think, causes this VUCA…?”

25 senior managers… aged an average 35 years… were unanimous in their repartee…

“Management…”, they said…

Oh-oh… how we universally love to hate our bosses…

——————–

And on that bright sunny winter afternoon… early 1998… Aaveg and I were out on a leisurely post lunch walk…

It looked like the entire Basant Lok offices were suddenly on a fire evacuation drill… almost everybody had come out to the central boulevard for a stroll… the newly opened TGIF was brimming with as many people waiting outside to get in… as many as those inside that had no plans to get out… Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet were lip-locked at the bow of the Titanic in a gigantic poster at the entrance of the Priya theatre… teeming cine-goers were rushing into the cinema hall… almost short of running into each other…

And that’s when… Aaveg brushed his arms into this stunningly gorgeous leggy lass… accidentally…

“Do you have your mind between your legs or what…?”

She had turned around and almost screamed… and she was red in her face – angry…

“Wow – you look MIND-BLOWING… would you want to BLOW MY MIND… Ma’am…?”

Aaveg had looked her straight in the eye… she was crimson in her face… embarrassed…

FREEZE… did Leo and Kate part their lips in that instant…?

Hmmm…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Commitment Device…

Friday, June 10, 2016…

“So, did you take a vacation this summer? Where did you folks go…?” asked my good friend Laxman – over lunch when we met after a very long time earlier this week…

Laxman has tween-age children… just like mine… and when we are chrono-spatially suspended in the months of May and June as we are, it becomes relevant for us to compare notes – particularly since the kids have holidays… and as it is celestially ordained in my case – Smee – my wife – also has holidays…

For the record… my wife and my kids go to the same school – or at least until the last academic year – albeit for different reasons… my wife tries teaching kids… and my kids are trying to learn what their school tries teaching them…

For keeping the record round and spinning… the academic institution that they go to, has long ensured that in this process of education – all the 3 actors in the play never get to be on the stage at the same time… their scripts are different… written in different languages and curricula… Smee taught in the CIE – Cambridge International curriculum…my son is in the ICSE for all the intelligence that the curriculum demands – ancient Indian “make-life-tough-and-teach-them-all-jacked-up-trades” curriculum… my daughter is in the CBSE so that she could be one of the last bastions to champion the cause of education for the lesser mortals… because I am made to understand by the technical experts in the education space… that this is a curriculum that sucks the least…!

I guess I can vouch for that… I went through a CBSE curriculum too… but my schooling was primarily owing to two reasons… 1, neither of my parents had any political connections and… 2, I figured early in my life that driving a car on the Delhi roads needed one to be purposefully educated – otherwise you merely ended up ‘thinking in Punjabi’ and behaving like a ‘Gurugramee Tau’…!

But the best part of my growing up in my school – despite its best efforts that the school put in – was that I NEVER LET MY SCHOOL INTERFERE WITH MY EDUCATION…!

As such… Laxman’s question earlier in the week got me thinking of my “COMMITMENT DEVICE…”

Now… that’s what a lot of Behavioural Economists substitute for a simple phrase in life called – ‘the daily questions that we ask ourselves’.

Whether my family and I took the customary Summer Vacation or not, is definitely NOT a daily question that I ask myself… but it set me thinking on a more vital dilemma – particularly since the time I took Smee to be my wife 20 years ago… and eventually we both added two more souls to our lives a few years ago… and eventfully voted Mody into power two years ago…

Consider this…

  • (Raghuram) Rajan has kept the repo rate unchanged this week…
  • Mody has added another half a percentage earlier this month, to the Service Tax that I pay…
  • My Boss gave me an increment earlier this year but never told me that it would be just sufficient for paying Mody more than what I had paid him and his Govt. last year…
  • Tomatoes have started looking Crimson and Bloody Red ever since they have shot up to 80 rupees a kilo earlier this week…
  • Jaitley is touted to exit the Finance Ministry…
  • … and Priyanca Gandhi is finally going to enter the political fray, left void and null since eternity by her super talented brother…

Well – what does that have to do with my Summer Vacation…?

My good friend Marshall Goldsmith – well I had met him on two occasions in life and we did commit to a friendship for a foreseeable future… at least his office thinks so, as they keep sending me his weekly articles, his book releases and videos and a host of marketing matter to my email id… matter that can neither be created… nor destroyed… looks like Goldsmith has kept his side of the bargain on the friendship… I am seriously thinking of sending him my Fursat Friday blog spots every week…

Goldsmith’s interpretation of the “COMMITMENT DEVICE” set me thinking on some of the parameters around the daily questions that we ask ourselves… and so, my questions around my Summer Vacation with my family…

One of the parameters on Commitment Device – is the distinction, dilemma and the dichotomy between “Self-Discipline…” and “Self-Control…”

Now… you might ask what the hell is the difference?

Well… Self-Discipline is about ACHIEVING “Desirable Behaviours”… in this case, committing to go for a vacation and keeping that commitment… and Self Control is about AVOIDING “Undesirable Behaviours”… how do I control my desire of going on a vacation owing to… and despite… the “geo-socio-econo-politico-cultural” changes around me… and be left a pauper after the uncontrolled spend… on Crimson-Red tomatoes in the Indigo flights…

Well this dilemma wasn’t as mind-numbing as many of the oxymorons that I see around me… flabby personal fitness trainers… or Bollywood song and dance choreographers… or absolute pure vegetarians who smoke two dozen cigarettes a day… but the daily questions that I asked myself during these last 2 months of my family’s summer holidays are…

“So, did I do my best to help my kids do a variety of things that they could do and enjoyed doing and those that my money could buy during these holidays…” and… “did I do my best to say no to that expensive holiday…”

While I rationalised my Commitment Device in the best possible way my money and my mind could respond…

… could I have struck a balance somewhere…? do I want to put my family on a footloose, fancy-free, backpacked, shoestring-budget summer vacations that I used to have when I was younger…?

Hmmm…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

The Old Guilt Road…

Friday, June 03, 2016

“Sir, why are you sweating so much?” asked Sanju Udhasi, my friendly neighbourhood liquor storekeeper…

I was checking out at the till and paying for the beers that I had bought last Sunday… and was soaked in sweat that I worked up on my 2 km walk up to the liquor store from my home… and… of course… I would work up more sweat on the same stretch on my walk back home…

“Sanju Bhai… Maine socha Paap se pehle Prayaschit kar loon (I thought I must ATONE… before I SIN)…” I said…

While his name is Udhasi (sadness)… Sanju has a hearty laugh about him… he let that out… without guilt…

With his big hearted laugh… Sanju drew me into a deep-seated heart-searching trip… netting in an immediate, positive, feel-good, spirited disposition of sorts, about the walk that I took… but for that walk and burning off some calories… I would have gone on a long brick road guilt trip… for having my beers…

—–

“Throw that pencil now… you can barely hold it between your fingers anymore…” Lucky would often chide me in school…

My childhood friend and a close confidante as we were growing up… Lucky had often seen me saving things that I used, till that one last time that I could use them… pencils, for instance, would often cause a verbal duel between Lucky and I… and on occasions, a healthy battle too, to see who outlasts whom on the length of the pencil and its usage till the last functional lead that allowed us to write…

I would often win…

Call it middle-class upbringing but adversity of most sorts draws me into long-winding guilt trips… whether it was people, hearts or things… my attitude towards frugality irked many of them…

The most traumatised of the lot was my SOAP… the soap in the bathroom had to be used till the last possible point till the innards of the cake and the oils used have most conveniently dried up… I had this habit of then pressing the last part of the remaining soap into the new cake of soap so that both are an integrated lot… and none of it is wasted…

And what with my father’s fetish to try out newer soaps that hit the market every now and then… and as the buying decision making in the family was always volunteered upon him… over a period of time, the soap in my bathroom had many smells and flavours… because of all the integration that used to happen over months…

Until one fine day… my father decided he had enough of this integration business… and brought home LIFEBUOY… the world’s leading health soap… which took weeks before I could say I couldn’t use it anymore… and lo and behold… Lifebuoy was made of oils that would make it impossible for it to stick to any other soap…

So… a natural next life for the last piece of Lifebuoy was its use as a hand-wash at the washbasin… at least till the time it resembled the length of my pencil that I could not use any more…

And… Lucky would win this time…

The toothpaste and the talcum powder were not far behind… my pestiest pet peeve as a kid was when somebody squeezed the toothpaste from the middle of the tube… come on… if you wanted to use the toothpaste squeeze it from the bottom and locomote it to the top… and if more-than-you-need paste dropped out… force it back into the tube… fold the tube as it finishes by the day until it can’t be squeezed no more… then cut it with a pair of scissors and extract the last molecule of paste from the tube before you consign it to garbage…

Don’t recall the last time I did that… the plastic tubes do not allow me to do what I used to do with my tin toothpaste tubes as a kid…

My tailor bore the biggest brunt as I grew from adolescence to an adult… my custom made clothes… particularly trousers… always had margins enough to last me a lifetime of growing… up and wide… a customary annual visit to the tailor with the same pair of trousers… and he using his scissors and scalpels to open them up and stitch them back to suit my new height and new waist… till he refused to perform any further surgery on my trousers…

Because it was surgically impossible…

Till most recently when my travels take me into hotel rooms where I use the hotel bath and toilet supplies… half of which are whisked away by the hotel staff because I just opened them and used only a half of the bottle… often send me down the guilt road… till I started leaving hand written notes for the housekeeping staff to let the used stuff be… because I would use them the next day…

And my incorrigible friends… who give me all kinds of scrawny advice on my scrimping and saving… particularly when I last wanted to carry a few left over drops of my aftershave from my Bengaluru hotel…

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1263021073738713&set=a.142808862426612.17062.100000924962483&type=3&theater

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And last Sunday… a few good friends and I had a good binge over the IPL finals… the beers added to the fun and excitement… a good part of that without guilt because of some walking, that weekend…

My HEALTH GUILT taken care of…

As years of growing up socio-economically has lessened the guilt around my conscious frugality… spending my own hard earned money the way I want to is a new conscientious guilt that I have been living with…

Well… should I…?

My WEALTH GUILT… Hmmm…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula