Towing NaMonetization*…

*NaMonetization – a word coined by me… if you use it, please quote the source from my Urban Dictionary…

Friday, November 11, 2016

As a kid travelling across the country in a number of trains, I developed this keen sense of what moves the trains and when… of course, a first assumption is, as my younger sister, younger as she was to me by 4 years, would tell me with a straight face…

“It is the Engine, Silly”…

Of course… undoubtedly… how stupid of me not to have thought of that…

Born in a Railway family… where my father would matter-of-factedly bring a 7-Up or a 14-Down to the dinner table conversation… the trains, their numbers, the routes… and as such, the 3 and 4 letter station codes were a part of my early vocabulary…

And with that, my cosmic fascination about what makes the long snaking brown passenger coaches move… till my father showed me the innards of a monstrous black steam engine on one of the trips that we were making to our native town in Odisha… a trip that was our staple during our summer vacations…

Being employed in the Railways, my father used to get his way around most stations, platforms, station masters – guess he knew most of them in the country… and at times, their family members and their neighbors too… and the Steam Engines…

The Steam Engine held many secrets in its huge titanic tummy… the Black was always more Bold than Beautiful… and my father used to make a regimental trip to the Engine each time it used to stop… the pretext was just to say hello to the Engine driver and his assistant… who universally were blackened on their skin by the soot and dust and blended with the landscape of the blackness of the Engine itself… wore their dark blue uniforms… pulled those various levers in front of the gigantic fire that burned with shovels of coal thrown into the pit…

But it was always the stylish bandannas on their head that they wore that was most captivating for me… it gave me the impression of a free-wheeling Samaritan who had the power to pull all those brown dust-laden brown passenger coaches… tied together, as I understood, by some iron thread… ran on iron wheels… on iron rails…

I remember the passenger coach we used to travel on most occasions used to be the 4-berth, exclusive 1st class coupe (as it was called)… one of the eccentricities that he was not entitled to in his rank and role in the Railways… but which, he used to manage through ‘Jugaad’… and his pre ordained trips from the coach to the Engine were always to give something to the driver and staff… say, food from the basket that my other used to pack… and get something back in return… say, the hot water that generates the Steam in the Engine…

The hot water was useful for a variety of small little pleasures such as making your own tea with the tea leaf that my mother packed along in the food basket…

As the innards of the Steam Engine became visible to me, my intrigue grew… as to how the Engine never slept… how it was always there to move… and make hundreds and thousands of people move along with it in one go… and I had thought at that time, that the drivers never slept too… and that it was the same Engine and the drivers who pulled us on our trip… our entire trip… origin to destination… a 40 hour trip at times…

Till a little later in life… I gaining knowledge around how Engines and drivers are retired to sleep and refresh after every 8 hours… and another Engine and driver would then take over and drive us further…

The time during the change of guard, however, always seemed interminable and was spent in despair… I knew the old Engine has been detatched from the first coach and another, new Engine is going to be attached… this change was evident through a slight nudge that the new Engine gave to the entire train when it came in contact with the first coach… and the entire train moved back a little on the rails…

The slight nudge at times, was not really slight… particularly when it was somewhere in the middle of the night when the entire train load of passengers were sleeping and did not expect the nudge to make a huge rumble and reverberation…

But I guess – the Engine was usually a lot more ROTUND… and the driver a lot ROBUST in his behavior… at that hour of the day… er… night…

The train always had an interesting mix of travellers… a lot of them would curse the inefficient way the Engine was attached which rudely woke them from their slumber… some would pile abuse on the driver…

But in those times, while I woke up with a start, the new Engine and the driver brought hope for me… the new Engine will now pull the train into the morning… out of darkness… it brought motion… towards the next station… and my destination… as well those of many in those trains…

In my many years of travelling in trains now… and having known many Engines and drivers… I found a new driver earlier this week… a ROTUND driver actually, with a 56” diaphragm… driving a ROBUST newly oiled Engine…

This time, the wait time before this Engine was attached to the train was interminable… the attaching of the Engine, as it was in the middle of the night, was not slight, but with a loud rumble… the curse of the travellers in deep slumber… the abuse heaped on the driver…

But there is Hope… the Steam Engine is replaced (hopefully) with a new Range Rover Discovery Engine… towing a 125 crore tonne train…

And the Driver is dressed well in WHITE… with no Bandanna on his head…

Towing NaMonetization… there is HOPE…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Smee & Me @ 19…

Friday, November 04, 2016

It has been a week since Diwali… there are 3 gifts from friends… 2 of which are yet unwrapped… and 1 unopened…

Now, Smee (my wife Smita – for the uninitiated), a stickler for all gifts accounted for in life – including Me… and who assigns rightful places in life for all gifts – including Me… has chosen this year to ignore the conscientious act of unwrapping, opening, accounting for and assigning the rightful place… for the gifts – including Me…

Me say ‘including Me’… because ever since Smee and Me chose the wedlock this very week 19 years ago on November 2nd… Me have this eerie feel that Smee always considered Me to be a gift…

Me don’t know why, but Me always want to think positive… Me can never Think what Smee is Thinking of me… Me can only Think of what Me am Thinking of what she COULD be Thinking of me…

And that’s always wishful Thinking…

Me wasn’t wired like this from the beginning… Me mean, ever since Me knew what wiring means…

But marriage does funny things to people…

Imaginez s’il vous plait…

Me was young, single, footloose, fancy-free, living on a shoestring budget, gorging on the gifts of life… and of Diwali… and suddenly Smee would decide to open the Diwali gifts… since 1997…

Smee has always been extremely meticulous in unwrapping gifts… she would approach the act with utmost devotional reverence… perhaps more cautiously than what the bomb-squad teams would, when equipped with all those pliers and cutters, cut through the innards of a bomb…

Looks like that’s what it is then… the exposure of the innards…

When she started unwrapping me after we got married… I did not feel as Soulful as I feel now… she started peeling me layer by layer… getting into the inside of me and my Soul… and showing me the mirror all these 19 years…

Trust me only your wife can do that to you… the first of such victims was Socrates… and the next is Me… nobody in between…

The first thing that Me learnt was Me am inept at 3 things when it came to unwrapping and opening gifts… 1 – how could anyone attack a gift to ruthlessly tear off the wrapper with little or no heed to what’s inside and how that could get spoilt (a function of the BODY)… 2 – not appreciate the thought and faith behind the gift that was given (of the MIND)… and 3 – how could anyone NOT note down – deep down in one’s soul, the price, and the value thereof, of that gift which is usually masked by the giver (a function of the SOUL)

Now, Smee would carefully open the gift… say a few words with devout passion in appreciation of what and why the gift was given… and then note down how the gift giver needs to be repaid…

Of course not immediately, but Smee relishes giving gifts on such occasions as, when this person remarried… or when one of her friends drove her husband nuts… or when she discovers one of my Beer Buddies is moving out of my life into another city or country… and such other immortal occasions…

For Smee, when gifts are received… they must be repaid… with a vengeance… and vengeance has a value… the SOUL thing

For Me, when gifts are received… Smee must open them… Me am soulless…

Smee would note down the price… or the perceived value of the gift… many of our friends are principled fraudsters… they would scratch the price tag on the gift article in such a way that tells you that they have been diligent at the act of scratching… the price tag, I mean… yet, would leave enough hint as to the money that they paid to get the gift through to us… it’s like the length of the lungi… long enough to hide the Tamilian Male Thunder Thighs… yet, short enough to reveal the Socks and the Hawai Chappals…

Smee’s microscopic vision catches the finer details of the scratched price tags… the SOUL thing…

Me would often forget the price value equation… Me would simply trick my fraudster friends with an equally perplexing gift – of course, after calculating the Inflation Index…

Smee would sniff and feel through the gift… she would have this hunch what’s inside… and then she would take an intuitive call not to open the gift for various reasons… 1 – this is not the right time for opening this one, this might get spoilt due to oxidation, air pollution or simply – human glare… 2 – this is not the right gift for us, perhaps our children, when they grow up might find better use of it… 3 – looks like somebody else may benefit from this gift more than Smee and Me… like our distant cousins who keep calling us once in a lifetime – we could pass this gift off to them and hope the SAME gift doesn’t come back to us in the next life…

… and 4 – and this takes the cake… Smee would know from a sniff that this is actually the SAME gift that she gave to somebody in her last life… the SOUL thing…

Me, despite my canine orientation and behavioral patterns, would stay away from sniffing and smelling… how Soulless…

Smee would preserve the gift wrappers… we have a pile of them at home… and reuse when wrapping another gift that gets given later… looks shabby at times… but what the heck – it’s what’s inside that really matters – not the wrapper…

So, has Smee been peeling me layer by layer all these 19 years just to ensure what’s inside me really matters… and to keep that in tune with times… changing life stages of the body and the mind…

We still have our Wedding Costumes well preserved… the wrapped exteriors that we gifted ourselves… unwrapped and wrapped again…

How SOULFUL…!

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

You Could Be Killed…

Friday, October 28, 2016

“What the hell do you think you are doing…? YOU COULD BE KILLED”…

The 1st half of my 100 odd cousins who live in New Jersey… another half in the state of Microsoft in Seattle… and a third half spread across the iOffices of Apple Inc. in Cupertino and the Bay Area…

All had equivocally warned me… “you have never driven in the US… don’t even attempt to do that… YOU COULD BE KILLED”…

circa Sep 2002…

I had started to learn to drive a car in 1996 – a clear 6 years before I attempted to drive in Uncle Sam land… not that it was a pre-qualifier for me to have driven in India before I drive in the US… but it helped… somehow… trust me…

Starting to learn to drive a car when you are in your late 20s isn’t any sign of your late arrival in life… nor is it any significant validation of your skills and competencies… or a lack of them – particularly, your Learning Agility…

But I guess I had taken to driving like fish to water… in fact, in Delhi where I lived at that time, that would be called “Owning the Road”… it did not matter which car you drove… as long as you ‘Think in Punjabi’ while you drive…

Only to be warned by the 4th half of my cousins at that time in Hyderabadu… “What the hell do you think you are doing…? YOU COULD KILL SOMEBODY”…

——————–

A host of years of driving later… in Mumbai, where I have been driving for the last 7 years now… driving has a different meaning…

With the teeming 20 million that live in the city… and another 2 that snake their way in and out of the city every single day for their daily livelihood… Mumbai offers unique challenges when I am behind the wheel…

When I got into Mumbai 7 years ago, I knew the city had 2 seasons… a ‘Hot’ season and a ‘Hotter’ season… maybe 2 seasons and a half if you threw in the 3 months of rains into the equation…

But what I did not bargain for is that there are 2 more seasons to Mumbai… the REPAIR Season… and the PREPARE Season…

October brings with it, the umpteen festivals that signal – quite ominously – the ending of the rains and the onset of the Hot season… also incidentally kicks off the Repair season…

BMC, or the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, the civic body that governs my quality of life… and my lifestyle in this city… reopens its treasure chest for repairing the city and to rid it of its potholes and craters… with promises, always, to get the roads back in shape before Diwali… and to predeem (preemptively redeem) itself of its sins that it has yet to commit… restart all the infra projects that came to a standstill because of the rains…

I adore BMC… it keeps my sense of apathy about Municipal Bodies in the country quite well in place…

But it’s not the pathetic state of the roads that test me, my car, my patience and my spine… there are other idiosyncrasies of the city that test my driving skills… more specifically when I am NOT driving…

I am serious… most of my drive time is negotiating around turns and T-points… where you have the traffic lights… and where, the maximum drama unfolds…

Given the width of the 1.5 lane roads… in which the snaking traffic invariably finds 4 lanes of vehicles to squeeze, it takes an eternity before the turn happens…

Add to that the potholes or the uneven surface of the road around these turns… and you add a few more seconds of precious time for each vehicle to make that turn…

Add peanut vendors… flower vendors… mobile phone accessory vendors… pirated books vendors… and eunuchs to the kerb on the road near the traffic lights… and you have the luxury of spending some more time negotiating the turns…

Add the beggar brigade… particularly the mother in tattered clothes with an equally tattered infant in her arms and you start wondering how to avoid hitting the head of the hanging infant with the exterior appendix of a rear view mirror of your car…

Add to that the pedestrians at every traffic light… and everywhere else… who seem to believe they are at the top of the food chain when it comes to the right of the road…

Add to that the left turn never free for you to take at most traffic lights in Mumbai… one of the few cities in the country where the rule is followed…

Add to that the Traffic Cop… who is literally the King on Mumbai roads… because his outstretched hand to signal for the traffic to stop… or to go… is benign and is the God’s own word… to him, it doesn’t really matter if you think in Punjabi while you drive…

——————–

Meanwhile, BMC can wait… can take its sweet time to REPAIR the city in this hot season… and when we get to the hotter season in April and May next year… and the next… and the next… it can PREPARE me for the rains again…

Because life must go on… seasons must come and go… the hot and the hotter season… and the Repair… and the Prepare season…

——————–

20 years down the road after learning to drive… I realize neither sets of cousins of mine on either side of the Northern Hemisphere… neither in Hyderabadu… nor on the Stateside could get me on the wrong side of the road… irrespective of whether I am driving cars with right hand or a left hand drive…

I neither got killed… nor did I kill anyone… in all these years of driving on both sides of the road… er… northern hemisphere… because our Municipal Corporations in the country repair me… er… prepare me well for all seasons… and for the geographies…

Always before Diwali… well… almost…

Happy Diwali…

Ravi Kodukula

PDA – Personal Digital Affliction…

Friday October 21, 2016

Looks like the world skipped a beat last Friday… I did not publish ‘Fursat Friday’ last weekend… 3 people and a half (the half is my 10 year old nephew), WhatsApped me and wanted to know the reason…

Individual WhatsApping was fine… but putting it up in a WhatsApp Group that they missed me… was taking their PDA to an NLE (Next Level Evolution)…

I, for one, after many long years, realised how much I miss Meena…

“Sabko Gher Lo Bhai… Thane le chalo sabko… Inke Maa Baap ko bulate hain… sabki khatir karenge”… (Take everybody into Custody… take them to the Police Station… we will call their parents)…

Hawaldar Joginder Meena of Dilli Puls (Delhi Police) thundered with a squint eye… as he entered the small little enclosure in an under-refined and neglected park at Suraj Kund… the park had thick, non-descript, overgrown foliage… and to the naked eye, gave all signs of an uncared for, abandoned zone… in an otherwise well manicured huge open garden at the edge of the main Suraj Kund picnic zone…

And there lied the key to why Meena and his gang of 3 policemen were policing the ‘uncared for’ zone where my Girlfriend and I – along with a few others of my ilk were… well… huddled up… before we got hauled up…

circa… Feb 1992…

Having never been to a police station in all of my childhood… the prospect of visiting one along with Meena and his gang of 3… and with the 3 other clueless couples… my parents getting called into the police station along with my Girlfriend’s parents… did not seem to be a great proposition…

We split after that… my Girlfriend and I… 100 rupees each for Meena and his gang…

And we did eventually split after a few months after that… we went our own ways…

So much for PDA – Public Display of Affection…

——————–

25 years on… a more benign shape of Meena emerges… in a new avatar…

Mark Zuckerberg would never have imagined when he launched Facebook and then acquired WhatsApp… that one day… one fine day… his creation would find the most ultimate and an intimate platform for many to display their affection… in public… for the most personal relationships that people love and cherish…

Sample this…

At the life stage that I am, most friends of mine celebrate 3 things…

One – their partner relationships in life… and since most of my friends are Gen X, I do see that they are stuck with the same spouse or partner for eternity… so they celebrate their 20th or 25th year of togetherness and once-hoped bliss…

Two – accomplishments and achievements of their offspring… every Facebook friend’s child seems to be scoring no less than 98.93% in their 10th and 99.24% in their 12th grades… and then they go on to do their HIGHER studies in UNDER-graduation in a scenic foreign locale…

Three – passing away of parents… I know this could be a celebration particularly if it was a self-fulfilling life that this person lived and a life equally cherished by others around the person passing away… but going by the number of likes people hit on messages that my friends post when somebody in their lives dies… it does sure look celebratory…

Now… as a self-styled Soc Med (Social Media) analyst… I observe a trend here… it’s not about the post itself… but WHAT they typically post…

I don’t know if they ever use such flowery language otherwise, but on Facebook, everybody is a poet, an author, a writer, a Ghalib or a Shakespeare, a Meer or a Milton… everybody is a thinker, a philosopher or a photographer…

Borrowed verses are posted – some acknowledged and credited to the right source… but many touted as self-done concoctions of love, affection and admiration of the achievements in relationships… some of which are endurance, some survival and many, mere existential… I know of at least a dozen friends of mine who have gone through a few shitty extra-marital flings and who do not fail to come back to Facebook on their anniversaries and confess – everything is fine, this anniversary… Wow…!

What take the cake though, are the photographs… my friends post photographs of 20 years ago… when both of them partners looked young, fresh and chic… and claim they still have the same love for each other on their anniversary… come on… let’s tell the truth… what you are actually wishing for is your spouse looked the same and has the same zeal and zest for you… still… hopefully…

And mothers posting photographs along with their daughters… on their daughters’ birthdays… with a caption – hey – I looked exactly like you when I was 18… how self-gratifying can that get, eh…

Trust me, some mothers do have ‘em… old wine, if you will… they look as delectable as they used to, when we were dating…

And if you got a little vengeful into Vernacular India… you would be better off with Ghalib… I mean you are my “Phool” and “Chand” (flowers and moon) is still acceptable… but for many of my Bong (Bengali) friends… their partners and offspring are always Mishti, Chomchom, Shondesh… man – give me a break… how diabetic can these relationships get, with so much of confectioned sugar in them…

Or in my own Telugu land, everybody is a “Pundu” (like Puh-un-doo – a fruit)… how luscious can that get now… imagine somebody calling you “Yapplis Pandu (Apple) of my eye”… so much of personalisation of love… barring those seed that you find in the middle of the Apple…

——————–

Meanwhile… I hope Hawaldar Joginder Meena is watching all this with his squint eye… and wondering at such an amazing evolution of PDA – Public Display of Affection to PDA – Personal Digital Affliction…

Are you wondering too if you are a part of it…

And more hopelessly, if I am…

Hmmm…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Zindagi Ganna Hai…

Friday October 7, 2016

“Just 5 minutes more, Amma… promise… it’s so cold”… I would tell my mother…

There was a nip in the air… there always was in October mornings…

Getting out of the thin blanket on October mornings was not easy… it took an effort… and a wink of a while to get tuned to the temperature outside… and a worse feat to feel the cold water from the tap on your palms and on your face and in your mouth while you performed the morning ablutions…

In a cash-strapped, shoestring budget household… the twilight climate zone is often a tricky time to be… the electricity bill around hot water geysers have not been budgeted for in the month of October… ‘it isn’t cold yet’ my father would say… and the fans or the air coolers will not start whirring yet until April… of course, ‘it isn’t hot yet’…

——————–

I hated summers in Delhi in my growing up years – from the bottom of my heart… not because of the heat and dust… but this uncomfortable sweat in my pants used to make me fidget and squirm in all such situations when I needed to be calm and poised… say, when I used to see the sugarcane being run through the juice machine, over, and over, and over again… a delight in Delhi Summers…

Come on… how much will you squeeze a 6 foot sugarcane…? used to remind me of a life yet to be lived… my work life… when every day in and out, I will be squeezing myself to get the last drop of value that I possibly can… and all my bosses in life including my wife… would gang up to tell me ‘that last drop ain’t enough, Kodukula… squeeze more’

Zindagi Ganna Hai… Life is a Sugarcane… Trust Me… 

My fidget and squirm would amplify to a fuss and a fiddle… each time I needed to stop by the 5 paise (small glass) and 10 paise (big glass) ice cold water box at the bus stop… ‘Machine ka Thanda Paani’… the source of all malaise and disease in the city… and that had Dr. Premalata Rao, our family doctor, laugh all the way to the bank…

Guess she never had the ‘Machine ka Thanda Paani’

But there was cheer too… the onset of Summer was always laced with a promise of premium ice cream for the entire family… as it coincided with the finishing off of the exams at school for all 3 of us siblings… who, contrary to my parents’ worried looks on their faces during March, used to scrape into the next grade every year without fail… and the bribe of the premium ice cream was a prize to cherish to go the whole hog and finish the academic year with colours that never flew…

I recall Gaylords ice-cream at that time – sold in a plastic white ball with an orange cap… which duly, after the ice cream has been devoured, served as a good replacement for a cricket ball… of course, after the first over bowled, the cap used to come off after every ball… but the game would continue after replacing the cap…

After all… the ball used to spin so elegant that it used to make me feel like a Bhagwat Chandrasekhar… or an Erapalli Anantrao Srinivas Prasanna… or a Srinivas Venkataraghavan… or a Bishen Singh Bedi…

And when Gaylords closed down… and the ‘Spin Quartet’ retired one after the other… life took a spin…

Doordarshan happened… or started Happening…

——————–

Cricket in India in early 80’s was a winter affair… Test Cricket was the only form… Gavaskar was God… a Radio Transistor was a show off… Radio Commentary was man’s best friend… and nobody knew what to do on the 4th day after the Test match started – as that was a ‘Rest’ day… any cricket playing country – actually all 8 of them – played not more than 10 tests in a calendar year…

But Doordarshan used to bring hope every October… hope for diehard cricket fans like me… I would switch on the new TV set that we had invited into our home… DYANORA… it had a 21″ screen and a tube at the back encased in exquisite wood… a spring twist channel changer knob to change between Doordarshan and Doordarshan… and guess what… to protect the kids in the family to get unduly addicted to TV… Dyanora provided parental controls… in the form of a wooden shutter door that could be pulled from two sides and locked… with a key…

And my mother would keep the key… so that we did not get access to excesses like TV watching for 2 hours ever evening that Doordarshan beamed TV content…

Doordarshan always lived to its promise… it had the best technology at each of the cricket grounds… a Single Camera placed at the Pavilion end… and anything happening on the ground had to be viewed through this one lens…

Door-darshan… a view from afar…

And to whip up the fire was Joga Rao… the TV commentator who used to dope himself to sleep in the middle of an otherwise uninteresting 5th day’s play… when most test matches painstakingly inched towards a draw…

I always had a better plan… Doordarshan would be on… the volume would be off… and I would do the commentary… my idol was Sushil Doshi, the archetypal Radio Commentator who is still etched in my ears… smooth and clear…

“Thodi si short-of-length gaind… ek kadam aage badhaaya Gavaskar ne… aur ye cover aur extra cover ke beech mein se… CHAAR RUN… khoobsoorat shot”… and a follow up comment by him… “Jaise West Indies mein kehte hain – ‘No Man Moved Shot’…”

My audience would clap… Lucky, Manoj, Murty, Bunty… I had a dream to grow up to become a Cricket Commentator… nevertheless… got quite close to it…

With glasses of Rasna (Mango Flavour) and Potato Chips that did their rounds… my mother would always have a grudge… “Come On… put that TV off and get to your homework…”

“Just 5 minutes more, Amma… promise… India is winning…”

——————–

October Mornings…

Gavaskar is now in the Commentator’s Box… and I am in a Cubicle…

Zindagi… sahi mein Ganna Hai…

Happy weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Trija… Born Thrice…

Friday, September 30, 2016

Hello… OCTOBER…

Seems like only yesterday some of my friends and I had invited the New Year 2016… we are already down by 9 in the year…

We had collectively said 2016 was going to be defining in more ways than one… one of my friends was stepping into his 50’s… quite an accomplishment that – given that he blows the wits out of people around him and they would still let him live longer… each time…

One of them had one of his kidneys removed and now lives a ‘solo kidney’ life… in another, hangs his liver by a thread…

A fourth has had heart trouble a fourth time in her life… the first three occasions when she was spurned in love… and now, the fragile arteries gave way…

But we all had agreed upon something new that we would do this year… something that we hadn’t done before…

Because in 2016, the digits added up to the auspicious number 9…

Yes – I had done something new this year… I published my first book – which I wrote to write and never to really sell… I had held it in my palms… the first print… felt extremely lofty… gave that to my mother for a first read… not that she understands every word of it, because even I don’t at times, understand what I write… but she does… the emotion behind the gesture when I touched her feet for all that she has given me… in life… and in my birth…

And my birth has a very notable attachment to number 9 too… 9 elements that continue to contribute to the 3 times that I am born every year…

——————–

Windy, stormy and squally was the night when I was born… typhoon Durga was raging her wrath in a geo-cosmic way… you see I was born in the east of the country where geographically the Goddess Durga was caught in a cosmic combat with Mahish Asura – the demon – that she slew with her trident…

I don’t know where this exactly happened… or the spot where the blood of Mahish did really spew… but given the frenzy with which all my Bong (Bengali) friends go gaga over Goddess Durga and her eccentricities, I am assuming the east of the country should be that place…

This geo-cosmic combat sorted… on the 8th day (DurgaAshtami) of the 9 day war that raged between the Goddess and the demons… and with the confluence of Earth, Wind and Water were firmly established as the first 3 elements that contributed to my birth… and since all of them have an equal Gregorian connect – the calendar that Pope Gregory XIII introduced in 1582… it was confirmed that 29th September was the date when I was born – as ordained by the Pope…

That was the start of an eternal skirmish that the Pope and the Goddess have been involved in…

Since I was born hours after Mahish died… my Mother first… then my Wife, and now – my Daughter – the next 3 positive influencing elements in my life… believe I have traces of the Asura in me as the demon’s soul has conveniently found its way into my body… you see – geographically I was the closest in proximity… Mahish did not have to pay much for transporting his soul into my body…

And all these 3 elements believe that Mahish’s DNA manifests itself in its behaviours in many ways in me… for example… every time I have a worldview, different to the ways of their world… I am often considered to be the substantiation of all that is evil that Mahish stood for… and over the years, all these 3 women in my life have been training their tridents to spew my blood out of me…

So much for considering all the women in your life to be your allies… they would perform all kinds of rituals on DurgaAshtami… to thwart the evil out of me…

That’s my second date of origin and assimilation in this world…

The last 3 elements of the 9, hold a more tangible gravity in my life… these are my PAN Card… my Driving Licence… and my Passport… they contain the official date of birth… and the perpetrator of my fictitious (read… mysterious) birth date on all these documents, is my father…

My father never had a drop of alcohol in his life… nor, as much as I would imagine or know, was he ever on drugs or any other substance abuse either… but at the time when he was registering me in my school, he had a cerebral disposition around his life long magnetism for the number 9… he registered my birthdate on my school records as October 27…

He has logic… I would retire from my working life a month later than I would otherwise have… his trained ‘Government Servant’ mind could only think of this explanation when I asked him about this discrepancy in the dates between 29th September and 27th October…

——————-

Finally, I was born thrice… at least, that’s what all my official documents issued by the Government of India… as ordained by my father, the servant of the Government that he was…

1 of 3 is done… 29th September… a Confluence of the Earth, Wind and Water…

2 of 3 is on 9th of October… DurgaAshtami… a Connivance of my Mother, Wife and my Daughter…

3 of 3 is later in October… on the 27th… a Conspiracy between my father and his employer – the Indian Government… as betrayed in my PAN Card, my Driving Licence and my Passport…    

9 elements… Born Thrice…

Seems like only yesterday…

Happy Navratras…

Ravi Kodukula

Dil Bada Ho Gaya…

Friday, September 23, 2016

Algorithmically, I am supposed to be a citizen of Uncle Sam land…

Don’t believe me…? Look at what http://en.nametests.com/ threw up for me… my MFN (Most Favoured Nation) – er – to be precise the Nationality and the Passport that suit me the most…

No surprises or shocks there… I would only blame the stork that had me in the sack on its beak and was flying over Earth on to Jupiter… when I suddenly got dropped… not in Indianapolis on Jupiter, as was galactically ordained… but in India…

Don’t believe me a second time…? Look at what ‘NAMETESTS.COM’ threw up for me… I will be the first person to travel to Jupiter…

And here I am… trying to fathom why Modi finally sealed the deal for the 36 Rafale Jets last night… of course, one of them will fly me to Jupiter…

——————–

Trust me… Positive Psychology works wonders on Social Media… and ‘NAMETESTS.COM’ tops the charts in making you feel positive in all bodily postures known to humankind… including Baba Ramdev’s evolved Calisthenics… and Sage Vatsyayana’s 64 prescribed sexual acts, aspirational for all men and women, in the limbic region of their brains…

After all… Positive Psychology is about brain sciences… for those who have sex on their minds…

And the limbic region is a complex system of nerves and networks in the brain near the edge of the cortex… that controls emotions like pleasure (amongst others)… and drives sex (amongst other desires)…

After an initial exploratory phase in 2008, when I tried figuring out, whether I would be a good fit with the idiosyncrasies of a digital space… and now 8 years later, when I had this strong urge to try out what I had been missing all this while – fulfilling my Level 3 (Social Needs) of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs…

I am now in a good place… I have gathered enough digital dope – particularly after clicking ‘LIKE’ a 100 times and more everyday on my ‘Friends’ posts, that Abraham Maslow was right in his theorising almost 60 years ago…

…that Social Media works on the ‘Itch Theory’… you scratch my back and I will scratch yours… I can now convincingly admit that I need external validation and endorsement of my well-being…

I am not saying that… NAMETESTS is…

——————–

Of late, I have been trying to examine my well-being a rather little closely than I have in the past… in fact, a lot of reasons contribute to this…

Primary among them – my body is not getting any younger… for example – I was a human being until about a couple of months ago when I decided to go for my Health Check… when I came out of the clinic clutching my medical reports, I discovered that I am a PATIENT… everything was above or below the normal…

And much in my reports was contrary to what NAMETESTS would affirm…

My reports told me that my energy levels are abnormally low during a work-week… NAMETESTS tells me Monday is my favourite day… see my blog mast above… can you beat that…?

My reports tell me I have Hypertension… I need to discuss this with my children… well… no… they are not the cause for my worldly worries and anxiety (the meaning of which I tried explaining to my 13-year-old daughter last night)…

“Papa, what is anxiety…?” Kavya asks…

“When you are worried about something over a period of time and things don’t get done”… I gave her examples of what happens to Smee (my wife… and her mother) when she expects Kavya to do a few things and they don’t get done…

“OK – I can understand Mummy… but, do you get anxiety as well”, she asks… when you are 13, your mother becomes a “matter-of-fact” existence… you completely understand your mother…

How can I tell Kavya that each time Smee gets anxious, I am driven up against the wall too… with dated, recorded statements that are laden both with wisdom and the vicious… that have been playing back for many years now…

“You are not bothered ONLY… wait till they grow up… they will become good for nothing… and then you will be working even after your retirement to keep feeding them… when was the last time you taught them something worthwhile… are you listening to me…? Stop writing that blog and listen to me…”

Anxiety… so much for Positive Psychology… who said you got to get married for well-being… and then have a couple of kids for social endorsement of your high powered libido…?

NAMETESTS comes to the rescue… I had heard a wise man say once “whenever you are in deep shit… go back to your origins”…

I searched for the origin of my name… I discovered much to my enlightenment – my Buddha Moment – that my first name – Ravi dates back over centuries of Jurassic and microbial evolution… it originates from the Mayan word “RAVIUHIL” and my last name – Kodukula stems from the Aztec word “KODURIX”… both put together my name means “Deep Soul”…

Now, according to NAMETESTS, my name reflects my character – brave, loyal and honest… my friends love and admire me… and I have a big heart…

I agree…

My bravery has helped me withstand all tectonic shifts that Smee has tried causing in my life in the last 20 years of us knowing each other… the love, admiration, loyalty that Smee has towards me is unparalleled…

Perhaps the only other thing that my medical reports and NAMETESTS have in common is my large heartedness… my big heart is getting bigger with all the cholesterol deposits…

My only meaningful take from the entire exercise… much to Smee’s chagrin, and to my piety… I have been advised alcohol in moderate terms… and to reconfirm the results after a year on both these tests… my Medical Tests and the NAMETESTS…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Hindi… and the Apple Airpods…

Friday, September 16, 2016

“I speak Hindi… I am a Muslim…”

Raaja was born in Tumkur and had migrated to Bengaluru for a better living when he was 16… and somebody who gets into Bengaluru and lives in the city for more than 364 days gets indoctrinated into Telugu, Tamil and Kannada… in that order… and celebrates Onam for Austerity…

PS. For celebrating Onam, you do not, fortunately, need to talk in Malayalam…

Assumimg Raaja to be a true Bengalurian, I attempted my own skills in all the 3 Bengaluru languages with him… Raaja did not bat an eyelid when he told me about his religious faith… and wonderfully so woven with his linguistic leanings…

I am glad he did not say, “I speak Urdu… because I am Muslim”

Because I am from Delhi… I TALK in Hindi… I LOVE in Urdu… and I DRIVE in Punjabi… and I know the difference between the 3…

Languages are stainless steel utensils for all reflections of my Emotional State… visibly convex from outside, and a concealed concave from inside of me… and at 45 years of my life, for the first time, I heard somebody connect a language to a religion… unless I have been outright naïve or straight up stupid at the same time in those 4 decades and a half to have missed any seminal connect between religion and language…

Until about 3 years ago… when I was on the road on my way from Bengaluru to Coorg on a family vacation… Raaja was our driver…

——————–

My car has a sunroof… not the one Raaja was driving that day in Bengaluru… but the one that I drive everyday… I paid extra euros for this sunroof…

Because in the fabulous sunny weather that we have in Mumbai in those two seasons called ‘Hot’ and ‘Hotter’… the sunroof adds as a jazzed addition to all those features that are not available in my car in India… for a price that is double that I pay in India… for the same car that costs half in Germany… and has double the features in Germany…

Now, actually… the car is not the contention… the sunroof is…

A sunroof sounds so sexy in Europe… when you can put a brick on the Accelerator… have your foot on the steering wheel… and stick your neck out of the sunroof… breathe in the fresh green air and clear out your lungs… whenever you can get the sun on your face… in a sun depraved Europe…

It feels good…

And in Mumbai…

You slide the sunroof back… first signs of hot air… gets humid after 20 seconds… a heady mix of air if you still got your AC on… the humid air brings with it the smells of the city… chemicals in Wadala… Hydrogen Sulphide in Malad… garbage dump in Govandi… and stale rotten crap in most other parts of the city…

And bob your head up, as Kavya – my daughter does very often… until that last time a year ago, when the wind and the smells took off her ear drops – the precious little pieces of jewellery that she wears… they just dropped… er… flew away, with the wind… off the sunroof…

——————–

And for the last 19 years ever since Jobs (Steve) found his way back into Apple and said… “The Products suck… there is no Sex in them”…

More so, for the last 9, ever since the first iPhone made its way out of Apple Inc. (which until then was Apple Computer Inc.)…

More specifically so, every couple of years the phone goes back to the wash area… some of my friends go into a frenzy…

I don’t know what they earn or where they squeeze… but my friends invariably seem to have a disposable 50 odd thousand rupees in small change for the “newer”, “whiter washed” version of Rin… er… iPhone…

My friends would tell me of the amazing newer features, added with each newer version… like – you don’t have a physical keyboard on this phone – you can really see your buttered fingerprints on the glass and preserve them for forensics… the glass surface cannot really break – unless you drop it on the grass… it streams videos much faster than all the other phones put together – irrespective of the networks and their speeds which are a legend since we know networks in India…

And finally – wonder of wonders – you can really talk on this newer version of the iPhone… the 7.0… and this time your dialogue may not just be with your friends and dear ones… but also with Siri… the program that works as an intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator in Apple iOS…

While this is not to eulogise the Cupertino Cupids that keep striking the frenzied Apple fans with an alarming alacrity every year or so… this time, I guess they have really ruffled the fashion world…

After all… Apple is a Fashion Brand… Period… 

And Airpods are the Sex Sticks that promise to Rock your ears…

With the watch, Apple had brought computing on to my skin… and with the wireless pods, it attempts to get closer to my mind… well, quite close…

Finally… the 100 plus year old technology of hi-fidelity sound goes wi-fidelity… puts a host of audiophiles to rant about the jack going away…

——————–

And since this has happened… here’s the double trouble… call it disruption, if you will…

One – Kavya cannot be wearing the Apple Airpods when she bobs her head up from the sunroof… lest the wind blows them off…!

Two – Raaja cannot be a part of the newest revolution by Apple… Siri can’t talk in Hindi… not yet… with Airpods, or otherwise…

You see, Siri is not Muslim…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

WhatsAppSolutely…

Friday, September 09, 2016

I am a part of 13 WhatsApp groups… of varied sizes, norms, social, cultural and a general worldly orientation…

3 groups I am willingly a part of… and another 10, where I have been ‘volunteered’ to be a part… incidentally, as Social Media matures… I discover both come with abundant grain, grudge and granted responsibility…

From my WhatsApp existence in a Chemical State… I am a WHATSAPP-SOLUTE in those 10 groups where I have been ‘added’ as a part… I am expected to contribute to the emancipation and upheaval of humankind… and bring the native intelligence once in a prescribed while, so that I am relevant to the group…

And in the 3 groups where I am in, out of my volition… I am a WHATSAPP-SOLVENT… a bigger responsibility than the Solute… as here, I am not only expected to bring in the content, but create the content myself (largely)… and ensure that the content that others bring in, is of a palatable and digestible variety… and… in a normal existence, does not harm any mortal, biological structures like the mind, body and the soul…

And both the Solute and the Solvent states often cause some momentous misgivings… WhatsAppSolutely… 

——————–

“Ravi… add Sumit to the group please… he is Amit’s brother”…

I get a ping in the middle of an office meeting last week… this is one of my many granted responsibilities as a Group Administrator… the Solvent role of mine… to add newer members to the Group…

For the last many years that I have lived in this chemical state… I have often meditated about my meaningfulness to my WhatsApp groups… more so at those times when the group size is about to increase… and that happens every time a ‘Homogenous’ Group – say, my alumni from my scholastic institutions… or my professional affiliations… or work / hobby interest groups… or simply put, all my cousins who did not exist before I was ‘WhatsApped’… over time, becomes amorphously ‘Heterogenous’…

And that day… in the middle of this very important 8th meeting in the middle of another ‘meetingful’ day…

I wonder “Who the f*** is Amit in the group…?”

Is it Amit Khanna… or Amitava Dasgupta… or Amith Nair… or Amitabh Iyengar…?

For the Gen Xer in me… the world is full of possibilities when it comes to the names of friends that I grew up with… and someone like me who has grown up in a more cosmopolitan Delhi, where Punjabi is the preferred behavioural language… I discarded the Dasgupta, the Nair and the Iyengar possibilities immediately… my Unconscious Bias, if you will…

Trust me… logically…

  • Amitava Dasgupta cannot possibly have a Sumitava – as his brother… I haven’t heard that before…
  • Amith Nair’s father, I know, had gone over to Saudi with a gleam and glint of petrodollars when Amith was just about a year old… so, the possibility of a brother was quite ruled out…
  • Amitabh Iyengar, a recent addition to the group and a cousin of one of my childhood sweethearts… is an ‘outlier sample’ in an otherwise densely populated ‘Krishnamacharis’ and  ”Ananthakrishnans’ of the ‘Iyengar World’… come on… how can you be an Amitabh Iyengar… till, of course, Amitabh told me of the secret fascination his mother had for the angry young man (the Bachchan himself)… around the time when Amitabh (the Iyengar) was born… so, for the outlawed nomenclature that Amitabh is… I am sure the Iyengar clan would have thrown up a grumpish ire, if at all there were a possibility of a Sumitabh…

I added Sumit nevertheless… indeed he is Amit Khanna’s brother… I had added Amit last month… I had learnt Amit is called ‘Sonu’ at home… so it left me with no imagination that Sumit is the ‘Monu’ of the house…

——————–

I have many Solutes in my groups… some of my misgivings are when they live up to the labels and characteristics for which they are world famous in these groups…

For example… I have Vijji in my ‘Cousins’ group – who wakes up at 0500 and sends this freshly plucked, flower filled ‘Good Morning’ message… unfailingly, morning after morning… and she puts me to shame every time I wake up at 0505 and respond to her message with a ‘return’ Good Morning…

In my ‘Alumni’ group, there is Shelly who keeps winning awards… with his Food and Culinary exploits as a Chef in Kenya, he has amassed many awards in the last 25 years… enough to adorn his walls, mantelpieces… and wardrobes… now, I tried doing that in my early life and I discovered I ran out of real estate to keep my trophies in places like Delhi and Mumbai… and I had to give up somewhere in the middle… but guess what…? Shelly keeps shaming the rest of us in the group to no end, with photographic evidence of his achievements…

And then there is this ‘Professional Interest’ Group that I am a Solute in… a Group that has been created by my very good friend Arun primarily stemming out of his own interest in books – reading them of course… and with the increasing size of the group, he is often up with a tough task of keeping the members in check… primarily keep them tuned to the purpose of the group, i.e. ‘books’… with much cajoling, coaxing and finally bullying, Arun has been able to achieve adequate sense and sanity… of course, with an occasional joke… or a Deepika Padukone reading a book…

And in this one Group where I have still not been able to figure out my ‘raison d’etre’… there is Simi… a frequent traveler… and Simi would make sure she would post photos of the last trip… while she is on the trip and when she comes back… she makes sure I feel like I am a couch potato, with that TV remote in my hand… and that I live in locales devoid of naturally endowed mountains… the seas… the lakes… and the turtles in those lakes…

Come on, Simi… I travel too… I don’t think anybody travels the kind of miles that I do… 90 miles to and fro work every day…

I see people around me… people with mobile phones in their hands… many on WhatsApp… many with a smile on their faces… they just received this joke from one of their friends in their group… a funny photograph… or just another invitation to party tonight…

How beautiful is that…!

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Butt Seriously…

Friday, September 02, 2016

I am often accused of NOT being serious in life… at times the accusation is gravely ornamented with the adverb ‘ENOUGH’…

More so, in recent times ever since I have revived my weekly craving to create this digital dust on my blog site… the blame borders on HOW and WHY I keep to the lighter side of life… particularly when I reference some of my sightings – like the birds and the bees in the morning… and the fireflies in the night… and the mention of some of my friends, old and new, in my musings… in giving some colour to an otherwise discernibly respectful life that I earn… that of going to work… work… and coming back from work…

Hmmm… how disastrous can that get for someone to censure me… I feed 4 mouths (including mine) through a post tax income… and many others including my father, father-in-law, and many of their neighbours and their spouses on my pre tax income…

(For the record, both my father and my father-in-law – not to mention my mother-in-law – had pensionable jobs… and their post retirement lifestyles are fed through my pre tax income…)

And for a life after my work life… I have to work…

Now… I am accused of NOT being serious in life…???

——————–

For as long as I remember… I had this massive collection of glass marbles… the variety, that you would, as a young kid, want to really amass in numbers and have a collection of red, green, blue… and every other hue in your vast repertoire of a rainbow… the white Chabootri… and the black, we kids used to call the Cobra

One fine day, my father discovered I needed to be rid of them as I was overtly focused on amassing these through sullying my hands, my clothes, my body, my mind, my soul… in winning more and more marbles through contests and games with my friends in the neighbourhood… and when I was sleeping one fine morning… he decided to dump them all in the drain that flows through the street… with no heed to an otherwise fragile drainage system in our country…

That was the first time I remember I had put my bare hands in the drain and was able to retrieve most of them marbles… not for the marbles themselves… but for the sake of the country’s fabled drainage system… which, because of the marbles thrown into it by an irresponsible father… would have choked to further decadence…

And that night… I stank of a drainage that would not in the least, befit my brahminical upbringing…

And I was accused of NOT being serious…??? Hmmm… 

——————–

And that afternoon… when my first girl friend in life waited for a full 8 minutes for me at the back of the Principal’s room in my school, after having been invited by me for ‘a small little most important conversation of my life with her’… and I was still gathering my wits to say “Hey – I want to be friends with you”

And all she had to say was… “Aren’t we already friends?”

I did not know which way to look… for all that I knew was that my witty side of life was still in its nascent stages of evolution… and I wasn’t using a fraction of the Einsteinian 8% of my brain… so that I could come back with an appropriate repartee…

Wasn’t that a serious commitment that I thought I was stepping into with my girl friend… but for the next few minutes figuring out what struck me around my infatuation at that tender age of 15 years that I was…?

My girlfriend was pretty serious… not about me, but about her beau in college… whom she promptly married on Day 6 of having left college…

——————–

And that occasion in mid life after school when I resisted myself my first drink till I was 25 (and it wasn’t beer)… for the love of an ‘Old Monk’ at my young age – that quintessential dark rum… was but, a serious step towards a mature start to inebriation called life…

——————–

And leaving that job at Hyatt Regency Delhi without a job at hand… with a confirmed conviction that I would land up in a CEO’s role at American Express (the Blue Box) – my first real ‘Employer of Choice’… after 3 months and 8 interviews…

Was nothing less serious…

Come on… 3 months and 8 interviews… and then in the 8th and the final interview with Raman Roy (the father of BPO in India)… which lasted a precise 46 seconds in his office on the 1st floor at Basant Lok in Delhi…

I enter Raman’s office and he asks me – “What is Ravi Kodukula…?”

In all its seriousness of the question… and weighing in my gravity of wit… I had responded with a straight face… “Ravi Kodukula is a guy who can smoke a cigar with Prince Charles… a hookah with the Rana of Mewar… and a beedi with a labourer on the roadside…”

——————–

I did not land the job of a CEO… but I did land myself in what I can conveniently vouch today as one of the first ‘Call Centre Rep’ jobs in the country… circa 1992… much before India knew what Call Centres were…

And SERIOUSLY, I had worked my butt off for the next 13 years that I had spent with the Blue Box… my longest with any employer… and which is still closer to my heart…

BUTT SERIOUSLY…

“Baazeecha-e-atfal hai, duniya mere aage… Hota hai shab-o-roz, tamasha mere aage…”

– Mirza Ghalib… circa ~1830…

(The world is a playground that unfolds as a theatre in front of my eyes…day… and night…)

And if it does… How can I ever get Serious…?

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula…

I Love My EMIs…

Friday, August 26, 2016

“Raviji… I need the house back by end of August… you clearly have 4 months… please ensure you vacate the house… as my 5 chickens, 2 turtles, 7 non-poisonous reptiles and my husband, have decided to come back from Riyadh and they are going to be living there”… my landlady aka the owner of the house that I had rented…

I had readied the house… pest controlled it with anti-venom chemicals… and made it reptile-friendly… before I embraced my next EMI… and moved into my “Own House” here in Navi Mumbai…

That was a little over 5 years ago… April 2011…

And a lot of years after what I had first told my parents in August 1998… “I am not going to move out of this house till I have bought one for myself and Smee”…

——————-

As was customary in life to get married… so was it conventional that Smee moved into the house that I was living in at that time in November 1997 when we got married…

Smee never complained… she was a meticulously measured metric of a conspiracy theory that quite unhurriedly unfolded in front of my heart… the co-conspirators were my mother and my younger sister… and all three of them were visibly, at least to the naked heart, great friends… as much as their planet of fidelity – Venus, would allow…

That was till Smee and I were married…

While Smee started settling in… I started discovering the myriad Venusian ways that cause life’s gazillions of trials and turbulences… and the colossal impact that they have on the poor souls from Mars… i.e. my Father and I…

Around the same time – after abundant living on a planet noticeably distinct to Venus and Mars… I also noticed I had wings… I needed to fly…

I needed a bar at home… Udta Kodukula…

And my Father… being the Old Monk that he is with a pietistic Brahminical orientation to life… would not allow a bar in “his house”…

That was the first time… apart from the integral incongruence that I had with Einstein over the Theory of Relativity… I discovered Martians can have differences too…

Come On, Father… just because you did not take a single bribe being in the Government all your life… does not mean that you consider setting up a bar at home a cardinal sin…

Doing professionally well… well – in tune with those times, I was still responsible for my own bowels and bladder as an “individual contributor”… you see, “people managers” needed to be in mid-40s… preferably male, distinguishably paunchier… with 3-4 biologically produced children slightly younger than you, so that they can copiously call you “Beta” (son) at the start and end of each sentence…

Trust me… I was a ‘son’ to two such managers in life…

——————–

And the search of my Own Bar in my Own Home… led me to my first EMI in life… and this caused a worse Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI) with my Own Father’s philosophy of how one needs to deal with all that is ‘Debt’ in life…

Equipped with my Father’s philosophy – “marne se pehle ‘Sar pe Chhat’ honi chahiye… par ‘Apne Paison’ se” (before I die, I must have my own house… but with my own money)… I calculated the amount of time it will take me before I could possibly have my own “Sar pe Chhat” if I were to do it with my “Apna Paisa” before I died…

I vowed… I will not be bogged down by any more Martian squabbles with my Father…

This led to multiple levels of Electro Magnetic Interference with the moneylenders, banks, loan sharks… all preying with a palpable twinkle in their eyes… after all… with a 16% rate of interest (1998) that they would earn… why would they not…?

I got my loan… and the EMIs started… with that… I started loving my workstation at my Employer’s newly acquired Real Estate in Gurgaon…

Smee and I gifted ourselves our “Own House”… on February 14, 1999… an assured symbol of love and affection… our own Real Estate in Palam Vihar, Gurgaon…

The 1,100 sq.ft… 1 BHK with an attached terrace… ‘Barsati’ as one would call it in Delhi… is inarguably still the best place that Smee and I have lived in, in the last 18 years… and the longest till May 2005… Krtin and Kavya – our children walked through that front door, opening out to the staircase… the peacocks and the chicken from the farms around… the parrots on the tree line in front of the house… the occasional rumble of a train on the rail line…

It wasn’t much before our “House” turned into a “Home”…

With the celestial design of bodily growth of our children… and to park Krtin’s toy car… and Kavya’s life sized ‘Winnie the Pooh’… we needed space…

As I reflect now… “Hamaare Paair bade ho gaye… hame ek badi Chaadar ki zaroorat thi…” (our legs had grown taller… we needed a bigger blanket to cover our feet)…

Another EMI…a bigger, fatter EMI… and I started loving my Employer too… not just his Real Estate…

Smee grew lustful… not towards me, but a prospect of designing our future Real Estate dalliance… with an abysmally low rate of interest of 7% (2005)… who would not be…?

She tried her Venusian charm on me… “when we grow old, we must live in one… we must rent out one so that we get our rental income… one each for Krtin’s Education and his Wedding… and similarly for Kavya… 6 in all”…

And thus sounded the death knell…

Many multiple EMIs later… and with the feet and the blankets outdoing each other… now, I don’t only love my workstation, my employer, my job, my boss, my matrix boss, my team… but I have mastered a universally death defying skill…

I love my EMIs… Very Motivating…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Women… In The “Shotgun Seat”

Friday, August 19, 2016

“Zulfein”… I end up saying to myself, LOUD…

Each time I see strands of hair adorned long and pretty in the driver’s seat behind the head rest in the car in the front… or a calm pair of eyes adorably hidden behind a pair of opulent sunglasses in the car behind mine… or those flowing tresses in that car that pumps up this unusual adrenaline in the lane next door, speeding swifter than light…

All this… from the cockpit of my car…

——————–

The word “Zulfein”… or Tresses… evokes in me a sign of elegance… grace… refined sophistication… poise and finesse… but, words often dubiously dissociated when it comes to describing women in the driver’s seat in a car, over time and history… particularly, if you were driving in Delhi NCR…

Not that men would befit garnishing themselves with words as these to claim their self-effacing royalty of the roads… but in Mumbai, where I have been driving more permanently now for the last 7 years, it just does not matter… there is an established sense of equality… a soft touch conformance to gender universality… or more importantly, a forced choice to stick to traffic discipline…

Universally though… one thing that has a visible gender dominance in favour of the fairer sex… are the behaviours of women in the “Shotgun Seat”… the seat next to the driver’s seat… the animated gestures in the shotgun seat in the car parked next to mine at the traffic lights… and the observable impact that they have on the man driving, often take me back into time…

Not a time too long ago… but just about the time when the man may have done or said something sad… bad… good… ugly… particularly the night before just before hitting the bed… or more recently as today in the morning, at the breakfast table… just before the man and the woman got into the car…

Zulfein… I say LOUD to myself… the man laughs uncontrollably in the driver’s seat… the woman may have told a joke… but she is not laughing… worse still, has the man told a joke…? is he laughing at his own joke…? can he absolve himself of his crime…? the woman animatedly hits him with a newspaper-fold…? quite harmless this… at least the man hasn’t kept a baseball bat in his car… as I do…

Zulfein… I say LOUD to myself… I see this woman amorously running her fingertips on the cheek of her man… playfully… lovingly… pecks him on his earlobe… haven’t had enough of him last night… or is she preparing him for tonight…? the man looks lost… thoughtful… unresponsive… staring into space – hopefully a space called the road ahead… is SHE his road ahead…?

Zulfein… I say LOUD to myself… I see this woman clenched her palms on to the shotgun seat… I just saw this man parked next to mine with screeching tyres… just seen him racing through the two lanes next to mine at a breakneck speed… zigzagging through them… the woman has frozen look on her face… FEAR… the man has a bestial look in his eyes… he rules the roads… they belong to him… so does the fear in the woman’s eyes…

Zulfein… I say LOUD to myself… the woman is waxing eloquent… rambles endlessly… with hand and face gestures that signify a myriad of emotions all packed at once… eyes wide open (surprise)… fists punched in the air (rage)… shaking her head (confusion, disbelief)… looking at the man while continuing to talk… the man is expressionless… almost slipping into a slumber… perhaps this is exactly what he does when she has been rambling all these years… sleep is a better option… while he almost sleeps at the wheel, the cars start honking from the back of the lane…

——————–

Perhaps, nothing is more contrastingly obvious than the true meaning of the “Shotgun Seat” – albeit, in the perceived peace times that we live in…

The “Shotgun Seat”… so derives its name through history, when the driver of the stagecoach… much before the advent of cars… had to focus on driving with the reins of the horses in his hands… and then there was this man sitting next to him with a “Shotgun”… to ward off any heinous attacks that the driver and the other occupants of the stagecoach faced…  

——————–

Zulfein… I say LOUD to myself… the woman is yapping… in a 3 minute traffic signal, she hasn’t stopped yet… her shrill has silenced the din of the engine… all eyes in all other cars are turned towards her… the man is nodding his head… looks like he agrees to every word she says… more fortunately, looks like he is going to do what she says… finally…

——————–

Zulfein… I say LOUD to myself…

It does not matter, which city… which lane… which traffic signal… universally women fare so well in the “Shotgun Seat”…

Wait a Minute… does that mean they aren’t good in the Driver’s Seat…?

I am musing while I write this… women have proved at Rio 2016 that they do mighty well in the Driver’s Seat…

Is it time, we start using women as Sports Coaches… given their aptitude and skill to motivate men the way they do…?

Maybe the Magic Mantra for Medals… Tokyo 2020…!

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Jai Bhagwan’s Kite Store…

Friday, August 12, 2016

“Chal… Jaldi Aaja… Jai Bhagwan ka naya Manja aa gaya hai…” shouted Lucky… “Aur sun… is baari 2 rupay zyaada laaiyo… Patang mehnge ho gaye hain aur Manja bhi…”

(Come fast… Jai Bhagwan (kite store) has got his new stock of kites and string… and get 2 rupees extra this time… the kites and string have become expensive)

circa ~August 1980…

——————–

Lucky, my friend, my classmate and my next-door neighbour – living behind a door below on the ground floor, and an avid leader of the kite flyer club of all of us 10-12 year olds, sounded quite excited…

There was a lot of work to be done… the kites have to be bought, only a few though – to last the morning… because the rest of the kites would most definitely float on to our terrace after having lost their battle mid air with other kites… and as such, would serve the purpose and the right number for the rest of the afternoon…

Mothers needed to be convinced… the Campa Cola needed to be stocked in the fridge… along with the eats and bites that needed to be served hot… Lucky had a fridge at home… my mother was popular amongst my friends for the tongue licking onion pakoras that she used to make…

Sisters needed to be bullied… to get all of this stuff up to the terrace… the more enthusiastic sisters were to be secretly chosen and coopted to hold the kite at a distance to give that initial fillip that would make the kite soar… some sisters were more skilled than others… so, some of the meagre resources that the club had, were to be prudently set aside as bribes for the next set of bangles and ‘bindis’ (the dots that beautify the foreheads of our womankind) for our sisters…

My Murphy ‘Tape Recorder’ needed to be hauled up to the terrace too… along with those two of my most favourite cassette tapes (out of my total household collection of 12 – the rest was family music)… and I needed to park 10 minutes to listen to my father on the Do’s and Don’ts of handling the Murphy…

Murphy on the terrace meant an electrical extension chord and board… borrowed from Bunty’s household 2 blocks away… Bunty’s father needed to be cajoled… he had recently got the extension chord made from the local electrician because Bunty’s 11th Birthday party was held in the park in front of his house… and thus, the invention of the extension chord…

While Bunty was a wannabe, he wasn’t particularly a member of the kite club… you see, membership was by invitation and Lucky did not like Bunty much… but we needed the extension chord…

This year Sonu (Sunil) was our new neighbour… his father was an ENGINEER with a private firm… and as such Sonu was richer than many of us and was quite resourceful… yet those 4 rupees each were to be collected for the Campa Cola and the eats, from everybody who would be on that terrace… including Sonu… and a plan was to be devised how to say NO to Sonu’s offer of 10 rupees contribution to the club and maintain that fiscal equilibrium in the club…

Failing to Plan, was Planning to Fail… we learnt this early last year… we did not plan to wake up early and get to the terrace… as such, Nanhe’s (Sudhir) team started making some very early noise on their terrace a block away… Nanhe’s (the little one) name was quite misplaced… the legend has it that when he was born, Nanhe was small… really small in size, like many of us… and he then started growing bigger the next day on… but his mother found it convenient to call him ‘the little one’ with a lot of love and fondness… also because he was the only boy born to her womb after 4 daughters…

So, we needed to really plan to wake up at 6am… and we needed to plan for this till 11pm the night before after we have planned and done everything else…

———————–

Jai Bhagwan’s kite store was on Tank Road, Regarpura, Karol Bagh… a few blocks and lanes away from where we all lived… Lucky and I had started off for the store the evening before, when Bunty gave us a shout from a distance… he wanted to come along… while I was fine by that, some early symptoms of how I always wanted to create an inclusive environment and take everybody along… Lucky was not in favour of Bunty accompanying us…

“Tujhe hum pe bharosa nahin hai…?”, (you don’t trust us?)… Lucky was blunt…

He always suspected Bunty’s intentions… ever since Bunty had his Birthday Party in the neighbourhood park… and ever since Lucky’s parents convinced him that such ostentation as birthday parties in neighbourhood parks will not be tolerated in their family…

Bunty tagged along… we needed the extension chord after all…

Jai Bhagwan was in his late 50s… had seen the splendour of kite-flying in the new post-independent India… and as such, a business opportunity to set this small little shop up here on Tank Road in the early 50s… when a good part of the summer in Delhi leading right up to the I-Day saw a new emerging religion – kite-flying… his shop was right in the middle of a flourishing middle class residential locale and close to the other shopping streets like Ajmal Khan Road and Arya Samaj Road in Karol Bagh…

And for the last 30 odd years leading up to the 80s, Jai Bhagwan had established his brand… if it has to be the best ‘Manja’ – the glass coated string that gets front loaded to the kite in its initial flight, which habitually cuts into your finger flesh… and the best ‘Saddi’ – the white coloured smoother string that is back loaded so that when the kite is in full flight, you manoeuvre its soaring without having to damage your fingers any further…

Lucky, Bunty and I returned home… after having spent a fortune of 9 rupees for which we got 20 kites… both varieties of the string… and two ‘Charkhadis’ – the swivels which hold the rolled string… we had a budget of 10, but we saved a rupee for any unforeseen expenditure the next day…

Jai Bhagwan was kind… he threw in for free, the ‘Chepi’ – the tape that you used to cover a torn portion of the paper kite… and also 3 band-aids for the 3 of us… so that we put the aid on when our fingers would see the cut in the flesh the next day…    

——————–

We did wake up early the next day… in fact, the excitement did not allow us to sleep… I kept staring at my Favre-Leuba, the family heirloom alarm clock through the night… and its radium dial… staring forward to…

An Independence Day… A Day of Happiness, Freedom and Flying on the Terrace… with Kites… and Campa Cola…

Aibo… Kaate…!

Happy Independence Day…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Lucky Got 38…

Friday, August 5, 2016

“Yeah… I got 37” announced Lucky…

Jubilant with his latest accomplishment, Lucky had punched the air with his fists and eventually spread all his 37 ‘fresh-off-the-studio’ photo prints in glee…

The spread of the prints on his palms… all held down by his thumbs had a tantalising effect on me… my Pentax ME Super, never gave me more than 33… or 34 if I was lucky…

But I wasn’t… it was Lucky… who always ended up being exactly that… lucky… while Kodak’s promise was 36 prints in a film roll, Lucky always got more… one more than what Kodak promised…

——————–

Lucky… Lakhwinderjeet Sodhi… my dear friend from my school days… went on to exceed 36 in many spheres of life… on occasions as these with his Nikon FA… which he made sure he carried with care and flaunted at every single opportunity… after all it was one of the latest imported models at that time when we both were in high school in the mid 80s… and his father had specifically gifted the camera to him having bought it from the Dubai Duty Free at that time for his 16th birthday…

Like the jubilation in his 37 photo prints, Lucky always put up a brave front on all other occasions when he exceeded 36… in all his academic life that was most auspiciously intertwined with my own… you see, we were school and classmates from the 4th grade till our material lives… and later, our ethereal wives took us apart into varied walks of life… our pre-destined futures…

I, having gone to college for further uber-academic pursuits in hotel schooling… and Lucky, highly content with 37 marks (or thereabouts) in most subjects at the high school level… conveniently went to his father’s business at Delhi’s Kashmere Gate automobile spares super market…

The mark of 37 was thus, from fairly early on, etched on Lucky’s mind as the label of spiritual liberation… 33 percent marks were the target, set by CBSE – the Board of Education… 34 was aspirational… 35, cause-celebre… 36 (as was 24… and then 36 back again) was sinful as a growing up adolescent…

But 37… was the point of arrival… safe… ‘no questions asked’ zone… everybody happy in the family… including Lucky’s elder brother, Happy…

In time, we eventually grew up… Lucky and I… by some warped superlunary celestial design… stepped into the larger realms of adulthood… and 37 again loomed large in front of us… actually this time too, CHHATTEES (36) was the number in the reckoning…

But little did Lucky realise… he would always have one more in life…

Lucky had this uncanny knack of developing a ‘CHHATTEES KA AANKDA’ (Hindi – for two people who have hostilities towards each other)… he had deep rooted rivalry that he would revel in with almost the entire universe… getting into those frequent fisticuffs with other kids in the school… with people double his size on the streets… or anybody who simply did not agree to his own big and burly existence… Lucky was a 6 footer at the age of 15 and his vertical supremacy was equally complimented by a lateral expansion so that none of the Soviet satellites launched during those times ever missed his geo-strategic coordinates…

The only person who outshone Lucky’s monumental blip on the Soviet radars was his eldest brother Lovely… now, at 6’2” and with a whisky-bellied frontal extension Lovely was a misnomer… a profound lesson to all parents in how we should wait at least till one grows in full size before we name our children…

Lucky’s ’36 Ka Aankda’ would often land him in a soup… and as an inseparable conspirator in most of his earthly deeds… I got embroiled into the situations as well… so much so that the Soviet satellites would capture this big dot blipping along with one more unassuming dot alongside beating the daylights out of many other small dots somewhere in a busy street in Delhi…

But then… I needed to bring some sanity quickly into the equation… Lucky and I devised a method to tone us down… tone him down actually… Lucky would count till 37 when he got into a situation… and counting 37 would ideally bring down his Blood Pressure…

The Plan was perfect… the deal was signed over Hot Sams (Samosas) and G Jams (Gulab Jamuns) at P Bags (Punjabi Bag, Lucky’s abode)…

The Execution… hmmm… Lucky somehow managed to count to 36 most of the time… 37 was elusive in his own glossed down mental make up…

——————–

Lucky’s SUNDAY finally arrived… the day when he would go to the GURDWARA (the Sikh temple of worship)… sit in devotion in front of the Granth Sahib with Pammi Paabi (Parminder – his wife and my Paabi (Bhabhi) – my sister-in-law and wedded wife of my brother Lucky)… and vow to spend the rest of his life with her…

I said to Lucky… “Oye Lucky… tera to yaar sab ke saath ‘Chhattees Ka Aankda’ hai… Pammi ke saath toone Janam Patree milayi ki nahin? Kam se kam biwi ke saath to ‘Chhattes Gunn’ milne chahiye bhai…” (you have a rivalry with every one… have you matched your horoscope with Pammi so that you have the 36 qualities / parameters matching with her)…

Lucky got philosophical… “Yaar Kodu… Marriage is a union between my Soul and the Lord… I simply Accept and Surrender… all humans are equal…” he dropped his head… thinking… when he raised it again, it was only to add… “and so are all days of the week…Sunday is merely a convenience…”

I am glad he did not say Pammi Paabi is a convenience…

——————–

Lucky and Pammi now live in DLF Gurgaon… all 36 parameters of their wedded life are in place… blissfully for the last 20 years…

And they have now added a 37… Minta… Manwinder – their 18 year old son – 6’3” in size… and a 38… Soni… ok… Soni, their cute little 15 year old daughter… Lucky’s existential appendices and testimonials to prove to the world that he has finally been able to count to 37…

And one more…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Chooran and the Charm… and Hofstede’s D6…

Friday, July 29, 2016

“Women give better Feedback, Sir…” said Subhashis… he paused… turned around and added… “and, Men pay more Tips…”

Subhashis was our waiter at Kangan, the Indian restaurant at the Westin, Hyderabadu, earlier this Thursday evening… I had observed Subhashis and his restaurant brigade going meticulously about the post dinner drill at each of the tables in the restaurant… presenting bills to men… and handing over the feedback forms to women at the tables…

Both the bill and the feedback form came unfailingly along with an assortment of “CHOORAN” (post dinner digestives)… and with a CHARM that would disarm most hideous thoughts that any of their guests at the tables intended to harbour…

Subhashis’ divine expropriation and experience got me thinking… between the ‘chooran’ and the ‘charm’… what works better, and on whom… is the Man at the table, more disquieted about his tummy that would churn through the night… and as such, the sight of the chooran excites him to leave more Tips… or is the Woman enamoured by Subhashis’ charming smile, coupled with the décor and ambience different than her own kitchen where she did not have to step in tonight… which then prompts her to shower the feedback that she does…

And… is there a Gender crumple to the “Chooran and the Charm” theory…? Or are there other cultural dimensions in a fast changing urban landscape of the Hi-Tech city at Hyderabadu… that rule our bill and feedback form behaviours…?

——————–

I thought of diving into Geert Hofstede’s D6 (6 Cultural Dimensions) model… and look at what may prompt the behaviours of the 3D equation here – Subhashis, Smee (Smita – my wife) and I…

Kangan and Hi-Tech city are mere metaphors… symbolic references to a larger Indian urban context, from a PLM (People Like Me) standpoint… and while Smee may not have been there that evening… she metaphorically rules my heart… my soul…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geert_Hofstede 

D1 – Power Distance : All individuals in societies are not equal… period… and according to the Hofstede studies, Hi-Tech city scores 77 on this dimension… making it highly tilted towards a hierarchical presence in the society – particularly who gives more feedback in the society and who gets it more…

This is a no-brainer for all of us who are married, alive, punting or dating as to who is where… look at Smee and I… I get much feedback from my wife – much of the time, VERBAL and VOCAL when we are talking… and VISUAL and WRITTEN (post-its on the fridge) when we are not talking… so, no wonder then, that restaurateurs have mastered this dimension to tap into the right source for their brownie points…

D2 – Individualism : The degree of interdependence a society maintains among its members… Hi-Tech city scores a 46 on this dimension, which is an indicator of an emerging trait of an individualist AND a collectivist society…

I cannot agree with that more… early on in life when Smee and I used to dine out together… we used to fill in the feedback form together… with stars and hope in our eyes that the next time… and the next many times when we take the same table at the same restaurant… our loyalty will be rewarded by the collective good feedback that we gave them…

Not any more… Smee knows I have an opinion – but it does not count… almost 20 years that we are married… now that we have gained the loyalty card, it’s OK that she fills in the form… wow – isn’t this individualist behaviour so symptomatic of the cultural change in the larger society…?

D3 – Masculinity : A high score on this dimension indicates that the society is driven by competition, achievement and success… and a low score implies that the dominant values in society are caring for others and quality of life… Hi-Tech scores 56 here… and thus takes the borderline Masculine tag… yet Masculine enough to prompt Subhashis to shove the bill under my nose… he knows however, that the Math of the tips, will be a function of the English of what Smee writes on the Feedback form… and through the evening, Subhashis and the rest of the brigade ensure that they engage Smee and I in subtle conversations… chipping and chiseling slowly at the fundamentals of D3… so that they bag those Tips…

D4 – Uncertainty Avoidance : How the society deals with an uncertain future… members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and thus create beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these uncertainties… Hi-Tech scores a mere 40 here… a medium / low preference for avoiding uncertainty…

…because every day is an “Acceptance for Imperfection”… rules circumvented and a huge reliance on the “Adjust Maadi” (kindly adjust, please) culture… but nothing beats the expected certainty when Subhashis gets you a cold ‘Naan’… and does a brilliant “Service Recovery”… gets you an hot-off-the-oven ‘Naan’ in the next instance… waives the ‘Naan’ off the bill… and lo and behold – fabulous feedback on food quality from Smee… and terrific tips from I… because both Smee and I are low on ‘Uncertainty Avoidance’ anyway…

D5 – Long Term Orientation (LTO) : Every society maintains links with its own past while dealing with the challenges of the present and future… and societies prioritise these two existential goals differently… Hi-Tech scores an intermediate 51 on this dimension…

Perhaps, the most significant inference of all Hofstede’s dimensions… caught between the devil and the deep sea… Smee and I are often at loggerheads… to be generous in our praise in the feedback form – a manifestation of “Annadaata Sukhee Bhava” (may the hand that feeds be praised)… or to be conservative in the changing face of “Atithi Devo Bhava” (Guest is God)… but contrary to a traditional past when one never demanded anything in return (say, Tips) for the hospitality delivered to the Guest (say, the God in this case)… Subhashis, in the present and the future, expects gratuity…

A score of 51… hmmm…

D6 – Indulgence : The extent to which people try to control their desires and impulses, based on the way they were raised… Hi-Tech scores a low of 26 in this dimension… a culture of ‘Restraint’ rather than ‘Indulgence’… higher degree of cynicism and pessimism… controlling the gratification of desires…

Well – while Subhashis sees a fraction of the Hi-Tech city population in his restaurant, what he may also recognise is that the PLM is growing in numbers, if not in percentage terms… what with an EXCLUSIVE GROWTH that urban India has seen in the past… and will continue to see in the future…

While Subhashis works the “CHARM of the CHOORAN” on his guests at Kangan…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

The Final Word… My Obituary…

Friday, July 22, 2016

कबीरा जब हम पैदा हुए, जग हँसे हम रोये | ऐसी करनी कर चलो, हम हँसे जग रोये ||

When I was born, the World laughed when I cried (very natural, that the cry of the newborn excites the world)… but I must do worthy deeds so that when I go, I must have a laugh, and the World should cry…
Sant Kabir : ~circa 15th century…

———————

“Have you written your Obituary yet…?” asked my Mentor…*

*… My Mentor has quite a few mentees eating out of his hand… so I am keeping his identity a digitally guarded secret… a secret that can only be unveiled by an alpha-numeric, psychedelic- pastel colored mumbo-jumbo passphrase…
OK, it’s not that complicated… I just want to ensure that he is not inundated with Mentoring requests after this blog post…

I was bewildered… this was a question I was not prepared to answer…

I was in a mentoring conversation with my Mentor last Saturday… I usually am, when I am at crossroads… like this last vacation week, with no determined thoughts about what I would do during the week… kids have exams… Smee is busy taking care of the kids… my maid is busy taking care of Smee…

Well – the only thing I knew was, I was doing – NOTHING…

Now, come on… Rabbits jump – and they live for 8 years… Dogs run – and they live for 15 years… Turtles do NOTHING – and they live for 150 years…

And here I was staring at the next 100 years having spent the first 50… well, almost… and I was thinking… Obituaries are written or said by people outside of your celestial existence… I mean, why would you write your own obituary… it’s for others to write them for you… extol you for a virtuous life lived… or execrate you if you have been extra nasty to them while they lived… and most definitely written or said when you are gone and you no longer are able to hear what they think and say about you…

Wait a minute… when I can no longer hear what they say about me…? I am well cremated and my ashes are immersed in a bay or a river or scattered in the wind over ploughfields…?

And then they say all the stuff that they do, when they gather for that wine and meal after my funeral (actually I like the idea of wine and a meal – particularly if I had led a life of contentment and have had a peaceful departure)… I would like the world I left behind to sing and dance…

I wish all of us to wish that… wishfully… we must celebrate death… as much as we do life… and I thought… if I were to be a part of that song and dance, dine and wine… what would I like to hear people say about me…?

I hung up the phone on my Mentor… literally… he gave me a week to live my life thinking about my Death… er… my Obituary… I started my week with my 5 resolutions in mind… which would eventually become my OWN Obit – the way I have written it here…

Like with everything else, I found a wealth of e-Books on the web to read before I got started… and the most that I was fascinated with, was Alan Gelb’s “Having The Last Say : Capturing Your Legacy In One Small Story”…

In 5 simple benefits of writing my own obit, I had spent each of the last 5 days this week in describing for myself what I wanted out of my next life… and for those of us who have seen the graphic expression of my 5 Vacation Resolutions on Facebook – over the last 5 days… https://www.facebook.com/ravi.kodukula.1 … here’s a behind the scenes, exclusive, limited edition version of the process of how it all came together for me…

  1. Cleanse Thy Friends’ List (July 18) : Recently, at a dinner table, some of my friends were having fun going through a list of all my “Friends” that I have on my Facebook… come on – you cannot be having 1800 friends in life – they said… of course NOT… Facebook “Friends” are a cult by themselves – some bullied me into their “Add Friend” deal or in some cases, I may have liked the Profile Pictures of some of them, knowing very well that Facebook Pictures are not a yardstick of how they look in real life… trust me, when I look at the entire list of my Facebook friends – and almost everyone that I have ever met, is with me on Facebook – and there are those that ping me and then call me for advice / counselling / coaching / or merely a chat when they are down on their chips… not that I can / nor am I the best person to help them all the time… hell no… but I discover, we need each other so often these days… that CONNECT (one of Gelb’s 5 benefits of an obit) – while peripheral most might say – is becoming increasingly legit… and while we take a high moral ground and denounce the newer generations for their inability to connect beyond the digital – let’s face it… that’s the way it may be… the way I see it… the way You see it… BUT, there’s a ‘way IT IS’…

So, HERE WAS THE GUY, who put ‘a Friend a Day’ to his list…

  1. Cut the Clutter (July 19) : When I am gone, no one individual would be so accurate to be able to describe me the way I was… I know the best about me… of course, everyone may describe me the way they have experienced me… but is that ACCURATE (Gelb’s second)…? so, an obit – my own obit provides that accuracy… I don’t want a premature obit about me like Alfred Nobel… nor do I have the money to create a fund to wipe me off the ignominy of the “inventor of Dynamite – the Merchant of Death”…

So, HERE WAS THE GUY, who put a lot about himself out there…

  1. Respect Smee More (July 20) : My life is incomplete without Smee – my “Ardhaangini” – better half… my mirror to life… and me… the mother of our children… and the brunt of my satire in life… and the world must see this ACCEPTANCE (Gelb’s third)… Smee is definitely not Xanthippe (Socrates’ wife)… because since I married Smee, I have been happy and prosperous, as I got a good wife… because if it were otherwise, I would have become a philosopher…

So, HERE WAS THE GUY, who made the best out of the feedback his wife had for him…

  1. Develop Myself (July 21): Of the hundred more years that I would now live… like the Turtle that does NOTHING… I would like to backward integrate my life… and the best time is now to write down what those years would look like… my first 50 years are lived through others’ shaping of what I could be… the next 100 will be my PERSPECTIVE (Gelb’s fourth)… in order to do that, I will need to invest…

So, HERE WAS THE GUY, who invested effort to get to the pinnacle of the Ridiculous and the Lunatic…

  1. Spread the Cheer (July 22) : Mortality is scary… and admitting that it is, is macabre… in Gelb’s words – “writing your own obituary allows you to consider your own mortality with RESOLVE (Gelb’s fifth), thereby doing some of the work involved in the demanding business of confronting Life’s Third Act…*”
*… Life’s Third Act – one’s mature years, now that you got a few more added owing to changes in Life Expectancy

So, HERE WAS THE GUY, whose digital tombstone has the inscription : “IN ALL THE HUMDRUM OF LIFE… HERE LIES THE GUY WHO BROUGHT A SMILE… HAULED A HOLLER… FANNED A LAUGH… LIFTED A MOOD… SPREAD THE CHEER… MAY THE GODS BE BLESSED… NOW THAT HE’S HERE…!”

And in summary…

Kodukula – जब हम पैदा हुए – जग हँसे हम रोए! ऐसी करनी कर चलो – हम हँसे जग भी हँसे!!

When I was born, the World laughed when I cried… but I must do worthy deeds so that when I go, I must have a laugh, and so should the World too…
Sant Kodukula : ~circa 1968 – …

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

 

Udta Kodukula…

Friday, July 15, 2016

“Smee, I just had my mid-year performance review this morning… I have asked Boss for a week’s vacation… I am taking the next week off…” 

An afternoon telephonic conversation with Smee (Smita – my wife – for the uninitiated)… I had informed her earlier this Thursday…

Silence… 5 seconds… 15 seconds… 20 seconds…

“Smee… you there…?”

“You will go back to your job after the vacation, right…?”

——————–

20 seconds… was Smee swarmed with a plethora of emotions…?

SURPRISE… performance appraisal in the morning… vacation decision in the afternoon… and it’s not even vacation time for the kids, which he had been synchronising his own vacation time with, for the last many years ever since they have been in school…

INTRIGUE… why now…? what’s the need…? just 6 months ago he took a vacation… why does he need this break every 6 months… and then those 2 days in April, when Krtin, our son, went through his “Upanayanam – the Thread Ceremony”… those 2 most stressful days of Ravi’s life… caused largely by his own impiety with which he had practiced the “Gayathri Mantra” which, in all honesty and devoutness, Ravi needed to transfer to Krtin… which he did an average job of… bordering on the lousy…

RAGE… no discussion at home… not even a hint that this was coming… except the rant about the 90km daily drive that he has been tirelessly doing over the last 4 years… and the more recent crib about how tired he feels… and how badly he wanted a 2 year sabbatical…and how he cannot complain to his Boss… lest his Boss gives him both “REVITAL – Jiyo Jee Bhar Ke – Kyonki Thakna Mana Hai” and “Hamdard Ka Tonic CINKARA – because this Bechara is Kaam ke Bojh ka Maara”… and moreover… if it is a sabbatical that he wanted, how will this one week really help…

CONFUSION… did he ask his Boss for the vacation…? and could the performance conversation have triggered his plea for the vacation…? or… did his Boss ask him to take a vacation…? or… did Ravi have such a good 6 months at work… or…

JOY… finally… if fortune favoured a turn of tide… and a change of heart… Ravi might just end up lending a helping hand to support Kavya, our daughter, during her exam week – which by some crooked twist of fate, also happens to be the next week…

DEPRESSION… is my JOY short lived…? is he just going to pick up the Pajero and drive off on that week long trip that he has been dreaming about… to the south to Goa… north to Delhi… or east to Hyderabadu and meet all his cousins… or worse, meet mine without me in tow… what will my cousins think of him… and me…?

FEAR… or if the roads are bad because of the monsoons… will he take that adventurous drive west into the Arabian Sea…? I have been worried ever since I woke up with a start the other night… and saw him in the dim of the night, with both his hands flailing in the air as though holding the steering wheel… and pushing his right foot alternately on the wood and steel rims at the two far ends of the bed… and mouthing those ample expletives in Punjabi…? has he started driving in his dreams too…? does the 90km daily drive for 4 years lead to this…? I hope the driving weed hasn’t got to him… UDTA KODUKULA…?

CONCERN… is he really going to go back to work…? if not, in this Fursat Friday, is he going to hint to the world… or worse, write his next obituary of his demise in another corporate… and still worse, will he again use the same ‘Job-Leaving-Last-Day-Message’ which he does a CTRL C, CTRL V of the message that he has used in the last 3 corporates that sacked him… a message in which, only he is interested, and nobody else reads… who the hell has time for colleagues once you have taken a call to quit…? have you ever heard anybody celebrating an “Ex-Colleague Day”…?

TRUST… ok… no problem… he has been slogging real hard… leaves home at 7 in the morning… comes back home after spending almost 3 hours on the road everyday for the last one month… so, what if he wants to take a week’s break…? and gets his cells and tissues back in shape… have seen him completely dedicated to me and the family and his work… 20 years… it has been a great marriage… two kids… a Smartphone… and a Facebook Account… what else can a woman ask for…?

ANTICIPATION… I am sure he will reset his Boss-Banter-Brand equation right during this vacation week… the Boss through whom he sees the rest of his work world… the Banter, the dialogues in the dark, that he has in his job with most his work mates… the Brand, which he has never compromised on, ever since he started his life with Holiday Inn 26 years ago… he definitely needs this week for himself…

After all…

Knowing him… if he hasn’t discussed this with me… you bet… he doesn’t have any plans yet… but you never know… what’s that he keeps talking to me about that science he holds dear to his life – MBTI…? his type being ESFP – you never know when he flies off…

UDTA KODUKULA…

——————–

While I amuse Smee with Robert Plutchik’s Theory of 8 emotions… and add a few of my own…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

PS : Smee – Definitely – I will go back to my job after the vacation…

PLM… and PLT…

Friday, July 08, 2016

Earlier this week, I searched for Facebook filters of the Bangladeshi and Turkish flags… and later in the week, the Taiwanese flags… but apparently, the ‘colour of death’ in the Orient doesn’t seem to fascinate the faithful fascists…

The Business of Terrorism is unfortunately… and pragmatically ‘pregnant with the contrary’…

A few months ago I had a good set of my friends in the virtual space donning the French flag filtered on their Profile Pictures on Facebook… some of them sombre – to go with the mood of the occasion… suitably robed in what would befit a funeral perhaps… but many with smiling faces and in their regular flashy surroundings and happy clothes… don’t really know what they were mourning… or supporting…

Because Terrorism is a naked reality… I am not saying, for once, you should not be robed on your Facebook pictures when you have flag filters on… 

And since forgiving and ‘letting go’ is the new Mantra I am trying hard to embrace… I had let that pass… despite the small little grudge that I continue to hold about the continuing French flag filters… that keeps reminding me of an increasingly niche community of bloggers, writers, speakers, tweeters and a creed of socio-culturists… who have taken to their chosen channels of expressionism and gloss their guns on the not so glossy lives of people in the larger society that they come in contact with…

For example… when I travel in the umpteen cabs around the countryside and occasionally in hinterlands around the world… I am conscious of how lonely my life is… I mean – I am the only guy sitting on the backseat of the car… alone…

So, what do I do…?

I start a conversation… with the only other lonely guy in the cab… sitting at the wheel… alone… driving me through the twists and curls on the left of the road… or these days… whatever is left of the roads owing to the big, grand festival called the Monsoons…

And after a few early exchanges around the place where I am coming from, i.e. the origin of this trip of mine… and if that is my place of domicile and where I hoard my material wealth… and whether I foresee dying at the very place… and what brings me to this place where I am currently being driven… and the exchange around the boon of the weather and the curse of the traffic in Namma Bengaluru… the Beer and Biryani in Mana Hyderabadu… and Shivaji and Pao Bhaji in Aamchi Mumbai…

The conversation turns to – you guessed it – how the cabbie happened to become… a cabbie… a hugely glorifying feat of humble beginnings and the subsequent trials and turbulations of life… that finally brought the cabbie to the doorstep of this conversation with me…

The so, socio-culturally evolved me… who has had similar humble beginnings… and in that instance of sparked recognition of my own state of existence not so long ago… when I was in a very similar job… and how I can understandably share that empathetic glance or demonstrate a visible gesture of relatedness – say through a hug… that people like me (PLM) can have for the people like them (PLT)…

And then there is this unique thing that I discover about cabbies around the country (and New York City, of course)… most cabbies are either first generation immigrants to the cities where they have taken to this profession of driving people around… or the Next Gen citizens of the cities where they live… many speak the language of the land (except in New York City, of course)… and have a fair bit of a grasp of the roads and the by-lanes and your destination – (again, except in New York City)…

Most aspire for their next generation to be better than them… they work hard to ensure their children go to school – English Medium schools as my recent Bengaluru cabbie Pronob proclaimed proudly that his children go to… Pronob is originally from Midnapore in West Bengal and has been in Bengaluru for the last 20 years… and most are becoming aware of the various avenues of borrowing money for the higher education of their children… and how they would not hesitate to borrow…

What does this tell me about how some of the ‘city societies’ evolve… the immigrants come in… have to work harder than the local communities who normally may have either taken things for granted, or may look down upon certain jobs and professions as either burdensome or lower in value chain…

And lo and behold… within a few years, the immigrants make more money and are financially more sound… And the next generation of citizens with all the borrowed moneyed education… have… Been There, Seen It, Done That… and become bloggers, writers, speakers and tweeters…

Since my musings have no malice towards none at all… I am hoping I get away with blogging about my neo-culturist friends (PLM)…

Of importance, I discover, of late, and with my receding white hairline… is how then, that this next ‘having arrived in life’ generation (PLM), has a world view through such conversations with the (PLT)… with cabbies while driving around… with waiters and serving staff in hotels and restaurants… with sales folks that dot the retail stores around the country…

… and, with people affected by brutal Terrorism and other harsh-doings…

With each passing week… sitting here by the grey morning window… I think of PLM and the PLT conversations… and what they bring in for me… a strange feeling of connectedness, relatedness… and empathy…

Will the next generation of PLT be able to sip coffee by a grey morning window and blog about PLM… With No Malice…?

Hmmm…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Rooney Beagle has a Facebook Page…

Friday, July 01, 2016

Rooney Beagle has a Facebook Page…

With Shikha Trivedi Singh and Rooney Beagle…

https://www.facebook.com/rooney.beagle?fref=ts

Of course… Facebook is the second largest country in the world with more than 1.5 billion citizens… three fifths of whom are dormant… non-tax paying… non-ad surfing and non-revenue generating… and the rest merely spend 50 minutes of their unproductive time every day on an average…

Glossing through the glorifying girth in their lives – like the recent trip taken to the same hills that they went to 15 years ago… and mocking through the mollifying mirth of others who took a trip to the same hills… but in a different boat…

Just that this time, people would have added a few more faces to the frame… a couple of children who happened along the way perhaps… and Rooney

I have 1,800 “friends” on Facebook… Rooney is the only one with 4 legs…

——————–

I was in Ooty in June 1989… doing my summer job (okay – training) at the Taj Savoy during my summer holidays… the job, in fact, hitting two beds with one shovel… one – I get work experience in the industry while I was doing my hotel schooling; and on the other hand – I could always do with some extra money at hand – a princely sum of Rs. 250 per month, to sail through life’s extravagances…

You see… I was heavily into pen-friendship during my college times… and I could boast of writing to and receiving letters from at least 5 or 6 girl pen friends of mine every damned day of my life at that time…

And that cost me a fortune… equally emotionally and rupee-wise…

When I got back home after the holidays in mid July, I was greeted by an added sibling to the family…

Not that my parents suddenly got virile after their 3rd and the last child – my younger sister (younger of the both younger sisters of mine), who was born years before 1989… but here was a small little 4-legger sniffing and smelling a pair of new legs of mine that had come into his adopted home… suddenly…

For Subramaniam Kodukula… his first 20 days of life at my home while I was still in Ooty, were nothing less than a paradise regained… my sisters cleaned, combed and cuddled him everyday… while his facial and body hair was growing owing to genetics… cleaning his faeces needed extra phenyl in the house… his diet needed extra attention… you see, as fate would ordain it, he landed up in a Brahmin Vegetarian home… and that meant some vegetarian dog biscuits…

However, his Veterinarian, Dr. Chugh had some changes quickly made in the family fabric… no – it wasn’t that everybody turned to non-vegetarianism because of the new member of the family… but very immediately, we needed to take care of a tongue twister that plagued Dr. Chugh… he could never get to pronounce Subramaniam… and so, the first change in Subramaniam Kodukula’s life – was a little more anglicised and urban version – Chubby

Well… it was still better than Tommy – the most generic name for a dog in India… or John Doe – the equivalent synonym for a corporate canine…

Chubby grew up to be exactly that… Chubby… his pedigree as a German Spitz gave him a continental European arrogance… yet he was humbly grounded owing to his Indian, Brahminical, Vegetarian moorings…

As a younger sibling – born 2 decades after I was… Chubby did me proud in more ways than one… well evolved on his relationship management – particularly with my mother… highly advanced on his analytical and lateral thinking skills… Chubby was a ‘1’ rater on the Performance and Potential grid… year over year…

And the best part… he was well controlled on his bowels and bladder…

Chubby’s MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) profile was ENFJ… Quite Extraverted (E), he would make friends easily… he would be the first to introduce himself by wagging his tail in a group of friends… i.e. the other dogs on the street when he went about his structured (J) ablutions in the morning, afternoon and in the evening… Chubby would have Intuitive (N) conversations with them… and would take most of his decisions from his heart (F) – rather than his head…

Quite different than my own Personality Type… but Chubby and I spent those 8 years together that we did… like Brothers In Arms…

Chubby lived in the pre internet era… he had great ideas about how the future canine world would be different than the 386, 486 and the Pentium chip world that he grew up in… he envisaged a world where the entire canine brethren of his would one fine day, be “connected” through a virtual, digital world… something that he had fairly early on wanted to name – the Tailbook

In his growing up years, Chubby had heard of another 4 legger (at least at that time while he was still growing up)… called Mark Z… albeit in a different distant world… who eventually founded and gave shape to what Chubby visualised during his lifetime…

Mark Z called it Facebook… in 2004… 7 years after Chubby breathed his last… a close cry to Chubby’s pioneering thinking around social networking and digital connect… alas… he did not live to see his thinking turn into a pandemic…

Chubby came home when I was not home… he went away in early September 1997 when I was not home… the same day when Mother Theresa breathed her last… and when I was on an official trip to Sydney, down-under…

——————–

Chubby’s soul and spirit live on… in all the 4 leggers who have a digital existence on Facebook… like Rooney Beagle… who, in all the fullness of time, is immortalised by his parents… my good friends Shikha and Gaurav Singh…

I have recently extended my digital paw to Rooney… he has accepted my “Friend” request… as he grows up to have bigger paws and expands his Social Network… I am hoping I would get to know a lot more digital paws that I haven’t known before…

Yes… Rooney Beagle has a Facebook Page…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

 

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