Thursday, December 15, 2016

Happy Holidays

Last weekend we went to see a musical concert. The show was named "Under the Mistletoe", where musicians from Qatar performed to a packed auditorium. There were orchestra, wind symphony, singers and choirs performing separately and then coming together in unison for the grand finale.

This was extra special for us as our daughter was one of the performers. It's the second consecutive year she had performed in the Christmas show as part of the choir and we were probably among the first few to book our tickets.

I have uploaded the performances of the Choir and the Grand Finale in YouTube and invite you to get into the holiday mood for 2016.

Where are you father Christmas

Joy to the World

Tap Tap Tap

Tiny Little Baby Born in Bethlehem

The grand finale was particularly enjoyable as everyone got cranked up for the festive mood.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Demonetization - Black, White and many shades of Grey

In democracy, there is a strange feeling when it turns out that the person or motion you did not support has won. A feeling that resonates among thousands of Americans today after Trump’s triumphant win. Many Indians had similar feeling after the last general election and more recently after the demonetization of currency. As a result of that they are still burning inside with frustration.

Let us not take a bipartite approach to life or belief as Mr. George W Bush’s dictated once upon a time ..  “you are with us or with the terrorists”, he said. Let’s look at the bigger picture and try to accept the good even if it is with the customary “Umm!” and “Uuuh!”

Life offers multiple shades of grey between black and white! One doesn’t necessarily has to sweat in making THE decision as there are abundant opportunities to be selective while cherry picking own likes and dislikes.

Now that enough bytes and energy has been expended in support, opposition, criticism and debates on various aspects of  demonetization, it’s time in my opinion to accept Demonetization as a reality. Com’on it's not going to go away .. no matter how much inconvenience or discomfort it might cause, the country is abiding by it. It would therefore be nice of the economists, analysts, academicians and so called experts to bring in some suggestion to improve the implementation process rather than being judgmental, critics or simply sarcastic commentators.

Even one optimistic layman like me would not doubt that the cash crunch will remain in the short to mid term and perhaps the economy will also shrink to a certain degree. But then people will also start getting used to the new way of life with less cash dealings. It is therefore time to shift focus from wasteful discussions and embrace the new style of functioning. History has taught us that every change brings along new opportunities and this time it will be no different. 

So Rise and Shine people, let's rejig our lifestyle as we explore  the new opportunities that are going to unfold and be prepared to grab those as they surface. If you are of the opinion that thousands of crores collected by the banks will be given away only to rich businessmen or large corporate, you are going to miss an opportunities to start your own enterprise just by  being prejudiced.

A few points to consider :
  • If you think that Indians will not cope up with bank cards or E-commerce, think about mobile phones and remember our life during the past decades.
  • If you think our government will not succeed with cash regulations, remember how  merrily we smoked in our planes, trains and public buses not so long ago.
  • If you feel a grudge that few selected industrial houses were tipped off about demonetization, you will be naive to think they keep unlimited cash stashed in a pit or inside a cupboard. Their money work and grow outside and that's why they are rich.
  • If you think that dirty money is a myth, then look at the images below of desperately destroyed banknotes.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Amar Jawan - We are indebted to you

We are a country of 1.25 billion and since gaining independence from the British Raj, only a small percentage of Indians have served the armed forces. Even a smaller percentage got wounded in action or have been martyred.

But these small number of shoulders protect Our Freedom, Our Dignity, Our opportunities and carry Our Dreams and Hopes. They spend sleepless nights guarding our cities and borders so that we could sleep in peace.

This post is to honor all current as well as ex-service men-women who served our nation during peace, war or natural calamities at great cost to themselves and their families.

We Salute you!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Men are Obsolete

Either war is obsolete or man is. To not evolve beyond war is to choose oblivion over utopia.
My heart bleeds every time the news of the death of civilian or soldiers come in. Useful lives of our country are being wasted and families are getting devastated by mindless killings.

The idea above is of R Buckminster Fuller, a great American Architect and it was discovered on his desk after he had passed away. In my opinion he was a true dreamer in his own rights, otherwise  who in his right frame of mind would have dared to dream of a world without war. After all it's the arms industry that keeps the economic engines of so called great nations lubricated. They have made wars their birth right and seldom hesitate to bestow one upon others!
. ….. and of course we cannot undermine how much craving so called great people with ego have for absolute crude power and wealth.

Or else we all would have lived happily ever after!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Zero ka Funda

Most of the time Zero is considered more negative than any negative integer and we seldom hesitate to say “he or she is a big zero”.

While the size of a zero definitely doesn’t matter, there are some excellent lessons one could take home from Zero.

We learnt that one can add colossal value in life by positioning oneself in the RIGHT place. When 0 (zero) collaborates with 1 (One) in the right position they make 10 (Ten).

Zero (0) degree, where the water starts to freeze, could give us immense warmth once arrived from a minus 10. We learnt that in spite of being the smallest, Zero does not carry any negativity.

Though careful usage Zero could be encouraging, as a manager once appraised someone. “He has improved tremendously” the manager wrote. “His English has now become zero from totally non-existent”.

Monday, October 31, 2016

How is my driving

I believe in parallel universe: Multiple versions of us are living in alternate worlds that interact with each other. Nah! I am not going to bore you with quantum theories to explain "multiverse". Rather, it’s quite simple for us to perceive.

One world exist in our home, offices, parks or movie theaters while other one could be viewed in its full glory on our roads. Once behind the wheels of those moving metals, each actor has a different character ever ready to clank at the slightest opportunity.

I once encountered a driver, who started his argument by accepting he was an idiot while questioning if I did enough to prove my genius. He must have been a lawyer of the Road world and the realization dawned on me that in this parallel world all professions exists.

The Professor: When they happen to observe someone break the law, they make every effort to let the errant know that it was wrong. Given an opportunity they give a lecture on it.

Makeup Artists: They consider cars as moving parlors with drivers’ seat their dressing couch. It’s brings in lot of convenience with many mirrors allowing them put everything from foundation or lipstick to nail paint. Usually they don’t mind a honk or two to remind them that the traffic lights have gone green.

Late Risers: To complement those who could not manage makeups before leaving are the ones who missed breakfast. They are expert in completing a full course breakfast with sandwich, coffee et al and all without losing control of the steering wheel.

The Correspondent: Always interested in what happened along the road, slowing down to stick the neck out of the windows if there is an accident or there is a gathering of any sorts More often than not they will try to put their camera on duty.

Peeping Toms: These Toms spares no effort to find out what’s going on inside the car next door.

The learner: Someone who will frustrate everyone with their cautious driving and worst part of their behavior is they slow down even if the traffic light is green.

The Manipulator: They are expert in manipulating the situation and finding a way to arrive at the frontend of long queues most of the time exploiting the kindness of others or flouting the rules.

Multitasker: One mother of Multitasker was a colleague of mine who could put all his limbs into action. A cigarette in one hand, a mobile on the other while one foot took charge of the steering wheel while the other worked on accelerator and brake. Beating all odds, he is still alive and kicking!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Divi Divi - A natural Compass

Aruba's trademark: the Divi Divi or watapana tree

This is my sketchy sketch version of the famous Divi Divi tree I chanced once upon a time in the internet. It is found in exclusively in the tiny Island of Aruba, which is 180 square kilometers in size and part of the kingdom of Nederland in the Caribbean Sea.  

The Divi Divi tree is Aruba’s natural compass, always pointing in a southwesterly direction.  The local adage is that “if you are lost in the wilderness, follow the bend of the divi-divi trees and they’ll lead you to town”.

It is believed that attempts to plant this tree in other parts of the world have proved futile. The cooling wind that gust steadily from the northeast have carved the native divi-divi trees into natural sculptures, shapes that would rival the most artistic bonsai.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

O Architecture

Architecture isn’t just methodology and science, nor can be practiced as a formula. It’s an opportunity to infuse emotions to art forms and create a new reality.

Architects' pencil is a wand that could construct a magical realism, where fantasy seamlessly blends with reality and everyday spaces around us appear different while remaining familiar all the time. The arches winks as it entices you to take the step while the handles of doors reaches out for your touch as you turn it on.

Welcome to the magical place where the future has already happened and the past is yet to arrive.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Organic, Hybrid or GMO.... Its so confusing

These days while doing grocery, we have started to look for seedless fruits. The seeds are a nuisance inside the mouth and particularly so as one can no longer consider spitting those out in our urban spaces. I am carrying a guilt because of this disturbing trend of laziness. Deep inside I know that seedless variety of fruits being against the rule of nature cannot be healthy.

I knew that these are hybrid fruits but not genetically modified and recently carried out a bit of research to understand this better.  I learnt that new varieties are created when compatible plants are crossbred. Sometimes this happens in nature due to cross pollination and sometimes it is made to happen on plantation. Grapefruits for example is a hybrid of a pomelo and a sweet orange which were crossbred on plantations in the 18th century. Oranana along with the above image however, is purely my imagination.

In addition to natural and hybrid food, we also have Genetically modified or transgenic food and crops. These food are produce of genetically modified organisms and known as GMO. The majority of GMO are engineered in the laboratory for herbicide tolerance through introduction of toxic chemicals into their genes with the intention to kill weeds or pests.

We would be naive to think that the chemicals that are engineered to kill pests and weeds will not harm mankind. The environment is not safe either as the environmentalists are concerned that GM foods can disrupt the entire food chain.

The creation of hybrid fruits and vegetables create a larger variety, while GMO produce does not add to the available range. The hybrid foods are known to have the following shortcomings as compared to the natural ones.

  • They have a higher sugar and starch contents which are not completely absorbed or used by our pancreas and liver.
  • The have a mineral imbalance which may lead to mineral balance in our body after consumption over an extended period of time.
  • These plants absorb excessive minerals from the soil, making it unsuitable for cultivation.

I also do not want to strangle the efforts of science and engineering as GMO does have some definite advantages if those could be made safe for human consumption. It could help meet our growing demands for food by arresting the loss from weeds, pests and crop diseases. And also save the cost incurred by farmers towards pesticides and herbicides. Bio scientists could also come up with different varieties that would resist drought or frost and save people from starvation.

…  till such time it will be prudent to  start our own organic farms with strategic ties with partners for successful barter trades.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Magical Reality ... Real but inside a dream

Dreams are illusion and could also be described as magical realism for good reasons. Although science would love to explain dreams through “alpha beta and gamma” stages of our sleep. I look forward to blog on that aspect at another time but now it’s time for surreal dreams.
Like magical realism, in this dream we find distant past present in every moment while the future had already happened. Here the protagonist is part of a dream which might be scary but without a doubt magical.
While inside the airport facility in a foreign country, he unintentionally loitered on to the tarmac. He had been following someone who was getting into an aircraft, a smaller one. The realization suddenly struck that this he is in a place that is normally out of bounds and must be illegal. He started to rush back towards the terminal building but could not find the place he exited. From the outside it is so very difficult to distinguish between doorways and glazing, most certainly done on purpose. He finally located a set of doors, but his relief was short-lived as to his dismay they led to an internal courtyard with high walls. It was virtually impossible to scale and moreover was partially covered on the top.
One of the doors could be opened from outside letting him re-enter the building. Otherwise he would be a sitting duck in front of a hunter or a prisoner inside a prison cell. He then discovered a series of exit ways from the building. Something quite similar to the checkout counters in a supermarket. Unfortunately they were all manned by armed personnel and there was no way he could get out of this place without verification.
Strangely, he told himself in his dream, “this seems to be serious trouble. Do I wake up and end the dream or let it continue and find out what happens at the end?” He decided to take the chances.
A nice Pakistani lady, slim and young, appeared from nowhere and bailed him out. The people manning the exit decided after a bit of persuasion to let him go. Though it was illegal to loiter around within the prohibited zone, they agreed it was a mistake and a pardonable one at that.

He still remembered her name the next morning. She was Shazia Khan.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Vision Twenty-Fifty - Keeping dreams alive for India

We may be young as a nation as we celebrate our 70th year of independence from the imperial powers. However, this doesn’t make us a new country, one the contrary we have existed for centuries and history bears testimony to the great kings, enlightened sages and people with heart of gold. Unfortunately many among us have started to erode the core values that we practiced and treasured generation after generation.
We belong to the land where the code of conduct for the society was governed by compassion even for strangers. We said “Atithi Devo Bhava or Atithidevo Bhava”. This is a verse in Sanskrit taken from an ancient Hindu scripture (अतिथिदेवो भव), which in English translates into  “the guest being equivalent to God”.  
Today as we stand saluting our national flag, it quite apparent that noble codes of conduct of our forefather have lost in the pages of history. People have lost humanity. Every other day we learn some gore acts carried out by a common person that makes deeds by hardened criminals look like a child's play. The following 3 incidents gives an idea about the severity of the situation that Indian society faces today.
Fallen Mother
We heard about the infamous murder case of Sheena Bora by her mother Indrani Mukherjea. Sheena Bora murder case. This incident caught the entire country in utter shock as they tried to comprehend under what circumstances would a mother take the life of her own child. The child was so unfortunate that the mother could also convince other associates to help her in such a heartless act.
Citizens without Compassion
The former could be treated as a case of a heartless woman blinded by own greed, jealousy or anger. But during the first week in August '2016, our nation watched with disbelief how a poor man hit by a tempo succumbed to his injuries on the road of the capital without any help. It was not a desolate place but a busy thoroughfare and hundreds of Indians passed on foot or in their cars without casting a second glance.No one stopped to help the dying man. The only person who cared to stop did so to steal the victim's mobile phone. Heartless People
Disgraced Doctors
We could hardly believe our eyes when we saw what a daughter and grandsons were doing to this 82 years old old doctor being treated for heart ailment in a hospital in Chennai. What is more shocking is the fact that trio attempting to kill the former doctor who is their own blood relation were themselves qualified doctors. Doctors turns life takers. The hospital CCTV camera has recorded, Dr M Jayasudha, entering the room with her two sons and asking the nurses to leave them alone under some pretext. Next they produced some documents believed to be property related and force her father to sign and then forcibly obtains his thumb impression. She then unscrews the drip and tucks the disconnected line under her father's bed and leaves him bleeding.
Had it been earlier in my younger days, I would have gone gaga with a futuristic vision of our country with robots walking the street while automobiles fly past. This will pretty much happen with the technology changing by leaps and bounds. We have already seeing the early signs of such a futuristic environment with driver-less cars, humanoids, digital pets and the likes. It might also be possible to have regular visits from other habitable planets of this universe by that time.
Indifferent of what happens to our built environment in 2050, I want humanity to make a comeback in my country. We do not want to witness a single incident like such that make us shudder in pain and shame. Neither should we be sitting quiet while the fools mocks us and all that we stand for. Experience have taught that change for good doesn't happen automatically. On the contrary it demands rigorous efforts by many and lead by visionaries backed with clear road maps. This space is probably not enough for such elaboration. Therefore I would illustrate my vision 2050 through the cover image and the following bullet points which are as a matter of fact the pillars that bears the vision:
  • Human Development: Improve education; arts & science; culture & heritage
  • Social Development: Address family cohesion; freedom of religion; freedom of media
  • Government: Provide good governance inspired by the time tested scriptures & philosophy
  • Economic Development: Address poverty and distribution of wealth
  • Environmental Development: Control natural habitats & pollution; sustainable developments
It’s going to be difficult path ahead but with strong will power and collaborative effort of all Indians, I am confident we shall reach there by 2050. Finally I shall borrow the words of a great Bengali poet Satyendranath Dutta and weave my dream. Lets all of us faith in our ability to succeed and sing in a chorus of billion voices that Bharat will rise once again to the pinnacle and hold the highest position at the world stage.

'Bolo bolo bolo sobe soto bina benu robe bharat abar jagat o sobhaye sreshtha asana lobe, dharme mahan hobe karme mahan hobe, nobodinomoni udibe abar puratono e purobe '
This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

.... and let there be Hope

The media seldom portrays the positive side of our society, while in reality good things happen constantly leading to integrity, hope and trust. Through the following narratives, I have shared two of my recent encounters in Kolkata that give rise to hope.

Adhaar Card
We took the first opportunity to walk up to the bureau office to get our applications through unscheduled registration. We were elated by the professionalism demonstrated by the government officer on duty that day. After waiting for some months and a bit of follow-up the day arrived to get photographed and fingerprints taken. Fortunately for us, it coincided with our vacation time.
We were pleasantly surprised to discover everything well organized and there was absolute discipline … an order not too synonymous with our land with billions. Everyone came strictly by appointment. 
My daughter and I breezed through the procedure and all waz well till it was my wife’s turn. Her residence proof document had parental home address and despite all cross references in our documents they did not accept our home as her residence. While the supervisor was slightly inclined to make a concession, the person on duty insisted on adequate paperwork. But he did leave us with one solution, that too quite politely.
We were to approach the councilor of our municipal ward and request for a permanent residence certificate. Hearing that I said to myself 
… “now are into a never-ending loop”.
We hesitantly went to the councilor’s office, unsure what to expect as they did not know us personally. She was a very cordial person and though about to leave, she stepped back inside. The required certificate was issued then and there. To my apologetic “thank you”, she smilingly reassured saying it was her duty.
Completing the remaining procedure back at the bureau was easy breezy. Before leaving I thanked the person in-charge saying
“you are doing a great job and insisting on proper documents will go a long way to weed out the infiltrators.”

Mobile Recharge
One of this days we went to the Spencer supermarket in Kolkata for shopping. While making a decision on a humble mop, we got stuck between an unbranded products priced INR 149 and one of a known brand that cost 400.
A sales lady was present there from the brand explaining the advantages of the product. She highlighted this one was entirely covered with plastic not letting any direct contact of water with the metal preventing rust. She also told us that there was a 50 INR discount in the form of a mobile recharge coupon that would work with all service providers.
I said, “fair enough, decision made. But do we have to come back all the way to collect the recharge coupon or it will be available at the checkout station?”
She said, “I will give it to you now.”
Surprised I asked, “Now! What if somebody takes it and goes away without buying the product?”
She said “How much would one gain by doing that?”

I smiled and thought common people of Kolkata have so much trust and integrity...... Let there be HOPE .......

Monday, August 8, 2016

Tripura & India's Olympic dream

Gymnast Dipa Karmakar qualifies for the finals in the Olympics 2016. She has made us proud and the whole country is looking at her with hope for a medal. She is without doubt the most famous person of the small hilly Indian northeastern state called Tripura.
Here I share a few fabulous landmarks from this state which I happened to have visited during July 2016.
The ujjayanta palace, the erstwhile home of the royals and currently a museum
The South-side gate of the palace
On the way to the Neer Mahal or the water palace
The Rudra Sagar, which houses the water Neer Mahal
Ma Tripureswari one of the Hindu Mythological Pith (holy places)
Bhueswari Temple, the original home of Ma. The story of this temple is immortalized in one of Tagore's stories. The story narrates how human sacrifice was abolished by the compassion of little children. you can find more about it in one of my earlier posts here Maa-tripureswari

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Cityscape .... a thought

Sometimes we stare at a distant skyline and wonder about life. The thought of extraterrestrial life confuses us as we are unaware of any living beings in other planets of this large Universe. As a matter of fact, no one else knows about their existence either.

First I think we are alone and then chuckle to conclude .... maybe not!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Integrity: you & me - now & then

Integrity is the essence of everything successful......
Integrity for me means adherence to strong moral and ethical principles while conducting our life whether or not other people are watching. Bucky Fuller’s (R. Buckminster) statement therefore implies that one has to carry out all life activities within ethical and moral limits to be rewarded with success. Simply put, do good and it'll turn out good!
There is no denying of the fact that integrity of character is the minimum one requires for a success story although this not always the most visible trait of successful individuals. There are unfortunately many corrupts who gatecrashed into that league but we can always argue that exception proves the rule.

People have changed over the past century and today they are not so keen to retain the moral high grounds. Historian Warren Susman has opined in his book “Culture as History: the Transformation of American Society in the Twentieth Century” that the use of the word “character” peaked in the 19th century when it remained a key word in the vocabulary of Americans and Englishmen.” It was then very important to society and was promoted as an essential component of one’s identity. Integrity no doubt tops any list for good character traits. Other desirable traits could be:
  • Self-discipline
  • Conscientiousness
  • Honesty
  • Reliability
  • Optimism
  • Compassion
  • Kindness
  • Perseverance
  • Generosity
  • Courageousness
  • Authenticity
  • Forgiveness
  • Fairness
  • Humility
  • Responsibility
  • Respectfulness
  • Loyalty

Friday, July 1, 2016

The motives behind Motivation

The motives behind Motivation was published by me on the Linked In.
The global economy follows a pattern of peaks and troughs and the mantra to survive those inclement phases of recession is to stay prepared in advance. Readiness calls for periodic retrospection or self-appraisal followed by an honest endeavor to upskill ourselves. There is an old saying "if you aren't growing, you're dying" and this drive for growth often is what separates the outstanding from the adequate.
The thought of “further development” invariably annoys us at the beginning and a common question that haunts us is “why bother about further development within our busy daily schedule?” A gentleman once confided that he would rather be investing that resources for the future of his children.
But the harsh reality of present day life is that no jobs are permanent. Over the past decades, we have witnessed numerous profit making business models employing thousands around the globe going bankrupt or venturing into a totally new arena.  Another fact is that majority of today’s top ranking companies are less than 20 years old, thanks to evolving technologies. Continuous training of employees including the managers in certain industries are no longer an option but a necessity.
Professional membership to institutions such as PMI and CIOB insists on tangible continuous development. These are quantified through “Professional Development Units” and “Continuous Development Units” respectively. Survival therefore comes only with meticulous self-planning and happenstance could only take us so far.
Self-development is complicated to categorize considering the potential to improve one of our many aspects, be it persona, character, Knowledge or skill. But in the context of professional improvement, it has to be measurable and it is more of a process rather than being a one-time endeavor.
The dilemma is that once personal time along with top dollar is spent, it’s not unusual for Individuals to equate self-developmental to promotion or pay rise. Senior professionals see improvement from a broader perspective while the junior leaders find their motivation in short term gains. After in-depth discussions with the peers, it was obvious that the factors which inspire professionals are very diverse as listed below:
  • Increase the chance of promotion or a pay rise
  • Attain mastery of a skill set as mastery provides increased autonomy
  • Gain more control over work within one’s own organization or team
  • Develop skills that may indirectly be of value in difficult times such as recessions and layoffs
  • Seek avenues outside the narrower focus of their given career field
  • Self-direct learning to broaden knowledge within one’s area of interest
  • The drive to evolve as a better human being and increase individual resilience
  • Create the potential to discover new areas of interest
Gulf talent (2016) provides an interesting insights into the postgraduate study trend in the Middle East and the percentage of willing individuals is surprisingly very high. Even though this trend is triggered by the instability within the job market, the reasons for further development aligns well with my personal findings. Following are few graphical excerpts:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Love is a mental disorder

It was a typical setup for such traditional restaurant,high back seats neatly packed against each other with a square table in between. He was sitting next to a young couple having an argumentative conversation and he inadvertently became part of a important chapter of their life story.

Loving is not always an easy task. Love comes with it's share of pain and guilt. Men fall in love more than women but you simply do not care.” she said.  

Yea! when women do fall in love, they become addicted to the feeling more easily. But unfortunately I am not a woman” came the reply.

People invariably find the person who they fall in love with attractive and they write poetry or sing love songs. You are so different and difficult,” she quipped.

This is not funny!” he said. “ Love is a mental disorder and I cannot transform into an insane to impress you. I am what I am. Period.”

What's that you said? Now I know, I must be mad to love you so much” she said with tears in her eyes.

Different people may exhibit different symptoms of love but when you list them down and compare with the diagnostic criteria of madness, you will realize.I will give you some example..” but before he could continue, she snapped.

I do not want any of your stories and explanation. I would rather be mad than sane for the sake of my love.

Preoccupation with lover is no different from obsessional illness. Feeling the urge to cry or ecstasy are bipolar disorder often referred to as depression. All points to one reality ….. Love is a mental illness.” He wanted to clear out the smog collecting around their relationship. But she got up and walked of saying ...

I was in love but you are SICK! Tomorrow morning I will be better but you will remain a loner till you change yourself

She never saw him again........

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Deception, thy name is Trompe-l'œil

There is an interesting story about deceptive painting involving two renowned Greek painters from around 464 BC. Zeuxis, once produced a still life so real that it convinced the birds to peck at the grapes in there. Parrahasius, a rival artist later invited Zeuxis to judge one of his paintings after pulling back a tattered curtains in his study. But when Zeuxis tried, he could not, as the curtains too were part of that Parrhasius's painting. 
This form of painting would probably be categorized as l trompe-l'œil.

Trompe-l'œil as defined by Wiki is French for "deceive the eye". This is a technique of art which uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. A typical trompe-l'œil mural might depict a window, door, or hallway, intended to suggest a larger room.
This is also written as trompe l’oeil in English and is thought to have originated much earlier than our documented history. Examples are found in murals from Greek and Roman times.

This also reminds me of our own mythological story of Mahabharata. When the Pandevas invited their cousins Kauravas to their new palace, Duryodhan had trouble differentiating real from illusions making a clown of himself in the process.

About a decade ago, I was involved in a project for one of the royals and that was my introduction to the world of trompe l’oeil. We had crew of artist sent out from our Rome office to do carry out the task. It was the female bedroom of the suite in his so to say winter getaway. The idea was to have the drapes painted on the walls to match those installed on the windows. I was the architect overseeing the commissioning of the fit-out and was quite pleased to be part of the overall experience. While leave some imagery from that job here, I will save the description of its application process for another time and place.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Life is not fair

Life is not fair.It is a thought she felt started to cross her mind more often than anyone else in the whole world. This negative feelings came back without fail during her childhood whenever things went against her wishes. In the face of all odds of being a single parent, her mother was the epitome of positivity, who always kept her motivated. That was some 24 years back when she was just a little girl of 10 and could barely perceive what fairness in life really meant.
“ I am born out of a wedlock and have never seen my father” was her biggest complaint. As a teen, she could barely find solace in the assurance that she was a love child born out of deep love and affection between two persons. It was too deep a philosophy for her to understand the complexities of human lives, their social constraints, their limits and helplessness. A couple who love each other cannot always get married and it is their love that let one see the constraints and shines the light to move on.
“ Life's not fair!”was the first thought that came to her mind this morning. She could feel that he was gone. And, soon this house, this bedroom, the furniture, the garden with the trees they planted together will have little meaning. The hibiscus, the rose, the marigold in the garden will lose their colors and look pale.
They both agreed that this relationship was on borrowed time with no future of its own. The temptation of stealing this period of togetherness weighed much heavier than being with someone else for eternity.  Now that he is gone, it was the strangest feeling she ever had.

Maybe it is her destiny that she was re-living a chapter from her mother’s life or perhaps it was coded into her genes...

Thursday, March 17, 2016

On the way to Reunion

The Reunion“I shall name him Ujjyal”, my grandfather declared soon after the birth of his first grandchild. “He shall bring glory to the family”, was his wish first time as he saw me. His dream, I learnt later was to see his grandson take charge of large construction projects. As a young boy, he was fascinated by a British Engineer in charge of constructing the long span rail bridge across the village river. He himself had done quite well considering the humble beginning and accumulated significant amount of wealth during his lifetime. Over the years he developed an uncanny habit of investing in the right business, right property and right people. If there was one thing that he missed was the genuine respect of people. The respect doctor, an engineer or a collector so easily commanded all the time. Since his children couldn’t fulfill his dream, it was passed down to his grandson. The family had moved to Lutyens’ Delhi from neighboring Haryana soon after I was born. My father inherited the business acumen and created a business empire no one in the village would dare to dream. He kept the doors open to new ideas, never ignoring the latest trends or buzzes. Wealth came with its natural privileges allowing us the passage to most sought after schools, clubs along with social acceptance among the New Delhi elites. Though I had two younger siblings, it was me who remained the chosen one to fulfill grandpa’s dream. I was engrossed in those thoughts when the alarm went off breaking my state of trance.It was still dawn when I stepped out of the cab and walked towards the entry gate of the Delhi airport. The early morning February air was pleasantly cold.I was travelling to Bengaluru to attend a college friend's wedding. It had been four years since we graduated from the same college. This wedding was also going to be a reunion of our batch-mates. But what I didn't know was that the reunion would begin much ahead of time; right in the queue in front of the airline counter.
I was almost certain it was she. Same height! Same long hair! Same complexion! Curiosity had my eyes glued to her for about 60 endless seconds, and when she turned, she proved me right. My ex-girlfriend stood two places ahead of me in that queue. We had never met after the college farewell.I still remember the first time I saw Anna in our college campus with that rustic look so commonly visible on the streets of Delhi. But for her it came with a combination of tremendous self-confidence and a pair of very expressive dark eyes. The naughty smile in the left corner of her lips appeared to be carefully cultivated. She might not be a conventional beauty but was attractive enough for me to have her image engraved in my memory since the first sight. It is so much different from the person who is standing ahead of the queue today.The past five years I have reminded myself again and again that I had willfully and forcefully got myself removed from Anna’s life. I carefully nurtured an environment that would foster mistrust, anger and frustration. Eventually when I succeeded, I was more hurt than anyone else. If you have to elucidate your position, they say you need to break the ice spontaneously when you come across that person. If you hesitate, it will be even more daunting and that's precisely what had happened when our glances met. I hesitated and turned away not knowing what to do or say. She walked away after checking-in while I stood there with my adrenaline rushing up. First I wished for our seats to be next to each other and then I decided to request the lady at the counter for that.“Good morning sir! May I have your ticket please”, she said courteously.“Yes, off course,” I stretched my hand and then quickly supported it on the counter.“Only one bag?” she asked“and a handbag” and after a pause requested “may I have a seat by the window.”“Sure, sir” was the answer.
I despised moments like this for failing to put forward a simple request,while having no problems making business pitches or board presentations. I left it with destiny and I hated it.The flight was only half full. Neither Anna nor anyone else sat beside me. I closed my eyes and went back to my incomplete morning thoughts.“Marriages are made in heaven”, but no one has ever defined any specific place where boys would fall in love. It could happen anywhere but if a list was made, engineering college campuses will surely top it. There must be something in the air that makes boys so much more vulnerable. But when we look at the number of successful relationships evolving from those affairs, it's anyone’s guess how far are those places from heaven. Marriages are definitely not made in engineering colleges, I was convinced. There of course shall be exceptions like Aniket and Vanshika, whose wedding is turning out to be the first reunion of our batch mates with near 100% attendance. I remember the day was 28th of January. A day that was no special to the place or the country. Neither was it of any importance to all those who lived around us. I decided to make it very special for myself and Ana. I believed this decision was going to change our life forever. I had been close to her for more than a year by then and we were very comfortable in each other’s company. When I proposed to spend rest of our lives together, she did not have to think twice before accepting.“This is the second life changing incident of my life” was all that she told that day. She confided later that the first one was during her childhood days and gave such lucid description that I could still visualize it.The scene in a developed country or a large Indian metropolitan city would be very different, she said. There would be frenzy of activities with ambulance, sirens and men in white uniforms running with stretchers. She described the little girl of 4 years and 7 months, who stood by the door of their humble house of 3 and half rooms. The dilapidated white ambulance, a Second World War remnant too did not turn up at their door steps that day. They were simply not
important enough.  She felt an aura of gloom around her though could not comprehend its gravity.Since that day everyone was worried about Mohit uncle, her father’s elder brother who lied on the bed helplessly. She was not allowed to enter his room as freely as before. She watched him and her family suffer for the next 5 years and a half. Each of those days made her more resolved to be a doctor to relieve others of their pain and agony. But going through a medical college was too much for her their limited means. Her good grades however got her into this engineering college of great repute.In the 1980s, Indians in smaller towns typically lived under conditions of near-pan-optical surveillance. Any purchase made at the neighborhood store registered not only in their register but also in the eyes and the memories of the shop keeper who knew the entire family. The young girls were more under scrutiny than anyone else. She couldn’t as much walk to the post office without her movement having tracked and analyzed. In the contrast the contemporary condominiums in the cities and the suburbs offered a striking degree of anonymity where it was no longer a rule that one has to know her neighbors.Coming to Bengaluru from a small town called Amarpur and adjust the complexities of a big city life was challenging for young Anasua. The most difficult of all was to handle the independence and anonymity, but it was only a matter of time before she would transform herself to the Anna I came to like, love and sometimes hated myself for doing so.“Hello stranger”. A familiar voice from the past woke me up. At first I thought I must be dreaming. Looking to my right I found Anna sitting next to me with her magnetic smile.“What a wonderful surprise”, I continued without stopping for a breath.“It is so good to see you! You know, I wanted to come and meet you. I even wanted to ask for a seat next to you. But I couldn't do it and you beat me once more. You were special and you continue to remain special.”