Friday, 15 June 2012

Shall WE tell the President!! - A SWOT analysis


                The IPL Season 5 is over, but the bookies have their hands full with the next big season. There is another exciting match coming up, where quite a windfall awaits them.  The bettings are on,in full swing for the next President of this cricketing nation.  And here are the contenders.

  • Dr APJ Abdul Kalam - Chennai Super Kings
  • Somnath Chatterjee  -   Kolkata Knight Riders
  • Pranab Mukherjee -     Delhi Dare Devils    (Dada was never considered by the Kolkata team owner and has always been a part of Delhi Dare Devils, but his heart is in kolkata and still remains a favourite with the ever volatile Kolkata fan)
  • Dr Manmohan Singh - Kings XI Punjab

        Dr Hamid Ansari and P A Sangma's teams have not been recognized, as yet, by the governing council due to lack of clarity in ownership and funding. They have not been ruled "OUT" and the decision is pending with the Third Umpire (Front).

The SWOT analysis of the main contenders released by the bookies for public information and participation has been reproduced below.

1. Chennai Super Kings:
Strength: Good Technique and strong fundamentals, Experienced. Large fan Base.
Weakness: Inability to read the Googly, face the bouncer and reply to sledging.
Opportunity: Previous winner, Opportunity to excel further and leave a lasting impression on young minds.
Threat: Dominant Opposition, Search by Team Owners for new Talent.

2. Kolkata Knight Riders:
Strength: Gentleman Player, Disciplined, Plays by the rules.
Weakness: Inability to play on the "Left" side
Opportunity: Dark Horse. A chance to establish supremacy over the left attack.
Threat: Unreliability of the Team owner.

3. Delhi Dare Devils:
Strength: Veteran of many finals, Genuine all rounder. Strong ability to face the bouncer and read the googly
Weakness: Over dependence by the team affects performance and result
Opportunity: To cap a long career with crowning glory
Threat: Emerging Players, Bugs!!

4. Kings XI Punjab:
Strength: Ability to evade the bouncers, ignore spin and remain immune to sledging
Weakness: Inability to appeal for a wicket even of his own bowling. Lets his team do the batting and prefers to be the runner/twelfth man.
Opportunity: To be able to finally remain Speechless for prolonged duration if elected.
Threat: Unwillingness of Team Owner to relinquish their saving grace.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

A Pricely 'Commode'ty


                 I am surprised at the hullabaloo about the thirty five lakhs spent by the Planning Commission for their toilets. In these hard times of policy drought and the falling rupee, these are the men to whom we look upon to put on their thinking caps and come up with life changing ideas. And then we grudge them, when all they ask for this monumental job, is a decent office where they could shed their clothes and don their thinking caps.
                 History has been witness to the fact that great men think hard and find solutions when they are bereft of the burden of garments.  Great discoveries have found their origins in the bath or the modern day bathroom. How can we ever forget 'Eureka' - the cry of joy, by a similarly vilified Archimedes who sought refuge in the bathroom when he was facing the same desolateness which the country is facing today. If at that time, the Sicilians had raised a hue and cry about the gold rim around his bath, then neither would there be a 'Eureka' Forbes today, who keep our house clean and give us safe drinking water, nor the spectacle of a thousand ships launched for Helen of Troy.
              It is a well known medical fact that a man thinks best under pressure. And it is also a well kept secret among men, that the maximum pressure ever experienced by a man in his lifetime is during the time spent in private, in his bathroom.  So, if we are to expect earth shattering ideas from the very men who we have assigned to plan the destiny of this nation, then it is our duty, as responsible and concerned citizens, that they are provided the best of commode-ties where they could sit and think under pressure. So in the nations interest, I implore my fellow countrymen, that we support this initiative for spending this measly sum of money in the larger interest of creating the right pressure atmosphere for effective functioning of our intellectual politicians.
               After all, it is in these very ornate offices of the Commission, that the members have an elaborate sitting, followed by noisy exchanges and reports, and finally the entire matter is released to be served to the nation!!!  Like the tag line of Delhi Belly,  "(sh) It happens" !

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Air India - Saare Zameen Par


             I was speaking to Arun after a long time. We had not spoken since we last went on the vacation to Manali together along with the family. And the vacation was all so sweet since we were not sure if we could make it together as Arun's leave from work was not sanctioned till the last minute. Arun was a pilot with Air India and the school vacations were always a time of great stress to him. The kids want to go for their vacation to some place, far away from home, the wife needed to take a break from her daily chores, but getting leave from work during this time was like a war within. It was during these times that he wished he was a fighter pilot, or atleast a fighter trained as a pilot, so that he could advance his case for leave to the management, shooting down the simultaneous thrusts of his colleagues with deft maneuvers. Everybody wanted leave during the school vacations, and the management took on the role of a trapeze artiste delicately balancing the various vacation plans with the flight plans.

             I was therefore a little pensive when I called him to plan for the next vacation. I was sure he would come with work related excuses trying to avoid this one. The kids enjoy each others company and they were at my throat egging me to coax Arun and his family to join us. So I was a little taken aback when he bellowed into the phone 'Hey buddy, I was just about to call you, we should plan our next trip”.” I thought he was pulling my leg. “ Dont you have to apply for leave? And considering that you had taken leave during the last school vacations, do you think they will grant you leave this time around? Arent there other people waiting for their chance”? I asked incredulously. He guffawed “Ha, we have solved this perennial problem. The Pilots Union has considered our case sympathetically and we have reached a consensus. Now on, we do not have to worry about work during the vacations, the Union will take care of it”. I was speechless. The Unions taking so much care for the welfare of their members! I thought they only offered lip service and shouted slogans. I asked him about the brilliantly ingenious plan, that the Pilots Union had devised. I was sure that we could implement it across the sectors, and may also improve worker productivity by improving their morale and the employee satisfaction with the establishment. He laughed “ Hey, it is not that ingenious after all. We have decided that we will go on strike during the vacations, so that all of us can enjoy time with the family, rather than a few of us having to sacrifice their happiness in driving around government servants across the sky. After all, they are the only people who travel by Air India nowadays, since the government has left them with no choice but to travel by the national airline.” I said, “But, What will you strike for? How do you know that you will have a reason to strike during the school holidays? Isn't that being over optimistic”?  

             He was silent for a while. He sounded surprised. “ Are you serious, Who is worrying about a valid reason to strike. This is the problem with you people working in these big MNC's today. You have forgotten the basics of work life. Remember the good old trade union days, when our father's used to have regular strikes, lockouts and we would all go on picnics. We are only reinventing the wheel. We just make an issue of nothing, go on strike, and then negotiate with the government for returning to work after our vacation. So this way, everybody benefits. The management do not have to worry about their flight plans. The Pilots need not fight amongst themselves for leave and can enjoy their vacations which also helps in building team spirit. The air hostesses get time to undergo botox treatments or check in at any ayurvedic treatment centre to treat their ageing knees. The government servant, can for a change, fly onboard private airlines and enjoy their excellent service. The media can fill their prime time slots with inane debates and increase their TRP's. The government also at the end can take the credit for talking tough and solving the crisis. And we all live happily ever after, till the next vacation!”


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Unreliable Narrator

(This was part of a Write Club exercise, which i found quite interesting. The brief for the exercise is appended at the end of the story)


          Arun pleaded with me to accompany him to the boss's chamber. He was nervous and now when he confessed to his crime, there was nobody else whom he would want to be with him, than his best friend. We had grown up together, been to the same college and even managed to land jobs in the same company. He still could not come to terms with his unreasonable transgression and had thanked me profusely for consenting to accompany him. He knew the worth of the painting that hung on the wall behind the large ornate desk  and the plush leather recliner in the boss's chamber. He was also aware of the pride of place it held in the heart of Sujoy our temperamental boss, who was gifted the M F Hussain, by the legendary artist himself, during the award ceremony for the most enterprising entrepreneur of the year. It was a regular sight to see him stand and stare at the painting with his head held high as if to draw inspiration, and then turn around to the cowering subordinates lined up in front of his desk for the daily harangue, on how unworthy they were, and extolling his own patience and generosity in tolerating such incompetence that surrounded him.
         But then, Arun felt Sujoy shouldn’t have admonished atleast him, the topper of the most prestigious management institute in the country, who was handpicked for this job and who was now in line to head the most crucial new business department of the firm. It was humiliating to take the full blame in such language, when his full team who looked upto him for advice, was standing along with him, and that too, for a mistake that was commonplace in the investment sector.  He had, after all, helped the company in reaping the windfall profits in the last financial year, and all these cowards, the partners, who now smirked along with the boss had enjoyed the fat bonuses that accrued from his contribution.

              Arun wanted to drown his embarrassment in the depths of his favourite whiskey, and when he beseeched me to join him for the drink in his cabin after work, I couldn't refuse. We sat down at 6 after everybody had left, with the Black Label which Raju,the peon, our Man-Friday had smuggled in, with the pizza boxes.  I could see that Arun was emotionally strung and had started viciously bad mouthing Sujoy by the end of his fourth peg. I could also see that he was smarting under the humiliation and desperately wanted to get even. I had reminded him that he was due for his promotion as Vice President in a few days, and that he should not even contemplate doing anything stupid that would put his promotion and career in jeopardy.  He had asked me what would hurt Sujoy the most, which would compensate the hurt he had felt in the morning, as i poured him his fifth large peg.  The only thing that had come to my mind which Sujoy valued the most and which was within our reach at that moment was the painting.  I had seen the evil glint in Arun's eye when i told him this, and heard him muttering  "Thats it, I wont let him have this pleasure anymore" .  He finished his fifth peg,  and then had asked me to pour him a large one on the rocks. He was slurring and incoherent.  He downed the sixth peg, neat, in one gulp, had looked me in my eye and said, 'I am going to destroy his most prized possession".  Before i could say anything, he had got up, and staggered towards the boss's chamber.

          Sujoy stared at us, but words failed to escape his frothing mouth.  Arun had confessed and had told him he was willing to bear the consequences.  Seething with rage, Sujoy barely managed to say "You are fired, now get out. I dont want to see you in this office anymore".  As we turned to leave, Sujoy gestured me to stay back. I patted Arun on his back and whispered that i will join him outside, as soon as i finished with Sujoy, and help him with packing his belongings.  After Arun had left the room, Sujoy shook his head, looked at me and asked "Why did he do it? And the timing? I was planning to give him the good news today, that he had been promoted to vice president, and he had to spoil it". I kept silent. He continued, "Anyway, work has to go on, and this new business cant afford any delays. And right now, the only person, who can fill in this new position of Vice President for this business is you.  I want to you to start immediately and give me a presentation by the end of the day on the current status".  I shook his hand, smiled a thanks and walked out.

          Arun was waiting by his table for me. He had already packed his things and was ready to move. I walked silently with him to the front door and hugged him. I could see the tears in his eyes.  I could not bring myself to tell him, that I had been promoted in his place, and the position for which he had worked so hard was now mine.  I could not tell him how i had secretly envied him for his brilliance and had always wished that i had his talents. I could not tell him that I had always desired the popularity he enjoyed, the power he wielded, and the attention he garnered.  I could not tell him, that though he was my best friend, how i wished that we had not joined the same company after college, where i would be constantly compared with him.  

          I would also never have the courage to tell him, that he had stumbled and blacked out in the corridor just outside his cabin that evening, when he staggered out with the intention of vandalizing the painting.

(The theme of this exercise at the Write Club, was "The Unreliable Narrator".  The wikipedia entry is at  In this style of narration, the author carries his reader along with him, gaining his trust in his narrative and finally breaks that trust.  He makes him believe the narrator, only to discover in the end that he had been deceived.  So the exercise was to write a short story as an unreliable narrator and this was my submission. The time allotted was 20 minutes.)