Tuesday, November 28

What I say and what I do

I am busy these days

More work in office. Or just say work in office. Planned vacation at a stone's throw. Make sure people don't throw stones on me while I am on vacation.

People who have been close and have always asked me advices are still asking. And I am trying to tell them how to be cheerful, how to come out of issues and ramp up from the troughs of the emotional cycle. And I am still not giving up on the kids on the stacking blocks game. I am telling them how and why stacking is an interesting game, how challenging is to make sure the blocks are in place and that there is a proper place for every block they come across.

Below all the juicy flesh, below all the tasty pulp, there lies the sour part of the fruit. Like the ugly and the dirty manifesting as beauty of the night lamps go off. There I lie in my own emotional cycle.

Well, I could have written about the pulp and how tasty it is. I could have written about the sour nut and how beautiful it looks like and the the great role that it plays in the overall cycle. The fact that I did not choose to write those is the problem... thats what worries me...

Irene had all consoles for me yesterday. A cake I bought for her was nothing when compared to little small paper crafts she gave me with her "I love you" and "Its okay" messages. And she advised me to be in school with her mom from next time to avoid a mistake about time.

Monday, November 27

Bad dad bad....

Weekend was nice for kids. One evening at Tokyo tower to see the new year lighting. Next day half day at the new bayside Lalaport mall at Toyosu. Though we didnt make it to the new Kidzania, the trip was in general good fun for kids. But all those lightings are only beautiful when you look from a distance. And only in the dark. The day reckons and the lights are no more to be seen. You now see the dirty and the ugly only...

Today morning was something Irene had been waiting for weeks. Their "harvest" performance in school. As a class they will be talking about harvest in each country during the morning assembly which once in a while is open for parents. She wanted me to go. And the camera too. Her mom will be there anyway. I agreed. Today morning also she reminded me - 9am is the performance. Sure. I will make it.

Wanted to keep her happy. Charged the camera to make sure no last minute issues come up. Made sure to be in the best of my shirts, tied up neatly, wore a good winter jacket instead of those shabby wind-cheaters, rushed to school to reach exactly at 9. And I did. Sharp 9 and I am at the Multipurpose hall where the performance was to............ There came the surprise. I switched on the camera and went in. The entire junior school is singing now. Must be the starting song? But why did they start early? Anyway waited for that song to be over. The principal then thanked everyone, and the first graders stood up to go back. My good God, its over???

Well, its true that Irene made a mistake about time. It actually started at 8:40. But it was too cruel a punishment for that. I had the responsibility to check up once again before setting this surprise. Instead of giving her the surprise, I now took it for myself. And I had to see Irene off to class with tears rolling down her cheeks. She did stop to console me - her dad feels sad if she cries at school - and responded to my gomenne with daijobu; but I am sure her day is immersed in a bucket of tears today. All for a dad who missed her performance.

Bad, daddy, bad................

Saturday, November 25

winter again

Getting cooler day by day. Very soon, entering another winter in Japan. But the autumn leaves are just creeping in - at least in Tokyo. The scarlet colours are decorating the streets.

Last one full cycle I was in Japan. This winter I would be taking a month off. Missing Japan new year first time since 2002. Though it does not mean anything to me. As usual I go to sleep. As usual I wake up.

A collection of the seasons on my camera.
From Season

Friday, November 24

Martyr's square and the Macy's party

I am not a daily TV viewer these days. But the new Al Jazeera English broadcast calls me in front of the TV sometimes for a treat. Yesterday was a live coverage from Beirut where millions of people have been on the streets following the murder of the nationalist (anti Syrian) politician Pierre Gemayel. There were emotional speeches from his father Amin Gemayel, from Saad al Hariri, son of Rafiq Hariri, an earlier politician who was also assasinated recently. All with live online translation. As they speakers called - this could be the start of the second independance movement of Lebanon. Could be a very crucial incident in the modern history. Those of us who have heard nation formations only in text books, I guess yesterday was a real live scene on how "masses" get to resolve the future for their contry. These masses should be distinguished from the masses that came out after Russia fell down, after Saddam fell down. These people are active when the opposition is on the height. Not when everything fell apart.

And I switched to CNN to see what story they would have. When King Fahd was dead, CNN had a wide coverage. On how King Fahd was close to US, interview with a couple of US diplomats about King Fahd, Saudi after King Fahd etc. Well the usual American media way. Those who missed how ABC reported Italy lifting the world cup, VKN has nailed it up here.

Yesterday but CNN was untouched. They were all in festive mood, with a splashy Happy Thanksgiving screen and then a live coverage of the Macy's party. Americans ought to be thanksgiving. For a government that consider them as the only civilized society in the world. For a media that makes them bother only when at least a hair of an American puppy is disturbed. Happy thanksgiving!

Monday, November 20

Freedom again

O ye who believe ! Why do you say what you do not ?

(The Holy Qur'an 61:3)

Well, thats become life. We do not do anything. Then we comment on what others do. Do a hair split analysis. Explain why it should not have been done that way.

Professional maturity means keeping what we do for living and keep actual life separate. What I talk is to get money to live. And then my life is independent? How is that? Well, you don't know modern management basics.

Who said world is progressing towards a free thought democracy. More and more theocratic nations on the rise. So far it was only Saudi, Taliban.. now we have France and the latest is Netherlands. Deciding on what people should wear and what they should not wear! You can think freely, express freely, kiss freely even xxxx freely. But the government would decide what you wear. Or to be exact, what you cannot wear additionally. In Japanese, the "plus alpha" is not allowed.

Well, if Jack Straw does not want people who want to meet him to go in so and so dress code, respect it. That his decision. You can stay away if you dont want to do that. If Netherlands says that all visitors should obey a certain dress code, do that or stay away. Same for Saudi or Taliban parts of Afghanistan. Respect them. Respecting them is part of the religion. Religion is not just putting a veil. It is opening up of mind.

Any country has the right to decide what is an acceptable social behaviour. Thats decided by the majority. (Though I fail to understand why a huge majority should bother by a small majority wearing an additional piece of cloth) But this sovereignty has to be respected for all the nations too. Speak what you practice.

Saturday, November 11

Tuesday, November 7

Stacking blocks

Seen kids stacking blocks? Not always with a plan, they just keep on stacking the way they find a block. They keep on building it up. They enjoy it. They like what they built. They will never want to tear it down. But may be Mom wants to clean up. Or when they get angry, give it a kick. Or may be one kicks his sisters blocks and she in turn kicks his too.

Later when he grows up and gets married, he repeats the exercise. He and she stacks the blocks. Sometimes together, sometimes separate. Sometimes blame for a wrong color, sometime appreciate for the right shape. Keep on stacking as and when the blocks come up. Sometimes with plan and sometimes with no plan.

Will he want to tear it down? He knows that like the childhood blocks, he can never stack it the same way he did first time. She too. But what if one of them gets emotional and gets out of control? If they started kicking on the blocks other has stacked? Or, if Mom or Dad wants to clean up a "mess"?

It is difficult to talk logic or advise diplomacy when kids fight. It is at times difficult to find out which block spoiled the stack and who placed it too. The same way beauty of a single petal does not give rose its beauty as Tagore said, the reverse is also true. A bad petal alone cannot make a rose look bad. Nor an ugly block alone make a stack look ugly.

You better stay away until they raze it down completely? But if you care for the little others who trust these little blocks, and believe thats the most beautiful they have seen, you ought to step in. And give a try.

Nothing to lose. And if you win, you keep a beautiful stack of blocks intact, and growing.

Wednesday, November 1

The taste of debt

Firo forwarded an article today. To make sure his "To:" list reads it, he gave this quote from the article

"My rich dad often reminded me that money doesn't make a person who he or she is (or isn't). Applying this logic, money also doesn't make a person greedy. Rich dad's point was that money has the power only to reveal a person's true nature

The problem I see is that the businesses aren't being acquired with money or equity --they're being acquired with debt. And as far as I know, somebody will have to pay that money back "

Go on and read the full article at

When more and more Americans go into the debt cycle, Corporate America make sure that the circle is extended to third world to pay them back. Militant America will come as saviors of the world against the "vogue" nations sitting on resources and take control of them. These debts keep the wars alive and active, with a reason.

This need not stay at the corporate level alone. This is affecting the daily lives of you and me. In Bangalore there was an eye-catching bill board on the Airport road. A romantic couple on a country boat enjoying a secluded honeymoon. And the caption - When you can afford such a vacation today, why delay - or something like that. And what does afford mean? ABC bank's Personal Loan. When you can go on debt, that means you can afford that! And these personal loans are against what? Your education, your job, your future salary.

Mark that - your future salary. You are selling that for a silly holiday that you cannot really afford. You are becoming a slave of your future job and salary. You are supposed to be the master of your job, not the slave. And where did your job and education came from? Because your parents saved those small amounts they got, for your well being. Because they never bothered to take personal loans (than those PF loans from their own money) to enjoy the secluded country boats. The only loans they might have taken are for the house (on real earth) and may be your education. Now you are selling them for the so called real estate (which sells the same piece of earth to 100 people and give you a portion on the air) and for the glittering fake afford-ability.

Well, some might ask, does it really matter. If this collapses, the bank loses, I do not. True. If only you collapse, the goondas / yakuzas of the bank could beat you up. May be you can declare yourself as bankrupt and save from legal issues. If the industry collapses and the whole vicious cycle collapses, I do not think banks can even afford to pay those goondas / yakuzas. Does not mean you are safe! Everything will start falling down. The piece of air you bought might value nothing. No one will buy your car. Your entire lifestyle changes.

The bubble burst is not just a fiction. It happened in Japan after almost a decade of bustling economy. A couple of banks failed. Many lives ended on a piece of rope, with insurance policies - many to save their companies and very few their families. The risk calculations of insurance companies failed and they too collapse. A huge collapse at the end. People became cautious and started spending less. Less consumption started driving Japanese economy down. 15 years later, it is slightly getting better. Real estate has not even reached 50% of that even now.

Japan could afford that. They had a huge savings in hand. All the money they earned with hard work and tight life paid them off to come back. What if this happens in India. The savings of our parents is not that high. We do not know how to spell savings. We only know loans. All the jobs we have are daily wage type. One lock on the front door - ends it all. When we get into more and more debt, our Government might not be able to spread out and create a fourth world to save us.

With more and more call centers and more and more teenagers getting into the spending world, I think its time we put some real world economics in the school curriculum. Like we had the biological ecosystem covered in high school, there should be some small coverage on the economic ecosystem too. How all the jobs are related. How the chaayakkada on the corner is important in the village economic activity. Why jobs cannot be created - only scout for opportunities. Why you have to work hard if we want to prosper. Why we are not yet in a position to behave American.

When I was in my second year of employment, my father told me that he always was able to keep a balance of two months salary with all the expenses for his three children and no loans. Born as the second son of a wealthy man, he did not have the luxury to enjoy the love and care of his parents, whom he lost when he was 9 and 11, forget about the wealth. He had to tighten his belt to acquire education, take care of his younger ones, manage his job and save for all of us. Thank God for He has supported me thus far. From the day I left to Bangalore with CDOT appointment order and Rs.800 in my pocket, much has changed. I always try to make sure that I do not spend based on what I have - base it on what I really need and then what I really can afford. I can does not mean I should.