Tag Archives: Philosophy

Leading vs Performance

I had an interesting conundrum last week at work. Something which left me with this dilemma. It was the kind of question for me which impacts you as a person, questions your beliefs and core principles. I did took a decision and went ahead by it, I still probably would take the same decision in the similar circumstances but I am still not able to shake that feeling if I did right.

We had a small professional competition in office where I participated. The competition required us to form a team, we sent in the team nomination with some members and some people who were interested were assigned to our team. At the end I had a fourteen member team which I was supposed to lead in the competition. The competition was a long one with 6 weeks of timeline, requiring the teams to submit professional documents at the end of every week and finally ending with a presentation at the end of the contest. All of this was to be done over and above the regular working hours and deliverables we all had.

We started at a positive note with enthusiasm and everyone interested. We divided work and went around with our deliverables at the end of the first week, the enthusiasm continued till the second week. At the end of the third week the quality of the work started coming down, some of the team members stopped showing for the meeting without intimation, while others expressed inability to contribute further citing the workload. We finally moved to fourth week and there was further cutting of corners and general lack of interest by the people. The deliverable at the end of the fourth week end up in a situation where some of the people had just copy pasted stuff without even reading. By the time we reached five weeks we had reduced the number of contributors to eight from the initial fourteen. The eight folks kept at it picking up load on weekends and pulling late nighters to ensure the quality and the timeliness of our deliverables.

Our final presentation was good and we were happy with our effort. That is when the dilemma started. The organization leadership was a part of the panel judging our efforts, based on the number of people they saw in the final presentation they had a question on folks who had actually contributed. Since, I was the leader of the team I was asked this question. Apparently we were a part of the top 3 winners and they wanted to acknowledge and reward only the people who had contributions across all the stages but the final decision was with me. My first reaction was that as the leader of the team I should not discriminate between the members. It was a team effort and the entire team stands to win or lose, it would be opportunistic to drop people when we were winners. On the other hand, the contrary thought process was that this was a corporate competition with an idea and spirit to identify performers, reward people who can deliver. Why should the rest of the people who contributed far more significantly should carry the people who didn’t keep this work at the priority. At the end of the day entire team gets the credit for delivering, so people who didn’t contribute significantly throughout shouldn’t get the benefit of the victory either. When one deprioritsed the work, he/she let the rewards also to be forfeited along with the decision.

In the end I gave the eight member team pruning the list to people who contributed throughout the six weeks. I am still torn between if I made the right decision. Was it correct on my part to let go of the people who didn’t contribute when we won. Had I failed as leader when I chose to disown the people from my team? If I had I taken the other side would I have been unfair to people who spent working on weekends and late nights to ensure the work gets completed on time with winnable quality while their peers focussed on more important and personal things otherwise. Do let me know what you think?

Thanks for Letting Me Win It

I have never been good at sports, and probably my lack of ability to play them well actually drove me away from them. It was only a lot later in life some where in my late twenties I realized there is a lot more to sports than just playing them, being good at them and winning them. Since then I have consciously tried to play some sports, watch some or at least follow the news etc. There are three sports which kind of got me interested Cricket which I like to watch live or on television, Squash which I learnt to play a bit during my days at Infosys and Lawn Tennis which I have only followed but have been greatly influenced by it. So tonight when the Wimbledon final was on, I was following it. The Men’s singles match was a great one between Roger Fedrer and Novak Djokovic. It was a very tough match where it was extremely difficult to choose favorite. Finally Djokovic won the match in a very closely fought contest. Surprisingly, it was nowhere within the play that was my favorite moment of the game. It was during the victory speech by Djokovic which brought a lump in my throat. He said for Roger Fedrer “He’s a great role model and a great champion & I thank him for letting me win today.” while Fedrer was smiling at his comment no where reminiscent of the fact that they have fought every tooth and nail for the world’s most prestigious trophy in lawn tennis. You can see the entire video below.

His words again reminded me that sports are not only about winning, they are about being respectful to your opponent against whom you scored your victory. They are about being humble about your achievements. The power of hard work determination to achieve your goals. And it was not only Djokovic today who won my heart, it was also Fedrer when he claimed his runners up trophy he said “Definitely I felt the love out here again, I’ve enjoyed myself a lot. See you next year”. The man is simply an epitome of enjoying the experience of playing, enjoying the journey more than the result. The man is a promise of “I will work hard and try to win it next year” and that is what makes him such a legend. My heart has always rooted for Roger Fedrer, and it felt bad that he lost, but the attitude and humility of both the players reminded me that at the end of the day the game of tennis is a winner and the whole humanity is a winner.

A sincere thank you Djoker & Fedex for giving me a lesson in life through tennis.

 

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Urban Shots Yuva

Author: Lipi Mehta (Editor)

Publisher: Rupa

Price: 250/-

Pages: 177

Urban Shots: Yuva, is the fifth anthology of stories in the Urban Shots series. The thing which makes this collection different is the fact that it was compiled through a pan India competition bringing out the best of the stories from the country.

Urban Shots

The collection brings to you twenty seven different tales across themes like love, lust, addiction, poor, rich, culture and many more. This collection is far more aged and subtle than it’s predecessors wandering in the realms of abstract stories. Some of the stories hit it absolutely right reaching directly in the minds of the readers, while the others stretch the fabric of abstractness too far sometimes at the cost of losing the reader. Overall the tone and tenor of the stories of this collection borders being tragic and morose sometime leaving you with overwhelmed with emotions.

Some of the stories which I really liked (In no particular Order) –

Gifts from America by Kailash Srinivasan: A brilliantly told story of the rich but stingy relatives visiting from the land of opportunities and how the relatives change seeing their stinginess.

The Travelling Autowallah by Esha Vaish: The story of the struggle and dreams of an Autowallah. One of the best told stories in the book carefully touching the topic of dreams, death and success in a matter of few pages.

The Love Note by Tnashin Garg: A tale of a married couple trying to rediscover love and togetherness after two years of the marriage amidst conflicts and troubles.

Leap of Faith by Neha Joshi: A beautiful and emotional tale of a girl learning and managing to live her life amidst tragedies and immense personal losses.

From Mother to Son by Anant Tripathi: Written beautifully in a letter style from a mother to son, trying to justify and explain her decisions in life which separated the two. A beautifully told tale bound to leave the reader in conflict while wavering both sides of the judgment.

The Book Signing by Arka Basu: A story which portrays a very simple yet powerful emotion of being faced with your friends who have become immensely successful in one way or the other. The story beautifully brings out that emotion making the reader think that about times when they felt the same.

Summary: An interesting and good collection of short stories. A very mature and slightly heavy read, recommended for the readers looking at quick read emotional tales leaving them with powerful memories of the story.

Rating: 7/10

 

C’est La Vie

And I am back again with a long hiatus yet again. I have to be ashamed with my lack of drive to post things on this blog. There are two things which I have kind of procrastinated for more than a year the first being updating regularly on this blog and the second obviously being to start working out.  It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about, there is politics where we are still living in the world full of comical entertainment, then there are short stories and poetries ideas which come to my mind but are killed by procrastination and then there are general happenings in my life which mostly wife inflicted torture on yours truly with television shows like “Big Boss”, “All Random Singing, Dancing, cooking reality shows” all reality shows. To be honest I kind of stepped into the rarified bubble of corporate workload driven self worth, not that I have stepped out of the bubble now but then kind of realized the existence of the bubble and acknowledged the world beyond it yet again.

Surprisingly this year 2013 has flown by so fast that I couldn’t even start going to gym which I could stop later in the year.  For a person who hated Hum Apke Hai Kaun from the bottom of his heart, I kind of live in an extensively large Rajshri production kind of environment where another family function/event engulfs you before the first one is over. For the uninitiated this is more tiring to attend to than a 60hrs+ work week and in some sadistic turn of events I am subjected to both.  I don’t know why but I have hardly watched any movies in the theatre since June, which is kind of record of sorts for the person who even watched Ram Gopal Varma ki Aag (If you are not aware of this movie, I would suggest you buy the DVD as it will serve well for your private torture chamber).

As I write this the New Year is less than 6 weeks away, the 2013 will become a leaf in history. I have had a good year with some significant landmarks but wish I had achieved some more and not at the cost of losing my joy of writing and reading, losing the spiritual side of me in the humdrum of extensive work. No point crying over the past, time to set ourselves to the next set of goals and the plan to achieve them.

Before closing this post it has been more than 8 years since I have been blogging and 8 years of Ginger & Cardamom. How has your 2013 been till now?

Why Are We Such A**holes?

I sometimes wonder that what is it about us that make us Indians a pathetic bunch of people we are. Is it in our genetics or in the method we grow up or is it a part of our culture? I know a lot of people will disagree with me but if you are going to put a nasty comment before reading the entire post then I am sure you belong right there in the title, you know between those stars and the hole.

Coming back to the point, what is it that Indians in India are stickler for not following the rules at the cost of fellow human beings, citizens, and neighbors? Think about how many times you find that you are in a queue for billing, buying a movie tickets getting in the trains and people will treat it as their right to break the queue. All the more funny is at places you will find that there will be a queue or a file of single person, after 5-10 people it will become two people queue converging to a single file and then 3 people queue and this goes on till at the end of the queue you have a large chaotic crowd.

The situation becomes all the more funny when you are on road stuck in the traffic. Imagine a two lane road, one for incoming and the other for outgoing traffic. Now some block/traffic signal/accident happens and the outgoing lane is stand still for some time. What makes us think that in such a situation the best solution is to take the incoming lane and drive on the wrong side while blocking the incoming traffic too. Why is it people driving expensive cars, speaking impeccable English, well educated and employed in honorable jobs also do that? What makes them think their time is more important than the others? The fact that they are intelligent and responsible for handling businesses of major corporations but they fail to see that their acts on the road are only going to make the situation worse.

What is it that we find an unruly child of someone else a nuisance and when our own child creates a chaos he is small, innocent and naïve to understand and correct his behavior? I was once in a meeting with the India CEO of one of the most prestigious companies globally where he mentioned an incident. In an informal discussion the senior management of the company was complaining to him about how the youngster today are not hardworking and do not put in enough efforts. There was a general perception that the entry level crowd was unruly and over smart in attitude. The CEO then asked “Do you think same way about your children who are of similar ages?” and the answer was no. We have a different yardstick to measure people working for us as compared to people who are close to us?

I wonder what is it about Indians that make us the kind of A**holes we are, when I look at the Indians travelling abroad I feel that it probably is the air, water and climate. You hardly find an Indian on the wrong side of things when they are outside India. I kind of agree with our current Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Shashi Tharoor when he says “India is not, as people keep calling it, an underdeveloped country, but rather, in the context of its history and cultural heritage, a highly developed one in an advanced state of decay.”

Happier today: 10 Things You Should Stop Doing Right Now

First of all I must put the disclaimer message that this post is not an original creation. It was a forwarded message by a dear friend D, I do not have details of its origin to give appropriate credits. I have been thinking to start writing on this space regularly soon and somehow it doesn’t happen. I have been planning on the post and the idea behind the post was there somewhere inside my subconscious, and when I happened to read this mail I was like this is exactly what I had in my mind. The mail was perfect in reflecting the thoughts of my subconscious mind. So without wasting further time and reinventing the wheel I will share something which I have been feeling a lot lately.

Happiness (Image: Google Images)

1.Wait for a better time. There is never a good time to do anything especially if that’s something you have been putting off for a while. There is never a good time to start exercising or learning a new language… You make the time for these things if they are important to you – make them important enough for the good time to be now.

2.Hate people. It’s such a negative emotion and it really doesn’t lead anywhere. In most cases, hating someone directly affects you and you alone, making your mood and your day that much worse. By talking behind someone’s back and spreading negative energy you’ll just push people you actually care about away. Let go of it and make room for good and positive things.

3.Constantly look back. What has happened in the past is now in the past – you have learned, hopefully, from your mistakes and it’s time to move on. Until you can let go of the past you cannot live in the present, plan for the future and grow as a person. After all, your life from before doesn’t define who you are today, your present actions do.

4.Think about people who make no difference in your life. Whether they are people from your past or your present if they don’t affect you directly why waste your precious time on them? This also applies to spreading and listening to rumors, reading celebrity columns and checking people’s statuses online. You only have one lifetime why should you give people you don’t really care about any of it?

5.Whine about life, the Universe and everything. Yes, there are days that it’s just impossible to smile and take things as they come but what does whining achieve, exactly? What is the point of complaining about the weather, politics or prices – what would that change? Unless you have a clear plan on what to do and how to make things better why spread the misery and the negative vibes? If you see a problem – do something, do anything! The light doesn’t work in your block of flats – fix it or find someone who will. Things that are not under your control and you cannot in any way influence them – learn to live with them and accept them as they are.

6.Play social games. No one really cares about your clothes or your level of intelligence, not really. It’s way better to just be authentic and show people who you really are, with all your flaws and true character rather than waste energy on superficial interactions – they don’t lead to anything but superficial relationships. Be yourself and be real, let others love you and accept you the way you are. Genuine relationships will make you happier, and you’ll only form these relationships once you stop trying to impress everyone you meet and start being yourself.

7.Spend money on things you don’t need. We often mistake the “I want” for “I need” when buying stuff just because it seems cool to own it. Things don’t make you happy for very long – the moment you get it you experience joy but shortly after that joy is gone and the newly acquired item joins the rest in your house. Think very carefully whether you absolutely in need of something or you just want to own it.  Invest in experiences instead – experiences that will stay with you in your memory for the rest of your life.

8.Compare yourself to others. Very often we look around and we see people who are doing a lot better than we are and we don’t really notice those who are doing a lot worse. At times we look around and all we can see is everyone else having it easier and having it better and we feel bad about our own life. The fact is, it’s not easy for anyone and everyone has their own problems. What you see on the outside is what others let you see, always. Someone else is looking at you and thinking just about the same thing: “you are the lucky one” and they have their own reasons to say that. By thinking that having someone else’s life or someone else’s problems will make you happier than you make yourself in the now you rob yourself of the chance to take joy in what you have for yourself already. We can be happy with very little and immensely unhappy with having it all – sometimes, it’s just a matter of perspective.

9.Take no chances. Sometimes we wait for a sure thing to come along for us to follow and then, when it never comes, we wonder why nothing wonderful and exciting ever happens to us. It’s true not just in regard of opportunities but also people. Sometimes people also need to be given a chance to prove you wrong. We often overthink, overanalyze and create possible scenarios in our head – then come up with the most negative outcome, and end up never trying anything at the end of the day. If you are truly afraid of something going wrong, ask yourself: “What is the worst thing that can happen?” and if you can live with that worst case scenario – maybe you should give it a try.

10.Set no goals. If we set no goals how do we expect to get anywhere at all? Life has the tendency to decide for us and take us down routes we never thought we would ever consider for ourselves – don’t let it dictate it all, reclaim some of the control back and influence your future. If you have a plan, a good or a bad one, at least you have one and you can guide yourself to a better tomorrow, want a better tomorrow at any rate. We often give up and just let events take over, but reacting all the time is not the same as acting of your own free will. Take control back, set targets and get a strategy for life because just living the same Groundhog day over and over again just isn’t living. Life only has a meaning when you give it one.

 

So with this post I am back and hopefully if you are still reading this space you will get to hear more of my rants. Till then Adios and Disfrute de la vida.

The Above Average Crisis

If you were following the T20 world cup this year and if you are an Indian I am sure you would be fairly disappointed. For the uninitiated India played 5 matches in the tournament, won 4 and lost 1. The aforementioned 1 lost match cost them their slot in the next round, just to clarify the competitors Australia & Pakistan who progressed to the next round also won 4 matches each so it boiled down to run rate and the margin of defeat. But that is not what this post is about. The point I am trying to make is about the increasing competitiveness in sport, and in all other aspects across the world. When all the teams have won equal number of matches the qualification depends upon statistical factors, when the cut-off marks for admission in the colleges are set at 100%, when the dream companies recruits only from XYZ colleges etc. and a lot of other scenarios which I am sure you would have got the drift. This post is about the ones who missed it with a whisker, people who were almost there, team which lost due to difference of 0.547 in the net run rate, the students who got 98%, the folks who could not clear the waiting list of the coveted XYZ college, “The Above Average”.

It is like when you are running amidst the crowd and find most of them to be behind you except a few. You are giving what it takes to remain ahead, you are playing it fair. But only when you try catch up with few left ahead you realize the playing field is not level, it never was. And suddenly you start to wonder what happened to the “Fair play”.

You desperately want to prove yourself that race you lost with a whisker is irrelevant, you look for opportunities but the world doesn’t allow you one. You want to make up for that split second you lost last time but the world has made it a mile now. You try to think about the loss ends up getting you more frustrated. You try to console yourself of being happy with what you have achieved but deep inside you know it is a just a consolation, just like “The Consolation Prize” which says you weren’t good enough we are generous people and we will give you something.

You wish that if you could turn back the winds of time, get back to that just one moment that made this difference. The moment where you missed by a small whisker, a few moments which can give you a chance to cover that split second distance when it wasn’t too late. The moment when you can succumb to the comfort of the known target and plans. The moment when you can bury the target of being “Above Average” once and for all; crowning in the glory of victory.

But none of it ever happens and you have to wait for the next big race, big match or the critical opportunity. You have to make peace and plan for the next big race in life and hope this time you cross the finish line before anyone does. That is the curse of being “Above Average”.

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Bloody Racists

I have a friend who is extremely insistent on the point that Indians are one of the biggest racists. I have always wondered if a word as strong as racist is appropriate. I agree we are the ones who would stereotype faster than anybody else starting from “Gora”, “Kala”, “Chinky”, “Thulla”, “Software Wala”, “Sarkari Babu”, “North Indian”, “South Indian” are some of the most common stereotypes you would find people using.
I believe the key component which makes racism a negative trait is the belief or actions that a race or a stereotype in a way is inferior to others. The negativity of the racism stems from the fact that when the person stereotyping start treating himself as superior or inferior based on the race. The places or system starts differentiating people or the laws change for the people based on the race. As far as I know this negative kind of Racism is very limited in India; though we are involved in a different kind of phenomenon called Castism which differentiates based on birth but not on race/color of skin/ ethinicity.
Coming back to the point of Indians being racist, I have my doubts that people I interact with or myself are racist, though a lot of us including me can be accused of stereotyping and grouping people based on one way or the other but then do we get prejudiced against people of different race, or we bear unnatural hatred towards them? I don’t think so. We might group people, habits, culture and refer them with our stereotype but then we do not perpetuate hatred. I believe there have been some instances that these kind of sentiments are propagated but then it is not in lines of what actual racism is. We as a group of people might be conservative on who we marry and bring in family but that is more due to the cultural differences rather than the fact that we think that some other race is inferior to us in some way.
On the contrary I feel in a country like us it is close to impossible to be racist when there is a potpourri or cultures amalgamating and coexisting with one another it is very difficult to be racist, to feel hatred and superiority against the other. So what do you feel, are we Indians as a population primarily racist as my friend believes it to be or we are a bunch of people who are a tad too quick while generalizing and stereotyping?

Urban Shots- The Love Collection

Editor: Sneh Thakur
Publisher: Grey Oak/ Westland
Price: 199/-
Pages: 226

The book is a collection of stories based on a common theme of love. The book is very different from the first impression one would get from the title. A book very far from a collection of usually told mushy love stories; the editor has ensured the collection to be inclined towards the new age complications in love and relationships.

Major reason the book works so well is because of variety of authors and genre. The stories pan across themes like love, marriages, break-ups, proposals, sex, misunderstanding and lot more. The editor has taken special and conscious efforts to move to a more serious writing as the book, the mushy light reads are almost missing from the book. Some of the stories and their treatment become repetitive in the entire effort; this however doesn’t affect the enjoyable read.

Some of the notable stories from the book-

Written in the Stars (R. Chandrasekar)- The story dances around the theme of falling in love and how sometimes fate is and unusual circumstances are responsible for the fait accompli called love. This one will leave you smiling at the games played by the stars above us in making our destiny.

High Time (Kailash Srinivasan) – The story brings out the generation shift in the ideas of love, marriage and life. A beautiful story which will leave you in the fits of laughter, while making you think of the times when you were (would be) in the protagonist’s situation.

Pause, Rewind, Play ( Shoma Narayana)- The story is bound to take you by surprise, a tale when one finds true love in the betrayal. Very crafty style of writing with going back and forth in time ensures the reader is hooked to the characters.

Coffee? (Ahmed Faiyaz)– A brilliant story on love at a tender age and the problems around the conservative family. The story is well written, and the characterization well done that it would leave a warm feeling about the relationship between the characters

Some more enjoyable tales from the collection-  A Good Day (Richa S. Chaterjee), Tall Order (Malathi Jaikumar) and The Jhalmuri Seller (Bhabani Shankar Kar)

Summary: A nice collection of stories, if you are interested in contemporary and serious themes of love.

Rating: 6.5/10

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Urban Shots – Crossroads

Editor: Ahmed Faiyaz 
Publisher: Grey Oak/ Westland
Price: 199/-
Pages: 217

Urban Shots Crossroads, is a collection of short stories by multiple authors. The collection tries to capture the various facets or the crossroads of life using the short stories as a medium. The collection spins tales across demographics, regions, and themes weaving tales spanning across human emotions. The collection is a fair mix of light and serious reads; stories that would bring out emotions in you and the stories that would take you by surprise.

The editor, Ahmed Faiyaz has done a good work building the compilation, he has ensured the stories could be enjoyed by the widest possible audience, and has mixed well leaving the specific sponsored stories from the competition which in some cases do not fit too well the compilation.

Some of the notable stories from the book-

The Gap (Saritha Rao): A strained relationship between a single mother and her daughter. An emotional story about how they rejuvenate their connect and bridge the generation gap.

Mindgames (Manish Dhingra): A total twister that is going to take you by surprise. A very well executed story of a man trying to handle his delusional wife.

Baba Premanand’s Yoga Class (Paritosh Uttam): A satirical story on the mob culture and the effects it can have on the victims. A well narrated story with a balanced ending, which would leave the reader thinking.

Hunch (Karthik K): A twisted tale again; the brilliance of this story lies in the narrative and handling of situation where the author has dropped hints but still managed not to give the story away.

Some more enjoyable tales from the collection- The Pink Slip (Malcolm Carvalho) and Mervin (Ahmed Faiyaz)

Summary: A great collection of stories, if you like short bites of fiction definitely pick this up for a small journey or devour each story in the bus during the commute.

Ratings: 7.5/10