Monday, May 14, 2018


I took a pause in life and realized. I have already lived the best part of my life. I could not believe at first that before hitting 30 years in life, the best was already over. Then saw some photos of the past and looked at all those glorious years pass me by. It all came rushing in after that – life indeed is a nine days’ wonder.

When did it all get over? When did it start? Was it I who changed? Or everything else around me? Could I have stopped it? These questions leave me baffled. It frustrates me that I, being the sole proprietor of my life, have no clue as to when I lost its most precious riches. The only thing I know now is that I am not getting it back. I was so busy in the daily, mundane, repetitive, boring race towards death that I never realized this ever happening.

I am writing this blog as a eulogy to that great time spent with so many friends. Friends who lived together, who traveled across India together, who partied every other day - got hung over every day, vowed never to drink again but still drank the same day. Friends who were so meant to be together that it would have been impossible for us not being friends. Times when drinks poured in stolen glasses, birthday’s meant getting whipped and a day spent home meant missing out. Times when drinks were cheap, coke was rationed, glasses were disposable but the memories indisposable. 

Living in London would have been a dream at some point of my life but it will never be the best part of it. Something is still missing. The by lanes of Jaisalmer and Goa felt more complete than this. There wasn’t much money but we had so much time. Next time I will have vacations for months at stretch would probable be when I retire now. That phase of life might be over but I am glad that for a while I could have that feeling of psychological utopia.

There are some things that you can only feel and you can never put in words. From this day till the day I die I will have thousand different feelings of love, anger, anxiety, despair, grief, happiness but none of them will be of that carefree exuberance when you are surrounded by 15 of your friends in the middle of a desert under the stars; intoxicated, high on life standing atop a dune and you come rolling down hoping to stand on your feet in one piece. Different people may feel differently on reading this blog but I am writing this specifically so that I can come and read this at different times of my life, remember those few years of my life and for a few moments feel how it felt in those moments.

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Every day is Mother’s day

One of the most popular post on social media on Mother’s day is the one proclaiming that each day is a Mother’s day and one day is not enough. But the irony is that this post is visible only on Mother’s day. The true realization of the post has come a little late for me. I never denied the importance of the sacrifices that are made by mothers but neither did I stop and took note of all the small and huge sacrifices made for me. I was too happy in my little world with no responsibilities and unbound freedom. All the talk of self-made, independent individuals is a myth. We are all but a sum of the sacrifices of a lot of individuals. Above all our mothers.

Seeing my brother raise a child has made me aware of how impossibly difficult a job it is. Managing work as well as home along with two kids seems to be an impossible task. But this is something my mother has done all her life. Midway through this difficult task of raising us up, she was also dealt a painful blow. One that put us all through lot of agony and she was left alone to carry the responsibility of father and the mother. From managing finances to cooking food, from earning money to managing maids, from fixing electricity to fixing our clothes; it was all her – a one man army. This didn’t pull her down one bit, if anything she rose like a phoenix, stronger than ever. It is unfathomable how someone who had hardly visited a bank handled the finances for the education and upbringing of two kids. Not just physically but mentally and emotionally it is a huge burden. Now I would be the biggest fool on this planet earth if I ever thought I am a self-made man.

Just as if these hardships were not enough, recently she suffered a major health issue and was put under a 12 hour long surgery. The burden of responsibilities carried alone for so many years, finally took its toll. The surgery was followed by radiotherapy. The process was long and the pain unbearable. She is in pain even today. But what makes our mothers God is the selflessness they show even in these times. It is beyond imagination how a mother could be more concerned about her children, even when her own life is under threat.

I have no idea how strong one has to be, to endure all this. But I am sure, it takes incredible amounts of courage to survive one blow after another and still stay strong. It amazes me what drives her to come on top every single time. Because she is someone who is the epitome of selflessness, she is fighting this too for others and not for herself. It is absolutely impossible to enlist everything she has done for us. Probably everything she has done for the past 30 years has been only for her children. That is why I shall always be indebted. No matter what I do for her, I can never repay her for the sacrifices she has made for us.

The fact that it took a life threatening disease for me to pause and realize all this is deplorable. It is absolutely clear that I shall forever be dependent on her and that being a self-made independent individual is a beautiful fallacy. I have come to know the fragility of our existence. But this is not why I intend to write this. Why I want to write this is that Indian mothers are the most selfless, caring, loving and giving beings but still grossly under-respected and over-worked to a point where they end up damaging themselves. It is time we help them to be a little selfish, little less caring, little carefree and a whole lot more happy for themselves.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Goa Travelogue : Trip of a Lifetime

Our group of friends shifted hostels in the second year and took rooms close to each other and the friendship grew stronger from there with each passing day. Thus was born x0x-ers (3, 4 – 0 – 1, 3) i.e. rooms 301,303,401 and 403. We spent countless hours planning trips, parties, discovering music and other random shit.

Goa is a destination every college group plans to visit during their college days. This was one trip we just had to make. After hundreds of hours spent on planning the trip, many last minute changes and one person pulling out we finally managed to make the trip with a bunch of our European friends joining us there for what would be the most memorable trip of my life. I as a writer am incapable of putting in words the sheer fun we had on this trip so most of you would not realise how beautiful some of the moments were.

Day 1

I arrived before everyone else travelling from Mumbai. Riding 30 km on a scooter solo from Madgaon to Calungute was a sign of how the days ahead were supposed to be – blissful. After finding a cheap hotel to stay, I left to meet the European friends. It was so good to meet them after many days and hear the stories of their Kerala travel. There was something that happened on the very first day of our trip that made me see a different side of India. A couple of guys actually paid 50 rupees for a picture with bikini clad white women. While they took all this in lighter vein but the sheer attention and the lack of privacy got even me annoyed. There were people all around trying to take pics, talk random shit or just ogle at the girls making the stay uncomfortable.

The first night in Goa was the first time we faced the so called “distance conundrum”. People in Goa measure distance in some paranormal metrics. We had decided to walk to Club Cubana as it was only 5 minutes away. We only realised after it was too late that it was far and impossible to walk to the club and hence decided to visit the clubs in Baga, Tito’s or Mambo’s but ended up drinking on the beach. It was good that we didn’t go to Cubana that day because that is a place to go with everyone and after the tiring day some of our friends had already left.

The x0xers still in train were adamant on visiting Cubana as it was a ladies night that day. By the time they made it to Baga, my day was already over and I was back in our hotel. But I didn’t have the keys so a couple of them came back to give me the keys but instead ended up taking me back to the beach with them. The moment we all united for the first time in Goa is a memory etched in my mind forever. A bunch of crazy guys, a bit tipsy singing a cacophonic tune on the karaoke. The song was bad but the memory unforgettable. That is all I remember from the first day, we returned really late and I remember little of it. It was also the day when Katsaridaphobia struck. A debilitating fear of cockroaches. The most fun girl on exchange reduced to tears at the sight of the petty creature.

Day 2

After claustrophobic Calungute on the first day we moved further north to Arambol the next day. It was a beautiful beach, less crowded, less Indians, lots of foreigners, BIG waves. This day was particularly eventful not because of the beautiful beach but because our beloved Papa lost his Activa keys in the very first dip in the sea. While the afternoon thereafter was ruined for him, we made the most of the beautiful beach drinking chilled beer along with the most awful hukkah ever made. A couple of our friends got inspired by company and tried chocolate pancake here. The waves in Arambol are strong, good for surfing (saw some people enjoying it there) and the beach is clean, good for foreigners. A special mention to our party freak friend RoJa, who travelled a couple of days in train for this one day but didn’t even set foot in water. Instead enjoyed dal roti in the shack.

In the evening we decided to go to Curlies, a place I had thoroughly enjoyed on my last trip to Goa but this time it was something completely different. All boys had to pay an entry fee of rupees 500 which included absolutely nothing and the drinks sold inside were astronomically priced. The entry fee for boys suddenly turned to entry fee for Indian boys. It was astonishing to see a repeat of “Dogs and Indians not allowed” sort of restrictions in Independent India. While some of us didn’t want to pay money for nothing so we decided to listen to music from the beach, eat something and drink a few beers. However, in some time things turned to worse, the entry fees increased to 1000, you couldn’t even be on the beach and more than anything it felt a bit humiliating. This is when one of us lost his cool shouted at security and that was the end of Curlies for us. We however had great fun getting drunk with our set of party-freak friends back in the shack at Baga followed by the late night omelette.

The scenes at Curlies however were pure psychedelic. Lots of people swinging uncontrollably to the music. The crowd and atmosphere there was freaking crazy, very few people in their senses. The firang friends enjoyed it a lot, one person in particular who stayed till 6 am. I heard a lot happened there which everyone was giggling about but nothing said loud in the open. It was also very nice of them to try plenty of times to get one of us enter the party. This was one of many instances that we realised how genuinely nice and friendly these guys are, and we met just two months ago!!! I also vividly remember then having a candid chat with the Katsaridaphobic girl. She is someone who always has a smile on her face and makes everyone around her smile as well. I fondly call her the most fun girl on exchange. However, that day I realised it has not been very easy for her in India all the time. She has had some very difficult times but doesn’t let all that affect her at all.

Day 3

The next day was the much hyped day of Club Cubana. We had already visited the place on our way to Arambol to ensure no goof-ups this time. In the afternoon we decided to do some water sports on Calungute beach. We did only the deep sea diving which wasn’t really deep sea for most of us. For someone like me who doesn’t know swimming if I can’t feel ground under my feet it’s all the same. A wasteful event but an item off the checklist. No water sports in Goa again for me.  Here 4 of our other firang friends also joined us and we had all 18 of us at one place now. It became almost impossible to do anything collectively with such a big and diverse group. We finally decided to move to Morjim after Calungute but it was already 4 by then and I didn’t want to waste more time in figuring out the logistics. So Baniya and I headed straight to Morjim with 1.5 Spanish and 0.5 French girls.

 Morjim was surreal. A very beautiful beach, quiet, secluded with not so strong waves. One of the best beach in Goa for me and definitely the best I visited in North Goa. There weren’t too many people on the beach so there was little disturbance. It was a perfect way to relax after the cumbersome morning and just a couple of beers in this background was enough to get us tipsy. We left Morim after a small meal at the shack there. It is hard to forget the cute little Russian children we saw on the beach and the Swedish women who visited Goa every year but that’s all she knows about India. It is also amusing to see foreigner’s interest in cows. A cow on the beach was the centre of attraction at Morjim. On our way back we stopped at Cubana again to ensure everything was smooth there.

The entry into Club Cubana was just like everything else on the trip- very interesting and complicated. What pissed everyone off was that the security couldn’t believe a bunch of young Indians could be friends with so many foreigners. They went to the extent of asking for proofs of friendship. I am still looking for a perfect test of friendship but the photos of our Jaisalmer trip on their phone and recital of tough Hindi names was enough for them. The club was good from inside but maybe I had too high expectations from it so it was short of something great for me. The place was buzzing with people. Four bars, two dancefloors and a swimming pool. The place definitely had many memorable moments.

My favourite was when our Thulla took help from a French/African girl to strike a conversation with a Russian. Obviously nobody could understand anything but full marks for the effort. The gallery on the first floor of the disc was my favourite area and my favourite drink was something Thulla only made me try. He went to the Russian bar tender and said “surprise me”. She gave him gin with tonic. So my favourite drink for the night was gin tonic with 3 slices of lemon. A few people (read exclusively for girls) also got their face painted which to be honest didn’t looked pretty and I remember telling this to one French girl (Chinki). Everyone was having fun in their own unique way so it is difficult to know all the stories from the day but I distinctly remember the incroyable (incredible) story told by one of the French guys (Mastram). On a trip to Mozambique once with his father, everyone in the tribe wanted to marry their daughter to this white young man. His father told them he was already married to protect him but then his father got drunk and revealed that he was not married. The young boy got chased to a home and was shown into a room with a naked women lying on the bed. He ran as fast as he could and was protected by a village elder. My scariest moment in life is nowhere close to this.

I made friends with the DJ there- DJ DryTeeth. And we danced to his music till 4:30 a.m. after which Burnu and I went to have what would be my favourite cheese omelette of the trip at 5:00 a.m. at Baga. Later I heard that a few people tried staying up to see the sunrise on the beach but everyone left one by one and no one was there till the sunrise. I had no such fetishes.

Day 4

The next day was a day of departures with Baniya leaving early in the morning followed by 4 firangs and finally Uncle in the evening. The first two were going back to Delhi while our Uncle Dude (Chacha Chaila) was his aberrant self, taking a bus to Bangalore. A couple of other firangs also decided to shift base further north in Arambol. So now there were six of us, four Indian guys, a Spanish and a French girl. We had 4 rooms with us in our hotel but with so many people leaving we had kept only 2 rooms and were to check out of other 2 rooms. But this hotel had a very interesting check out time of 9:00 am. A task almost impossible to achieve in Goa, especially after the hangover of unlimited drinks at Cubana. Some of them checked out as late as 11:30 a.m. A long discussion with the hotel owner followed as he wanted us to pay the full days rent for those two rooms as well. This was one of the many instances of the apoplectic local Goan behaviour we witnessed on the trip.

After lunch on the beach and bidding goodbye to everyone we left for Sinquerim stopping at the Sinq club in between trying to figure out our plans for the night. It has the Taj Hotel on one end and the water is relatively clean. There is also a fort there which offers a great view of the sea. Our Thulla being true to his name decided to skip the waters and slept on the beach there. Papa and I spent a long time there trying to learn floating with our eyes looking at the sky. I took some engineering brain of Burnu to teach us but we somehow finally got it.

We heard another incredible story here, this time from the Spanish girl. We all know she can be lazy but this was laziness of another level. While relaxing on the floating mat she fell asleep and ended up in the middle of the sea. She later had to swim 30 minutes to get back to land. It was so tiring that she was saved only because she could wait in between on the mat. We also met our biggest pervert on this beach. A guy offering water sports on the beach had a stare so disgusting it would put Prem Chopra to shame. A slight setback met us in the parking outside. Papa had another instance with his Activa, somebody hit his Activa in the parking and the front grill got damaged.

We still had no plans for the night and since many people had told us about the party scene in Vagator, we headed 30 km to Vagator. We were welcomed on Vagator by a cultural program called Leher,  but there were no signs of any party whatsoever on that beach. We asked the guys up in Arambol if there was something happening there but we couldn’t get a reply so we decided to leave Vagator. (To great disappointment of Burnu, who was thoroughly enjoying the cultural show) We came back to Baga to have some good food at Brittos. The sea food platter is really good for sea food lover but it was a bad day for Papa so he also gave it a try to finally realise he is not a sea food person. He stole my fries but the fried chicken speciality I ordered was really good, a must try. The desserts were pretty awesome too. My favourite was mango mousse followed by blueberry, also a must try.

Since nobody wanted to go to the club we decided to drink on the shacks. We went shack hopping on Baga beach from there on. One had music too loud so we moved to another one playing drinking card games which got us really drunk after few hours. The Goan weather also took an unexpected turn and it started to rain. We had ordered some feni (the worst drink I have tasted ever) and burnu mixed some beer in it too but we finished even that off. I stole a beer mug from there as they won’t give me a disposable glass. Papa got drunk and fell asleep there. The Spanish girl tried everything but throwing water at him, it didn’t work. Even my favourite slap trick didn’t work. When the rain stopped we headed to the road on our way back.

Here started the craziest and the most favourite part of the trip for me. While waiting for the others out on the road I heard some nice music from Club Mambo and started swinging to it a fair distance away from it. I suggested this to the Spanish girl that we shall dance to this nice music. Being her crazy self (when drunk), we moved right to the entrance of the club and started dancing. We asked the security for entry but they would still charge us the hefty entry fees so we decided to enjoy the music from the outside. It is impossible to explain the scenes and the craziness of the entire event. A slight drizzle from the sky and 6 people dancing like crazy outside a night club which has only a few people left inside. All the people on the street and inside the club wondered what was wrong with us but we were too drunk to realise that. After the music stopped we realised this is a very long way to reach the parking so we went back to the beach to go to the parking. It is hard to forget that walk on the perfectly silent beach at 4 am which was otherwise so crowded. By the time we left the world cup match had already started. One of the most craziest moments of my life.

Day 5

Having faced the backlash of not following the checkout time the previous day I made sure everyone was up by 8 the next morning and ready to leave by 9. Everyone was sleep deprived so some wanted to sleep on the beach but finally we decided to head straight to Palolem in South Goa, 80 km from our hotel. The journey didn’t start well as just after 5 minutes of leaving the hostel, we had our first fall. The rain last night had made the roads slippery and Burnu’s Activa slipped and down went the Indo-Spanish duo. So we returned back for some clean-up. It was great to see the girl’s spirit who was still ready to ride along with Burnu but obviously he was too scared to let her fall again. Then we headed for the repair job on Papa’s Activa. We spent a good time looking for the garage and then finally for the repair. We had to stop again because we had decided to move together but we lost one of the Activa (Papa again). Then we stopped for some brunch to finally embark on the 80 km journey to Palolem. The drcision was to stop in Madgaon and Canacona in between to take breaks, only to realise Canacona was 1 km away from Palolem. The journey was a really long one with a stoppage for rain and a break for resting on the footpath. It was one of those journeys that I will not forget for a long time. The last leg was so serene and beautiful.

Palolem is a quiet place with lots of foreign tourists. The water is clean and the beach is beautiful. We rented a hotel and ate some very good food at the adjoining Spicy Bella restaurant. We headed to the beach straight after that to have one of the most memorable experience on the trip. These guys sure know how to have fun. We were lifting each other on our shoulders and throwing them back in the sea when we saw the Spanish girl standing on the shoulders of the tall African/West Indian/French girl and then jumping back into the sea. Soon we could see a number of people on the beach looking at our group trying to do this trick. We also had water fights and other stuff to make it the best day in the sea for me and some others. All of us slept after the shower as we were so tired. We tried to look for a party that evening only to realize that the Leopard valley party is on Friday and Headphone party on Saturday and we arrived on Sunday. So we bought some beers to drink on the beach but there was rain waiting for us. Uncharacteristic for this time of the year in Goa but we had heavy rains that night. Stuck at a wrong place we were thinking of a way out when we saw the girls running in the rain towards Spice Bella. This was probably the longest I have waited for my food at a restaurant. After over an hour of waiting we had dinner and went back to our hotel to drink awfully warm beers. After which everyone slept like a baby. We had decided to move to Panaji for our final day after sending off the African girl as she was leaving a day earlier than us.

Day 6

Before sending her off and leaving for Panjim we decided to trust TripAdvisor and eat our breakfast at Little World for some delicious pancakes which we had never tried before. Certainly a must visit place in Palolem. We wished goodbye to the African girl and went to the beach to enjoy the serenity of the place. I remember having a great conversation with the Spanish girl sitting on a rock overlooking the sea about travel and life. It is fascinating to talk to people who can understand the world beyond money. A trivial moment etched in memory for a long time.

The plan was to visit Agonda before leaving for Panjim but it seemed very similar to Palolem. There were some great reviews that we had heard about Cabo de Rama and it was 13 km from Agonda, on our way to Panjim. So we skipped Agonda and headed towards Cabo de Rama. Everyone was glad to have come to this heavenly place in Goa. The road to the beach wasn’t easy and we also went wrong and reached Cabo de Rama fort instead but what we witnessed finally was eternal bliss. A handful of people on the beach and a stunning view of the sea. This is where I saw the best sunset of my life. There was just one shop there and we ordered omelette and tea. The food was normal but the view was exceptional, absolutely postcard like and it was hard to leave that place. Everything was still for some time and everyone quiet. Like most plans, the plan to leave the tricky road in daylight failed.
We left late for Panjim having overspent the time watching the sunset and reached really late and starving. After a brief search for a hotel, we settled in the first one we checked. It was close to the casinos because that’s why we were in Panjim. But at the last moment we started having doubts as the cost was 1500 but by a vote of 3-2 we entered the Casino, Burnu being the decider. The first thing on our minds was definitely food and that is where we rushed straight to. We had to make the most of the 1500 paid to the casino so everybody had their plates full. Everyone was particularly happy seeing the Spanish girl hog on the food there, giving tough competition to our fiercest eater. There was a moment in between when Burnu for the first time in his life found something worth giving up his food- a dance by some troop on “Birthday Bash”.

We entrusted all our coupons with the lady luck and she played unbelievably winning 8 out of first 8 attempts (Papa did one of those). We lost the last two but everyone got their 800 rupees back. Papa then went on a killing spree winning 8-10 on the trot. So everyone had a great night finally paying only 100-500 rupees for the food but I had to pay 1000 rupees for my food. The Spanish girl took two free coupons for girls at 2:00 and 4:00 am to win 500 from those. A happy end for her indeed. We then went out to sit on the bridge where a guy came to sell tea from nowhere. You can get chai anywhere and at any time in India. We went to sleep at around 5 am on our last night in Goa.

Day 7 and 8

We left nice and early for the Madgaon station after breakfast where I forgot the place I had parked my Activa (I accept I am geographically challenged). We stopped in between for some juice and the Spanish girl tried some ice cream for the love of almonds. We reached the wrong side of the station and hence wasted a good amount of time figuring out the way to return our Activas. Dealing with local Goans isn’t easy and we couldn’t have left without a final altercation. In the most stupidest of remarks the guy wanted Papa to go back to Baga to change the new front panel as it was “fake” and get the original broken one. The funniest thing however was that it was broken from the time we received it but we wasted time and money getting it repaired.

Anyhow finally we got on the train in time with moments to spare. The return journey was mellowed because the most exciting girl on the trip had fallen sick (for the love of almonds). She was weak and slept for most of the 48 hours without eating much at all. But there was a moment in between when we were playing card games and she beat Papa and said “Sorry Papa” with almost child-like innocence, all of us instantly broke into laughter. On this journey we also borrowed a laptop to watch movie “Baby”. We tried borrowing Bluetooth speakers but weren’t able to connect them. English subtitles were also downloaded to help the Spanish girl but those were the worst subtitles ever for a movie.  

Before we could realise, the journey was over. A tight hug and that was it, in an auto back to hostel. The end of good times, a million memories, an epic trip, awesome people, serenity, craziness, stupidity and a thousand other emotions rushing in all at once to create a cocktail of feelings. An emotion impossible to describe but easy to feel over and over again. It beautifully sums up what this trip meant to each of us. I am sure in the moments before I die when my life flashes before my eyes this is what I will cherish, this time and these people.

We don’t meet people by accident, they are meant to cross our path for a reason.”

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Incroyable Journey - The Ending, The Learning, The Reality Check.

Someone who recently read my blog made a remark - "2011 was a good year for you (your blog)". There is a lot in common between the year 2015 and 2011 for me. 2011 was the last year of my engineering and this is the last year of my MBA. These two have also been the most significant and undoubtedly the best periods of my life. Aptly then, the expression of solitude (blog ID) and a vent in the delirium (blog name) happens when these good things come to an end.

Ending is painful, specially when the last bits have been the best so far. The worst part is, that you can't do anything about it. It is like a slow death when you see yourself dying in front of your eyes. You know that you are a student for the last time, like the very last time, ever in your life. You can live another 60-70 years and still probably these will be the last times you had so much fun with so little resources and so many friends. The world outside is scary. It is judgmental. It expects from you. It demands from you. It directs you. It is cruel.

The past few months have been special. The best way to put it would be incroyable (incredible/ unbelievable). Definitely the best time of my life. Every night was crazy. Every moment was a memory. Every story was incroyable. Every day new friends. Every person around so dear. It was amazing to see how two cultures are so different but people are still the same. I realized that answering some questions which are obvious to us can be very difficult (How can you get train tickets at the agent if there are no tickets available?). There is also a very different way in which we react to people from different skin be it white or black. (Why is every black person in India referred as an African?). We have no respect for personal space.

Lately however, I have had a sense of how this big group is going to reduce to smaller chunks and finally to one individual (me) in solitude. People will get busy with their own lives. Others will start leaving. The radius of friends will start shrinking. Your network will start spreading. Money will grow. Time will shrink. A complete 180 degree switch from the current life at hand. I have seen it happening, and soon I will be feeling it.

I am really bad at endings (Pun intended). That is probably why I prefer to write this than say it to anyone. Hopefully this too will be like year 2011, beginning of a series of posts to vent out. Like every other time in life, I have a plan for the next few months. To live for myself. To learn about myself. To experience newer things. To read. To write. To travel. To be irresponsible. To make it a great year for one last time.

“College di GATE de is taraf hum life ko nachate hai … te duji taraf life humko nachati hai”
[Rang De Basanti]

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Impact of Microsoft and My plan as an MSA

We have come a long way from the days when computers existed only in labs isolated from the outside world. Today we are talking about internet of things and ubiquitous computing with computers all around us from refrigerators to cars. One company which has been a part of our world throughout this fast paced transformation of technology has been Microsoft. It made computing simple. Computers existed for a long time but it became a part of our lives only with Windows. Technology without accessibility is of no use and Microsoft’s greatest contribution to this society has been making computing accessible to all.

My first interaction with a computer was in school. I vividly remember going to “Computer Lab” with our shoes off in long queues. It was the only place with an air conditioner on campus. The computer-lab day on the timetable was the most awaited day for the students. It was also our first introduction to Microsoft. We learned that the system in itself is just a box, it is this great company that makes it so fun and easy to use. It marked the start of my fascination with the company that later changed my world completely.

What changed my world was a personal computer. A box powered by Microsoft Windows allowed me to do things I had not imagined before. It brought the world to my fingertips. A massive amount of information at my disposal at all times. I could talk face to face with my family far away, play games that felt so real and create reports and presentations that were so much more attractive than books. The feeling was surreal. I had my first Microsoft device and my life had changed.

It has been over a decade since that day and Microsoft continues to have the same impact on my life. I now have a touch laptop and the Windows 8 running on it has taken the GUI to another level. Extremely easy to use it gives you immense power. Being a b-school student, MS-Office is almost a part of my life. Everything has to be put in a document or a PowerPoint and with Office 365 and OneDrive I can seamlessly move between devices and continue my work on my Windows mobile.

The journey has been long and the impact has been incredible. Microsoft has been changing our lives slowly and subtly at various levels and it continues to do so. It is hard to imagine our world today without Windows and Office. They are continuously working hard to make our lives better.

To be honest I feel dwarfed, in my endeavour to bring a change to the society, in front of such a huge agent of change. I shall still try to the best of my abilities to bring some change around me through this association with Microsoft as a Microsoft Student Associate. I have always felt technology is a great medium of change, especially in the education sector. India’s education desperately needs more technology, and internet can be a great empowerer. I tried to do my little bit in my previous organisation as part of its CSR committee. We taught a group of underprivileged children and it was amazing to see them use email and basic computing to bring change in their lives. In this new role I would like to expand the horizon for underprivileged children.

The latest technology like OneDrive and Windows for mobile and tablets has great potential. It can bring technology in the hands of people still untouched by it. I will like to act as an enabler spreading awareness about wonders this can do. Office 365 is another software that has such potential. Microsoft products are always extremely user friendly, so the challenge is not to learn how to use but to realise the power of products.

There is so much that one can write about the impact that Microsoft has had on society or the impact that you can create by an association with it. It is just a matter of opportunity. If I am the fortunate one I will make sure I make this count for me, for Microsoft and for the society.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Life is not Fair- Accept it!!!

The human mind is hungry for reason - a reason for every failure. The lust for reason demands justification for everything that happens to them. But so many times things happens because someone was at a wrong place, at a wrong time or with a wrong person. There isn't a reason to explain why every time it's you who has to slog to achieve small things in life while your friends have had it so easy in their lives. Why is it that you had to support your family while others were enjoying their lives? Why is it that in the same world some don't have enough to afford a meal a day while others are spending lakhs to fight obesity? Why is it that for some sex is the ultimate pleasure while for others it's their only means to support family?

The irony is that the world is after establishing a just and fair society in an inherently unfair natural environment. There is no parameter to decide what fair actually is. Is death sentence a fair deal for Nirbhaya's rapists? Is it fair that people know only of Nirbhaya and that she received all the assistance while similar others continue to live in oblivion each day? The parameters for fairness are set by the powerful and they decide what's fair in the game. This is what the US has been doing for the past few decades. This is why attacking Iraq is fair and so is the Israel occupation of Gaza.

The saying that you achieve only as much as you work for it, is a myth. The result is something which is not in your hand and so often the hardest worker may not get the best results. The fact is that there is no meritocracy in this world. At least not in the absolute sense. All our lives we have been led by false assumptions that working harder will lead us to greater heights.

The game is all about probabilities. By working hard you only increase your probability of success, with no guarantee. Those who realise and accept this as a fact of life live a more satisfied and happier life. There is no point crying foul when there was never a 100% chance of success. So often we are so obsessed with our fallacies that we end up cursing others. It was not fair for Nirbhaya that day. It is not fair for the man who's battling this chill out in the dark tonight. It is not fair that the guy who never came to any class scored more than you because of cheating. But it never was fair and it never will be in your life. Accept it and move on. There isn't a reason, always. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Social Media for Social Reforms

Social media and its inhabitants, the "netizens", are a prominent force in today's world. They have exerted their influence in reviving a few dying careers, making super hits and igniting revolutions. The power that the online medium possesses is immense and the biggest reason is its openness. Netizens are not bounded by territory, nationality or any such biases of the physical world. This gives social media the power to distribute information to millions of people across the world at a rate which is unimaginable by any other medium.

These potentials of social media, however, have seldom been utilized for social reforms. Majority of social media reforms have been for political change or pure entertainment. Social media's first prominent use in political reform was probably in 2009-10 Iranian election protests when after the controversial election of Ahmedinejad and subsequent ban on media meant that all news that came from the country was through the social media. Netizens posted photos and videos of the atrocities of the Iranian government. Since then we have seen many other examples in the Arab spring.

There would be several other examples in the entertainment sector like Gangnam or Kolaveri but no social cause has attained that viral status till now. People might argue that the political reforms are the gateway to social transformation but the fact is that it is politics that evokes strong emotions and not destitution. Nevertheless, the opportunities are still numerous. The vast reach of it could be used for public activation campaigns but the internet penetration in our country is still pretty low and the socially deprived have restricted access to social media. It can be used instead for collecting donations and getting more people to join in for the cause.

Social reforms need a thorough debate on topics and a consequent gradual change in the mindset of the people. Social media has the potential to deliver on both these fronts but netizens are more active in the virtual world and less on the actual ground. It takes very different skills to implement things on the ground and it is difficult to run social movements from behind a screen. It can however be a very important enabler. It can help bring like minded people from across the globe to a common front.

There is this interesting story of McKenna Pope of how a young girl used social media to force a toy company to change it's positioning and make the "easy bake oven" more boys friendly. This demonstrates the power of social media to channel public opinion towards social reform. There are negative uses for every tool and similarly social media has been equally culprit of spreading rumors and social unrest on many occasions. The positives far exceed the negatives and hopes are high that maybe one day social media will be powerful enough to teach us how to respect women in our society.