Friday, July 23, 2010

An ode to my Bulgarian friend...

Someone told me that one should blog about ones most irritating habits. There are two benefits, One - you experience a lot of “self-realization” about how irritating you can be. Two – you might be enlightening some other soul who didn’t know that it was an irritating habit. So I have always tried to talk about my irritating habits in order to get rid of them. But some of them stay, it tough to get rid of them. Like this habit of me pinging/calling people when I am upset, telling them that I am upset and then not telling them the reasons. It gets on peoples nerves. But I have logic for this, if I am sad about something, talking about it, and re-iterating the facts because of which I am upset will only make it worse. So instead of satisfying my friends curiosity about the reasons, I try to focus the energies of everyone to more productive usage of trying to cheer me up.

Recently, I was extremely upset about one of those random things I get upset about. And I was talking to one of my oldest buddies. And as usual when asked, “How are you?” I said “I am ok” and then thought I shouldn’t be lying and said “I am not ok, but its just one of those things, it shall pass and I will be ok again soon”. And my buddy very sweetly said “You know you can talk about it if you want to”. And we continued talking about her most hectic schedule at the financial company where she works. Just when I thought that she has probably forgotten that I am not very “ok” she again said “You do know that you can talk about what is bothering you” and I once again said “No, its ok, I will be fine in some time, its one of those passing things”. And she didn’t say anything, she just sent me the link to this song. I was a bit surprised, it happens to be one of my favourite songs of all time. And it did the trick, I smiled and for some time forgot all about why I was upset.

Metallica - Nothing Else Matters

And so I thought I should tell you about this interesting friend of mine.

The friend I talk about is one of the people I have known for the longest amount of time, who has seen me through thick and thin, and stood by me through some of the roughest times in my life. She has laughed with me and cried with me, advised me on some really strange dilemmas and sometimes just been a person whom I could talk to for hours when I was alone in a strange city, sometimes strange country where I had nobody to talk to. Someone who has never really expected anything from me, but has given me unconditional support and has undying faith of my capabilities, telling me “You’re the best” at times when I have been really low on confidence. And now here is the shocker, I have never met this friend in real life. For all of you who have laughed at online friendships, for all those of you who have thought that “penpal-ship” and virtual friendships was one of those crazy teenage things, this will probably shut you up for some time, because this is a net friend that I talk about, whom I have now known for close to (or perhaps more than) ten years of my life and never met. When I first talked to her she lived not only in a different city, but in a different country in a different continent. And in spite of knowing that there would be very little chance of us meeting, we became very good friends.

Life sometimes turns out to be stranger than fiction. In my teen years, I was very fascinated about knowing people from different countries. So I embarked on pen friendships through some school programmes and had quite a few pen friends. But considering international snail mail was not the cheapest, the friendships were limited to one letter in maybe 3 or 4 months. And then the internet arrived. I got onto the bandwagon pretty young (little did I know that computers would become my profession and life later on) and was very soon hooked to all things that were on the internet. This of course included my desire to know people from across different countries and continents. I made a lot of friends including a very sweet girl from Bulgaria who knew very little English and was in a chat room to be able to learn the language as she dreamt of travelling to the US. You would think that it might be slightly difficult to converse with a person with very limited knowledge of the language, however it was not so. The blabbermouth that I am, I used to talk and this girl used to decipher me with a dictionary. And this continued, till she, along with help from her teachers at school and other sources learnt the language. There was no concept of blogs, but I remember writing these long memoirs to my friends in long never ending e-mails, which would drive them nuts. My Bulgarian friend also happened to be on the mailing lists, and I remember her telling me that she found my writing very engrossing and touching. I was surprised and I asked her how she could find it engrossing when she hardly knew the language and I still remember her exact words “The language is just the means to convey the thought, and I understand the thought, even if I do not completely understand the language”. Back in India I had limited exposure to how global cultures work, and I was surprised when my Bulgarian friend once told me that she had shown my writing to her English teacher, and her English teacher had immediately said that this is not an American person, it has to be someone British or Indian, because American English does not have such impeccable grammar. And hence I had learnt the nuances of American English vs British English.

Well, my Bulgarian friend did manage to master the English language, went to the United States for a short period, came back to Bulgaria, completed her studies, and being the ambitious and intelligent girl she is, bagged an awesome job at one of the top financial companies. She is in one of those extremely hectic phases of life, where she continues to juggle her studies (she is pursuing higher education) and a very demanding job, and she hardly gets time to talk. But we manage to stay in touch. I never thought that I will end up in Europe but here I am, and we keep talking of meeting up sometime, but it hasn’t happened yet. However after 10 years of being friends, meeting up seems to be just another trivial detail which doesn’t make much of a difference. As I say often, maybe we will meet up along with our grand kids someday 20 years down the line. Till then I will be happy to have her sending the “Nothing Else Matters” link when I seem to be upset without telling her the reasons why.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Princess and Merlin

Firstly, no thats NOT me with the princess. I know post headers can be misleading. Thats the crown princess Victoria with her newly acquired husband Daniel Westling. This post is named as it is because this POST talks about 1. the princess and 2. the name Merlin :P And I look much better than the guy :)

I have this bad habit of blogging about events and happenings ages after it has happened. Now don’t give me that sour look, I know I would have fared miserably in a tabloid or newspaper. Which actually makes me wonder, did I really want to become a journalist/TV anchor/theater actor at some stage in life? ROFL. Look at the geeky me now. I don’t think I’d have done justice reporting about stuff ages after it happened just because, well I was lazy.

So the event that I ponder upon now happened last month. Crown Princess, HRH Victoria got married. I know, its not a big deal for most of you guys, but I was certainly excited. I’ve never really witnessed a royal wedding before. Nope, I wasn’t in the church, the princess did invite me personally a number of times to attend the wedding, but you know how lazy I can be, so I just chose to watch it on TV :). And she was totally adorable! She was not the usual uptight, up-in-the-air royal you usually see. She was totally excited throughout, nudged and shoulder pushed the groom a number of times during the archbishops never-ending monologue, winked at him when the priest said “you should have eyes only for each other” and squeezed his hand when the choir sang some romantic songs. She seemed more the young-girl-in-love-and-excited-about-getting-married than a crown princess tying the knot. She also insisted on having her father “giving her away” which caused quite an uproar in Sweden for a month, as the Swedish church thought it was a very sexist thing, well, to me it was much ado about nothing. She also wore a very modern, sophisticated and simple wedding gown, not the usual glamorous stuff you’d expect royalty to wear. Well what can I say, I have this thing for down-to-earth celebrities and I thought she is a very adorable crown princess!

I know that there has been talk about the kind of money being spent on royals, and on royal occasions like the weddings. Well, if you dig down deeper into the kind of value that royal ambassadors like Victoria add, it may justify some, yes only some of their cost. Victoria actively takes part in various social, political and charity oriented agendas on behalf of her father, the King of Sweden and the state of Sweden. Having studied at Université Catholique de l'Ouest in Paris and Yale, Connecticut, she is extremely well educated, smart, intelligent and has a very wide knowledge of international issues and concerns. She tours Sweden often, and lends an ear to the troubles that people have, in Sweden and internationally, working incessantly as an ambassador for the country. She has worked to promote Swedish tourism, design, music, environmental sustainability, and gastronomy in a number of countries, visited Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to help out with aid work during the Tsunami. Looking at her track record, unlike most young royals, she has kept away from any major scandal or controversy, except the media created ones like her “giving away” ceremony and her “marriage to a commoner” which I think is going a bit overboard. Well, I think shes adding more value than some of the politicians and “ambassadors” in India and Sweden on whom we are “spending” more money on, and who are doing much less for the nation. I also think we need smart young people like her who have fresh views and opinions, and even as a figurehead can take their responsibilities very seriously. I am a tax payer in Sweden, and at 40%, its not a meager amount. But I understand if a country wants to spend on preserving something that it considers a heritage, royalty to me is as much of heritage as any heritage building or artifacts that a country might have. But of course, that is my opinion, its more of an outsiders perspective, I don’t even have the emotional or patriotic attachment a Swede might have towards their royalty. And as for the discussion about spending money more productively towards removing poverty etc, well, we can have that discussion for everything the government does. And some of them are more relevant, like, can they stop buying arms and manufacturing arms and spend that money to removing poverty (believe me the money spent on arms must be 10 times that spent on a royal family)? No I am not a social activist, nor a social commentator, actually I’m quite a self centered guy, so I cannot comment on that kinda stuff, but its just something I wonder about. There are more important issues to bother about than money spent on royalty, who happen to be the pride and heritage of the nation.

Too many serious topics on my blog drive me nuts. So here is something that I have been reading about, and wondering about, and its kinda funny.

So there is this absolutely insanely popular celebrity blogger who has been writing about how insane it is to have anonymous names on blogs, exactly like mine. Urm, there is no direct offense, but of course you do get the drift. Its hilarious actually, to think of the people you know in real life having those absurdly weird pseudo names, like Emotional Atyachar, Lady In Love and Chocolate Kink. Erm... to think of it some of my more serious boardroom colleagues will have quite a laugh on Merlin as well. But I need to remind this insanely popular blog celebrity of a few things that differentiate more mortal souls from the likes of celebrity bloggers who use their own names:
  • Anonymous blogging gives me HUGE advantage of expressing my opinion without having to bother about what will be acceptable for me to say in a social circle. In the blogging circle that I maintain everything is acceptable!
  • I work in an industry where our online presence can be tracked and I don’t want my acquaintances to read about my personal life and opinions.
  • I also happen to be the face of my company towards a lot of outsiders, and when I blog about professional topics, I don’t want my views to be confused with my company’s opinions.
  • I know that using ones own name brings a lot of known people to ones blog, family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues and some unwanted people as well, which in turn makes one very conscious about what they write. I want to write without thinking what the “people” will think.

No, I still cant justify why I have a somewhat “fantasy” name. It’s a very old pseudo name I was given, one of the many. The others are more ridiculous. And I have always been a bit of a “fantasy” guy, the sorts who was always interested in Harry Potter, Merlin, magic and the type. Laugh if you will, but that’s the other side of me which most serious people at work don’t get to see :).

So Merlin it will be. As long as I have the ability to write without thinking about what the “others” will think, I don’t care how ridiculous the name is. And you know how much of a Shakespeare junkie I am, and well, you know what Shakespeare had to say about names. For those who know me, well.. you know me and the name doesn’t matter. For those who don’t, well.. keep guessing :P.

Ciao and more later!

Photo courtesy: My good friend AC who took great pains to get a position to be able to capture this pose, sorry I flicked it from your Orkut :)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Itz my birfday.. again!

is mah birfday where r caek, dammit!?
Picture reference: Lolcats

Yes, “again” because it’s the second time on the blog. The first time I wrote all about the kinda stuff I do and don’t do on my birfday, and then went about giving the link of that post to everyone who’d look at me ridiculously and say “But why the **** wont you tell us your birth date?!!” till the point where they couldn’t look at that lolcat pic anymore. I shall spare you the agony of repeating myself about my birthday dos and donts. And its boring to tell you what happened on my birthday because the point of it all is that nothing much happens anyway. But just for the record I like putting it up here that it was my birfday sometime back. And btw, stop asking me the date. Everyone has his “weirdities”, being secretive about my birth date is mine. At least you know I am a cancerian :).

Some people wished me and some people didn’t. Like always. There were some new ones who persevered in their attempts to find out my birfday (background applause) and some old ones who forgot it and then tried a comeback after my tongue-in-cheek FB status “Thanks guys for your wishes”. Yes I know, I am mean. But let me have my fun, for heavens sake, on my birfday at least. I anyway think there is too much importance being given to birthdays. I wouldn’t care, except for the fact that I like the gifts. Which, btw, reminds me that you haven’t given me one. Yeah, I told you I am mean :). Did I hear someone ask what the best gifts were? The best one was the Georgio Armani perfume, I honestly haven’t worn anything that expensive in my life, thanks a tonne to you-know-who. And Iya, thanks for the flowers which you ordered sitting in another continent!

So now that I have managed to tell you a lot about my birfday in spite of telling you I wouldn’t tell you anything, I shall reiterate my promise that you will find more of me on blogosphere nowadays. In spite of all the ardent speculations and disbelief about my proclamations of being here more often. It has been hot like crazy, I guess I had gotten used to the mild pleasant summers of Sweden. My Swedish friends look at me shock when I tell them that its hot, and I am like “Give me a break guys, just because I have lived in the 45 + degrees in Delhi and Nagpur does not mean that I wont feel warm in 30 degrees”

Things seemed to have calmed down at work mostly because its vacation time in Sweden. Some things are in the pipeline, like I am a part of a team that is designing a course for Stockholm University, will also be conducting the course with some colleagues in Spring 2011. Am also in touch with some professors from Stockholm University, have promised to “collaborate” with them by delivering some guest lectures in their courses. But the thing I was most surprised about was being invited as guest speaker for a conference being hosted by one of the Swedish organizations within my company. Its one of those fancy ones where the organization takes everyone on an exotic cruise and conducts sessions and seminars. I am of course honoured, but at the same time a bit hesitant. It is one thing to talk in front of students, that I have done and will do without batting an eyelid, its easy to talk about something you have done for a living for the past 6 years and are passionate about to people who don’t have the slightest clue about it. It is quite a different ball game however to talk about the same thing to people who have been in the industry for double the number of years, have very strong opinions about it, and are probably going to be asking questions which will really make one think. However I am taking on the challenge, and still think it is an honour to be invited as a guest speaker!

For those of you who are wondering how such boring things rock my boat, you need to understand the geek aspect of my personality. I have a tendency to be nerdy, and I am pretty unapologetic about it. I can surprise you more by saying at some point at the dusk of my life I plan to shift from the corporate to the academic life, which is not a choice made very often, and certainly not a choice pondered upon by people my age.

Which actually brings me to my age, and how relative it is. I like interacting with the “young” generation, thanks to my younger cousins and friends, and it is hilarious being looked upon as “old” by them. Amongst the innumerable disadvantages of working in an environment where nearly everyone is at least 10 years older to you, one of the very few advantages is that it always makes you feel really young. So all those homies who’ve been taking the cracks at me for getting old-er, guys give me a break, everyone around me is at least 10 years older, I feel like an infant. So spare me the “you’re nearly 30” lines, they really have no effect on me :P.

I’ll be up and around devouring my daily round of blogs, so long for now!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Accents: The Toggle Theory

I think I may have written a bit about accents and attitudes before. Its just too bad that I didn’t start the blog when I was still back in India. I think the opinions I had about NRI accents and attitudes back in India were strong enough not to be published in any public place. The opinions bordered between hopelessness and a “ewwww” feeling. However they might have changed now :).

For the benefit of my European/American friends (no I am not biased but I don’t have any Australian or African readership :P) NRI stands for Non Resident Indian, there are some snide takes on the acronym, but lets not go there. It is basically one of those breed of Indians who have optionally decided to settle abroad in a foreign country, for various reasons, technically Indian citizens who live and work outside India for 10 months or more in a yer. The percentage of NRIs might be small, but with a population of more than a billion people in the country, believe me the numbers are not negligible. As one of my Iranian friends was telling me, when she got down at Heathrow airport, she could hardly spot a single Englishman. There were way more brown/black faces than white ones. Yes, and you thought that it was England that had colonized India back in history. Well, whatever, so there is this breed of people called NRIs. Now why are they different? Because they happen to have adopted the attitudes, thinking and sometimes.. err.. accents of their newly adopted country. I pause before I say accent because that one is a sensitive spot for all Indians.

For those of you who have had any interest in accents, you must have seen/heard the Indian/Canadian comedian Russell Peters and his numerous jokes on the topic. Well, for those of you who haven’t, you must have noticed that the Indian accent doesn’t exactly make the girls drool and the hearts beat faster. Well, it might be good for a lot of other things, but in Russell Peters words “it wont exactly get you laid”. However in spite of all this, Indians are very particular about their accent. Just like there is no typical Indian guy, so also there is no typical Indian accent. It’s a big country of a billion people for heavens sake, the accent varies across the regions. There are around 26 states, and I think I can safely say that there are AT LEAST 26 accents. However the underlying rules do not change. The Ts and the Ds have a distinctive “hard” sound, with a lot of stress. The Rs are not rolled, the “I”s are not ignored, in fact they are stressed upon. Sometimes the “s” sound takes on a “j” or a “sh” sound, hence “it is the truth” becomes “eet eej the T(stress)ruth”. No don’t get me wrong, I am not making fun of anyone here, I am just stating facts. And that my friends, is the Indian accent for you.

Why are Indians sensitive about their most exotic accent? Maybe because it is exotic, or maybe because, like every other race/nationality, that is the identifying feature. However, I can tell you one thing, if you happen to look like an Indian, brown skin, dark eyes, black hair, and do not have the typical Indian accent, you will not be taken very nicely by the Indian “junta”. Which is a condition which most NRIs suffer from. After having faced numerous situations where I was victimized and traumatized for having a “non-desi” accent where I pronounce S as S and not J or Sh, I finally found the perfect solution. A toggle. Yes you got it right, an option to toggle between the two accents. It works almost exactly like when you want to have two operating systems, and you keep an option on the login screen about which OS you want to log into. Just like that, an accent toggle. So in the beginning before entering a conference call, Id pause and think which accent should I “log in” with, and then after a point it came naturally. The only problem is, as you might have already guessed, when the audience is mixed. Well, I just go by the majority.

Needless to say my colleagues find it extremely amusing, some even find it hilarious. But it serves the purpose. It is amazing how an accent can give you an acceptance into a group. The moment I start hardening my Ts and Ds, there is a sudden transformation in the attitudes of my Indian colleagues, suddenly I am their Desi Manager. With Europeans, well it is more a cause for being comprehensible than being acceptable, other than the genius ones who have now given in to adapting to the Indian accent (you cannot be in IT and not adapt to the Indian accent). I am currently working on further toggles between the South Indian accent, the Punjabi (Delhi) accent and the amazingly wonderful Bengali accent (my teams work out of Bangalore, Kolkata and some friends are in Gurgaon). I strongly believe that “The Toggle” philosophy is the next big thing in International Business, I am thinking of approaching Stockholm University to understand if I should write a white paper on the topic :).

As promised, I am more here than I used to be. Ok stop cribbing, this IS more. Accept it :). I am a busy guy, but hopefully from next week I will have much more free time. So you will see more more of me :).


In case you didnt catch the Russell Peters fever, here is something for you:

Picture reference:

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Summer and the Archipelago

Ever had the experience where you keep writing incomplete posts for the blog, and then read it later and don’t feel like publishing it? Till the point where you have a list of half written posts and not one published for the last few weeks! Well I’ve been there a few times before and I am there now.
So this is going to be short and hopefully this is going to be published!

I am slowly getting into the Swedish mould of things. Slog like crazy in the winter with a morose mindset and have a blast in the summer. Nah, work never really slows down, except for the one month in July when everyone, every single swede, shuts shop and disappears to some exotic far-off beach in Asia. Really strange, I say. Sweden is the most beautiful place in July. And so when people ask me “So where are you going in Summer”, I invariably reply, usually greeted by surprise “I am staying right here, for heavens sake, why should I miss the most beautiful weather of Sweden?” But then that’s me, the non-Swede. If you want to get in touch with any Swede in July, please try calling the beaches of Malaysia, Thailand and Mauritius. :)

For a change I’ve been exploring the Swedish archipelago. I know, I know, I should have done this ages back, its my third year in Sweden. But what the hell, I was busy exploring Europe. But this place is HEAVEN! I am doing the hit-palm-on-forehead right now, for missing out such beautiful places which are a couple of hours boat ride from my place. Totally ridiculous. But this is all thanks to my dear Swedish friend J. Thanks J for the awesome tip AND the awesome company!!

You’ll be seeing a lot more of me in July, I’m gonna catch up on a lot of things, blogging included. So heres some of Sweden, you know whom you need to get in touch with if you want to be in Heaven :)!!

Love the clear water and the green algae... the weather was hot, but the water was pretty cold!

Love the sparkle! And my camera, which can capture it!

Our lunch stop at Grinda... lunch with a view :)

If I ever buy a boat, it would look like this :)

Stop laughing at the blurred out face, this is an anonymous blog, I HAD to blur out the face :P

Lunch stop at Vaxholm - fancy Italian joint

Cruise ship to Riga, making its way through the Archipelago

One of the larger islands on the Archipelago

Our cruise ship winding its way through the Archipelago on the way to Riga

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Love is relative

Philosophical topics are not my favourite for blogging. Somehow I don’t like reading or writing heavy stuff on blogosphere. But a part of being true to your blog also means writing what one is thinking and feeling.

My parents are on their way back to India as I write this, after being in Sweden for a month, and I surprise myself by feeling a bit empty. I always thought that I am kinda beyond that, I left home when I was 17, and have lived in residential schools/colleges or alone while working since then, which is not very common amongst Indian families. But in spite of this, my parents and I have always shared a very deep bond. This is one of those things which I have had a very tough time explaining to anyone. Of course, most people I know also feel that they have a strong bond to their parents and family. But love, as with most other emotions is relative, it varies in intensity, nature and the way you express it. Most Indians understand this because of the similarity of the general close knit Indian family culture across most regions in India, but I have some difficulty explaining the extent of my bonding to my non-Indian friends, perhaps because the culture in India and in Europe is vastly different in certain respects. Don’t get me wrong, most European cultures also have very deep family bonds, contrary to popular Indian belief that “westerners” are not as family oriented as Indians. I anyway think that the generalization of “westerners” is a bit ridiculous; the differences between Americans vs Germans vs Swedes are so different that I think any generalization grouping them together is a crazy idea. However, most European cultures have very strong family orientation. But it is very different from what we have back in India. Perhaps due to the conditions that we grow up in, perhaps due to our economic system, perhaps due to our social structure. I do not know the reasons, I just know that it is very different, and very difficult to explain to someone who has not been in the same culture and system. I am sure other cultures will have some difficulty explaining their emotional ties of their family to me.

But it is strange how everything seems relative. What I feel for them now, vs what I felt for them back in childhood, vs what some of my friends feel for their parents. It is all so relative. Strange that I feel so much awe when I see my parents, they have been so selfless when it comes down to bringing up my sister and me. I doubt I can be so selfless and sacrifice so much for my children. And to me that is what love is all about. Expressing love without a motive or intent of getting back anything in return. To be able to get pleasure in sacrificing a part of ones life just because of the love one feels for a person. I do not know if I can give my children the same amount of love, the same amount of fierce protection against the evils of the world. If I can make the same amount of sacrifices, go through the same amount of troubles. Do so much to ensure that they have a safe and comfortable childhood, and never have any issues with education and life in general. Somehow when it was all happening, when I was having the amazing childhood when millions in the same country were having a terrible one, I was perhaps too immature to realize it and appreciate it. But now, standing in a place where I can look back and see it all, it seems crystal clear, and I am in awe!

Its amazing how even the term “amazing childhood” is also relative. Perhaps to a person in a developed nation the term means something totally different as compared to a person in a developing nation like India. Maybe in an underdeveloped nation, it again means something different. But I look back at the people who grew up with me, I look around when I go back to India, and I know everyone didn’t have the same opportunities, everyone didn’t have the same chances, everyone didn’t get the same education, the same amount of love, the same amount of guidance to do the right things, follow the right path. Everyone didn’t have 3 meals a day, and a roof on their head. Everyone didn’t have the choice of going to any school/college they wanted without bothering about the fees. And I feel that I got all this because of the love that my parents had for me and the way they brought me up. Made sure I never had to go hungry, never had to think about poverty, or education, or safety. There are some things people take for granted in the world that I live in right now, some things people forget to say a thank-you for. I don’t forget, because I know of people who don’t have it

For a couple who have lived a majority of their life in a small steel city in eastern India, it is amazing and amusing as to how quickly they have completely adapted and adjusted to the European life. I feel a warm glowing feeling when I see them trying out Italian ice-cream, or buying Grekisk Feta cheese. It is amusing how my mom looks at the skimpily clad girls dancing on the curise ship to Latvia and doesn’t give disapproving looks. I like introducing them to the trivialities of the life in Europe, like cider and Kyckling pytt. For them, I don’t think I can ever do a fraction of all that they have done for me, but I feel happy to be able to have them physically present with me, even for a short period of time. I am happy that they can share my European life which is so different from the small town India life that I grew up to. Just like they showed me so many new things in life, I feel kinda nice showing them the very few new things that I know of, though it is nothing compared to the huge amount of things I have learnt from them. And it amazes me that although they are as far removed from my fast paced corporate life as they could (they are both professors and in the education line) they can still say the perfect things when I talk to them about my work dilemmas. Some people are such that you can go to them for advice about any topic under the sun and you know you will never be disappointed.

Love is relative. What it means for me, it might not mean for other people. The way I define it might not be the way you define it. The way I express it might not be the way you express it. I believe that 99% of what I am today is because of my parents, because of their love, because of all that they have done to bring me up in the right way, to provide me with moral and emotional support and all the things that contribute to me not being messed up in life. No they were not perfect, but they were as close to it as humanly possible. And what I admire the most is that they did not expect anything back, absolutely nothing. They never asked me to come back to India, to live in the same city, or even to visit them. In Sweden, there are a lot of things in my life which do not conform to their slightly conservative views, but they never chide me for it, or even mention it. Even today they are selfless in their love for me, much more than I am for them.

Love is relative. For some it knows no bounds. It will always be difficult for me to define love, but what my parents have for me is the most perfect definition I have.

Ok ok.. stop the moaning, I shall stop the mushy tirade. But I might have to seriously consider returning back to India :)!!

I am keeping my promise of being around on blogosphere! Yay!

Monday, June 14, 2010

People person? (Barca pics)

I am always disappointed in people. Never with what they do, or what they represent. Never with the roles they play, never with the responsibilities that they are supposed to fulfil, never with the positions they hold. I am never disappointed that the Project Manager didn’t manage the project, always that Mr. X could have managed the project better. I believe in people, not in how senior or junior they are. I trust in human beings, not human resources. And I have tried to change.. for three years and somehow I just cannot. I don’t know if this makes me more successful in what I do, or stops me from being more successful than I am. But I have realized I am a “people” person. Everything I do is driven by the people around me. Like when my friends discuss motivations, and someone says money, someone says type of job, someone says the company one works for and I always say the people whom I work with.... I strongly believe that when you enjoy doing what you do, with the people you like, success and money and the other things follow. In any given day, I do get a lot of joy from accomplishing a target, from meeting my goals, of a job well done, but I get the real “kick” out of life when the people I work with make my day. There’s nothing more fulfilling than to have learnt something from someone, from having taught something invaluable to someone, to have accomplished something together, or to have convinced the client to have brought something that makes both the client and me happy. To me its all about people.

And hence it is always a disappointment when people don’t measure up to expectations. You might say its not professional to be personal, but believe me in the consulting line, its all about personal relationships. Skill is a given, personal relationships differentiate the excellent consultant from the good consultant.

I am sorry for this weird tirade. Its just that I am tired and well.. yes.. you guessed it, disappointed and let down. By people at work. It is always a horrible feeling to put in your 100% and then be let down by others. I had an “ok” trip to Latvia, “ok” because the weather was not on our side, it was windy and rainy, with a choppy sea on the way to Latvia. I had planned to work from home today, but thanks to my overzealousness, a phone call made me just rush home straight from the cruise ship, have an express shower, change into formals and rush to office. And that is what perhaps always leads to my undoing. My overzealousness. I should keep it in control.

I suck at this. I shouldn’t blog when I am low I guess :P.
More when I am up and shining! I of course have to share my Riga trip pics, as planned. Till then, here are some Barcelona pics to drool over :) !!
(In real life I am so self obsessive about my pics, that it’s a shame that I cant put up pics of myself up here, but well.. that’s the cost I pay to keep this anonymous ;) )

Top pic reference:
(You can actually buy the mug!) :P

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Riga ahoy!

Have you had an occasion that you do not look forward to ... its an eventuality which you have not thought about? And then as the occasion draws near, you realize that its actually a good thing for you?

I planned a cruise trip to Riga, Latvia for my parents some time back. I have been to Latvia before, hence it was not something that was making me very excited. However now that I leave to board the cruise ship one hour, I am kinda looking forward to it, I think the trip will do me good. Any trip where I have no access to my work and laptop is always good!

The pic above is from my previous trip. If I can capture some nice ones this time, you will get to see them! Ciao... Riga ahoy!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Blogging Sabbatical

I don’t know what else to call the break from blogging. Well I know its not good, its like stopping your jogging and gym schedule when you are healthy and aren’t gaining weight. Blogging therapy should continue, even through the good times :).

Loads happening in Merlins world! This is one of those times when life seems to go ‘whoosh’ past you and you are kinda trying to catch your breath. It is strange really, because some time back I was actually cribbing about a lack of excitement and speed in my life... well, there seems to be loads now. I guess you are already bored of the “life is busy, work is hectic, I don’t have time for anything” lines so I wont repeat it. Give you the juicy gossip in an executive summary, the type you’d give to the Sr. Directors and Exec VPs on an elevator pitch. So here goes: Promotion at work, Corporate Recognition Award, a much awaited salary increment, an AWESOME Spanish vacation at Barcelona, and getting mah parents to Stockholm to escape the crazy Indian summer. Howz that? All the good news in a nutshell!

Yes, summer is here, the happiness meter in Stockholm is soaring. Its kinda tough to wake up in the morning, look at the fantabulous weather outside and say “I’m sad”. Its just not possible. When nature seems to color the surroundings with the greens reds and every bright shade you can think of, it is kinda tough to not have a colourful mood to match it. So here I am, all refreshed and bright and shiny.. joining the Swedes in their weather mood swing to the more positive side. Yes, the recognition award, the promotion and the awesome vacation have also played a very major part in my positive outlook :P!

Travel always rejuvenates me. I have been spending time pondering on certain things that I have never pondered upon. I have always kinda lived my life a day at a time, and now for a change, I might have to be actually planning out stuff. It scares me because I know I am not good at it, I am usually only good at taking things as they come.

I am still in Sweden and I don’t know for how long. My parents have stopped asking till when; most people I know have also stopped asking me till when. Recently one of my mentors forwarded me a job role (within my company) based out of Geneva, and after some thought on the matter, I declined. If I am staying out of India, I might as well be in Sweden :P. Damn, I think I have fallen in love with the country, in spite of the minus 20 degrees temperature, spirit dampening darkness and the not-so-warm people. I guess it’s the Stockholm syndrome :P! Or maybe its just the summer talking!

After all the crazy escalations last year, things at work seemed to have calmed down. It feels good that the management appreciates and notices the work of the “youngest” manager of the team at handling what is sometimes referred to as the most challenging area in the account that I work for. As I said, awards and promotions are always good to have, they do good stuff for the motivation, contrary to the video I have been putting up on my LinkedIN and FB ;). I promised myself at the beginning of the year that I will do things that interest me and not let work control my life, being a workaholic is good only for so long. So I did jump into the designing and conducting of a Global Delivery course for Stockholm University which is an initiative from my company. I love the geek stuff :) Am I contradicting myself from the earlier post on Geek Inside? But I guess the bike stunts phase, the Casanova swings, the student politics phase is over and the geek phase is here to stay *shrug*- We’ll see.

No, I wont be promising that I will be regular with the posts this time on, coz I don’t want to build a reputation of not keeping my promises. But I will try. Its always refreshing to be back to blogosphere, you guys will be seeing more of me at least in your blogs. Ciao

Image source:

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Today I have to borrow words... to fill the silence...

“Life is good, Andros,” Georgiou began. “I live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, I love my work, and we have enough clients. Whenever I have dreamed of setting out on an adventure, my father has given his blessing, and I have gone where I wanted. How is it, then, that I still have a wish, like some yeast fermenting beneath my skin, for something I cannot quite name? However good life appears to be, nothing ever seems to fill this gap.
- Chasing Rumi
I think I will get addicted to Cadburys.... they say that chocolates are not the best for your health... especially if they are too sweet. :sigh:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Quarter Life Crisis

I will be honest. I was browsing through the tonnes of material on the net I usually end up reading on a lazy Sunday and I stumbled across THIS ARTICLE, and this post is inspired by it (recommendation: READ the article). Well I am kinda on the other side of quarter life, but I guess I was in such a rush during my early 20s that I completely forgot about the whole crisis thing and completely forgot to have it, and it hit me a bit late. So, I am in kind of a quarter life crisis now. And maybe because it has come late in my life, it has come in with a vengeance. I know, I know, its just a phase and it will go by, but what the ****, it stinks, and I do hope it goes by faster than I think.

So I can imagine all you 40+ guys laughing hysterically at the idea of a quarter life crisis. Sirs, ma’ms… do not laugh, the world was kind of different when you were 25. There was no PS3, (or PS2 for that matter) to aspire for and to play against. There were no internet romances, or break-ups. And if you are an Indian, I am sure there are very little chances that you would be dealing with a relationship with a girl from a different state, or a different country, or her parents. Very little chance also that you would be wondering which country to settle in, and if you should be in the gaming industry, the IT industry, the ITES industry or a regular conventional industry like the Travel industry. Whether you should change jobs when your job pays more than it should and is more exciting than you thought a job would be, but you are still getting bored. So ladies and gentlemen, do not laugh. Take a step back and let the new generation endure their quarter life with grace.

And for all the below 20 guys (do below 20 guys even read blogs?), brace for the impact, its going to be bigger and worse for you guys *evil snigger*. And for those between 25 and 30, hold my hand, I empathize with you.. it shalt pass, and we shall come out of it stronger and more stable than ever before!

I have cribbed about this a number of times and I will crib about it again. In my current phase of life it is SO difficult to find people who are the same age as me. At work, EVERYBODY is older to me.. don’t ask me why, I have no clue. And in my social circles also, people are either AT LEAST 10 years older to me, or are in the age range between 4 and 13 (the offspring of my ‘friends’). Hence it is SO tough to find someone to relate to within my physical circles of friends. In my virtual circle, which transcends all geographical boundaries on earth, of course I have a zillion friends in the same phase and stage of life. But it’s a completely different feeling to sit over a beer and crib about how your life sucks because everything seems to be a dilemma. This I cant do with a friend settled in the US or working in the UK or those back in India. And so I take my only other alternative, to blog about my rants.

Of course, at quarter life (ok ok.. I am not 25 and I don’t pretend to be, so lets call it a couple of years after quarter life), one has much more fun than say in your childhood, teenage or adolescence. I can eat all I want, have all the excesses that I ever dreamed of and spend all the money I want to on all the stupid things that were earlier forbidden. But the million dilemmas in life just kill me. If I could I wish I’d not have to take a single more decision in life, but till people turn 40, life is all about decisions (or maybe it haunts you even after you’re 40). Whom to date, whom to marry, where to study, what to study, where to work, which industry, what job profile, which company, which city/country to settle in, when to have kids, how many kids to have, when to change your job, prioritize gf/wife over job or vica versa, balance parents with in-laws etc etc. And when you start having more than 2 of these dilemmas, well, God bless you, your quarter life crisis has arrived.

A few days back I was talking to a few ladies who are close friends of mine from school/college. They happen to be 1 to 2 years elder to me or my age, and all of them were totally PSYCHED out about turning 30. And I totally couldn’t relate to either one of them. Is it that I am kind of abnormal that I am totally at ease about growing older, or does it have something to do with “men become more attractive as they get older” phenomenon? But unlike Joey in FRIENDS, I have absolutely no qualms about turning 30 and cannot understand why people make such a big deal of it. And maybe this has something to do with being the youngest guy in my workplace :sigh: !!

This reminds me of the FRIENDS episode : TOW They All Turn 30:

And with this note, I bid thee farewell for now. The weeks have been busy, but the next week is a short work week and a long holiday stint, and I need to tell you about my ventures in research and publication (boring), my upcoming trip to Barcelona (exciting), my parents visit (really exciting), and a probable road trip to Norway… but all of this next time :).

P.S. Have put a cute FB sharing gadget on the right hand column under Archives, and am really excited about it, even though I never write anything worth sharing :).

Image courtesy:

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Itz mah birfday!

My blog completes one year. This day, one year back I started this blog. I was kind of sure that it wont last, my other "ventures" into web designing, online management research paper publishing and similar other internet frenzies fizzled out. But like I always say... blogging is my therapy.. it heals me. And so I lingered on in this space.

It has been quite a journey, not as impressive as the other 'blog celebrities' I know, but decently satisfying for me. 365 days, 83 posts, 13 followers and 2200 + hits (excluding my own). I would say - not bad. I just went back and read my first 3 posts, and it was nostalgia all over again. Things have changed so much, and then again, some things havent changed at all! Loved the first 3 posts HERE, HERE and HERE. I hope I feel the same things after one year when I reflect back on this post.

For those regular followers out here, yes, you have seen the same title and picture before, on MY birfday :), this is a repeat coz I love lolcatz so much!

Cheers, and I shalt celebrate this today!!

Lolcat picture references:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Barometer shows “High”

Blogging is like my barometer. You can judge the kind of pressure I am in just by looking at my blog. I use it to gauge how things are with me. When I write an “angry Merlin” or “sad Merlin” blog, you know how its gonna be. And when I don’t write at all you know the pressure has gone over the edge.

So that’s how it has been for the last few months. Over the edge. Waking up in the morning to a ringing phone.. escalation, urgent meeting or something. Dragging my laptop to my bed to see what is the latest catastrophe to strike my area. Stumbling out of bed and brushing my teeth while on a conference call and getting very embarrassed when I am asked a question and I have to spit out the toothpaste and answer. Thinking of strategies to appease the clients while showering and then answering mails while gulping a cup of coffee and breakfast… and sliding down the stairs and waving at the bus driver till he feels sorry for me and waits while I run to the bus stop. Getting dirty looks from fellow passengers as I try to check mails on the laptop on a crowded metro train.. and literally running into the office to be on time for a meeting. Hectic meetings, mails, phone calls, customer escalations… and then walking back home.. ready to collapse as soon as I reach home. Hit the couch, have some tea.. check the late night shift of mails (the US team is up and working), create some documents, dinner and then crash into bed. So if I say I didn’t have time to blog it would be an understatement.

Every culture has their own kind of PC… and it varies enormously. For the uninitiated, PC is “Polite Conversation” (please read THIS previous blog post for more info on PC), the stuff you do when you meet a person and don’t exactly know how to fill up the awkward silences. In India when you want to do PC, you ask “so how many children do you have” or “do you have family” (read as ‘are you married’) or "is your wife working or a housewife?" or "is your daughter/son married?". No kidding, these are NOT personal questions in India, its PC. Any stranger can ask you this stuff on their first meeting with you. At office, at the mall, on the bus. Its THAT impersonal. In most of Europe, you can risk offending a person you know if you ask these questions unless you know the person well. Well, in the UK, the most popular topic of conversation for PC is the weather, probably because its so crappy throughout the year. If you have ever been to the UK you’d know how much time the English people spend on pondering and analyzing the weather, or simply cribbing about it. The Swedes I think like PCing about weekends, vacations and trips to Thailand. So their favorite PC will be “How was your weekend?” or “What are your plans for the weekend” or “So howz your weekend progressing?” or “So how was Thailand?” or “When are you next going to Thailand?” etc etc. Sometimes its lost on me, because a) I don’t plan my weekend in advance, neither my upcoming vacation.. or the vacation the year after next b) I have never gone to Thailand, and do not plan to in the near future. So when people ask me about my weekend I wonder if I should get offended because a lot of stuff I did over the weekend was pretty personal, I wouldn’t like to share it with the guy who is from my competitor company at work. Strange, how PC can vary so much with different cultures.

So when everyone asked me “What plans for the weekend?” I simply said “nothing”. When Swedes have a hectic week, they try to have a more hectic weekend to compensate for it. I don’t understand the logic. When I have a hectic week, I simply cancel all activities for the weekend and spend it sleeping, taking long showers, cooking, watching Big Bang Theory, Simpsons, Two and a half men and lazing around. It rejuvenates me more than doing cross country skiing or visiting new countries or taking a trekking to the Norway fjords. I mean, I do all of that stuff (except the cross country skiing) but not to recover from a killing week. There's nothing like lazing around to rejuvenate a person. If this was India, I’d throw in a Kerela massage and ‘adda’ (chitchat session) at a relatives place. :sigh:

I was browsing through Facebook and noticed that one of my colleagues son has just turned one year old. Its strange how priorities change so fast for people. Not so long ago in college all we could think of was type of future job, starting salary, career, role... then it became boss, promotion, increment. Very soon the whole job fever went out of our lives. People started talking about marriage. So there was a lot of worrying about marrying the current girlfriend, worrying about arranged marriage, worrying about love marriage and loveless marriages and worrying about not getting married at all. Now, most of us are beyond this point (word to note here is "most", some are still talking jobs) So now the next phase of discussions are babies. Honestly, it makes me feel old. Not because I refuse to grow up, or “adopt” the passing of time, but I somehow am still stuck in the job mode (that’s the reason I am still having those hectic weeks remember?). Its funny because I made a passing remark to a younger friend (read as 25) who was shifting apartments… noting that this was the last time he would be shifting alone. And on being asked for the reason I told him, “next time it will probably be with a wife and a kid”. The look on his face was of absolute horror and disgust, as if I had just violated some sacrosanct rule by mentioning the unmentionable. After a few seconds of speechlessness, he just flippantly remarked, “Bah, it’s a LONG time before that’s going to happen”. What’s it with these 22 to 25 year olds thinking that they are going to be bachelors and enjoy their carefree youth till eternity. Guys.. open your eyes. Embrace the real world. You are an Indian. If you have not been Europeanized or Americanized by now, in a span of 2 to 4 years, ou will be married (you can hope its a love marriage, it could also be arranged) and in another 1 to 3 years you would be changing nappies. That’s not a long time off now, is it? Stop pretending its never gonna happen. Stop pretending that you will be “surfing” around till eternity. And stop making it look as if marriage means the end of the world. Do not forget the sliver linig. As our beloved SRK always says “Picture abhi baaki hai mere dost!”

If the next week is not as hectic as this one (I hope it wont be) you will be seeing more of me out here!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Every Swedish blog today will write about the same thing... snow

I broke my own record. I started writing a post 4 times in a row, and left it midway. Which is the maximum number of times I have done this in a row. The earlier count was 3. I know, I am rambling, but allow me the liberty, otherwise the number will go to 5.

I am a bit pissed. Maybe that’s an understatement, but I am not in the mood for extreme statements, otherwise this post will tend to move towards profanities which are better left out of a blog. Don’t ask me why, there’s never one single reason for such mood swings. And I am too lazy to write all of them down. Oh, maybe I can tell you one of the better ones. It is minus 22 degrees today. And as I am not big on winter sports (the maximum participation it inspires from me is watching the winter Olympics on TV), this is not such good news for me. Especially because I still have to go to work, and the dogs and sled that I keep for such occasions was lent to Santa in December and he never returned it. And in this weather even Stockholm’s super duper hi-tech transport system has given in. Nothing, nothing survives minus 24 degrees and such incessant snow. Maybe polar bears do.. and sometimes I feel that God made this side of the world for them. It is certainly not for us humans. We seem to be fooling ourselves by living here with artificially heated rooms and imported frozen food. And getting super depressed because its such a pain to go out. Yes, you are right, I AM in a mighty sour mood.

I amused myself with watching numerous sitcoms on TV. My favorites actually, when you are pissed I guess that is the only consolation. 2 and a half men, How I met your mother, FRIENDS, SCRUBS and the like... I was never keen on TV, till I landed in this polar bear country. Here you have to be big on TV. Else you die. And I so want to live. I am tending to take the way of the abominably irritating NRI (Non resident Indian, for the uninitiated, don’t even make me go into the puns for that) and feel like starting every other sentence in a conversation with the typical Indian accent (you know what I am talking about if you have ever watched Russel Peters), the irritating drawl and “You know, in India...” Never done that till now, but now I really feel like it. “You know, in India” when we feel suffocated we can put on a t-shirt over the shorts and take the bike and go out for a long ride. Or go for a walk. Or sit at the outdoor Café sipping some cool lemonade. “You know, in India” we can start a conversation with the person standing next to you at a traffic crossing and not be considered weird. Or start humming loudly in the middle of nowhere and be considered very positively cheerful. Wear a bright red shirt and bright blue shorts and sit in a café and not be considered abnormal. If you didn’t notice I am bitching about Sweden. I think it is a first on this blog, I usually am all praises about this adopted country. But today I am getting a pleasure out of bitching. Always wondered about what pleasure the girls derived out of having those crazy bitching sessions in school. Now I know.

Lately there has been a trend of some Sweden lovers attacking blogs which do not speak highly of the country. Lost in Translation and HairySwede are some blogs which have faced these attacks. Of course, my blog is not half as famous as them so maybe I am safe, if not, a message to the all Sweden lovers (:goes down on his knees:), I love Sweden and Swedes, but please pardon me for finding it difficult to love the minus 22 degrees (:sob:) and being captivated in my apartment for so many days. I am in awe of you because you guys have managed to spend a lifetime here. Quoting LostInTranslation words about the Canadians, maybe you guys are not afraid of the winter, the winter is afraid of you. But me, this lost Indian guy, who is more used to the plus 50 degrees of Delhi, Nagpur and Jamshedpur, finds it just a wee bit uncomfortable when the needle dips below minus 22.

I just reread the post and it sounds horrible. Yes, I was right, I AM in a crappy mood. I have a good mind to scrap this post and not put it up. But its probably much less crazier than the other ones, and then again, who cares :). Talking of crazy, and keeping up with my tradition of recommending good blogs, here are two other good crazy ones I bumped across. In case you have assimilated the craziness of my blog and want to move one notch up, this should be able to satiate your appetite for craziness. And would give you another glimpse of an impossible life of a non-swede in Sweden.

And yes, you will notice, that nearly all Swedish blogs today will write about the same thing... snow :)

1. Lost in Translation
2. A Swedish American in Sweden

Happy reading!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Geeks and Muggles

It might seem funny to you, but I was always an aspirant geek while growing up. Maybe it had to do with being the son of two professors who were both PhD and research scientists by the time I was born. Or maybe it had to do with being born in an engineering city, where the highest accolade anybody could have was the Bachelor of Engineering degree. Maybe it was in my genes, or maybe I picked it up somewhere. And although I was absolutely not geek material, I was much better at football, cricket, dramatics, biking, debating, trekking and the like.. the aspiration somehow was always geekdom. And geekdom always evaded me. Until, of course, now. And once I am here, its not what I thought it would be. Its not as interesting, not as inspiring, not as motivating.. certainly not sustainable, and absolutely not “me”.

The other day a colleague of mine asked me to organize a session where I could share the technical aspects of the work we do for the client, the colleague was more into the “creative” side of things. So I had the session and somewhere midway, I realized just what I had become. A person who was crazily passionate about each miniscule technical detail of what we are doing, where we are doing things, and how we are executing our plans. Even when I was not responsible or in anyway linked to those plans. To the extent that I tended to get carried away into the details. To the extent that I was explaining ERP tools, ERP basic concepts, and implementation and rollout projects in East European countries. And I knew that I had arrived. To geekdom. To geekiness. I had finally become the complete geek.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a software developer. Nor am I a subject matter expert. I am not the type who mumbles Javascript and ABAP code in his sleep. It’s worse. I am a consultant. Or rather a consultant involved in selling consulting services. In fancy terms they call it IT Business Development. And the part of my job I cherish most, is the exposure to technology it gives me. Not just to one software, not just to one module of an ERP system, but to a multitude of technology, software, hardware as well as services. And fortunately or unfortunately, it always amazes and thrills me. It makes me dig in deeper into the geekological aspects of things. And its amazing when I can use the knowledge to the benefit of the clients, or my own organization. Its kinda addictive, I tend to get carried away. Till I reach a point when I find myself passionately explaining all the geek stuff to an outsider, who probably finds it the most boring thing on earth. And it suddenly hits me. This has now become my whole life. This geeky stuff, that I aspired for, has become my whole life. The basketball, the volleyball, the trekking, the traveling, the biking and the blogging… all have taken a bow and moved to the sidelines. And geekiness prevails and encompasses everything in my life. I talk mergers, acquisitions, and the future of BI Frontend over coffee, and customization of enterprise portals and splitting of superdome servers over dinner. Its all done in a very “fun” way, over football at O’Learys and over fancy dinner tables at Beirut Café. But its still geek talk.

And I wonder, that in spite of the thrill and the kick I derive out of it, in spite of the adrenalin rush the latest server release or the development drop gives to me, is this what I was meant to do? Pardon my self questioning spree, I have always suffered from the Self Questioning Syndrome, somehow it has done me a lot of good in life. And the answer, surprisingly is no.

They say that there are the idealistic notions of life. And then of course there are the practical realities. I once had a friend who used to sing very well. She was passionate about singing and did her bachelors and then her masters in music. Unfortunately in India, the country of a billion people, singing will not provide the daily bread and butter to manage the basic middle class life one needs. Hence she was extremely worried about life. She did not, and would not do anything else apart from music, she felt she was betraying her call in life if she did anything else. Her career went downhill, her self esteem took a plunge, she started losing respect in social circles. Till a friend explained that trying out a profession would a) not mean that she would have to give up music and b) could mean that she could find something apart from music that she actually liked doing. She tried her hand at multiple professions, and after some amount of job hopping finally settled down in a corporate job. Last I heard, she still is a professional singer, pursuing degrees in music and making appearances in professional shows, but she also likes her job. I took my lesson from the story, the idealistic and the practical nuances of life are not always an OR option, sometimes they can be AND options as well. And that is what I have told myself. That I shall take the AND option. I will mix the practical geekiness of my life with the other more idealistic “creative” options that life gives me. Of course, in taking the AND option, I shall run the risk of one aspect of life dominating the other. Like it is now. When I find myself playing badminton once a week, blogging once in 2 weeks, and not going to the gym at all. When I have not touched a motorbike for months, and have not travelled to a new country for around half a year. When I find myself immersed in making proposals and learning about the latest sever release more often than planning my next road trip.

But I shall fight the domination and strive to restore the balance. And I will not give in to the OR syndrome. I shall be a geek, but manage to lead the life of a muggle (??!!) without the superpowers of geekdom as well. I shall not give up.. on either geekiness or my other callings in life. And I shall also manage to fulfill my wish list, the weird things I have to do before I die (now DON’T ask me what they are, if I started off on that you’d wish you had never asked!). Wish me luck :)…

For the uninitiated:

"The definition of geek has changed considerably over time, and there is no longer a definitive meaning. The terms nerd, gimp, dweeb, dork and spod have similar meanings as geek, but many choose to identify different connotations amongst these terms, although the differences are disputed."
- Wikipedia

One of many definitions that abound on the internet:
"A derogatory reference to a person obsessed with intellectual pursuits for their own sake, who is also deficient in most other human attributes so as to impair the person's smooth operation within society"
- Wikipedia

Image source:

Friday, January 29, 2010

Some more snow, this time at the crossroads...

I am at the cross roads. Did I hear some one sigh and whisper “not again”? Well, ok, I admit, yes, yet again. It’s not my fault you know, I try choosing the straight roads with minimum intersections, but damnit, I always end up with ones with the maximum. But what the hell, if that is what destiny has in store for me, so be it.

There have been so many of those in recent years that I have almost come to a point where I shy away from decisions. I try procrastinating to the extent possible. Till the point when I really cant run away anymore. I wasn’t always like this, but there is a limit to which a guy can make random gut-based decisions in his life. Phew! Believe me I have had my share. But it just keeps piling on like there is no tomorrow.

So here it is once again. After innumerable promises to my family, my friends and most of all to MBF and myself, of returning back to India for good, here I am rethinking it all over again. I can see the despair in everyones eyes as I say this, but I hope they can see the angst in mine. Its not easy you know. To keep hopping… mind you, not just cities, but from life to life. (More of this HERE, HERE and HERE, seems to be my fave topic on this blog). Whether I like it or not, Stockholm, yes the Stockholm you see in the picture above, is the place which I call home. And though its tough because deep inside my mind home still means India, I still have to know this is where I am most settled in right now. Maybe, some day I shall move back, but now I think I can allow myself the luxury of feeling upset about leaving my current home, Stockholm. Call it the Stockholm syndrome if you will.

Finally the weekend is here. I have successfully completed a week in Sweden. Its tough to imagine that exactly a week back I was in Bangalore, whizzing around in a car in shorts under the hot sun and 18 degrees with the air conditioning turned on maximum and loud music from the car stereo trying to drown out the traffic sounds. Tough to imagine now, sitting here (still in shorts though :P at least inside home) with minus ten degrees, a divine silence engulfing everything and snow all around. I had serious doubts if I will survive a week in Sweden, I almost thought that I will land at the airport take a look around, and head to the counter to finalize my trip back. But it was quite the contrary. I got completely awed by the beautiful snow. No, its not that nice to trudge through, and very unpleasant when it gets in your shoes and mixes with dirt to become a muddy mass at your apartment entrance. Its not nice when it settles at the tip of your nose and manages to give you a bad cold. But gotta admit, its still beautiful.

Weekend plans include badminton, a small party on Saturday and gadget shopping on Sunday. And if time permits, some more blogging!! Heres a toast to getting back to blogging :).. and to a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Snow, Stockholm, Sweden and some other things :)

The sea is frozen, the chill in the wind bites through your clothes and the sun hesitatingly comes out once every few hours in a day. The dress code in the city is unanimously shades of black and grey, the mood is unanimously dreary. There is a strange silence as I sit on the train on the way to office. As the train comes out of the tunnel sometimes, the city is covered in a beautiful quilt of snow. Its like when you accidentally spill a can of paint in the kitchen, the color of nature is unanimously white. Its beautiful to say the least. It kind of takes your breath away. It makes up for the minus ten degrees temperature, the biting wind, the lack of color and the lack of laughter. You cannot enjoy the winter if you don’t let your mind take the bend of the philosophical and let it find the hidden message in those hexagonal snowflakes. Let your eyes wander on that vast white expanse, and then rest it on that single man dressed in black trudging across the snow to his workplace.

Yes, I am back. To Sweden, and to a winter which they say is colder than it has been in the last decade, or maybe more. Though it has snowed every winter, I haven’t seen this much snow in the last 2 and a half years I have been here. I guess the Gods had decided to reserve the best for the last. After incessant snowfall yesterday, as I trudged through the shin high snow, something made me look up. And suddenly I realized why they say that snow can make you feel closer to God. As the snowflakes drifted down from the white sky, I realized how it made everything feel like when you watch it in slow motion. And I closed my eyes, and experienced the amazing silence that snow brings with it. I am sure it can be explained scientifically, because snow absorbs sound or something, but it’s a silence that can make you feel more at peace. More conscious of yourself, and of the beauty around you.

Everyone around me, friends in Sweden and India were curious to know my reaction when I landed here. Would I be disappointed? Sad? Homesick? After all it had been a very long trip to India. So long that when my client (during a client visit to India) asked me where I lived in Stockholm I went "I live in... errr... ummm... damnit, I have forgotten where I live...!!!" No kidding, I couldnt recall the street I live in, it took me a full 2 to 3 minutes to get the name. Yes I was THAT disconnected. So everyone was curious.. what is going to be my reaction. It was tough to explain what I felt. It was like being transported into a completely different realm. And its not just about the weather. It’s the colors, the noise, the smells, the feel, the people, the language, the accents, the complete experience. Somehow, for some reason it is not comparable. I cannot and will not compare my life in India to my life in Sweden. I cannot say this is better and this is worse. I can only say its different, very different. And I can enjoy the bits that I like about both places. And about where I shall finally decide to settle down, we shalt see.

The days are becoming longer. The light is not that bad as it used to be in November. My European friends are awesome as usual, so are my NRI ones. Life in Sweden, from afar, was somehow more scary than it seems once I am here. I shall live. No, I will not have a zillion friends I have to meet, nor a million relatives who will invite me home for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I will not have the chats, the bhel puri and the Indian ameriacan choupsey. I will not have the luxury of getting into the car in shorts and a t-shirt and grabbing some dosa when I get hungry at 10 pm. I shall not have the Ayurvedic massages. But I shall have the beauty of the snow, the peaceful noise-free life of Stockholm and European football at O’Learys.

Do not be disappointed. It always begins on a philosophical note. And then it flows into the more mundane. I shall not fetter you with more of this abstract nonsense, but sometimes, just sometimes, it should be allowed. A lot has changed. That too in a very short while. And I wonder...

But as I said, all in good time...