The Ugly Indian

I have always believed change in India will happen lot sooner than we anticipate and my belief has been we need to start with School children and figure out a way to do sustained awareness and education campaign.

I have wondered when I would step-in and start solving some of my beloved Chennai’s civic problem, most of these problems are caused by us not bothering enough to change civic state around us.  Today I got know about The ugly Indian and also enjoy this you tube video . Also you can find them on facebook.

Looks like we can clean India one street at a time and when hit a magical number (somewhere around  30%), we will hit the tipping point.

We cannot stop at being perfect self, we need to initiate change and I am optimistic change will happen in my lifetime …


Sweet free Deepavali

I had Blood and Urine sugar screening on Aug 2011- which showed abnormal Sugar levels (plus bad Cholesterol ratio) , the Doc who looked at the results said I do not need medication but should cut-down on Sugar and exercise,do another review in 6 months. So I am in what folks call Pre-diabetic stage.

When I saw my father fight Diabetes from his late 30s, read and knew enough about it. I have always feared this day and its here, I could have done better But I have been lazy since I fractured my hand in May 2009.

Anyhow I have basically cut sugar and sweets out for pat two months, though I am still struggling to get my daily gym routine but atleast started walking everyday for between 30-60 minutes and getting my fibit step count to average atleast 8000 steps a day.

When we were kids, our mom always made home made sweets atleast 3-4 different variety for every Deepavali (we inevitably got some more from neighbors and friends), so we used to feast on them during Deepavali period and she stopped making home made sweets a few years back. We have generally cut-down on sweets during the Deepavali a lot in the last five years. So this Deepavali I basically did not have any sweets (other a small sampling of Prasadam). I have never doubted my resolve but it was good to know I can do this (rest temptation to have sweets).

I used to joke when I about 20 yrs old – ” I will live to eat until 40yrs and then after 40yrs I will eat to live”, which is so true now. My eating habits started to change when I crossed 35 but I need to be even more cautious now …

Parents are the reason, I am what I became …

I read Brad Feld’s blog every day, he wrote yesterday about how his father inspired and influenced him in this one .

I got inspired by this and was thinking about my parents role in shaping me.

My Mom, she was incredibly strong person who pretty much took care of our extended family.  She imbibed in my the values I have today

  • Do not compare yourself with the haves but look at have not, be thankful to God for being blessed with what you have
  • she Cared for people and was compassionate person – I probably learnt to value every person as human being from her
  • I was part of her entrepreneurial experiments, which inspired me do stuff when I was in 11th grade
  • Being the eldest of two, I had ring side view of pressures she had to handle (many a time pledged Jewels and redeemed it for her!) , she balanced my dad and diverse interest of  our extended family
  • Observing her made me a strong individual and also made me  mature quickly as a teen
My Dad just gave me one thing – Freedom to be me and that probably made me the person I am
  • I had to repeat my 4th Grade and then was on the verge of repeating 8th Grade but it my father who figured out a loop-hole and moved me to another school (I vowed silently to never trouble my dad about my education – I did keep it). In another middle-class house-hold in India, I might have never recovered and become Top 10 student (from my eight grade – I was in Top 10 ranks of my class till I completed my education – I figured out how to game the System i.e score marks)
  • He started bringing home Computer magazines in 1985, that made me explore programming in 1986 when I had completed 10th Grade
  • After preparing for IIT JEE for a few months, I gave-up – he was disappointed but did not insist I continue
  • I learnt BE Comp. Sc. courses were not tailored for Comp Programming career and told him in my 11th Grade, I am not going to pursue Engineering degree but instead do B.Sc. Comp Sci – he said OK (which was huge in 1980s India)
  • I wanted to stop education after B. Sc. and go work in Bangalore as programmer in 1991, strongly advised me to pursue Post graduate degree and I agreed.
  • Latter I made decision to go work in Saudi Arabia – he hated my decision but said nothing
  • I tried my hand in Entrepreneurship he supported me, I gave up (he felt I did not give myself enough chance to succeed) but supported me.
  • My Father introduced me to Cricket, took me to a test Match in 1981-82 – Making  me a life long cricket fan (it would have been swell  of an experience to taken him and Anand to CSK games!)
  • Every 4 years he tooks us to various parts of India and introduced us to how big and diverse India was
  • I learned the rules of the road and developed “road sense” at very early age from watching my father and what he taught us
After many years as my father was nearing his  retirement, we learned the decisions he made to support his children became obstacles in his career.  He was straight forward and unbending in his principle, this meant two things – it hindered his career and also he was not financially equivalent of his peers. He was so dedicated to his work that he left it to  mom to do heavy lifting of family related issues but I never felt he was not there when I required him.  I guess this where I modeled my work life …
Both my Parents came  from pretty well to-do Land holding farming family, where caste based discrimination was blatant. But groomed us to be pretty broad-minded, probably raising kids in Madras helped but they still had to over come their prejudices and not poison us with those thoughts.  This definitely helped me get along with all sorts of folks I came across in my life …
I would consider myself a good Parent if my Kids can some of these values before they become adult.

Chase your Dream 2

Recently we were vacationing in Kerala and called on out Friends Jayan and Anitha in Trivandrum. We caught-up with them after few years.

What was more exciting for me was that both of them after moving back from US, made the decision to quit their software job and start a kinder Garden school – Bodhi Kindergarden school . Just like any other new venture they face challenges but have grown to 55 students in their third year of operation.

Corruption and US …

India has become a Nation of rule benders, I cannot think of any average person who is not knowingly breaking rules/laws while going about everyday life and we do not seem to care about and we do not face consequences of these actions – this is crux of our problem.

We cannot claim we are clean when we look the other way and bribe someone because we are not ready to stand-up and fight. We cannot be submitting bills that are doctored to get a few thousand rupees of tax exemption and worry about corrupt persons. We cannot be jumping signals, not wear helmet, talk on mobile phone while driving and when caught bribe our way out and still keep shaking our head thinking corruption is pervasive.

We cannot be registering our property for less than its value, buy Jewels with out receipt  i.e indulge in any form of tax avoidance.

I do not in anyway imply what Anna Hazare is doing is not important, we are not having strong enough deterrent in place and hopefully the bill he is talking about will start creating deterrent.  Once we can build a system where wrong doing will get punished in a timely manner things have a chance of improving.

One of the excuses I hear, oh I will change if everyone else is straight (or some variant of this)!! When will we stop indulging friends, relative who break rule of law.  Most worrying aspect for me, we seem to be setting wrong precedents for our next generation (our kids) by showing them breaking rules/law is ok When I was growing-up my parents were drilling into me importance of rule of law and doing it the right way, not sure if I will able to emulate them ?!

Every time we break a rule or law, we are creating an opportunity for corruption to happen, so change starts with us if we want to …   We cannot keep taking the easy way out and still shout from roof top what a pathetic country we live-in

The cynic in me makes me wonder are really people outraged about corruption itself or they envious of the corrupt because of the additional few Zeros we see in the numbers being floated around ? i.e corruption instead of merely being acceptable has reached unimaginable levels.

To summarize – we need to stop  becoming rule/law breakers and we need to create deterrents so that rule/law breaking gets timely punishment and reinforces good behavior

Not Following traffic rules – I

Driving on the wrong side of the road

Folks who live in my apartment, to save about  50 meter drive around drive their two wheelers (sometime even cars) on the wrong side of the road. I keep wondering why people do this, often times they do this with young kids, they are not worried about setting bad examples to Children

I stopped driving more than 50KMPH inside city after my son pointed out I was driving more than posted speed limit ( I bargained with him on the fact that 40 KMPH in Anna salai is ridiculously low). I try and drive within the limit even when I drive alone.

Also whenever I drive past the stop-line on a traffic light my kids remind me I need to stop near the stop-line.

One of my Friends at work, Alex was saying that there seems to be a big chunk of folks who are like minded and frustrated with other not following rules on road but we are not doing anything to influence a change. I could not agree more with Alex but will I do anything about it ? Time should answer …

International School causing traffic Jams

Super rich and ex-pats in Chennai send their kids to International school in Taramani, there is literally a non stop stream of cars in the morning and evening that they cause lots of chaos in that area.

I sometimes wonder why this school does not offer premium transportation as part of it services. Air-conditioned, supper comfortable Vans  / min-buses which securely pick the kids from their homes or Apartment blocks and drops them back. Even in a conservative estimate if two kids travel in a car, a 16 seater Van / minibus can remove 8 cars from the road! My Guess is god chuck of these kids are resident in Adyar, Beasant nagar, Along ECR, Kotturpuram, Raja Annamalai puram etc, so easily number of cars can be halfed.

Most of these vehicles are driven by drivers, who park their vehicles in haphazard manner, so of them even wait near the school for the return trip !