Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Honest Bribe

In the book Shantaram, there was a moment when comparing India with rest of the world, the character Didier told the protagonist about the way bribes in India work. One line stuck to my mind:

There is a difference between the dishonest bribe and the honest bribe. The dishonest bribe is the same in every country, but the honest bribe is India's alone. - Didier Levy
Since I have never left India, I have no idea about the way things work outside. But I saw a movie today, and a scene in that movie very clearly depicted what Didier must have meant when he said what he said.

The movie is Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
It was  the last (almost last?) scene, when people from both India and Pakistan were standing on the border. The policemen who were earlier torturing Bajrangi to confess being a spy were trying to convince the soldiers to open the gates. To this and the accompanying moral lecture, the Pakistani soldier answered to the policemen with something like, "we are a few, and you are a lot .... if you know what I mean..."

The soldiers on both sides then got a bit away from the gates. The people proceeded to break open the locks. And the rest is a great Bollywood ending.

Even though (1) this was just a movie, (2) technically, it did not happen in India, and, (3) no bribes were taken or given, this scene reminded me of Didier in Shantaram.

This movie was not the most plausible of stories, but I loved watching it. It showed a human side. Also, I felt the character Bajrangi/Pawan was Munnabhai of Munnabhai M.B.B.S. meeting Harold Crick of Stranger Than Fiction. I suppose each man is weird in his own way. I am not so sure about women, but I love both these movies.

Last but not the least, neither my employer nor my dog has anything to do with what I just wrote.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Worst that can happen

Someone yesterday asked me how to deal with a new task at her job. This particular thing was filling her with anxiety and stress.

My response was to think of the worst possible long term scenario with that thing, and then realize that she won't reach that bad a state. Basically, this is thinking what is the worst that can happen?

My friend appreciated this thought. But come to think of this, there are many fields where this is normal. For example, in the construction business, the strength etc. of structures is usually measured in terms of loads of up to ten times the normal load they are expected to handle. In computer programming, the complexity for doing something is mostly discussed in terms of the worst-case complexity.

Another friend once told me that when under stress, he just tries to think of the benefit of stressing, which turns out to zero. He then goes on with the task at hand as if it was not stressful at all. I tried it, and it turned out to be harder than what my friend promised. An alternate explanation is that this friend might be more mature or intelligent, but I seriously would not like to entertain that train of thought :-)

Other than the worst-case, what are some of coping mechanisms/thoughts that you employ when under stress or anxiety?

Sunday, June 14, 2015

How Unlikely

I have spent my childhood in a few different places. Not a lot, but enough to not let people identify where I am from just by my style of speaking.

At present, my parents and brother live in City A and I work in City B, shuttling to City A almost every weekend.

A few times, not more than 3 or 4, people have asked me if I am from City A or another city near to it. This comes as a mild surprise.

But today, I was in City A, and a person I was talking to asked me if I am from City B!

This totally blew me off. Not that I will actually try and calculate it, but what are the odds?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Thank you, Nestle!

I have been trying to improve my eating habits for some time now. I have been successful for the most part, with minor setbacks.

Of course, I won't go to a dietician until it is absolutely necessary. Mostly because I have other ways to waste my money.

One of the most important things that fit people and the internet tell me is that natural foods are the best and (factory) processed ones are the worst. Home cooked food comes somewhere in between.

But the heart wants what the heart wants, and my heart yearns for eating out and eating packaged stuff. The yearning has lessened somewhat, but it is still there.

This current Nestle issue is great for me because it reminds me that packaged food is not only unhealthy, it might also be outright dangerous. While I do not think I will consume Maggi Noodles in this life again, avoiding other packaged stuff will become a bit easy as well.

I do have a half kilo packet of Nestle powered milk that I will go through, though.

I would love to know what you have done recently to improve your eating, sleeping, exercise or overall happiness related habits.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

For granted when present, conspicuous by absence

Many times we take things and people for granted, only to be reminded of their importance when we do not have these things, people or privileges any more.  There are not a lot of exceptions, other than our parents and pets, and a few close friends.

Sometimes it takes another person's misery to actually notice how lucky we are.

This is just like salt in our food. We are not even aware of it until there is no salt and everything is tasteless.

Unfortunately, each one of us is the salt in someone's life. It is great on one side, because at least there are a few people who can count on us. But it sucks because we are taken for granted.

This great salt analogy was pointed out by one Purnima Gautam when we were talking about a common friend, Mr. Munna. This blog post will be pointed out to Sh. Munna in some time, after the dust has settled :-)