Her Mother’s Hope


I read a fair number of books, but I consider very few worthy of multiple readings. I recently found another one in that special category.

Her Mother’s Hope is a wonderful novel telling the story of the complexity of the mother-daughter relationship: the protagonist, Marta’s relationship with her mother and then with her daughter.

Marta’s mother’s hope is that her liebling, Marta, will fly away and chase her dreams. She encourages her daughter in those words, even implicitly releasing her from potential guilt of leaving the family and never returning back to it by saying, “You have my blessing, Marta. I give it to you wholeheartedly and without reservation.” Marta’s mother sends away her daugther in the fear that if she stays back, she will be like her father – discontented, cruel, and selfish.

Marta flies across countries to follow her professional dreams, but cannot get over the tragic life of her timid sister who remains over-protected by her Mama; she vows. “I swear before God, Rosie, if I’m ever fortunate enough to have a daughter, I’ll make sure she’s strong enough to stand up for herself!”

Interestingly, Marta lets go of her very dream for which she fought so hard.

Among her kids is Hildemara, a daughter who is prone to sickness and would end up being, possibly, timid. Marta, in an attempt to ensure that her daugther grows up and becomes independent and fierceless, pushes Hildemara and behaves strictly and harshly with her. She tries to to teach her that if she does not ask, she will not get anything in life.

Hildemara grows up, but ends up distanced from Marta. She never sees the love, because it is never told nor expressed gently. On the other hand, Hildemara, who wants to do anything and everything to pleasse her mother, is repeatedly hurt; she ends up seeing Marta as an unsatisfied, unavailable, inflexible mother who does not love this daugther. Even in the worst of her situation, Hildemara does not ask her for help.

The book is amazingly well written and pours out emotions and captures the extreme complexity of this relationship. It can be entertaining and eye-opening at the same time.

And the book ended with me wanting to eagerly read the sequel.

A news clip that has changed my life forever

Contributed by Amit Ghugre

I do not know how much of it is still remaining. But a small news snippet, unnoticed by most in the era of breaking newsmakers, Ramdev and Anna, is going to change rest of my life forever. This was about Uday Chopra announcing his retirement acting in Bollywood.

I know, most of you will ask the question ‘WHO is Uday Chopra?’ For some who know who he was, this news will sound similar to Joginder Sharma announcing his retirement after none of the IPL teams bought him.

Let me elaborate more on the importance of this news. Uday Chopra is son of the legend Yash Chopra and nephew of B R Chopra who need no introduction to anyone who has even basic knowledge of Bollywood. Uday Chopra debuted in a multi starrer ‘Mohabbatein’ featuring SRK and Big B. The movie worked and Uday probably took it as a sign that people have accepted him. I don’t remember if he also managed to bag some ‘best newcomer’ award. His hope would have translated into belief after Dhoom 1 and 2 became big hits. It sounds ridiculous to link success of these movies to Uday. But from his perspective, it is not unfair to assume. How many times in our corporate careers do we believe that success is due to our contribution and failure is due to someone else?

However, if you try to recollect any movie where he was the single Hero, it will be difficult. In short, all his other movies flopped. No one wanted to sign him up. It was not long when he realized the issue. That is when he leveraged the strength of his house brand (Yash Raj films) and decided to produce the movie for himself. He may have found it difficult to get story writer, director work for him. At that time, he showed a true character of a leader. When the going gets tough, the tough gets going! So, he decided to write the script and direct the movie himself, apart from being the Hero and producer.

This is how ‘Pyar Impossible’ was born. I have reviewed this movie here ,so don’t want to stress myself with the agony again. But the reality was that audience was not as tough and hence they were not going to movie theater. The public once again showed their maturity and discretion power. As a result, the film bombed.

It is after a period of 10 years that the reality finally seems to have struck him hard that he does not have any career in Bollywood. Definitely not as an actor. Being born as the son of Yash Chopra, middle class mundane worries like finding means of living are anyway  not important for him. Rich also have lot of options. He can open a dance academy, hotel, bike servicing centre or designer brand shop. I wish him best of luck for his career.

I also want to sincerely thank him for choosing to retire from Bollywood because it will simplify my choice and spare me from an accidental situation wherein I am forced to watch him again in some new movie. I will not have to worry and despair about how diagonally opposite a father-son combination can be. I will not spend time on writing movie reviews featuring him. In short, he has touched and improved my life with this decision to retire from Bollywood.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.

(Not so?) good names in Bengali

First, a disclaimer: No offence intended or meant to any one or any group.

I have had several close Bengali friends. And yet, it took me a viewing of the movie, The Namesake, to connect “bhaalo naam” (good name) and “daak naam” (nickname). After watching the movie, I discussed with my friend, Rashmi, the concept of “good name.”  Promptly she joked – you’ve heard their daak naam’s! They need a good name 🙂

So, with her help, here is a list of the daak naam’s, nicknames that we have heard of

  • Ittu
  • Guttu
  • Baabloo
  • Tuktuk
  • Khokon
  • Bimbim
  • Pinku (Pretty normal, but feels a little odd when you address a 50 year old)
  • Koli
  • Bulbul
  • Jhimli
  • Piku
  • Bonu

I am sure there are many many more…

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We miss the cricket commentary in Hindi

Cricket World Cup media

Image via Wikipedia

On the eve of the 2011 Cricket World Cup final, here are some gems that Sachin Patil noted while watching the fascinating 175 scored by Virender Sehwag in the very first game of the world cup: India vs Bangladesh. These are all in Hindi (and that is precisely the point of this post!).

1. Sehwag was belligerent hitting the bowlers all over the ground (and outside of it),

Commentator 1 (C1): Sehwag has scored all over the world and under all sorts of conditions
Commentator 2 (C2): जी हाँ! बिलकुल सही फ़रमाया आपने. … शेरों के कोई इलाके नहीं होते.

2. India was 309-2 in 42 overs. Bangladesh bowlers and fielders were looking hapless:

C1: क्या सोच रहे होंगे बांगलादेशी खिलाड़ी इस वक्त?
C2: सोच रहे होंगे की ५० ओवर कब पूरे होंगे!
C1: ५० ओवर तो पूरे हो जायेंगे! पर उस वक्त तक एक विशाल स्कोर भी खड़ा हो जाएगा! वो भी तोह पार करना होगा उन्हें.
C2: लगता नहीं ज्यादा दूर की सोच रहे होंगे इस समय! :- )

3. Sehwag is going hammer and tongs and a new bowler is introduced into the attack. First two deliveries were wide outside the off stump:

C1: सेहवाग इस तरह पिटाई कर रहे हैं की कोई bowler उनके नजदीक गेंद नहीं फेकना चाहता है.
C2:पर वोह भूल रहे है की ये दोबारा डालनी होगी!

Sehwag was just unstoppable! Bowlers were trying everything that they could. One bowler after getting punished severely decided to come around the wicket. He was marking his new run up when Sehwag muttered something. On that:

C1:  क्या कह रहे होंगे सेहवाग इस समय?
C2: शायद उन्होंने कहा. आये कहीं से, जायेगी बाहर ही!!!!

Here is one more that Nikhil Joshi noted while listening to radio commentary:

काफी फासला तय किया गेंद ने. लेकिन batsman ने सिर्फ बाईस गज तय किये!

I guess most of us miss these gems from Hindi commentators on TV and Radio; I know, I do!

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Résumé with playing computer games as hobby: A dilemma

Is it a good  idea to have “playing computer games” to reflect as hobby on a résumé? Everyone in our mailing list agreed that the honesty of the candidate was worth an appreciation. But we had varying opinions beyond that.

Samir, who heads consumer durables sales portfolio, felt that a majority of the candidates are ill-prepared to express themselves; they do not know what to expect and how to behave in interviews. At the same time, the interviewer is invariably in dark about the candidate. In 30 minutes, she has to make a genuine attempt to understand the psychological profile of the candidate, assess her on various competencies, check her fit with respect to job, and so on. She is equally unsure about her own choice. Her reputation is at stake if she recruits a wrong candidate. So, the attitude is safety first. Playing computer games could be perceived as an activity that is undertaken to kill time, and someone might assume that the candidate does not have better ways to utilize her energies. Therefore, hobbies that might not apply to deducing if the person can work better are of little significance.

Sachin, from the IT industry, said that it is not a bad hobby, but he was unsure if it is the best to be put on a résumé. Perhaps, authoritative management would consider such hobby as a negative and might even wonder if that person would spend time playing computer games at work!  The probable reason is that evaluators are from an earlier era and might not accept such hobbies that are not from their own eras and are many times perceived negatively for the impact they have on the broader population (mostly kids).

Amit, from consumer goods industry, emphasized that the most important thing is the value of the candidate as a team member. He will give brownie points for hobby, only if some significant result has been achieved. If not, the hobby does not impact their evaluation. He feared that people will, incorrectly, tend to link computer games with something that is unreal and an addiction  But, his final suggestion was that the person who wrote this on the résumé, can relax and continue to be honest with her answer. If at all that topic is discussed, the interviewer can be convinced about the reality based on the passion and knowledge that the candidate can demonstrate on the subject.

KP, from sales background, said that ‘playing computer games’ as a hobby may not be perceived negatively.  Pretty much everyone has a Wii, Playstation, Xbox or DS. In fact, he argued that if you don’t play computer games, you may not be able to keep up with the changing technology and human behavior (next gen)! He said people can be hypocrites: they might be playing video games everyday but when it comes to other guy playing it, they will perceive that negatively! As long as the person does his job, why should one care what he does with his free time?  Putting strict restrictions can be counter productive at work; in fact, flexibility is a big characteristic job seekers (good ones) value, particularly in jobs where you are really measured on bottomline (e.g., $ you bring) vs. how much time you spent working! To him, only results matter.

Lalit feels that to start with there is no reason to write about a hobby in a résumé. Anything that does not relate to selection should not exist. But, even if it is written, he feels this is a personal activity and should have no bearing on the selection. A hobby is meant for personal pleasure or relaxation – there is no other goal in a hobby! He pointed to articles “Playing Computer Games: A Good Hobby”  and Wikipedia’s description of hobby:

What are hobbies for some people are professions for others: a chef may enjoy playing computer games as a hobby, while a professional game tester might enjoy cooking. Generally speaking, the person who does something for fun, not remuneration, is called an amateur (or hobbyist), as distinct from a professional. An important determinant of what is considered a hobby, as distinct from a profession (beyond the lack of remuneration), is probably how easy it is to make a living at the activity. Almost no one can make a living at cigarette card or stamp collecting, but many people find it enjoyable; so it is commonly regarded as a hobby.

I (Pradeep) am from the  sales background. I consider this as a good hobby if it can help the candidate connect with others and, also, if the games are the strategy types.  If the candidate is candid in accepting and putting it forth, then most probably, he would show more value to customer and be able to start the relationship on honesty which is very important in sales cycle. What I need is a member who has has conviction; my customers would believe in him only if he believes in himself first!

The overall feeling was that there cannot be a final statement on the issue. The main reason seems to be the interviewer’s personal beliefs. But, almost everyone agreed that the honesty of the candidate would be worth appreciating!

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We request you to ignore the mail

Every month, for the past 3-4 months now, I have been receiving, in my email, a bill from Reliance Broadband, from the flagship company run by one of the richest persons in the world!

The only problem is that I am not their customer!

I did not get any response when I first asked them to correct this. When I received another bill, I responded in more detail

I am not your customer. I do not even live in India. My email address is abcd@gmail.com As per google’s policy a.bcd@gmail.com is also my address. Any number of dots but the same letters and sequence is going to keep it as my address. For more details, please look at http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&ctx=mail&answer=10313#
I think your customer has inadvertently given you the wrong email address. It is best that you contact him/her and ask for a correction; it would be better for Reliance and him/her. In addition, it would also spare me of these monthly emails.

This time I got a response.. yay!!!

we request you to ignore the mail if you have not subscriber for a Reliance Broadband Connection.

WHAT??? I had never received any such email. No apologies, nothing. Just asking me to ignore the mail! And note: “have not subscribeR”!!

Today, I got a reminder that the payment is overdue! I’ve called their office at Mumbai (+91-22-3033 7777). But I reached an automated system that cannot help me unless I enter the account number. I have sent them another reminder saying…

I received another email from relianceada.com today (included with this email). I want you to remove my name from the list and contact your subscriber by phone/post and let him/her know that his bills are going to the wrong email address.
You cannot send me emails like this and expect that I just ignore them.

Does Reliance Broadband expect that I will keep ignoring such emails? Furthermore, should they not be worried that someone’s bill is going to someone else?

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Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

I tend to use “read” and “listen” to mean the same thing, since I listen to audio books regularly.

The Shawshank Redemption, a dud at the box-office, is one my favorite movies, one that I have seen several times. Recently, I read Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, which was on my radar for the past decade. The novella and the movie are essentially about Hope. The book starts with “Hope Springs Eternal.”

First: The book confirms (what most people know) that the story is about Red; he is the main protagonist. When I first saw the movie, I was impressed by Andy Dufresne. The second time I saw it, I felt it was about Red. I remember my friend, Vivek, saying immediately, “Of course, it is all about Red.”

Well, you weren’t writing about yourself, I hear someone in the peanut-gallery saying. You were writing about Andy Dufresne. You’re nothing but a minor character in your own story. But you know, that’s just not so. It’s all about me, every damned word of it. Andy was the part of me they could never lock up, the part of me that will rejoice when the gates finally open for me and I walk out in my cheap suit with my twenty dollars of mad-money in my pocket. That part of me will rejoice no matter how old and broken and scared the rest of me is. I guess it’s just that Andy had more of that part than me, and used it better…

Second: The book captures the weight of the  length of time spent in prison  in a much better way through changing wardens and the sergeants, and Presidents of the US.

Third: The thing that stood out the most is that, in the novella, Andy waits for 8 long years after making the hole to escape. In the movie, Andy escapes almost as soon as the hole is ready. In fact, the movie does not capture (movies cannot capture everything) the dilemma that Andy might have had to face before escaping. Stephen King, or Red, explains it.

If he broke into the shaft in 1967, how come he didn’t escape until 1975? …

One possibility is that the crawlspace itself was clogged with crap and he had to clear it out, but that wouldn’t account for all the time. So what was it? I think that maybe Andy got scared. I’ve told you as well as I can how it is to be an institutional man. At first you can’t stand those four walls, then you get so you can abide them, then you get so you accept them…

I think Andy may have been wrestling with that tiger – that institutional syndrome – and also with the bulking fears that all of it might have been for nothing…

So I think – wild guess or not – that Andy just froze in place for a while. After all, you can’t lose if you don’t bet. What did he have to lose, you ask? His library, for one thing. The poison peace of institutional life, for another.

The fact that Andy, probably, froze was the book’s most important revelation.

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