Sunday, August 04, 2013

What frightens me most?

The sight of a fragile old person who is as dependent as an infant for his/her existence frightens me the most. The thought that one day, I will be like that, so helpless that I would need somebody's help for everything. The question comes to my mind, what does that old person think? What is the motivation for this old person to continue his life, when he/she knows that he/she is so weak to do anything at all. Wouldn't it be better to end this misery? But reasons of moral obligation do not permit to do this or is the reason a love for life?

Maybe I have a very pessimistic outlook. Looking from another point, this can be perceived as the strongest point of humans, the eternal hope even in the very difficult circumstances.

Philosophical Conversations : Purpose of Life

Disciple: Swamiji, what is the purpose of life?

Swamiji: Life has no purpose. Just like all other beings on this earth, we come into existence and we walk out of it. It's the human ego that makes us think we are more important than other beings and others, and that we are significant enough to make a difference.

Disciple: I am enlightened Swamiji. This puts an end to my long search for the purpose of life. But I have another question. If life has no purpose then how should I live my life (from the time I take birth to the time I die)? Should it really matter if I take the path of Good or the path of Bad?

Swamiji: Ah! You think too much. Let me tell you a trick. Stop questioning and you'll find happiness. Ignorance is Bliss.

Disciple: Sure it is. But should I be purusing happiness or should I be pursuing knowledge?

Swamiji: Now you are starting to annoy me. You are not following my advice.

Knowledge vs Happiness

What should be the goal of life?

Should life be a pursuit of happiness or a pursuit of knowledge?

For long I have believed that life is all about being happy but as per Vivekananda, life should be a pursuit of knowledge. I haven't understood his reasoning, but I will think over it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Attitude vs Aptitude

Close to 10 years back, I remember reading this (or something on the same line) as part of the email signature of my friend Thiyagarajan:-
"It’s your ATTITUDE not your APTITUDE that determines your ALTITUDE"
At that point of time, I wasn't sure about how true this was, because I then thought that APTITUDE was played the primary role.
But over the years as time passed by I have realized that the maxim is true. In my career and in many personal life I have seen many people with the right ATTITUDE reaching higher than those possess the required APTITUDE but little or no ATTITUDE.
If you have the right ATTITUDE you'll find the drive and motivation to reach above your potential.

Had I realized this earlier,  I would have been a different person. But better late than never.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

AID Conference Presentation

I was so motivated after my first AID conference that I made a short presentation at our Bay Area AID chapter, about our conference experience.

Impressions from our first AID Conference [May 2013, UNC Charlotte]


After hearing a lot about the AID (Association for India's Development) annual conference from volunteers at the Bay Area chapter, Anitha and I enrolled for the conference in April 2013. At a point we were thinking if we could donate the money that we incur for the conference instead of attending the conference. But that wouldn't have been wise to do. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions that we made this year. If joining AID was a big milestone for me this year, then going to our first conference turned out to be a bigger milestone. The conference had a lasting impact on us. It was wonderful to see and feel the enthusiasm and energy in the volunteers to learn about and discuss and share the issues that we as AID deal with everyday.

Group photo after the Conference
Group photo after the Conference

It's the Volunteers

From infants to seniors like Mohan Bhagat, there were people of all ages. If volunteers who had become parents recently or who had kids came together with their kids, there was no reason for us not to be there. It shows the level of commitment that they have. It was humbling for us to see so many volunteers who were Ph.Ds or who were enrolled in Ph.Ds in various fields. Roughly there were as many students as there were working professionals. Whether it's a student or a working professional it's a tough job to take out time for AID along with the demands of our profession or studies, but all of us volunteers somehow manage to do that. 'The strength in numbers' was there to see.

AID Family and Culture

As it is said, every organization has a culture that it builds over the years. The conference is probably the best place to witness the culture of AID. Volunteers of all ages and backgrounds coming together with no inhibitions and discussing openly on how to address their common problems. "No individual is bigger than the organization and it's goals" - this is so true of AID and was clearly visible at the conference. All the senior volunteers including the founders were all very approachable and welcoming to talk and discuss and learn from them.

New and junior volunteers are treated similar to others and given opportunities. For instance, when I approached Naga to check if there was time at the end of the conference to recite 'Gandhiji's Talisman', he immediately accepted and gave the air-time. Like I had noticed previously, any volunteer is allowed to take any initiative and take it forward and most other volunteers come forward and support him/her. In a time where 'social', 'collaboration' and 'crowd-sourced' have become quite popular, I believe an organization can realize it's true potential when this kind of culture exists.

The organization where it's goals are the same as the goals of it's members, is the ideal organization and AID like many other volunteer-based organization is definitely of that kind. Since the volunteers have similar ideas and concerns, it takes only a short while to connect with each other and have meaningful interactions unlike the 'small-talks' that we have in our professional lives which seem so artificial. These interactions are the basis of the bonding and result in the creation/flourishing of the AID family. How often we listen at our workplace the term 'family' and immediately a smirk appears on our face expressing 'Really?'. Things like these cannot always be pushed down from the top, they have to evolve from the bottom.

On the first day, being new to AID we didn't know many of the people at the conference and it looked like a professional setting and we hadn't opened up much and so we didn't really connect much. So we preferred to take rest instead of going for the informal gathering at the dorm later that night. But the next day was a transformation which we hadn't anticipated. We talked to other volunteers and speakers and formed the connections and we soon felt like we were part of the 'AID Family'. This pulled us to go for the gathering that night and we wouldn't have known what we would have missed had we not done so.

As volunteers we become sensitive to many problems that we work on and imbibe a similar outlook in our own lives. AID conference certainly leads by example. Practices like 'Being Green', 'No Gender/Race/Economic Inequality' were there to see at the conference.

Speakers and Grassroots-Workers

This conference was an amazing opportunity to meet, listen to and discuss with notable speakers like Dayamani Barla, Prasad Chacko, G V Ramanjaneyulu, S R Hiremath, Ilena Sen, Meera Rafi, Mallesh, Bharagavi and our Fellows who work on the ground like Ravi Arunachalam, Kiran Vissa.


Back in Hyderabad, I had read about an agricultural scientist who had given up his job and who was working independently on sustainable agricultural practices and I was quite influenced by him. All the while, the emails and presentations about the conference speakers were floating around, but I didn't realize that he was one of the speakers. Only after seeing Dr Ramanajneylu in person, the memory of the the news-clip resurfaced in my mind and it was a pleasant surprise to meet him in person. The presentation and the talk on the state of agriculture in India and the impact that their collaborations were able to create using indigenous sustainable practices were very informative and inspiring.

Dr Ilena Sen and Dayamani Barla spoke about the plight of the tribal communities in Chattisgarh and Jharkhand. The strong and fiery talk by Dayamani was a reflection of pain arising out of the atrocities and injustices that the tribal communities encounter in their daily lives. Dr Prasad Chacko explained the history and the causes of the inequality and exploitations in the context of Dalits in India. S R Hiremath presented on how their organization encountered the mining mafia in Bellary.

Apart from the Q&A time after each of the talks, the conference provided us an opportunity to engage in offline conversations with the speakers as most of them were available on both days of the conference.


The planned and unplanned fun activities had their own place at the conference. The skit was well done and depicted the different concerns of the members of a family akin to the different concerns of the various sections of the society. The highlight for me was 'the Evvar-Nevvar-Newer Ready' trialogue. It was very well scripted and as it was related to the different phases of an AID volunteer we could instantly relate to it. It was quite humorous and the audience would burst into laughter on many occasions during the event. We thoroughly enjoyed it. This can definitely be termed the signature-fun event at the conference.

Evvar Ready Nevvar Ready Dialogue
Evvar Ready-Nevvar Ready Dialogue

Although we missed the late-night gathering at the dorm on day 1, we were eager to join on day 2. It was during this gathering that we came to know some of the other volunteers well and connected to them. Got an opportunity to listen to some of the good singers in AID including Pavan ;-). We were part of a very interesting discussion on dowry and the flamboyance of Indian marriages. Neela did a good job moderating the discussion.

Late-night gathering at the dorm
Late-night gathering at the dorm

We had taken a day off from work after the day of the conference. We hadn't planned anything specific but Naga suggested we drive around the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. While we were heading for this short-trip we inquired if anyone would be interested  and Rohit joined in. We hadn't imagined it would be so beautiful and it turned out to be a memorable trip: the sight of the waterfalls along the route and the green hills were a treat to our eyes and mind.


Many other significant experiences, memories are here:-

  • Novel fundraising means like Adrita taking pictures with a camera in exchange for donations to AID, selling tickets to entry into the cute structure built by the kids during the conference, auctioning Nishikant's photo album from his site visit
  • All the participants taking a pledge not to seek or give dowry and encourage others to do as well
  • The popular CVC session where all the chapter office-bearers discussed about the problems that they face and came up with ideas and suggestions to address them. This exchange of ideas was much needed
  • It was unfortunate that some of the volunteers {names of the volunteers} who were driving along with Nishikant to the conference met with an accident. Luckily nothing major happened to them and Nishikant was able to make it to the conference.
  • Staying in the dorms in the university reminded us of our college days
  • Mohan Bhagat, self-christened Beggar and his relentless passion at that age in life
  • The chain-reaction kind-of volunteer-introduction where-in one volunteer was introducing the next volunteer in the chain was nice and because of this many volunteers had an opportunity to others, which might not have happened otherwise


We were quite surprised when we came to know that the Charlotte chapter which hosted this conference had less than 10 active volunteers and only a 2-year old chapter. Right from picking us up from the airport to dropping us at the airport after the conference. Special thanks from our side to Ramana, Vijayshree, Kiran, Deboshree, Shalini and Nitin. Kudos to their incredible efforts without which this conference wouldn't have been a success. Also due credits to all other AID volunteers who helped the charlotte volunteers from behind the scenes.

Charlotte Chapter Volunteers
Charlotte Chapter Volunteers


Like all things impermanent, the impressions from the conference will gradually fade but we have a feeling they will outlive many other memories.

As someone put it :-
'All in all, for us as AID volunteers, this conference was everything an AID conference should be: energizing, rejuvenating, restoring faith in human spirit, tackling difficult issues, connecting volunteers in a deeper way, and showing new directions going forward.'

Thursday, June 20, 2013

On Taking the Wrong Road ...

You are never too far down the wrong path to turn around.
- Scottish Proverb

No matter how far you have gone on the wrong road, turn back.
- Turkish Proverb

Friday, June 07, 2013

Vaishnav Jan To : Touching and Inspiring Bhajan from 15th Century

वैष्णव जन तो तेने कहिये जे पीड पराई जाणे रे,
पर दुखे उपकार करे तोये मन अभिमान न आणे रे॥

Above are the starting lines of the popular bhajan written by Gujarati poet Narsinh Mehta in the 15th century. It inspired Gandhi a lot and there have been many renditions by popular indian singers. Full lyrics can be found on wikipedia

Take out the word Vishnu and replace with God and those lines are the essence of what spirituality is for me.

One who is a Vaishnav (one who is a devotee of Vishnu)
Knows the pain of others
Does good to others, especially to those ones who are in misery
Does not let pride enter his mind

Sunday, May 05, 2013

This is an old post which remained as a draft...
Nightmare with Eclipse
       Had heard much about "Eclipse : the open source Java IDE". Just wanted to try out.
Had tried long back (almost a year from now).  But didn't find it appealing enough as the
other IDE that I was using at that time "Idea from IntelliJ" was par above it. The version
that I had used at that point of time was 2.0. Had done all the setup and the look and feel
was good. The act ended at that point. Never thought I would come back to it.
     1 year after, I (for some reasons...)  had to try the latest version. Downloaded it and
the greatest thing I liked was that there was no installation and anything required. Just
unzip it and run it. I didn't get it running in the first try. It required JDK 1.4 and my
system was holding onto JDK 1.3. So referred the README and there found the way
to run it with a VM as the option.
     eclipse -vm $JVM_PATH
     Got it running and it was late, after configuring all my sources I realized that there
was nothing related to Java in the Menus. No Syntax highlighting and nothing. So what's
this: wasn't this a Java IDE. Suspected my system Java configuration for this and
gave up not knowing what to do. Lot of time passed just reading the Help use though.
The ultimate rescue : search in google. Luckily someone in some part of the world had
faced similar problems and so stepped onto this link
     This is stupid....No where in the documentation does it mention that Java Develppment
Tool ( has been moved out of the platform SDK and it is a separate plugin that is to be downloaded explicitly. With the 2.0 worship it was packaged into the
core distribution. All my curses to the guy who made this decision ..or the guy whose responsiblity was to document this stuff. So that was the end of all my woes. Am I not to bark against them for all this pain and loss of time (approximately 4 hours) for just getting my project up.

Spelling hint

Came across this useful hint for resolving making myself clear with the spellings of english words involved i and e in succession.

"e before i only after c"

Blind Earthworm

I never paid much attention to the earthworms previously. Yeah, I used to see many of them particularly in the rainy season and sometimes digging the wet mud. We used to use them as bait for catching fish, but it never occurred to know more about them. Only recently I found them interesting, when I saw one of them going on the walkway in my apartment. I noticed it was blind and just to confirm it picked it up and displaced it by 180 degrees and there it was just following the new course going in the direction I put it. A quick search resulted on this page which had many interesting facts about earthworms:-

Dew worms can live for approximately six and a half years.
They do not have eyes but they do possess light- and touch-sensitive organs (receptor cells) to distinguish differences in light intensity and to feel vibrations in the ground.
 Earthworms are hermaphroditic meaning each worm has organs of both sexes.
 Earthworms respire through their skin, and therefore require humid conditions to prevent drying out.

Squirrel's Nest

While I was walking around my apartment community today, I noticed a squirrel carrying grass in it mouth onto a Pine tree. It caught my attention and I followed the squirrel to find that it was actually making a nest on the Pine tree. It was kind of a surprise that squirrel's live in/make nests. I never thought about it and I didn't know they make nests on trees like birds. I came home and googled to find some interesting facts about squirrel's over here:-
Some interesting excerpts:-
Squirrel's belong to the order "Rodentia", with 1650 species, it is the largest group of living mammals.  It also comprises forty percent of all present day mammal species. 
Squirrels chew on tree branches to sharpen and clean their teeth. That's why you may see many small branches on the ground around large trees. They will also chew on power lines for the same reason, this has caused many major power outages throughout the country. 
A female squirrel will choose the strongest male during mating season, but is unlikely to breed with that male again. This is natures way of reducing inbreeding,  and to preserve the species. 
A squirrel will break the shell of a nut with its teeth, then clean the nut by licking it or rubbing on its face before it is buried. This action applies a scent to the nut which helps the squirrel find it later, even under a foot of snow.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

A beautifully written song : Jagame Maaya Bratuke Maaya

A beautifully composed/written/sung song which captures the essence of life. This is from the famous telugu movie 'Devdas'.

I had heard it many a times earlier, but it was never as effective as today. As someone's always there, we only see it when we are ready.

Here are the lyrics and translation to english:-

Friday, April 05, 2013

Random Thought - Futile Search

Nothing can be more futile than searching for meaning/purpose inside a system that was created by us.

All the rules, ideas and values that we live by were created by us. They don't have any real meaning from the point of the universe or the higher order.

Inequality is our creation. It is we who said a white is superior than a black, one caste is superior to the other, the ruler is superior to the ruled, an intelligent person is superior to a dumb person. It is we who said killing in a war is good but killing someone just like that is not good. We created a system that was unjust and now we fight it and say fighting for a cause is worth living for. That's the same as a war which helps create jobs.

Education is the tool to indoctrinate us. It only helps us navigate the intricate system that we created ourselves. We are born and we die just like any other being. All the things that we do from our birth to death are just to keep ourselves busy, to kill the boredom in life and to stop from killing ourselves.

We are as insignificant as an ant or a microbe. There is no such thing as 'advancement of civilization' or 'the greater good'. They're all lies.

There is no such thing as 'PURPOSE OF LIFE'

Monday, April 01, 2013

On Time Management

A very useful guide on time-management. Many of them we already know, but having them at one place makes it quite useful. Thanks to Etienne Garbugli for compiling this.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Wheeling in Change

A very nice video made about adopting cycling and public transport in Bangalore. Proud to see Anitha being part of this. Some concrete benefits in terms of monetary savings and reduction in carbon emissions are really worth noting and amplify the effect.

I hope this video creates a positive change not just in India, but around the world.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

NCERT Books Available online

I came to know today that all the NCERT books from Class I to Class XII are available. But this is indeed a good deed by NCERT. They can be accessed from this location:

As per this article (
in 'The Hindu' this was done in the year 2006 to overcome the problem of shortage of textbooks

Changed my Blog's title

I have been thinking for quite some time to change the title of my blog. My previous title 'Life as it goes by ...' has been bothering me for quite some time. It was quite passive and was in some way reflecting that I was not in control of my life, I was just a mere observer. Maybe this was my opinion when I started this blog. But I don't carry that belief now. Hence this assertive change.