Monday, July 30, 2007

Lage raho birthday bhai

-By Swetha Amit
Yesterday (July 29th) was the birthday of our very own Munnabhai of Bollywood-Sanjay Dutt.

He had a ‘Rocky’(ing) start to his career which achieved him ‘Naam’ and fame. The journey in Bollywood has indeed been a roller coaster ride for this musafir which exhibited several ‘Kaante’ in his ‘Sadak’ to success. He is one of the few actors whose contrast image of being both a ‘Saajan’ and ‘Khal Nayak’ won him the hearts of millions. This was enough to put the masses on a ‘Daud’ behind him. However his extensive popularity has managed to keep him grounded to ‘Vaastav: The reality’ which explains his admirable humility.

His passion filled performances set the screen on fire keeping him ‘Zinda’ in several minds. He emerged truly as a hero who introduced the ‘Jaadu ki chappi’ therapy bringing smiles on the faces of even the most disgruntled. This novel method made many realize its significance from this ‘Munnabhai (a most sought after doctor without the official degree of) M.B.B.S.’

The man managed to revive the almost forgotten Bapu-M.K.Gandhi in our minds with his hilarious sequel. This propelled his well deserved title of ‘Lage raho munnabhai’ as this film’s runaway success ensured the lage raho stature of the father of the nation in our memories.

So here’s wishing this star a very Happy belated Birthday. And we hope to see more of him on screen for a minimum of at least ‘Dus’ years in the film industry.
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Saturday, July 28, 2007

Croak croak: A lesson learnt?

-By Swetha Amit

It may be surprising to note the unique sources of learning that we humans can acquire lessons from. A keen observation of certain species of the animal kingdom can inspire us to draw morals which will help us emerge as wiser beings.

One such living being is a frog.

Frogs are those creatures which do not get noticed or cared for by humans due to their unattractive appearance. They are often found doing a little jig on their own or hopping around happily in the lush green gardens or fields. And they render their useful services to the hard working farmers by clearing the unwarranted pests away from the flourishing plantations.

Their presence is especially felt as the spell of showers descends from above. With the pitter patter musical rain drops one can hear their eager croaks trying to contribute to nature’s orchestra. At the same time they try to gain a competitive edge over the naturally blessed voice of the melodious nightingale. Instead of carrying on their existence in peace, they choose to display their competitive streaks of their personalities by croaking their lungs out.

Unfortunately, little do they realize that their zest for this musical trip can cost them their lives? Caught up in this orchestral oscillation, they fail to sense the ‘silent’ danger lurking around the corner.

The watchful snake silently slithers around by following the vibration and glides towards these croaking frogs. Their effortless hunt results in the merciless preying of these tiny creatures. This unfortunate and unrealized invitation by the frogs brings an end to their dear lives in an abrupt fashion.

We people can draw certain morals from the above instance and apply it in our own lives.

Lesson no 1. Sometimes without our knowledge our zest to speak out loud and let out information works against our favor. Talking less by measuring our words will earn more respect and most importantly safeguard our rights and safety.

Lesson no 2. Don’t send out an invitation to trouble. See how to ward it off. We must always sense danger; see how to wriggle out of it rather than getting to a point of no return. The frog has no recourse. It’s the end of it.

Lesson no 3. Let’s be happy accepting ourselves the way we are. Sometimes in order to prove it to the world, we indulge in petty competitive streaks. We don’t have to prove anything to anyone. Each one of us is blessed with a unique talent which should make us hold our heads in pride. Loving ourselves, will earn respect and admiration, instead of blindly trying to outdo or emulate others. This will only end up making us look like fools. In this case, the frog went on to imitate the nightingale without recognizing its worth of being the farmer's friend which the nightingale was not.

After all we do not want to end up like the loud-mouthed frogs, do we?
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Friday, July 27, 2007

The five people you meet in heaven:A heavenly encounter

-By Swetha Amit
All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at that time.” This book depicts the above saying.

Eddie felt it was the end of everything when he lost his life at the Ruby Pier while he was trying to save a girl. As he lands in heaven, surprises go beyond what he would have imagined. The five people he met in heaven taught him the lessons of life after he faced death, ironically.

There are some individuals whom you meet in life’s uncertain journey. It’s amazing to note what you learn from such beings irrespective of the time spent with them. The strange aspects of destiny take you through that phase of existence, unknown to the mortal and imbibe such teachings during your sole (soul) existence. This brings about a renowned realization of how learning is indeed a continuous process even after you leave the world behind you.

It has taught me that no matter what, there is no end to anything. We humans feel that one minor set back portrays the dead end. We fail to look upon it as an optimistic beginning of yet another experience. Death may be an end to one certain lifetime. But it’s just the beginning for the soul to take its course until it reaches its own destination carved for itself. After which it’s another beginning for its journey down earth only this time in another form.

Whether on earth or heaven, it has made me realize that the end of one phase is the beginning of another marvelous tryst with life/death. This book was written in a down to earth form yet left me with a heavenly feeling.
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Bidding farewell to Dr.Kalam

-By Swetha Amit
Dear Dr.Kalam

I would like to take this opportunity to express my little token of appreciation.
Our country is indeed proud to have had one of the finest presidents in you. Your concern for people, society and their considerable well being is much admired. There are very few who show compassion towards humanity in today’s world. You being the epitome of humility and intellectual power inspires each one of us learn these magnificent qualities from a revered person like you.

You have made our nation shine with immense pride by setting an excellent example for the next generation and your vision for India 2020. Your ‘wings of fire’ has ‘ignited minds’ of millions. As you bid farewell to all of us from your office, I would like to say that you will always be remembered fondly by us humble folks who are drawing inspirations from a noble soul like you.

We look forward to continue to enrich our lives through your teachings in various educational institutions across the country. Lastly, being an ardent fan of your written works, I look forward to reading more of your literary pieces in the near future.
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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Witch of Portobello:Bewitched

-By Swetha Amit
Paulo Coelho of 'The Alchemist' fame has come up with yet another intriguing novel namely 'The witch of Portobello' which is on its way to become another best seller.

It’s about a woman who lived in the 21st century yet her forward looking thoughts belonged to that of the 22nd century. Many people she encountered portrayed her to be unconventional, mysterious and interesting. Athena or Sherine as she was called was that and much more.

Her illusionary ways of regenerating oneself is indeed mezmerising.Whether it was creating a newfound enthusiasm level amongst bank employees much to the managers amazement, it certainly propelled one to definitely not ignore this enigmatic lady. She dared to do what no one else would have ever done in the wildest of their imaginations. The dance therapy which elated these individuals popularized itself as a group therapy technique.

She led others into a transcendental experience enabling the discovery of an unknown energy that we all possess yet choose to suppress it. Many were charmed by her enigmatic stance while others delved in hatred for her. However her novel methods stirred many souls to bring out this 'unknown energy'. Tapping their own souls by concentrating on their inner most selves led to novel discoveries and a new found tranquility.

This awareness is immersed in our subconscious self yet there remains an apprehensive stance by us to not promote this to our conscious levels. There are always two ways to doing things. One which is the most sought after conventional method. The other one portrays the unconventional pathway traveled by very few. Yet it works wonders for millions who choose the latter option.

Letting go of inhibitions and focusing on our core selves will lead to a new discovery of enjoyment which will make us relive our youth filled with joyous moments. Its a pity how one is forced to comply with the regular monotonous ways of doing things for the fear of being known as 'different'. Our courage often fails to take over us even if our thoughts are straying in this direction.

This book dares to differ from the rest and enables this charming discovery. This will indeed transform us to encounter the new purpose of existence.
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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Organizational ogres

-By Swetha Amit
“Work place stress” is a common phenomenon in today’s tension-filled world.

Employees hurry and scurry about, with hassled expressions on their faces. Adrenalin levels rise with the approach of deadlines. A tense atmosphere stifles productivity, shrinking the required psychological space out of responsible individuals, leading them to a ‘distressed zone’, causing sleepless nights. A suave corporate office is gradually transformed into an air-conditioned devil’s abode.

Rather than be fulfilling, the professional lives instead takes a toll on these people, eventually manifesting itself into a never-ending nightmare interspersed with changes in the levels of daylight.

So, what exactly are these demons that change an organization’s working environment into a living hell? A look at Ajay’s case would provide valuable insight into these ‘organizational ogres’.

Ajay (name changed), a 29-year-old marketing executive in a multinational firm. He had a promising career, an enviable job profile, and an understanding boss who gave him the space needed for attaining the performance peaks he was looking for. Ajay had enough incentive to dream big and expect a bright future.

However, an unexpected turn of events disrupted his work life altogether. The entry of a new boss created tremors in his reporting relationship, as a nervous Ajay pulled up his socks to realign his performance to the expectations of a new individual altogether. Diametrically opposite to his predecessor, Ajay had to put up with harsh words and heavy criticism, instead of the appreciative words of encouragement that he was used to.

Soon, frustration set in. Despite several attempts to try and take it in his stride, he reached a point of saturation, beyond which things went downhill. Frequent clashes on thoughts and ideas, and incompatible styles of communication left him at loggerheads with his new boss, and much in despair. Loss of interest in his job soon followed, transforming a once enviable job profile into a mundane, monotonous drudgery.

Constant questioning, being treated like an inexperienced fresher, the absence of trust between him and his superior, and no freedom of action or decision-making eventually bruised his self esteem. A slow transformation occurred in his personality – from a vibrant and cheerful individual, to a cynical and irritable drone.

Such stories are now commonplace. Bosses have been found to be a major factor contributing to occupational stress. The issue manifests in several forms, leading to a significant employee turnover. Sometimes, the word ‘boss’ is enough for otherwise mature individuals to break into a sweat and send tension levels soaring. Arguably, ‘Monday morning blues’ result from an ever increasing ‘boss phobia’. After a relaxed weekend, the last thing one wants is to be piled with undue pressure and unwarranted criticism, at the start of the work-week. Being treated like a child is something most employees find hard to deal with. Pressure inhibits the working rhythm of an individual. Constant unwarranted questioning and volleys of instructions fired like bullets from a machine gun reduces initiative and self esteem to a point where even the mere idea of escape from the office surpasses the exhilaration of flight that a caged bird may get on spreading its wings.

The use of “need to know” is another set of inexplicable behaviour from superiors, who withhold pivotal information, and barely communicate at all, let alone implement any learning’s from corporate trainings on effective communcation.This results in understandable wounded feelings.

Arguments and disagreements with the boss can gnaw at the individual from within for days. In addition, the frugal use of positive reinforcement can demotivate a worker, especially when their mistakes publicized, but achievements do not receive similar coverage. The absence of empathy and resultant problems in understanding can create feeling of gloom and doom within the subordinate.

This attitude by superiors remains a mystery to these subordinates, who tend to ponder over such behaviour for hours together. Constant worrying and anxiety to be in the good books of their boss generates high levels of stress. Other factors such as the organizational culture and job profile play their own part in this great game of stress.

An environment where people crib on a perennial basis almost mandates that a new enthusiastic entrant necessarily emulate his/her seniors, or risk impairing interpersonal relations with co-workers which can then harass the mental well being and ultimately diverts his concentration. Unnecessary grapevine gossip has a similar effect and can take a toll on people. Obviously, a favorable environment is essential to generate effective performance.

The job profile itself can add fuel to the fire, and be another ogre. Frequent, unexpected travel and long working hours cause excess fatigue taking a toll on the sleep patterns and energy levels. Monetary incentives and salary structures generate a source of worry for many, especially with the pressure stay ahead of the inflation levels and more importantly their peer group.

The above mentioned factors emphasize the negative impact stress has on good, regular working people. One tends to perceive and equate the word ‘stress’ in a perpetually negative connotation. However, just like a coin has two facets, and we often tend to view only one side, its time to take a glance at the other side. In other words, isn’t it high time to see the positive note that is associated with the above mentioned ogres?

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Monday, July 23, 2007

Partner:A hitched partnership

-By Swetha Amit

There are some films which cruise you through reality leaving you with a heavy feeling. There are a few meaningful ones with a strong message. And there are others which have no logic yet manage to tickle your funny bone to the core.

Partner falls in the last category. It propels you to leave your brains behind and prepare yourself for an edge of the seat entertainer, providing comic relief for a good three hours. Supposedly inspired from the Hollywood flick Hitch, the film takes you through a series of laugh riot sessions.

Prem (Salman Khan) a very apt name for the popular love Guru as he is known in the film manages to play the human cupid to perfection. Being the most sought after by all provides him an encounter with the nerdy bespectacled Bhaskar (Govinda).The latter expresses his crazy- in- love state over the suave and wealthy Priya (Katrina Kaif) who is his boss and the only daughter of a millionaire.

Prem at first refuses with a few scornful remarks about Bhaskar stating it as an impossible task. However the latter's persistence is enough to follow Prem all the way to Phuket. After a few heated exchanges, Prem finally relents and from there on begins a new agreement on the unspoken partnership.

The lessons of love start. Whether it is his hilarious antics in a boardroom meeting, or his unique style of dancing much to Prem’s despair, Bhaskar manages to win the amused Priya’s heart slowly with his uncanny simplicity and sincerity.

Meanwhile our very own Love Guru is found wooing Naina (Lara Dutta) a journalist who goes to any extreme to get a scoop for her newspaper. Several twists and complications occur. Yet alls well that ends well till the very last scene which leave the audience in splits.

A typical David Dhawan film which is a complete entertainer. Like before, the Govinda –Dhawan team has not failed to recreate the magic this time.Salman and Govinda share a terrific onscreen chemistry with their perfect comic timing that leaves ones sides aching with laughter. Katrina and Lara look gorgeous. Music by Sajid-Wajid is pretty good and Partner provides some foot-tapping numbers. The title track, "you’re my love;" etc is already found haunting most night clubs. Choreography is good and is provided with an overall vibrant effect.

Many may find Partner illogical and baseless. However as mentioned earlier, one needs to leave their cognitive aspects far behind and enjoy the film just the way it’s presented.

The famous saying goes” Laughter is the best medicine”. With the present erratic stress filled lifestyles one definitely needs films like Partner once in a while to unwind oneself for a change. This is a movie which you can even enjoy alone as you are guaranteed with a partner on screen. Though there are several hitches, this is one partnership which leaves you in high spirits. So do you wanna partner? Go watch the film.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The blind no longer behind

-By Swetha Amit
With the growing trend of numerous job opportunities in various fields, it’s indeed pleasant to see its extension even to the visually challenged.

Apparently a call centre aptly named ‘Dhrishti’ has been set up for the blind in Mumbai by the NAB (National Association for the blind) and Tata Indicom. Such employees are reported to indulge in the usage of two telephone instruments. One which enables them to talk to the clients and another to get voice based data on the customers. The operation has proved to be sucessful, where such individuals are acclaimed to be as punctual and efficient in their performance, as a normal being.

It is indeed a delight to see this novel expedition in the BPO sector which hopefully should catch up in other fields as well.

It not only provides scope but also enables such people to forget and overcome their shortcomings. Wavering feelings of being inadequate and helpless as they are often labeled by others will prove otherwise. The mere feeling of being able to render useful services with the added advantage of gaining economic independence will elevate their levels of self confidence and boost their esteem even more.

It is a joyous change for these ‘special’ people who were either ridiculed as being burdens in their respective neighborhood or were looked down with pity. It’s wonderful to see the specialty of such beings coming to light and overshadowing their darkness filled lives with the noble and thoughtful gestures by companies.

Unfortunately, their ‘faultless deficiency’ of being blind/deaf/mute is hurled against them like pelting stones. Constant reminders by even their kith and kin cause an immense amount of grief and miseries making their hearts bleed as they reason out their purpose of living.

This occurs despite of the existence of famous gifted personalities like Helen Keller and the singer Stevie Wonder. They chose to concentrate on highlighting their inherent talents rather then being doomed in their shortcomings. Such visually challenged individuals are also known for their expertise in creative activities like weaving and pottery.

However its a stupendous change for such people to be considered as suitable candidates in call centers. Gone are the days when they were given a pitiable or scornful glance. Time has arrived when the supposedly ‘disabled’ are turning able, secure and worthy.

There is a saying which tells us never to undermine others’ capabilities. One might never realize their potential unless given a chance. In fact here is a call to corporates: Why not take a stance to provide ‘suitable’ opportunities for such people? After all, one may come to realize the potential of their ‘distinctive feature’ which will perhaps determine their exclusive contribution to the society and give them all a new lease of life.

With the increasing possibility of such opportunities, the day will dawn when the blind will not be far behind in competing with the other able-bodied individuals.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

7/11:A tribute

-By Swetha Amit
July 11, 2006, Mumbai: It was like any other normal evening bustling with a crowd of folks waiting to rush back home to their near and dear ones, especially after a tiring day at work. Little did they realize that the friendly train whistles would be followed by a fatal explosion that echoes like death bells even today?

Who would have thought that they may never return again only to leave sinking hearts behind along with the sinking sun? The prime time between 6:00 pm to 6:30 pm. was mercilessly targeted as the death zone. The series of blasts that occurred in Mumbai’s most sought after commutable transport flabbergasted millions.

Panic, commotion, running helter-skelter, helplessness, and shock accompanied the people. The smiling faces a little while ago were converted into a barely recognizable state of being as death ruthlessly tore them away. After 26/7,2005, this was yet another unpleasant addition to a terror- stricken day.

The sudden occurrence jolted the numerous forlorn faces. Grief, anguish, misery over the eternal loss of friends and family; anger; and rage towards the culprits; Mumbai experienced a whirl of emotions that dreadful evening.

Today marks one completed year since that unforgettable incident. The saying goes that time is the best healer. However no matter how many minutes tick away, nothing can compensate for the untimely, unfortunate loss of loved ones. Many have and still are nursing the psychological scars from this horrifying episode. While some are continuing their routine with an unspoken insecurity of danger lurking around anytime, there are others who remain no longer with us.

This is a tribute to those who have left us with heavy hearts behind and we pray that their souls rest in peace. This is a condolence to those families who have faced a justifiable amount of anguish and are pining away for their beloved.

Let us pray that humans do not get enticed away by man -made terrors and disasters, any further. Let us hope that one fine day, love replaces hatred and affection surpasses avengement. Anger and revenge are our own enemies. Only when we overcome these internal foes will it enable us to retain our near and dear ones until nature takes its own course.

Let’s also hope that day is not far off.
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Appeared as Editors choice and story of the day

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Monsters in law

-By Swetha Amit
Time has metamorphised itself into a progressive stage in comparison to several years ago. However, it is sad to realize that this advancement has not yet progressed in certain sections of the society.

Dowry is one such issue that prevailed as a social evil and unfortunately continues to do so in several parts of the country even today. Despite the ‘Development’ that has supposedly taken place, it certainly has not extended into the narrow minds of people.

The recent incident of Pooja Chauhan in the conservative state of Gujarat has stirred a lot of commotion. Taking a bold stance, she just walked in her bare minimum on the streets protesting against the injustice towards her.

It must have been a horrifying sight for the onlookers to watch an unusually semi clad woman. Apparently her in laws have been harassing her for dowry on a continuous basis. Many may dispute this atrocity exhibited by her. However further introspection provides an insight into the distressed mental condition as a result of the repeated torment. Unable to withstand the psychological torture anymore, she was instigated to resort to an extreme desperate measure to gain justice.

There have been numerous instances of women being silent victims of harassment for dowry by their in laws. At times it has even resulted in the shocking plight of bride burning due to the non fulfillment of the greedy demands.
It makes one to ponder about such horrifying misdeeds which draw parallels to acts of terror. Isn’t this a form of fanaticism?

Imagine the helpless plight of the girl’s parents. They, who have struggled to make ends meet, humbly give away their daughter and are anxious to see her in safe hands. All they want is for her to be cared for and her eternal happiness. Is this all they get in return?

It is clearly a case where greed manifests itself by bringing out the devil in the person. The quest for more leads to such uncivilized behaviour. It is horrifying to find that education and modernization have failed to eradicate such incorrigible incidents in our society.
On one hand there are international terrors in the form of blasts and terrorizing the innocent, by masked faces. On the other, domestic terrors are on the rise only this time the faces are unmasked. Is it leading to a black out of humanity overall?

Undergoing physical, psychological and emotional agony especially by parent figures that are a personification of love and nurture, is just unbelievable. A new entrant should be made to feel like a queen and not as an unpaid servant who is probably treated a shade better. Why not look at her as an object of affection instead of as a means of monetary gains for the family? Forget the girl being a daughter- in- law, should any human being be inflicted by this merciless treatment?

Is it an arduous task for parents (in law) to shower abundant love as they would do so to their own daughter?

Should cases like Pooja Chauhan’s keep recurring time and again? Can’t all these vicious acts be eliminated?

In other words why can't parents-in-law become parents instead of terrifying monsters in law?
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Monday, July 09, 2007

My friend Ganesha: Friendship with God

-By Swetha Amit
Loneliness often propels one to longingly seek a friend. Times like these often push us into a solitary stance or we find our solace in the road to spirituality striking an unspoken friendship with God.

My friend Ganesha is one such film which depicts this divine friendship between a child and the elephant faced God and takes you down the mythological lane.

The movie revolves around a family consisting of Ashu, his parents, aunt and the maid Gangubhai who places her sincere devotion in Lord Ganapathy. Ashu is a lonely child devoid of any friends and to top it all he is bullied by his counterparts at every given opportunity. To make matters worse, his parents who are caught up with the corporate lifestyles hardly spend time with him.

One day he ends up saving a little mouse from the harsh rains. On sharing this with the maid, leaves her enthralled enough to tell him of being the savior of Lord Ganesha’s ‘Mushakaraj’. On probing further Gangubhai narrates the enchanting mythological story behind this which brings the animated part of the film and portrays Ganesha to be the destroyer of any hurdles.

Ashu, recognizing a prospective friend immediately, asks Gangubhai if Ganesha would be one to which she replies’ saying his friendship is universal. Bringing him home would steer clear of any lurking problem in the air. This fascinates the young lad so much that he demands Ganapathy to be brought home only to be resisted by his father.

However the occurrence of an unpleasant turn in events impels the family to bring the lord home. Ashu finds a new friend who brings in eternal smiles. He not only wipes away the darkness of his solitude but also solves the issues prevailing in his household. Whether it is hurling his father from a false allegation; restoring his mothers lost job; saving his aunt from an unspeakable disgrace; to making himself a hero overnight, Ganesha ensures happiness Hamesha in the family who begin to realize his significance.

The time comes when Ashu has to bid farewell to his divine friend. With a heavy heart and overflowing tears he does his ‘visarjan’. He is promised to not only be revisited every year but also ensured of his friend’s omnipresence always with closed eyes.

My friend Ganesha is a sweet film which will appeal to kids and overall a wholesome family entertainer. It is also an attempt at constant improvisation of animation in Indian cinema. It portrays the zest and splendor with which Mumbai celebrates their favorite God’s 10 day festival of Ganesh Chathurthi.

In today’s scenario, children rarely get an opportunity to hear tales of mythology from elders due to the erratic nuclear family lifestyles. Films like these provide an opportunity to emphasize and communicate the divinely significance. It is sure to instill faith in us to believe in the supreme power above. It is amazing to note the miraculous changeover in things followed by just a simple belief and trust that we place in the Almighty.

Even when we are faced with isolation and feel the absence of people around us, it will make us realize the existence of the divinity who is our eternal friend, as the saying in Hindi goes’Jiska koi nahin uska Bhagwan hota hai’. It will certainly make one realize that when there is faith why have fear?
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