Wednesday, April 23, 2014

to Signor Marquez

Marquez is gone - like many other good fellows - it brings many fond memories back - you wake up with a cup of coffee, open Facebook one gloomy English morning - and find it turned into a surreal graveyard - no gongs - some clamor in the distance - everyone standing in the queue dressed in black, paying homage to the master - white flowers scattered all over the blue and now somewhat black a Facebook wall.
Back in good old days back in a high school in Calcutta we had an english teacher whom we kids used to look up to as someone you wanted to be like - he said once you pick an author and you read the author - you read therefore how he went through the walk of life - in my young mind that left a deep impression -
Question was whom to read, who is it that you truly want to know ? When famous Mathematician Littlewood’s quote came for your rescue ‘I listen only to Bach, Beethoven or Mozart. Life is too short to waste on other composers.’
Then was the search for which one to start reading - ‘one hundred years of solitude’ was the obvious pick - so was ‘no one writes to the colonel’ and everything that followed - but for those who truly would want to know the artist beyond the art, I have found ‘fragrance of guava’ - his intimate interview with Plinio Apuleyo Mendoza as candid as it can ever get - first time I met this book was in 1997 calcutta book fair, INR 464 was too steep a price in good old days - I therefore had to wait three more years with bated breath to put my hands on a copy - I sincerely suggest you try one.
Marquez was good to get to know - his walk of life - his growing years in his grandparent’s house the influences thereof that stayed in his mind - the witches - the far off land - his struggle as a poet - finding he’s no good in that - his waking up to first line of ‘Metamorphosis’ - ‘As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin’ - as a wake up call - one could write poetry in prose ! - his cigars - giving all up - his choosing autumn of the patriarch as closest to his heart - because ‘one hundred years of solitude’ was only about renunciation of love, whereas autumn of the patriarch was about renunciation of power - a much more difficult subject to write home about - all blend and melt into one single whole.
it was good knowing you signor Marquez a life worth ‘living to tell the tale’.

Monday, January 07, 2013

.

yes. booting up !

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

an uncomfortable dream ... part 2.

yes, I know the problem but let me convince you why i don't see any straightforward answer to it.
Unlike iit-ians i am a discrete island. now suppose i want to start my tech-venture. my major concern is where and how would i get sufficient quality man-power here [even for inception] ? for a knowledge driven start-up that does not boast of deep pockets this is a big problem in this part of the world. with jobs and safe jobs aplenty and a natural genetic trait of risk aversion most of the guys, particularly in Calcutta, stay satiated with
that end-of-the-month pay.
another problem and a serious one is finding co-founder. am not great when it comes to going out and striking a deal. i can work on product, can even strategize on selling channels and process, but am not a smooth seller myself. either i personally will have to improve on that or i will have to connect to someone who can complement me well and play that role. now on this one again, for most of the us start-ups the co-founders met each other while in school [think gates, balmer off harvard, think page,
bryne off google, think cisco that's a husband-wife pair and think more ]. maybe we took ju a little too casually and thereby missed out on a lot of thrills it had on offer to us 
Not that I am thinking about all these off late. It's been bugging me for quite sometime now.
More ...
on such ideas in the next post.

Monday, October 12, 2009

an uncomfortable dream ...

Had a weird dream last night - saw myself entangled in arguments, trying to push my point on how it's fiorentina we should support in the upcoming match. others seemed stubborn and did not agree to this, to which i rammed how gianluca viali is an excellent striker. there was an uncomfortable silence from all. and i realized in a quasi-sleep-woken-up state of mind that it's been almost two decades from when he used to play for the club; and also a time from when i left following the sports. two
decades !
yesterday, i was brushing through some start-up profiles from people I know. I was looking at 'imocontroller', a new venture from delhi by minekey guys, that fetched instant glory for best presentation from techcrunch50 [a highly respected consortium of start-up and vcs. that google was once techcrunch50 finalist would tell you something about it]. the other by yet another minekey guy won the india round of qualcomm entrepreneurial competition, something that saw them a 100000usd as seed fund and is headed for the world league now with their kolkata based
venture capillary technologies. it provides mobile crm solutions to retailers. number of people working on these companies are just 3 and 7.
there also while flipping through forbes oct issue, i read yet another case on robin li [of baidu fame, a search engine that still sees 63% of market share in chinese search engine arena, with google clicking abysmal 33 there], a from SUNY buffalo, and a strong motivation for me to head for my MS from there.
no wonder then that i had to wake up to the sudden and uncomfortable dream indicating how much time has quietly flown down the don waiting for the dawn. let me see if i can list the exact problems down in my upcoming post on what is it that's making me wait and wait a little longer ....

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pankhudi take 2.



Not many words would justify today's experience that we gathered at the flag hoisting ceremony, this being the independence day of India. As I already mentioned in my previous post, they had a cultural event coming up for the occasion. Few of us decided to be there in the audience.

It was heartening to see that besides us quite a few like Rotary Club, who were behind today's event, had been there by the kids for a while now. The cultural event was rather modest and there were some small runtime infrastructural glitches as we all had to move inside the corridor due to rain. At the same time rehearsing for months for an audience less than the number of performers is not encouragement enough. That's just about alright :). Now that we know what it is like we can get a bigger show with a bigger audience filling up the auditorium next time.

Stay tuned ...

signing off,
JCL.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Pankhudi Kolkata takes off

Chaos is new in town of Kolkata. So are many of his friends studying mostly at iimcal. He was telling me on and off about how they are trying to put up a real good show, trying to set up Kolkata chapter of Pankhudi, an NGO that tries to reach out to visually impaired children. Dreamer had been a member of Bangalore chapter since inception and it's now in full swing reaching out quite a few. I also gathered that they're facing slight hump on the road with language issue. I had been sitting for a while as always and finally i recalled the words of Halmos on how one who sharpened his pencil was never a researcher, and jumped the gun to get my bengali language skills [who would have thought !] :-s used
for a good cause.

From whatever I gathered ahead of my first session is we are going to lighthouse blind school, affiliated to west bengal school of secondary education for a brief ice breaking session. and i would not be ashamed admitting that it was goosebumps all the way for me ahead of it. am known to be master of faux pas. and i was scared to extreme this being a new yet very sensitive domain. but .. it was all fun all the way  the school is doing real good work all in itself is what i took home. we were promised a session on saturday 3-5. but on our arrival we found that kids are busy rehearsing for their upcoming cultural show for 15th august. probably the first time in my life i did not mind being refused an already scheduled appointment and much to my own surprise was happy for the cause it's cancelled for.

anyways we did at last have a chance to meet the tiny taughts after a small wait. and well it was fascinating. addressing kids from several parts of bengal [most i saw is from malda, one from urban kolkata, one from
shantiniketan] with ambitions as varied as becoming a matron to an airhostess, while some played low key and wanted to become bengali teachers. one girl was all serious when she wanted to become a cricketer. there was this girl moonmoon who really kept us spellbound with her brilliant rendition of a tagore song 'asha jawa r pother dhaare' - am a song freak. very rarely have i come across such purity of voice is what i can say. we also had a chat on what is going right what more could they ask for. lalit who otherwise was keeping silent most of the time volunteered to tell us that it takes him 3-5 minutes to write in braille, while it takes
him [he actually computed these !] 2-3 minutes to type on a braille computer. so he perceived more hands on he can get with computer for his daily activity, better off he is. an entrepreneur in the making ? who knows.

but impressive the entire session was. am thankful that they tolerated us and were patient with old haggards like us were trying to act funny and conduct chinese whisper for them. but i hope this start sustains and grows
into the big tree with time.

now, yes we need more hands, better if you know how to speak bengali, as the students at this point are too shy to interact in any other language, and have a calling for this. get in touch.

Monday, July 20, 2009

East side story ..




I have been watching a lot of woody allen flicks recently.I was introduced then to this old man from Russia in 'Love and Death', who walks around the village, vehemently opposing any buying offer that comes his way for the 'piece of land' ['chunk of earth' in his hands] that he loitered around with; not to mention the indirect reference to the short story from Tolstoy, 'How Much Land does a Man Need ?'

I remember a friend, on the verge of earning his Phd from a prestigious school in the US, going frantic over how cost of living in India has splurged over the years and how he needs a LOT of cash before hitting back. That I know he is not hitting back is another story. But I was disturbed as I intended to hit back myself for sure and pinched myself for not waking up earlier...

I was relaxed after reaching home to see that not much [sometimes some things to your anxiety] has changed here.

Just the other day, as I was moving around the city along a friend from the US for a long planned photo shoot, we happened to pass South City by [For the uninitiated, it's been the talk of the town for years now on Kolkata real estate landscape] and gathered that two of my college mates have been or have bought properties in the highrise. Sounded pretty cool. Really. A photographer's mind was lured as the prospect of a great vantage point to capture the southern horizon.


But a cynic always steps back end of the day and gets into some weird computation. Here then I look at the profile of both of my friends who have bought it for themselves and realize that both are well settled abroad and do not see in the distant horizon when is it that they can hit the city. But they bought one all the same.

Let's get into the grinding details and one will find that equation is simple. With socio-political scenario of Kolkata becoming hostile again, industry giants turning deaf ears to ministerial invites, the so-called new economy giants being overcrowded to the point of suffocation, and the city gloriously topping the charts of various surveys as the destination choice of the enterprises, only read bottom up, there is hardly anyone making money in the city that can afford south city luxury, save the business community perhaps. But then look at the sprawling campuses boasting of
sauna and spa and shopping malls and rooftop air-taxis and what not, that are bombarding you down every morning as you start your day with front page of a newspaper.

Puzzling. How on earth can a city not earn enough but can afford more than that.Easy answer to that is the eleventh avatar of lord Krishna as credits that comes to one's rescue. I had been watching all my friends who need a shelter in town and those who needs just one more haggling around for credits for years now. The first thing that I have seen people do with their first job is book a car and chase it down in rapid succession with booking an apartment in XYZ project, that flaunts the best in its kind accessories, forgetting basic nuances about some fundamental infrastructural chokepoints otherwise. Look at pre/post south city traffic influx at Prince Anwar Shah Road or the waterlogged Rajarhat roads for an answer. Now even the builders who were not offering swimming pool with jacuzzi can advertise at least a smooth-cruise experience at stone's throw [just let it rain. wait for 10 mins and happy sailing ! :)].

Let me once more turn my eyes towards the credits we were talking of.
I was talking to this colleague of mine who is first generation in town and understandably enough had to go for a shelter. On showing some interest in these loan patterns, I gathered in reply an agonized mind who is fretting over why the bank is taking most of the money he pays for deduction of interests and not principle. I understand instantly enough that yes there's cause of concern. I patted his back and asked him to look up at the sun, with a discomfort in mind. Are we coming a full cycle to serfdom ?

I remembered the excitement that in between my return from UK and journey to US I witnessed chic malls coming up every corner of my birthtown and disturbance at listening to an economist friends, who was back after a semester teaching in Singapore and went on an extensive backpacking around that region, talk of the ghost towns in remote Thailand that has seen most of the shutters close down in just a matter of few years. 'Just wait and watch' he had laughingly said. He talked of this three years back and you do see 'Next' closing in there shop in the city.

Is the same fate waiting for the real estate ?

After all, "Six feet from his head to heels was all he needed".