To ‘fret’ or not to!?

Dil ko rouun, ke’ ya jigar ko hasoon

Apni dono se aashnayee thi

 Which is an urdu couplet from one of the famous Ghulam Ali Ghazals and translates to,

                                          Should I cry to my Heart, or laugh for my courage?

                                           I have been always friendly to BOTH!

 Since readers of B-grade blogs, from unceremonious writers from common world, have to be exclusively bright folks, I will assume you have understood the context to the title of this ‘blog’. Of course the reason I write is that modern postulates of social media (numbers and ‘likes’ – Lol) some day will step me up a grade and I am too proud to go down further than that on my self-grading.

The first time I came to know I wrote ‘well’ was a project report I wrote at my first job with a shipyard in Newport, Rhode Island, USA and the management showered praise so I have been doing it more and more often and now here I am!

Here in Newport was also my first tryst with my writer-thinker and analyst kind of ideology (now I claim to be a business strategist for so much practice) versus masses as gradually this township of rich and the famous, mansions, beaches, luxury yachts and high life of the land of fortunes brought a little Indian guy o just have a ‘say’ that would bring unimaginable emotion that was to shape my life for all times to come.

I acknowledge an awkward start in an unknown world, but ever since that time my learning curve has been seriously jittery, though steeply up. As such, many of the later ownerships, associates, friends, even my own family may not appreciate or fathom a trajectory as ‘courageous’ but we fret when we fail to understand that people do not just condemn good or bad; they condemn and mock what in unimaginable. In India, ‘hearsay’ being an acceptable pastime, I would now grade Americans as a lot more realistic and forgiving.

We ‘fret’ or complain, crib, get angry when things go against us and we will joke, find humor even in our own onslaught by somebody in our ‘up’ times. But I will say this that I would not be alone in a domain where we have had an eye to eye on ideology, our beliefs of what ought to be right and wrong, fair and unfair. I have come to understand that it is our positive euphoria in face of downturns which throws all kinds of ‘powers’ that are, out of sync with their emotions when we stand for ourselves or even somebody else.

Problem for fretting is more cumbersome when we will not know when we got bombed and for what, assuming we were honest in our actions and not stooping to mockery or to cheat. This is what insecurity or status does to human beings at any strata of society.

It is our continuous growth through knowledge, quest and jigar but it is always the heart (the dil of the couplet) that gives us the upswings or downswings of emotion. It will always be our courage (the jigar which, in urdu has multiple meanings, directly translating to ‘liver’ in our body), which gets us past these up-downers. This is also called ‘DEMOCRACY”, else if all were to remain status quo same and grow by dictat; where anybody could be right if and only if he/she will also face all the consequences…Amen!

 Like for over two years I have been literally clobbered by a much younger business associate, who seems to go on and on with an ideology of ‘everything fair in love and war’ brought into him by businessmen of higher net worth (anybody, really!), but today I was fretting at his callousness until my fabulous jigar took over. And you might have guessed, this is the man who is the latest contributor to add to my life other kinds of beauty too and hence I stop fretting and write this funny blog, right??!!

So well here’s the cover couplet to the same Ghulam Ali (sung) Ghazal..

Jaan mein meri jaan aayi thi

                        Kal saba kis ki baas layee thi?

 Which translates to..

There was a fleeting influx of life into my (living) being

                        What kind of odour was that, which the breeze brought to me?

So this idea of a blog is the breeze and my strategy to counter the very reasons and origins of fretting!

But people, especially businesses fighting new ways to counter GST or get infra contracts in a chaotic world order are not anymore valuing the wonders of a few lessons of revision into ‘Humanities’ even as the world will curse PMs or ‘Trump-sir’ (what can I say!).

So I will finish off with another couplet from my favorite Jagjit Singh ghazal and it is the cover..

                                    Shola hoon, bhadakne ki guzarish nahin karta

                                    Sach moonh se nikal jaata hai, koshish nahin karta

 Which translates to

I am a Fireball, so I don’t make requests to light-up J

                                    The truth inadvertently comes out, without even my trying

 And this my dear friends is where I am coming out from project and technical reports to some real HARDCORE ‘written’ stuff as a mighty grown-up writer-musician and businessman and I am certain that the grades in all subjects will change UPPY… but grade me the way you wish…..will face consequences (wink!)…and cheers!

 

 

 

Crowded on ‘World Population Day’?

 

Today is world population day, wow!

The ‘wow’ is of course satirical because, “well, which day is not?”

As I am growing older and older I am feeling I am getting crowded more and more by the day and that’s even during periods when I have literally locked myself in to my work place.

The population speaks to me through the pings and birdy tunes of social media punishment I face each day through messages streaming into my cell phone and I bear for you who is reading me….”sir / madam…apologies for the strain” but I like it when you do, so thanks!

Everybody has a view on everything nowadays, be it Good Mornings and there was yesterday even a ‘Close Friend’s Day’ and the saddest part was that only ‘one’ person wished me and who knew about that…or was he lying? Yes I do feel blessed for the good things, but take this one I received from one fine gentleman this morning……“Relation is like glass. A scratch on one side will reflect on the other side too because a scratch can never be removed. Good Morning!”

My eyes popped out as it comes from a 5% friend, 10% business associate and 85% ‘daily-juice’ of awkward interaction, which has actually gone on for a year somehow. A mole or a hole in my professional enterprise; a man whom some day, some time I inadvertently punched on wrong side…so many things that I am wondering as I reply “Man…was that a threat or a wish?”

Then there are “groups”. I signed off some more intimate ones for I was afraid an error could ‘scratch’ a relationship. But there are groups like my local resident groups where I am just curious to know what’s going on, but they will crowd on me if I say something against somebody’s local policies and MCAs or MLA’s scouts would crowd up on me.

I post informal music ‘scratches’ of my in-process works at times to certain circles whom I imagine respect or enjoy musical endeavor from a man within whom so many careers and passions. I don’t mind worst of critique unless it tells a story of grudge or frustration of somebody else’s in their individual quest and so I never walk out of an argument or a discussion. Like today I finally took to tell this learned musician friend who persistently tells me I am out-of-tune for mere ‘scratches’ and keeps mum on others. I remind him that it was me who approached him for friendship because he is trained, learned and it was my desire to meet him more often as a source of improvement. The basic trust in anybody’s good intentions is gone truly gone and I have made my upper limits of patience too on my acceptance like others as to when I crowd them, so arguments may not be endless.

The ‘phenomenal diversity’ translates to my expressions through Blogs and Music on social media, leaving it to the WWW to take it to whosoever it matters. Even this has become highly technical and I am told there are paid ways to get a ‘million likes’ and that I should subscribe through the right channels, but that research takes away my time from the path so I haven’t so far ventured in that direction.

Then I turn the clock back to childhood dreams and realize that I am actually doing what I always wanted to do by this age and by that period in life – hurray! The whole problem here is that it is not only a more crowded world, it is also a lot more connected world. Not everybody likes a happy old man carrying on with kiddy stuff called aspirations and that I actually fight to better my own self and it’s not that my posts are ‘bragging’ some achievement. This is called mid-age crisis coming late or perhaps I am still younger than I ought to be –  is a query, better without further analytics.

A guy posting ‘stupidity’ or some oblique trick of photo-shopping designed to create an impact has more of a chance to get the ‘views’ and ‘likes’ than a God gifted writer or singer who is not yet known – that also depends on multitude of factors and a degree of luck or fate. Yet, I also realize that there is an available benchmark to how good is good and today, I can honestly claim through a regular tryst with social media, I have found that vision and target that I can aspire to, so I am not searching for compliments nor would I stand affected by that hint of ridicule.

Yet, the days go by, as fast as they do ,when we are not following which day it is, but that dream or a target; we wake up to realize, that an entire phase has passed us by and new trends have developed, the race around us for our objectives is again being lost.

Frankly I am enjoying the ‘race’ than dreams of the destination and the visible enjoyment in my quests would seem quite unrealistic otherwise. Of course, many are certain I have gone mad, must be!

I have even come to terms that there is no destination like ‘today’. So many who condemn my musical or other entrepreneurial efforts silently or vocally are seemingly quite perplexed even as I know there are so many well wishers in my life who are also praying for me to excel and succeed in these constant endeavors through social media to actually crowd an already crowded worldscape!

The point is this…that even in a crowded world we need to spot our own trajectory and the onus to crowd the crowd with our enthusiasm, glee and interest in life, the world and all that happens around us becomes a lot more attainable in these times of utmost chaos.

And this is to sum up what I have to say for the booming Indian and world population in times when as many are getting killed for frivolous reasons; it is astounding that we are no more hidden. So might as well be be open and inhumanly transparent with what we do and how we think. Uncle Google has us in tight grip anyway!

I don’t mind baring my weak sides for I believe that strong sides can always be dressed up to catch likes, but everybody cannot resort to being part of “the blooper’ gang. An established celebrity of any kind has every right to get his due but as people befriending people directly or through social media it is mutual encouragement of our progress and paths to success that makes a better and wonderful world.

No I am not an idealist. So I will carry this work, fight, or whatever and more of those benchmarks of ‘greatness’ in today’s world – the petty thumbsup called “Likes” will have to be somebody’s natural gut feel for recognizing g.o.o.d. people do which of course, is like finding THE hairpin from a cowshed full of hay….. Cheers!!

 

Indian Popular Music – my journey untold

(Featured image: courtesy T-Series, is just for inspiration from life of a legend in context of of this blog, but has no bearing of  having any kind of personal association with its content, but wishing “Mogul” the very best for its release)

It was early 1990s when returning from Mumbai to catch the Delhi bound flight I had just reached the counter to get my boarding pass when a short, sweaty, but a very good looking man in white kurta and a large red ‘tilak’ on forehead came running ahead of me in the Q. With a boyish grin he was apologetically imploring to the lady that he got late and must get on the flight ahead of the one that I was to board much later.

The man needed no introduction but he was saying “I am Gulshan Kumar” and there was such humility in the request that all waiting in the queue smiled for Ashiqi-1 had been released and was to be the highest grosser in history of Indian cinema and Music. T-Series was to outlive many upturns and downturns, but I will never forget a man who sold juice in my neighborhood of Daryaganj, Delhi during my youth and I did not know him then! But I sense a chord, pride and always infinite motivation in that temple of music called Golden Chariot Studios in Andheri, Mumbai and the gateman is still courteous even in his refusals when I just chance it on Mumbai trips to meet them.

It was exactly 10 years ago that I found myself sitting a good 4-5 hours in the plush all-white office of Mr. Bhushan Kumar at T-Series where Mr. Ajay Kapoor had courteously left me while we discussed my first attempt at a music album when I had just started making my own songs but knew very little about recorded music. An old overused cassette player amidst splendor and large posters of Bollywood stardom was a gaping oddity. Later on, seeing a similar gadget outside of A. R. Rahman’s studio in Chennai, it was to be one of my most fantastic lessons of music – the best music must sound ‘right’ on normal gadgets where majority of 1.25 billion Indians get to listen and it was that many times I posted a song which sounded good in my studio and horrible to the listener…so sorry folks – it takes time, okay!

Well, it would have been okay if I started in my teens when my charm was winning school and college audiences, but no sweat absolutely even now if some unlikely experts of what sells would link me to Sonu Nigam’s dad while you know what I would have liked, right? The great guru Ghulam Mustafa Khan sahab, kind enough to inaugurate my little studio set up and many associated with Bollywood music explained about ‘universality of music’ where in these times one must know about technology, markets, stories of musicians past and present and making best use of available resources in a ‘digital world’ that makes life easy and complex per our own quality of ‘usage’.

Note: This is background of my fresh single “Apni Kahaniyan” which says every musician/songwriter given his freedom will do it like his heart says (please listen to demo attached) not what goes (“chalta hai”) – my principles and advise to young musicians.

I am at a stage where I feel certain that mastery of every musical nuance may be a personal objective, but it is what we want to say with our music that counts and we will learn through this treacherous path  if ‘stardom’ be not the reason for a song to be born. My era of ‘concert for Bangladesh’ and “we are the world” is proof of the “power of reason” to do music.

Never satisfied with just one division in my core profession(s), I was completely confused with questions “are you coming as a singer, or a composer”. A lifetime stretching from Indian classical music of mom, writing my feelings into music even as a kid on harmonium and then winning 1st prizes for my own compositions sung at college fests; such questions had never even crossed my mind, so I said “I am all of them”. Of course people laugh, people question the very basics of my tonal qualities and ‘sound’ with even greater gusto and admonish. Yes, even my immediate family would do that and is my first test always!

I am twisting words of a fellow writer, but ‘it take years of a lifetime (in my mode of execution) to find that ONE song we have really done well’ and let’s add LoL, for its modernity in context of “Baby ko Bass pasand hai” so man, give her Bass. Munde ko “chaar botal vodka” and to me that great shabad and bhajan from AR, so fine man let’s just do what we must, else we are not even on the path and as long as we are restless it’s ON; we peep into some other’s exam paper and we are gone!

But if Mr. Gulshan Kumar is to be a symbol, then age, genre and just endless knowledge of music be damned. We often misread our gurus who emphasize the necessity of ‘perfection’; but more than anything what it needs is immense passion, a desire to appreciate other singers, music around the world, musicians of all kinds and ethos of an ever-changing society and it goes for parentage to know that a Badshah will sell ahead of a Pritam or Rahman and neither have any qualms about that!

So 10 years into making my music, I have entered a critical phase of creating a philosophy of balance of life from lessons of a lifetime; the basic essence of what’s music that created the great songwriters of the world from Bob Dylan, Beatles, Kenny Rogers, Cat Stevens and so many of western lyrical musicians of my own youth and admiration to how Indian popular music is presently unfolding and wishing ourselves well on WORLD MUSIC DAY that was day before yesterday 21/3.

The critical aspect is that it is Indian music where divisions were created to accommodate a infant Bollywood industry known for the legends when there used to have just ‘top 3 or 4’ male and female singers. Mr. Gulshan Kumar and T-Series were going to put all theories of ‘what is perceived as music’ into the can. Meeting ‘music- makers’ from music industry anywhere in the world I learnt most did not know all about music, but had the gut feel on what will be liked and sell but never 100% sure until it actually does! So, I personally just live on gut feel of what I think I want to make for the moment and each song I make convinces me it will be a hit – Kick A** man, I’ll do my own Bass n Kick as I know the technology after all my closed door madness of a decade even along with my fighting entrepreneurship.

 And I just believe that’s how the great world musicians whose LP covers are now decorated in my son’s room would have thought. Oh yes, sonny is learning the twine that connects past to present and we no longer argue over what’s music of today that will sell. This essentially is my victory that matters today as I write this blog.

And so I plead these great impact specialists who make the people who make music today, to go beyond the Bass and sexy video that sells phase, cuz I am kicking A** to tell the world what I think of their questions. Yet I am stringing past and present to start with my day with Indian classical ‘Alaap’ on harmonium, which then breaks into a ghazal or bhajan in a raga of choice and time and it is then that the Bass N Kick and what pleases my ears tells me “yes – that’s the MIX!”

And with these words I am attaching this demo clip of multiple songs from the 100s of songs on my ‘sessions’ (as I write songs faster than I can finish them). This all came, damning the ‘tabalchi’ who won’t come, the guitarist who is now playing for the movies and too busy for a virgin recording artiste of future – digital music where we fill in for them.

Also, now I do not use studio monitors to finish my music…I use the Chandni Chowk purchased desktop speakers or cheap headphones and damn if my pocket does not allow me that expensive microphone and hardware which would reduce my ‘takes’ despite pleading to my ‘investors’.

I am certain Mr. Gulshan Kumar would have thought similarly had he been up with my kind of bottlenecks and we can “Lol” or “;)” once again and hopefully the gut-feel will work this time round as I have made my core ‘engineering’ and ‘project must-do’ skills to make my studio adequate anyhow and thank you Mumbai, Chennai, Pro-Studio, Ableton Live and thank you – the legends of the past whom I have got to listen to and hence learn from.

The video and musical demo will appear through the link below to YouTube and please listen to them all through http://www.talentrack.in/yogeshmusic anytime….it’s the path, not the final MIX like ‘chicken marinaded’ but not “in the tandoor”:

also through

http://www.talentrack.in/yogeshmusic

 

A Mocking Bird to kill

Preface: This a subject on which I have wanted to share my views, particularly with the business fraternity for a while now, but nowadays we fear everything ‘said’. Finally today, 24.5.2017, an article in HT titled “India open to foreigners if they are white” by Harry Stevens http://paper.hindustantimes.com/epaper/viewer.aspx prompted me to just go ahead and add my related experiences to this whole ‘R’-hash that has been so much in news and open debate

Decades ago, I added some bit to my education and found work in a US shipyard. The highlight of my youth’s first ‘landlubber’ job amidst a still vibrant blue collar America was to be recognized as a man with “brains’ just for being an Indian and ‘them’ could be from US, Africa, EU or anywhere for that matter. Indians and the Chinese find highest merit from the Universities to highest rungs of professionalism. In the Sci-fi movies too, the final launch is never complete without a Indian and Chinese tapping on keypad vigorously and looking intelligently at the virtual monitor, even as the hero is always American (lol?). Along with the “smartie” quips I got from Americans back then for my public school English, there were those pungent and irritable queries like “hey, you from India…wow! Ummm…do they have roads out there?”

Even before that as a debutant marine engineer on ships it was my good fortune to land in New York as my first port of call only to be welcomed at a local Pizza parlor by this teenage punk who respectfully says “hey, you just came in today, so how did you learn to speak English so soon?”.

I have been part of some decent delegations to trigger business ventures in Africa and Latin America and always found immense respect by the people anywhere in the world, many still on my Facebook. Even as a young business development executive in India handling the Swiss and Germans to set up business JV inside of India at the time of India’s “opening up of economy” (every government “opens” it up now and then, again and again; but this was about early ‘90s). In last decade, so many times a proud African youngster in the government or a development bank executive have welcomed me simply for being from India and many owed their education to a Mr. Ramamurthy or Ms. Vidya from India; not to forget that IITs have a quota for African students doing Ph.D who return back to their country at quarter of the salary we ‘smarties’ get, now that we are “the Expats” who are rapidly getting marginalized under a African Bloc quota which gives preference to hire local people. Remember, we said all that to the Germans and British whom we went to receive at airports back in the nineties? Now we just dispatch Ola or Uber to them, right?

But as for my message, there is an entirely divergent message coming to me from the clients and ownerships who have hired me in past and are still certainly my potential bread possibilities in future too. Many like them are headed for the African Development Bank (AfDB) meet called by PM in Gujarat sometime around this week itself. I am sure the recently highlighted Greater Noida episodes with people of African origin, a superimposing China on a new ‘silk route’ along our borders are events that will only add to a growing wave which carries potential to wipe out historic pluses enjoyed by Indian business and social impact of Indianness deeply embedded in the ‘dark’ continent. It surely impacts my kind of Indian soldiers fighting economic battles in developing poorer countries on strength of large Indian business houses and I find many lessons in what Mr. Steven has written about how the ‘white’ sees us Indians. Also, I can perfectly relate to this growing breed of international business crusaders who all call ‘a spade a spade’ and are comfortable talking freely and casually on complex issues facing the world with like-minded people as often happens in transit at Airport lounges.

As for my own observations within business fraternity of Indian origin, many times I have had people impress upon me, whenever I suggest that it is time to change some of our attitudes with comments like “these people will never change. We have done so much for them but they will never be thankful”. I find these too generic to cover an entire continent!

The crux of the matter to me is in our desire for another to be ‘eternally thankful’, a historic and very Indian phrase, which means that the other should bend and touch the other’s feet. With my morning school prayer quoted from Tagore “to give and not to count the cost” we have to really think hard if ‘buying’ gratitude and faithfulness is the right thing to do in a highly connected and wired world where youth are all the same.

In 21st century India, it is no more “in” to re-quote mentors of past who shaped post-independence thinking unless we are a ‘branded’ nationalist. Even MK Gandhi’s stories of apartheid can be a ‘fault’ if the rationale of some of the business leaderships who have only touched these countries in midst of business, but never quite kept on hold the ethos nor treasured ‘goodness’ as a ‘strength’ and our own superior intellect as a result of our own growth from poverty. In this day and age we consider even comparative poverty, political equations and color of others as weakness and ‘giving’ as a short term plan to gain power or profits, with no thought to long term equations nor fact that losing our reputation will close us to future possibilities of a new world, new gen or quite simply ‘the global village’ where ‘more money’ won’t buy ‘more love’ (that, we were already getting!) whereas projects which could be normally won or ‘closed’ earlier will get lost on ‘local preference clauses’ if not local ego by a young generation asking jobs and modern living worldover.

I spent many days in city of Addis Ababa, trying to make pact with some local infrastructure contractors around the stadium area. We would spend the afternoons discussing business, eating local injera and shiro, from the same plate as is the custom there. They bought me the beer and food most of the time by then (usually it is understood that the Indian will pay). Then the leader speaks to me late in the afternoon as the sun is setting and what he had to say, stumped me for long time to come – “Yogi, I respect whatever you are saying. I am even willing to put money if you can get us this project, but you know for all the Indian people I have worked with, there’s always something that is saying ‘what will you give me’ and I am never certain if the money will ever come to me and I must run after them like I don’t deserve my dues. All that is fine, you are smart businessmen, but you know in my house where I pray, I have kept a picture of Xi Jinping”. I will not elaborate; but to anybody working in these countries, the modern day Chinese executive can be an eye-opener, if you can just get them to talk.

Poor people, colorful people all like us, come with a History of wisdom and Ethiopia is as much known for Solomon and beauty of Sheeba as it is for the famous famine where we still see them and all of Africa as hungry and begging (remember Satyajit Ray movies?). Similarly, there lies a whole 80% of Africa that is ‘young’ after mass genocides, tribal wars have ended 2 decades ago to bring them, like India, a new generation of educated mostly by Indians (most African leaders invited Indian teachers as a prime agenda for development). In the process, our lowly paid intellectual rarely given merit in our own country found worth and World Bank dollars to give Africa a ‘thumbs up’. I am one of them, a seeker through whom the people of color and silent beliefs of “Solomon” have sent this message, along with a quip of their own “..are Indians white?”

You see, the world is round and it is really, tit for tat. This is what Jawaharlal Nehru said for Indians going overseas for work or business post independence “wherever in this wide world there goes an Indian, he carries a little of India with him”. May I add in reverse “… and he who comes back through true exploration and honest acceptance, humanity in its intellect and beliefs for self-sustenance is the same”, so respect everybody and you will find respect.

PS: Dear friends, when India invests in a poorer country what do we want in return? Indian banks have set up more branches in ‘dark’ continent in recent years than all of history, but who is pledging their assets when there is no faith under global trends of protectionism and we must ‘compete’ when ‘acceding’ under government money had become our habit? This is what our dynamic leaderships of today will have to answer in Gujarat, while remembering that the conference called by Modiji two years ago in Delhi did find Modi jackets attractive to African leaders but if our fellow fraternity looks adamant “Black is Black” then we also must look at many cases where African governments blacklisted some Indian suppliers and contractors for “poor” quality materials and services whenever consigner or client happens to be Africa. This is the ‘change factor’ of new Africa, yet unknown to many of us; even as we accepted China doing that to us in past. This is the circle and cycle of ‘development’.

***********************

Smart Neighborhoods

I am certain that since the time Modi-wave swept past a ‘aam aadmi’ movement to sideline a government that had held reins of power in India for most part since independence, our common man buoyed upon a social media world is getting smarter, more involved, more aware than ever before to choose, elect, praise and critique leaderships but do we all act with propriety when faced with day to day challenges around our own homes?

Satellite cities around our metros are giving way to smart cities. Environment and Climate Change is now a name of a  Ministry, Renewable Energy is a sector where India actually dominates in some areas, ‘cleanliness’ is a national campaign and men doing house work as wives go to work is an acceptable situation. But the unmanageable increase in motor vehicles, inadequacy of infrastructure to hold the boom times is pitiful and we come home or reach our office with anger, abuses and what not more times than ever before.

My colony was to have RWA elections recently and what I present are some lessons from this otherwise annual exercise which till now, I just let pass. In case you don’t know, it stands for your local ‘welfare association’ but if you are a modern household you might say “man, if I meet my wife and kids adequately I am lucky”. So you might have missed out on your RWA.

But to think what you could contribute to your locality’s welfare might be a sensible idea if you wish to be safe and healthy in daily living too. RWA’s were for supposed to be for retired old people, which I almost am; except that our generations now do not retire at 55 or 60 and if ‘senior citizen should be 60 or 65 has also become debatable as more Indian people are catching the Volvo buses to see overseas cities as the white people who used to throng India gate and Chandni Chowk and the local gyms are running overtime.

But seriously, what do we have in stake with our immediate neighborhood that never was before? So this is what I am learning from this RWA election time. Posters, door-to-door is passe. For the first time, a ‘whatsapp group’ was started. But in the very first hour majority of comments came like “How dare you put me in this group without my permission” and somebody pressed the button and “left”. One of the ‘teams’ contesting the election put up a poster and more left, “This is politics, cheating and self-advertising” said many and they left. Whoever was the administrator he added more; then more left. Finally all teams were allowed to put up ads, so more added and more left.

Anyway, with the IPL going on; this was more exciting and as the language turned crass and gross, I thought I must join; the age old competitive corporate honcho in me did my diplomatic best not to side with any team. But hey, I was learning how masses think and then watching the fantastic levelling of ideas to  the “left” people reducing and administrator adding many now and then – it is coming as a revelation how much we can achieve if we dare to just get into the ‘system’ of having a say in our surroundings. I was seeing this process of debate and development go on and I have seen (‘heard’ is better) both in past – people doing good for the colony and then the system’s own goons of self-fulfilment.

So, with this logic; now as a infrastructure consultant I had been following some seminars and reading about “smart cities”, clean water & sanitation and having spent much time in Africa even for issues of gender disparities. But here I suddenly see a whole new opportunity in disparities that are more immediate to warrant a new age of “smart neighborhoods”. Well, this is a fairly elite colony beyond the choicest of words for opposing teams that I am seeing on ‘whatsapp’; so there lies a logic in its economics too.

But to cut across the story, what is it that we can contribute to the neighborhood and the neighborhood to us? Here are some points that I can see emerging from the 24×7 comments coming now that they seem to have let all have a say and mind you the young, women and intellectuals are in good numbers.

AWARENESS: You may be receiving RWA newsletters and information along with your rolled newspaper in morning. Even if you do not read it normally, keep at least a leaflet with contacts of RWA active members stuck to your refrigerator notice board. If you notice things that bother you – suspect movements, choked drains, water issues, etc. note it on Android notepad or send it to your specific area or lane representative as a paper note on way to office.

SMART RWAs: A social media group like “whatsapp” is a modern necessity but take care that jokes, lame forwards, business adverts and anything abusive or derogatory should be strictly banned and the person, after a warning, should be removed. Keep the good old register of complaints and files; but sir, times are that you ought to boost it with digital diaries with categorized logs which an IT youngster in neighborhood can easily design as contribution and a team member can maintain; all these at a dedicated office with timings of physical presence of attendant.

SMART HOMEOWNERS: Install CCTVs and inform RWAs, who must keep log of who has installed where. A GPRS plot can easily be created on webapp or procurable software to map location of the CCTVs of government and homeowners. This will help in solving criminal and other activities. Plotting troubled areas will be an advantage. Make sure servant details are kept and shared with RWA if not the police. Keep a hired security if you can or smarten up your main door operation at least to whatever is affordable technology and check weekly. You can store info on ‘cloudspace’ as well.

SMART POLICING: Each individual is police, but do not do that to extent of being a peeping Tommy. There is no point cursing abuses when you cannot take car past point where double or triple parking, like around general stores, paan shops, etc.; if it is really repetitive, log it with RWA digitally and take a walk on Sunday to verify if your messages actually get logged.

RWA’s SMARTOFFICE: Initially people will flood you with odd complaints and you might go nuts, there is very good chance that if you actually send a few replies and solve a few the deluge will trickle to something reasonable – so importantly HAVE FAITH in your neighbors, all are not worst enemies you think they might be. Also, you need not address each issue immediately. Instead categorise, prioritize, put through for weekly or monthly meetings depending on level of urgency. Hence I mooted for digital logging that is indexed as a decision making tool. Now, these are not expensive set-ups; but like any office these are a standard, need regular attention and some passion ‘to serve’ – so just wake up to this reality of times!

SMART LEADERSHIP: A colony where everybody is muscle and don will be a non-starter to be risk and damage-free. So treat this like another office of trust but remember that since all are volunteers, you cannot shout and throw out anybody from his job; so your big daddying will be for nothing. Humour, a few tea parties with biscuits by RWA brass here and there are fine but refrain from big time parties where barbecue smell goes beyond your house as again – people will point fingers and you lose face for just your large heartedness. Instead visit the aged, intellectuals, professionals within locality than professionals out of your business or workplace for advice, record keeping, etc. This is the art and ability of good leaders to make their own locality see you as humble servicing individuals and please….you are not a politician or civil servant; but truly passionate and concerned for safe & happy living around your responsibility.

This is not an exhaustive essay on the subject and there is a lot more that each one of us has and we all, with our freedom with social media, familiarity with technology and social networking around our place of abode can make our lives safer, simpler, less accusative, less abusive, less controversial and it will be this HABIT that will make us better in our professions too and as human beings, citizens of our country.

So, all the best for your “smart neighborhood”

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New Delhi Diary – 1

Like many, I too make a resolution or two every year as the festive season is on and when Diwali, the ‘festival of lights’ is approaching. Many around the world make Christmas resolutions to themselves and even post them nowadays on social media. Well, some of us, here in India do all that on Diwali.

In my case this urge ‘to resolve’ would in all likelihood, tend to come early morning with my cup of tea as I am reading the day’s newspaper. This is the time too when some news item, the event magazine or the mushy cinematic gossip sessions trigger some deep passion to have our bit of a say. At times I have even taken a quick mobile snapshot to form basis of an idea. But more often, these ideas wash away with the morning shower as we get to more immediate and pressing issues for the day, like our job and work.

Today though, I have got up with an awkward chest congestion which has been going on and off now for more than a month and the headline reads “Air Pollution Levels set exceed over the next 3 days (towards Diwali)”.

“Ahh, yesterday they showed the pollution meter cross the ‘Red’ already, what do they mean ‘set to exceed’?” I exclaim to myself as I instinctively try to breathe.

Oh yes, sure as hell, my lungs are sufficiently choked, so I shut the door and the window too. A sudden surge of blue fear crosses my eyes as I am finally able to connect my chest congestion and throat itching to this annual phenomena in Delhi and I am sure, so might well be, for many all across our country trying our best to be with our thought provoking leader for the ‘clean India, live healthy’ idea.

The news and full page warnings from the government, ‘Swachh Bharat’ protagonists et al are saying it is all because Diwali is round the corner and so we must all promise not to burst fire-crackers and that the Chinese ones are more polluting than the ‘made in India’ ones. On other hand the same newspaper adds to the festivities by saying how the kids and their parents are loving the packages with WWE kick-ass celebs, MSD, Virat Kohli and Sonny Leonne on covers, as per preferences.

But then last one week I have been driving around Delhi, especially old Delhi around Chandni Chowk as I was getting some audio equipment rehabilitated by wizcraft available only at LPRM for even some sleek home studio stuff. I saw plenty of buyers for LED lights and all kinds of  gift packages which corporates and shoppers from anywhere in India converge to buy here at the wholesale markets, but repeatedly I heard that sale of crackers was the least in proportion to the sales at this time ahead of Diwali.

Notwithstanding what’s selling or not, I have not heard even a sound of firecracker or ‘bomb’ exploding around anywhere either around home or wherever I have been around, or maybe my ears too are blocked by whatever is floating in Delhi’s air at this time!

Then wherefrom this smog and this pollution that is adding so much friction to my ENT path?

Oh yes, I did see a ‘cleaner Delhi’ attitude where the cleaners are neatly laying the garbage along the streets and someone must be dumping it at the dumps and landfills or wherever the garbage is supposed to go. But in all such presumptions, the garbage created from the ‘Ramlila’ grounds, the Durga Puja pandals and the excess eating at open air stalls all around the cities during this period is quite unlikely to reach the landfills anytime soon. It is getting burnt right around our homes in small heaps and larger heaps, maybe, where the most privileged of Delhiites may not be living.

The carbon emissions from the garbage and waste we create during our holy festivities and holiday seasons, not just in Delhi, but all across India, simply for our population would be alarming! For whatever us educated families and our RWA’s might be doing, it is the sheer numbers of the less privileged, but those too who must rejoice in the days of prayer and celebrations who collectively create a lot more than our government is prepared to evacuate.

This Diwali follows just too soon! I wonder who would take this to the courts (our children be blessed for times ahead) and shift the dates of Diwali till such time that the muck from the weeks before normalizes.

This is also the season when we find that the craftsmen, the labor,  even the public servants and their field working divisions have left for vacation to their villages or hometowns.

“Oh the Diwali is coming……we’ll clean it up after that!” I guess we need more than our honorable PM to change this one.

Well I am not to be accused for putting words into somebody else’s mouth, but isn’t this the most likely reason why my chest congestion is now only likely to go away after Diwali.

Till then guys it’s ‘cough cough’ from me signing off from today’s (my first of series) post. Please do put ‘Likes’ so this habit sustains and who knows I might find that ‘writer’ in me to nobody’s chagrin; for this my friends, is my resolution this Diwali – to write.

And for all the skewed ideas and religious anomalies, the news channels on TV last night showed that ‘Ayodhya’, the reigning city of Shri Ram (whose killing of the demonic Ravana is why Diwali is celebrated) is the dirtiest city one can find and least said for the bovines, the better.

If you want to know the reason why I stopped writing earlier, please listen to this song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CacXQybjE18 – which I wrote, set to music and sang at my little home studio on a Diwali 5 years ago, the theme (between Dussehra to Diwali, we defeat Evil as Lord Rama did) simulated to quash the governments all over the world, like what aam admi, the ordinary man on street does best – and look what happened!

We have right now a Trump in one part of the world and ‘Ram Rajya’ is actually to reckon here in India (see the video for context) –  quite ‘ironical’, I would say. But will we breathe easy?

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