Sunday, 18 September 2016

Philosophising is fine but action is what matters

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it."

We were introduced to this quote from Karl Marx by a gentleman named Samit Kar who taught us Marxism in Presidency College. We had a paper on Marxism as a part of our Sociology course designed by the Calcutta University in the mid 1990s. I was not into Marxism, which seemed so anachronistic in the post Berlin Wall fall days, and wasn't too keen on these classes.

However there was no forgetting this line of Marx as Professor Kar would keep repeating it. He was so fond of this line that a friend of mine and I wondered if this is what he told his wife the night he had got married!  I must mention that prof Kar had graciously invited all of us from class to his wedding at a place called Shinghi Park and it was a happy evening. Whether his favourite Marxist quote was a part of what was discussed later that night was not something that we ever found out.

From what I remember, and it's been a while, what Marx meant to say was that the socialist philosophy had been expounded before him by folks like Hegel. However, they hadn't said 'what next'. Marx was apparently the one who suggested a social revolution as a way to take this philosophy ahead and "fix things". 

I know that I have been guilty of simplifying things in the paragraph above but this was the crux of the argument I think.

The reason why I remembered this was that we were recently brushing up our concepts for the exams conducted by the Bharat Soka Gakkai, the Buddhist organisation that I am a member of.

The Soka Gakkai International is based on the teachings of a  Japanese monk, Nicherin Daishonin, who lived in the 13th century BC. He is said to have interpreted existing Buddhist scriptures and came up with a practical way to change one's life based on that. 

The Soka Gakkai refers to this as 'revolution' too. Specifically human revolution

The Soka Gakkai site says:

“Human revolution” is the term used by second Soka Gakkai President Josei Toda to describe a fundamental process of inner transformation whereby we break through the shackles of our “lesser self,” bound by self-concern and the ego, growing in altruism toward a “greater self” capable of caring and taking action for the sake of others—ultimately all humanity.

I am not getting into the details of this, or what we studied, in this post as that's not the purpose here.

What struck me though was how both the Daishonin and Marx seemed to have said the same thing. If I was to paraphrase it, "it's fine to philosophise but the key is for this to lead to action". 

This is completely my decoding of it of course.

It's funny how Marxism, known for its anti-religion stand, and a religion seem to have a connecting thought. Though, to me, Nicherin Daishonin's Buddhism, as followed by the Soka Gakkai is a practical philosophy on how to lead one's life, rather than a religion.

I then thought of my life as a market researcher. What market research agencies do is take the principles of academic research and apply it for a practical goal. To help client's grow their business. 

What we did. was applied market research and not just theoretical research.

I guess a rainy Sunday evening, when you are stuck at home, is as good a time as any to connect the dots in one's life.

Have a great week ahead.

Monday, 15 August 2016

The apps and services that have made a difference in our lives in Mumbai

Didn't go out for breakfast this morning and just wanted to call in for a coffee. So called for a Starbucks cappuccino using the Swiggy app as we often do these days. Delivered in less than 20 min. Hot and frothy. Used Swiggy to order from Sweet Bengal a few days back for a party at home. Quick and headache free. Same when we called from Imbiss and Hangla when friends dropped in.For Candies and Khane Khas, I still use the phone to call the restaurant though they have tied up with delivery apps too

Made me think about other apps which have changed our lives for late.

Ola and Uber, despite our occasional rants, for sure. Don't need to keep a driver anymore. Rarely take out the car now. Can nap when in traffic than gnash my teeth at the wheel.

Also MyDidi these days for temp house help though we use the phone more often than their site but a great service for sure.

We don't use grocery or veggie apps that much yet as we get things easily from the local markets on phone too (In Bandra - Lalu's for veggies, Jude and Meghna for meats). For fish and prawns, Cambay has helped when I can't go to Khar market. Was really impressed by quality and price of the prawns we ordered recently.

Which are the apps/ services that have made a big difference to your life. PS Thinking aloud, not research or anything. Flight booking apps/ sites have been around for a while and don't count

Sunday, 19 June 2016

So much for Digital India

I live in the suburb of Bandra, home to many who are exploring new journeys in life. In the city of Mumbai, which is considered to be a city of dreams and of opportunities.
At most times our Vodafone phone connections (we have two 15 year plus accounts) don't work and nor do the internet connections on them. The Airtel 4G device too is used primarily as a fly swatter now as the internet is barely functional. The MTNL wifi keeps disconnecting. The Tata Photon often naps, specially during the afternoon. I tried You Broadband for a while and disconnected it as it was forever under maintenance.

'Digital India' is a smart tagline indeed and our spin doctors have many such lines. But as I sit at my writing desk desperately seeking some internet connection, it sounds like hot air to me.
I can but dream of a time when we will look back at these angst ridden moments and laugh like we do today at the world of Trunk Calls and of going to the neighbour's house to make phone calls which would be besotted by cross connections.
Till then I have to find a cafe with good wifi to conduct a video conference with a client on Tuesday who has been kind enough to offer one so that I don't have to go to the other of the city

Sunday, 27 March 2016

It's time to talk

There’s no justification to killing men. There’s no justification to killing women. There's no justification to killing grown ups. There can never be any justification to killing children. There's no justification to killing in the first world. Or in the third world. Death knows no religion.


Terrorists won't read Facebook statuses. Nor will politicians or army generals.


But we can make a start to ending this madness by talking. Get to know those who are different from you. Make an effort. Find a common ground. For me it could be food. It could be cinema for you. Dialogue is the only way to break discord, to abandon hate and to embrace happiness.


Sounds philosophical. Is very practical.


Thursday, 24 September 2015

A life with many hats

I am rarely on Linkedin.

The other day I was on the site to answer a mail and decided to update my profile while there. Which is when I realised that you can only put one job as your 'current job'.

This seems a bit archaic and doesn't take into account the realities of today's unstructured world in my opinion.

I remember Roshan Abbas taking on his twitter trolls in a Facebook status update the other day. He rebutted those who call him 'jobless' by saying he holds three jobs, if I remember right. That sounded familiar.

I didn't know what to put in my profile. 

I consult with Karvy Insights, a market research firm. I am an editor at large for the India Food Network. The lead Mumbai critic for EazyDiner. I've joined the NDTV Food as a columnist. I write for publications like MW, Mumbai Mirror and Femina. I work with brands on promotional campaigns. I have my YouTube channel, The Finely Chopped. And it all started with my blog, Finely Chopped.

I would like to believe that I am symptomatic of the change happening in my generation.

We don't want to be boxed up. We want to try out different things. We have varied interests. We want to chase them all. Make something out of them.

It's time Linkedin recognises that.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Office compound boorishness in Mumbai

Have you noticed how most of the new office complexes in Mumbai don't allow auto rickshaws inside?. Black and yellow taxis too.
If you are using these then you have to get off at the gate and make the long trek in. No such problems if you are in a private car or in air-conditioned cab. Those are allowed in. Though parking is a pain.
Most of these office complexes are not pedestrian friendly and you have to walk in quite a bit to reach your destination. There is no shade or shelter on the walkway. Which means that you are left at the mercy of the blazing sun these days. And it will be much worse when it rains.
Contrast this with Fort, the old CBD of Mumbai. The plethora of lofty trees there and building awnings means that you can always walk in the shade. Even if it rains. Nor does that area get flooded.
Bliss compared to the new office complexes in Saki Naka, BKC, Goregaon and Powai.
And don't even get me started on the lack of good and inexpensive eating options for office goers here.
Guess we were once a more humane city.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Sometimes change is good

If you had told me that sunny afternoon in the early 90s when I had dashed off in a cycle rickshaw  after school to pick up a gas cylinder at a godown in Kolkata, which we had booked months back, that today I would just dial the IVR on my cell, punch buttons, and half an later receive a call from a gas cylinder delivery guy to coordinate when to deliver the cylinder at our place in Mumbai I would have said, 'yeah right, next you will say we will all have telephones and can carry them with us!'

Incidentally it was Bharat Gas in both cases. 

Different centuries. Different cities.