Jai Jawan; Jai Kisaan & 3 Idiots

November 28, 2009 , 46 Comments

“When you want something, the entire universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”- Paulo Coelho.“Only if we know what we want”- Ekta Khetan

If you have seen the latest promos of “Three Idiots”, you will understand the irony of taking aging stars in the role of a college-going youth. [What else did you think? Another preachy post?] one hand its about college-goers as confused as George Bush (Jr.) when they are on the verge of deciding about career and future life.. on the other hand, its a paradox of having 3 people we won't readily expect to be cast in this film, leaving us confused about what we want.. Do we want younger guys who can aptly fit into the role looking their age? or do we want real strong actors like Aamir, Madhavan, and Sharman who don't really look college-guys but won't let us even feel their age while acting the script out...? Ahhh, did I manage to confuse you too?

Coming back to alchemy, of course, I was never really sure about what I exactly wanted in life. For I wanted to be so many things. Like.. being a doctor (pediatrician/psychiatrist), pilot, teacher, a leader... or maybe a farmer. Yes, you read it right. I always wanted to be a farmer. Management happened by chance [MBC], or maybe is it a conspiracy of the universe to bring me closer to my dream. Therefore, what the universe conspired, Facebook finally inspired.

Yes, this is about my latest addiction to “Farmville” on Facebook. I can play this game for the entire day and night. Trust me! It is very addictive. For uninitiated ones, it is a real-time [can I call it that?] Farm game where you can grow crops, rear the animals, harvest the fruit trees, build architectures and can decorate your farm. Interestingly, these activities give you Virtual experience points or XP and coins. The XP determines your farming level and coins, your purchasing parity & there are some award ribbons which adds to the former two. There is crop mastery, mystery boxes, lost animals and a lot of decorative items. The game is an interactive, Mutually Inclusive and collectively exclusive [MICE] multiplayer game where you can induct new/other players in your neighborhood to exchange gifts, clean their farm and fertilize their crops too. Interesting? Well, you have to play once to know what I am talking about and why am I so addicted.

Well well, this post is not about the “Dummy’s guide to Farmville” [unless their product team pays me to do that hehe]. It is a story of my addiction and it certainly tells you about my conspicuous absence from blogging. I was down with a web 2.0 fever and the name of the disease is- “Alpha-farma-dopamine” [a behavioral cousin of dopamine which explains the smoking tendencies of ppl]

“Alpha-farma-mine” is the new virus as spread by/on facebook. The virus got its name from three contemporary elements viz- 1. Alpha Pup 2. Farmville 3. Dopamine

Symptoms of this disease: You are down with “Alpha-farma-dopamine” when-
1. You are not preggers still you have constant cravings; for the Internet and cannot wait to go online.
2. 90% & above of your holidays/ leisure hours are spent on Facebook playing Farmville
3. You abstain from visiting places/travel which doesn’t allow you online connectivity
4. You make new friends only to add them as a neighbor
5. Your communications- mail, SMS, scraps, discussions or even chat spells in or around F-A-R-M-V-I-L-L-E [like Hey farmgirl, how r u doing? You made my farm look so good; Tee How do v get flower bouquets in farm]
6. Your FB homepage is filled with Farmville notifications
7. You forget your friend/family’ birthday but remember that you have planted “pumpkins” 8 hours ago in your farm and you need to harvest it before it rots off
8. Your personal experience [if any]…

The P&L of side effects-
1. Social risk: Decreased real-life interactions or increased online friends
2. Physical risk: Loss of appetite and sleep [ a syndrome where you cultivate oodles of veg, fruits n grains but forget to eat ur own]; RSI aka repetitive strain injury due to constant mouse clicking
3. Financial Risk: Increased Internet bills, credit card spend
4. Information security risk: I've FB password of two of my friends, how else should I explain this:)
5. Romantic risk: Suppose your girlfriend ask you to join FV for the heck of helping her on the farm and gets upset when you do not meet expectation. She even asks you to share your FB password so that she can log with ur account to help her in farming and you refuse!
6. Your personal experience [if any]…

The FV virus is a fast-spreading pandemic and does not need a personal touch to contaminate. It has the potential to infect almost every user who comes in picture. The 40% of the facebook junta that is not yet infested by FV germs are basically people who have not yet tried/tasted/heard about this game or are busy playing “Mafia war” on FB

So, I was down with “Alpha farma dopamine” or AFD and displayed all of the above symptoms and compliance until it reached level 33, and continues. There were no antidotes but the time, which, has once again proved that it is a healer yet a bad strategy. The fever continues but it had made me quite weary. A young girl like me who should ideally be jumping in her boy friend’s arms [doing zoobi doobi do baah], was actually sitting alone with a bulky laptop in her arms. It has made me do some strangest of things, for e.g.

'Alpha Farma dopamine' se “Darne ka nahi; ladne ka”
The dreaded swine flu is a history now. It died a shameful death after tons of pharmacy & media houses made enough profits by capitalizing on its wave. [The new wave to rock the world is Google wave. This reminds that I do not yet have my GW invitation yet.] However, it has almost similar symptoms as FV flu - socially contaminable, multiplies quickly and involves time-based treatment.

The prescription is simple and may be inversely proportionate to the cure of other dopamine related reinforcements like smoking, crying etc. Once you are diagnosed and self quarantined, you can either - invest the time in doing something creative like reading my blogs or continue playing the game till you reach a saturation point [Mine started showing already]

AFD as a tool for education, development & world peaceFarmville is indeed an interesting game and has exciting prospects in entrepreneurship, non-violence and world peace. It is far more productive unlike Robocop, Road Rash of the world. For e.g, If Miss Elsamma used it for teaching Math, science and economics, I had been a national topper lolz. If our erstwhile PM Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri has combined this software with his slogan- Jai Jawan, Jai Kissan, “Silicon valley” would have found a new threat from Indians in 'chilly-corn' valley AKA Agricultural industry. Imagine its contribution to world peace. We can win the war against terrorism by spreading the AFD virus in Pakistan and other Anti Indian military camps. Instead of dropping atom bomb & threatening with nuclear ammunitions, the warring neighbors could lawfully visit each other’s premise, help them in clearing weeds and even fertilize the crop. It has such a prospect of converting the entire bloody revolution to the green revolution. Green ocean strategy anyone? MNS thieves oops chiefs, are you listening too?

Think; think what all benefits AFD can bring to humanity. The boring management books will find a new lesson besides Mahabharata & Ramayana to teach strategy, decision making & analysis. May be some of the over rated IIM-IIT-ISB’ans will think beyond fat paychecks and “phoren” coolie-giris. May be we will have more people like agriculturists R Madhavan. It is after all only 30% tilling and rest is managements. I can envision Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam addressing the entire world and saying we may not need a million farmers, few facebookers are sufficient :)

Eeeeeeeeks I am spending too much of time writing this post. My crops in Farmville are ready to harvest and I must attain my target of reaching level 34 within 6 days without buying too much of hale bays like some of my friend do. See you. Bahbyee. BTW, I or my family do not remember the exact time of my birth. It was sometime early in the morning though-Brahma muhurat. Nor have they predicted my career path then. But yeah, ever since they have bought me lots of "runner shoes" though. And tab se "Bhaiyya All iz well" :)

Run ekta run; life is a race and farmville is no exception...kuk doo cooo!!!
PS: if you are my friend on FV and are above level 31, Pl send me “olive trees” and the new items on the free gift list for friends. [Some habits die hard:)] So bolo... Nah!...Jai Jawan, Jai Kissan!

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The big picture

November 17, 2009 , 32 Comments

“What? Letters have come? Wow! Finally”. It was mid-September and promotions were still unannounced. Some blamed it to the recession and some chose to keep quiet. She was positive. After all, it was the much-awaited promotion of her career, her first official promotion.

This time the company CEO called each candidate personally to hand over the letters. She sat with bated breath at her seat, which was just outside the chief’s cabin. This promotion meant a lot to her, to her career, her years of sincerity, her education, hard work, family, financial independence and her own personal motivation.

With every second name called, her breaths grew faster. With every second passed, she died a million deaths. She folded her hands beneath her table first in anticipation, then in anxiety and later in an attempt to control herself. Her teammate was called to collect his letter and he came back with a couple of other letters in his hand. It was not hers. “Maybe the boss is playing a prank on me and hand my letter later,” she thought. Hours passed and she still waited with bated breath, fickle hopes, holding that little tear still inside her eyes. They blocked her sight but cleared her vision. She tried hard with each passing moment to hold them back but in vain. They fell down her cheeks to her desk. Some cluttered her keyboard; and some blocked her hands.

She sobbed silently for several hours and when she could not hold them back, she took steps to the terrace, sat in the lonely corner, and cried. Her judgment passed but her hopes failed her. Despite the assurance given, she was doubtful and her worst fears came true. She has been a victim of favoritism and politics earlier, but she thought this time it was different.

There was a lot of hullabaloo in the office; smiling faces. People were congratulating each other. She was back on her desk, trying hard to conceal her disappointment, her bitterness behind her work. This time no consolation seemed justified to her. She looked back at her past years and regretted choosing tenacity over actual results. She opened her desk and took out the crumpled piece of paper that had earlier offered her a lucrative option outside. In the last four years, many such papers have accumulated. She regretted choosing her faith over her experience.

T’was five in the evening and the promotion enthusiasm was still afloat in the office. "Congratulations", "well done", "treat" etc. were the most used keywords for the day. The place where she sits was the delivery spot of good news, the hub of celebration. People were discussing their growth while she was sitting as a mute outcast.

Many eyes were pinned on her. She was still struggling to hold that betrayal back in her eyes. She wanted to storm her superior’s cabin and thank him as well. After all, he promised her to give that much-awaited growth in her otherwise stale career with the company that appreciates her work but still fails to recognize it. She was fearless now; as she was stabbed in each possible manner, leaving not much stabbing opportunity on her otherwise stronger frame.

Not all murders are planned, there are some accidental killings too. She could not hide the pain in her voice when a business-head accidentally congratulated her along with her other two colleagues who were promoted. Life is a series of relentless horrors with one following the other. She tried hard to smile but failed miserably. She failed again when her superior tried to crack a silly joke with her. She plainly refused to reciprocate this time.

It was 7pm in the evening. She was sitting with her superior and HR in the former’s cabin, listening to their lame story of big pictures and big promises. Life is definitely a series of horrors. She was made to hear pessimistic stories of various high profile people who too had undergone the similar phase in their careers a [It sounded more like how certain organizations have failed to appreciate its resources], trauma of the Indian population who does not have 3 meals a day and organization’s focus on “big pictures”.

Big picture? Is individual injustice is called “seeing the big picture”? Is suppressing a potential under convenient masks of policies “the big picture”? Is talking big and doing petty what “big picture” is all about? On the other hand, is it just calling organizational politics and inefficiency by another name? Or big picture is just another jargon that some managements have mugged but not yet learned. She has heard them talk many times and she hence she was not surprised by their empty talks even this time. She suddenly felt that she was speaking to deaf people and not just that, they are lame and blind too. They were nice human beings. She liked them but she cannot burden them with her responsibilities nor burden herself with their empty promises. She sat there for few more minutes, seeing two of her most favorite people descending away to clichés.

She came to her desk, finished her work and called the day off. On her way back to home, she pulled one of those crumpled letters and buzzed the direct no. given there. “Hi, I would like to reconsider your job offer… Yeah, sure, I will be there. Thanks”.

It took her many years, multiple efforts to arrive at that decision but she was not regretful. She was instead happy that she has not failed her self. She had not given up in terms of time, effort and dedication before calling it quits finally. She happily accepted her anger, pain, and disappointment, took them in her stride to move on. Non-wishful compromises are the shields of people who do not trust themselves or their dreams. One should never compromise on their dreams, dreams that are close to their hearts.

She neatly drafted her resignation letter, folded and placed in an envelope to take to her office the next day. She tucked herself into the bed and had a wonderful sleep after a long, long, time. Her 'big picture' was very clear now and she did not want to waste a single moment not chasing it.

“The fear of suffering is worse than the suffering itself, and no heart has ever suffered when it has gone out to search for his dreams”.

Disclaimer: the above story is truly a piece of fiction and intends no reference to any living soul.

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Hi Folks,

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Circle of life: [Part II]- The butter chronicles!!!

[Before reading this post, I recommend you to read the part one. It will help both of us]

School days were over a long time back and Little Ekta has moved up & above her test papers. The only test that still scares her most is a “blood test” or specimens like that. From the days of studying soil erosion to managing foil consumption in her kitchen [ahem], she has come a long way and so does her everyday tense-ions! However, she still loves video games, the only difference is that instead of playing it on TV, she plays on her laptop and calls it computer games. [And these days- Farmville/restaurant city]

Yes, I said kitchen. From business management to dupatta management to now kitchen management, a motley of numerous interesting, challenging, sad and funny stories have filled my travelogues. However, the crux of all of them is- No matter what you do, where you go and what you achieve- Home is where the heart is. In addition, in the heart of the home, there is a kitchen!

Similarly, the heart of our body is stomach and like men, one of the ways through my heart goes through my stomach too. No-no I do not intend to say that one needs to be a chef or so to impress me. It is just one of the small jughead ways to impress this Dilton.

In the first of my trilogy- “The fat cow theory”, I have asked the relation between grass and the butter. Yeah, a lot of you read it right and now is the time to unveil the curtain officially and tell you the second story from “circle of my life” series. Game?

It all started when my cook Kakuli didi handed me a bread packet, some eggs, and no butter. I was miffed that despite my two reminders she had again forgotten to bring the butter. Typically, of overall instructions given, she will abide by only 40% compliance. Rest all is accredited to my patience, forgiveness or finally self-execution. Her explanation was as ‘gol-gol’ as her eyes. She claimed to have checked with all the grocery shops in the nearest EC market, Labony etc and arrived at the conclusion that butter is not available anywhere. There is no supply since last few weeks and it may continue to another month or two. What? Butter is out of stock? Dodo!

No butter! How a young, single girl in town will survive without her bread & butter? Bread and butter are all my bread n butter. It is as criminal to tell a school going Ekta not play video games and even younger Ekta not eat butter.

“How could this be possible”? “Maybe she did not check properly and is lying”, “maybe she checked but is not able to convey the right reason due to language differences” “Maybe she is correct”, “Maybe I am hallucinating”, I thought.

There is an exorbitant increase in commodity price but going stockless on
Amul butter is unbelievable. The filmy mind started rolling- Lights, Camera, sound, and Flashback! I was soon into the black and white past.

Take one- Couple of day’s back I went to the otherwise C3 stores at City center [The reason I said “otherwise” is an attribution to this great Indian retail chain, which boasts of Cost, Convenience and comfort [C3] but provides none. And why that? One, there is barely any useful stock when you visit them, Two, for purchases below Rs 250, you need to pay by cash else go to hell; we are not interested in selling. That strikes off the comfort and convenience. Regarding Cost, well the time when the entire world incl local grocer, Spencer’s, big bazaar etc were selling lentils at or around 50-60 per kg, C3 has it available at nothing less than Rs 83 per kg, keeping the quality, quantity, and breed exactly the same- MECE anyone? :) Well, they said “cost” and not “cost effective”. Therefore, you exactly cannot blame them.]. Therefore, when I visited C3 stores, I, as usual, found the store out of its many stocks incl “The great Indian butter". I anyways was not in the mood for purchasing anything from the brutish coquettish store so I moved on after giving the store manager a good piece of advice. I was incongruously becoming like that lead actor from the latest “aam ki pyaas” commercial.

My “butter ki pyas” then took me to take two. I went to a local grocer in expectation of benefiting from the great-unorganized Indian Kirana sector. “Dada sobe ginish to hoye gelo, achcha ek tu butter aache”? kya? nei? kobe aache? kobe-Kothay pabo? Kyo nahi mil raha? “Sawalo ke jawab to mil gaye but makhkhan nahi mila. [Dada I have bought everything that I needed. Ok, do we have a packet of butter? What? It's not there? Why? Where would I get? No idea? Sigh].

My heart sank further when the shop wallah confirmed the banishing tale of the vanishing cream oops butter. I walked back home with heavy heart and switched the TV to divert with art.

Channel 1 – A young Kanha singing “Maiyya mori mein nahi ‘maakhan’ khayo
Channel 2- Bachchan & Govinda in melting moves with Miss Dixit- “Makhna o’ mere Makhna”
Channel 3- A young Meera with Lord Krishna’s statue- Ye lo Kanha tumhara manapasand Makhkhan [mera bhi]

[Gosh, these Hindi channels are too much; switch to Punjabi channel]
Channel 4- A group of women churning butter and serving it in bowls with “makke ki roti” [Adding fuel to my appetite, sadist]

Cut to Zee TV
Channel 5- Welcome to 
khana khazana today is our “butter special show” and our recipe for the day is- “veg Makhkhan wallah”, Butter Nan and butterscotch ice cream

Cut to news channel Channel 6- A full-fledged Amul butter Ad taking on its competitor
nutralite fat-free table spread

Channel 7- Welcome to XYZ health show with Anjali Eastwal and in today’s show, we will discuss how to cut that extra fat by cutting your butter consumption [Arre hai kaha jo cut down karoon]. The show began with sinful sights of butter rich food- parathas, pav-bhaji etc where the chef pours dollops of mouth-watering butter on the visually kindling cuisines. Crime, criminal, cardinal sin!

Cut to Movie channel-
A b/w Kishore Kumar movie was coming. I heaved a sigh of a comic relief until this scene appeared where the great thespian is greasing his boss’s face with butter. The scene goes like this
Boss: “Arre yeh kya kar rahe ho” [hell what are you doing?]
Kishore da: “Malik woh mere dost ne kaha agar pagar bandhani hai to apne boss ko maska laga. So, wahi laga raha hoon- Maska.” [Boss a friend of mine suggested that to get my salary increased, I need to butter-up my boss. Hence, I am buttering you.]


Trust me, even if I had switch any sports channel, there too some sadistic butter reference would/ve written all over. Like- “Makhkhan lal” cricket cup [Sponsored by Haryana CM fund] or Bhajji & Sreesanth
patching up over friendly exchange of Bhajji’s Punjab da butter & Latter’ mallu coconut oil or Bhajji & Sreesanth further roughening up with a debate on which is more greasier- Punjab da Makhkhan ya Kerala ka coconut oil. Alternatively, if you can spare me the horrors- team India featuring in a butter product ad with their spiked hairs, even more stylish cars and overgrown bellies.

Nevertheless, my cook was right that butter is really out of supply and so do its poor cousins like table spread, nutralite etc. Is it the increased butter export that dented my bread or is it another strategy of Amul & co to fuel up the butter price. At Rs 22 for 100grams, it was no cheaper and if we give statistics a chance over yellow revolution then Amul butter has hiked its price by 47% since 2004. Is it price manipulation or something else? I wonder how come the visionary, sixth sense activated India TVs *& Aaj Taks of the world forgot to feature this upcoming national threat [They must be busy searching “swarg-nark ka dwar” or “a girl who turns in to stone” or analyzing one scene from a reality show over n again blah blah].

My “butter ki Pyas” was not getting any better. If someone said- toast, I replied yes I will have one with butter. News, television, super market I was let down by all. Teleshopping? Nah! They will send me everything that I do not need than the thing that I actually need. Think Ekta think! Do not stop until you find a solution & till then do not switch your television set on:)

Beta, mann mein ladoo phoota aur dimag ki batti jal gayi! An idea changed my life by making it butter oops better. My B-school experience reminded me of Amul’s supply chain management. Well there is an exclusive Amul store in city centre and I can check there. I put my shades on and rushed to the store. It was thankfully open and manned by two sweet looking chaps. Bonus!

Alas! The store also ran out of it's butter supply but the chaps were delighted by my general knowledge on butter invisibility. Why me god? Why me? Khush to bahut honge na aap, ab kya? But Beta, mann mein doosra Ladoo phoota! The charm that pleased “hard to get” chap like Shahnawaz, worked wonders here too. The attendants disclosed the next supply date which was 2 days away i.e. on Tuesday, when they will have stock replenishment, limited though. [Is it case of hoarding/ blackmarketing, my mind moves in different ways and the experience of reality took precedence over my age of innocence.] I need butter after all, let the way whatever is. I can write letter to Mr. Kurien later.

I am getting old, my charm did not work much on the two butter scotch oops butter shop guys. In the age of pre-paid, they refused advance booking. Tuesday 4:00pm is the D-day page in butter chronicle and I cannot afford to miss it.

Monday afternoon I literally counted the minutes so that I can quickly go to the shop and get my share of utterly butterly delicious! Taxi, City centre please. Humph-Humph, rush-rush and here I am, just two step away from the nooky Amul store. Oh, you just pointed out that I ve written Monday whereas the store wallah asked Tuesday! Yeah, in over excitement I actually forgot that fact and made such a butter fly oops butter fool of my self:) [If AMUL CEO is listening, pl hire me as your brand ambassador and you will be hit on Viral marketing, word of mouth marketing & Customer loyalty] well you cant except any MBA To not talk in jargons anyways.

So, if you are wondering that whether this grown up Ekta MBA finally got her share of butter or not, yeh dekhenge “hum log”.

Come Tuesday and my mathematically challenged mind started calculating. Project Operation Butter, Venue- Amul Shop at City Centre Mall, time - 4:00pm; approx time to leave office 7:00pm. Risk involved-High. Mind is a very devious devil, it starts working once you are out of office. Now, can I do without Butter? No. Can I scoot out from office at 4:00, pick the butter and back to work? Nah, business non value added cost/activity. Can I risk it till 6:30 pm? Umm- High risk; low return; uncontrollable market dynamics. Can I ask someone else to pick it for me? Viable; feasible and cost effective.

Project BRBU: 'Branded Retail Business unit' AKA 'Branded retail brotherhood utility'. Who says women cannot read map? Women do not waste time in reading maps; they believe in networking. Vrooom I took a reverse gear and turned “Aagey se right” towards my light [read knight] at the end of tunnel- my True Value Hub store. I have switched to Tata Indicom and experienced the difference.

Our store manager came handy. I told him how brotherhood can visit neighborhood at 4:00pm Tuesday afternoon and help my butter crisis out. Guys, you just pick the butter and keep with you. I shall pick it up in the evening after office hours. Agreed, nodded and delivered. Mission accomplished and a new feather in cap for Amul's supply chain management case studies and me with all my fingers dipped in butter. I am loving it:)

Oh! If you are still wondering the relation between grass and the butter, here it is-

Got the picture? literally! :)

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Hi Folks,

You heard me...now its time for Bouquets and Brickbats!

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