Monday, December 31, 2007

Thank You

Here's a wonderful insight from Oprah . An appropriate sentiment for the end of a year and the start a new one . Here's wishing you a wonderful 2008 filled with love , joy , peace and abundance .

THANK YOU By Oprah Winfrey

I live in the space of thankfulness - and I have been rewarded a million times over for it. I started out giving thanks for small things, and the more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased.That's because what you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.
"Say thank you !" Those words from my friend and mentor Maya Angelou turned my life around. One day about ten years ago, I was sitting in my bathroom with the door closed and the toilet lid down, booing and a hooing on the phone so uncontrollably that I was incoherent."Stop it! Stop it right now and say thank you!" Maya chided. "But - you don't understand," I sobbed .To this day, I can't remember what it was that had me so far gone, which only proves the point Maya was trying to make.

"I do understand," she told me. "I want to hear you say it now....Out loud.""Thank you.'" Tentatively, I repeated it: "Thank you - but what am I saying thank you for?""You're saying thank you," Maya said, "because your faith is so strong that you don't doubt that whatever the problem, you'll get through it.You're saying thank you because you know that even in the eye of the storm, God has put a rainbow in the clouds.You're saying thank you because you know there's no problem created that can compare to the Creator of all things. Say thank you!"So I did - and still do. Only now I do it every day.I kept a gratitude journal, as Sarah Ban Breathnach suggests in Simple Abundance, list at least five things that I'm grateful for. My list includes small pleasures:The feel of Kentucky bluegrass under my feet (like damp silk); A walk in the woods with all nine of my dogs and my cocker spaniel Sophie trying to keep up; Cooking fried green tomatoes with Stedman and eating them while they're hot; Reading a good book and knowing another awaits.My thank-you list also includes things too important to take for granted:An "okay" mammogram, friends who love me, 25 years at the same job (and loving it more than the first day I started), a chance to share my vision for a better life, staying centered, having financial security.I won't kid you, having money for all the things I want is a blessing. But as I look back over my journals, which I've kept since I was 15years old, 99 per cent of what brought me real joy had nothing to do with money (It had a lot to do with food, however.)
It's not easy being grateful all the time. But it's when you feel least thankful that you are most in need of what gratitude can give you.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Lead India ?

Lead India - the campaign and the "reality show" by The Times of India .

For months I have been seeing hoardings with the picture of some celebrity(mostly film actors) and the slogan "Lead India " . The hoardings in my opinion were a waste of money - right from the pictures to the outdoor advertising space purchased to thrust them on the populace .
The TV ad I must admit is creatively done esp the one that shows a young boy taking the lead to clear a fallen tree that blocks up traffic .

Yesterday while surfing between channels in the few minutes in a day that I watch TV - I happened to see the reality show "Lead India" . While is seeks to be lofty and supposedly on the mission to identify / deliver leaders - in reality it is no better than any other reality show . In fact it's far worse . Times of India had the opportunity to incubate a movement with this campaign . It could have made it inclusive instead of making it a competitive event with millions of folks passively watching the show . TOI could have used the medium of it's newspapers , TV channels and all the money it spent on the pointless hoardings to motivate and include a wide section of people into substantive action . A small start would be cleaning neighbourhoods .
Most of the contestants on the show have done something commendable and continue to persevere with their chosen mission over years . It is ridiculous to create a competition of people who have taken an initiative to make a contribution to society . The work of most of the contestants is diverse and unique (wrt each other ) . What's the basis for calling one a winner and thereby others as 'losers' ?
The website of Lead India has sections like " Do you resemble a Leader ? " If you think you resemble a leader you can email your picture . And public vote will decide a winner every week.
TOI must be seriously desperate to increase circulation if they feel the need to resort to such contests . There is no distinction between "leader" and "famous person" . This bizarre section has pictures of Katrina Kaif , Himesh Reshammiya , Ritesh Deshmukh under the heading of "leaders" (I could not bear to go past page 2 of this section ) .
It's clear that there is an urgent need for a contest to find the person/people to LEAD The Times of India . They should not mind selecting the "winners" by vote through sms / online polling.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Why to do something about global warming

....If the worst of global warming does happen we will be so busy dealing with the fall out that most other human concerns will seem like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic...

Pl watch this video by Greg Craven .

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Light up the world (with the least number of bulbs)

In the ages before electricity was invented mankind seems to have thrived pretty well . Architecture , art , literature flourished . Some of the most exquisite creations - now found in museums or old monuments - are from the pre-electricity age . A recent visit to an incredible monument in India built in the 18th century sparked this thought.....
What if interiors of homes , offices , retail establishments , public spaces were redesigned with creative and well engineered use of mirrors , reflective surfaces and glass to illuminate with minimal use of electric lights ? Imagine a scenario where 10 bulbs are sufficient to illuminate the entire floor of The Mall of The Emirates ? Far-fetched ? Possibly . Impossible ? Maybe not .
This would call for radical rethink by the design fraternity worldwide..possibly an unprecedented collaboration between environmentalists , designers , paint companies , glass and furniture manufacturers,real estate developers ,businesses and consumers (who inhabit/use the spaces) and of course light bulb and appliance manufacturers. As the saying goes ' a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step ' .
If mankind has been able to (over the centuries up to the present day) create the exquisite , complex structures that adorn the face of this planet , then surely we have it within us to creatively and responsibly meet the challenges that we must individually and collectively shoulder to make this planet a nurturing space for centuries to come...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Paper towels

The message is self-explanatory and highly necessary in public restrooms world over . It's amazing to see how people thoughtlessly pull out multiple paper towels . The waste encouraged by the fact that the paper towels are free .

Security Check

While standing in line for the security check at an Indian airport I saw a large board with a list of the people who will not be frisked for security check. It read something like this

1. The President
2. The Prime Minister
3. Chief Ministers of Indian State Governments
4. Governors
24. Sri Robert Vadra when accompanied by SPG (Special Protection Group )

Numbers 1-23 were for officials of the Government , Judiciary ( somewhere in the list was the mention of SPG as being exempted from the check )

Robert Vadra's name in this list is an example of the blatant misuse of power by the Ministry of Civil Aviation . Maybe there's a little paragraph tucked away somewhere in the Indian Constitution that says " the Ministry of Civil Aviation gets to pick one civilian whom they can exempt from security check at the airport " . And the ministry dutifully picked the son-in-law of the self-proclaimed first family of the country for this honor .
( few months ago the media had highlighted this issue esp since the Defence Force chiefs were not on this list )

Once I got over the indignation of seeing this list I thought why is Robert Vadra's name on this list when none of the Gandhi family members are mentioned . It is plausible that Sri Vadra is the sole member of this family who flies commercially ( could be for environmental reasons or reasons that have nothing to do with the environment) . The others would be flying private aircrafts making the need for the name on the list at a terminal for commercial airlines redundant.

One wonders why did they have to do this ? Anyway Robert Vadra or folks like him would get special treatment at Indian airports . In fact you can get VIP treatment at Indian airports ( especially the smaller , regional airports ) if you are male , pot-bellied , wear a white kurta , carry 2 mobiles , carry an air of exaggerated self-importance , known to have political affiliation , famous (especially due to being in or associated with politics) - you could get away with extra-considerate treatment from the airport officials + Indian Airlines / Air India folks . It is the regular travellers who will be harassed at the security check points . Security at Indian airports is a little more than an eye-wash and disguised unemployment.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Selective measurement

I signed up for a new mobile connection from a large service provider . This was primarily to be able to access emails on the mobile . I had hoped that they would be far better than the existing service provider whom I shall endure until number portability is enabled .
With Airtel by now I have experienced the full range of problems that one can possibly have with a mobile phone provider - billing problems , activation , lack of technical support , network crash . From this point onwards things can only get better .
One strange phenomenon is that when one calls their technical help line and if the call exceeds a certain duration then an automatic text message is sent to the effect " Thank you for contacting Airtel . If you were satisfied with the last interaction you had with abc pl sms YES else NO to toll free number 247 " . Probably consumers text message their response . The sheer fact that interaction and individual specific feedback is sought makes the individuals do their best to resolve the customer queries . They don't often succeed . But at least they try .
Strangely the customer contact centres of Airtel are totally different story (based on 3 visits to an Airtel centre ) . Chaotic , overcrowded , rising tempers , mismanaged . The folks at the centre don't seem to be trained to be efficient . Most of the time "the system is down" . There is no mechanism for monitoring interactions at this "customer contact centre " . This is carte blanche for the folks manning the centre to respond to customers the way they see fit or able at that point in time .

The common factor in my experience with the technical support centre and the customer contact centre was that neither of them could resolve the problem ( It was finally done by a Nokia dealer ). But the monitoring of the interaction by the company and the feedback system seems to make a world of difference between the 2 experiences.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

At a traffic signal...

A few days ago at a traffic signal when my car stopped a young boy approached the car and asked me to buy some stuff he was selling . I told him that I did not need it ( saying no to a child is tough !) . Then he asked me to buy him some food . The signal started to change color . This kid then looked at me and asked “will you promise to buy me food another time ? “ . I was amazed by his question . Here was a young boy of 10 who has lived on the street all his life , hungry , standing on a road in the afternoon heat with no footwear and yet found it in him to covert a disappointment into a promise with a smile on his face .
* This traffic signal situation is probably unique to India .

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

We Add Up

We certainly add up .

Saturday, December 1, 2007

How many planets would be needed ?

What would the earth look like if everyone lived like me ?

The Earth couldn't support it's 6.6 billion residents if everyone lived like a typical American ( one could replace American with urban consumers in most parts of the world ). Consumer consequences will tell you how many planets it would take to support your lifestyle on a planetary level.

Though it's designed primarily to guage the planetary impact of American lifestyle it's relevant for urban consumers in most parts of the world.

We have one planet . Let's make it sustainable .