Archive | June, 2008

RIP

27 Jun

Sometime ago, Aditya had blogged about Vinay.. a friend of his who had AML ((Acute Myeloid Leukemia).

There was a ray of hope when he managed to find a donor. But that was not to be, as he succumbed to the disease on the 25th of June. Though I did not know him, I came to appreciate the grit shown by him and his ability to bring people together for a common cause – in this case, establishing a bone marrow registry for South Asians in the USA.

RIP Vinay… You are an inspiration.

June 25, 2033 – Where will you be?

26 Jun

I am tired of the question “Where were you on June 25th 1983?”… it was a day when India won its one and only world cup. 25 years later we are still celebrating it. Dont get me wrong.. I think it was a great victory.. but its getting a bit tiresome… In the meantime Australia has won 3. The BCCI keeps milking this event…

So I take you to the future.. June 25 2033…

India is celebrating the 50th year of its winning its one and only world cup. Octogenerian Sunil Gavaskar can still play with the young turks and said he wished another Indian team would win the world cup soon. He was tired of going to the same old felicitation ceremony over and over and over again.

Former India captain M.S Dhoni regretted that the Indian team could not win the 50 over world cup. They had won every other title 20/20, 10/10, 5/5, and the One over dhamaka (1/1). He hoped Dhoni Jr would have better luck.

Modi the commissioner of the IPL and the newly formed under 10 league said that there was a lot of talent in India. He cited the 1 year old prodigy Babloo. “We have the talent. We just have to win” he said.

Kapil who leads the rebel tiny tots league said that he still feels proud that he was the only captain to lead india to a world cup win. “There is no answer to me (Kapil kaa Jawab Nahin)” he said. He said “I always have a feeling ki that we will win every tournaement we that play in.. but we are not giving the 100% effort like my boys in 1983”.

190 year old Lele who was the BCCI Secy when India won the world cup said that he would definitely be around when the guys won the world cup the next time.

Kirmani still felt that India was not winning because none of the Wicketkeepers came to him for advise.

Rajdeep Sardesai the veteran’s veteran of news anchor wondered if reservations introduced in the team had affected our perfomances. “After all a 30% reservation for upper castes sends the wrong signals” he said.
 Kris Srkkkant the Brand Ambassador for the “Chennai Sooper Children” (under 10 league) said “WellIdontthinkreservationsarebad….  therearenobadreservationsonlybadreservers..gasp..gasp”.

Mohinder Amarnath was still on his way to the function…he was looking for that red hanky…

All players were sure that they will be back in 2083 for the 100th Anniversary celebrations of India winning the world cup.

Dateline Jakarta – Lastest Part

25 Jun

The airport was a mess. Looked like everyone wanted to leave. Long queues, desparate queries. Yet in all this there were no frayed tempers. Meanwhile we had been on the phones with our respective travel agents the previous evening trying to get seats out of Jakarta but without any success.

People were on their mobiles. Several of the fleeing locals were getting minute by minute updates about their houses. A woman close to me broke down on learning that their house had been set on fire. I left it to CB to bulldoze his way through the crowd to get information. I was content to guard the luggage.

To cut a long story short we managed to get onto a 6:30 AM flight to Bali and then a flight from Bali to Singapore. The Mobile that CB had given me was God sent and helped me keep in touch with the family and more importantly the travel agent..

( Oh ya.. talking of the travel agent… she kept looking for business class tickets till my wife called her up and told her to get me out even if it meant sitting in the baggage hold… so much for priorities.)

There was one problem though… none of the pilots could make it to the airport.. there were passengers, there were planes BUT NO ONE TO FLY THEM !!!

As one can imagine, food and water were at a premium as in there werent any. Our mini bar raids came in very handy. A combination of Vodka and Orange juice at 10 AM was quite interesting. We kept waiting…. and imbibing…

Out in the city, things were calming down. The army had bought things under control and things were limping back to normal. SBK called us and said the rioting had stopped.

Finally at 3:45 PM.. the 6:30 AM flight to Bali was ready to leave.. compared to the chaos of Jakarta, Bali was calm and quiet. Obviously the trouble was local to the capital city. Our luggage we were told would follow later… we really didnt care… we had no time to appreciate the beauty there as we were running to catch our connecting flight…

CB boarded a flight back to Germany and I made my way to Singapore. On reaching there, I stumbled into the Airline lounge, found myself a nice corner and slept. It was 10 PM and my flight back to India was at 8’ish the next evening…

In the meantime things at our offices in Dublin Ireland, and the USA were in a tizzy. “Employees Missing” was the general word. I would learn later from my wife that she was more worried when she got calls from the office (we had already moved to Bangalore by the way).

That couch in the corner became my refuge for the next 24 hours (though to call a Business Class Singapore Airline lounge a refuge is to demean it). I was well looked after… learnt from TV that Suharto had returned and Jakarta was back to normal… but it was the beginning of the end for him.

EPILOGUE:

What happened to everyone? Nothing… life went on…

I ran into SBK a year later. He was none the worse for the wear. Family was doing well and kids were headed off to the states. Last time I saw him in 2004 he was semi-retired and enjoying his hard earned money.

CB left our company to pursue teaching full time at the University of Bremen. He still teaches there…and yes I returned his Mobile.

And me? Well…. I am here aren’t I?

I did go back to Jakarta several times afterwards… but never to Bali except for that hurried visit…

Oh ya and the luggage made it as well.

Dateline Jakarta

23 Jun

Places bring back old memories some good some bad. Events that make you appreciate the things you have. I Walked into the Singapore Airlines lounge at Singapore last week and the couch in the corner took me back to a tumultous two days a decade ago. Before anyone gets any ideas… read on…
It was a long business trip way back in May 1998. My first stop was Singapore, followed by Hong Kong (heard the news there about the Pokhran blasts and the US embargo on India), and then Indonesia. In all this I was accompanied by a German Colleague Dr. CB. We were together in Singapore and HK and I left for Indonesia on an earlier flight. Those days CB was one of the few people who carried mobile phones with International roaming.. multiple ones at that. He was (and still is) a well known figure in the Mobile Industry and operators used to actually GIVE him phones.

So as I left he gives me a mobile and says to me “Keep this phone. It might be useful. I’ll take it back when I see you in Jakarta”. International roaming for my India mobile phone was still not active.

So anyhow, I get to Jakarta without any problem. Check into a very nice hotel (owned by one of Suharto’s sons).

Indonesia was in turmoil. Suharto was getting unpopular and there was a popular uprising against him. Daily processions were commonplace. The army was having a hard time controlling the crowds. Suharto was also out of the country at that time. The place was boiling and about to explode.

First day passes by without any problem. On day two, at around 11 AM, our local partner (and CEO of the company) SBK suddenly rushes into the meeting room. “Pack your bags. Theres trouble”. CB who was in another meeting is already in the car. The streets were eeriely quiet. I could see smoke on the horizon.

The protests against Suharto had turned to violence against the ethnic Chinese.They were being targeted and their houses burnt. Our partner SBK was of Chinese origin (7th Generation) and was in grave personal danger. Yet he took the trouble of taking responsibility for CB and me. SBK was an extremely successful and powerful businessman. It was people like him that were being lynched.

Going back to the hotel was impossible as there was trouble on the streets. SBK took us to his house. Inside his wife and children were all packed ready to leave their house at a moments notice. It was there that we spent several hours waiting for the violence to abate. All the while SBK’s house was being guarded by his men and he’d get reports from the police control room. We could also hear mobs in the distance. Smoke from burning buildings was getting closer.

Sometime around 9 PM SBK told us that his driver would take us back to the hotel. “Pack up and be ready to leave any time. I will get you to the airport. Thats the safest place. You people will HAVE to leave Indonesia. No sleep he told me. Be awake”. CB and I go back to the hotel and wait. On the way we see entire shopping malls charred. From our rooms, we could see buildings catching fire one by one. CB suggested that we “take” the Mini-bar with us so we emptied both rooms (would be a lifesaver later on) including the little booze bottles.

At around 3AM, SBK calls and says “Go down. The driver is waiting for you”. He disconnected the phone before I could ask him how he and his family were. The driver was waiting at the lobby. We checked out of the hotel… paid for the mini-bar as well. We then started going through the side streets of Jakarta trying to find a safe passage to the airport. By now burning buildings were a common sight as were armymen checking each and every vehicle. I dont know what strings SBK had pulled but our car was waved through every checkpoint and soon we were on the highway heading towards the airport. We had to  get there and then find a way out of the country.

When we got to the airport an hour later.. it was chaos… it was going to be a looooong day.

To be continued

Back to posting

22 Jun

Apologies for going AWOL. Was in China and WordPress was blocked. Back to blogging next week.

Tag a Tag a Tag a Tag….

16 Jun

Rada tagged me today. But before I do his tag, I need to finish Balu’s (tag I mean).

So here goes:

Last movie you saw in a theater?

Taare Zameen Par

What book are you reading?

My Son’s Math and Chemistry Books (Std X)

Favourite board game:

NONE !!

Favorite magazine:

Golf Digest

Favorite smells:

Freshly Baked Bread, Smell of impending rain.

Favorite sound:

Little Babies Chattering

Worst feeling in the world:

Not being in control

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up?

Got to wake up Junior !!!!

Favorite fast food place:

SLV in Bsk 2nd Stage

Future child’s name:

No More Planned

Finish this statement, “If I had a lot of money I’d…”

I could “afford” to teach in a high school.. and play lots of Golf

Do you drive fast?

Used to. Now have a driver 😦

Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?

He.. he.. a loaded question. No I dont.

Storms – Cool or Scary?

Cool if I am indoors.

Do you eat the stems on broccoli?

Do not eat Broccoli – The Vile Weed as Newman on Seinfel called it.

If you could dye your hair any color, what would be your choice?

Lets ask Denis Rodman.

Name all the different cities/towns you have lived in:

Peoria, ILL, Nashua NH, Merrimack NH, Singapore, Bangalore

Favorite sports to watch:

Golf.

One nice thing about the person who sent this to you:

Maybe Nice. Maybe Not 😉

What’s under your bed?

Last time I saw, there was something there that winked at me

Would you like to be born as yourself again?

Sure why not. Known Devil better than unknown angel

Morning person or night owl?

Definitely Morning Person.

Over easy or sunny side up?

Both.

Favorite place to relax:

Golf Course.

Favorite pie:

Apple.

Favorite ice cream flavor:

Chocolate… with Brownies.

You pass this tag to : I solemnly and officially stop this tag by not tagging anyone else.

Our own Idly Place

12 Jun

SLV in Banashankari 2nd Stage is one of those “hole in the wall” eateries that has been around since the early 70’s. The main fare here is Idly, Vada, Khara Bhaath and Kesari Bhaath… NO SAMBAR !!!

As with places like Brahmins Coffee Bar, the Chutney is watery and is poured on the idly/vada. Lately they have added additional eats like Dose etc.

A favorite joint for Nikhil and me on our so called “Health Walks” 😉 . Its just a 5 minute walk from home. All this time, the missus thinks we are exercising.. hyuk hyuk

 

 Always crowded but worth it.

 Bhattru handing out tokens. He almost had a seizure when I told him the price of Idly at the New Bengaluru International Airport.

 The Price List. Not too expensive.

 Disclaimer: All ratings of the above restaurant are based on Nikhil’s feedback and my own experience. Taste may vary based on day, ingredients, Bhattru’s mood and other conditions beyond our control. I also do not own any stock. Bhattru is a proprietership. If you do go there and dont like the food, think of it as your forehead writing.

UPDATE:

As per Ramki’s request below a Google Map snapshot of the Location: