Friday, March 31, 2017

Poking nose into other people's business

Why do we poke our nose into other people's business? Despite being taught and always reminded on minding our own business, we can't resist the urge to meddle in another person's affairs. If we go down the memory lane, we might have instances where this meddling has resulted in results both good and bad. I can tell you an instance where a young friend dipped her nose into a friend's lunch box. I am talking figuratively. 

It is customary for great teams to have lunch together. Having lunch together means it 's hard to resist looking at what other person is eating. So my young friend noticed a lack of pattern in what her friend was bringing. Her friend was always bringing curd rice for lunch. Now you may be curd rice fanatic who can extol the virtues of this particular dish. You may also go into nuances of making this dish. Your speech is falling on deaf ears. For me, it is just rice mixed with curd.

The lack of pattern in her friend's lunchbox greatly disturbed my young friend. After a few days, she couldn't resist herself. So she asked her friend the reason for the curd rice. There may have been elements of of persuasion before which her friend confessed. Her friend's wife packs the lunch. As his wife is busy with household chores, the friend doesn't feel it right to register his dislike of the packed lunch.

At this point, I became tensed. There was a reason for this. I know my young friend. She is an idealist. So I second guessed how she would have reacted and I wasn't wrong. She was angry at her friend. According to her, he has to tell her the truth. He works hard, and he needs proper nutrition. So he should request for a bit of variety in lunch. She expressed the same to him. My heart sank when the narrative reached this point. I was afraid to ask what happened. My mind always conjures up adverse consequences. So I could only visualize domestic discord and discontentment no matter how I played it out in my head.

Sometimes, it is better to discuss things over. The couple might have discussed it.  As per my young friend, the curd rice was gone from the lunch box after she had a talk with her friend. I strongly believe open discussions are good. While you may take my blog as inspiration, please use your instincts and knowledge to assess a situation. This way, you have a fruitful discussion. If you do not evaluate the situation carefully, you may end up like one of my other friends. He openly discussed the new attire bought by his wife. According to him, it didn't suit her. Well, that is a story which I don't want to complete.

Photo Courtesy: Kirstie Warner

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Good food, Bad food. Tomayto, Tomahto

McDonalds. There is a lot written about the effects of fast food. As they try to make the food tastier and irresistible, there are more claims and studies on the detrimental effects on health. The Golden Arches is an easily recognizable symbol and probably a reviled one too. I am neutral to hate and the associated propaganda to this corporation. But a recent trip to one of the outskirts of Manchester is affecting my judgment particularly in a time when my timeline is filled with messages espousing the healthier food habits.

Manchester is a big city. I have not visited the city. I happen to spend a lot of time in Manchester outskirts these days. As a result, I was in the neighborhood of Stockport yesterday. If you look at Wikipedia, it is one of the large towns of Manchester. It may have rich historical significance. But it is a tiny town in reality. By the time you accelerate to 30 mph, you have left the city. I may be exaggerating, but I think you get the drift. I was hungry all of a sudden. There was not a restaurant in sight although I was near the railway station. There was a Sainsburys Local. There were numerous Indian and Chinese restaurants. None of them were open. I look at the time. It was only 8 pm.

After a bit of exploration, I found the famous golden arches. There was a magical sentence written under the arches. Open 24 hours. Because of my hunger, the food tasted delicious. Sometimes, it is the availability that matters. You may have the money, but there might not be a shop or restaurant to buy anything. Now tell me, how can I blame someone who is always there for me? Why do we dub the arches as the villain always?

Photo Courtesy: Mike Mozart

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Movie Review: No Escape

When was the last time Owen Wilson running to save his life? On screen, Owen Wilson may have enacted this drama many times. I can only remember one interesting movie with this theme. Behind Enemy Lines. Teaming up with Gene Hackman, the film, depicting the escape of a young flight officer from the enemy territory, turned out to be a good action movie. In this film too, Owen Wilson is trapped in a similar situation. Jack Dwyer played by Owen Wilson lands in an unnamed Asian country referred casually as the fourth world. He is accompanied by his family who has been uprooted from Texas to the unnamed Asian country after Jack's latest venture goes belly up. But the misfortune is following Jack as there is a coup in the country and the rebels are killing all westerners.

John Erick Dowdle, who directs and also co-writes this drama, focuses on the helplessness of people trapped in challenging situations. The protagonists are in an unknown country where the culture and language are different. They do not know whom to trust. How do you keep oneself alive in such situation? Instead of focusing on action, the director concentrates on the human emotions. We also see the extent to which a man can change to keep his family alive. We see a family united under stress and how they come out of all of this in one piece. They may be scarred, but they are alive. They do get outside help in the form of Pierce Brosnan in a short role. This role is a caricature of the Western evil which is now sorry for creating the mess. We might not have any sympathy towards this character. But he definitely will make us smirk.

At the end of the day, it is Owen Wilson and Lake Bell as Jack's wife who stands out. Owen Wilson is not in his goofy avatar. We get to see the serious side of the actor in here. Overall it is a good watch when you want to see a predictable movie with decent acting.

Language: English

Genre: Drama

Rating: ***

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The search for a hero

I was always fascinated by people who keep their cool under extreme duress. I am speaking about people who may seem ordinary but displays leadership by providing the right guidance in complicated scenarios. The world might be disintegrating around them, but they keep their head high and heart strong. According to me, such a person is a hero. We may think it is easy to find heroes. To tell you the truth, it is a rare species. Every leader has a flaw. Unfortunately, the most common fault of leaders is their inability to control their anger. Hence most of the leaders we come across get automatically disqualified from the title of a hero. In my constant quest for extraordinary people, I came across a hero. But there was a surprise in store for me in the interaction with the hero.

The hero is an acquaintance. He was handling multiple initiatives which were giving him quite a bit of trouble. By observing the buzzing movement around him for updates, you will be able to guess the magnitude of his pain. On one such day where the pain levels were high, I found him sipping a cold beverage, that too a non-alcoholic one. On seeing him enjoying the drink, I enquired unable to contain my curiosity. "How can you be so cool?" But the hero's response disappointed me. I didn't get an answer. Instead, I received a warm smile from him. A few days later, the hero tracked me down. I was surprised to find him. I was even more surprised when he brought up our previous interaction as part of the conversation. "I didn't understand your question. That is why I was not able to respond". I was not sure where this was leading. So I waited. "Another person asked me the same question. That is when it dawned on me. Stress does not show on my face. It may be a bad thing because then people think I am not serious. But I am glad. The unfortunate part is that I can't see my face when I am confronting trouble. I can only feel my heart beating faster. I might not be panicking, but I am worried."

I was puzzled. Here is a man who qualifies to be called a hero. But he doesn't realize it himself. While this thought consumed my mind, the hero spoke again. "I wish I could see myself during such situations. I always admired people who kept a cool head while confronting problems. I never thought I was one such person." The final statement reminded me of all the great quests and their ending. What you search is closer than you think it is. In the hero's case, it was closer to home.

Picture Courtesy: Lovro67

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Things to do on the work anniversary of your colleague

I am turning another year old at my workplace. As I turn grayer at work, I realize there is a lot of company in this matter. All of them are getting congratulatory emails on the completion of the milestone. As I brace myself with anxiety and anticipation for a similar email, I can't help wonder. Why do congratulate someone on their work anniversary?

Take a good look around your workplace. There is always demand for doing more with less. It has always been there. When we think we had squeezed the most to attain this objective, there is yet another demand to perform a miracle. While we try to get the best out of ourselves, there is the sword of Damocles. It is in the form of machines. They are rising. Or did I miss it entirely? Have the machines taken over? These are minor when compared to other challenges. As you age in the organization, the wisdom you have gained acts as a deterrent. The wisdom tells you not to jump to conclusions. This characteristic is interpreted as risk aversion.

With all these worrying facts, it is easy to give up anytime. If a person has stayed on for another year, it means that he has stayed on despite the challenges. Giving up is easier than staying on. So you should not be showering him congratulations. You should be thanking him. So the next time you compose a congratulatory email, please think it through clearly. Try to find something nice about interaction with the person and thank him for that. If you can't remember a beautiful thing, then keep it simple with a thank you. Smileys are acceptable and a perfect ruse for covering up your ordinariness of the relation.

Picture Courtesy: chriscom
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