Wednesday, July 28, 2010


It's a small remote village in interior parts of the state of Maharashtra. It's a place where mud houses galore, there are no roads and when I last visited it, it had a notional version of Electricity; The one who's existence was based purely on MSEB's mood swings.

It is not a green village, and the once free flowing village river has dried out long back. The only means of income is farming which depends heavily on subsidies. It has a local co-operative bank and a post office too, but for all other practical administrative purposes, the people of this village go to the nearest big town which is called Wani. Wani is about 30 kilometers from it and Wani itself has not much home to write about.

Why am I bothering to write about such a place in the first place?

Because it is where my family started it's journey. It's the place where my Grandfather held a sway.

My Grandfather owned land and house in there. He had a big family of 6 kids. But since he was involved in freedom struggle he missed out on the childhood of some of his kids. My Grandmother was the defacto head of the house in his prolonged absence at times. How she managed all this, I have no clue. But she did manage and all my uncles and aunts completed their education. They used to attend school and college in Wani till they finally had to move to Nagpur for doing graduation.

All this while, my Grandfather provided the financial support (he did good for most part) while my grandmother provided the moral and emotional one. Between handling Mardi and Nagpur, India got it's independence.

If I have to connect the dots backwards, I see it as something remarkable. We have been a family of immigrants. My Grandfather held it on his own in a small village in British India. My father worked his way up in a small 2nd-tier city of Nagpur in Central India and lived all his life there. Nagpur is him and he is Nagpur now. My Uncle on the other hand lived all his professional life as a scientist in Mumbai. And now me, the 3rd generation relative to my Grandfather have been living in Chicago for last few years.

In each case the immigration was triggered by one word. The word is Opportunity. In my father's and uncles case it was more the educational opportunities which were better in Nagpur than at Mardi, And in my case it's job.

We moved to place where there was a "better" opportunity than what was available at our current setup. Of course I have to put the word better in quotes, coz it's all relative. In other word, if I wanted to, I could have had created for myself a good career at the place of my birth - Nagpur. But I still moved out of Nagpur. What drove was "better" opportunity.

If I have to put all this differently, I would put it this way - "A place where I get better returns for my efforts".

If you look at it, the previous generation moved away from their roots for the same reason. They saw better returns for their efforts.

It may seem to be like a "trade". And at the very basic and fundamental level - it is. And that's what humans inherently do. We trade.
And not only charges. We are constantly trading. We trade ideas, knowledge, skills, labor etc. I trade my skills in return of income. So we all do. When we join a firm, it's basically a trade. I will provide work,idea,creativity,analysis,labor in some form, in exchange of salary. The place that provides me more buck for my bang would be my natural relocation point. Of course there are a lot of factors. But the one thing that does not change is the word it self - opportunity.

The Opportunity to do something positive, constructive, creative, analytic, intellectually stimulating, progressive and one that allows me to indulge into a positive engagement of my mind,time and energy in return for some greens to keep me going.

Mardi did not offer same to my father so he moved to Nagpur. Nagpur did not offer me the same so I moved out. What system or model of governance really offers more fruitful and fulfilling opportunities, that's personal and debatable. I don't want to go into that. But the very fact that I made an informed choice of moving to America, a country that was not my natural birth place, tells me something about my own choices. And I cannot be in denial of that.

And I also believe in standing up for that choice I made. I fully and completely stand by it. I think given the circumstances I would not choose another path.

Bottom line is, we do not choose the country, city, state, village we are born. But we do at some level CHOOSE what place we make our life moves in adulthood.

For centuries humans have done this. We moved because of weather conditions, river, resources, skills etc. In each case the basic word was opportunity. Opportunity to have a "better" quality of life. For 3 generations at least my family has moved. And I am totally cool with it.


P.S : I had written this a couple of years back. This was lying on a txt file somewhere in "My Documents". I have a son now. Not sure where he is going to Migrate?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Lingo Bingo

Something intrigued me while watching the series Mad Men the other day. In 1960s Manhattan, 'swell' was a commonly used term. The closest word to match swell in today's lingo is 'cool'

It's funny how our lingo, both spoken and written, keeps changing. It seems to me like the classical English we all learnt earlier in our life, the technically correct one I mean, is a drag now. There you go, I just used .. "is a drag". I don't seem to remember if "is-a-drag" thingy I used much, just few years back. (Thingy? Really?)

Here are a few things (slang I guess) I picked up in last decade or so ...

'you are kidding me'
'get the drift?'
'keeping it honest'
'size it up'
'i wouldn't do that'
'That is 'so' not cool'
'big time'
'cool'and now 'kewl'
'don't quote me on that'
'that's a given'
'shove it up your..'
'it grows on you'
'we are in a home stretch'
'that was smooth'
'oh boy'
'r we on same page'
'crunch the numbers'
'here's the rub'

and many more I can't seem to think of..

Just a thought : English is probably the most structurally scalable language IMO.(I admit I don't know enough languages to make this call)