By-Two Kaapi in an oilfield

The weblog of Abhilash Ravishankar, India.

Here I blog about my personal experiences [posting rarely]

At my tumblelog Intoxicated by possibility I blog about my opinions/likes/dislikes [posting heavily]

Musings on a diesel locomotive

As I travelled alone yesterday from Bangalore to Mysore, I was missing something - a book to read - which I always carry on my frequent train journeys between these two cities. I just had Jack Welch's 'Winning' in my bag and I had just a couple of chapters to finish, which I devoured in less than 20 minutes. So, there I was stranded on the railway platform - 1 hour ahead of schedule - just staring at people who looked more lost than I was.

  • I saw one familiar face, a man who had travelled in the same coach on my last journey. A grumpy young man. We exchanged silent grins.
  • And then, I needed a capuccino, but had to compromise for an ordinary coffee due to the non-availability of the former.
  • As I boarded the diesel locomotive, I managed to get a seat next to a chirpy Malayali Kannadiga. And then came in one more friendly old guy to the vacant seat on my right.

This seems so natural a journey, but for me it was different because I am used to either chat the whole journey with someone or read a book throughout. Here I could do nothing. So, I just sat back and let out the philosopher, the thinker, the psychologist, the scientist, the engineer, the entrepreneur in me. (Whoah! Am I a mixture of all that ?)

  • The usual scuffle for seats - reserved by a mucus-laden handkerhief. There was a woman travelling with two of her children and one cousin of theirs. Unable to find a seat in that extremely overcrowded train, she somehow managed to snug in her two little kids in some vacant space and she stood through half the journey. I remembered one incident - Rewind 6 years - A teacher of mine had remarked, "What is the driving force for the progress of the society ?" - "The unstinted wish of every parent that his/her child should lead a much better life and all that they do towards making that wish come true"
  • Outside the window marked by 3 iron grill rods, I could smell the stink as we just left Bangalore - Vrishabhavati. The river(if you can call any form of flowing liquid - a river) formed by all the drainage exits across the city. And next to it was an endless sea of huts and slums. A herd of ragpickers fighting over a pile of polythene covers. A line of naked children waving at us. A young boy being sent by his mother to defecate in front of their own hut. I felt a strong sense of emptiness. Here I am talking of VHDL and its likes when I see people who are suffering at the very rise of civilisation that I shall be abetting by devising faster chips, faster machines, bigger buildings. What can I do that can improve thier lives? Isn't seeing a smile on their faces much satisfying than getting a promotion for implementing a new design on a chip? I thought about the rural housing idea that I had, which after hours of discussion with a civil engineer, none other than my Dad, was rendered infeasible. And about Prahalad, who also rebutted the concept of providing basic necessities to such people in his book on the BOP and emphasised the issue of giving them a 'luxurious' life they always crave for. And about the endless raving about charity when people know that its not sustainable. If only I could do something.......
  • As the train chugged along, shouts of 'tea-coffee-maddur vada' rose in unison and faded into obscurity alternately. I heard cries of 'Peanuts' . Easily recognisable as a old lady's cry. She walked into our compartment. A basket on her head - It couldn't have weighed more than 5 kgs but her frail body looked as if it would almost collapse under its weight. The kids I talked abou earlier bought peanuts worth 3 bucks. I made some crude calculations. On a single train, she would sell around 15 such packets - thats 45 bucks. Probably a profit of 40 bucks. With the energy that I saw in her, the maximum that she could cover per day, aorund 10 trains. Thats around 400 bucks. Thats pretty close to 250 bucks that she could have made by just begging. I saw in her 'dignity' - She chose to earn bread when she could beg. That is a spirit I salute.
Well, I could make a day-long documentary on my thoughts on that journey, but I am feeling sleepy and I better end at this.

Reading: Soon to begin 'Blink' - Malcom Gladwell

Listening to: Kishore Kumar: Chalte Chalte yeh mere geet yaad rakna

The Fountainhead of all Achievements

I am carrying this title over from my last post. Most of you might have guessed the origin of this phrase. Yes, Ayn Rand - 'The Fountainhead'.

The first time I heard about this book and its author was in somebody's Orkut profile, but it didnt strike me where it had to. I remember the second time, something more memorable was when we were playing Hangman sometime in BITS, and I just survived the gallows by guessing this book's name. But the most memorable incident was when my wingmate bought her other book - Atlas Shrugged. The rave reviews I read about both the books on the back cover page of that book hit me. And then, as Destiny had it, I again bought a pirated version of this book on the streets of Bangalore for 60 bucks, when the original costs around 250. (PS: In no way am I encouraging piracy through this measly little blog of mine, nor am I recommending pirated books for your 'i-have-no-work' eyes (coz ur reading this post). I am after all a non-earning 'gotta-save-some-money' student with an insatiable thirst for books and the incongruable society leaves me no choice !)

Primarily introduced to the philosophy of 'Objectivism', one feels the urge to read more. She defines her philosophy as

"My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

There's loads of philosophy embedded in her writing, and that makes it the best read I have ever had. Chunks of her writing are so deep and intellectual that it takes atleast a couple of readings to grasp the true meaning and the hidden wisdom. One of the best chunks I came across in the book -
Let's take two parallel lines. I'm inclined to agree with Euclid, I don't think these two parallels will ever meet....No man likes to be beaten. But to be beaten by the man who has always stood as the particular example of mediocrity in his eyes, to start by the side of this mediocrity and to watch it shoot up, while he struggles and gets nothing but a boot in his face, to see the mediocrity snatch from him, one after another, the chances he'd give his life for, to see the mediocrity worshipped....well, my little amateur, do you think the Spanish Inquisition ever thought of a torture to equal this?"

And then comes the legendary duel between individualsim and collectivism. The best part of the book is that it shakes every definition you have assumed of words like integrity, individualism, courage...everything that seemed so obvious to you..think again.

Disclaimer: This book is meant only for 'serious' people. In simpler terms, read this only if you have an inclination towards philosohpy and human psychology. If you are more of a thrill-seaking reader, please do stay away from this book. Its more for slow, intellectual reading.

After all, man has to aim to be the Fountainhead of all achievements.

Me reloaded

Its been exactly one month since I landed up in the Silicon Capital of India (or whatever) with a bubbling enthusiasm to do things never concieved, with stringent determination to scale heights never scaled, with lively hopes of going places neer seen. And after a month I ponder.....

What did I do in Bangalore over the month. I have been - for the lack of a better euphemism - frozen. I stood still when I had to run. It is said these days, you have to run to stay where you are. But the sadder story is that the world went behind, so me standing there frozen didnt matter. But then, the real competition is as Agent Smith puts it "Me, me and only me". I failed miserably. I had so many plans of blogging, surfing, mailing, conceptualising, dreaming ..... but then I did nothing but wake up, eat idly (argh!), sit in the bus, go to office, switch on comp, browse thorugh some pdfs, go for lunch, come back and sleep, wake up, board bus again, go back home, sleep again, wake up and flip 5 pages of a novel, go have dinner, come back and watch a movie, crash. Life was damn monotonous. And my entrepreneurial spirit couldnt stand long.

So, finally here I am.......reloaded.....
Charged with charge enough to catapult myself through a seemingly hopefully productive summer. I have made it a point to sit in front of the net for atleast an hour daily. The problem is that i get atleast 15 mails a day, and an hour is spent replying to them! Anyways, lots queued up this summer (or rather, autumn here in Blr).

After all, man should aim to be the fountainhead of all achievements (Hail Ayn Rand!)
And, I got Jack Welch's "Winning" in the black market at 120 bucks. Excellent deal, considering that the original is around 650 bucks. (Hail piracy! ;) )

Probably, "Winning" was one of the main reasons for the turnaround of myself from a lousy sloth bear to a roadrunner. Hail Jack Welch. I strongly accept what Warren Buffet had to say about the book -

No other management book would ever be needed

So many hails in the air, let me add one more.... Hail myself !

Currently listening to:
Back home: Piya bole - Parineeta (Nice movie)
Now: FM 91 in the net cafe

Days have come and days have gone

Yet here I am unable to vent my thoughts......

Not a day goes by here in Bangalore without me making a mental note that I have to blog about an event or a thought...but then the zeitgeist has other plans. Every day I come back from work at around 7 in the evening and I am too zonked to sit and blog at the net cafe as I spent atleast an hour answering my mails. I pity myself at this horrendous and pathetic state of mine. Once upon a time, this soul called Abhilash Ravishankar used to caress the blogosphere almost daily and now that very soul is cribbing about the bitter truth that it cant do so once a week. But at this very moment, in the holy presence of my keyboard, mouse and the flickering monitor I solemnly swear that I shall try to blog more often. (Vague to the tee, isn't it?)

Anyways, here's a brief recap about a lot of events that I missed out to blog about:

  • I was there at the BITSAA Bangalore Summer Bash. Made a presentation on CEL activities, and got to meet a lot of other cool BITSians
  • Met up with Naina at her office and had a wonderful long chat. Ah! So, miss people like her in Pilani. Though she reminds me of someone out in Pilani.
  • Met up with my uncles, aunts and cousins from Uncle Sam's country. Had a great time talking with them.
  • Had a damn hectic week at work doing some stupid meaningless reports and some seminars which are judged not by the purpose of the presentation but by the quantity of pure physics concepts in it!
  • Bunked a day of PS coz I was up late night reading Ayn Rand's Fountainhead. Almost done with it !!
  • Got to know that Indira Nooyi is actually my aunt's first cousin !! Whoah ! I am related to Indira Nooyi !!
  • Professional networking - man! I got to schmooze with a lot of bigwigs and it has undoubtedly been a great week here.

Listening to:
Ah! Nothing but the wroom sounds of bikes and scooters passing the road at this time of the night

What has happened to me?

I am trying to figure out that myself. I have become so damn busy I just cant even blog. Anyways' here's to keep my blog floating.

Cattell's 16 Factor Test Results
Emotional Stability50%
Social Assertiveness62%

Post from office

Finally ..... Finally .....
I am blogging from the comfy confines of my cubicle here in U & I System Design Bangalore. The joy of blogging from office....ah...its so good.
Anyways, shall post a longer post soon. Gotta scram to meet my PL.

After Week1

Here's what I have learnt about life and myself after 1 week in Bangalore and in the workplace (the company I am interning in):

  • I am a workaholic
  • Books make more sense than senseless gossip
  • Mocha Moksha rocks!
  • I have a big weakness - a vacillating mind
  • I hate shirking work at the workplace
  • I keep the home clean more than any of my housemates (Mom, u heard that !)
  • I just so miss some people out here
  • I miss 24x7 net access
  • I am damn unlucky
  • Never ever cross the road while stuffing money into your wallet (Coz thou shall get hit by a Honda Activa)
  • Always carry enough money
  • Whatever I am missing, I see it everywhere around me. So near yet so far
  • I would rather lose a million bucks over a game of UNO rather than being given a combo offer of * + * + * + *
  • I love challenging projects
  • I have begun to lose interest in the web!
  • C K Prahalad, Mario Puzo, Ayn Rand are studs!

Shall get back soon after Week2


This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of the people, institutions or organizations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.


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