Thursday, February 23, 2006

Manjunath Shanmugam Trust

This is from a post on my alumni egroups and almost verbatim. For those of you who had asked about how you could contribute to Manju's cause, here is some info.

Message Starts Here ->

Today, Feb 23rd is the birthday of Manjunath Shanmugam - an IIM L (2003) alumnus who lost his life for his fight against corruption. He died on November 19th, 2005.

As a Sales Manager with Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. (IOCL), Manju turned down bribes and ignored threats, to do his job – check rampant adulteration of petrol. He was shot dead in Lakhimpur Kheri by a petrol pump owner and his gang.

To most of us, though we never met him, Manju is extremely familiar and is, in part, within every one of us. This is one cause we CANNOT turn away from. We have no excuse. We must ensure that his death does not go in vain.

The Manjunath Shanmugam Trust is now a legal entity with 2 trustees - Anjali Mullatti (IIML '93) and H. Jaishankar (IIMB '91).

The immediate and urgent focus of the trust is to take up the legal battle and ensure quick justice for the murder case. The murderers must not go free.

The broader objectives of the trust are

a. To establish and maintain an award for individuals/institutions working to uphold the values of truth and honesty in the face of danger to themselves.

b. To provide aid to individuals fighting a legal battle to uphold the values of truth, honesty or justice in the Indian corporate, government or public matters.

For updates on what we have done to date and our next steps, please visit the trust website: www.manjunathshanmugamtrust.org

How can you help?

Firstly – funds are needed to pay lawyers' fees, case costs, build an award corpus.. this will be a long and tedious battle. Please donate just one day's salary for the cause.
Our first donors: Rs. 44,500 ($ 1000) from Sanjay Khanduri, Wharton Class of 2006, and Rs. 30,000 from Akhil Krishna, IIML 2003.

Secondly, if you can commit time and effort, please write in and be part of the team.

Thirdly, if you have close contacts in media, police, legal, judiciary who can help, please let us know.

It is heartwarming that so many people have already reacted immediately and generously – across the spectrum of media, legal, police and the IIM fraternity. Be part of that group.


How do you donate?
1. Write a cheque favouring `The Manjunath Shanmugam Trust' , and courier it to:
2909/1, Raghavapriya, 3rd Main, V.V. Mohalla, Mysore 570 002, India
2. Write a cheque favouring `The Manjunath Shanmugam Trust' , and deposit it in any HDFC bank drop box, with a deposit slip, account number 0651000091870.
3. Do an online money transfer , to the HDFC Bank a/c , from your ICICI /HDFC/Citibank a/c. Account number 0651000091870.

Currently FCRA regulations prohibit us from accepting foreign remittances - we're working on getting special permission. For now, please route all overseas donations via your regular Indian rupee accounts.

We have also applied for income tax exemption for donors under Section 80 (G).

Please contact the undersigned for any further clarifications.
Anjali Mullatti
Class of '93
91-821-4288688 or 98801-91323

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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bangalore Marathon 2006

The first one in Bangalore for the year, is here. Read about it here. I am not sure whether I will do the full or the half. Depends on whether I will get support from someone at RFL for the full race.

Discovered that Madras has its own group of runners from Kiruba's site. More on them, soon.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Update on Manju's Case

The chargesheet has been filed in Manju's case by Mr. Zaki Ahmad, SP of Lakhimpur. One of my batchmates who has met him in person was touched by his sincerity and efforts to get to the heart of the matter in Manju's murder. We hope that the rest of the official machinery is up to the task to deliver justice.

Kolkota

We (and this time there were actually two of us) are standing in front of our office on Park Street, eating jhalmuri. Suddenly a guy walks by and gestures wildly at what we are eating. While my colleague is a little at odds as to what the stranger wants, I realize that he is asking for some of the jhalmuri. And he is not the sort who looks like he can't afford it or is in need of immediate food. Anyways, my colleague tilts his paper cover into the guy's hand and the guy gets a handful of jhalmuri. He eats some of it and says "Mmm" and nods in approval and walks on! Oh bondhus, this can happen only in Kolkota.

And among other things, we made our first client visit and attended meetings and all. We are beginning to learn the ropes, waking early, sleeping late and catching up on sleep in taxis and planes.

And here is something more encouraging about our beloved Bondhus indulging in one of our interests.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

No bachelors, Labra, Aloo Poshto, Vegetarian only, Iyankar, Santhome, Kolkota!

Goodbye Chennai, Aloo Kolkota. Me poshto :)
The hotel that I am staying had a Bengali food fest. And a vegetarian one to boot!Met Aloo Poshto, Labra, Cham Cham, the Rosso Malai, Rosso Gulla, Rene Russo (ok, ok, only the 1st 2 Rossos were there, but we do like the third one)

Suvo the man was aghast that a Bong food fest should be vegetarian of all things! But what to do, we are like this wonly. No Movin, your team is safe...

First the house hunt. That could easily have been titled a mousehunt. It was equally frustrating if not more. First endless questions about my being brahmin and why such a North Indian name?! I assured someone that I was brahmin and vegetarian! Wow! Endless auto rickshaw sorties across Mylapore, RA Puram, Alwarpet, etc yielded nothing but pesky questioning, including one case in which the neighbours who held the keys said sorry after I had seen the place and liked it! And when are my parents coming along. And why am I not married yet!? Phew!

And the auto saga continues. I met 2 polite auto drivers who did not ask for the Park Sheraton in return for dropping me off 2 km further down the road! One took me from Mylapore to Santhome thru some weird short cuts, which he knew by virtue of having lived there for 25 years! And I had no clue. And then another one, who had had a little too much to drink and was red eyed, but utterly civil, took us from Santhome to the hotel.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, presenting our house!
We are now designated denizens of Chennai and have an address. Marina beach is 5 mins from the house and we can now run on the beach every weekend. Bombay, we shall come back next year, faster and stronger.

Here's a beauty from The Hindu Property Plus dt 18/02/06, pg 4, ... When Summer Commences, people love to Ice-Cream, Tutty Fruity and Peach-Melba. They also love to move into ... Flats, Bungalows!

And finally, we are off to Calcutta on work for a day. More when we are back.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Last Day in Bangalore, First Day in Madras!

What a day!
First we have the 14 km race by RFL in which we came joint 3rd alongwith the incredible finisher Farah, who has now more or less become our partner for the last few races. We run at the same pace and she does exactly what we cannot do, which is finish well! For the record, our timing was 1 hr 8 min 54 sec.

And then Vetcha Boy, Vijay & Bhasker present an incredibly generous gift of the Ultimate Running Guide published by Runners World, after the race! That was like whoah! I am actually on record for having shrieked with delight! I mean, does it get any better than this!? May Arvind give away 4 coffees next Jan! Or maybe 5 incl Deepak...

Have taken pics of the club and all the runners today. Will post asap. Could not take up Viji on her offer of breakfast today as we had not begun packing! Took along friend and his wife to the event and they were suitably energized to run in the next race. We hope to be there too. Viva RFL!

I am on seat 1F on my ATR flight of Jet Airways.This is my 1st ever seat on row 1. Not all that an event, considering that the flight is really small! But my copassenger is an interesting businessman from Madras, is older than my dad and runs his own power systems company. Since I had begun reading the above in right earnest, it attractes his attention and I spent most of the flight discussing running, my diet, his being diabetic, ... Bangalore and its roads, upsides to Madras, accommodation in Madras,... Even the airhostess listened attentively whenever she found the time to stand by our seats!

In the end, he apologized for not having introduced himself, did so, when I realized when I had not told him my name! With that out of the way, he gave me his card.

We landed in Madras and the luggage took its own time in arriving. But then on, everything was a breeze. Prepaid taxi driver was silent till he said, 'Thank you' when I gave him the receipt and left promptly. Hotel check in was also accomplished with minimum fuss and we have a cool room with a neat writing desk! How cool is that. And we have books to read as well. Doing all this from a Sify cybercafe near the hotel.

More when we return to the net!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Brindavan Express, Lalbagh Express, Shatabdi Express, Bangalore Mail...

and other new friends that shall soon become dear, in addition to the occasional flight. Like we said around the dawn of the new year, we have just had our last day at our previous employer and are Madras bound for a new job, starting Monday.

Amongst the several insane moments we have had, this is the current chart topper. Why else would someone leave the cool climes of baby Bangalore and move to Chennai?! We ask ourselves atleast twice a day and pick up the nearest blunt object and plonk it down on our hollow skull to drive home the point.

Anyways, we need vast amounts of luck to survive and invite liberal contributions from all inhabitants of this universe, to ensure we don't get fired! (You with that dog there, did doggy dearest send his lucky charm!?)

One known upside is that we shall train in a more hostile climate and hence become stronger and better at running, after the curious incident of the jog in the daytime earlier this year.Right said Fred

And our day was made at Firangi Pani, by our previous boss, who decided that A for Absolut, B for Bacardi is the right way to learn the alphabet on our last day at work! Thanks to him.

God bless Bondhus!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What Dreams May Come


Last Saturday, while teaching my class (this is an old photo of my class and the entire class is not present), I decided to ask them a question based on reading this on Uma's blog. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Although most of the responses were along expected lines and included teacher,lawyer, collector, scientist, policeman, etc one response shook me a little. One of the kids wanted to become a mechanic. When I asked him why, he explained that how much ever you study, it is a little difficult to get a job. One might as well do something that will help him earn something, rather than run around for jobs.

Once we had run through with everyone's current plans, I began to discuss with them what is required to get there. Although it is a little early to discuss careers, my idea was to impress upon them the utility of attending school regularly, studying hard and working regularly. Some of the class wanted to know which professon involves the maximum amount of studying, as in, how long do you need to become a scientist? Although there is no real answer since one can continue to study as long as one wants in one's chosen field, I explained what I think is the minimum required of each. For example, to become a collector, one needs to go thru the IAS or the state administrative service after a graduation. And at no point, does the competition diminish. And the number of opportunities are limited and hence one needs to work very hard to get there.

Then the session got interesting and amusing. One member remarked that by the time they graduate, I will be a grandpa! I corrected him and said that since the average age of the class is around 12, I might at best be a pa, by the time they graduate. But they were amused nevertheless. Another asked if I was married! Another asked how many degrees I held. Yet another asked what my brother did... (He is finishing his Phd, for the record)

Basically, one takeaway was that (and this is not some blinding insight!) most of the class was thankfully keen on studying further. Also, more than half of them will face some hurdles in continuing education beyond school. But given the support, atleast some of them can get out of the economic strata they are in and do reasonably well for themselves. For example, most of my class cannot afford to buy extra notebooks.

On a generic level, what can one do? Ask around for people, who need support for continuing education. They could be children of maidservants, your paper delivery boy, your flower seller, etc or, if you cannot find someone, ask ASHA if they can find a school child whom you can sponsor or better still, if you and your group of friends can support a school. The contribution does not need to be large. It can be simple stationery as well. For example, not everyone in my class has writing pads.

But I continue to believe that the most important contribution we can make is that of our time, since our country simply does not have enough teachers at the primary level. This is something I have said earlier as well. If we can find like minded people to teach in schools on weekends alone and schedule it such that, you need to take out an hour, once a month, that can make quite a difference to the performance of the students. Of course, if one cannot teach more than once a month, one needs to ensure that there is a plan which a group of 4 or so share, so that continuity is maintained. You can always shuffle around a little bit, when one of the group has some work to attend to, etc. If this is maintained for about 3 years or so, some tangible results can be seen. This could then, be extended to high school and beyond, as required. For example, I would expect that most government college students cannot afford private tuitions. Once one is beyond the 10 or 10 + 2 level, one is reasonably on one's own and can manage. In fact once you get to that level, you are more or less on a path. All you may need is some direction on choices for a career and maybe financial assistance. This again needs time, but it would be more of a modular input and not be required on a continued basis. Of course, one may want to keep track of how the person is supporting is doing.

But like someone said, a journey of a million miles begins with a single step.

Chung King Express

Last night, I saw this amazing flick by Wong Kar Wai. The DVD cover I have, says that the movie is presented by Quentin Tarantino. Did not see him!

The movie tells the story of 2 cops 223 and 663 and is absolutely non linear in its story telling, which suits me fine. Cop 223 is coming off a love affair of 5 years and is trying his best to get over it, by eatng tins of expired pineapple, all dated 1st May 1994, when his life is suddenly punctuated with this drug dealer woman, who has been conned by a bunch of Indians! There is this amazing scene when he is at the bar, with her, desperately trying to impress her. Totally touched my heart and alternately kicked arse at wicked humour. Cop 663 is even more spaced out, since he is trying to recover from a breakup with his flight attendant girlfriend. He speaks to furniture, his shirt (do not miss this scene!), etc and anything else at his house till he discovers this woman at a snack bar.

The best thing about the movie is its adventurousness in the script. Its like the director wanted to do anything that came to his mind and did too, while trying to ensure that the movie remained interesting. And the movie is fantastic. Decent background score too. Thanks to Rishi for pointing this one out. Should be seeing more WKW movies soon.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

So Long Wingco

Wing Commander G.R. Mulky, 'Wingco' to all Bangalore quizzers, passed
away early this morning. He was 82.

From the KQA newsletter, " Wingco had founded the Karnataka Quiz Association in 1983 in partnership with other enthusiasts and ran its affairs with great determination till the year 2000. He was similarly involved with the founding of Sursagar, a society devoted to promoting Indian Classical Music. Wingco was also actively involved in counselling activities for the old in association with the voluntary organisation Vishwas... "

I have quite a few fond memories of Wingco having first met him in my 9th standard. In those days, he attended every quiz that the KQA did. He had incredible enthusiasm and his energy belied his age. In fact until a few years ago when I returned to Bangalore after a long spell out of it, except for short vacations of less than a week, I had no idea of how old he was. I only knew he was retired. Several times in the open quizzes, Wingco went out of his way to keep the school children interested. It is a little disheartening when you are young and do not make the finals, despite your best efforts. At such stages, you need some encouragement and my school team was the recipient of best school team at one such quiz, where we had some 9.5 points. Another school team (incidentally we beat this team to emerge best school team for the year in the KQA rankings) had 10 points. And there was only 1 best school team prize. Wingco gave away 2 best school team prizes, making a special consideration for us, since we had essentially done equally well. That boosted my otherwise dull day that day more than a decade ago and has ensured quizzing is a part of my life.

On another occasion, Wingco and me, with 2 other people made the finals of an open quiz. That was amongst my first few open quiz finals in life! I was thrilled to bits with that, all because of his magnanimity. He was a brilliant quizzer and could have easily formed a team with other people, but chose to accompany someone like me on that day and many other days. He frequently recommended relatively unknown people whom he knew to be enthusiastic quizzers, to teams which required one or two members, so that they could do better and sustain their enthusiasm for quizzing. He would walk around and tell people about others looking to complete teams, long before it became common to ask on the mike for for members. Some people are usually shy to ask others. Wingco knew that and took it upon himself to make quizzing a true team sport.

He institutionalized quizzing in Bangalore and will remain one of my pleasant memories of Bangalore for life. May his soul rest in peace.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Audio File of my Radio Interview

You can download from here. You need to wait for a few secs before the download link is activated since it is a free service. Thanks to Anti for the software link that helped me convert this from the tape of the interview.