Belief and buy-in

Among the important lessons that you either learn by yourself or, are coached into, when you are set to handle a team of people is the notion of “buy-in”. Most of the training classes, the self-help books and, the self-respecting (and, huge earning) gurus make it a point to hammer home the point. The need to accrue and acquire “buy-in” is tremendous. And, most surprisingly, although the downward “buy-in” (from directs) is strongly emphasized, the upward one (from sponsors) is somewhat tamely taken for granted.

What I find most surprising is that all the conventional sources of wisdom on relationships tend to ignore the aspect of “shared belief” as well. It boggles me. Really. For a simply odd reason, my Google Reader feed has been awash with a rush of blog posts around relationships, values and belief systems. And, the resounding re-iteration has been the need for each partner to strengthen the belief in each other and, the need to buy-in to each other’s visions and goals for oneself. In a relationship it is very easy to slip into the comfortable numbness of having goals for the partnership. And, more often than not individual goals and aspirations take a back seat. It was interesting to note that a number of the blogs that I read arrived at similar conclusions albeit different routes. I find it peculiar when a network of contacts converge on a thought meme independent of each other.

Hopping on to a different track. On Facebook today I dabbled in a conversation about “in your face” religious rituals. Which lead to a snippet (since it is Facebook, there is possibly no easy way to link to it) wherein it was observed that the rigamarole of ritual driven religious indulgence is not the luxury of the less-educated. In fact it is awesomely true to state that the “pray to someone under the duress of fear” is equally spread across the society. The ones who can afford to do so undertake lavish ceremonies aimed at public display of wealth and possibly gratification of some sort. The ones who cannot, figure out their own way of going into debt. I recall an anecdote where a maid servant employed by a neighbor of ours raised a large sum (of, 70,000 INR around a decade back) by mortgaging her house and land since their priest had advised her to perform a ritual for the appeasement of the powers which had cast en evil eye. Needless to say, she never was able to repay the loan portion of her fertile land and, it left me wondering as to who needed appeasement. Religion occupies a strange pantheon in this nation and, funnily enough, the evolution of religious rituals is never adequately explained by anyone. Nor is the fact that at each stage of the evolution, the concept of a supreme power changed and morphed leading to the various means of which to pray to him/her.

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Expectations are difficult to live up to. Especially when these are self-generated ones. The past year has been a somewhat turbulent one. I have spent countless number of hours trying to figure out what exactly I want or, where I want to take myself. Having started off with no other goal besides “I need to challenge myself to do beyond what I think I can” it does become reasonably difficult from thereon.

How does one deal with self-expectations ? Does one lament and roll around with sadness when they are not met with the robust end results ? Or, does one “take one on the chin” and soldier on ? I have trouble reconciling with either of the paths. And, resetting expectations is so fundamentally wrong. Most of the times we expect to become better folks and, when we do not see the same happening it is somewhat distressing. Thinking over this the entire past week it seems that I haven’t actually made much progress or, at least as much as I’d have liked to make.

The self discipline to save

The first two weeks of January are fun. At office we have to complete the formalities of submitting the investment proofs. They have to, by nature, tally with the investement declarations provided at the beginning of the financial year.

This is also the time which brings forth in stark reality that the young folks have no idea about the need to save monies. Not to mention that the means to save monies are beyond them. Most of the ones that I see around the office leave beyond their means – excessive credit card bills, a tendency to splurge and of course, indulging in expensive “hang outs”. It is fun and sad at the same time.

The colleges and other institutions should, as a matter of course, provide some inputs to the graduates about the need to save money and, the means to do so. I am not talking about making investments and other tax-saving instruments. A simple guidance about “when you receive your salary, make sure that you have a certain percentage saved”. More importantly, they could in effect teach the basics about saving regularly and, the discipline to save. It is normal for “fresh out of college” graduates to splurge – that new wristwatch, the new cellphone or, the new shades/media player and what not. And, with swanky malls near IT parks, it becomes way too easy to run through the salary before half the month is over.

The colleges don’t. The companies sure don’t. Their peers don’t. The parents do exhort savings, but then who listens to the parents once you have received your first paycheque is the prevailing wisdom.

So, there we have it. Year after year, bunches of fresh graduates with crisp notes in their pockets having a ball of a time without actually ending saving regularly. Sad it is.


When I was young a constant complaint that I had was that the weekends just rushed by. I could never have enough of them and, although I wasn’t a typical Monday-morning-blues-at-school kind of chap, I always wished that I could have weekends where I do what I like.

In a way, I had a feeling that once I “grow up”, those weekends would be mine.

How intelligent.

It was a while before I realized that weekends are never meant to be a time to unwind. By the time it is Thursday, there are a thousand and one things lined up and, doing anything else is just “GTD”. For the greater part of the past decade I don’t recall more than 5 weekend where I just did nothing. Where nothing means just that – nothing. Why do weekends just rush by ?

Yesterday, I went to Mumbai for the PhotoFair. Well, I drove down. That’s a big thing really because as much as I enjoy driving, the “physical” side of it sometimes gets to me – the need to be constantly aware of idiots-on-wheels and, the need to be alert. But in the end, it turned out to be a nice time punctuated by some hilarious mishaps with the MapMyIndia GPS device that I had borrowed (from my boss no less). The lady on the device kept on insisting that we get off the Express Highway and, use the NH4 going to the extent of suggesting a U-Turn to go back to Mumbai (and, perhaps start over again ?). Got my taste of Mumbai traffic in lanes around Jogeshwari and, more importantly, go to know a lot about “commercial photography” side of things. For example, the number of Indian software firms engaged in developing softwares for commercial photographers allowing them to optimize their wedding and event photographs is huge. And, they had stalls all over the place at the PhotoFair. And, as a dabbler, it is always good to overhear how folks select equipment – tripods, lights and so on. The PhotoFair by itself reminded me of ChandiMela though – too much of hustle and bustle. I guess I had anticipated a demure “TradeExpo” like atmosphere punctuated by some scheduled event management. In the queue, I overheard folks from parts of Western India who mark the event in their calendar to come down and hob-nob. Folks from Jodhpur, Jaipur, Jalgaon and, many other places. And, their annoyance with the “branded” folks like Kodak and so forth who don’t provide service to these areas. And, these folks are making good money with their diaries booked to the hilt with wedding photography sessions. Nice stuff.

Guess what I feel now ?

When I “retire”, I’d have the weekends to myself.

Smart chap aren’t I ?

Looking back = hindsight ?

I had an idiotic epiphany last evening. Generally, we use hindsight to introspect and question our actions or, assess them. Is hindsight really hindsight when we end up figuring that our actions happened towards an optimal solution ?

I was thinking about two specific cases – one, a personal decision that I will regret a decade later and, another, a somewhat “blink” suggestion made to a friend who is inclined to believe that I had a deeper understanding of his predicament.

In spite of the knowledge that there is regret in the future, the considered decision was the one which was the only way out. In the second case it was even funnier – the application of “The Devil’s Alternative” way of doing things made a suggestion easier.

Either way, I have no idea whether this falls under the purview of hindsight.

Media madness and other things.

We live in queer times. A spate of student suicides and the media is quick to blame reality shows and their ilk for creating pressure on young minds. Interestingly enough, no one asked how a 11 year old child can even contemplate the thought of “taking their own life”. At the age of 11, comprehending the concept of life, death and suicide does take a bit of leap. Take a straw poll of kids around you and check if they do understand suicide. I’d be surprised at the results. Blaming the parents is also easy. But, think about this for a moment – the parent wants the kid to have a life better than their own and, strives to make them competitive. Which brings up the concept of rat race 🙂 – where irrespective of whether you win or lose you are still a rat.

Sometimes I completely fail to fathom the brains behind the powerhouse TV channels in the country. When I was young, the folks who wrote or, worked for newspapers were thought to be sensible and sensitive beings – they thought about using words and choose their sentences with much care. In the age of micro-blogs, breaking news and, instant coverage of events 24×7 everything seems to boil down to crisp and cliched sound-bites compressed into slots between unending advertisements.

The other part that bothers me is the sheer casual approach of the newer generation. Perhaps I am a grumpy old man but I’d like to see people behave with much more responsibility and appreciate their place in the scheme of things. Of late I notice this sense of “entitlement” creeping in creating an air of casual disdain. That annoys me and, bothers me to attempt to figure out why it should be so. Why should “earning your place in the sun” be replaced by a feeling of “I am entitled to be in the sun” ? I have to confess that I have figured out the easy answers. And, the actual answer isn’t there at all.

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