Just 7 days

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Hello all, just wanted to pop in and say that I now am acutely aware that there are just 7 days remaining in my stay in India. It’s been a great month and no matter how much I hate the heat, you just gotta love India!!!

In other news, I am the new owner of nitinkhanna.com thanks to the diligence of my brother Nipun. He just pounced on that domain name like it was a glass of hot water and a plate of fruits ( yeah, my brother is not the same!!!). Thanks to him, whenever you all go to nitinkhanna.com it’ll bring you here. That’s not half- bad is it? 🙂

I guess I’ll do something with the website later, maybe host my resume on it with my profile and details. But for now, in these last few days, a rainy Delhi awaits me, both outside the house and within.

Logging out,
Nitin Khanna

A month-old Adult

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I complete, today, one full month in the US.

This day, one month ago, I got on a plane and left India. I have done that before, but this time it seems that the time gap when I will be getting back will be a lot longer. There’s no sense of regret and sadness for me today. It is not that I am indifferent. It’s just that I know that here, I am building a future of which I will be sure and in control of.

So, here I am, a one month-old adult in the US, working for myself and I present a few lines from a paper I am writing about Leadership qualities to be submitted tomorrow…

No one is born a Leader. This is the premise in which I have believed all my life. We all have certain qualities which if nurtured properly, can make each individual a Leader but no one can stand up on their own and become a Leader.

Some random thought – Whenever I sit in a park or anywhere close to nature, I immediately start examining the stones around me. It’s a habit I have kept from childhood and as a result I have collected stones from the deserts of Rajasthan to the shores of South Africa, from the beaches of Mangalore to one which came out of my Father, taken out by a mystical healer woman somewhere in the Himalayas. Today, as I sat waiting for a bus, I once again started looking at the stones around me. However, today I did not collect any stones. I realized today that they are always the same type of stones. All my life, from all the various places that I have collected stones in torn and over-loaded jeans pockets, I have always seen the same stones. I am not a gemologist, but today I am bored from those valueless stones. I want new stones. Or perhaps that’s what is wrong with my outlook. I will probably not collect stones from now on. I will no longer look down at the earth to pass time. I want to look up, I want to grow. I want to collect the clouds now.

On A Question of Ethics

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This happened a few days ago but I have been delaying writing on this topic primarily since I had requested my friend Shyam Chandrasekar to write on it as a guest speaker on my blog. He has refused my offer and hence, I must write it myself. The reason why he should have written it is that the incident largely involved his resolve to do the right thing.

Few days back, upon a strong craving of ice cream, I and a group of friends had hit Boulder’s Pearl Street to find and plunder the tasty Glacier Ice cream company’s stall. We found a girl managing the stall and asked her for various flavors and made our order. She completed the delivery and whipped out her cellphone to tally the bill and tell us the whole amount but I insisted that she write it down on paper as one of us was going to pay and then everyone would give their share back to that person…

She agreed to the demand and looked around helplessly to find some paper to write on. I took a pen out of my pocket and gave her some tissue paper from her own stall to write down the bill on. She quickly summarized a bill of about $19.40 and I took the money from our today’s bakra(We still need to give our share of the money back to this person!!!) and handed a $20 bill to the girl. She casually commented that it was so late and she was so tired after having studied at the University that her mind was just not working. Having said this, she gave me the change and thus ended our transaction.

As we walked off, my friends enjoyed a nice, cold, tasty ice cream treat at the expense of our bakra while I wondered as to who it really was at whose expense we were really enjoying! You see, there were a total of 6 people in my group and most of us had opted for a single scoop of ice cream with a waffle cone which is slightly costlier than usual. So a total of under $20 was just quite not right. As I pondered over this, my friends chided me for going into deep thought again, as is my habit and asked me to join them in the conversation. I did that, but before doing so, I called Shyam to one side and told him about this dilemma which we now faced. I did not know the correct prices of a waffle cone but I knew that we had under-paid the woman by a huge amount. Shyam too expressed his suspicion of the same and having been more resourceful, quickly summarized the actual bill. We found that we had to pay this vendor a total of $28, that is, we had paid her $8 less!

Now it was time for either action or debate. While Shyam was more interested in the former, I chose the latter and brought the matter out to my friends. I told them that it was a matter of not paying what was due but also reminded them that it may be eight dollars for someone but it’s nearly Four hundred rupees for us! Most of them chimed in with the opinion that we should not pay the money back and someone even went on to say that we’re already paying through our nose just by being here for our studies so why not save some money while we can! While I was enjoying this debate and the reactions of my peers, we were joined by my friend and roommate, Abhjit Kaul, who had till now been talking to his family members on phone. When we told him about our situation, he instantly voted in favor of returning the money, pointing out the most important thing which tipped the scales of the discussion – that it may be eight dollars for us, but it’s an hour’s work for the girl!

That did it. Those reluctant were now quiet and Shyam quickly went back to present the money to the girl. He did not return for quite some time.

Oh, he did return eventually and told us triumphantly that the girl had been nice enough to give him a dollar off on the bill for his honesty!

Thus nearly ended a night when we had a taste of good ice cream and crown mentality. We saw that Gelato is good and greed is bad. Finally, we saw that it’s not the amount of money which matters, it’s the amount of work which goes into making that money which counts and this reminds me, I better talk to our bakra and give back the money! 🙂

Happy Independence Day with a twist

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Ok, it’s our Independence day. It’s the day when India gained the freedom to make it’s own mistakes, to quote what Gandhiji had said once…

But I was not celebrating independence today. Woke up at 11 AM(11:30 PM in India, half an hour to the Midnight of that dawned…) and realized that the software companies in India had finished celebrating our Independence on the 14th as it was a working day. Then I got dressed and with a few friends, went out to Wal-Mart, apparently the most famous and amazingly cheap store of the US. The concept of Wal-Mart is inspiring but it’s fodder for another blog post, so, later…

The Bill was about $78 for three people(reason- we had a girl in our midst!).

While returning, we boarded a bus from outside Wal-Mart and told the driver to take us to the closest Bus Station. When we had settled, the driver started the bus and without turning, softly said to us three Indians- Happy Independence Day.

I looked at the driver. He was an American. He was educated. He was an educated enough American to know that three Indians had boarded his bus. He did not assume that we were Pakistanis. He knew for sure that we were Indians. I know this as he said that Pakistan had gained independence a day before us and all he had noticed was that we were speaking in Hindi.

So here I was, sitting in the heart of the US of A with two Indian friends and getting wished by an American on a date which is of grave consequence for every Indian and which we had completely forgotten about. For a second, it was a haze. Was this true? Was this happening? Really? Wow.

I looked at my friends. They were as amazed as I was. This was weird beyond a great degree. I talked to the driver a bit more. He knew a bit about India but a lot more than one would expect him to know. He knew we had a bit of a tiff with the Chinese. He knew we had a nuclear bomb, though not the year when we got it. That was a piece of fact even I didn’t remember! He even had a stereotypical view about some clans in India. I was glad to clarify that India has never been a nation of Attackers but instead defenders. We only retaliated in case there was a threat against us. He was glad to have to talked to me. I was still in shock when our destination came.

I got down. The air was fresh, the wind was a light breeze and caressed my face with a loving touch. The sky was a deep blue color with the clouds playing with the setting sun. This was a foreign nation. Back in my country, people we getting up and wishing each other a Happy Independence Day. I looked at my friends and wished them a Happy Independence Day, with a twist.

It Rained

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Yes, it did. But not on our dreams and aspirations. Rather on us. It was beautiful rain. Soft, drizzly at first and slightly harsh later. Not something which would make me regret being out in the open but just perfect. Of course I’m getting ahead of myself. First of all…

Train! A Train! A Whole TRAIN!!! I still cannot believe that underneath the Denver International Airport, they have a whole damn train!!!! It goes from one end to the other, taking passengers from any terminal to the next and even to a completely separate Luggage Collection Area where people can just pick up their stuff and move out to catch transport. First time I’ve seen anything like this, a completely dedicated train service just for passengers travelling through the airport and I am amazed!!!

Next up, Boulder. If you take a cycle and start on one end of Boulder, you can cross its breadth in about an hour of slow sightseeing! Boulder may be a small town but it’s extremely scenic and it’s beauty reflects in the attitude of the people. It’s rush hour and there’s traffic on both sides of the road. A few cyclists have just come to one side and are waiting on the pavement for a break in the traffic so they can cross. Suddenly, traffic on both sides comes to a complete halt. The people in their expensive cars are waiting for the cyclists on University-rented bikes to cross. Awestruck, I peddle forward with two of my friends, the cycle groaning under me. It’s a good concept. The University loans out bicycles to Regular students of CU-Boulder for 2 days for free. The students have a means of transport and can easily appreciate the good nature of the people of Boulder and the city controls the urges of students to buy cars to commute from one end to another.

But, I save the best for the last. Boulder has pine cones and mulberry trees both in the gap of a few feet. I love pine cones but there’s nothing comparable to the Mulberry and its soft deliciousness lingers on my tongue for long.

Even before the journey started, I had envisioned writing about how I’ve found Riverdale, the place where Archie and his friends reside, in this peaceful College Town. I’m happy to say that I haven’t.

I’ve found Boulder.

The Three Blind Men

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Recently, I was in a shopping mall heading towards McDonald’s for a dinner. As I walked past a showroom, I noticed an odd occurrence. Three Men, holding each other by the arms were walking in a straight line. One look and I had dismissed this sight. But then I paused and looked at them again. Here were the three blind men, white sticks in hand, goggles covering their eyes at 9 in the night, walking steadily in the middle of the mall.

I went over to them and inquired as to where they were headed. They said they wanted to go to the loo and the lead amongst them confirmed from me that it was in  the direction ahead. I corrected him by saying in a matter of fact way that he would have to turn to the right after walking down a bit further. He thanked me and started heading out in the initial direction. Instantly, it occurred to me that in the most insensitive way, I had told them the directions but not the distances. I latched on to the first one and took them to the corner where they had to turn right and pointed them on to start walking in the said direction. Again, they thanked me and started off.  Satisfied that I had done a good job, I walked off but stopped before having gone more than a few steps. I cussed at myself for being that stupid and ran back to them in order to guide them further to the exact door. When I reached, they were fumbling around a fire escape, looking for the correct door. Many onlookers were passing by them, surprised to see them try to find their way in the maze of objects and paths we “sighted” people take for granted. Before I could reach though, another fellow had arrived and helped them get to the restroom. I realized as I looked from a distance that it was the lead who alone had to go to the loo but the other two had no option than to follow him. They stopped at the door and waited for him to return.

As I walked off, a thought came to my mind. As the world around us progresses and technology allows us to become greater than ourselves, the society we live in does not change, the plight of the people does not change and the conditions which affect us do not change. We may be running after cures for cancer and aging but the blind man still cannot see and the deaf can still not hear. There is technology to enable them in doing these too, but that technology is not available to the present at a price which does not hit the pride of the man bearing the cost. Those blind men were not in rags but seemed suitably dressed. A poor blind man would have been stopped at the doors of the mall and forced to look for a loo elsewhere but the guard let them in and guided their path too, in his own insensitive way. That goes to say that the latest gadgets which help the blind(no euphemisms here, say it as it is) are within their reach but not there yet.

As a tech enthusiast and a software programmer, I can say that anything is possible in the world of technology. As a hardware designer and a practical man, I can say that we are not looking at the right ventures. I can blame many for not following up on this, from Steve Jobs to the Indian Government, but till some brilliant yet cheap technology comes into the possession of these disabled people, let’s make sure that the three blind men you see on the road next time reach home safely. Let us make sure that the stark contrast between consumerism of the most blatant kind and the simple reality that life has not yet changed despite Science’s greatest contributions be diminished by Humanism, for that too is as simple as extending your hand and guiding the path of those who cannot see.

A Timed Tragedy

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So here I am, with my weekly load of clothes to wash at the Infosys Bangalore Laundry. This service, of course, is the pinnacle of comfort for Bachelors like me who can’t wash a cloth to save the world! But, the realisation of the same is that, just like me, there are thousands of other people who feel similarly comforted by knowing that there’s a Laundry available. This, of course, means that time and machines are at a premium here and there’s a virtual fight being fought to get to a washing machine.

So here I am and I am waiting for a machine to empty out so that I can put my clothes in and let the magic begin. The machine for which I am waiting is going to take about 17 minutes to finish the current wash cycle and then only will the owner of those clothes come and save me from dirty laundry. But what is this? There is another machine in the vicinity and that’s going to take 16 minutes to finish the cycle! What’s even more amazing is that no one has noticed this and there is no queue for that machine. Immediately, the calculations in my mind bring me to the conclusion that 1 minute save is 1 minute invested and I quickly rush to claim this gold mine before anyone else does. Now I sit here primly, waiting for this machine to finish in 16 minutes and lead me to salvation.

They say that the Grass is always greener on the other side. They don’t tell you that on the other side they use paint to make the grass look greener. They say a bird in hand in worth two in the bush. They don’t tell you that the one in hand is tastier than the two in the bush. They tell you that the machine will finish the wash in 16 minutes, while it takes 25 minutes to do the task!

As you may have guessed, as the minutes passed by, I realised that the ‘new’ machine I had invested my time in is taking longer to complete the cycle than the one I left. The time now is 9 minutes on my machine and 4 on the other. It seems, almost, that the machine I will soon be using has ‘more seconds per second’, that is, it is spending more than a second to do a second’s task. Impossible isn’t it?? After all, they’re both the same machines and run on the same power! Then how can two machines be in any way different when they simply are not?!

I guess there really is no explanation for this. I guess my machine was indeed taking more ‘seconds per second’ than any other in the Landry. The final truth is that I spent more time doing laundry that day than I usually do. That indeed, was a very strange tragedy of time!

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