A blog on journeys, great destinations and fantastic travel experiences

#India is in a #Lockdown to fight #Covid19 #Coronavirus – Day 19


Weekend is here and out come the grocery bags for some missing items. Looks like the whole neighbourhood chose the weekend to get out; queues outside stores with people standing outside stores within circles maintaining a safe distance. People buying Amul butter in multiples of 500 gms, multiple condensed milk tins, multiple packets of all purpose flour; Not sure if they would have generated such volumes on a normal day. Indians are unit level shoppers and usually buy in sachets, single piece items and not in terms of value packs. In the future if an FMCG company puts up a notice that few of its plants are shut for maintenance for 20 days, am sure people will flock to pick up whatever stokcs are available.

Daughter has enrolled in to an online learning session on office productivity tools. Essential Word, Excel and Powerpoint. In crucial times, someone who is able to clean up an excel sheet or make a few presentation slides is more valuable than just a textbook student.

Lunch was Methi Thepla with Alu subzi. The recipe for Methi Thepla was from the original home cook tutor, Ms. Tarla Dalal. Adding a bit of curd to the dough makes the thepla ultra soft it seems. An enjoyable saturday lunch! Kudos to the Mrs. and Ms.

Methi thepla with Alu Subzi and gujarati chilli pickle with mustard
Methi Thepla with Alu subzi and Gujarati chilli pickle with Mustard

Afternoon nap after flipping a few pages of the book Midnight’s Machines by Arun Mohan Sukumar. Fantastic read about how India embraced technology post independence. A huge point the author makes is about how the leaders (PM’s) took it on themselves to communicate to the people on technology and in the process maybe did huge disservice to the people by not focusing on technology to enhance people’s lives. A notable miss is the semiconductor complex in Mohali for which we seem to be paying dearly!

The vegetable truck was in and people were lining up to stock up for the week. Not much variety in the vegetables.

Adai was back to reinvigorate the evening. White butter and jaggery made it the perfect combination. Avial ? Maybe next time!

Adai with Jaggery and White butter
Adai with white butter and jaggery

Sunday was Rajma chawal and the Mrs. had done the soaking of Rajma beans.

Good night!

#India is in a #Lockdown to fight #Covid19 #Coronavirus – Day 18


Officially a day off due to Good Friday but there is always someone who is ready to pile on some work with some cheesy and patronizing line like…”I know its a holiday in India, but can you please try and send me something by your end of day……”. I seriously wonder how executives survive without data at their finger tips. Dont they keep their own “Go-To” folder with all the data, essential presentations and key reference material. It takes some real discipline to get there and continue to stay. 12 monthly business reviews, 4 quarterly reviews, 4 investor relation calls and numerous adhoc presentations. So much material gets generated from such reviews. All one has to do is keep them handy and refer to them regularly for all inputs. Executives have to get skilled in basic excel and that includes tools like Power pivot and using templates in power point. What if support teams are removed or made exorbitant from a service stand point ?

Reactions on the win mail start pouring in.

  • Congratulations
  • Congratulations All
  • WOW
  • Its been a long wait but well worth it!
  • In times such as these, this is a fantastic achievement
  • Fantastic win guys ! Hey, XXX let us discuss on how we should organize to deliver flawlessly (sane voice)
  • Did you write this mail ? Wow! Really good one, thanks! Please support till contract is done

The one i treasure the most came in from a senior leader who specifically called out my leadership, efforts and not dropping the ball while juggling multiple jobs. Also highlighted how much the deal meant for the company and the practice. It is very hard to bring in the collaborative spirit especially with territories marked with a red line. However, the company comes before all of these and one has to only protect the interest of the company while addressing the needs of the customer. In such matrix organizations, ceding control is out of question. The moment control is given away, it is a dog fight with no real owners stepping in and it pretty much becomes like a dysfunctional democracy. Family’s happy as they were the ones to watch the effort going in to the pursuit.

One interesting perspective offered – this deal might have just saved a few jobs. Hope so!

Data collected for the overnight requested, prepared and submitted. An evening presentation with the executives lasts all of 45 minutes with requests for offline copies to work on. Another submission was finalized and readied for submission. Closure is important for everything !

Lunch was simple. An Amti (A tangy Maharashtrian Dal with Kokum for sourness) with Rice, broad beans curry and some grated salad

Rice with Amti, Broad beans curry and a grated salad
Amti with Rice, broad beans curry and a grated salad (Radish, cucumber and carrots)

Had taken ownership for evening dinner and towards that had soaked for Adai, a protein rich pancake made like a thick crepe. Soak a cup of Idli rice with a handful of raw rice, handful of chickpeas, green gram, black gram and green chick peas. In another vessel soak half a cup of a dal medley (Red gram, Moong gram and bengal gram) along with red chillies. The whole thing is ground after 8 hours and allowed to ferment. Creative additions like curry leaves, additional chillies, moringa leaves, drumstick leaves and onions make this a power packed dinner.

Adai eaten with Jaggery and leftover Amti
Pardon the shape but the protein power is top notch. Jaggery gives great iron and energy. Leftover Amti is for some brownie points for not having any leftovers.

A great week draws to a close. Need to chart out a course of action on how to design one’s life in the weeks and months to come.

Almighty’s grace is all over!

#India is in a #Lockdown to fight #Covid19 #Coronavirus – Day 17


Day for buying vegetables. Two options exist – purchase from the truck which drives in to the building campus every alternate day or shop from the fresh produce store 50 metres away. The fresh produce store seems to have a better variety and no queues. The downside is a premium for some of the produce which seem to have risen due to shortfall in supplies. A kilogram of cucumbers for example cost Rs 100/- (1.5 USD).

Fresh vegetables, fruits and greens. Laid out, washed, dried and then packed off in to the refrigerator. Advised to wash once more in salt water before use

The raw mangoes are useful for some pickle and the upcoming Tamil New year’s day festival.

The deal is done. An announcement from the customer is greeted with much relief by all parties. A strict cap on communication ensues and everyone maintains a steady silence on the outcome and saving the honors of communicating to the Boss. Drafting a note announcing the win with details of the effort and the people involved began. An 8 month pursuit takes a small building complex. Apart from recalling the names, mandatory to also recall the specific contribution; necessitated to avoid snide remarks later on. The ones who are left out are the ones who left the company during the course of the pursuit. 4 pages of details ultimately goes out as an attachment to an email rather than going in to the body of the email. How does one get the attention of the reader ?

Evening calls are becoming a drain on energies. 45 minutes is a barrier after which attention flags.

How to get people to solve their problems by themselves ? A culture of running to the boss to resolve issues of work assignment, priority assignment has to be uprooted. It is an antithesis to ‘collaboration’. What will it take for a team member to call another team member and plan regarding utilization of a shared resource ? How many are mature enough to do that ?Begun the process of withdrawing from such interventions by indicating explicitly via emails. What do you do when no one is watching ? Do you want someone always to watch over ? Ease the burden of reporting and elevate the level of engagement with the team. Each one is free to design the way they want to organize work for themselves.

The evening town hall call to report on business continuity passes of incident free ! Outcome is townhall with another business head. We have now become a presentation vomiting factory/deck churning factory ! Aghast at the number of presentations churned out and the dependence that a lot of people at leadership level have on associates to prepare material for them. No idea how it happens at various levels but this preparation is a mighty bandwidth guzzler.

Lunch involved a good amount of research by Mrs. This time it was a Dal Fry inspired from a recipe by Sanjeev Kapoor

Dal fry, Basmati rice and a lot of Salad
Healthy eating is happening by default – Dal Fry on Basmati rice and salads. The red chilli flavor stands out.

Mrs. is busy attending numerous webinars organized by tour companies from Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Good learning on new destinations and how to pitch to customers.

The win mail hits every inbox that matters and the responses start coming in.

#India is in a #Lockdown to fight #Covid19 #Coronavirus – Day 16


The calendar for the day begins by 11 AM and goes on non-stop until 10 PM.

Thanks to the speakerphone, there is practically no strain on the ears. Comprehensive AV equipment for working from home will become a great commercial opportunity in times to come i guess.

A townhall with managers is expected to communicate the state of the company, steps taken to continue customer support, appreciating the teams who have gone beyond the call of duty to keep work going on.

Lot of news going around in the company about curtailed projects, people without projects, loss of revenue and finally leading to reduced guidance for the year.

The deal is expected to be announced any day now. A few overexcited pursuit team members wanted to draft an announcement mail in anticipation. Politely turned down the request. A few pending technical queries were answered to the best of our understanding and presented in the same format that was used during our final presentation.

Exercise, chop, work, eat, sleep, repeat. Read, study, learn, listen are verbs which have been reserved for the weekend it seems.

Pending vegetables had to be utilized and fresh vegetables procured. To ensure, the Mrs. settled to prepare simple dishes over the next few days so that the refrigerator could be cleaned up. There was a vote taken to order some cupcakes from a neighbourhood baker who was waiting to jump at the mention of the word called ‘Order’. The cupcakes and brownies were ordered and a 24 hour window given for collection.

Lunch was rice, cluster beans curry, Tomato rasam and flame roasted papad. Ghee lifted the experience.

Rice with Tomato rasam, Kothavarangai / cluster beans curry and roasted papad
Tomato Rasam, Papad and cluster beans curry (kothavarangai)

The next two days could see a long deal journey come to a conclusion. Reactions and responses to be watched and understood for human emotions.

#India is in a #Lockdown to fight #Covid19 #Coronavirus – Day 15


Began a series of one to one connects with team members who joined us recently and understood their background in greater detail. Helps while drawing out specific career plans and handing in work which is to their liking. A morning session to orient a few new joiners on the industry we service and the offerings for the industry.

The vertical team is keen to draw up a strategy for the years to come. Teams are coming together to apply themselves for the next 12 – 14 weeks before a presentation to the board.

There are requests to constantly check on availability of delivery slots with an online grocery retailer. It is better to start making a list and have them ready before placing an order. Using Google Keep to keep track of favorites, making lists, saving long read items; searchable and takes in items of various MIME types.

Trips to the local grocer to buy immediate necessities like cereal, cleaning liquid, instant snacks, hygiene goods, cleaning goods happen in the timeframe before lunch. Post the purchases, wash of clothes and a bath becomes mandatory. The ladies begin their online purchases on an online beauty products portal, the Ms. and i begin ordering our health drinks on the cold pressed juice vendor. It is great to see these online channel based vendors beging their services as it can kickstart local economies in a small but significant ways. Food delivery chains too have begun delivering from restaurants who seem to have open their kitchens with a very basic menu.

One company that seems to have cranked up its supply chain & manufacturing and is benefiting from its distribution network is ID. Their packaged Idli, Dosa batters and parathas have become life savers for housewives and bachelors. Excellent packaging, interesting line of products and excellent pricing have seen their products flying off the shelves during this lockdown. Great Business!

The ladies at home have been reviewing recipes for Kadai Paneer with Rotis. Turns out that the recipe by Ranveer Brar was chosen to be replicated. Must say, it turned out to be on the money! Bravo!

Kadai Paneer with 2 chapatis in a plate
Kadai Paneer and ghee toasted chapatis for lunch

An expansive lunch like this naturally leads us to a simple dosa dinner. Two meals a day is light and filling.

Day winds up only by 11 PM. What will tomorrow bring ?

#India is in a #Lockdown to fight #Covid19 #Coronavirus – Day 14


Another week has begun in right earnest. This week has two public holidays viz Mahavir Jayanti on the 7th of April and Good Friday on the 10th of April. Irrespective of these holidays, the fight against the pandemic continues across the world.

There is a clutter of news from across; surprisingly, there is no single agency is speaking with facts and without clutter. One area where everyone seems to be doing their bit is about donning masks and washing hands a feet. Thankfully, there is unity on this element even in the western world.

The murmurs around role of WHO, its chief Dr. Tedros, and acts of praising China to the skies have grown. THe President of the US has rightfully called for a review of the funding of the global health organization in view of the role played by it during the course of the pandemic.

Work continues unabated with the slow realization that one is expected to be online more than ever. On normal work days in the work place, coming home meant disconnecting. Here, disconnecting means, out for a lunch break, water break, even a dinner break and of course a trip to the store for stocking up on essentials.

Unknowingly, the afternoon lunch sessions claimed me on the first day of the week. A heavy lunch, empty couch, turned a 10 minute rest in to a 45 min nap. Consequence – missed a conference call. We are Human after all!

Morning Shambhavi Maha Mudra Kriya sessions have been extremely helpful in maintaining concentration and energy levels. Surya Namaskar is great for pumping the heart rate up, feeling light and keeping all the limbs flexible. The only thing missing at the moment is plenty of sunlight.

Preparing for a curtailed week but one in which a lot of action can happen.

#India is in a #Lockdown to fight #Covid19 #Coronavirus – Day 13 #9pm9minute


The Hon’ble Prime Minister had made his request to the citizens to come out on the 5th of April at 9 PM for 9 minutes and light lamps outside their homes and experience the moment of solidarity. People were truly looking forward to the evening and it seemed like a moment to get away from the solitary pain of a lockdown to the joys of togetherness.

The day seemed a little different than a weekday thanks mainly to zero office calls to attend to. Yet, there were some crazy folks who made sure they kept their mouse clicks on the send buttons.

The day was utilized to note down significant events and emotions of the day, the week gone by and the time since the lockdown. Sanity prevails, moments of madness or anger are futile as one has to come back and face the same person within the next minute, no way one can get out and run elsewhere. Acceptance has set in.

The news on TV has become painful. WION seems to be a decent watch with no ear shattering narrations / discussions. They seem to have taken a hardline on #China via their program called Gravitas. The US trade office has made crucial remarks, in the presence of The President, on how US should grow self-reliant when it comes to life saving drugs and equipment. Seems like a huge moment, words that could come back to shape the world anew.

The day passed with some reading, blogging, music and trying to eat the same packed snacks. Lunch was some peerkangai thogayal and rice (Ridge gourd mashed with pulses and spices). This was followed by some pepper rasam. The pepper rasam was a quick one; A cube from a company called Maiyas just dissolved in hot water. Just need to garnish some coriander on top and temper it.

Rice topped with peerkangai thogayal and some chips as sides
Peerkangai Thogayal with hot rice and ghee

The appointed hour neared and we could see people assembling in their balconies. Lamps were readied with wicks and oil poured in to it. The torches, mobile flashes and lamps trickled out at 855 PM and at 9 PM, the building was awash with the glow of concerted citizens illuminated by the lamps. There was something about the moment that got people to come together.

Building with lights switched off and people lighting lamps for 9 minutes
THe Kalpataru Estate building at Andheri East during the 9 minutes

The minutes that followed was exchanging images on whatsapp and sending out congratulatory texts. The battle was not won but just got people steeled up for the long drawn war. The lights were there to guide people out of these dark moments.

Power to the people!

#India is in a #Lockdown to fight #Covid19 #Coronavirus – Day 12


The weekend brings in more house work than usual.

Managed to find a slot to get some groceries delivered to the in-laws on the 8th of April and for ourselves on the 6th of April. The grocery website call center girl appeared to slump while speaking. How do you boost the morale of your team in these times ?

To make matters easy for the Mrs., some of the vegetables (broadbeans, cluster beans) were washed, cut and stored away for a quick stir. That way, some amount of weekday time has been saved. Hope the Mrs. has a word of appreciation.

Lot of old trousers had to be washed. The household help was asked to appear to collect her salary dues. The cook was in a position to accept electronic transfers and she promptly conveyed the jingle of money arriving in to her bank account.

Saturdays are busy days with trips to places like Vile Parle to buy sundry groceries, clean vegetables and greens and fresh fruit. A few yards from the markets, a gram shop sells roasted peanuts which are a great snack. The unsalted version is a hit and blends in to almost everything, most friendly with puffed rice. The trip is rounded off with a plate of Bhel puri at Sharma Bhel. Missing all of it!

Lunch was some paruppu sadam, mix vegetable sambar and some kachumber salad to go with it. What a filling lunch. Slept for 90 minutes (struggled to get sleep in the night though).

Paruppu sadam doused with Ghee, layered with some mix veg sambar and sumptuos kachumber salad. THis was followed by some standalone sambar rice before deciding to call it an afternoon…..

Sunday is expected to bring in more heavy duty washing.

Jai Shri Ram!

#India is in a #Lockdown to fight #Covid19 #Coronavirus – Day 11


Following the arrival of groceries, ordered from an online portal, the dosas are back. Idli rice and urad dal, two most important items in a south indian household, regarded as lifelines, were available and promptly ordered.When in doubt, dosa saves the day! No need for any sides, just a helping of molagapodi can render a meal complete.

As we headed towards the weekend, the day was spent drowned in calls including a team pipeline call. Wanted to move away from the standard deal based pipeline call to sharing of fresh new ideas and learning from experiences. That worked and people were at their best expressing themselves freely and offering numerous suggestions. Implementation / execution however is key.

People on the floor seem to be doing well including a daredevil lady who happened to pick up 2 of her project iPads amidst the lockdown. Enabled her work to continue uninterrupted.

Our PM never surprises and he was back on the 3rd of April Friday morning 9 AM with a video message. THis time he was urging citizens to switch off all artificial lights at 9 PM on the 5th of April and come together to light lamps for 9 minutes. As usual, the naysayers had their views, meme makers had theirs and the ones who had faith in his leadership planned on how to execute it. The man possesses the moral authority and is able to exhort his fellow citizens to come together and stand shoulder to shoulder in these difficult times.

The Hon’ble Prime Minister requesting fellow citizens to come together in solidarity

People were readying themselves for the 9 min task on hand. The day ended predictably with a call. Dead Tired!

#India is in a #Lockdown to fight #Covid19 #Coronavirus #Ramnavami– Day 10


The country seemed to be heading towards flattening the curve (no drastic increases in new cases) until the conservative islamic sect of Tableeghi Jamat case came out of the closet. These ultra conservatives numbering about 2,000 had holed themselves up in a building at Nizamuddin in New Delhi. Social distancing had been thrown out of the window. Local preachers and visiting preachers from overseas had congregated in one building to hear sermons from the head of their sect. They proceeded without adhering to the norms laid out by the local SHO. Many travelled to their home towns after the congregation while some remained holed up not knowing whether to get out during the lockdown / to stay put with all the coughing and spitting. This one incident has opened up the faultlines across our establishment.

The tracking of the Jamaatis across the country has been construed as a manhunt and has received counter attacks from the muslim community on health workers and law enforcement officers. Unpardonble! The blame is squarely on Indian authorities who are unwilling to apply the law evenly.

The collective anger against the muslim community has always been couched in political correctness. Social media however does not take any hostages and has been an outlet for frank and in some cases extreme views.

While this continued, the country celebrated Ram Navami, the greatest avatar to have walked this planet. India awaits a grand temple at Ayodhya in honour of her favorite son.

Keeping Ram Navami in mind, the prayer area was spruced up.

Home prayer area spruced up on the occassion of Ram Navami

Had things been normal, the country would have erupted in joyous celebration what with the judgement having arrived in favor of construction of a grand temple in Ayodhya. Time will make that happen as well. We will wait!

Lunch was special as the roti and potato fenugreek leaves curry was made by the Miss and the sakkarai pongal was by the Mrs. Lunch was consumed after an offering to the Lord on the auspicious occassion.

Roti, potato and fenugreek leaves curry, Sakkarai pongal and panchamirtham for lunch. No Dinner.

Jai Shri Ram!