Sunday, April 27, 2008

Swivelling Layers of Condescension

I was born into this world hale and hearty
It was decided early on I was a smarty
And was written off to write the J E E
though elsewhere lay the interests of yours truly

With heart set to break tradition
I went into film and action
a hundred people had a hundred things to say
and made my family's view on me sway

this field became unworthy of my family's attention
they had to take care of their lofty reputation
My family withheld it's supple support and
I was left to find my own life transport

A few hardships for me and pity in my family stirred
All I had to do was shake my head and nod
I could become half my family business' head
and Prove to the world I was still of sterling breed

I did indeed , after a lengthy monologue , shake my head
A strong no it was and doors were forever shut
I was left alone , amidst confused love and tension
sinking , in the swivelling layers of condescension

The title and inspiration was a podcast I heard , by Suresh ......tamilians , do check out his podcasts...they are amazing .

P.S. This poem is not some self-reflecting poem or anything . I chose to write the JEE of my own stupidity .

Friday, April 4, 2008


My name is Sanjay Ramaswamy. Though there will be millions of people who would have never heard of me, I am sure there will be thousands of people who know a lot about me and at least a few hundreds who are inspired by me. I was after all, one of the richest men on the face of this planet.

I am a success, in every conventional connotation of the word. It has been that way ever since my very birth. My dad used to tell me how I was one of the healthiest babies the doctor had ever seen. Born into an upper class aristocratic family, I never had to undergo any sort of failure in my childhood. The best schools , the best colleges , branded clothes , custom made footwear and of course , the silver spoon were all part of daily life for me . I did my schooling in a very posh boarding school atop a hill station and my family used to fly down to meet me every month. A truckload of goodies were normal expectations on these visitations. A protected childhood it was .As soon as my schooling was over, I was packed off to Britain for my graduation, and then, the States for my post graduation. I was my dad's lifetime achievement, his showcase trophy and heir to his kingdom, Sanjay Industries Private Limited.

I spent two years learning the ropes, patiently waiting for my chance on the throne, which I knew would come to me. With a business degree from the Sloan school, I was all set to take over the company on my 25th birthday, when my dad signed over everything to me. All 3.2 billion dollars worth of property. For those who are weak on exchange rates, it converts to approximately 12800 crore Indian rupees. Ours was the only company in the Indian top 10 richest companies which was completely privately held. And it was not too far away when it would become the richest in India and break into the world's top 10. India was the perfect setting for me. Cheap labor, gullible people and a corrupt political system. I went from strength to strength and as I foresaw, I soon became a household name in India. I was the employer of close to 900,000 people and contributed graciously to the campaign chests of almost all the political parties. I traveled in custom built limos and pricey private jets. Vacations were spent on private islands, with preposterous yachts to play with. But I was not happy. As with most stories, this one too, involves love .

Akhila. Akhila Yadav. The one and only woman I ever really loved. I've had numerous flings with ravishing females, but most of them were behind my money and the strings attached to it. Akhila was the one who slapped me in front of a thousand people for flirting openly with her. The only one who told me exactly what she thought of me .The one I lost my heart to, and the one I never tried getting it back from . I couldn’t. She was Rakesh Yadav's wife. Married to a dynamic IAS officer meant she could get away with saying most things to most people. Rakesh being the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister's only son only added to her liberties. But the most people did not include me. I could have destroyed both her and her husband, and her dear father-in-law couldn't have done a thing about it .But even as I was watching into her angelic green eyes, I knew that I would have destroyed myself in the process. That's when I knew nothing would ever be the same again. But I refused to believe it. I couldn't stop myself for a woman, after all. I was Sanjay Ramaswamy, India's richest business man, and still in my thirties. I drove myself harder and harder after that, never leaving sight of Akhila along the way. I knew where she went, what she ate, what she bought, even her perfume labels. But the one fact that she was not mine and never would be served as a bed of thorns on which my life was being spent. For the first time in my life, I prayed to God. Sitting alone in my ridiculously large office praying, I cried.

All the crying and the numerous gods were of no immediate help for my quagmire. Slowly, though, the wheel of time took over and I all but forgot about Akhila. The boardrooms and bank accounts took over, but I was not the same happy go businessman I once was. The company was now worth ten times what it was when I took over. Newspapers flashed my name every day. I became tabloid news; even page 3 stuff .I was linked with n number of pretty damsels. Some affairs were true, but most were non-existent. The relationships were mostly physical and expensive gifts and silent threats made sure none of my private secrets were spilled out. Life moved on. I bought more companies, made more money, got into and out of politics. Every move of mine resulted in success. But I was not happy.

I knew I wouldn't find happiness in the rat-eat-rat world of business and politics. I had to get out. Only, no one cared to show me the exit. I waited patiently, knowing I would find it someday, somehow. And I got ready for it. Exactly four years back, Sanjay Industries went public. The IPO was a historic keynote in Indian business and a blazing success. I sold all my shares but one and stepped out of the organization with around 40 billion dollars. And nothing to do.

I started traveling, going from anywhere to anywhere with no fixed schedules. I started off with jet hopping from one country to another, but none of the infinite luxuries money could buy brought me satisfaction. It was not until I saw a show of Kalari-Payattu in Kerala did it hit me how little I knew about my own country's cultural heritage. So, next came all those exotic places in India. Cottages which came at one lakh rupees a day to local bachelor mansions at thirty rupees a night, ridiculously expensive massage treatments to one rupee shoe shines, exquisite escorts in historic palaces to cheap prostitutes in road side pubs -India sure was an eye-opener, and knowing about my homeland bought me some sort of consolation. But I still was not happy.

She was buying an ice candy for another kid. The kid was wearing only a pair of dirt-streaked shorts and no shirt to protect him from the scathing sun. Rough hair, bare feet, bruises all over the body and a million watt smile on his face, I felt jealous looking at the kid. For the first time in my life, I looked at another human with envy in my heart. My glare moved from the kid to the girl and I realized the kid was actually in a better physical condition than the girl. She couldn't have been older than thirteen or fourteen. Somehow, I knew for a fact that the ice candy stole away all of her pocket money. But she had a grin brighter than the kid's and was happy, while I was not .The traffic signal turned green , and my driver revved the Audi away ,but the scene I saw at the signal near the Dharavi slum in Mumbai etched itself onto my mind . Like an i-pod on repeat mode, I kept rewinding and forwarding it until I got frustrated of my own unhappiness. In this dark hour of utter desolation, the truth of it hit me like a tsunami. And I knew what I had to do to become happy.

That was the birth of Operation India Tomorrow. Forty billion dollars was a lot of money to give away and my precious education came back to help me in using the money properly. I put all my expertise, connections, political clout and the media to aid my efforts at educating the under-privileged kids of my country. In three years since then, we have come a long way. More than a thousand schools, close to a hundred colleges, not to mention the extensive Student Placement Network in place to make sure the kids don't join the unemployed. Being unmarried and no big family to boast of, I put all my self into the project and received back more from it. Seeing each kid smile in my schools made my heart flutter. Their parents bowing to me in respect made me feel real self-importance. We have taken more than a tenth of India's uneducated children away from the list. More than a third of the orphaned babies nowadays find their way into some or the other of my orphanages. I have managed to inspire enough people to join the organization, and spread their love among the less fortunate. I have raised India's hopes of become a truly prosperous country. But more importantly, for once, I am happy.

Throughout my journey of life, with mostly ups on a constant down, I have realized that only one thing matters. Your Happiness. Money, women, power may bring you happiness. But it's very much possible that they may not bring you happiness as well. That small girl buying an ice candy with all her money for another kid turned my life. From darkness to light, from listlessness to sanctity. She didn't realize it, but she was buying education for all her fellow faceless children living under poverty across our country. The world even, if by God's grace we can do it. And I am happy.