Grab The Opportunities.

Two things happened after I wrote my post on The Beards Are Ruling. . First, I came across a video clip via WhatsApp sent by a friend which I share below with my readers. Second, I remembered another bearded friend and ex colleague about whose Remarkable Career I had written blog post.

This is a motivational speech in Hindi by Abhinav Kumar, India Head of Trivago.

For my readers who do not understand Hindi, Abhinav Kumar’s speech covers simply how he became what he did, despite coming from a small village in Bihar, by grabbing every opportunity that presented itself without any second thought. And every time he also learned whatever was needed to learn including how to speak English, and just kept moving in unusual trajectories that eventually made him what he is today. Rajinder’s career too has been one where he grabbed the opportunities that came his way, did the best that he could in each situation and moved on to finally a contented retirement.

A rather unusual career path for the son of a bureaucrat from the then establishment, Rajinder acquired a Master’s degree in Geography.  Yes, you read me right!  He then was able to secure employment in a public sector organisation where he found himself getting claustrophobic and, unwilling to be part of a venal system, quit.

A smart Sales Manager, not me, saw something in him and hired him as a Sales Representative.  He was very good at it and won many awards for being so as I personally can vouch having been his colleague then.

While he was establishing himself as a Sales Professional his brother had gone through a training programme to become a Mariner and became one.  While the living was tough, the compensation was way above what Rajinder was making as a Sales Professional and this was galling for our intrepid young man.

When his brother offered to help him get a position as a trainee mariner, Rajinder quit his position and took the gamble and joined the merchant marine in 1992.  Working hard and studying simultaneously to write and pass qualifying examinations, after ten years, in 2002 he became a Master and captained cargo vessels till he retired three years ago to a well deserved retirement.  Since his wife still works at Jaipur and with other responsibilities there, he lives at Jaipur but, has already acquired his permanent retirement home in Himachal Pradesh. A man from the mountains, who moved to the plains to make a living, went to sea to make a totally unplanned for career, retired and will eventually return to his beloved mountains.

This is Rajinder now with his companion Hunter at his home in Jaipur. Shackman, he and I not only keep beards, all three are also dog lovers.

Manjhi The Mountain Man.

Jim's Manjhi

On August 15, 2015, my blogger friend Jim posted this image on his facebook wall and we exchanged these comments

Jim: “Ramana, thought that you might like this story.”

I: “He is quite a hero here Jim. A biopic has been produced with a very popular film actor depicting his story.”

Jim: “Thought he might be inspiring. Have you written post on him?”

I: “No Jim. What I will do is to see the film and then write a review of the film.

And as promised to Jim, here is my review of the film which I saw yesterday.
Manjhi poster

Three highly talented people come together to produce a masterpiece of a film based on a true story but to make it appeal to the average Indian film goer adding some mirch masala. Incidentally, one of the three is Ketan Mehta who has actually directed a highly acclaimed film called Mirch Masala! The true story is embellished with some cruelty of the inter caste genre, atrocities against the poor and the marginal, corrupt politicians and babus, but all of these present a realistic background to a remarkable story of one individual’s remarkable achievement.

While Ketan Mehta has written and produced the film, Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Manjhi and Radhika Apte as his wife and inspiration have performed so well that I am yet to recover from their powerful impression on me. The tight editing and excellent photography brings rural Bihar alive and the use of the local dialect is charming and very effective. While I saw a Hindi version, I am told that a version with English subtitles has also been released.


Better research could have saved the producers some embarrassment. Indira Gandhi no doubt to add some comedy, is shown promoting her Hand Symbol for elections when during the period that this incident happens, the INC had not come up with the symbol. Actually, it would have been better comedy, if that was the intention, to show INC’s Emergency time symbol of the cow and calf which has always represented the INC from her time, first with her and Sanjay Gandhi as cow and calf and now with Sonia and Rahul depicting the same!


It is a moving film that leaves the viewer with awe and respect for the determined man and the two plus hours in the theater goes by in a flash.  I recommend it highly to discerning viewers with a full[rating=6] rating.

Antardwand. (Inner Conflict.)


While discussing the phenomenon of some Indian communities having to pay bride price to get brides for their men due to the female feticide practices there, my movie buff friend Abhaya recommended that I see this film and since I value his recommendations highly I did.  It however was not easy and I discovered some thing new which too I wish to share with my readers.

The new discovery first.  I could not see it in a theater and so went searching for it in DVD form without any success.  While I was surfing for it online, I discovered a link that took me to YouTube, where I found that it was available for sale for viewing online for as many times as I want if I paid for it.  I duly bought the, shall we say, viewing rights, using another new discovery, Google Wallet.  And Bingo, I was able to see the film without the slightest problem on my computer screen.

I expected a story of bride price being paid but this story is about a marriage forced on a kidnapped groom as a suitable groom under normal circumstances was not available for him.  Based on real events in Bihar, this story is about a kidnapped groom, his pre kidnap life, the girl he marries and what happens to her.  Background characters in the form of parents of both, their henchmen and so on are very realistically portrayed.  On location filming  that I could identify as Bihar with the actors speaking the local accent, made the experience a very enjoyable one.  For those not familiar with the feudal life styles of Bihar and parts of UP this will be a discovery as, it portrays that lifestyle quite realistically.

A social problem, a rural value system in conflict with an urban one, helplessness of the various characters enmeshed in a patriarchal and feudal system is brilliantly shown and I am not surprised that it received so many awards and accolades besides very high critical acclaim.

While thanking Abhaya for this excellent recommendation, I give this film [rating=6] rating with great pleasure.

Changing India.

This is a guest post from my brother Arvind who resides at Chennai.

“Power will go to rascals, rogues, freebooters. . . .
All leaders will be of low caliber & men of straw. . .
They’ll have sweet tongues & silly hearts. . .
They will fight amongst themselves for power & the two countries will be lost in political squabbles. A day would come when even air & water will be taxed.”
-Sir Winston Churchill. On why he was against granting indedpendence to India and Pakistan.

Barring a very few notable exceptions among our leaders, everything has come true.

He also said “India is merely a geographical expression. It is no more a single country than the equator.” Here though India has proven him wrong. It is certainly a very diverse country but united nevertheless. There are contradictions but a common thread of hope running through it.

There are two stories in this guest post. One is the changing face of rapidly industrializing parts of India, the other is the badly managed parts of India from where people emigrate to the former. Bihar is one of the badly managed states, which has opted for better governance the last five years and has reelected a government that brought about change. It is too early for Bihar yet, but you will find hard working Biharis spread throughout India. Bihar’s economy is run mostly by remittances, but it is changing.

The story is told in typical Arvind fashion bringing a bit of humour to it. To understand the humour, you will need to learn about Lalu Prasad Yadav. Please read as much as you can about him from the link given here. He is the type of leader that Churchill talked about.

“I paid dearly with my hair for the economic growth of India.

Tamil Nadu and especially Chennai has been witnessing a steady growth of Bihari immigrants.

With so many automobile, and other industries mushrooming, in and around Chennai. the local unskilled and semi skilled workers are paid fancy wages. The garment and cell phone industries have gobbled up the women workers.

Nokia and Motorolla are employing their fleet of buses to ferry girls from as far away as Kancheepuram and Polur. to work in their factories. these girls were originally helping their family in weaving silk and cotton textiles.

So, to augment the unskilled and semi skilled work force requirements, companies are employing workers from out of Tamilnadu, or in other words, Biharis.

The boom in construction activities is totally Bihari oriented. The old Mahabalipuram Road on a Sunday evening is chockablock with Bihari youths. Hundreds of engineering, medical and other colleges, are engaging agents to get students from Bihar. This has even led to a few murders among the agents.

Even in a small scale industry like Sharana Industries, the unskilled workers are Biharis.
(Sharana Industries is owned by our cousins.)

I have been watching this influx with benign bemusement so far. After all, it is as much their country as it is mine. They have every right to migrate to any part of the country.

This morning, I went for a hair cut for me and my grandson.

Needless to say, Biharis have replaced the local barbers too!

And the only hair style the Bihari barbers know is the Lallu Prasad style.
And that’s what my grand son and I got!!!.

And I paid Rs.75/- for each of us.”

World Tour On Bicycle By Siddhartha Priya.

A fellow alumnus from the Business School from which I graduated decades ago, is setting out on an adventure – A world tour on a bicycle. Siddhartha Priya is a young man with stars in his eyes. An idealist in an age of cynicism. I find his enthusiasm infectious and would like to introduce him to my readers.

Apart from being a fellow alumnus, he is also from Bihar, the land to which I owe a great deal for having enabled me to graduate from a university there, giving me a couple of lifelong friends and which brings back many happy memories, whenever it is mentioned.

I believe that the meaning of the name Siddhartha Priya, will be in order here. My readers will of course be familiar with Siddhartha Gautama, the Buddha. The word Siddhartha is a compound consisting of two Sanskrit words, Siddha and Artha. Siddha means perfection. Artha has two meanings, one is wealth and the other is meaning. In this context of a proper name, Siddhartha would indicate one who is wealthy in perfection.

Priya is the second name of my young friend. This means beloved.

So, the full name will mean “The beloved of Siddhartha, or the beloved of the fully Perfect One (The Buddha). It could also mean, depending on who is talking, one who loves the Perfect One. I leave it to my readers to decide which one is apt for the young man. Indian names can be loaded!

Young Siddhartha has put up a blog site called World Tour on Bicycle and I would appreciate my readers visiting the site and extending encouragement of whatever kind that they can to this idealistic young man. Thank you.

Bihar, My Bihar!

I am a Bihari by qualification. By that, what I mean as an unusual definition is that my educational qualification at graduate level is from Bihar. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts from the Bhagalpur University, Bihar, which then was one of the better universities offering distance education. Another one was the Utkal University in Orissa.

I chose Bhagalpur as for me it was more convenient to visit and write, selection and final examinations there. I passed out with a higher second division. A respectable if not very good passing grade. For all my American readers, Class and division are the equivalents of your grading system. First being equivalent to the As in your system and Fail being the equivalent of your D.

Be that as it may, the education and the degree were good enough to get me admission into India’s premier school of management and the rest, as they say is history.

I was proud to be an honorary Bihari and till to date, have very fond memories of my association with Bihar. I have traveled extensively in that state and have some wonderful friends there. Most of them however have immigrated to other states for a livelihood and that is another story altogether.

Bihar today, is a joke. Two jokes that are very popular are as follows:

1. To settle the dispute between Pakistan and India, we should tell Pakistan that they can have Kashmir if they will agree to take Bihar also.
2. A visiting Japanese mission exploring investment possibilities in Bihar, offered to help the then Chief Minister of Bihar that, if they were allowed to run Bihar’s affairs for three years, they would make Bihar into another Japan. The CM promptly retorted that if he were given three days to run Japan, he would make Japan into another Bihar.

Bihar today is a pathetic state though the present Chief Minister is trying just about everything to get it back to its original state of glory and prosperity. I doubt that the other politicians will let him do it. Today, thanks to mismanagement, the worst flooding in the history of India has taken place in Bihar and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and are home and food less. The Indian Army is the only organized body capable of providing help there and thankfully the local administration has agreed to it.

What prompts this rant is the story that appeared in the BBC today. It is about a speeding bus running over people on the roadside watching a film and killing 18 and injuring many others. The local police have seized the bus, but the driver is absconding. Please read this

Firstly, only in Bihar will it be possible to conduct a film show without any safety precautions on the road side, as part of a religious festival and secondly, only in Bihar will it be possible for a bus to go at a speed at which, it is unable to stop such an accident from taking place. It is also only in Bihar that the driver of the bus can be “absconding”, well after the accident took place.

What a sorry state of affairs. I as a taxpayer, object to our tax money going from the federal pool to subsidize this horrendous state of affairs in Bihar. This will be the only way that we can force them into some prudent governance. I hope that other Indians reading this will do something about it. I intend writing to my MP.