Tuesday, December 30, 2014

My Ice-Breaker Speech at LatentView "Leader's Voice" Programme

The scene was set in 1988. On August 15th that year, India was celebrating its 41st Independence Day. That afternoon, when the city of Bangalore had finished the jubilation, at 1545hrs, a young mother, in the labour ward of a hospital, gave birth to her first child. A healthy, chubby baby boy.

At 1630hrs, a close relative rushed to the father and said "Gopi, I have the perfect name for your son. To celebrate the day and occasion, you should call him Swathanthr Kumar".
To this very day, I am thankful that my parents chose not to.

Good evening all,  I am Avinash Gopinathan and am here today to share a few memories of my humble, beautiful and adventurous life in timelines that I believe were my milestones.
I was born to middle class parents and have had a happy story growing up. Back then, we lived in a colony of 13 houses where I was the youngest. Pampered with love and care, I learnt some important lessons very early which have influenced my personality in a big way.

Fast forward to the year 2000.
I was in 8th standard, a juncture where I had to decide what I wanted to be. I had three choices.
1) I just finished four years of learning Carnatic Music and had given my first Thyagaraja Aradhana Concert.
2) I had cleared an entrance test for IITJEE foundation course at Visakhapatnam's best institute.
3) I was selected for District under 15 Basketball team summer camp,
My father chose IITJEE - Safe and Secure. "Mera Beta Engineer Banega"

Fast forward to the year 2006.
11th and 12th standard in Andhra Pradesh are a special experience. 7hrs of continuous classes that start at 5:30 am followed by 7hrs of study sessions. Endless tests. Countless problems. My idols at that stage were the HC Vermas, the RS Aggarwals and the Irodoves. My blood pumped physics, my heart beat chemistry and my mind only processed math.
After 2 years of this relentless ordeal, the results were out.
IITJEE Rank 20,000+
AIEEE Rank 20,000+
VIT Rank 20,000+
My teachers were shocked, my parents were speechless. They couldn't believe it and neither could I.
Then, like a ray of hope BITS-Pilani happened.
I was excited and overjoyed. Surprisingly my relatives very not. They were held back and skeptical about the location of my campus. The location that I now call my second home. The location that would change the rest of my life for the rest. Goa.

5 years of college stories, experiences, highs and lows that I cannot summarise in 6 or 60 or even 600 minutes. Goa has been my biggest pilgrimage yet. It turned my 12th standard idols from HC Verma to Metallica, from RS Aggarwal to George Carlin and from Irodov to Johnny Walker.
It was the best preparation that I could have asked for as it gave and taught me everything and beyond.

Fast forward to the year 2012.
6 months after I passed out of college, LatentView happened. I would honestly admit that I didn't choose Analytics, Analytics chose me. LatentView in many ways has been my college after college. The learnings are different but the best part is the personality of the people are the same. This part of my journey is open and continuous. I wish to keep building bigger and better stories here.

Looking back on all these years and moments, I am happy at where I am. I made my fair share of mistakes and have cherished my share of victories. I am optimistic about my road ahead.
From Swathanthr Kumar to Coaching Classes, from Goa Beaches to LatentView Analytics, I wish to continue to add, not moments I breathe but memories that take my breath away. Thank you.

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Innocent Smile- Really?

Every since I clicked this picture (months ago), I have not been able to get this kid's smile from my head. I keep going to back to it on my computer and almost instantly, all the thoughts racing in my head come to a halt. I feel my cheek muscles involuntarily smile back at this kid. I wonder will I ever be able to smile like he is?

You see it all the time, be it from your loved ones or your close friends or your neighbor(whom you hardly talk to or even see) or your colleagues or just some stranger on the street, every day there is at least one if not many smiles that greet you. Most times, it is like a passing cloud, goes by unnoticed . At other times, when you can pause for a second and process that smile- the interpretation could be endless.

The Loved Ones- 
Well, I guess this is the easiest of them lot. You can bet your life that you know exactly what that smile meant. You know it has no hidden agenda, they give it to you because they care and love you. Unless you have been talking out of your line and they smile because they understand. That is a 'hold-on-son' or a 'take-your-time-dear' smile.

The Close Friend- 
This is a slightly more tricky lot but with the best intention for you. Often it is a 'good-going-mate' or a 'happy-for-you' kinda smile. But if you could take that second or two and watch closely, it could also mean 'are-you-sure-about-that-my-friend' or a 'I-know-you-will-comeback-to-me-crying-about-this-choice'. You can be assured though that he/she only means for your good.

The Neighbor-
Ahh! The only neighbor smiles I have got are those that meant 'awake-so-early-are-you' or 'these-crazy-bachelors-and-their-midnight-music' or 'do-they-ever-think-this-is-a-residential-place' or in worst cases 'the-guy-whose-house-smells'.

The Colleague- 
For obvious reasons, I would not comment on this one on a public forum <wink><wink>.

The Stranger- 
Well, now this is a gold mine. The interpretations are limitless. From the lady at the bus-stop with her 'oh-my-god-please-stop-starring' smile, to the random barber's 'do-you-ever-bathe', the auto-driver's 'jackpot-he-is-non-local' smirk, the restaurant waiter's 'this-lousy-tipper-again', the branded clothes shop attendant's 'aapke-pocket-ki-aukaat-mein-nahin-hein', the tailor's 'how-did-you-manage-to-tear-at-this-place', the pizza delivery guy's secret 'lift-nahi-hein-kya<angry smile>' (since, I live on the fourth floor), the second hand furniture guy's 'haha!-what-a-fool', your friend's 'dude-click-the-pic-man-my-cheeks-are-hurting'smile. The list can go on and on. 

Well, the best smile for me, apart from a loved one's smile, is the one that kid in the picture is sporting. An innocent one. He had no agenda folks. He smiled for the sake of smiling. And that is the rarest kind and I was lucky to get that. That is the kind of smile that would be infectious and will not let go of you until you give one back.
The next time you have been lucky enough to get a smile from someone- take a pause, smile back, and think. It can mean so much more.!!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Midnight Verses-Part 1

The best words come out at the most unexpected times and here are a few that managed to get jotted down during one of the 'friday night- sessions'.

The credits of these words should go to the thoughts that race in the head of two middle working class, male, engineer-turned-consultancy service providing bachelors over a cup of <let's say> coffee.
Disclaimer- When the going gets tough, the tough get lazy and drunk<again, let's say on coffee>.

Verse 1:<hindi mein joh baatein hoti hein, dil koh bade pyaar se choothi hein>

Chotti si ummar hein ,
Dil me joh junnoon hein,
Ankho ne joh sapne dekein,
Mann mein kayin nayein ummeedko jagayein.

Ki choole chaand sitaroon ko tum,
Ki udthe jaoon badhaloon se bhi upar tum,
Ek pal bhi ab khone ko na raha,
Har kadham peh aaghe badna hein meri jaan.

Verse 2:- <switching to Angrez>

I was high and I looked up the sky....
You saw me laughing but I wondered why....
I cherished every moment, as the times flew by...
Is this love or hate, I shed a tear and cry...

Verse 3:- <this was the last one of the night(4am)>

Neither love nor friendship ..nor all the hatred..
Made you ever doubt that sanctity of the life sacred..
You chose to believe in the purity of love..
And like everybody else, simply trusted that there was a God above.


Friday, April 27, 2012

On a crowded bus one day

This is about three simple people I met one day on a crowded bus.
I take a 30 min bus ride to reach work everyday and most of the times I manage to get a seat and then I read a novel or am occupied with ‘good morning’ texts which keep me away from everything happening around me until I have to get off at the bus stop next to my office.
But today, the bus was unusually crowded. And so no seat, no novel and no' texting'. My eyes were catching everything in their way and my ears were absorbing every bit of the honking vehicles, the rickety engine of the bus, the chitchatting of with passengers, the loud FM Radio of a few of my fellow passengers (who I think felt that it was there responsibility to be the 'RJ' for the morning crowded bus). 
The loudest of them all was the bus conductor, who kept on shouting at everyone to make space for others getting in .He yelled at the people standing at the foot board to get into the bus and kept shouting for people to collect their tickets.
At first I felt that he was just being mean and irritating, then as I stood there with my hands holding onto one of the bus poles ,tight enough to avoid the sudden breaks,( which for sometime I presumed was the driver having his fun but was so wrong about it) pondering whether the conductor was just being cautious. He looked like a man in his fifties. Had he witnessed some tragic accident of someone traveling carelessly on the footboard? Had this trauma caused him to be protective of all of his passengers? Here was a person who went the extra step of ensuring that people in his bus traveled safely and yet everyone around him(including myself) were displeased at him because he was LOUD??

The second was a woman. A mother or a nanny or a grandmother of a girl who was mentally challenged and needed the help from this woman to carry her to school. The girl was easily twice the size of the mother. She climbed into the bus carrying her child, her school bag and her lunch box ,all at once. Some kind person had made way for the child to sit and the mother was standing there, holding the bag under her arm while trying to hold onto the railing of the bus and the other arm over her child protecting her from the sudden brakes in the morning traffic.
When I looked at her face, her eyes, there was not even the slightest expression of sadness or regret or anything.  She did not complain that life was being unfair to her. She did not complain why God had targeted only her and her child. And she lived with her life, carrying her child, giving her the best she could and more.
What was the mother doing here? Would we call this a sacrifice or was she doing her duty?
It immediately reminded me of my parents.

The third was again a woman. The first thing that my eyes noticed was her Smile. She wore her smile on her face throughout the journey. Everyone around her were cursing at the driver for his driving or the fellow passengers for leaning too far forward onto themselves in the bus but she simply smiled away any nudge or push that someone gave her. She seemed to understand that it was never intentional…
When I saw her face, it gave a strange feeling. It felt as though she was able to understand the limitations of traveling on a crowded bus more that anyone one around her.
And then at a bus stop a whole lot of people got down. A few seats were now available, but she didn’t move from where she was standing. Then a lady called out to her and asked her to come and sit beside her. It was only then did I realize that she was blind. I literally went blank in my head of second or two.
How is it that she saw so much more from the world with her eyes closed that I did with my eyes open?How did she do that? Did her disability make her more grateful and understanding about the simple and small pleasures of life which I many a time choose to ignore?
The entire day that day, I was left with one thought. “Yes, She was blind. And she smiled ….”