The Real Indistructibles


Editor’s Note: There were middle class values in the 60’s/70’s/80’s and there are middle class values now. Big big difference. The old adage used to be “if it’s not broken, why fix it”. And if something does break, well.. repair (don’t replace) it. My parents have taken these adages to heart.. for 50 something years. I present to you an important subset of the Real Indistructibles from my parents’ home. If you are wondering about the blog title, it’s sorta related to this one.]


Center table (circa 1971-72). It earned a fresh lamination top sometime in the late 90’s



1968 vintage. Black spot at 4’o clock? A candle left unextinguished when the family went for a post-prandial walk.


1964 vintage. Upholstery probably changed once and multiple seat cover changes but the timber stands proud. I recall one coat of varnishing that we kids fought over.


Usha sewing machine purchased for Rs. 300 in 1971. Mom wanted the foot operated model (which would release later) but that didn’t stop her from churning out masterpieces over the ages. Delightful designs for infants & toddlers her specialty. Still going strong.


Purchased in 1964. This stool’s twin (click omission) required some props.


Godrej almirah (1975). Did anyone from that era NOT own this?

Can you live so completely that there is only the active present now?


From the chapter “A fundamental question” in Jiddu Krishnamurti’s The Awakening of Intelligence. This chapter was from a lecture delivered in Madras on Jan 12, 1968. The closing excerpt (reproduced here) made an impression on me.

Questioner: Sir, if we are not in the past, but in the present, does that also become the past and the future – how are we to know that we are right?

JK: You don’t have to be sure you are right — be wrong! Why are you frightened about being right or wrong? But your question has no validity at all because you are just talking, you are just theorising. You are saying, “If this happens, that would happen.” But if you put it into action then you would know there is no such thing as “going wrong.”

Questioner: Sir, when we go back home we see our children and the past comes in.

Questioner: Shankara may go.

JK: I hope it has gone. Shankara may go but the children remain. (Laughter) Are the children the past? They are in one sense. And as they are living human beings, can you educate them to live completely, in the way we are talking about?

Questioner: Right Sir, you have answered it, sorry.

JK: That means I have to help them to be intelligent, I have to help them to be sensitive, because sensitivity, highest sensitivity is the highest intelligence. Therefore if there are no schools around you, you have to help them at home to be sensitive, to look at the trees, to look at the flowers, to listen to the birds, to plant a tree if you have a little yard — or if you have no yard to have a tree in a pot and to look at it, to cherish it, to water it, not to tear its leaves. And as the schools do not want them to be sensitive, educated, intelligent (schools only exist to pass exams and get a job) you have to help them at home, to help them to discuss with you, why you go to a temple, why you do this ceremony, why you read the Bible, the Gita — you follow? — so that they are questioning you all the time, so that neither you nor anyone else becomes an authority. But I am afraid you won’t do any of this because the climate, the food, the tradition is too much for you, so you slip back and lead a monstrously ugly life. But I think, if you have the energy, the drive, the passion, that is the only way to live.


The Last Temptation


Pic: courtesy

It started innocently enough. I was telling my friend (let’s call him “Joe”) at Company X about my decision to leave Graspr and move to India. Joe immediately asked me if I was interested in exploring Company X. If yes, he was eager to introduce me to a key executive for an exciting role. It was early days of our India decision and I had left the door open for exploring US-based careers too. So I told Joe to wait a few weeks before making the introduction. I fully expected to tell Joe soon that I was in fact serious about our India plans and hence not explore the role at Company X. It didn’t quite work out that way.

Either I had miscommunicated with Joe or he got overzealous. A few weeks after our conversation, I got that introduction email to the Company X executive (let’s call him “Peter”). One thing led to another and a phone conversation was scheduled  between Peter and me. Try and picture this. There I was in the LAX airport, jamming my cell phone against my left ear and attempting to block out the airport sounds with my right hand. Considering this backdrop, we ended up having a pretty good conversation. My intrigue about Company X turned into a genuine interest in the role.

Things moved rather quickly after that. Peter wanted me to come in for a full round of interviews before my trip to India. I had one foot in India already but I had a desire to see where the Company X exploration would lead. Little did I realize that this would become my Last Temptation. I made the overnight trip to Company X just a day before a scheduled family vacation. I thoroughly enjoyed my full day of interviews. My final two meetings were with Peter and his boss. The role was indeed very exciting, it played very well to my strengths and I had the potential to hit the ball out of the park. Apparently the interviews had gone well from Company X’s perspective too. I was about to hop into my cab when Peter caught up with me and made a verbal offer. The HR manager called me on my way to the airport and discussed the offer in detail. A few days later, the offer was formalized and the ball was in my court.

In most respects, this was a great role and a highly attractive offer. Since we had already made the psychological leap to move out of the Bay Area, moving to a different American city was not a show-stopper. The only problem was that the job wasn’t taking me to India… at least not just yet. Company X did have a presence in India and Peter was very supportive of my moving to their India operation in a few years.

I had plenty of time to think about this… sorta. I was getting on a long plane ride to India and was slated to make a decision before the end of my India trip. I thought about The Two Types of Indian Immigrants and asked myself whether I really was an active should-we. The answer was “yes” but I could feel the temptation to postpone our move by a year. The spirit was willing but was the flesh weak?

Something happened in Vijayawada that tipped the scales decisively. Since my whirlwind trip wasn’t touching Vijayawada (my parents live here), my mother had planned a short visit to Bangalore to see me. Just a few days before my Bangalore stint began, my father fell sick. It wasn’t something major but he needed care and attention so my mother cancelled her trip to Bangalore. The timing of this event provided that burst of clarity and I decided… to resist the last temptation.