Tuesday, December 30, 2008

MAD, MAD WORLD!!

"And that is the garden where I used to 'water' the plants with the Bournvita Milk you'd force me to drink", I confessed to my mother, only without any contrition or guilt, as we sat watching old, cracking pictures of my childhood. "You threw all that milk away to the plants? What was your explanation?", my mother asked in a half-reproachful and half- mirthful tone. " Well, I was only offering milk to plant-devata". She laughed and teasingly said, "That's why you couldn't grow beyond 5 feet 2 inches." "Five two and a half, mind you", I corrected, jokingly.


It is funny how things that we once considered grave seem funny, even absurd, as time passes. All those "heinous crimes" of beating the neighbor's son up or changing a 19 to 99 on the report cards, things once unspeakable, now become amusing anecdotes at family-gatherings. Not only are we not sorry for them but also proud, sometimes, of flaunting our extra-curricular credits.

It makes me wonder whether, someday we will also laugh at all the “real crises” that we go through in life. Maybe when we’re really old we will not just have forgiven and forgotten but will also be able to smile, if not laugh, at all those grey pages of our autobiographies. “Hey Sid, old buddy, did you finally find out that marrying my wife was a mistake!”

Extrapolating my hypothesis to an outrageously out-of-limits level, what if after we die , we actually realize how foolish we had been to have felt the things we felt and done the things we did? The way we smile at ourselves when we wake up from a bad dream. “It was only a dream, silly”.

As I lay beside my mum, musing on these good-for-nothing thoughts, a funny (some might even find it morbid) picture came to my mind. It goes like this.

All my friends, relatives and enemies that have died before me are watching my “movie” from the heavens. “ Hehehe.. look at her weeping over her dead cat”. They laugh. “I always thought the old woman was a tad too sentimental”, says my dead cat, licking her paws. “Stop licking your paws. They aren’t anymore”, someone reminds her. “Sorry, old habits die hard”, says my dead cat.


My imagination needs hardly a push to transcend all the limits of space, time and rationality. So the scene becomes crazier. Divorced couples are meeting each other jovially. “ Can’t believe we said those things to each other! Why, you don’t even have an ass now, asshole!!” (winks). Victims are nonchalantly chatting with the perpetrators. “Oh is that you Bill? What was it that you poisoned my porridge with? Tasted like nose-gum!”.To which Bill retorts, “ Well,that was nose-gum, old man. The poison, i believe, was tasteless."


Some souls, just freed from their bodies, are still recovering from the out-of-body shock. “Am I a man or a woman?”. Then there are some shunting furiously from one astral dimension to another. “I’m gonna sue the bloody bastard. Promised me of Jannat and pretty women. Heck! You can hardly tell a man from a woman here. Where is this godforsaken jannat ?”. Needless to say this was a fidayeen terrorist.

Then a couple of intellectuals are still doing some math. “Look! In my 16543rd life I was a snake and you a frog so I ate you. Then in my next life you were a snake and I a frog so you ate me. Then in my 668954th birth I was the thief who stole your diamond and in my next life you were the priest who eloped with my daughter. Thereafter I took birth as your son and tampered with your will and then you became the stock-broker who swindled me of my money. So doesn’t that settle our Karma??”

I could have gone on had my mum not interrupted me. “What are you smiling insanely at, looking at the ceiling??

“Nothing, just that it’s a mad, mad world…”

Friday, December 12, 2008

A small drop in the ocean..

"If I do not board the train in the next four minutes , I'll miss one of my closest buddy's wedding". As I was rushing to platform no. 3 of the Dadar station, frantically dragging my 25 Kg luggage, a portly man intercepted me and demanded my ticket and identification. Just as I was about to swear under my breath, I remembered all the fiery "enough is enough" and " high time that we acted " statements most of us had been making for the last one week in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks. And then, instead of loosing my temper or pleading with the officer to let me go because I was getting late, things that I would ordinarily have done, I decided to cooperate with him.

As I now made a beeline for my train, I mentally thanked the officer. "Thank you for being vigilant".

I cannot join a bomb disposal squad or single-handedly cleanse the "system", but that day it felt good to have done my tiny bit for my country.

Oh and as my reward, I did not miss my train!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It is a good thing that you know this

I write this on my blog so I can remind myself of it. Perhaps in my moments of despair. When I curse myself for being deaf to the wisdom of my elders, for wanting to test conventional wisdom, for being drawn to follow my instincts - to know my own truth - at the risk of hurting myself and worse - at the risk of hurting others.

" It is a good thing to experience everything oneself, He thought. As a child I learned that pleasures of the world and riches were not good. I have known it for a long time but I have only just experienced it.
Now I know it not only with my intellect, but with my eyes, my heart, with my stomach. It is a good thing that I know this."
-quoted from Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

To all those who've hurt themselves, made decisions despite the foreboding or warnings that it could go wrong..
Now you know it not only with your intellect, but with your eyes, your heart, with your stomach... It is a good thing that you know this...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

VHP - A Very Ho-Hum Piece of fiction

What happens when a meeting between a VHP activist and a city girl is arranged

for marriage? Read on……

GIRL: Are you superman?

VHP ACTIVIST: No I’m Very Hard to Please man.

GIRL: Ooooooooh la la! My kinda guy!

VHP ACTIVIST: My Kinda Gay? That’s opposition.

GIRL: Never mind! What are your hobbies?

VHP ACTIVIST: VHP

GIRL: Huh?

VHP ACTIVIST: Vandalism, Hadtaal and Partisan Politics

GIRL: Oh! How nice! So what exactly is your job profile like?

VHP ACTIVIST: VHP

GIRL: Which is…..?

VHP ACTIVIST: Vandal who Handles Property

GIRL: Wow! That's like the Accounts Manager.. What property do you handle?

VHP ACTIVIST: Depends. Extortions on a good day. Gold chains and wrist watches on Valentines day.

GIRL: How sweet! Gold chain on Valentine’s day! Is that a hint?

VHP ACTIVIST: Yes. VHP..

GIRL: Lemme guess... Valentine’s Heartfelt Present??

VHP ACTIVIST: No. Valentine Hai Paap. Jo manaenge Vo Honge Punished.

GIRL: Oh… Accha tell me, are your parents supportive of your career?

VHP ACTIVIST (breaks down and starts weeping): I wanted to become a painter. But my parents did not see any future in it. So I decided to make a career of my hobby.

GIRL: That’s not too bad. Show me some of your art-works.

VHP ACTIVIST: (sniff) Here. (hands out some photographs to her)

GIRL: Oh.. but these are pictures of people with their faces painted black.

VHP ACTIVIST: Yes. I took to face-painting. This one’s taken outside Archies gallery. It’s called The Last Shopper.

GIRL: Uh… Ok... Accha since we might end up together, lets know each other’s past. Did you have any girlfriends?

VHP ACTIVIST: That’s a professional hazard.

GIRL: Meaning?

VHP ACTIVIST: Girlfriends are counterproductive to our B.D.

GIRL: BD as in Bajrang Dal?

VHP ACTIVIST: No. BD as in Business Development. Although there was one. I did not bring her any gifts on Valentine ’s Day and explained her how it was American to do so. She slapped me and walked out saying that Saint Valentine was Italian. She ran away with a fellow BD activist who bought a present for her on the sly a month before the V-day.

GIRL: Oh.. I’m sorry.. that kinda explains. Er.. if I may ask, “fellow BD activist” as in Business Developer?

VHP ACTIVIST: No. Bajrang Dal.

GIRL: Aah.. I see.. Uh.. I gotta go now. I have a very high profile meeting to attend.

VHP ACTIVIST: I like you! You’re already talking in my terms! Very High Profile meeting – VHP!!

GIRL: Er… Ri..ght..

VHP ACTIVIST: So, will you marry me?

GIRL (Aloud) : Well…there’s a Very High Probability…

(To herself) …if I want to commit Voluntary Hara-kiri from Psyching out, that is, Mr. VHP…

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My experiments with an unknown software, a broken mic and a fan that makes a lot of noise


Ok.. here's an experiment i did with a karaoke piece and my voice...

The disclaimers before i am sent gratuitous eggs and tomatoes:

1) I am really bad at softwares in general and mixing in particular..

2) The split second time lag between the vocals and music is not my fault. The darned software plays the reference track whimsically- sometimes breaking off, sometimes skipping sections (it's like it's saying "
How long is this gonna last?"

3) The minimalist approach to the picture on the video is just saving the labour of finding the appropriate pictures in sync with the theme and streaming them.. Hence abstract art- just to be safe..

4) In case you're using headphones, the
tak-tak noise in the background is not beats but my fan

5) And finally, yes i know i could've used "noise reduction" but my musically discerning software treated some of my singing as noise and wisely deleted it .. so i did away with the feature..

NOW we're ready to comment...

P.S. Kindness is a virtue..




Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Unrequited Love

Oh gym!

I sigh…

Not from overweight

But wistfulness

Every time

The morning’s nigh…



From the moment I first

Lay my eyes

Upon you

I realized

You could never be mine…



How will I ever

"Measure" up to

Your lovers

Who walk

Like the seconds

Of a digital clock

And talk,

As Bush on Iraq,

Of everything

that’s lard…

Whilst I am

But a dreamy

Hamburger eating bard …



Who, but I, knows

What it is to have loved

And lost…

So in grief I binge

On potato wedges

From last spring

As my fridge

defrosts…

Sunday, July 13, 2008

ONCE UPON A TIME, NANI WAS A GIRL...

Soumya and her folks had gathered at her grandparents’ place in Lucknow to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. After the celebrations everyone went to their respective rooms to sleep and Saumya, as usual, sat in the veranda with her nani who was oiling her hair. Nani noticed that Saumya was unusually silent for herself tonight. She had noticed that even during the celebrations.

“What’s up kid? You alright baby?” , asked nani.

“Hmm..” Soumya replied, noncommittally.

“Boyfriend trouble?”

“Kind of..”

“Care to share?”

“Nope”

“And may I ask why?”

“Because you’re my nani.”

Nani laughs “ That’s unfair! Kyunki nani bhi kabhi cool thi…”

“ Ya.. But nani had just one boyfriend all her life.. Poor old nana, that is.”

Nani had a twinkle in her eye “And what makes you so sure of that?”

Soumya whirled around “ Whoa, whoa!! You’re not telling me…Sheesh! Why am I even asking? Of course you didn’t.. I mean you couldn’t..”

Nani was smiling a really mischievous smile now.

No way nani… Really? Like really, really? You had a

you know what??”


“ A boyfriend Soumya.. the you know what was called a boyfriend back in our times too, you know. Jesus! You’re way too prude for your times, girl!” Nani said banteringly.


“Oh freak! This is crazy. I mean it is hard to imagine nani young, let alone her having a boyfriend.” Saumya thought in what was almost dismay. Then when she could find voice in her throat she hesitatingly said, “What was that like?”


“ Well.. very heady. He was a student of my father’s. He used to come to our place for some ‘extra classes’”, nani winked.


“Oh nani, don’t, for God’s sake, use insinuations. I’m scandalized enough!”


“Oh silly girl! Don’t jump to conclusions! He was a gentleman. A very well-read one at that. Said all the right things. And he knew it. Knew which book to recommend to which girl so she’s completely in love with his choice. He’d talk of life, meaning, ideals, beauty, aesthetics in a way that’d make you believe it all ran through his blood vessels. You know, not in a dry, intellectual manner, but in earnest. Every girl I knew him to have met found in him a soul mate.” Nani was looking at the flower-pot in the veranda as if she could see through it, smiling a half-smile.


“ Ah! A case of unrequited love, you mean?”, Saumya said almost with relief.


“ You jump to conclusions too fast, girl. Well , yes, women did swoon over him but your nani here was quite a head-turner in her days”, Nani said smugly.


“Aha! So you got him all floored, huh?”


Wait a minute! Did Saumya just see her nani blush??


“Oh my God! You’re blushing! Even after like a thousand years from then! Oh freak! You did get over him, right?”


Nani replied after a moment’s pause. A moment that could easily have gone unnoticed. “You get over everything, honey.”


“ Hmm.. so what happened? How did you end up with nana?”


“ Well.. my mother was opposed to the match. She thought he was too much of an intellectual to make a stable husband.”


“ And nana was not?”


Nani laughed out so loud that made Bozo, their lazy Alsatian, raise his sleepy head and cock his head. “ You impertinent brat! Well, let’s just say your nana was more of a family man than the other guy was.”


“ Hmm… does nana know?”


“ No”


“ Wow! You told me what even nana doesn’t know! Am I honoured! By the way, if I were you, I wouldn’t have trusted a rash kid like me with my secrets. I mean, what if I accidentally blurted it out. Not to say that I would.”


“ Well sweetheart, it won’t matter even if you did. Your nana and I are past that stage in our relationship where these things matter. With as many years as we have spent together you become almost the same person in different bodies, meant not necessarily in a romantic way, so much so that you almost forget that you’re husband and wife- in the manner in which you think of it when younger”


“ Did you ever feel a sense of loss, nani? Like, did you ever regret it?”


“ Sweetie, always remember, in imperfect moments it is the easiest to think in terms of ‘what-ifs’. Let me put it this way. Has it ever happened to you that you were sitting in your school bus and a guy gets on board and for some reason you want him to sit next to you? And it’s not even as if he resembled Brad Pitt.”

"Yeah... has happened a few times."

“ Well life’s like that at times. You meet people you are inexplicably drawn towards. Perhaps it has something to do with some greater connection or maybe it’s their aura and vibes that yours mesh in with. Whatever it is, sometimes you just have to get down at your bus stop and move on.”


“ You know what, Nani? What you just said, I think, may have the answer to my boyfriend crisis.”


“I’m glad about that. Although let me warn you that you’ve got to find your truth on your own. What I experienced in my life is only one of the ways of living life. And you should know it as one of the possibilities and not as a certainty. Sometimes, you got to make your own mistakes. Just remember to be true to yourself and that life never stops.”

“Hmm…” Soumya went over to nani and hugged her.

“And there’s another thing I want you to know, baby.”, Nani’s eyes glistened, with, perhaps, tears of affection. “When I see you, my beautiful, darling grandchild, who brings so much of joy to my life and that of everyone around her, I realize with all the certainty in the world that every decision I made in my life was right because it lead to you…”

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Picture Abhi Baaki Hai

The blogosphere is rife with reviews, views and opinions on Jane Tu Ya Jane Na.. This piece may have undertones of a review but is not one. I loved the movie and it did make me very nostalgic about my college days. For those who haven't seen the movie as yet and won't be mad at me for throwing the suspense away (there isn't one by the way, the end is very predictable.. you can guess that from its box office success) the movie is about Aditi and Jai who are the best of chums in college, very much in love but also very much in denial. They are a gang of very everyday people like you and I. I could relate to the movie because the people in it and the circumstances they find themselves in are very real.. the kinds you actually experience in college. Which is what that weakened my defences against it despite a less than perfect start (read a song and dance sequence in college premises.. i can't recall doing that). For instance, there are mismatched equations - remember how we made the closest of our friends being their sounding boards when they fell in love with someone who was in love with someone else (didn't they always manage to find someone like that?). Then there is finding of true love on the rebound, people living in make-believe fairy tale romances not having the courage of facing the truth of their situation. And remember how there is always one such girl in the class who is in a relationship with a double-standard-male-chauvinist-control-freak much older than she is? Well there's that too. And then the backbone of the story - Jai and Aditi.The chemistry between Jai and Aditi is so obvious that the whole world can see it but they. So they move into relationships with different persons. And eventually they realize that they are made for each other and before an irreparable damage could happen (like marriage of either, or the last-minute-airport-scene going kaput) they make a stitch, just in time.

It made me think of all the Jais and Aditis back in college. Of some who were in love but never realized and are now with different people. Of the Aditis who ended up marrying the double-standard-male-chauvinist-control-freak. Of the Jais who couldn't profess their love in time. Of the Meghnas and Jais who still continue to remain in their make-believe fairy tale romance not having the courage to face the truth of their situation. Of the Aditis who flew to the U.S before the Jais could do the last-minute-airport-sequence. In fact, it was simpler for Aditi to snap out of her relationship with her control freak fiance because he was a mean guy. What about those Aditis who committed themselves to nice guys and even married them before they realized that they were in love with their Jais? They'd probably live the rest of their lives in denial. Should they have the courage to be honest about it and act upon it, the society will stigmatize them as "bad women".

But the movie has hope in it. That when your intentions are real the Grand Will acts to make happen what you in your heart of hearts really want, preempting an irreparable damage. So maybe there is more than meets the eye in case of all the Jais and Aditis and Meghnas that I've talked about. Or maybe, just maybe, picture abhi baaki hai...

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Prayer that doesn't rhyme.. a title that shows i need it

God, give me the courage
to question what i fear
and then the patience
to learn the answers
and then the courage
to act upon them.
And while i learn
give me the will power
to not lapse into
inaction.

Give me the discretion
to know the difference
between what the eyes see
and what the mind knows.
Let it dawn on me
as an instinct so strong
that the mind and the heart
are no longer apart.
And then give me the conviction
to stand by my ideals,
not those that come from school,
or books or scriptures
or convenience or fear,
but those that feel
true to my soul.
And then give me the strength
to protect them
when the world
warns me against them.

Give me the freedom
to flow with change
and not stagnate
from a viscous ego.
And let me learn
to live and love
and let go
without wanting
to appropriate.
And then give me the humility
to accept the change
that is good
and the integrity to resist
that which is not.


And finally, God,
enlighten me
so I make choices
that are best
for everyone
who is affected.
And also enlighten them
to see the larger meaning
beneath it.
And then let not
the hurt caused
become a scar.
Instead let it be
the light
that glows; therefrom
in you we shall unite...


(My few and hence dear readers,
Chitchatni could see quite a few inscrutable, abstruse, half philosophical, half desperate, hardly ingenious but probably the most sincere posts in some time to come.
Please bear with it all as you would an old, senile woman's rantings to herself.
Your comments are more valuable now than ever.
You sometimes unwittingly say things that help me realize better the truth of my situation .)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Happy Birthday Bubble

Dear Bubble,

Happy Birthday!

Had you been alive you'd have turned 16 today. I had thought earlier that when you'd call it quits I will get another dog to ease the pain , but i never did. There cannot be another dog like you. But you know what? I celebrated your birthday in grand style today. I went to this dog shelter and spent time with all those dogs who belonged to nobody. A great soul introduced me to it. I know you're sulking because you never liked the idea of my playing with other dogs. But I'm hoping heaven mellowed you down. You were not really the furriest of all dogs, but some of these had hardly any hair on them. Some were badly bruised. Not surprising then that no one loved them. They don't make "trophy" dogs. You can't walk them in parks because they don't cost you forty grands. I know what you're thinking. You were half mongrel yourself. But I loved you. Loved you all the more because you were half stray. I wonder what the dog community had to say when your pedigreed mother ran away with your plebeian father. Hmm... but we shall not digress from the point here.

I met "Mendhak", a little, brown she-dog there (you know i don't like the B word). She'd have made you a good girlfriend, if you were genteel enough then. Her people abandoned her because she had rickets. And then i met "Germany", the Alsatian, who won't be around too long. Her folks threw her out of their car when they discovered she had cancer. I'm not sad about her because they're taking good care of her at the shelter and she is living the few days that she has being loved and living in the company of other dogs, and in dignity. There are so many stories about that place. Interestingly, it is being operated from under a flyover for about thirty years now! Feels strange to think how many times have I driven over that flyover, sometimes worried, sometimes anxious, sometimes despondent, unaware of the sheer animal survival will that lay beneath my wheels.

Is it dinner time for you in heaven? Do you still like your toast with cheese? I miss you.

You know the one thing that I really loved about you? You'd always listen to me, your ears cocked, giving me that expression as if you understood. You did understand me, right? I know you never judged me. Like you aren't even now. Heck! Any other dog would have pronounced me insane to be talking over a blog with him! But you were always the philosophical kinds anyway. Moreover, everybody's blogging these days. It has gone to the dogs! (cheesy, eh?) Send me your link sometime.

And if you meet with God please ask him to give me some ideas, if not the money, so I can do something about your fellow mates. Have you heard of Corporate Social Responsibility? It's like a big buzz word here these days. But when it comes to dogs and animals in general, there are hardly any takers. Guess that's because dog-speak is not taught at school.

Did I tell you that i miss you like hell?

All right now don't give me those looks. I know you can't take mush for too long. So time for some tug-at-the-trousers.

Catch me if you can!

Please do.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Grasslands

After years today
My heart wells up
feeling a new emotion
One that I have never felt before.
But like all the previous times
that i have felt something move
like this inside me,
today, again, it is raining outside,
the cars are honking on the street
and people are moving around me
in dizzying hurry,
and i am at the center
of the whirlpool
fixed, as the eddies
swirl around me.
It happens in dreams
you're walking on grasslands
twittering and chattering
about all things beautiful
and all things mundane
looking for a place
where you'll sit down
and unpack your quaint
picnic box.
But before you unfold
the rag you would have
sat upon,
the grasslands metamorphize
to the sands of Sahara;
the picnic box
to an old picture
of you and your companion
that once was,
when you strolled
the grasslands together.
Tomorrow will never be
the same as yesterday.
And the last time i realized this
it was raining outside,
the cars were honking on the street
and people were moving around me
in dizzying hurry,
and I was at the center
of the whirlpool
fixed, as the eddies
swirled around me.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

JUST A THOUGHT

Has someone ever asked you what you liked about a particular piece of music? Is it the lyrics? The tune? The rhythm? What do these become when made to stand in isolation? A different music, perhaps, if music at all.
Some experiences in life are like music. The moment you try and break them down into their components, they become something else. They're then not the same experiences any longer.
Which is why the cliche - some things in life are better left unsaid. Simply because speaking them will mean breaking them down into components, which are not the same as their beautiful blend...

Monday, May 5, 2008

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I Believe

Quoting someone I respect on my adventures:

Only Fools get excited about outrageous ideas. They fail. Get excited about another outrageous idea. Fail again. They get excited a hundred times. Fail a hundred times. Indeed, we owe most of our inventions to Fools.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

THE ARGUMENTATIVE M.B.A

I haven’t read The Argumentative Indian but I can quite imagine what the author must have tried to convey. I do not believe in stereotyping a country of billions but in this particular case, I wish I were as argumentative as the rest of my clan is believed to be.

The realization dawned upon me sometime in my final year of engineering when all of us were bitten by the M.B.A bug. Typically, an aspirant would be brandishing tiny, green word-power booklets that he’d dig out, like Zorro unsheathing his sword, the instant he could steal himself away from the crowd. A tiny, green booklet that had a “B” stamped on it meant that it had all the words in English that began with a “B” and that the C.A.T took fancy to. I still regret grossly underestimating the value of these booklets. I am not completely to blame, for who wouldn’t find it rather quaint for overgrown hunks to be holding in absolute deference tiny booklets that had “A, B” and “L,M” written upon them in yellow, as if almost about to break into the ABCD song. I realized my folly and the oratory power they bestowed on their keepers when I once got into an argument with my friend. I cannot recall what the argument was about because the import of what was about to come trivialized the original issue. I am used to raising my decibel levels when in the heat of an argument and my friend here, capitalizing on it, shelved me with three bouncers.

Bouncer number one and two- ‘You’re being vociferous and obstreperous”. He could see that he had already derailed my train of thoughts. So he came up with the winning blow- “And you’re also being tautological” Voila!!

“I’m sorry??”

“That’s all right” And he walked away, triumphantly.


From then onwards, communication took a completely new meaning.

Nerds were no longer nerds but bibliophilic ; lectures no longer suffocated you, they made you claustrophobic; Angelina Jolie was no longer sexy but scintillating; guys did not get drunk, they got inebriated ; people no longer chatted, they confabulated.

But my desire to be The Argumentative Indian did not stem from my fantasy of throwing long, unpronounceable words at unprepared victims. It began from the mock Group Discussion practice sessions that followed the C.A.T.

I decided to attend one of these hoping that it would make some addition to my non-existing general knowledge as most of these discussions are based on current affairs. We were seated around a round table and everyone was looking suspiciously at each other. As soon as the coordinator gave us the topic, which was “Reservation for the Backward Classes in India”, fourteen of the fifteen of us pounced upon the opportunity to speak first, like a famished tiger who had been waiting to attack his quarry, and shot off simultaneously, each trying to speak louder than the other. Needless to say who was the fifteenth. I was trying hard to comprehend what they were saying but all I could hear was death-metal like music where each instrument plays discordant notes independent of the other, resulting in noise. By the end of ten minutes I thought we will need tear-gas but the coordinator was a hefty man and, thankfully, manhandling was not needed. Because I had not educated the public with my opinion the coordinator politely asked me if I would like to add something to the discussion. I came up with this : “ I think reservations are fine and every weak section of the society should get it- the economically backward, the socially backward, the politically backward, the ethically and morally backward, the intellectually backward, the physically backward, the linguistically backward, the aesthetically backward, the spiritually backward….”

“That will be all.” , said the coordinator, rather brusquely.

Something in the tone of his voice warned me not to speak of my revolutionary ideas on “Reservation for the obese in modelling” and “Reservation for the vocally challenged in Indian Idol”.

But the brighter side of preparing for M.B.A was that it made writers of some of us. (One of them is writing this blog). Application forms had questions that would compel you to spark your imagination. Like this friend of mine got a call from a reputed institute and called me frenziedly the night before his interview.

“Hey, this form asks me why I want to do an M.B.A. Any ideas??”

“ Yeah.. why don't you tell them why you want to do it??”

“ I don’t knoooooow. Think of something that sounds convincing”.

And think I did. Did he qualify? How else do you think I get the confidence of making up stories and putting them up on my blog!!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

LOVE IN THE TIMES OF 8 MBPS (Part 5)

Chapter 5

The mobile phone flashed “Ani calling” on its screen. Rohit said the shortest prayer he had ever said “ God, let her be in a good mood”

“Hi” , said a weak voice from the other end.

“Hi”, hesitatingly said Rohit , unsure of what was to come, although for the phone call to begin with a “hi” instead of “ I have decided something” was a good sign.

“ I forgive you. Come back home”

“ Oh thank God! I’ll be back in a half hour. I love you!”

“ Love you too.” And the voice on the other end trailed off.

Rohit was ecstatic. For the first time he did not bargain with the autowallah on his way back. There was just one question still rankling his mind- although he decided to let it pass. “But I still don’t get it. What had I done??”



THE END



LOVE IN THE TIMES OF 8MBPS (Part 4)

Chapter 4

Anita was over the line with Vivek, Rohit’s friend from school days. “ You are reading too much into it Anita. I know Rohit, he’d never do something like that. You know how crazy he was about you in college, how he would talk about noone but you with us till the point we’d have to literally gag him. And nothing happened, right?? It’s not as if he dated her or something.”

“ Had he done that the chapter would have been closed. Why are you men so obtuse?? Why can’t you understand that it isn’t always about something happening. In fact, a one night stand is probably less alarming than some woman gradually encroaching on your boyfriend’s mind. Don’t I understand that ranting about that woman every single day, trying to get to know her by finding out her background from people who know her- in the form of gossiping, noticing every single detail about the way she speaks, gestures, dresses – in the garb of criticizing her, is only a distorted manifestation of his infatuation for her?? Don’t I know that men go at length finding faults with women they secretly desire, who meet an unsatisfied need in them??”

“What have you been reading- Sigmond Freud?? Or Femina, in more likelihood.” Jeered Vivek.

“ Uff.. no point talking with you. You’re just like him. If not worse”

“Because I don’t agree with you??”

“ Because you can’t take the truth about your species and because you cannot accept an intelligent woman knowing the better of your kind.”

“ Oh come on Anita! Look I know it can irk you the way he notices Shikha- oh sorry! – ‘that woman’ .. alright don’t hang up on me, I was only kidding.”

An uncomfortable pause.

“Ok bad timing.", Vivek tried to mollify her. "See my point is, to what extent can you monitor a man?? I mean it’ll take something like a microphone of the mind to really know what’s going inside a man’s head- or a woman’s for that matter. I say, more so for a woman’s!! Question is how do you define infidelity?? Harmless flirting?? Fantasising?? The ‘unconscious distorted manifestation’ of whatever psychoanalytic stuff it was that you said?? A hot, roaring affair?? Where do you draw a line?? On what grounds will you be willing to patch up and on which will you be wanting to call it quits??”

“ That’s my problem!! Now you get it!! I can’t separate with Rohit on something I merely suspect. Mind you I do see the symptoms. But I know that Rohit is basically a decent guy so even if he consciously desired another woman more than he desires a Ferrari he probably wouldn’t think of walking out on me because he has made a commitment. And I know a lot of men wouldn’t do that. But it hurts me no end when I see myself having failed at being his everything.”

“ That’s the problem with you- you want to be his everything. His friend, girl friend, mother, daughter, boss, wife.. so much so that he forgets family, friends and fun! Well, frankly, if only you could refrain from filling every single crevice of his life he’d probably pay more attention to you.”

“Why should I try things to get his attention that I once got without any efforts. If his interest in me has withered away and moved on else where, it’d be unfair on my part to hold him back.”

“ Oh please stop the tyaag ki devi act! He might not do the mating dance for you as he used to when you guys had started out because he’s more at ease with you now. You call it taking you for granted?? Yes it is that. Beause he takes you as a given. Because one does that only with people who are close to one. Now I am not justifying that. I know it is an irresponsible thing to do- to take those who care for you for granted and those who don’t seriously. But isn’t that human nature??”

“And where did you read that one- Sigmond Freud or some men’s magazine??”,

“Men’s magazines don’t waste precious pages on words. We like pictures better!”

“ Can you ever be serious??”

“ No. Because I find it all very funny! Ask people who have real problems. I mean the guy is just enjoying some extra attention from a good looking woman- boosts his debilitated morale, makes him feel still young, alive and kicking!! Wouldn’t you??”

“Guess I would. But I hate to see that he does too!! We haven’t even married and it’s like he’s already having a midlife crisis!!”

“ Maybe he is. That’s how it probably is in the era of 8 MBPS – everything’s quick to happen. Geez, I must copyright my words! Anyway, I think you’re just being jealous and it isn’t always bad to be. They say it makes the bond stronger.”

“ Yeah, tell me about it when I give that piece of advice to your girlfriend so she can try out your dadi ma ke nuskhe in making your bond stronger!”


LOVE IN THE TIMES OF 8MBPS (Part 3)

Chapter 3

It was well past two a.m. Nocturnal drunkards had given up on haranguing him. Even the street dogs had slept. “Your call could not be completed. Please try later” , said a saccharine sweet voice over the cell phone for the umpteenth time. “F#$% you!”, growled a harried Rohit “What does she mean by that?? Is her phone busy, switched off or out of network area?? What does she f!@#ing mean the call could not be completed!! Why can’t women talk straight??”

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

LOVE IN THE TIMES OF 8 MBPS (Part 2)

Chapter 2


Anita felt numb. She felt lifeless and completely drained of all energy after weeping all through the night. Questions were shooting inside her head. What went wrong?? What happened?? When??? And why her?? She wished all this had never happened. She wished Rohit were mean to her. She wished she could catch him red handed. She wished he would say something nasty to her. She wished him to actually have a full fledged affair. Anything to put her on a definite side.

Their last conversation kept rewinding in her head. Amit had come back from a tour to Bangalore the day before and as had been the norm by then, he was ranting about Shikha and her overtures. In the last few months Shikha had substituted for politics, movies, career, family and even sports in their conversations. “Like cheap Chinese maal”, Anita would think.

“ Of all the people, could my boss find only me to go to Bangalore with that crazy woman. You won’t believe, Anita, what people in the office have been talking about her. I asked this colleague of mine, Varun, who was in the same college as this girl about her and he told me the most astonishing of all things”

“ You asked him about her??”, queried Anita, her right eyebrow raised a little, as she fixed herself a sandwich.

“ Well ya.. I mean people take her to be a very friendly and outgoing person but I had never quite believed that. So I asked Varun about her. And he told me that she has actually been rather unlucky in love.”, he explained.

“Oh of course. And that she’s trying to put a brave front with all the flirting and back slapping and literally throwing herself at every eligible bachelor she meets. Poor girl!”, she gibed.

“ Well.. I’m just saying what Varun told me. In any case, I still find her very irritating. Don’t know what’s with the other guys. Can’t really understand why they are so over her.”

“She is beautiful and carries a sign post that says in red ‘Take me. I am available’”, Anita gestured as if she held the signpost in her hands.

“How did you know she was beautiful??”

“ Isn’t she??”

“ Well… emmm.. she’s decent. Above average. And speaks well. Except that she goes really overboard with it and ends up irritating me.”, Rohit was speaking cautiously.

“ Decent??”, smiles she, “It’s okay, you don’t have to use euphemisms”

“ I am not. I think she’s obnoxious. The way she’s all the time coming to me, asking me in her cacophonic falsetto about silly work-related problems. What kind of recruitment process do these companies have? They just see a beau… a girl and they forget all about work. And then she really bugs me with her non stop commentary. ‘O Rohit, that blue really suits you’, ‘Oh look how cute Rohit looks when he’s sulking’, ‘Do you like that music you’re playing on your comp?? Isn’t it Van Halen. I love them!’ I so want to tell her ‘No, I just get the kicks from playing the music that I loathe’. What a moron!”

“Do you like her, Rohit??”

Silence flooded the room like Tsunami.

“ I..I didn’t get you”, stammered a nonplussed Rohit.

“There’s nothing about the question to be got. I just asked if you liked her.”

“ Why would you ask that?”

“Why are you answering my question with another question?”

“ Because I don’t get you! Why would you think that I liked her??”

“ Is that a yes or a no?”

“ NO!! I don’t!! I hate her for all you know! What are you?? Deaf?? Have you ever heard me speak well of her??”

“No. But I hear you talk an awful lot about her.”

“ That’s because.. because she just gets on my nerves’

“ Does she?? So that’s why you go around asking people about her.”

“ I don’t go around asking people about her. I was just curious.”

“ Ah yes! Curious. Do you realise that for the past five m onths we have been talking about nothing but Shikha. You are obsessed with her. Every time we meet I secretly hope that you’d talk about me, about us. But no, there’s just Shikha- the all pervading being! And if that’s really the extent to which she bugs you, why didn’t you change your project, like you had announced the very first day you met that bane of my existence?”

Rohit was speechless. He felt his head dizzying from a volley of questions. Not just the ones Anita was asking him, but also the ones he had not been asking of himself all this while. “It cannot be. It should not be.” He thought. It is true that he had had at times those wild flights of fantasy if only for a moment. But that’s what they were- wild , beyond reason, untrue, just the perverseness of his mind. Weren’t they??

Monday, April 14, 2008

LOVE IN THE TIMES OF 8 MBPS (Part 1)

Chapter 1


Rohit was sitting outside Café Coffee Day, watching the occasional cars that would beep by him; the chuckle of lovers that would resound the empty, midnight streets, ricocheting from one building to another like a carom peg. It had all been so sudden. Only two days ago he was the most content man there possibly could be. Or was he? He could still hear her, her eyes blurring from tears, asking him “Do you like her, Rohit?” “Did I like her?”, he was asking himself now. The software engineer in him answered, “Ofcourse not! How illogical! There is no proof… She doesn’t even know. Anita was over reacting. How can you like someone you hate so much??” And then, the boy in him wondered “How could she have known, anyway??”

Rohit and Anita weren’t exactly a Romeo and Juliet kind of couple, but they were very comfortable in each other’s company. They had met at their college festival four years ago when Anita fell for Rohit’s slapstick sense of humour and he for her childlike laughter. That was in their third year into engineering. They were even placed in the same company but a few months back Rohit got a lucrative offer from another firm, albeit in Mumbai itself.

“I think I’m gonna have to change my department”, said Rohit one evening to Anita as they watched India versus Srilanka on television. Anita knew this had to be important because Rohit, like any other Indian male, suffered from partial amnesia when it came to watching cricket. “That Shikha female drives me nuts! She thinks just because she’s pretty the world will come bowing at her feet”. Anita raised an eyebrow. “Just because she is pretty. That sounds interesting.”, she said. Rohit tried to correct himself, “ I mean.. she’s not as pretty as she imagines herself to be. Look at the kind of clothes she wears to office. They are so….ummm… inappropriate. And so is her behaviour. She tries to be a little too pally with everybody, patting them on their backs, cracking insinuating jokes at everyone, trying to be.. you know.. one of the guys.”

“ Does she do that to you?” , inquired Anita.

“ Yeah sometimes. But then I give her the no-luck-here-lady-i-am-taken look.”

“ Did you ever tell her that?”

“Er.. not in so many words”

“Hmmm."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

REMIX UNPLUGGED- The beginner's guide to making remix videos


So you don’t know how to sing?? You couldn’t care less if you were singing on beat or off beat and can’t make out the difference between Rafi and Reshammiya?? Hardly reasons enough why you shouldn’t be cutting your own album my dearies! Let such minor faults not deter you from making it big. Follow these simple instructions and watch yourself become a star overnight.

Remixing is like instant noodles. The ingredients are all there. You just have to put them in a dish and shove it in the microwave. The only part where you come in is choosing which song to remix. Having decided that, the first thing you should be doing is making an account on Orkut or any youth oriented social networking site. Now join a lot of communities that have names like “ Orkut hunks and dudettes” , “Mr. and Miss Orkut” , “We are kewl” (not “cool” silly! What are you?? Prehistoric??) , “Party Freaks” , “Rockkkkking People” , “Divas with Attitude” … you get what I mean. Now keenly observe their lingo. Jot down every interesting word that you come across. For instance kewl. rock, party, hot, weird, love, sexy, funky, dude, babe, heya, oh yeah, wassup, come on, really, hunk, gotcha, wanna, getchya, catchya, cya, fun, groovy, ass, et cetera.

Now try making a string of these ( it is not necessary for it to mean anything) and start speaking them really fast. Something like this:

Hey sexy funky groovy kewl bab-eh yeah oh yeah

I wanna getchya catchya cya love aan haan o yeah

I really really mean it come on rock the part-ti-yeah

You got a dude with attitude wassay oh yeah

Chorus: Fuuuunnkyyy, seeeeexxxyyyyy, grooooooveyy (o yeah)

Fuuuuunnkyyy, seeeeeexxxyyyy, grooooooveey (That’s right) [Dard-e- Disco tune recommended] ]

Intersperse your song with this track at every strategic location. I am being generous here by making this piece of genius Rights Free. I could have used more explicit words than these but we are a family blog.

Next you need to go on a high protein low fibre diet before you start recording. This will ensure that you get the constipated look for your video and desperation in your voice. It can do wonders to your sex appeal if you also go without water for a few hours before the shoot. Your camera person can then hold a glassful right over the camera so that when you, with your eyelids heavy and mouth dry, make a lunge toward it, with a bunch of anointed ladies (or six-packed men, as the case may be) pulling you back, your “it” factor seems convincing.

Now walk up in style, flaunt some “kick-ass-attitude” and learn to talk in “oh-you-know-my-next-album-with-pritam-ji” terms every time someone asks you even about your grandmother back in Jhabua.

Enjwoyyy….. ;-)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Drawing-room Dilemmas


Have you ever found yourself smiling inanely in a conversation you don’t really understand; people telling you things that are considered universal truths so much so that not nodding your heads fervently enough, let alone committing the blunder of questioning them, can put you at the risk of being branded a heretic? Here are a few such popular drawing room truths of which I have only had contradicting experiences.

“She’s sad so she listens to sad music”: She must be suicidal if she does. I mean isn’t that like prescribing a boxful of laxatives to someone with Irritable Bowel Disorder?? When I’m sad the last thing I want to listen to is sad music.

“The best poetry is written by he who is under the greatest mental trauma”: Bah! That philosophical, melancholic look is from hours of practice in front of the mirror and some good PR advice. Trust me I’ve tried it. Who would trust you if you wrote something like “ Oh Cassandra! Will we not be?” and talked as if you were just released from a laughing-gas chamber??

“Designer bathrooms are the ultimate ablution experience” : No. They’re so nauseatingly expensive and high on maintenance that they’re more intimidating than luxurious. You’d rather sleep in there than do anything else. And God forbid that a guest should ask you if he could use your wash-room. Makes you wonder if it is under your insurance cover.

“Most problems arise because of lack of communication”: In my twenty three years of existence almost every time I’ve fallen into trouble it’s been because of too much communication. If we didn’t talk such a hell lot, life would be simpler. The next time you talk to your girl/boyfriend on the phone, try playing Solitaire simultaneously. You won’t listen to half of the things that make potential argument grounds. Only, be sure that you don’t burst out into F-expletives when you make a wrong move!

“Women laugh because they find you funny”: I hate to break it to you dude, but it’s only because she wants to be told how pretty she looks when she laughs.

“Shopping is therapeutic”: For the shopkeeper, you mean? Makes my heart sink with guilt. When I hear “shopping is therapeutic”, I hear “Keep funding me and I won’t tell you that I’m having emotional troubles in the middle of your football game”.

“Fish is vegetarian”: The fish is, but you ain’t if you eat one! I was surprised when I found out how in many parts of the world fish is part of vegetarian cuisine. And even more amazed when I found out about the existence of different kinds of vegetarianisms. There’s the simple vegetarian, the Asian vegetarian, the Indian vegetarian, the European vegetarian, the Vegan… I won’t be surprised if there’s a North Western Sub Saharan vegetarian too.

The list is long. And if you too have faced such moments, have patience. Over time and with effort you too shall, as I have, master the art of contorting your facial features into an acceptable expression every time you are caught in the line of fire of drawing-room truisms.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

STRANGE LOVE




Valentine’s day is over and I am heaving a huge sigh of relief. No, I have nothing against it. In fact, I quite like the love in the air and all those things. But there are some things about love that I’d never understand.

For instance, I remember watching this movie with my friends where this guy proposes to his girl by strategically placing a diamond ring in some creamy stuff that the girl was eating. The restaurant people were all privy to the plan and were giving encouraging looks to the guy (couldn’t have been a place in the city-centre, where getting the attention of the restaurant people is tougher than getting an application passed in a Government office). And then the girl, most delicately, discovers something not quite creamy in her mouth, and even more delicately, takes it out , says something like “Oh Chuck! You didn’t have to!” and thinks “Finally!”, and the rest is something we all know. While all my friends cooed and sighed , I was quite befuddled. I mean, what if the girl swallowed it? You swallow a diamond and you’re dead! I made a mental note to remember to tell whoever would be my would-be to not try such antics on me. I am very accident prone and I like my diamonds on my fingers, not in my mouth. Besides, when I discover something unwanted in my mouth I’m most likely to jump on my toes and spit it out right across the table. That can be tricky, unless you are quick to dodge.

Another thing that I cannot fathom is love messages in the newspapers. First of all, how would you know which news paper exactly does your object of affection read? And even if you did manage to find that out, why would you write something that reads like “Dear S, life without you is like soda without gas, yours Admirer4ever”?? I mean, how would Dear S know that it is she/he who is being talked about and that Admirer4ever is you?? Whatever happened to good old text messaging or emailing?? Much better returns on investment any given day, if you ask me.

For love-birds to act strangely can be justified as symptoms of being love-struck. But what I find stranger is the way some of these radio jockeys begin to hyper-ventilate on this day. Even in their normal state of existence their Electro Cardiograms would look like stalactites and stalagmites. One such RJ caught hold of a couple that was probably shopping for groceries. She wished them Valentine’s in all the musical notes her vocal chords could possibly engender and after twenty five seconds of uncontrollable giggles asked the woman two questions. 1) “Is that your husband with you?” and 2) “Do you love him??”(right under his nose). Much to the relief of the audience both the answers were in the affirmative. Imagine the poor woman’s dilemma. What if the answer to the first question was in the negative? I believe that the RJ would still have gone on to ask her the second question!

And then there is the inseparable concomitant of Valentine’s Day- Discount Sales. I can understand the 50 percent off on apparels and chocolates but what, in the name of Cupid , has kitchen appliances to do with it? But then maybe in some parts of the world they express their love with mixers and grinders (you churn up my senses??)

Love has always been strange. But stranger still are its manifestations. Then again, this isn’t the first time someone said that.

Friday, February 1, 2008

To Each His Own


I did it. I quit my job. It is strange that I can hardly recall any other time in my life when I felt as exhilarated as I am now. It isn’t as if I was facing problems. People around me were good to me, I was blithely oblivious of any office politics , if there was any. My work did not make me slog like an ass- far from that. I had fixed hours of work- most of which I spent surfing the net and chit-chatting with colleagues. It was like one long extended holiday. What more could one have asked for? And yet with every passing hour of this paid holiday of mine I was growing more and more restless. I found myself asking questions of myself that I didn’t want to answer. What was I doing? Where was I heading to? Who am I doing what I am doing for? Do I see myself becoming my boss or my super boss in some years? Would I want to be that? To be there? At first I brushed these symptoms aside simply as the guilt that comes from being happy. After all, wasn’t this what I had been training for all my life? Wasn’t this why I had worked hard in school and in college-to get a well paying job and to lead a comfortable life? And yet, something didn’t quite seem right about it. There were times when I would grit my teeth and tell myself that I was building power plants, that it was a very important job, that it benefits thousands of people, that you have to first play your small role well in the larger scheme of things before you take on bigger responsibilities. I looked at the people around me. I would try for an hour to become the guy who sat next to me , trying to feel the pleasure that he did in perusing over bundles and bundles of pipe class manuals. All I saw was a lot of numbers. I was not averse to numbers. Back in college I used to have quite a bit of fun playing with them, overcoming the little challenges that they presented. But they no longer seemed to be as exciting as they used to be. What had changed? Was it the fact that to crack a sum in college was a job well done and to crack one at job was only a job done? Or was it the fact that they weren’t my problems any more but somebody else’s. Somebody I didn’t know. Somebody who didn’t care. I rubbished this last suggestion in my head. I mean, the world works this way, right? There are big organizations with thousands of people working for a handful of people and they just do their jobs and have to do them right and it wasn’t their problem where their little pieces of hard-work fitted in the larger scheme of things. That was for the “handful of people” to worry about, not the worker- bees. And I was being darn touchy about it. What did I expect? That my C.E.O would fly down all the way from France to India to write me a panegyric?

That’s probably when I hit upon it. I was being a little whiny child who cries foul when she doesn’t get a piece of the cake but who wasn’t there when the cake was being cut. If I want to do things, run things , make things happen, I will have to go and get it. If I want to be an architect, I will have to first stop being a brick- layer. That meant opting out of the rat race. I decided to do something that was my own or to work with a small and closely knit group that had a common cause that it could identify with, than to blindly wiggle my way up in a swarm of thousands to God knows where.

I did not know what exactly it was that I wanted to do. But I knew how I wanted to do it. And I also knew what I did not want to do. My present job. And that’s when I decided to quit.

As I entered my boss’ cabin and handed to him my resignation letter a calm ,hitherto unknown to me, possessed me; the calm that comes from knowing that you’re doing the right thing for once. A lot of questions were asked. Many a portent voiced, with all the intonations and expressions that befit a professional clairvoyant. A lot of unpleasantness ensued. As I walked out of his cabin and announced my decision, not many appeared surprised. I smiled to myself. Perhaps it was due to my reputation of being slightly “aberrant”. As if to break the awkwardness of the moment, they asked me the question that logically followed. “So, what next?”. To which I replied “I haven’t really thought. Maybe something of my own”. A few eyed me with suspicion. As if I was lying. As if I was not telling them what I really was going to do. And the rest simply smiled. The kind of smile they smiled when they shared a private joke, more often than not at something stupid that our boss said with his all-important air.

They each congratulated me and wished me luck. “ You know, when I was younger even I had such plans”, said a colleague. “So what happened?” I asked him. “Nothing.”, he replied.

I stood waiting at the portico of my now ex-office, waiting for two other of my colleagues who were going to join me in our little experiment and who too had quit their jobs that very day. Whether the sun shone more brightly or was it simply too dark inside , I knew not. At that moment my friends arrived, each with his own side of his story, and we were ready to leave. I took a last look at the building where I had spent the first year of my first job. I saw inside a thousand burgeoning hopes, a thousand stifled happinesses and a thousand rents to be paid. “To each his own”, I thought.

We were now walking on the road that would lead us out of the premises. I knew not what lay ahead. The war was on and it was too early in the day to take sides. But I knew that one battle had been won.