Tuesday, April 29, 2008
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.
Monday, April 21, 2008
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!!
“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
“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
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??”
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!”
It was well past 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
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
“ Of all the people, could my boss find only me to go to
“ 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
“ 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
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, 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
“ 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”