Monday, May 31, 2010

1146 : Me against myself…and game,set, match…

I have not exercised regularly in the past 9 months…infact, what I have “done” counts for nothing. So its been a 9 month hiatus.

My body feels terrible, so does my mind.

I need my urban meditation. Its time to press “start” on the console.

1145 : There is a Breadtalk in town (Bangalore)


If you are like me – missing Breadtalk in an alien city…..we just discovered that there is one on 80 feet road Koramangla (within Spencers) and their bread is just as good (as Bombay).

Ah, small mercies !!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

1144 : Fooled by Randomness

Picture this.

Yesterday a pretty little lady (was it??) butterfly perched on our balcony floor. We are having a cup of tea while the domestic help is cleaning  up the house. We don’t quite notice all of the steps – but the next thing spousey remembers seeing is the maid splashing a bucket of water in the balcony – and the lady butterfly is whoosh – dead in an instant – probably more by the impact than the water itself.

I am sure a second ago, it did not even occur to either the butterfly or the “help”, or us as an audience, that this event is going to occur.

The “help” continued cleaning as if business as usual. She swept the dead beauty into the faucet. From her perspective – the life and death of this little PYT was inconsequential in the larger scheme of things.

Two keywords to takeaway. Random. Perspective.

What a critical situation :-)

1143 : Shaken like a monkey :-)

The monkey in you has inhabited this forest for quite some time. You know every tree, when it flowers, when the fruits ripen ; you even know who you are competing with. Everything is mapped out. A learning animal that you are, you have constantly innovated and shown enterprise in your everyday life. Other monkeys look upon you as a role model…they go “beta, become like Amit one day….look how many bananas he manages to eat and get home everyday.”

One day…the volcano comes – burns down your part of the forest.


You relocate to another forest. New unknown trees, existing set of monkeys and other animals. Some of them, at least monkeys seem to look upon you with compassion – the same emotion which a “refugee nomad” evokes in most people. The others have their territorial pissings and declare war.

The old experiences help you. The trees look the the same, all apple trees flower and fruit at almost the same time in this forest as well (given it is geographically close to the other one)….so a lot of past knowledge can be used here.

And yet, it is different. You are now no longer the role model, the “know all, be all” monkey. You are yet another monkey, trying to piss fast enough to mark territory.

Every day, the monkey knowing fully well this is an essential fight for survival, mutters ever so softly under his breath, “this is going to be such a long journey” !!

Monkey Me. Monkey Do.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

1142 : RIP Jekyll

(continuing from the previous post)

Personally, I make this sincere effort to be the same person everywhere. I think, that’s what contributes to my personal equanimity (if I myself have to say that about me…how immodest) and peace.

I like to set my own standards and live by them – even if it means a bit of hardship to everyone including me (a la John Galt).

I sincerely believe if we compromise, take the softer route – even when no one else is watching us – we set a deep precedence for ourselves – we become our own benchmarks – once you break a rule – its easy to tell yourself that”rules are meant to  be broken”.

My favorite analogy is – its going to be impossible for me to tell my kid when she is 18 – that “go for it” – when in all my life – all I have taken is the softer options – the easier ones.

Like I was telling this buddy who wants to be a politician – just go on and do it ; very few of us have a calling – let alone this radical one at that – he should go for it – else at 45 he might live to regret this.

And we only live once, why include “regret” in this business. RIP.

1141 : Breaking news : Hyde just murdered Jekyll – and my earth is all fine :-)

I think I have posted on a similar vein in the past…but its still in my foreground, so thought why not, go at it again?

Picture this. You are this young hotshot turk who is the CEO of this go-getting organization. All you were ever taught is “go for it, kid”; “sock them up, daddy”;”kick ass and deliver” ….get the drift. You are in late 30s, early 40s and all you have ever known is how to live hard.

Meanwhile on the domestic side, you have a beautiful picture perfect wife and kids…and maybe she is equally kick ass too (see I am no sexist)…..and yet at home you are supposed to be this sensitive, “under the skin warm” kind of person…..and do-gooder, the family’s Santa Claus.

How long before either of “you" meld into the other and start creating conflicts?

Seriously, how long?

I see way too many broken marriages (or mid life career crisis's) in and around my colleagues. All a clear result of one “you” overpowering the other.

I think the conflict does not arise because any of these are lacking or deficient people – the conflict arises because we are taught to be compulsive schizophrenics – but after a certain point – one identity surely and slowly starts overpowering the other – and then, all hell breaks loose.

(On a different note, its a similar conflict – when we push our kids to excel at engineering and sciences and then tell them and “oh by the way we have to do a Satyanarayana Puja” – the two twangs simply don't meet – and eventually at some point – an impregnable and unassailable irrationality will set in – within the kid….because one of his identities will overpower the other. In this case, either ways the end conclusion is the same – it does not matter which identity overpowers whom.)

We often assume, that all of this is fart, and we can safely live with our duplicity – we try to shove our implicit dual lives under the carpet – we behave as if we were king ostriches ; my point is – all duplicity will (and has to) eventually catch up – the question is not “will it”, the question is “when”.

Bide your time.

Friday, May 28, 2010

1140 : He’s got the look

Picture this.

You are driving in India. (Pick any city of your choice). You need to nudge and push…there is no concept of a right of way here.

So yesterday, I am driving on a narrow lane, and the guy in the opposite car, while passing by, halts by for just that wheeny second and gives me “the stare” – the stare of “you jackass commoner, when the sahibs drive, don’t you know better than to stay away”.

10 years ago I would have shuddered – like a wimpy little kid. Now I just growl back – as in, I just stare back – that deep look of “disgust and annihilation” oozing in oodles out of me.

What I have learnt – that staring is a process of sizing up. If the “stares” match up – no words are exchanged – and the territorial pissings are abandoned. If I had whimpered, when he would have stared, he would have also pronounced a few verbal/and maybe physical abuses onto me.

Why am I saying all this? Just to illustrate, that in modern life, posturing is (almost) everything :-)

1139 : Blind man who taught me how to hear (and see)

I have some issues with my workplace at an operating level (like everyone does)…..but at the broader level….I just love it. Everyone constantly pushes themselves.

Like for example, 2 weeks ago they onboarded a visually challenged person. In order to make the person comfortable, they braille enabled the whole place, including loos.

And then yesterday, I finally saw this person. He was being helped into office by two girls from within his team. All 3 of them were animatedly discussing something while they were walking towards his seat.

One observation though….

When we talk (as when we have a visual conversation), we look at the other person’s face and eyes. Yesterday, I could see the two girls still constantly looking into his face – peering, reading him, even as they were listening……and the guy too was (trying to)peer into emptiness, aligning his head with the direction of the sound.

I could not help but marvel, how difficult it must for him to understand the complete subtext of a conversation. So much of our everyday conversation is visual….and yet….he seemed to have adjusted to it…..seemed to be at peace with the disability.

Next time, you encounter a blind person…see…look at them…observe…..don’t confine them to your blind spot ))

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

1138 : The unhurried life I so hurriedly crave

I struggle to explain to people that I hate “pace” in life. Weekends are meant for endless cups of tea, wine, hugs and sweet nothings. Vacations cannot have an agenda or a plan. (and that explains my idea of vacation = meandering drives)

Everyday for me is ideally supposed to be one unhurried journey. Most folks who know me, don't get this….even my loved ones don't get this.

And then….Santosh Desai comes along in Tehelka and explains it – in exactly the same words as I would. If I was not afraid of being maligned for plagiarism – I could (and would) claims this article to be my own.

Read on…if not for anything else to know my worldview. Reproduced below for easier reading.


Relax, It’s Just A Vacation

CEO, Future Brands, and author of Mother Pious Lady —Making Sense of Everyday India

imageimageREMEMBER THE time when summer holidays meant doing nothing? We chugged off over alarmingly large distances in distressingly slow trains to our native place, hung out with a gaggle of cousins, uncles and aunts, saw an occasional film or two, and ate copious quantities of homemade food — but for most part we did nothing. holidays were a time when we unplugged our individual existences and plugged into the mother ship at the family headquarters. the month-long summer vacation had us humming with reaffirmation of who we were and where we came from. We drank deeply from the sweet sense of the collective that welcomed us as we reattached ourselves to our origins. We became whole again, till it was time to go back and live our separate lives, recharged with the sap of familial comfort and warmth.


Illustration: SAMIA SINGH

The summer holiday of today seems to possess a very different character. Although holidays are meant to be a counterpoint to work, what we get today is work by another name. If work means doing things purposefully with a defined outcome, the holiday today calls for pretty much the same approach. Children in particular are made to fill their calendar with an endless round of coaching classes, personality development camps, sports lessons and sundry workshops that make parents feel progressive and evolved. travelling, too, is a full-time project, with so much to track down on the Internet and so many activities to cram in — all to get full paisa vasool. the summer holiday is a blur of overheated verbs, a dizzying set of arrivals and departures as one zips from one activity to another in the crowded terminal of our lives. If the summer holiday of yesteryears meant going back to who we already were, today we speed on to where we wish to be. having broken from the family collective, at least for our holidays, we now celebrate the individual and fill the vacuum of the missing collective with relentless activity.

Earlier we did nothing since there was nothing to do, now we do so because it’s on our to-do list — this need to ‘chill’

Technology also does its bit by keeping us forever on the brink of our work. It infects all time with purpose and converts moments of idleness into unrealised opportunities. It splits our lives into several parallel streams and makes it difficult for us to be doing nothing in all those streams. even when we decide to do nothing, we choose descriptions that suggest purposefulness and action. So we are ‘chilling’, ‘lazing’ or ‘sunning ourselves’ — lying on the beach is not about doing nothing but a self-conscious act of holding still. We feel a need to point to the fact that we are doing nothing visible, that we have switched off the phone. And in the switched-off phone lies an awareness of what we’re missing — the absence lives on in our constant awareness of it. If earlier we did nothing because there was nothing to do, today we do nothing because it is on our to-do list — this need to ‘chill’. Of course, such determined activity or inactivity is difficult to sustain for too long. No wonder our holidays have shrunk — it is no longer possible to imagine the month or two month-long breaks we used to take. Anything more than a week and we start twitching. We are embedded too deeply in the main business of our lives for a disruption that overstays its welcome. In any case, it’s exhausting to holiday too long. Work is simpler.

From Tehelka Magazine, Vol 7, Issue 21, Dated May 29, 2010

1137 : I think I am in a class of my own – alone !!

Thats what our (or my) survival instinct tells me whenever I lose. What did I lose now?

I had participated in this 150 word story contest from Hindustan Times, called “One Amazing Story”. The results trickled in 2 days ago….and they were not good for my godzilla ego.

Sob sob :-)

Here are the results and winning entries….. 

My entry was for 148 words.


See a familiar face waft across – someone I knew well until recently, but had “lost touch” with. Walk across to him, and give him a whack of “familiarity” on this back. Thump!!. He turns around.

“Yes??”. “Ajit??”. “Ajit who?”. “We worked together for two years, don’t you remember?”.
The face, made of steel, gives nothing away – it looks straight through me, just like a beam of laser. By now, I am feeling sheepish, embarrassed and terribly disconcerted. I know its Ajit, he looks like him, talks like him, carbon copy mannerisms…and yet he is not “he”.

“Sorry, I think I have made a mistake. Apologize for the whack.” “Oh no, that’s fine. Such mistakes do happen. Have a nice day.”
Dementia? Avoiding the world? Identical twin? Time relapse? – Either him or me was part of these symptoms. Which one?

The “lost Ajit” was holding a mirror to me.

Comments welcome. Hopefully the godzilla can be massaged :-)

Monday, May 24, 2010

1136 : Holy God (Men) !!



From the same issue of Tehelka, Baba Ramdev speaking on his political ambitions makes the following statements at various places within the interview (he has started a party now!!)

- Politicians should die if they can’t give security to people (speaking on the Maoist issues)
- I want a law that seeks death for corruption, adultery, rape, dowry and slaughter of cows.
- Capital punishment will help criminals to attain moksha
- Muslim brothers will themselves ask us to build the temple at the disputed spot. Even Muslims believe Lord Ram was their ancestor.
- (On homosexuality) All living  beings in the world engage in sex to reproduce. The problem is when people engage in sex for enjoyment. Homosexuals cannot reproduce and hence they are unnatural.

The frivolity of some of these views did not surprise me, I kind of always expected it from our “thought leaders”. What thoroughly bemused me was the violence, implicit in most of these statements. That’s very strange to me, that too, coming from an “enlightened” man.

1135 : Anti terror fund

Was reading the may issue of Tehelka (the one with Sunanda Pushkar on cover). On page 8, in a tiny blib reads “In an attempt to strengthen the fight against terrorism, the Obama administration has asked the American Congress to double the anti-terror budget for India to $4.5 million. This follows a request by India for high-level training from the US after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks.”

I had to re-read the numbers twice. 4.5m…4.5m. Is this some sort of a joke. Few questions – how do you fight global terror with such a measly sum? Why does India need this trickle-feed from uncle Obama?

No wonder we never manage to fight terror well :-)

Friday, May 21, 2010

1134 : Time to have another buffet

Too many changes in my life forced me to take a backseat (with respect to Bombay markets). I have been reading again (and my fingers are itching!!). My bet is 13k sensex will be breached by 1st October.

My rationale:

1. I think the US politicians are behaving like duffers. I don’t care whether Goldman screwed around the market or not, whyTF make a public spectacle of what is essentially a “government versus a private firm”. By these histrionics, they are freaking out an “already on the edge” market. If Goldman is guilty, punish them, take a billion out of their capital – but for heaven’s sake – don’t play with our already frayed nerves.
2. Demand is not really back in yet. How many people are back to big ticket spending?
3. Fundamentals have not changed. The Q-on-Q results look good, because last year’s Q’s were terrible. In effect, we are using a wrong baseline.
4. The European liquidity crisis seems underestimated by most people not close to it.
5. The dollar rally. Money will move out of emerging market.

I re-iterate before, 1st October we shall see 13k at least once.

Get your cash-chest ready. Its time to play, and this time, the bets are not off, but they are ON !!

1133 : What's your version scotty?

I was reading this article in dna today “Indian man laughs in court, loses bail”. If I take away the human element of the story, the news report is hilarious.

The accused feels all he did was “his hand accidentally touched her butt.”

And the girl feels “N V groped my buttocks, hugged and tried to kiss me while I was putting two bags in the trunk. I pushed him and ran to the elevator he took one lift and I used the other”.

I could not but marvel, how radically different those two versions sound.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

1132 : Life’s dirty lessons :-)

Was amused to read Sandipan Deb’s diatribe against Warren Buffet. Usually Sandipan, the editor of Open Magazine is a very measured and “pour yourself into words” writer. Even in this particular case the article is very heartfelt – and yet it is completely illustrative of whats wrong with our world view. He has also taken multiple potshots at Goldman Sachs in that article.

Before we go further, a digression – Vinod, a former colleague and buddy of mine used to have this theory  we used to call the “Hitler Theory” – here’s how it goes : If you ever worked for Hitler (who I have no judgment on – except that he is a very unpopular figure) in any capacity – say even as a janitor – the world would club you along with him. Your own identity gets derived from the larger broader landscape you exist in – in this case, you will be branded a racist and fascist (too)– though all you do is clean toilets.

Why did I describe this theory?

I think Warren is currently a clear victim of the Hitler theory. In this case Hitler is Goldman (again no judgments on them, just the fact they are a unpopular bunch!!) – that’s life’s lesson no #1

Lesson no #2 : Everyone likes to kick an already fallen angel. Bombay’s mob theory (ever seen an accident at Bombay…everyone gets involved and beats one poor guy to pulp). Once the angel has fallen, we don’t really care whether she was wrong/right/ugly…whatever….just take a stab. And that's what happening with Goldman.

Sandipan’s article (though heartfelt) is so fully riddled with perception, than facts, it reminds me that real journalism might be quite really dead. Sandipan has passed a scathing judgment on two of my heroes (Warren and GS) without a single pang or shudder….and that's what bothers me.

The editor(and Warren and GS) is dead, long live the editor(and Warren and GS!!). Open the magazine !!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

1131 : Make no mistake…I am you

How often have you seen the admin/secretary for the senior manager/leader (almost irritatingly ) behave as if he/she was the alter ego for the if (s)he was the leader.

I see it all the time.....and feel genuine pity for both the sense of identification and immense hubris that the admin is getting trapped into.

While the snr manager displays pride, the admin has misplaced haughtiness, while mgr has power, the admin suffers from a perception of it, while the mgr is important and feels so.....the admin isn't and yet, behaves so.

Hubris. Victim. Welcome to "paradise".

1130 : Ubuntu

I have been using ubuntu on my laptop for some time now. I quite really like it. A quick sub-30 second boot up. Functional GUI and tools. OpenOffice is definitely an alternative. My mom can use it – its that simple.

If this is how the world will progress – they are dangerously close to threatening Windows. The only catch being “awareness” and this is what this post is all about.

Download Ubuntu at 

Happy Linuxing….:-)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

1129 : Contentious opinion

I was talking to Prashant about a few examples of management changes in the global landscape. We invariably got talking about the IBanking industry – an industry that we have some past linkages.

We got talking about Citibank (Vikram Pandit), Nomura (Jasjeet Bhattal) and Barclays (Ken Diamond).

On the subject of change, I was telling him – in my limited (and obviously) inconsequential opinion – that to effect change – you require someone with hunger and temerity….and….

….temerity comes with youth. Like amongst IT companies – I would bet on Cognizant, because it is headed by 38 year old Francisco D’Souza – who is blind-sided by lack of experience – who will jump into a spot – without knowing how deep the crater is.

Vikram, Jassi are all great leaders – with will always have 20-20 vision, due to their wealth of experience – will be measured because they have seen at least 5 bubbles during their careers.

What Nomura and Citi need is a swashbuckler – a young risk taker – who shall burn the place down to ashes – and let the phoenix rise.

What Vikram and Jassi have the hunger for success – what we need is the hunger to build – like we see in Francisco, or the founders of Google……

Age and experience diminish the hunger to “build”…..

You disagree…..I know? This was always a contentious topic.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

1128 : On the subject of climaxful happy endings….:-)

From Bangalore’s Friday Times Of India, review of a movie called “Preethiyinda Ramesh”. The first line in the review goes

It all happens online – romance, sentiment, dejection, surprise, exchange of ideas and last but not the least, a happy ending with a lively climax.

If your mind is as onetrack as mine, you will re-read that sentence n number of times and (every single one of those times) roll and fall off your perch :-)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

1127 : Cigarette PJ

A team member was telling me this howlarious set of (connected) PJs. Thank you RR !!

Bob (my fav random guy !!) had four cigarettes and in on a boat in the middle of the pacific ocean. How does he light the cigarette?

Option 1:
He throws one of the cigarettes onto the sea. The boat becomes “lighter”.

Option 2:
He throws one cigarette onto the air, and catches it…..because catches win “matches”.

Option 3:
He takes a cigarette and smooches it passionately. “Baaki cigarettes ki jull jayegi”.

1126 : Memory is….

Memory is ….. an internal rumor.

- George Santayana

(From the preface of Stephen King’s Duma Key)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

1125 : I’m feeling (un)lucky !!

Heard this story from someone at work today. Am assuming that there is nothing confidential/personal about it, so this can go in here. Most probably its an apocryphal tale, but its damn insightful and awfully funny :-)

Lets call this person who told me this story as Bob. Bob was trying to illustrate how irrationality/superstition can play a role at even the best of firms.

So picture this.

Bob sees a senior trader sitting with a huge pile of documents on his desk. He is working furiously on these documents. He is throwing one sheet into the waste paper basket and the other onto a separate pile on his desk…and the cycle continues. At the same time he is talking to others and indulging in all sorts of distraction(s). So Bob walks upto him and has a conversation.

BOB : So ST, what are you doing with this pile? Whats this pile any way?
ST : I am shortlisting candidates for a trader position. The ones on the desk are shortlisted and need to be scheduled for interviews.
BOB : (laughing) : Of course not(you are not shortlisting :-)), ST, you are throwing every alternate document into the bin….and you continue to do this, while you are talking to me. You are not even looking at the resume.
ST : (in all seriousness) Thats the point, BOB. I don’t want any UNLUCKY bastards (traders) on my team.

As I said before is probably apocryphal, but it is indeed a fascinating and illustrative story. I loved the way the guy narrated it.

1124 : India Unplugged :-)

ot this as an email forward from someone, found some of these really hilarious. All of them are (supposedly) scenes from rural India.


food HRC satara sofa tiger tyre titanic

1123 : Marital focus

Picture this.
I am in the mall , shopping for fruits and veggies. I enter the shop with another couple. The couple looks newly married  but middle aged, the guy is around 45ish and the girl is 30+ at least.

The lady is wearing a long running list of red and white bangles on her wrists, the kind north Indians wear during marriage – conclusion recently married couple – possibly.

Guy is in yellow shirt, brown trouser, and lady is wearing a plain chiffon bright (almost fluorescent purple !!) saree.

I could not help overhear about 30-45 seconds of their conversation. Here it goes almost verbatim. (Happened in hindi/english combo, for sake of convenience – translated to all english)

Girl : Dekho, remember, you are here for only 2 more days. You have bought too many juices for 2 days.
(I stare into their cart, it has about 4-5 juice cartons of 1L each)
Guy : Not really, I am not there tomorrow evening.
Girl : Accha, where are you going?
Guy : Am going to Bombay for dinner.
(Seriously, I swear, thats what the guy said)
Girl : Will you back tomorrow then?
Guy : If I finish on time tomorrow, else Monday morning.
(I am waiting for all hell to break lose. I thought the girl would get upset with the fact that he had not informed her earlier of his travelling to Bombay, that he was still unsure whether he would be back on the same evening or not….Hell did break loose, but on the “original” topic.)
Girl : Then tho you definitely don’t need these juices. Keep at least a few of them back, please. (The “please” is misleading – she said it with the meanness of a Hummer).

Marital focus at work???

1122 : Treasure by Shark Puppy

Life is more than love and pleasure
I came here to dig for treasure.
If you gotta play you gotta pay
You know its always been that way,
We all came to dig for treasure.

- Shark Puppy

(found this in the preface of Stephen King’s Duma Key)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

1121 : Outlook 2010

I have been using Outlook 2010, and its far more non-intuitive, than Outlook 2007. Microsoft which used to be one of my most admired companies, seems to be just losing it.

Outlook 2010 (of course in Beta) is really terrible. So is Office 2010.

My 2 piece :

1. Microsoft seems to want to compete with Apple and make their UI more intuitive (does'n’t translate into the end product – the product designers lost the plot) – and in that process they abstracted more of the product behind some “auto configure” kind of facade.
2. But they seem to have lost the basic (common sense) tricks. If they really wanted to make it simple, why not have have a desktop shortcut saying “Send and receive from amitabh at gmail dot com” or something to that effect versus you still having to launch outlook, click send and receive, and then choose all headers.

I think being “easy to use” comes from making it “simple” – abstracting the complexity versus abstracting the functionality – which is was sadly Outlook 2010 ends up doing.

As a beta user 1 out of 5 stars for this product.

I really wish, my favorite company, pulls the socks up against my other favorite fruit :-) Would love to watch this Bantam title played out.

1120 : MOST Useful advice to all my dear terrorist friends out there :-)

This story comes straight from the hip of my firm’s chief security officer. So recently in our SEZ (business park) the central security (provided by the SEZ) started scanning cars entering the complex (supposedly in response to 26/11 and other blasts).

I go through this thoroughly idiotic procedure every morning, knowing fully well that it does not even make me even a cent safer than I am otherwise. It just serves to waste my 5 minutes daily.

Their rigmarole drill :-
1. Halt car.
2. Shove mirror under bonnet.
3. Check boot (it does not matter what you have there, unless its fuming and already radioactive…)
4. Let car pass.

So coming back to the story from the CSO. Supposedly he has the following conversation with one of the security gaurds a few days ago, repeated almost verbatim. Read on.

(Guard halts CSO’s car and shoves mirror under the bonnet.)

CSO : So what are you checking for under the hood.
Guard : We are looking for BOMBS, sir.
CSO : So do you know what a possible bomb looks like.
Guard (sheepishly) : Yes, sir, we are trained.
CSO : and???
Gaurd : We have been asked to look out for a red colored bundle/box.
CSO (almost laughing his heart out) : Is that it?
Guard : ….and….it will have the word ATOM written on it.

(spare a thought that ATOM (hee haw!!) will be in reverse when seen in the mirror!!)

So, in conclusion, my dear terrorist friends, no matter what your cause, or ethnic origin, if you decide to blow up a business park in India – here’s some friendly advice – don’t color code your bomb RED, and please don’t write ATOM on it – either in straight or reverse face. If you follow these simple rules, ye shall be successful in deporting us lesser mortals “shred by shred” to hell.

Thank you, folks :-)

Sunday, May 09, 2010

1119 : Perfection. Achieved. Delivered.

I am only human. I feel envy(less of it) and a ting (lots of it) of “have I lost the plot?” when I sometimes meet my brethren?

Thankfully, such a feeling does not arise often, and thankfully(again) it does not long more than a fleeting few moments.

Yesterday was one such day…..I was talking to a couple who have lovely kids, a great house, a job to aspire for…and the works. The kids study in a school next to their home – the school is a renowned school in the city….and so on.

I sit there, in my moment of weakness – feeling - “how long do I have to traverse before I reach this level of stability?”.

Within seconds my mind had already solved the deep mathematical conundrum - “infinity”. Being who I am, and who I have been – I can never be “the” stone that gathers moss.

I am pretty certain – at a microcosm level, the couple have their own chinks, their own little holes to plug, a similarly “happy-unhappy” delicate equilibrium – and possibly they look at me and go - “wish we could be a free wheeler like him?” “see how carefree and unstrung he looks!!”

I know my own ground realities – the “unstrung”,  “carefree”,  “freewheeler” comes with a price – which I am more than willing to pay – because I just cannot live any other life. This is my “way” and I can only jog along these trails, the others are too tricky for me.

Yet, I could not help marvel at how different strokes look so suspiciously similar when observed from a height – the grass is always greener on the other side – and oh, by the way, Jagger and Rolling Stones – they are a band I really like :-)

The moss are dead, long live the Rolling Stones :-)

Saturday, May 08, 2010

1118 : Every picture tells a story…and teaches us how to live !

I like photography…and not just for its art form, but because there is so much trapped in that instant. There is so much you can understand as a subliminal context…without it being told or narrated out to you.

If you have never felt that way – when you look at an image - (at any image) – does not have to be shot by an ace – you are not “looking enough” – (read the blurb at the top of this blog…..)

Was reading Tehelka, and there was this story about Indian Classical Masters – shot in candid by Raghu Rai. Whole article at 

I liked one particular image, about Mallikarjun Mansoor. I like Mansoor saheb and continue to admire his life and music. This image though – races straight to the top of my list. Its the one image I shall never forget, it teaches more about life than all the books I have ever read – than all what my elders have taught me. Thank you, Raghu Rai – for this “bestest” candid ever.

beat4 IMG_1419

(clicked the above one from the magazine…)

Mallikarjun Mansur
Some of his closest disciples didn’t visit classical vocalist Mallikarjun Mansur as he lay dying of lung cancer at home in Dharwar, Karnataka. Says Rai, “He was very fond of beedis. On his deathbed, he told his son (who smoked cigarettes), ‘Pilao’. He’d ask why the doctors didn’t cure him. When I sensed he wouldn’t survive, I asked if I could leave. I couldn’t bear it. He died the next day.”

(If you cannot see the image well, its the son helping his dad smoke a cigarette on his death bed. If someone knows Raghu Rai, I would whatever to get a 2ft by 3 ft image of this blown up. Seriously,  its best gift I would leave behind for my daughter….)

1117 : Toughest tongue twister

This is all over the web, but just in case you have not read this – the supposed most difficult tongue twister on earth is (and this is really difficult!!!)

“The sixth sick Sikh's sixth sheep is sick”

1116 : Un – rahmanised

I have listening to the promos of Ravaan (OST) – and invariably the same thought crosses my mind (similar to one which happens when I first hear a new Rahman). A combo of Rahman, Gulzar – will make make hummable music – but not necessarily long lasting music.

At least thats the way it works for me.

In the commercial genre – I find myself humming Vishal Bharadhwaj, Gulzar combo 5 years later – whereas I find myself familiar with the more hummable (but immenently forgettable) Rahman.

I think what distinguishes Vishal-Gulzar for me – is the fun they seem to have while producing the composition – which I think Rahman cannot afford (a luxury) when you are composing a thousand songs a year.

Another big difference is that, the OST of a Vishal movie in themselves tell a story – hear Ishqiya in the the order they are laid out on the CD – and you will get my joke.

I still love Maqbool, Kaminey, Ishqiya and the ilk….In terms of Rahman…I still struggle to put my finger on a single soundtrack which I will take with me to my grave.

I know a million rahman fans out there – who shall give me grief for this post. Please keep it coming :-)

1115 : Bio-break or natural brake or constipated brick :-)

At the same registrar office, who charges us 6% of over multi-lakh property, generating at least a billion dollars (yes thats right) per month for the government…..(and thats just in Mumbai) – there is no loo, no water…..

Pregnant women, old, differently abled folks – all have to fight over the limited plastic chairs available. 1 fan over 2000 sq feet with no ventilation…..

We were there for over 4 hrs with enough water in our kidney and no water to drink.

A delightful touché of irony :-)

Our government/society makes us “hardened” and skeptical – and thats fundamental to the way we approach our everyday life.

1114 : Register here for daily dose of irony

Spousey and I were at the registrar office yesterday (where they register land properties). It took us 4 hrs to do essentially what was a 7 minute procedure. This despite of paying the mandatory “large sum” paid to a fat agent for “greasing”. If we had not paid that, we would have never gotten to “owning that property in government” records ever.

Brings me back to my favorite question – I pay taxes, am as honest as jackfruit (the fruit stinks, and is thorny – you only touch it – if you really like it….thats honesty right??), never do anything intentionally immoral or unethical and yet – my own country treats me like a scumbag.

Everyone knows the “registrar” office is full of leeches – and yet we cannot ever influence a change in any realistic way. We have to grin, grease, pay and bear. Open Secrets…..yet we live with these tarts.

The country is dying, long live the nation.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

1113 : Retribution vs. correction

I was having this long-winded debate with Prashant yesterday….got triggered by the TV in the cafeteria which was beaming Kasab’s mugshot.

My view on this is….

Hundreds of years ago – whoever inducted the judiciary and “social intervention” process – surely had “individual reform” and “correction” at heart. Retribution would surely have not even remotely featured in the list.

That means, if A committed something “socially wrong” (say he steals) – as a society we were more interested in correcting him than punishing him(and rightly so!!). If that involved “solitary confinement” – then it was worth it – but instead, if it involved, a “walk in the park” – that would have been the prescription.

Versus today…where…..

Correction is no longer within the agenda (even in arial 8pt!!) – only retribution features there (in arial 48 pt)– almost as if, while no one was watching,  the scales had silently tilted to the other side – to the other extreme.

That IMO,  is a sad mental outlook for a society as a whole to carry – baying for each other’s blood – dog eating dog – “you take my left eye out, I will strive to have your right one poked out” – I see no end to this mad endless circle.

I like (and admire) examples like Priyanka Gandhi – having lunch with Nalini (who carried the bomb that killed her father) – and publicly voicing that “if it was upto her, then Nalini should return back to her daughter” – which means she should be released off her life imprisonment. (Priyanka, I have no opinions on politico types – but you are right up there in my view – just by this token gesture).

If I were ever “wronged” – and if I somehow figured that – the agenda against me was “personal” – as in the guy wanted to get back to me – rather than he being a serial criminal – I am inclined to believe, that similar to Priyanka, I would like to let the guy “get off”.

There is immense closure in “forgiveness” and letting go. Retribution is an idiotic mechanism which never really allows “your (own) wounds” to heal – in addition it inflicts wounds on 50 others (remember a person like Kasab has at least 50 others involved in his 6 degrees of seperation list….his mom, sister, daughter, grandfather and the likes….)

Final summary – If I had to prescribe myself, I would happily ape a Dalai Lama, versus participate in a “Sikh cleansing” or a “green flag  hate” excercise – the selfish imp in me – wants to hear only one song - “Heal thyself” :-)

Monday, May 03, 2010

1112 : I loooovvvvee my niece…

(My sis told me this funny story). Picture this.

Sis (to niece) : Will you have karela sabzi? (Bittergourd)
Niece : (Vigorously nodding her head and salivating) : I looooovvvveeee karela.
Niece : (A few seconds later) Mummy, what is karela?

A little peck (of love and longing) to the two sweet girls. Wistfully wish, some things, hopefully just never change :-)

1111 : 10 times Nelson plus 1

111 is referred to as Nelson in Cricket, a tricky point, where even umpires have their superstitious selves kicking in. Usually batting teams try not to do anything ambitious at this point and instead choose the safe refuge of a single.

“Nelson” comes from Admiral Nelson who has “one arm, one leg and one eye”.

1110 : Interesting Optical Illusion :-)

Got this via a forward on my mail box…anything that makes you laugh, must be worth it :-)


1109 : How to make God laugh?

Was reading this quote by Woody Allen:

How do you make God laugh?
Tell him about your future plans.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

1108 : Dry days, grass and maxed out souls :-)

I was at a booze counter(@Spencer) yesteday, 4th in queue waiting to pay for my 3 bottles of wine. Suddenly a sopho guy approaches the counter and asks in an urgent tone:

Guy : Boss, is tomorrow a dry day?
ShopKeeper : Saar, what is “dry day”?

The irony was not lost on me, that this was sales/cashier guy at Spencer whose full time occupation is selling booze.

Makes me wonder, how many surprises before I begin to weep :-) or cry tears of joy.

1107 : Cottages are expensive (and rightfully so:-)

I needed to get a few passport photos quickly in my new city. (My dear Bombay, how I miss ya….20 photos in about 10 mins). So I walk upto this photo store with a USB key containing my photo.

This is how my conversation with him goes…

Me : I need passport photos asap.
ShopKeeper(SK) : Saar, will be available by Tuesday.
Me : Can’t I have it tomorrow please?
SK : Saar, tomorrow Sunday no….(that should explain everything!!)
Me : Ok, how much will it cost?
SK : 115
Me : Why so expensive?
SK : Because of cottage.
Me : (Terribly distracted, wonder if he is referring to the mall as the cottage). What cottage?
SK : Saar, cottage is expensive.
Me : (dumb me, I still don't get it it) What is cottage?
SK : Saar, cottage to print.
(Thats when I realize, he means “cartridge”). BTW, he continued referring to it as “cottage” throughout.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

1106 : English as a foreign language -1

English for me is as foreign as "idli sambar"....I grew up with it, but in the city I am currently, I can see, why that might so very quickly change :-)

Was at the cafeteria yesterday (on floor 0), and floor 1 has some additional seating. Floor 0 seemed crowded and did not have enough place to sit and grab a meal...and thats when I overheard this conversation (reproduced almost verbatim) :

A : This full ya. Lets go to top ya.
B : Top will be same ra.

More examples will be added in due course.