Saturday, November 28, 2009


Who makes the world? Are its contours shaped by our hands, our choices? Or are we merely pawns, guided by a higher power?

It is spring in the village. She walks besides him as she examines the wares of thrift stores and shops selling modest trinkets. He can only think about the times he had been to the same street earlier, with so many different people for so many different reasons. They pass the book store he used to frequent, the coffee shop he would seek reprieve in, the many faces of the shopkeepers individually unknown but collectively so familiar. It’s been ten months since he danced with her without abandon and she spun his world around. Her hand slips into his and pulls him gently out of his reminiscing, bringing his attention to the valuation and eventual haggling over the price of certain wares.

Are our actions our own and no one else’s? If so, how can we explain inevitability – the obvious actions we choose to take when faced with a choice weighed so heavily on one side? Does not the situation exert its own force on our decision? Are we really, individually, to blame?

It is autumn in the garden. The room comes with a view, the weather is perfect. Old haunts once again glide past him, but these are places discovered with her. Two months later he will be taking a late night stroll by the bay, looking for ways to kill himself in fractions, piece by piece, asking dishevelled strangers and locals for directions. But she is sitting across the room, unable to carry herself to where he is, tears in her eyes, shaking with anger, betrayal, sorrow. He had told her the truth. He had to. Was that so selfish? He couldn’t answer that right now. The truth is so often not what we want to hear. But does that make it wrong? The vacation passes. New facades are created. Fresh lies are woven. Old friendships are strained. Past lovers are invoked.

If you think about choices made that you regret, you realise how you would have made the same one all over again. Regret is not changing the past. It’s just remorse over a path you chose. It should not be about wishing you had chosen the other path, you couldn’t have. It’s about not wanting to be on the path you’re currently on.

It is summer by the bay. A nightclub situated in the old town. In fifteen months time she is crying, sitting on the bed across him not able to look at him. Right now, she sways in his arms to the music, poetry in motion, a song being written, a story being told. He bends to her swirling, wanting to only fold himself into her. She too cannot help but notice the chemistry and the physics, the symmetry and the fluidity. She smiles. He falls in love. Gears meshing together with infinite precision, they dance the night away.

While regret stems from the past, fear stems from the future. And it is important to realise that you don’t have to be immune to both to make the hard decisions. No regret means that you have come to terms with where you are and accepted that some of your actions may not have been entirely correct, but no fear means that you are ready to do whatever it takes to change all of that. It’s not about seeing the future or changing the past. It’s about making the present.

It will be winter in the valley, and the shadows will loom high. Yet street lights will pierce through the veils splintering the silhouettes of the trees, lighting up the night around him and providing him comfort. He will look for solace in a two inch pyre but not find it and blame it on inevitability, again, and wonder if he was meant not to. She will be lying in the arms of another, softly purring in her sleep and dreaming of a future different from the one she had envisioned in her past. He will hear a song sung halfway across the world and have his own epiphany, realising that no matter which city you are in, you don’t have to sell your soul to gain the world. He will instead barter his pride and make the right choice and hope for the best. What he makes of his future from then on, not even he will be able to tell.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


If you can't laugh at something, then you'll never be able to take it seriously.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hope are there

There was her, her best friend, my best friend, and I. We drove in an open jeep down a white pebbled road that ran alongside the bluest ocean I have ever seen, bluer than the lakes of Tibet, bluer than the waters off the coast of Australia. The ocean stretched out bearing small isles in the distance, but there were no people, no signs of civilization to be seen for miles around. It was summer, but the sun and the warm breeze were pleasant, the kind of summer you find in movies and stories, and the salt spray from the ocean danced across our faces. Despite the time of the year, my friend and I were in tuxedos and they were garbed in traditional saris. I don't know why we were there. I don't know where we were coming from. But I do know that we did not really know nor care where we were going.

Freedom. From thought, from society, from civilisation, from ourselves and everything we thought we wanted to be.

We always try to live up to our own expectations, not to speak of the expectations of others. Yet rarely do we wonder about living up to our own hopes.

Life is always more than one expects for and less than one hopes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You know you're becoming more of a geek when Tuesdays and Thursdays don't excite you because there isn't a new xkcd coming out. That, or your job is really, really, boring.

"A laptop battery contains roughly the stored energy of a hand grenade"

Sunday, September 13, 2009


So here I am still standing here
Singing songs to you
And in my mind I'm wondering
If it's me you're listening to
All the dreams I've ever had
Will they ever come to stay
I don't want to ask you
Cause I don't want you to say

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Keeping the doctor away

If I ever buy and iPhone / iPod, it'll be for TTR.

I guess I'm still a little true to my Mongoloid roots...

It's been awhile

...since I was up at five in the morning. Don't get me wrong, I owe this one to Mumbai's highly resilient mosquitoes and not to any early bird notions.

But still, five am, when the world is asleep but when dawn has come and when dreams end and people start to get up and start to chisel away at their lives with hope and faith...

Good morning world...

Sunday, August 9, 2009

City of Joy

The old city starts leaking back into me the minute I step out of the aeroplane’s fuselage. The air hits me first, clammy and hot, exactly like it always was at this time of the year. The summer season is never kind on our country’s populace in general, and on my old city of Joy in particular. The next thing that hits me is the smell, though it’s not a smell in the most common sense of the word, it’s not what it smells of but how it smells of it. I like to believe that of all my senses, my olfactory ones are the most keenly tuned, and I identify cities and places not by sights and sounds, though these play their own part as well, but it is always my nose that informs me, with almost divine certainty, that I have arrived home.

And as the taxi speeds past old haunts and familiar corners, places I would stop by so often as part of a daily or weekly routine, they seem somewhat foreign to my sense of sight and sound. It’s as if you’ve been dreaming about a city all your life and one day you wake up to find that it’s actually there in front of you. Only now, since you’re not dreaming, the spaces between the lines drawn by your imagination are filled out by untried colours and words and splatter of urine and paan and old telephone wires tangled in a bunch underneath poles hoisting lamps that have long stopped working. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I ever remembered it as being clean, it’s just that perhaps I forgot about the muck, or perhaps it has really grown dirtier since I last left it. I’ll leave the choice up to the reader, for there is only a limited amount of certainty by which an author can assert him or herself.

But when I step back on foot onto the streets that I once danced, the sights and the sounds surrender to that all surmounting power of smell and that smell, dank yet breezy, yellow yet grey, is what anchors me back to my own recollections and convinces me that this all has not been a dream. I walk, through bright lights of the city’s largest streets and through lanes and dark alleys where two cars can naught pass each other on, I walk, past trams clanking along slowly barely half full with passengers and street vendors doling out copious amounts of their wares onto leafs folded into watertight vessels filled to the brim with spiced water, I walk, back into memories and thoughts and faces and names that I can’t remember but know of all the same, I walk, and realise how true it really is, that places and people, even myself, are but an image of what is remembered forever.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

So this blog is proving difficult to maintain. It's been a while since I put up something blog worthy, and will be at least a week before I actually do, not that it's the most read blog in history or anything.

Till then, someone in my office has a ringtone that took me back... Wiki'd the song and presto...

Way down upon de Swanee ribber (river)
Far, far away,
Dere's wha my heart is turning ebber,
Dere's wha de old folks stay.

All up and down de whole creation
Sadly I roam,
Still longing for de old plantation
And for de old folks at home.

All de world am sad and dreary,
Ebry where I roam,
Oh! darkies how my heart grows weary,
Far from de old folks at home.

All round de little farm I wandered
When I was young,
Den many happy days I squandered,
Many de songs I sung.

When I was playing wid my brudder
Happy was I
Oh! take me to my kind old mudder,
Dere let me live and die.

All de world am sad and dreary,
Ebry where I roam,
Oh! darkies how my heart grows weary,
Far from de old folks at home.

One little hut amond de bushes,
One dat I love,
Still sadly to my mem'ry rushes,
No matter where I rove

When will I see de bees a humming
All round de comb?
When will I hear de banjo tumming
Down in my good old home?

I'll be singing this at work for the next week or so... at least

Friday, June 26, 2009


Eight hours of sleep, a dream where I travelled to space and to the depths of the earth, where I saw love on a lighthouse light up an entire man made island, where kittens littered and a friend got married. And still you were there.

Monday, June 15, 2009

3 a.m.

I envy those who go to bed at night knowing that someone somewhere says a small prayer for them with an aching and a longing heart. Those whose mind's lie on a pillow of sweet memories and under a blanket of a hope for the future. Whose sleep is not easily stirred, and for whom rest comes swiftly and deeply. Content.

So unlike those whose sleep is shaken by the howl of street dogs in the moonlight and whose dreams chased away by the horn of the ships coming into port. Whose solace is solace and for whom every day is followed by a sleepless night with eyes weary, yet not slumbering, and bones aching yet constantly moving. And for whom the only companion is the vast and empty expanse of the night, ringing silently in their ear.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dog Eat Dog

There's a new device out on the Indian market called a "Bow Lingual" which interprets dog barks and translates them into English. Outputs such as "Feed me, I'm hungry" and "I'm frustrated" to a wireless handheld device with the user define six states of emotions of the dog.

Page 8 of today's Mumbai Mirror (which I don't think is much of a paper in the first place)

Inaccuracy aside (the manufacturer, Takara, touts it as just an "entertainment device"), as a dog lover, I loathe the thought of latching an electronic device onto my dog's collar and using it to interpret what my dog is feeling. It just takes too much out of the bond between man and animal.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


First off, I hated the TV series by the same name. So this is in no way related to that.

Last night, I came home from a particularly depressing day at work to find that Warner Brothers' was screening Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins at the 10:30 slot on their new television channel WB. Having seen the sequel at least a dozen times on high definition print and being the zealous fan that I am, I sat through the entire film for what must have been the sixth time (at the end of it, my flatmate commented that I knew the dialogues from the film as well as the exact intonations with which they were said). At the end I couldn't help but compare certain aspects of the second film to the first. I wouldn't say that either was better than the other but there was one recurring theme in both.

You see, the concept of a hero in most people's minds has to do with sacrifice. Most contemporary heroes are those who indeed do just that. Take for instance the highly cliche examples of firemen running into burning buildings, police and army men laying down their lives for the safety of their community, even the industrious businessman who has risked so much and put in so much time and effort to build something that will outlive him and provide employment to thousands, if not, millions.

Towards the end of Batman Begins, the protagonist, Bruce Wayne, comes face to face with his enemy, Ra's Al Ghul during his own birthday party and has to "explain the situation" to his guests, that is, get them out of his house as fast as he can so that their lives are spared from the crossfire. Bruce feigns drunkenness and very rudely ejects his guests out, calling them all sorts of names. He vilifies himself to save innocent people, even though those are the same people that say that "the apple has fallen far from the tree", referring to Bruce's philanthropic father whose memory he has now tarnished.

While Bruce Wayne has become the billionaire playboy, the spoilt brat, his alter ego, Batman, remains the masked crusader for justice.The Dark Knight however, sees Batman taking on the mantle of a murderer in order to cover up the actions of Harvey Dent, who was driven insane by the movie's villain (and personal favourite) the Joker as part of his scheme to plunge the city into chaos and anarchy and suck all hope out of the city. Batman vilifies himself to save the city, even though it is the city's police force who now hound him.

The point in both these stories is that a hero is more than a person who runs into a building or takes a bullet or burns the midnight oil. These people at the very least had glory on their side. They gave up their lives, but not the memory of their lives, and were lionised into something greater than what they gave up. Not so the Batman and Bruce Wayne, who gave up their very reputations and staked more than their lives for the greater good.

The closest real life analogy that I can think of is our parents. Whenever a man or woman is successful, we rarely think about the toil that his or her parents must have gone through, the sacrifices that they would have had to make, for their child. And the glory goes completely to the man or woman alone. I think everyone's parents deserve a lot more credit than they get. And instead of looking up to the sky to catch a glimpse of a hero, maybe we should just take a look at the person who stands by us through everything, the person who catches us when we fall.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The drawbacks of liquid face soap...

Today I washed my face with my shaving cream.

It's not too bad; makes my skin smoooooth...

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tiny Vessels

Night in the city once again and like always there's something familiar about it and at the same time something different.

Death Cab for Cutie, ladies and gentlemen, music is not dead, it does not belong to the sixties or the seventies or the eighties, it's always been here. Always will be.

All I see are dark Grey clouds
In the distance moving closer with every hour
So when you ask "Is something wrong?"
I think "You're damn right there is but we can't talk about it now
No, we can't talk about it now"

So one last touch and then you'll go
And we'll pretend that it meant something so much more
But it was vile, and it was cheap
and you are beautiful but you don't mean a thing to me
yeah you are beautiful but you don't mean a thing to me

Friday, May 1, 2009

Tenderloin, anyone? (Vegetarians beware)

I have now backwardly integrated my love for all things non-vegetarian. At the behest (read coercion) of my father, I recently embarked upon a journey to learn how to cook – with the aid of my mother of course. On the menu was fried pork with bamboo shoots.

The first order of business was to cut the frozen raw pork. This part needs no explanation to tell you that it was fun. I love handling knives (though am far from adept at peeling fruits in a single stroke and using the principle of the opposing thumb) Cutting up chunks of frozen meat (especially pork from Mizoram, which contains immensely thick layers of pork fat) using a cleaver takes me back to the days of Jason vs. Freddy, minus the blood, but with all the imagined fear of the-being-chopped. Plus there is immense satisfaction in slicing off that perfect layer of pork + fat and dropping it into the marinating bowl.

This brings us to the uber-exciting part – the marinating. For those of you who remember the Mark Wahlberg starring movie, The Big Hit, you would recall a very cute Asian school girl (in plaid skirts, no less) being kidnapped by the protagonist (Wahlberg) and brought to said protagonist’s home while the ransom was being demanded, denied, destroyed etc. And yes. The marinating. There is something morbidly erotic about marinating pieces of dead meat with bare hands. Something incredibly gratifying about the way the meat slips and oozes through your fingers as you slap it around the bowl and roll it about in your hand. You can go ahead right now and accuse me of necrophilia but I’m not going to take it back. In fact, go and try it yourself and then tell me what you think. Maybe I’m one of those sex maniacs with a fetish for dead meat. Scary [shudders] And yes, The Big Hit has a scene where the protagonist and the damsel-in-distress (distressed by the protagonist himself) share a marinating bowl where their hands get all touchy and feely along with the gooey meat and icky things happen.

After that it’s pretty simple. Drop into one big tub of burning oil, add bamboo shoots (or whatever your little heart pleases), add corn flour for gravy, stir occasionally for even frying. Serve.

Oh did I mention I also sawed the head off a chicken, de-feathered it using boiling water, cleaned out the insides, cut up the still bloody bird into more manageable chunks which were then fried as well (no I’m not really getting on a health trip here).

I’m thinking of starting a club of meat lovers (all kinds, no “I don’t eat this” or “I don’t eat that” stuff). I’ll call it “Please Eat Tasty Animals”

PS: thanks to Fishy for the name, and trust me to name a friend after a food section on the menu

...Long live the King!

While I was flipping through Lido Anthony Iacocca's autobiography (which I feel has more lessons in management than two years in a b-school) I couldn't help but draw parallel's to the present state of the big three in Detroit. When Iacocca took over Chrysler way back in the 80's, the company had, then too, resorted to the drastic 'anti-capitalist' measure of going to congress for a bailout. Iacocca defends this as being capitalist in that it was preserving competition. That seemed like a good enough argument; though it's obvious that the bailout was approved more to safeguard the image of politicians as being sympathetic to the plight of thousands of workers (in their constituencies) who would be laid off. Don't get me wrong; given a choice I'd prefer Democrats over Republicans, but that's a lot like choosing the Congress over the BJP.

Iacocca says that the failure of the big three had been a result of the unexpectedness of the Iranian Revolution and the sudden shortage of oil. Indeed, GM and Ford followed Chrysler to the taxpayers wallet soon after. Despite being a fan of free markets, I couldn't help but feel that the man kinda had a point.

But thirty years later, it's the same story all over again. Sure the global recession and all is to blame but Toyota also took a bad hit but I don't see them filing bankruptcy, and they're headquartered in Japan of all places!

I think that Iacocca is a great man. I think what he did for Chrysler back then was astounding and, by many accounts, considered impossible. But after getting bailed out twice and still ending up in Chapter 11, I don't imagine - rather I don't hope - that socialism in the self-proclaimed land of the free is an experiment many would dabble in.

On the eve of the more recent auto bailouts (or was it just after, I can't recall), Thomas Friedman, in an article on the New York Times, compared the bailouts to "investing in the Walkman the day before the ipod was released", a metaphor I personally enjoyed.

"Preserving" competition? More like freezing it. I hear adding a bit of salt helps as well.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Till geekdom come (boredom's already here)

So now that I'm on my way to my first job ever, my uncle and his wife offered to buy me a new phone on an unlimited budget. It went something like this.

Uncle comes over. We chat for a while, he mentions he's lost his cell phone and is planning to buy a new one. Asks me for my opinion. Being the geek that I am, I start off on a long list of phones, having memorised most of their pros and cons.

I'm a gadget freak, especially when it comes to phones. I swear. It's the most jobless thing ever in the world, but I can spend hours on web and youtube reviews about phones. It's not healthy, and I don't always follow up on my "the next phone I am going to buy" decision, but I find it fun and I think it's more productive than reality TV anyway.

So about fifteen minutes, eight phones, and a spec sheet long enough to compete with the criminal records of all the politicians currently standing for elections, my uncle asks me simply, "what would you buy if you were in my place". I recommended the Xperia X1, given the fact that he's a doctor and all that and will need less of the multimedia and ShoZu integration et al... Then my uncle goes, ok I'll buy it for you. Which leaves me very surprised and happy of course.

But now I'm in a bit of a quandary. See being the geek that I am, the minute he offered to buy me a phone, I went and looked up ten others that may be better. Thing is, like so many things in life, they each had pros and cons (I hate it when things are like things in life, that's why I love fiction of any form or kind).

Ok so this post is more of a rant out of boredom than anything else. Sitting in a state that is under prohibition with the only bottle in reach under lock and key with my mom is not conducive to creative self-destruction.

In any case, here's my conundrum (and feel free to skip the following cause it's just specs and shite)

The Xperia X1 is a sexy phone. I mean if I was a phone I would want to look and act like the X1. The panels interface has to be the most eye catching interface since HTC's touhcflo (HTC did help Sony with this one). It also has a touchscreen and a beautifully crafted QWERTY keyboard as well as pocket office and though the built in player doesn't support divx, the WinMo OS allows you to get 3rd party apps that do. However, it doesn't have all the bells and whistles. The camera is crappy, but that's something I'm willing to overlook cause frankly, after getting an SLR, no non-SLR camera can cut it (even those bulky bridge cameras - yeah yeah geek in pink I am). What it seriously does lack however is good internal memory and an FM transmitter (yes I am being supremely choosy, but hey, unltd budget)

The other option is the INNOV8 which by God has to be the best thing that ever happened to mobile telephony. It's custom designed for multimedia and has a bloody v8 engine. It has an 8 mp camera with more bells and whistles than I've seen in most digicams. Geotagging, face detection, panorama shots, image stabalisation; it even has that worthless smile detection and a new blink bloody detection. Drool. (as this post progresses, I am sounding more and more geeky, screw it) It also has 16 GB of internal memory but fails on the FM transmitter bit too, but I am willing to overlook that as well. What I am a bit hesitant to overlook is the no touch screen part. Although I don't think I will ever be able to use a full touchscreen phone, I like the touchscreen and then slide out qwerty form of the Xperia X1.

Finally comes the n97. Just when I had given up hope for Nokia, they go and announce this baby. This phone has everything a geek could desire. Even though the camera is only 5 mp strong, I don't think it really matters, shooting pics at that resolution leads to large sized images which doesn't really make sense on a camera phone. It has 32GB of internal memory, an FM transmitter, pocket office, the kickass symbian OS, a 3.5 inch touch screen (fine it's resistive and not capacitive but then the handwriting tech comes into play) The one and only thing it does not have is the looks. It looks like a plastic pencil box to be honest. I mean Nokia, what happened to you guys? The best phone that is going to hit the market and you design it like something out of a 70's science fiction television serial. That is the only problem with this phone and my god if you look at it, it's a problem.

In case you did read this far, thanks. That's it from me and my rant.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Graduation Rations

Now that we’re all set to enter the big bad world of corporate business and hang our consciences along with last night’s pyjamas as we head out for the day’s work, a couple of memos from the past few years of my life come to mind.

(Note that since some of these did take place eons ago, I will not be producing them in verbatim and in fact will be making some of the parts up, just to add effect. The essence, however, is still preserved.)

The first memo I heard only a year ago from an incredibly distinguished IIM alumnus who was delivering a speech to a rapt audience of soon-to-be-IIM-alumni. During his conversation with them, he was asked several questions, one of them being what, according to him, were the shortcomings, if any, in the MBA system in India when compared to the rest of the world. The esteemed Alumni replied that he felt that there was a marked lack of emphasis on health and physical fitness in institutes across the country. We have the best minds, the best facilities, but for some reason there is barely any awareness much less approval when it comes to running five times around a small field every day for the sake of longevity. And chain smokers, alcoholics-on-weekends, junk-foodies, alcoholics-after-ten-pm, unhealthy canteen food (not the mess), no little love for ordering big chunks of cheesy pizzas in, these were all abundant in the past two years of my life.

Not that I’m complaining mind you – which is probably the guy’s point in the first place.

The second bit comes from a continent away and was brought to my attention by the voodoo child. It was the eve of said child’s graduation from school (they call it 'graduation there, I suppose, even though she was only eighteen) and her Economics (or was it Philosophy and English?) professor was delivering the speech to the outgoing batch. Among the several things he said, one pearl follows. He started off by talking about a hypothetical situation. “Say you were given three hundred thousand Euros and were told to spend all of it (no saving, this was before saving became savvy). Of the many things you could do is buy a Hummer. Now a Hummer is massive. There are villages in Tibet that are smaller than a single Hummer. But it’s sexy (again, this is 2004), it’s cool, and it gives you about five miles to the gallon. Or, you could take that money and spend half of it on a weekend skiing vacation and still have enough left over to but the latest hybrid vehicle that while not being as powerful as the Hummer will still be more than enough equine muscle to get you around on your daily chores and not make a big black puddle in the middle of Alaska somewhere. The point is this. Money talks. Let your money speak for you.”

He then proceeded to crack several incredibly inane jokes in Latin which you and I are both better off not recalling.

The last memo came recently. It was during our very own convocation speech. The chairman of our institute's board stepped up to the podium and began recounting the time when he was in our shoes, graduating with an MBA (albeit in another country). He said that there are would be several things going through our minds, as indeed there were. There we were, being handed the world on a veritable platter. All of us ready to take on the challenges that lay ahead. Our chairman could have spoken about anything; he could have spoken about ethics in business and not letting go of one’s principles, about being environmentally friendly and caring about others and the state of the lesser fortunate than we were and other such David Copperfield crap (yes I had to use that line). You could almost say it was expected of him; but he didn’t. Instead, he summed it all up perfectly by simply reminding us of the people sitting just behind us, hidden from the glare of the flashes from the photographers and the stares from the cameras, all vying to capture us in our robed splendour. The ones without whom all of this wouldn’t have been remotely possible and, while we were the ones shining in our moment of glory, they were the ones who had been with us every time we were down in the mud. Our parents. The chairman said “as I graduated, the only thing on my mind was how to make my parents proud. The rest all follows from that” ... or something to that effect.

Later people found the speech more than a little ironical, given the facts which we all know. But it was true nonetheless.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Lasting

A hush descends over the stone lined pathways as the few who remain observe a penance-like silence out of respect for those who have left. Either that or they have had their energy sapped by the many adieus bid to lonesome strangers who were converted by the alchemy of friendship into loyal comrades and brothers in arms.

He left the same way he came in, with his parents and a sense of wonder, fear, excitement, and sadness all stirred nicely in his glass heart to from a concoction that he had tasted for the third time in his life now, and found all too bittersweet, for the third time in his life.

Rooms and places that were just numbers and names take on the avatar of homes for selves and friends and places to congregate late into the night and share tea and memories. The alchemist’s work stretches beyond human bonds and seeps into concrete, wood, stone, and glass.

That last day, he hadn’t slept. He had to see off a friend early in the morning (and had the luck to see off one more as well) and, when he went back to his room and lay in his bed, his heart wrenched in a funny way as he realised that he was leaving behind everything that he couldn’t.

Alchemy is not a science, it is not a myth, it does really work. Only it does not rely on any physical ingredients (though catalysts are known to exist), it does not have any ten-step process to convert the worthless into the priceless, it does not work for each and every thing and for each and every one. The miracle in alchemy is not the lead into gold bit, but the ability to convert a drab thought and a silly passing moment into a cherished memory. Call it retrospective falsification, but somehow, whenever we look in hindsight at the different eras of our lives, they never seem to be as bad as we thought. The living of life has a way of making the important a memory. The living of life itself is that alchemy. And we are but its apprentices.

Just before the car took the last turn at the gate – out into the crazy and crowded street that was so antithetical to the oasis of calm behind the ten foot tall stone walls – he looked back and smiled at the path he had tread with trepidation not long ago. He would return. Some day. After age had lessened his zeal and his works were replaced by those younger, better, stronger, faster, harder than he was. He would press on into the red setting sun, his brown leaves quivering in its warm embrace.

author's note: ending has been "inspired" :)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

...and thanks for all the fish

I guess it’s about time to write this one.

Of all the moments, for some reason I always remember the ones where I’m drunk and doing stupid things the most, even when I don’t really remember what I’d said or done, if you know what I mean.

‘Twas the night before Convo’
When all through the blocks
Not a creature was stirring
Not even a fox

...Except for a few drunken guys singing ‘The Recession Song’ on top of the block at the far end of the campus and blaming the current economic crisis on “Bush and his lackeys”

The last night of drunken revelry, when most people (not all though) were indeed resting after the Convocation eve show and in anticipation of the next morning’s rehearsal and the late evening’s main event, I was, again, drunk on beer, whiskey, and vodka respectively (that was not all though, the latter part of the night introduced me to my old friends, rum and Mary Jane, but that high is for another time)

The end of all we had come to know and love. We spent it making the ever-fun old age jokes at the old-age people present and of each other’s ethnicity and accents. Most of it, however, was spent in plain ol’ singin’. Old songs, new songs, good songs, bad songs; we sung ‘em all. We didn’t really talk about leaving and all that too much; come to think of it, we didn’t talk about the past two years at all. We just sat there and did our shit and probably pissed the hell outta some guys in the surrounding blocks like we’d done so many times before.

And in between it all, the thought that we’ll never be able to this again. The realisation that all good things come to an end, that nothing lasts forever, that the future had already arrived and the words of an acne-faced boy just out of his teens when he’d stepped into this place two years ago saying “I hope these two years just fly by” had indeed come true.

At one point I was left alone with my guitar gently weeping in my arms, cranking out any tune that came to mind. It’s funny, because no matter how happy you are in life, at any given point in time, it’s always tempered with this voice at the back of your head telling you that “this too shall pass away” and all. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes it’s good to keep yourself grounded, but it can get annoying as hell; having some dismembered voice tell you that all the time.

Still this emptiness persists.
Perhaps this is as good as it gets?

I got sentimental as crap though after most of the others had left. Not because of the leaving and all, I mean that was a part of it, but not all of it. I’m always doing or saying stupid things when I’m drunk. But that, too, is for another time.

The 4th Sense

Freshly blossomed Easter Lilies and Liliums fill the house; their scent encompasses every corner, reminding me of you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Holi Hai

First off, Happy Holi.

Now here's my plan for the day.

Sit at the end of the corridor outside my room with a copy of the day's paper, a can of pepper spray and a BB gun. Wait for some poor shmuck to come charging down with colours splashed all over his face and hands. Then mace the fucker in the face just three feet from his target. Watch in satisfaction as he rubs his eyes with his paint-stained hands, hence aggravating the pain further. Then take pot shots at him with the BB gun, not taking care to not hit him in the eyes since they'll be tightly closed (and hopefully burning really badly) anyway. Hopefully by then he'll get the hint that I'm not really interested in colouring myself silly and leave.

Sit back, read the paper till next shmuck comes along.

"The Luxury of Grief"

Grief comes to a person when something or someone is lost. It is not the best of feelings and many of us would rather we were over it as quick as possible - forget the past and move on. But the thing or person that is lost is grieved for because it or he or she was loved, and now will be no more (not to speak of death or the end of it but more of a paradigm shift in the way one relates to the thing or person lost)

We all grieve. Some more than others. In my younger days, I remember thinking that "the world is small, parting friends shall meet again", when the time to leave my school was upon me. So I did not grieve. I did not find it necessary to wallow in past memories and raise toasts to our beginning lives. At the end of college, the only grief I felt was because I would be leaving one good friend behind. One very good friend. I lamented that broken bond, maybe for too long, but it was not grief so much as it was mourning. The difference? Grief is when you are more nostalgic than sad, mourning is when you are more sad than nostalgic. Feel free to disagree. It's something I just came up with on the spot anyway.

Grief is a luxury. I could not afford it before not because of time or things to do but because I simply did not want to indulge myself. I've lived most of my life detached, a nomad who keeps moving - even within cities and within peoples. For a person who binges on the shopping list of change, Grief is a luxury I can ill afford.

So I will not grieve this time as well. I will not raise toasts to the past (except only with one friend) but to the future instead. I will not wallow in memories (except when talking about them of course) but will make plans for the future instead. I will feel nostalgic. And for the loss of the presence of the love of some friends, I will lament. I will shake hands and give that seemingly ominous and final hug, look back one last time and turn my body to salt. I will leave behind tidings to the tribute of those who follow me and one day return to do it all again, but I will not grieve.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Darkly Dreaming Dexter looking through a Scanner Darkly on a Dark & Stormy Night

A storm is coming, Frank says.
A storm that will swallow the children,
and I will deliver them from the kingdom of pain.
I will deliver the children back to their doorsteps;
I'll send the monsters back to the underground.
I'll send them back to a place where no one else can see them,
except for me
because I am Donnie Darko

Friday, February 27, 2009

Did we really vote for THESE guys?

...Congress floated the idea of an `achieving India' and listed among the milestones the Indo-US nuclear deal, Chandrayaan, near 9% growth and the total sweep of the Oscars...

a) Danny Boyle is in no way Indian.
b) Bollywood and India as such played no part in the making of the movie (apart from providing crap infested shorelines, blood thirsty extremists who dress their kids up in the image of their gods, and the omnipresent dark eyed villain)
c) Had it not received the (undeserved, this author thinks) accolades that it did, there is a good chance that the same party would have struck down the film for its so-called derogatory depiction of India.

Oh and while we're at it, the UPA government was in no way responsible for the decline in inflation, which Mr. Mukherjee claimed at the interim budget.

What's a Unicorn?

Ans: "You know, mythical beast... the car that can't be stolen"

- From Gone in 60 Seconds (2000)

Here's to the ones who keep trying, the ones who beat themselves up over mistakes they never committed, who move mountains only to find whole ranges lying behind them. Keep the faith and fight the good fight, for the struggle will make the victory taste so much sweeter.

Walk on.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Go Ape

Time magazine's website today ran the following "Quote of the Day" -

"We have an African-American President, a female Speaker of the House — and there's the white guy."
KATIE COURIC, noting the diverse Democratic leadership triumvirate of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden

As I recall, four years ago, India had a Muslim President, a Sikh Prime Minister (that's Taliban to all you American-philes), a foreign lady leading the party in power, and a Hindu leading the opposition party.

Who's aping who now?

Mocha Dreams

And even though time dims our senses
And wrinkles our minds to dust
The yellow tree shall bloom again
Telling us everything’s not lost

And in the morning we’ll be gone
Back to the place before our birth
Brief lives remembered by epiphanies
And those rare pitchers full of mirth

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Departed

The young have mirth,
While we are sapped and weary
Another tale ends in the middle of my story

What comes to pass?
We’ll be but an illustration
Of what’s remembered by those in our wake

Trials and midnight oil,
We’ve burned it all
And morning after night,
Amassed at the muezzin’s door,
To regale ourselves with laughter and stories of war

But, at length, we each depart,
In our own separate direction,
Our tired minds bent beyond the point of our inflexion

Yet the stories carry on
Till legends they become,
Our time immortalised in the red rays of the sun

Not a bittersweet song
Or a textbook story, we walk on
Constantly striving to achieve
But a glimmer of what we had during our arduous journey’s reprieve

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Job Descriptions

With the placement free-for-all just around the corner, and given the current shit we are all in right now, one has to really start considering the kind of things one wants to be doing for the rest of one's life (too many "one"s in that last sentence...)

So I've begun thinking of jobs from the point of view of the one-liner job description. It's really cool how some seemingly boring jobs kinda jump out and vice-versa. It makes your really rethink what you want to do. Of course, being the brash, naive brat that I am, I will not be without my biases. Feel free to comment, and I will make changes accordingly.

Evangelist - I give people hope.

Investment Banking - I tell really really rich people where to put their money so that they eventually can earn more than I will (else they won't come to me)

Marketing - I make you want stuff, even if you don't really want it in the first place.

Social Work (NGOs etc) - I do the dirty work that no one else wants to do and my payoff is not monetary.

Investment Banking v2 - I do the dirty work that no one else wants to do and my payoff is monetary.

Consultant - I tell people how to solve their issues (like an organization level shrink)

Shrink - I listen to people and tell them how to solve their issues.

Civil Servant - I run the country.

Police officer - I do the dirty work so that your kids can go out safely.

Roadside sweeper - If I didn't do my work, you'd have to do it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Winner takes all

Twenty Four hours ago, I was sitting on the terrace of Dormitory 22 sipping on a whiskey and Pepsi and screaming love ballads and the like into the skies of Ahmedabad, inebriated (but not so much that I couldn't come up with a good excuse when it was needed). Right now I'm sitting back in my room, half a subcontinent away, tired after a last minute rush through a submission on General Electric's Medical Systems and a short visit to that mad party on campus - which I will soon be sorely missing for more reasons than one - and wishing I had a beer with me right now.

The Ahmedabad visit was because of the first three way inter IIM sports meet, between the campuses of Ahmedabad, Bangalore, and Lucknow. Bangalore won, it was great, and we put up a short inter IIM music show to boot. But that's not what this is about.

What this is is a tribute to the true winners of the sports meet. Lucknow. Whose team turned up without any official funding from their institute, after travelling for several hours by train, playing matches despite knowing that they wouldn't win (for they did not have any girls' teams with them, and had to let the other two IIMs walkover them in those events, hence losing several points) and with a contingent of only 38 people, many of whom played multiple sports in the span of two days (one chap played six... yes six field sports in a single day. Several of the members of the sports councils from the Ahmedabad and Bangalore campuses commended their laudable feat, as did many students and players from both campuses.

The reason I label them the winners is not out of some gracious sense of magnanimity and awe, though I am not without these as well. I call them the winners because, to put it simply, we could not compete with them. They came not to win a trophy or show off their skills, but rather to take part in a brand new tradition. Win or lose, by simply turning up they had already achieved their goal. And at the end of the day, despite Bangalore carrying the trophy home and Ahmedabad revving up for next year's clash, the real truth of the matter is that we both are just playing games. What Lucknow showed us was true sports.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Found an acoustic version of this song. It's funny how such a familiar song can sound so different, so fresh. Some things are best said softly.

I can't stand to fly
I'm not that naive
I'm just out to find
The better part of me

I'm more than a bird
I'm more than a plane
More than some pretty face beside a train
It's not easy to be me

Wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie
About a home I'll never see

It may sound absurd
But don't be naive
Even heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed
But won't you concede
Even heroes have the right to dream
It's not easy to be me

Up, up and away, away from me
It's all right
You can all sleep sound tonight
I'm not crazy, or anything

I can't stand to fly
I'm not that naive
Men weren't meant to ride
With clouds between their knees

I'm only a man in a silly red sheet
Digging for Kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me
Inside of me
Inside me
Yeah, inside me
Inside of me

I'm only a man
In a funny red sheet
I'm only a man
Looking for a dream

I'm only a man
In a funny red sheet
And it's not easy

Its not easy to be me

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Comic relief

from Pearls Before Swine by Stephen Patsis

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Art and Life

In the past few days, I watched quite a number of movies. Maybe it was the boredom. Maybe it was the influx of suggestions from various friends. Maybe it was the free time I had after choosing classes on two days of the week. Whatever.

Spoilers are there.

First in line is Slumdog Millionaire. The movie is predictable and the accented English of the key characters is more reminiscent of a well rehearsed play from the Alliance Francaise rather than characters from the backalleys of Bombay's underworld. The movie fails to capture the grit and pain of the outcasts of Maximum City's society, falling far short of Suketu Mehta's brilliant journey through its grimy streets. Personally, to see it in the early forties of IMDBs top 250 movies as well as an obnoxiously high rating on Rotten Tomatoes was quite unbelievable. But all that said and done, the movie is brilliant. It's a grimy fairy tale and not really meant to inspire credibility. The undying love of the protagonist, Jamal, reminds one of the cheesy dialogues and scenes from a Veer Zara. But that's just the point. Rags to riches overnight with the love of your life dancing beside you at the train station is exactly the kind of cheesy, cliched, overused and pedestrian model that make people love Bollywood movies. The movie is vibrant, colourful and has the heart and soul of a city that never sleeps but is always dreaming. Nine out of ten.

Seven Pounds is based on the true story of a man who donates his organs (and in the grand finale, his life to sacrifice his heart and eyes) to seven people. The acting is superb. If you have seen The Pursuit of Happyness, you will know the kind of heart rending expressions that Will Smith is capable of and indeed pulls off in this movie. The cinematography and the screenplay is brilliant from start to finish, particularly the slow motion flashbacks of the tortured protagonist. However, the plot did have a few holes and the movie gets slow too early. For Will Smith fans and drama lovers, a great movie. Seven out of ten.

If you are a writer or even otherwise, then you simply have to watch Stranger than Fiction. The movie is eclectic and the narration is crisp. The movie does several things. It makes you question the life you live and the potential and the dreams that you have. But the real masterpiece is the ending. At first, it appears to have too happy an ending, but then you realise that that is exactly the point. The sparing of the protagonist's life is not meant to turn the movie into "a great art of fiction" but rather weigh the importance of human living and not just human life. Nine out of ten.

I'd never heard of Bruge before, despite one of my closest friends having spent the formative years of her life in Belgium (I doubt if she's been there as well). In Bruges portrays the city of Bruge as a dark and depressing place as Colin Farell's character repeatedly stresses. But the movies humour is unsurpassed, drawing parallels to Pulp Fiction. While being serious for the major part of the time, it breaks into moments of subtle comedy that make you roll on the floor laughing, really. Nine out of ten.

World War II never gets old. And more so the emancipation of the Jews and the heroic struggle of a people that met with the horrors of Genocide. However, Defiance lacks the overall punch of films like The Pianist or novels like Maus. The direction is brilliant, but the script lacks the power and the storyline settles down into being just another war film. I'd give the film a six on ten.

Behind every great movie is an idea that inspired it. The Watchowski brothers (did I spell that right?) are said to have taken their inspiration from the anime, Ghost in the Shell. While the series supposedly far outclasses the movie, the film itself does make one pause and think, and leaves one in that eerie place between second guessing everything you know and believing in what you want to whole heartedly. While the story is slightly predictable, the questions thrown up regarding what it means to be human and the fallacy of memory over fantasy bubble to the surface with an unmistakable poignancy. Eight out of ten for this classic, and watch out for the series.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Bitsy Poompkins and Hobbes

In the moments of our lives
that are filled with more despair
than we ever thought we could stomach
come glimpses of emancipation and freedom
like a breeze rustling up the leaves of hope that have fallen to the ground.

In the aching of a heart and the searing of a memory
that stab us in the coldest hours of yesteryear’s night
as we lie awake but still, not moving, not stirring,
arise glimmers of happiness at times gone by
and gratitude for a cup half full of a well blended scotch.

In the minutes that lead to the dawn
and in the seconds before the light
when the mind is restless but, as such, without fear
comes the realization and the possibility
of a life that has only just begun to be lived.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Stream of Life

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

- Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali