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Monday, December 27, 2010


They look down upon the myriad boxes, rolling along on feet made from rubber from their lofty perches, with curious detachment. Aware that with a tiny flicker of their coquettish eyes, they can cause brakes to squeal like pigs being slaughtered. At their command, internal combustion engines hunch together - heaving, purring and clutching at each other, like participants in a depraved Roman orgy. On their whims, they send commuters running helter-skelter like insects scurrying in search of food.

They look at the mangled pieces of metal and the shards of glass that were once vehicles, but now lie like lovers spent, having just consummated their togetherness.

Like little children revelling in mischief, they wink in merriment.

And the chaos goes on.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Void

The demons return. Every night. To feast on my soul. Fighting to grab the tiny slivers that now remain - little shards of humanity soaked in blood.

The deities stay unmoved as their temple is desecrated. Dead deities. With hearts of stone.

I feel the darkness closing in, pulsing like a living organism.

I am one with the darkness; the point of fear is past. And I open my arms to embrace my freedom.

The Void beckons.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Baroda-ly speaking

With completely innocent and reader-friendly intentions, I had planned on calling this post “Broadly speaking” because you will find many of my prejudices/biases/opinions/brilliant observations about some recent experiences listed here. However, when I realised that some of those oh-so-ignorant meanderers who chance across my super-awesome blog might make a connection with a certain English fast bowler who was clobbered by a certain batsman from Punjab (when he could bat, field and be seen without a beer belly), I decided to ditch the idea and be my usual punny self.

So, dear reader, please do not read any further if:

a) You belong to Gujarat.

b) You are one of Narendra Modi’s cronies.

c) You are one those prudish folks with upturned noses, who look down upon opinionated folks.

d) You have no appreciation for brilliant writing. (Ha, still reading eh?)

Ok then, it’s been over 2 months in this strange land called ‘Gujarat’. It’s a land of anachronisms – a land of strange paradoxes. On one hand, you see expressways drastically shrinking the distances between places, and factories mushrooming overnight. (That’s when you say, “Wow, the development in this state is fantastic,” and rattle of growth rates and comparative charts and statistics, if you are from that much maligned breed of capitalists MBAs/MBA students.)

On the other hand, you see farmlands being acquired for building factories, with no sustainable income sources for farmers and companies making a beeline to set up shop in Gujarat, to take advantage of the cheap labour and government freebies. (That’s when you lean back on your recliner, take a swig of imported malt whiskey, run a hand through your lush hair slicked with gel, adjust your Aviator glasses, adjust the temperature of the AC and say, “Sheesh, what exploitation! Stop destroying our planet! Down with capitalism! Long live imperialism.” Then, you fish out your latest Blackberry, and with your nicely manicured finger, dial the number of your press contact, giving him/her the details of your next protest march/candle-lit vigil/rath yatra to mobilise support (and funds!) against all this.)

Anyway, I digress from the main point here. So yes, Gujarat is a land of diversity and the average newcomer is likely to be lost or even bewildered for the first few weeks. Hence, a brief guide is being published here to help such newbies. (I thought “Gujarat for dummies” was too lame a title, and moreover even dummies don’t like to admit that they are what they are.)

1) Do not offer a Gujarati any medicines for cold/cough, by way of misplaced concern. When you think they are sneezing, they might simply be talking of arriving soon. (Aaoon Chhoon = Atchoo!)

2) Gujaratis seem to be fond of painting, especially spray painting. In fact, many of them practise this fine art all day long. The Gujarati technique of spray painting involves chewing a mix of different shades and colours, till it attains consistency, and then using the ‘point-and-shoot’ interface. You may stop to admire this artwork on walls and even on road surfaces. If lucky, you might even catch a master artist at work. However, do not touch the paintings for it may spoil them.

3) I’m not quite sure of this one, but it seems that this state lacks some of the basic camaraderie that we experience in the North. For example, there is no back-thumping, effusive greeting with references being made to your (female side of the) family among friends. So much so, no expletives are exchanged among friends to express warmth. Weird! (This trend completely negates Sumit’s law of friendship: The strength of a friendship bond between two persons is directly proportional to the frequency and intensity of the swear words used, per unit conversation.)

4) Non-vegetarians, please bring along a basket of eggs and an incubator to hatch them in. This state is extremely unfriendly to all of you. Apparently, Gujarat is supposed to have the highest number of vegetarians in India. Bah!! (Ahmedabad’s claim to fame: The first city to have an all-veg Pizza Hut in India. POOH!!)

5) Either the people, or the cops in this state are extremely lazy. Reportedly, the crime rate in Gujarat is the lowest in India. For the record, Gujarat is a dry state but I have seen people carrying liquor bottles being waved through a police check post at 5 am. (Don’t ask me what I was doing at that unearthly hour!)

6) The capital of Gujarat is Gandhinagar. Officially, yes. Unofficially, Ahmedabad is THE capital for all practical and business purposes. Gandhinagar is green and clean, and has wide roads. But, for buying books, watching a movie, hanging out, visiting a market, Ahmedabad is the best place.

7) All men are ‘bhai’ and all women are ‘ben’. (‘Ben’ is pronounced as ‘bane’. For example, Shantaben would be pronounced as ‘Shantabane’. I wonder, why ‘bane’? Open-mouthed smile) Please do not be astonished by names like ‘Rameshbhai Bhailalbhai Parmar’ or ‘Nathiben Nathabhai Raval’. (These are actual examples, not concocted ones.)

8) Prof. Kakani, who teaches Finance (and the art of walking around like an undead zombie without bumping into things/people) was right about the Gujju bhais. Apparently, 35% of our stock market wealth in India is owned by Gujjus. (Theory: Khakra sharpens the brain and stimulates neurons. Note to self: Buy 1 kg of khakra tomorrow.)

I guess all those pointers should get you started. The rest, you will either figure out or will be spoonfed to you through this blog. So, don’t worry. There is no Dantesque inscription at the Gates of Gujarat: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here”. (That inscription has been copyrighted by my employers, for use on their gates.)

Eat. Pray. Love. But most of all, P.R.A.Y. (No reference to any individual with a similar sounding name)

P.S. No references to Baroda, you say. Well, only because no other puns with city names struck me. Disappointed smile

P.P.S. I did warn you to stop reading. If after reading, you dislike my views, your problem. HMPH!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Scenes from a life that I lived eons ago, flash before my eyes. My laptop’s luminous display glows like the eye of a Cyclops in the darkness, and its fan purrs like a feline pet, puncturing the silence with its soothing hum.

There is silence all around. And darkness. Nothing stirs, nothing moves. Except the collapsing remains of dreams that once were. Each layer crashes, shattering into myriad pieces, each filled with moments of joy and moments of agony, moments of ecstasy and moments of pain. I can do nothing but stare, trying to preserve the fleeting images that speed by, to be lost forever.

In commiseration, or in mockery, the luminous eye of the laptop glows brighter for a second, and then winks out, silencing the fan in the process.

The dust settles, and there’s silence once more.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


The last vestiges of daylight slip away like grains of sand from my aching fingers. I smile at the night, as it engulfs me in its warm embrace, covering my wounds with its blanket. And I lie oblivious, till a dagger of sunlight creeps up on me, and stabs me like a vengeful, jilted lover. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Liverpool for Life!


I think my Photoshop skills are improving. :D What say?

Friday, July 23, 2010

A new found hobby…


I’m in the process of learning Photoshop, so had done this up for an office project. I’m not entirely satisfied with the results, but fairly happy at making some progress at least. :)

What do you think?

Monday, July 19, 2010


I sat in front of the glowing LCD display, staring at its blankness as it winked slyly at me. My fingers tapped out patterns of nothingness on the keys, repeating a cycle of type-select-delete. It was depressing. I wanted to write, but the words wouldn’t obey me. They danced a macabre dance in my head, whirling faster and faster like dervishes caught in the clutches of mad ecstasy, till my head threatened to explode.

What good is a writer who can’t write? Movies seem to idolize the concept of an unkempt character with long locks, sitting by the window and throwing crumpled up pieces of blank paper on the ground, with metronomic regularity – till a lovely muse arrives, bringing a wave of inspiration in her wake. Bah! Unfortunately, a landlord whose rent has not been paid doesn’t understand ‘writers’ block’. Neither does the grocer, the milkman, or the electricity company.

There were times when I had those flashes of inspiration that led to a ‘great’ piece being written, fetching me a few hundred bucks from the local newspapers. And then there were the wannabes  – rich, bratty kids who wanted some ‘original’ poems or beautiful verses for their sucker girlfriends. Fine with me, as long as my bills got paid!

But, it was a rough ride, nevertheless. I even tried the Samuel Taylor Coleridge way of working myself into a drunken stupor, hoping to be visited by my Muse. But, a disastrous hangover later, I gave up.

And so, apart from the occasional paragraph, which would be abandoned like an illegitimate child shortly after birth, I never made much headway.

And then, it began. The people in my head started talking to me. Their voices were faint wisps of sound somewhat like an autumn wind rustling through the trees. The sound was alien, but strangely familiar at the same time – as if they had been talking inside my head for years.

I plugged in my iPod, turning the dial to full volume in an attempt to drown out those feeble, other-worldly whispers. Why? Why did they want to talk to me? Why didn’t they stay in their netherworld, why did they have to deny the decree of fate, and seek out my world?

Everytime, when one of those creatures spoke, my stomach would knot itself into a cold ball of fear and my insides would turn to ice. I tried to shut them out, but the fearful clamour of light whispers was deafening. Slowly, but inexorably they grew stronger. I forgot where my world ended and theirs began. Fascinated, I listened to the old man who had been a serial killer, the chit of a girl who had led a life of wretched debauchery, the middle-aged man who had sacrificed his own happiness for that of his family, and the young man who spent insomniac nights, listening to the travails of tortured souls. Which one of these was I? I no longer knew.

I began to feverishly write the tales that the ghosts in my mind spun out. Pages upon pages filled up with stories of lust, love, hatred and revenge. I loved some of my narrators for their incredible tales of passion. Others, I hated for the mundane, everyday stories that they had to tell.

By now, there was an incessant chatter of voices in my head, as more and more unfamiliar ghosts joined in. I took to writing with a vengeance. Reams upon reams of paper passed through my hands, as I wrote like a man possessed. (But then, I was possessed, wasn’t I?)

The voices were strongest at night, craving my attention. But, even during the day, they kept up a plaintive hiss, somewhat like a lonesome tide washing up on a gray, dank shore.  

Thin wraiths of children abandoned at birth, pale ghosts with hearts of ice, angelic souls weeping for their loved ones, demonic beings consumed with vengeance – they were all there.

One day, the doorbell rang – a whining screechy sound like that of a banshee in distress. It was her. Another ghost. From the distant past. Not like the ones in my head. A ghost that I had once loved. A ghost that had once loved me. And now, there were only the fragments of broken dreams that held us together.

I slapped her. Hard. She recoiled, more from the shock than the pain. Then, rage took over her and she clawed at my face. That’s when the knife flashed. Again and again. Its blue steel was painted red, and then there was silence. And peace.

A figure sitting in a padded cell with no windows, and a tiny door – looking around with suspicion, fearing an unseen enemy. She hears my voice in her head and cowers, trying to shut it out, as I throw back my head and laugh…

Monday, June 7, 2010

Maximum City!

I was thinking of calling this post ‘Leaving on a jet plane’ but then, you people already know that I don’t believe in using clichés, right? I mean, one does need to use some imagination, sometimes!

Anyhow, after another prolonged absence, I’d like to tell you guys that I’m leaving to Mumbai tomorrow, for my first post-MBA job at RPG Enterprises, and well I’m EXCITED!!:D

It will be first trip to Mumbai in nearly 15 years, and this time it will be a trip that lasts many months. The Mumbai wishlist goes like:

a) Do well at work

b) Visit some/all of the awesome places in and around the city

c) Explore a bit of Madh Island. (That might be scary though, coz most of the dead bodies found in C.I.D. by ACP Pradyuman and Co. are found there. )

Of course, if anyone can make me waterproof so that I can bear the Mumbai monsoon, I’ll be glad. And yes, a jetpack to commute, instead of the Mumbai locals would be much appreciated.

Santa, are you listening? All my 831 FB friends, are you? All the zillions of bloggy admirers, are you?

P.S. For the uninitiated, ‘Maximum City’ is the title of a superbly fantastic book about Mumbai by Suketu Mehta. If you haven’t done so already, I strongly suggest reading it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Up in the Air

Finally, I got a chance to see this movie yesterday. And well, I had heard a lot about it for the right reasons. However, this is not a review. It’s just a collection of some thoughts that entered my head on watching it.

First, I’ve been in a situation where I’ve had to tell people that they were being let go of. As a trainer, I’ve had to tell some trainees that due to poor academic performance, they would have to seek ‘re-fitment’, or ‘re-deployment’. I tried to use the Clooney-esque method of being polite, firm and giving the person options on what to do in life, rather than stripping people of their dignity.

Not many people understand this, but layoffs/retrenchments don’t always make the axe fall on the poor performers. Sometimes, it is the ‘cream of the crop’ who may have to be ‘right-sized’. But, at such a tough time, it is easy for any employee to be bitter and devastated, and have issues with self-belief.

Moreover, someone who handles the situation has to ensure that he/she is empathetic, and not condescending or patronizing. That’s a tough one.

In fact, the first time I had to tell someone that he would have to leave, I couldn’t even walk into the room and had to ask a senior colleague to take charge. However, the colleague was sensible enough and encouraged me to handle what was surely my responsibility. Also, I owed this much to the people who had spent nearly 2 months with me in training, hanging on to most of what I had to say.

I never liked asking anyone to leave, though I had to. And now, as an MBA in HR, I might be faced with scenarios where I have to ask people to leave. Frankly, it’s a morbid thought. But, after watching the movie, I wouldn’t really look upon myself as a butcher, if I have to do the same job.

I guess the only thing I might hate is the living out of suitcases bit. :)

P.S. If you haven’t seen the movie, do so! It’s worth a watch.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

How to Train Your Dragon

For the uninitiated, this is not an actual manual on training dragons. (Yes, I have considerable experience in the training industry, but well, I’ve never offered training in handling mythical creatures so far. Such programs are best left to Mr. Hagrid, Mr. Dumbledore, and co.)

Ok, let’s get on with thoughts about the movie - ‘How to Train your Dragon’

There’s this total loser chap, who manages to mess up everything, and craves for the adulation of his peers and his father. No one trusts him with anything, but he is determined to make it big. And make it big he does! Much to the admiration of his peers, his father, and oh the girl he has a crush on.

Sounds familiar, you say? (You bet!! It sounds just like my story. Except that umm, I haven’t made it big yet, and umm…. there is no girl at present, that I have a crush on. Everything else is picked from my life. Hey, hey, hey!!)

On a serious note, how many movies have we watched with the same plot? I’ve lost count.

So, you know that the scrawny loser, imaginatively named ‘Hiccup’ is born in the mighty Viking clan, destined to battle fearsome dragons who attack the clan and carry away their livestock, and burn down their huts. But, Hiccup manages to mess up every single thing that he meddles in. So much so, that his father ‘Stoick the Vast’ (voiced by Gerard Butler of ‘300’ fame) is ashamed of his son.

Meanwhile, during a dragon raid, Hiccup manages to sneak out and shoot down an unseen dragon of the most fearsome kind – the Nightfury. But, no one believes him, and he almost gets himself killed.

What next for a teen who doesn’t obey his parents? He’s grounded, of course.

It is with great scepticism that Stoick allows him to undergo dragon training. But, the kid is more interested in looking for the dragon he thinks he shot down. He locates the dragon in a forest clearing and is unable to kill it, seeing the same fear in its eyes that he himself feels.

And from then on, it’s a lovely relationship between ‘Toothless’ the dragon, and boy-hero Hiccup, who beats all odds to become the saviour of the Vikings.

I don’t think the film is too different from many of its peers. I don’t think the CGI is exceptional, or brilliant. I don’t think there’s anything pathbreaking about the movie. But somehow, the overall package is endearing and guaranteed to make you smile. I am fairly critical of movies, and I did enjoy the movie, so I guess that’s saying something.

Suggestion: Don’t look for messages or interpretations. (There are lessons that can be learnt from the movie, but in my opinion it is best to steer clear of those for now and just have fun.) Don’t compare the movie with others because it would be unfair. Just lean back, relax and be transported to a land where ‘it snows for 9 months, and hails for the other 3.’

Verdict: 3.5 stars out of 5

Saturday, May 1, 2010



Statutory Warning: This post is (even more) pointless than some of the earlier ones. So, read at your own risk.

An online conversation with a friend led me to generate the following gem:

Q. What if Sauron from LOTR had been a mechanic repairing car suspensions?

Ans: Why, he’d be the “Lord of the Springs!”

And then, there were many spinoffs. Some of the less injurious ones are listed below:

Q. What if Sauron had been born as Joe Satriani?

Ans: Simple, he'd be the "Lord of the Strings"

If Sauron had been the CEO of Tehelka, would he be the "Lord of the Stings"?

Q. What if Sauron ruled over Punjab instead of Mordor?

Ans. He'd be the "Lord of the Singhs"

Q. What if Chandler got a chance to be Sauron?

Ans. He'd be the "Lord of the Bings"

Q. What if Sauron were Tiger Woods?

Ans: He'd be the “Lord of the Flings” (This one is credited to Ramaa Ramesh)

Monday, April 26, 2010

What I miss!


Friday, April 23, 2010

There and Back Again

Sorry, Bilbo Baggins. The title of this post seems the same as that of your immortal book, but then you’re a fictional character, and hence your book or its title doesn’t have any copyright protection. Haha. Gotcha, right?

Well, I make this post from my home city of Chandigarh, having returned from an arduous train journey aboard the Jan Shatabdi that plies from Delhi to Chandigarh. Arduous, eh? Yes, in more ways than one.

I think I can be the brand ambassador for Toyota’s JIT (just-in-time) methodology. Never ever have I boarded a train more than 5 minutes before its departure from the New Delhi Railway Station. (Sumit’s law of errr….. train boarding??? No matter how early you start, traffic on the roads conspires to make you miss your train.)

Sometimes, after stuff like this happens to me, I throw my head back, point to myself, say “You loser” and laugh loudly. (This is normally done when no one’s watching.) At other times, I shake my head sadly, look up towards the sky and sigh, “Why me?”

Anyway, so I boarded one of those cabs that ply illegally from Gurgaon to Delhi, stuffing people like birds in a coop, with the driver hell-bent on practicing for Formula I. As luck would have it, the man sitting just behind me couldn’t stay quiet for even a minute. He was rambling, and rambling, and rambling, and…. (get the picture, right?)

Then, the seat was such that we’d all be thrown forward as the driver braked, and then thrown backward as he accelerated. So, the entire journey was spent with the driver cursing other road users, none of whom seemed to have any sense whatsoever, the man in the back seat cursing/talking/shouting in some language I was unable to identify. The journey was punctuated with traffic jams caused by doting parents who tried parking as close to school gates as possible, to avoid their wards any inconvenience.

So what, if they were blocking the way for a few hundred road users waiting behind? I mean, people these days, SHEESH!! They can’t even wait 10-12 minutes, before honking. At least have some respect for family ties.

After the interminable journey, the next part was the much more comfortable Metro ride from Karol Bagh to Connaught Place (Yes, I refuse to call it Rajiv Chowk. Bah!!) and then to the New Delhi Railway Station. I rushed to the platform and found that the train hadn’t left me behind. Whew!! I waded through waves of humanity of all shapes and sizes, before reaching my seat (which incidentally was occupied by a South Indian uncleji accompanied by a motormouth teen.)

I sat there for a few minutes, willing the train to move. The gods heard me! (But, they exploited the loopholes in my wish, and the train ‘moved’ but only just.) Since the number of words the teen was speaking per minute was more than the number of metres being covered by the train in the same duration, I decided to shift to a place much more alluring.

I shifted to the middle of the chair car compartment, where the best possible company for a solitary man travelling alone was present. Having eyed the fortuitously vacant neighbouring seat, I made a lunge for it and made it. I turned to my right and smiled at the object of my affection. (Argh, you useless people! I was ogling the power socket to plug in my laptop. Duh!!)

Then, I pulled out my laptop and plugged it in, but the power socket was out. With a sigh, I settled back into my seat, and began to read ‘The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini. (Cry out in disbelief if you want, but yes I am a voracious reader who had not read the book till yesterday.)

Eventually, the book turned out to be the only positive of the evening. The TTE came, saw that I was not carrying a copy of my ticket, and rudely asked me to quote the PNR number, all the while muttering under his breath. I mimicked the muttering-under-the-breath bit, and gave him all the details in as surly a manner as possible. He fined me 50/- and issued me a duplicate ticket. Bah!!

I settled lower and lower into my chair, and became totally engrossed in the book. And so I stayed till the train stopped at Ambala. We reached Ambala at 1825 hours and stayed there till 1915 hours. (The 35 km track to Chandigarh is a single line, so we had to accommodate more important trains.) I made some deeply disgruntled noises and went back to reading.

“Trains! Never on time!!” said a voice, breaking into my reverie.

I looked up to see an elderly uncleji looking at me, in anticipation of a reply. I nodded at him and smiled, turning back to my book. I think he took that as a signal to continue. (Little did I realise that I had unleashed an avalanche of words upon myself.)

So, within the next 20 minutes, I got to know that the man was a Diploma holder in Mech. Engg, had been working with BRO for 30 years, had two sons, the elder one being an MBA student at some Hyderabad-based college offering MBA in agriculture and the younger one being an engineering student.

Meanwhile, the train whistled mournfully, and reluctantly moved on. Now, suddenly uncleji asked me about my background and credentials. I mentioned in passing that I just completed my MBA. His face remained blank when I mentioned my alma mater – XLRI. Then, he smiled sympathetically at me and told me that college brand is important and that’s why he only sent his sons to the ‘best’ colleges. When he asked me my specialization and I told him ‘HR’, he wanted to know what MBAs in ‘HRA’ did, and whether they were responsible for managing the HRA of employees in companies. (ARGH!!)

I tried explaining for a few minutes, but then the man had given up on me by then. Or perhaps, his attention was diverted by the train that had stopped again. (For the first time, I thanked Indian Railways for being inefficient, and Ms. Mamata Banerjee for being a nincompoop and a clod.)

I finished reading the last few pages of the book, as the train pulled into the station, and made a beeline for the exit, looking around to make sure that no uncles or any such menacing figures were chasing me. And so, having met my father who’d been abusing Ms. Mamatadi for over an hour, we got into the car and drove back home.

P.S. The book is fantastic! In fact, you shouldn’t wait till an uncle pushes you towards it on a boring train journey.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Sometimes, you just know…

… that it’s not going to be your day.

Well, the day began brightly enough. As usual, I grumpily pulled myself off the bed, and began to deconstruct the happenings of last night as I wiped the drool off the laptop’s keyboard. Well, at around midnight, I had been watching ‘Ek Chaalis ki Last Local’ – having heard that it was worth a watch and had apparently dozed off somewhere in between.

(Btw, you evil mind! The drool was not because of the presence of an ‘oomphy’ Ms. Dhupia in the movie. For the record, I don’t even like her.)

Anyhow, I digress. So, I turned my gaze towards my wrist to look at the time and then realised that I have not worn a watch in ages. (No, I don’t have chronometrophobia – the fear of watches/clocks. It’s just that I keep losing them.)

So, I looked at the luminous display of my mobile phone, and my eyes nearly popped out of sockets (ala Jim Carrey in The Mask). It was 8.26 am. There was no way I could shave, bathe, get my dreadlocks in some kind of order, have breakfast, and reach office before 9 am. On second thoughts, I could do all the things 3-4 times, in the time that it would need me to reach office. (That’s your cue, regular reader, to recall the last post written berating the traffic in Gurgaon. As for the non-regular readers, HMPH!!)

Then began one of the biggest exercises in optimization. I had never tried brushing teeth and shaving simultaneously. (Note: It doesn’t save much time, and should only be attempted if you use a good razor.) After performing other morning ablutions that should not be detailed on a blog, I was ready. Almost.

I literally ‘washed down’ my toast with a tall glass of cold coffee, and made my way to the parking lot. After revving the engine, I took off with all the urgency of Narain Karthikeyan Michael Schumacher, leaving a few startled early morning walkers in my wake.

And lo and behold! It seemed that I had beaten the traffic after all. It was 8.50 am, and looked like the morning crowd was still a few minutes away. I pumped my fist in exhilaration, and stepped down on the accelerator, determined to make my podium finish. A few minutes later, having nearly run over a woman who seemed to be training to be the next Usain Bolt (Either that, or maybe she was just running to board one of the infrequent buses to Delhi. Or maybe, Big Bazaar had announced an ‘early bird’ sale and you know… ), I reached office.

I made my way up to the 7th floor with remarkable agility and speed. (Oh, believe me it takes sincere effort to hold open a closing lift door, and step in.)

I entered the office to find it deserted. Huh? Just because the MD is away, these people are chilling out, eh? (Sumit’s law of punctuality: The day you reach office early, there’s no one to see you.) Muttering furiously at the tardiness of others, I plugged in my laptop and opened its lid, to see that the time was 8.01 am.

Yes, somehow my new-fangled, Samsung Corby had auto-adjusted the time and set it one hour ahead. (Blast you, Samsung! We don’t have daylight-saving time here.)

And so, instead of 9 am, I was in office at 8 am. AAARGHHHHHH.

P.S. No, I’m not ‘employed’. The office being mentioned is that of my Uncle’s company. Till I join my job, I am just helping him a bit in setting up some HR processes. So, I’m not even supposed to have fixed office hours. Double AAAARGGHHHH.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Honk honk! Move, you moron!!

I’ve spent the last couple of days in Millennium City, Gurgaon. And well, my hitherto dull life has taken a much more happening turn in the last 48 hours. I had been fuming at the emptiness of it all, sitting idle and twiddling my thumbs in boring old Chandigarh. (For the record, even though the IPL might have you believe otherwise, twiddling one’s thumbs is an expression that is not to be equated with ‘oongli cricket’.)

Anyway, in just two days, I realised that life in Gurgaon can be anything but ‘emply’ – especially if you’re referring to the streets. If you’re someone who’s used to living in the ‘fast lane’, avoid Gurgaon at all costs. Because, the fast lane doesn’t exist in Gurgaon traffic. Come to think of it, the concept of lane also doesn’t exist. :|

The entire scene at each crossing resembles one at a battlefield. Every inch of space is fought for, and armies emerge from various directions, determined to stall the progress of those marching on from other directions.

I do think India must be among the countries with the least safe driving practices. You find lanes being switched at will, pedestrians walking across the road with utter disdain for their own safety, people with one hand on the wheel and the other firmly clasping the phone to their ear for that urgent-call-that-just-can’t-be-taken-later. It makes you want to scream, kick, punch, abuse, and then kick some more. (Talk about road rage, eh? That’s where it probably comes from.)

Traffic cops stand by the side, leisurely chewing tobacco and checking out girls. Of course, once in a while these guys realise that their incomes are not sufficient to fund their ‘extra curricular activities’ and stop an erring motorist or two. After a few rounds of negotiation and much of the motorists cash-on-hand consumed, these gentlemen resume their vigil.

Praised be the ones who honk, lest we fall asleep due to the ‘speed’ of the traffic.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Spicing up life, eh?



Just wanted you guys to know that one of my posts has been selected by Blogadda for their ‘Spicy Saturday’ picks – a collection of what they deem as good writing.


I did think I was the cat’s whiskers for managing such a feat till I read some of the other selected posts. Krish Ashok’s tribute to his grandmother is a wonderful, wonderful read. Poignant, touching, and makes you salute that brave woman.

The Restless Quill expresses her views on eve-teasing molestation. And one can’t help but agree that the despicable incidents that women are subjected to everyday need to stop. And no one better than the womenfolk themselves to take charge.

And then, there’s Anuja aka The Princess, who has listed down some very commonsensical things that women expect from us guys, but never get. A real eye-opener, and a must-read for guys. (For girls too, so that they can appreciate guys like me much more. :P )

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Youngistaan ka WOW!

Ah well, Pepsi makes an appearance on this blog courtesy a contest launched by Indiblogger.

Now, the deal is that one is supposed to submit four funny posts and write a fifth one (this one, in case you’re counting) and answer a simple question, “If you were the game master, what challenge would you like to throw to Ranbir?”

I seriously hope you have seen the ad, with a certain Mr. Sanjay Dutt wearing an outlandishly designed, oversized costume (ostensibly to hide his beer belly) throwing challenges at Ranbir. And the challenges happen to be so ludicrous that one feels like telling Ranbir to take a month’s supply of Pepsi from oneself, and get the hell off the screen. (One can hear the girls saying “Boo” and asking one to shut up. :| )

Anyhow, one seems to digress. So, the point being to find a challenge for Ranbir. I guess the biggest challenge in one’s life these days is the fact that one’s favourite football club – Liverpool is performing even more abysmally than the Kolkata Knight Riders (no kidding!). So, the challenge would be, to kidnap the match official for the next 4 matches, take his place and ensure that the matches go Liverpool’s way, resulting in Champions League qualification.

Doing so will get Ranbir the key to the hidden stash of Pepsi that he can consume for a lifetime.

And commenting on this post will entitle you to a party from me, if I win the contest. So, as the game master, I challenge you to win a party for yourself from me! Comment now, it takes only 27.5 seconds.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Crimson Moon

They made a lovely couple, huddled together in the cold winter night on the last seat in the old decrepit bus, as it hurtled towards their destination. Like them, there were only a few passengers courageous enough to take on the challenge of the inclement weather and travelling by the rickety old bus. The bitter wind crept in through the battered windows, and toyed with their hair, throwing it into disarray. She remembered how Aakash loved the wind in her hair, and how she used to enjoy his fingers playing with her long, lush hair…

But today, Aakash seemed lost, distracted… He had that faraway expression in his eyes that he would always have when thinking of something. He stared out of the window, his eyes narrow slits against the cold, and his brow furrowed in concentration. She thought it was because she was going away. Only for a few weeks, but still… She was flying to Bangalore from Delhi to meet her parents. And if the thought of parting hurt him half as much as it hurt her, she could understand his quietness.

He hadn’t talked much during the entire bus journey from Jaipur to Delhi. He’d been staring right ahead, looking worried, with a inscrutable expression on his face. How much he really loved her!! It was amazing… In such a short time, they had become so fond of each other. She smiled to herself in the semi-darkness and put her hand on Aakash’s. He flinched and took it away. She was confounded. Hot tears of hurt welled up in her eyes, but she brushed them away. She justified his reaction to herself, “He must’ve been startled by the cold.”

Finally, he turned his gaze to her. She felt the same warm, cosy feeling when his dark-brown eyes pervaded her being. The cold wind kept up its relentless attack, trying to claw its way into the warmth in her heart. She looked at him, smiling, expecting a warm hug, but he just looked at her vacantly, as if she didn’t even exist. Bitter waves of disappointment washed over her as she realized that he was somehow preoccupied and not quite with her.

“Rachita, I….,” he suddenly said.
“..really love you,” she completed his sentence in her mind. It had been so long since he had said those magic words. She craved to hear them again.

“Uh….,” Aakash hesitated.

She recalled the day that Aakash had proposed to her, and she had accepted. This was the same hesitant Aakash. That day also, if it hadn’t been for her encouraging smile, she doubted if he’d have been able to utter ever a word. But he had said the words, and walked arm-in-arm, gazing at the full moon, which was blushing with a shade of soft crimson. She smiled to herself and blushed lightly.

“Let’s….let’s…,” Rachita closed her eyes in sweet anticipation of his next few words.
“…..stop seeing each other,” Aakash mouthed, barely audibly. He was sweating even in the December chill. But, a huge tidal wave of relief seemed to wash over him as he got these words out of his mind.

If he had been bothered enough to watch, he would have seen, the wilting of the rosy face. But he was oblivious to the slump of her shoulders, to the great tears of disbelief that welled up in her hazel eyes. Nor did he hear the huge, racking sobs that shook Rachita’s petite frame. She struggled to look for one last bit of compassion and love in his face, but found only indifference. It was not the face of the Aakash she had loved. It was a stone face.

Emotionless. Feelingless.

The din from the bus’s engine bit into her bleeding thoughts. The cauldron of her sadness brewed up a concoction of tears, bitterness and hatred. Her uncontrollable sobbing left damp spots on the seat of the bus. The bleak, cold wind whistled around her, mocking her for her naivety. Other passengers swayed with the motion of the bus, either asleep or ignoring the drama that was playing out around them. The haven the darkness provided was snatched away by the overhead lamps that had just been switched on. The crisp night air kept attacking her, disregarding her attempts to numb herself. It was a conspiracy. Against her. To strip her of dignity, her beliefs, her love, and sanity, and to inject her with tortuous betrayal.

Aakash started for the exit as the bus stopped at the airport. He walked without guilt, with his head held high. No remorse, unperturbed. Her eyes still sought him, as she moved towards the departure terminal. He walked away, and she felt something break inside her. One part of her wanted to run to him, to hug him and just cry. The other wanted to hate him for leaving her.

The plane took off, leaving Aakash behind, leaving behind all her memories, and dreams. Leaving behind the naïve, little girl she had once been. She looked out of the airplane’s window at the full moon with tear-filled eyes. It did not have its usual pallor. It had a crimson hue. As if it had been bleeding with some hurt been caused to it….

Her parents waved to her as she descended the steps at Bangalore airport. “Happy Birthday, Rachita,” her mother hugged her and said, “So, what did Aakash give you as a present?”

He gave me a crimson moon Mom. A gift to keep and cherish for life. A crimson moon.

Monday, March 1, 2010


Forrest Gump said, "I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floating around accidental - like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it's both."

I don't think he was much off the mark, as he said this. Like leaves in an autumn wind, we are blown in and out of each other's lives. Some of course, manage to stay longer than the others, whereas others make but a fleeting appearance.

Still, irrespective of whether we were destined to come to XLRI and be part of the batch of 2010 or whether we landed here by sheer accident, it has been a rocking ride - the last two years. From the initial excitement of getting to know each other over a batch lunch to the wistfulness associated with a final collective lunch before we leave to where our calling is, we've surely come a long way.

We've explored the highs brought about by sheer joy, and plumbed the depths of desperation. At some times, we've been livewires at parties, while at other times, we've belied John Donne's assertion, "No man is an island." From sleeping 14 hours a day to sleeping only on a day out of 14, we've done it all.

For many of us, it has been the best of times, while also being the worst of times. But now, that time draws to a close, and it is nary impossible to keep the eyes from misting over, and from the world becoming a blur. A blur - that's what the last few days have been. Spent in the nervous anticipation of a cataclysmic event, we've tried to smile through it all - mealtimes at the Sonnet, evening conversations on the green benches, long walks across a sylvan campus, or sprawled across each other's rooms.

Already, locks with sightless eyes stare at me, unable to feel my melancholy with their hearts made of cold metal. But, they stand firm and unmoving. Between my world and me. Cutting me off from a world that you and I shared together. Making me wish we could have stolen a few more seconds to bid each other goodbye.

But then, I don't really believe in goodbyes, and being a fan of Richard Bach, I can't help but quote his lines, "Don't be dismayed by good-byes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends."
So, till the time another autumn breeze blows us back into each other's lives.

Farewell! Rock on, batch of 2010!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Musings on a morning…

It was 5 am. The moon, after a night-long vigil, had decided to veil herself behind some passing clouds and give herself some rest. Some enthusiastic stars were still twinkling as merrily as ever. The stragglers had all collected their snacks from Bishuda and moved on. The early morning walkers were still about an hour away from waking up, he guessed.

The world outside was dark. And unfriendly.

He sat at his window, with a frown on his brow, thinking or rather brooding... on how life had unfolded over the last two years. He thought about how some pieces had fallen into place neatly, and others had morphed into something else... something alien. He thought of the journey through the last two years - with more ups and downs than a Disneyland roller coaster. Charles Dickens' immortal quote floated into his mind, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..."

The letter confirming his application to XLRI had turned his world on its head. From a complacent, 'settled' life, it seemed as if he had been thrown into a violent maelstrom. There was a constant rush to finish one thing or another. Sisyphus must have had it easier, he thought one day, musing about the futility of it all.

But to be fair, there were oases of solace in a desert devoid of emotion. There were friends always there to rally around him, when life landed some hard punches. Huffing and puffing under the workload, he did manage to maintain a poker face and hide his emotions away. Life was a bittersweet symphony for him - with sprinklings of happy and sad moments in equal measure.

Somewhere down the line, he fell out of love and then fell in love again - with people, life, and XLRI itself. Slowly, he reconciled to being mired in academic mediocrity. He reconciled to the sleepless nights, the dreary days. He looked forward to long walks and heart-to-heart talks with friends. He enjoyed the late night meetings and the constant striving to improve.

He learnt to not fly off the handle at the slightest of reasons. He learnt to value people. He learnt that it was not a show of strength to be implacable and steadfast to an opinion, but of weakness.

It was 6 am, and the moon was back, though the stars had decided to play truant and disappeared. However, the moon had a new companion - the sun, who shone his first soft rays on the world, caressing it into wakefulness like a doting father.

He awoke and smiled, for he realised that in two years, he had learnt to be an XLer.

The world outside was bright. And friendly.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Joker in the Pack

Cry, Cry, Cry… till you succeed.

This ought to be the tag line of a bunch of students from one of the premier management institutes located in the eastern part of India. The reason why I say so is because I had the (mis)fortune of interacting with them, when they visited XLRI to participate in the bipartite sports meet. (It’s a little inconvenient to keep calling them students-from-an-esteemed-institute-in-eastern-India again and again, so let’s just call them jokars jokers, to make life simpler.)

They did win the trophy, no doubt. But, in doing so they lost all respect and dignity with some of their representatives plumbing to new-found depths of disgusting behaviour and idiocy. (Of course, one can level charges of being unsportsmanlike conduct on them too, but those would only be the tip of the iceberg.)

And well, one could go on for hours about the various kinds of ahem… ‘illicit familial relationships’ that the jokers were aware of. One wonders, how some of them were so well-versed and knowledgeable… experience, perhaps?

Much has already been said and discussed about their conduct here. So, let’s not accuse the poor jokers who are already deluged-with-hate-comments-posted-by-relatives-and-well-wishers-of-XLers of further misdemeanours.

Still, the meet was a learning experience. A few of the takeaways I’d like to list down for handy reference in the future are:

a) The city is called Kolkata. But, I guess they decided to retain the ‘C’ in the name of the jokers’  institute because it could be used to describe so many things – a ‘C’ry-baby attitude, a ‘C’ribbing mentality, being un’C’outh, or perhaps some expletives in a certain North Indian language that seem to describe the jokers all too well.

b) Some jokers are weak at verbal reasoning and pictorial reasoning – They probably didn’t figure out the meaning of ‘Keep off the grass’ or that garbage belongs in the trash can, not on the road. (Coaching institutes, please take note!)

c) In terms of OB concepts, some jokers seemed to have a high ‘need for affiliation’. They attempted to ‘affiliate’ with some of our players by grabbing their collars (does a basketball jersey have a collar?) or by playfully tripping them on the football field.

d) Collective intelligence is a myth. The total level of intelligence in a group containing more than 10 people is a constant. However, collective stupidity seems to assume gargantuan proportions, as the jokers demonstrated.

e) It does feel bad to lose a trophy. And it feels worse to lose it to someone who has behaved despicably.

f) It is a very warm feeling to politely offer to detach someone’s reproductive apparatus and feed it to him, if he uses foul language off the sports field.

However, all said and done – the above is not a reflection on the repute of the esteemed-institute-in-eastern-India. It would be unfair to dull the sheen associated with it, based on such a small sample set. Also, it is not a reflection on the students of the institute, just on the group that comprises the jokers.

P.S. No jokers were harmed during the creation of this post, though one would feel bad for any of them who suffer apoplectic fits after reading the content.

P.P.S. To any joker reading this, this form of writing is called ‘sarcasm’. Look it up. In case you still manage to miss it, leave a comment and I shall get back at my earliest convenience.

P.P.P.S. Whew! One feels relieved to have not joined an IIM, and joined XLRI instead.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

My name is…

After a long time, I finally managed to leave a theatre smiling, after watching a Hindi movie. (Usually, my reactions range between frustration, irritation, despair, or plain old rage.) But, after watching SRK’s histrionics on the silver screen at a rather decrepit hall in Jamshedpur, I was nothing but numb – numbed by mediocrity, and the typical Karan Johar – SRK type movie.

One of the Bollywood wannabes had once commented, “Only sex and Shahrukh sell’. I’d like to correct her and say that, “Only sex, Shahrukh and controversy sell.” There was much hullabaloo about the movie after the Shiv Sainiks (once again) ran riot, screaming their guts out. Ironically enough, the movie released on the day of ‘MahaSHIVaratri’ – SRK must’ve been thumbing his nose at Messrs. Thackeray and Co. at that.

Today, an impromptu brainwave by a friend led 30 of us poor, unsuspecting souls to cram into autos and rush to the nearby shady hall – Payal, in the hope of catching a good movie for once. (Ah, how I wish I’d not nurtured that naive notion!)

Ok, so in a nutshell, Mr. Khan suffers from autism aka Asperger’s syndrome – he fears crowds, loud noises, and the colour yellow. His mom seems to alienate her younger son (played by Jimmy Shergill) through her over-caring attitude for the elder Khan. (Our dear Mr. Khan is inventive, as he shows by draining the front yard of his tutor’s flooded house, using a bicycle-run pump. Inspired by Aamir’s 3 Idiots? :| )

So, the intelligent younger son flies off to the US, and gets married to a Muslim girl there. After the demise of the mother, Mr. Khan goes to the US too, in the hope of fulfilling his mother’s wish of a happy life. He picks up a job at his brother’s firm, selling beauty products to beauticians and hair saloons.

(In an apparent dig at his Lux commercial, the Khan is seen trying out the products he sells, in a scene where he has a green facepack on himself.)

He meets Kajol (aka Mandira), who works at a saloon and the two hit it off. Kajol has a young son, Sam, who hits it off with Khan too. Like in a typical story, a whirlwind romance later, the two are happily married. (Btw, the name is Khan, with the ‘kh’ being pronounced ‘from the epiglottis’ – does this remind you of Achmed, anyone? Or was it just me? :| )

Since this takes only about one hour, the director now decides to take us on a rougher ride, to give us our money’s worth. 9/11 happens, and the world changes for the Khans. In a school brawl with racist undertones, the young Sam is beaten up and succumbs to his injuries.

A bawling, screaming Kajol throws out Khan and asks him to return only when he tells the US President, “Mr. President, my name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist.” (This is the turning point. This is where you ought to turn and flee the hall, lest you lose your sanity through the rest of the movie.)

Well, on the way our man has many adventures, the most notable one being wading through flood waters with ease to reach the state of Georgia – devastated by Hurricane Katrina. (I wish George Bush had called Khan over to help, instead of calling in the US Army for help, when the actual hurricane happened. Gah! We always knew Bush was no good, didn’t we?)

So, whether Khan gets to meet the President or not is something you ought to watch and find out. (Honestly, it doesn’t even matter.)

Some of the salient points from this movie:

  • Kajol – grow up! You’re past the age when you could essay screaming, yelling teen girl characters with aplomb. (Maybe, my 29-year old eardrums have just become more sensitive.)
  • I have never been so irritated on listening to ‘We shall overcome’ or ‘Hum honge kaamyaab’. AARRGGHHH!!
  • SRK is a pale shadow of Forrest Gump. Yes, he attempts to maintain the simplicity of the character and try to display the wit and sarcasm, but largely fails. (Not his fault, it’s just that the director wanted to have too many subplots.)
  • The film is SLOW. I could play it at 1.5 times the normal rate and still find it slow.
  • There are good moments – ones that make you laugh or ones that just leave you with tears. But too few and far between.
  • Jimmy Shergill and the others were overpaid for this movie. They didn’t have to do much except twiddling their thumbs and watching SRK hog the screen.
  • I don’t understand movies. I didn’t get why SRK went off into a group mourning those who perished in the attacks, wearing a white ‘chikankari’ cap and chanted verses from the Koran, even though he did neither of these on a daily basis. (Maybe, the director was just trying to find a convenient reason to add an extra twist.)

Overall, I thought the number of films giving social messages is increasing a little too fast. Come on guys, I’d rather watch Crash or Forrest Grump instead.

P.S. I think the poor Shiv Sainiks were doing us a huge favour by stopping us from seeing the movie. I almost wish they had succeeded.Go, Sena! Go, Thackeray!

Sunday, January 10, 2010


What does one say to a girl one loves but is not sure whether she loves him back?

More so, if the girl happens to be a very good friend, and one fears losing her friendship. :|

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


I got a job!