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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!