Let’s tweet together...

Monday, August 15, 2011

Heaven on earth

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Need for Speed

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Lament

The monsoon rain fell in thick sheets, the cruel drops impinging upon fragile bodies, sending them scampering for cover. The clouds gurgled with laughter, watching the futile efforts of drenched mortals trying to shelter under a tree.

I reminisced about the happy times he and I had spent together at Marine Drive. He. The one who my heart beat for. Strong and virile. And I was then beautiful and comely. In my arrogant youth, when I believed I’d stay young and lovely for ever. If he had been around, he’d still have loved me. Like before. Despite my scars and ugliness.

I remember the time when I was his soul and he was mine. When our identities blended with each other so well that no one knew where one ended and the other began.

No matter how clichéd it sounds, in his case and mine, it had been love at first sight. No one else had ever evoked the same feelings, the now familiar rush of emotion in my heart. I reciprocated his feelings, and we became inseparable companions. For a while, at least. We believed that we were meant to be together. He and I. I and him. We

But, that was only till they came. Those cruel men, with cold steel in their hearts, veneered under thin smiles made of plastic. I shrieked and struggled, but to no avail. Vain were my cries of help, and he could do nothing but watch in anguish, as I was defiled by those monsters.

I remember my appeals to you, to you who stood there in mute stupefaction, gaping at the dastardly dervish dance that went on in front of your very eyes. You never came to my aid. You shrugged your shoulders mournfully, and went away.

The rain fell in thick sheets, trying to wash off their filth from me, trying to cleanse my soul with its sheer impact. And he writhed in agony from the blows that they had landed on him. I took him under my fold, and we wept.

But you never noticed.

He was a tough character. He wouldn’t die on me just yet. He managed to drag himself around, just to lend me strength and help me live.

You rejoiced in your cowardice, rejoiced at the fact that he still lived. That’s when I learnt to hate you. That’s when I realised that your life revolved only around yourself. You only stopped to capture a vicarious thrill, an adrenaline rush of being in the thick of things. You never even cared.

You were not there when they had come again. One night, when all was quiet, those men with faces cloaked in darkness came. The evil glint of their weapons still gives me sleepless nights. I cower in fear, dreading that they may return yet another day.

The rain fell, washing away the blood from his mortal wounds as he lay there. You never came.

He died that night.

On those monsoon nights, when the clouds rumble in anger at your cowardice, and the sea threatens to breach its shores in its angst, the wind carries my whispered longings away to where I think he can still hear me.

I’m a broken shell, an old woman pitted ugly sores, brought low by my own hubris and your cowardice.

I am Mumbai.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Coffee and Conversation

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

State of Fear

History is a little like the most boring professor we used to have in school - always repeating herself, only for her words to fall on deaf ears. But, she'd always have the last laugh, when we came up short in every test that she threw at us.

Everytime, we resolved anew that we would heed her words carefully. Of course, by the time her tests caught us by surprise, we had forgotten what she taught us last.We clenched our fists, gnashed our teeth, orated about her cruelty in our closed rooms, and went on with life hoping we'd get rid of her soon.

Hearing a news channel airing a 'breaking news' program, as soon as I stepped into my house, I realised that there we were again. Mumbai - the business capital of India. THE Metropolis. The City of Dreams. Blasts. Flashes. Shrapnel. Screams. Death. Destruction. Sympathy. Concern. Apathy.

Frantic calls to loved ones. Concern giving way to annoyance on finding jammed phone networks. Texts, emails, twitter updates, FB updates, and now Google+ updates too.

It doesn't take much to throw our nation into a frenzy. All it takes is a bunch of lunatics to target a busy area in a major city, and wreak havoc. News channels have a field day, waving their microphones in the faces of the dying, the injured and the bereaved. Our respected leaders leave no stone unturned to illuminate themselves from the burning pyres of the dead. Our security agencies go into a tizzy and blame 'foreign hands' trying to destabilise our country.

We oscillate between incredulity, anger, outrage and despair, sending our blood pressure to alarming levels. Absent-mindedly, we stir our bitterness into our coffee cups and drink them down.

13/12. 26/11. 13/7. 10 dead. Thousands feared killed. Hundreds injured. Mere dates, mere statistics to be relegated to some file gathering dust in the corner of a government office, piled up for 'compensating' the relatives of the dead. Numbers to be quoted by politicians spewing vitriol. People who were neglected in life, finally getting some 'value' ascribed to them post-death.

We'll hold candle-lit vigils at India Gate, watching the ficklely flickering flames. We'll organize prayer meetings at the Gateway of India, letting our tears be one with the salty sea. We'll attempt to drown out terrorism by flooding social networks with our rants.

Of course, we'll tighten our security. We'll install CCTVs at busy markets, allowing pot-bellied policemen to ogle at nubile girls. We'll hand metal detectors to security guards, hoping their loud beeps scare away miscreants. We'll double the security of our leaders, to keep their revered souls safe from the madness.

Then, a few months later, that cruel professor called History will throw us another test, and laugh as we miserably fail again. We'll clench our fists, gnash our teeth, orate about her cruelty in our closed rooms, and go on with life hoping we'd get rid of her soon.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Boss is Not Your Friend

Described as ‘A Handbook for Indian Managers to Survive All Things Organizational’ – Vijay Nair’s book manages to take a dig at organizations, bosses, subordinates, the work culture, and nearly everything that occupies space in an organization.

The Boss Is Not Your Friend by Vijay NairDrawing richly from management jargon and various organizational models drawn from business knowledge, Mr. Nair provides a read that is irreverent at some times, and hilarious at all times, but manages to capture your attention all the same.

There are many books by management ‘gurus’ and experts proclaiming modern organizations as fine examples of excellence, integrity, and what not. But, there are very few books that would take the dangerous stand of ‘Organizations are evil’. Moreover, who better than a person with a post-graduate diploma in HR and several years of experience as a consultant to tell us about organizations?

The author keeps in mind the long line of latest ‘incidents’ in corporate history – the Radia tapes, Enron, the Satyam fiasco and the Union Carbide disaster. He then builds on these to talk about what the motives of your organization are. What is your boss thinking? What does ‘it’ want from you?

Mr. Nair manages to modify management models and frameworks like Six Sigma and Maslow’s needs hierarchy (along with many others) and weave them into wildly funny and interesting ones. (Incidentally, you can’t help but relate to them as well.)

He lampoons organizational cultures and demands to know if organizations think of employees as plants and themselves as gardeners – ‘nurturing’ and ‘growing’ employees. In addition, he identifies some people who are at the core of evil – the HR managers and external consultants.

The six types of bosses that he has you identify using his Boss Labeling and Fixing Instrument make you wonder – about which type you fall under, and about which one your boss falls under. Comparing the HR managers to ‘dementors’ from the Harry Potter series is fairly apt too. After all, they often suck away happy feelings and leave just an empty shell of a person behind.

Probably, the idea behind the book is not to get too worked up about its contents (in case you are a dementor HR person or any other animal species described in the book). However, maybe the sarcastic tone of the book is a reminder to all of us who work in corporates, about how easy it is to go wrong, and become ‘it’ to our subordinates. At a deeper level, perhaps, it is a warning to the reader to not become an Oily Oyster or a Horny Harry.

The Boss is Not Your Friend is a book sprinkled lavishly with wit and humour. The current crop of corporate employees should be able to relate to this one, and have quite a few laughs reading it.

This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


The sun was a molten ball of malevolence, dipping beyond the horizon. Like the burning fingers of a demon escaped from hell, the wind raked my face, leaving behind its wet footprints. The empty road glistened like a river of burnished silver.

Devoid of activity, devoid of life - the city streets were as deserted as a modern city in a post-Apocalyptic movie.

The furious skies darkened their brow, outraged at being ignored, blotting out the arrogance of the sun. The trees began to sway to the tunes of an invisible fiddler, enthralled by her music.

The drops leapt from the pavement, scalded by its touch. I stretched out my arms to embrace them, like a long-lost lover, returned to a loved one's fold.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Coffee? Toffee?

There are people who think they are the cat's whiskers simply because they can stir up a controversy that leads to much gnashing of teeth, shaking of fists, stamping of feet, and clatter of keyboards. I imagine it must be immensely satisfying for these individuals to sit back, prop up their feet, and sip their shaken (or stirred) martinis as they watch the world slug it out.

One debate that is probably older than the 'Coffee? Toffee?' debate is the Delhi vs. Mumbai debate. Opinions spread faster than raging forest fires, and do much more damage. (After all, forest fires don't retweet themselves, or share themselves on other forests' walls.) What I don't understand is that why does everything have to be a 'versus' game for us? Why can't you simply enjoy a blissful walk along Marine Drive without complaining about Delhi's weather? And why can't you zip around in the Delhi Metro without using the choicest epithets for Mumbai's traffic?

I was rather appalled to read an old blog ( that someone had pasted on my wall. Normally, I treat trashy comments put on my wall with the same regard that I reserve for Ravi Shastri's comments. However, the author's name rang a bell. Manu Joseph? THE Manu Joseph? Seriously?

Well, I don't understand the need to browbeat Delhi and its people, to glorify Mumbai. I've stayed in both cities and I don't mind settling down in either of them. I love their respective cultures, things to do, places to visit, and some of the quirks of people.

As a 'Delhi male', I resent the insinuation that all that Delhi males do is be fixated by women's breasts. Oh come on, Mr. Joseph, get over your Freudian fundas! Have you ever been here long enough to see male commuters on the Delhi Metro give their seats to the fairer sex or the elederly? Have you seen a schoolkid helping an old lady cross the road? Have you seen a bus driver waiting that extra second so that the family of four can safely get off the bus?

And yes, 'phallic cars' eh? Whatever gives you the idea that a man would want a fast car to mate with women? I thought the idea was simply getting a high from speed. (I'm tempted to take a potshot at you and comment that in your city, you woudn't know much about speed.)

Undeserved privileges? Like traffic being stopped every second hour to accommodate a VIP passing by? Or unsavoury labels from pseudo-intellectuals?

As far as the onion goes, the very act of peeling it is the one that brings the reward. If you expect some further returns after having peeled the onion, well... your fault, not the onions. (Oh, and did you realise that no matter how much you crib and rave and rant, onions are rather indispensable in food - and sometimes, even in Parliament.)

I think you have a point about JNU. People chanting slogans and welcoming a man who would have possibly have had an IMDB rating of 5.5, if he had been a movie. In his own country, he is reviled by some and revered by others. So? Why should that prevent the anti-capitalists from agreeing with him? Free speech and all, innit? (Moreover, you make it sound like the entire population of Delhi was there. It wasn't.)

My opinion of Open magazine as a responsible, mature magazine has taken a major beating after reading your article, Mr. Joseph. And let's not even begin to discuss my opinion of you.

P.S. I didn't really know 'sperm' was supposed to be a bad word.

P.P.S. Assuming you're not equating yourself to being generated from a 'lowly sperm', how exactly did you originate?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Cricket - a game wrongly described as gentlemanly, lorded over by boards with deep pockets and infested with bookies, fixers and other assorted shady characters.
Cricket 'World' Cup - A one-and-a-half month long frenzy that grips the 6 nations in the world, who have debatable levels of competence in the game, every once in 4 years.

Football is the beautiful game. In all its savagery, with all its pace and skill and guile, it is the real team game. It is played by over 130 nations in the world. Cricket, on the other hand, is barely played by a handful of nations. And some of them are so dismal at it, that a bunch of blindfolded neighborhood youths could probably give them a run for their money.

O Football, I love you. I worship you.

But today, I have a confession to make.

I am an adulterer. In public, I have denounced cricket, subscribing to the above mentioned definitions and many others. However, behind closed doors, I have had secret flings with my mistress. I've enjoyed brief sojourns in her company and savoured moments that are different from anything you have been able to provide. During Sachin's Sharjah blitzkrieg against the Aussies, during Sourav Ganguly's epic removing-the-jersey-and-waving at Lords, during Laxman's epic innings in 2001, and lots more, I've been there. Kumble, spinning out 10 Pakistanis. Sachin Tendulkar reaching 200 runs in a match. All these are moments, I've been proud to witness.

I cried with Kambli in 1996. I cried for what could have been. I was shattered when Cronje died. I feel the emotion of each legend of the game, as he hangs up his boots. Perhaps, if not for Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, cricketers like Ponting, Murali, Lara and Warne would be ranked as cricket immortals of this era. But, the stature of the man is so great that he makes them look merely mortal, as he gazes down from his elevated pedestal.

I'm still crying as I type this out. The images of an emotional Yuvraj saying he wanted to win it for Sachin are images I will carry to my grave. Sachin Tendulkar, befittingly wrapped in the Indian tricolour given a lap of honour around the Wankhede Stadium, by his proud team mates. The great man, as humble as ever, lauding his team mates for sticking together and winning it.

I don't care if the cup doesn't come India's way in the next 28 years or even after that. I think it's a stage of nirvana that I have attained.

In fact, I'm so delighted right now, that I could possibly listen to a full hour of Ravi Shastri's commentary without grimacing even once.

Thank you, Team India.

Updated definitions:
Cricket - One Religion to rule them all, One Religion to find them, One Religion to bring them all and with its brilliance bind them.

Cricket World Cup - The Cup of Life. A ruby in the crown of THE greatest cricketer in contemporary cricket. Sachin. Ramesh. Tendulkar.

P.S. I was kidding about the Ravi Shastri bit.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

Such a Long Journey

Sent for publication :)

Friday, January 7, 2011


Oscar Wilde once said:

The fact is, that civilisation requires slaves. The Greeks were quite right there. Unless there are slaves to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture and contemplation become almost impossible.

One might consider that the days of slavery, with slaves being whipped, hanged or tortured are begone with the Dark Ages. However, a new form of slavery is on the rise - corporate slavery. No matter how fancy your designation is, the world can be divided into two clear-cut 'classes'. Like we had 'the haves' and the 'have-nots', we now can divide society into 'the slaves' and 'the slave-nots'.

The urban dictionary defines 'corporate slavery' as:

The people who make the business world go round and round, without them executives might actually have to do something besides make rules to make it more difficult for the slaves under them to do their job. Corporate slaves are easily identifiable by the vacant look in their eyes as they are always overworked, underpaid and underappreciated.

That actually sounds a lot like my job description. What do you think; does this seem like what you do all the time?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


Black vs White. Good vs Evil. Master vs Slave. Evolution vs Divine Creation. Civilization vs Primitive Instincts.

These are some of the themes touched upon by Kunal Basu's novel - Racists. The book narrates the tale of an outrageous experiment - an endeavour to settle the debate of whether the European whites are superior to the African blacks. Set in the year 1855, the novel charts the paths of the English scientist - Bates, and his French rival, Belavoix. The two scientists decide to leave two children - a black boy and a white girl on the deserted island of Arlinda for 12 years, to decide who will emerge the master, and who will be the slave.

The children are to be raised by a mute nurse, Norah, whose sole prerogative is to keep them alive for the duration of the experiment. The scientists constantly pit their theories against each other, with Bates focusing on proving his hypothesis by using the 'science' of craniometry - periodically measuring the dimensions of the skulls, and postulating that the larger dimensions would belong to the more intelligent. Belavoix, on the other hand, takes out time from his feigned illnesses to predict the insanity of the nurse, and that one of the children will kill the other at some point of time.

Norah, and Bates' assistant, Quarterly begin to see the children as humans, as opposed to the scientists who only view them as test specimens. Do they watch from the sidelines, as their masters plot a dance of death and destruction? Do they interfere and stop what could possibly be an experiment that has never taken place before?

Kunal Basu's characters have strong dimensions to them, and the reader begins to understand how each one's mind works. One can even draw parallels with contemporary characters, and how racism manifests itself in modern times.

However, what begins promisingly enough, ends with a damp squib as Mr. Basu takes the easy way out and finishes his book without answering the all-important question. The narrative slows down and peters out towards the end into predictable mediocrity.

Still, a fairly good read and I'd give it around 3/5.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Such a Long Journey!

Dear Shiv Sainiks, please do not print copies of this blog and burn them because the title has nothing to do with Rohinton Mistry's novel of the same name. (I don't give two hoots about what you think of the blog - just that printing and burning, you know - causes pollution) However, if you wish to send the link across to your brethren across the globe, do so - I don't mind the extra publicity. (I'd love to see a headline like "Shiv Sena left red-faced after blog faux pas" or comments like "No wonder there are so few tigers left. They must be killing themselves on seeing their picture so grossly misused.")

Anyway, onwards with the story!

So, the journey began on a fairly innocuous note. All I had to do was accompany a set of 55 factory workers to Bangalore from Ahmadabad (or Amdavad, if you're Gujju) - by train. No issues there, except that the journey was to be undertaken by what former minister Mr. Shashi Tharoor calls 'cattle class'. This part was uneventful enough, except that there was some confusion over the train that we were supposed to board. With half the junta on board, the train started pulling out of the station, and so, yours truly had to sprint along half the platform, jump on to the train and pull the chain. (Yes, I CAN sprint! That was a discovery that I made that day, though I concede that after 100 yards, I was huffing and puffing like a steam engine of yore.)

The rest was all mundane. So, a few days spent in good ol' Bengaluru, with a trip to Church Street and MG Road, some shopping for books at Blossom's and a Chinese dinner (with litchi-flavoured chicken, yuck!!) with a friend.

Now comes the interesting part. Somehow, I had this notion in my head that I was scheduled to leave at 2207 hours from Yesvantpura Junction on Dec 31. However, at about 1800 hours, on the way back to the guest house from office, I happened to glance at the ticket in my hand, and saw the time of departure as 1745 hours. A frantic call to 139 gave me the bad news - Indian Railways, with uncustomary efficiency had ensured that the train was on time and had pulled out of the station. (Damn you, Mamatadi!)

Well, back at the guest house, I figured that I could still catch the train at 2025 hours. A mad scramble to pack all stuff, almost abduct an autowallah, asking him to speed up (and getting him challaned in the process :P) ensured that we reached the station. At 2023 hours. To be told that the train no longer stops at the station. (This is what the twitterati call a #facepalm moment.)

In one of the rare moments of lucidity, the option of taking a bus presented itself, and I latched on to it. Another mad dash to 'Majestic' meant that I made it to the bus. Whew! Without realising that I was being conned into being seated on the last seat (That's called a 'sofa' seat, a euphemism for a highly uncomfortable seat that is bumpy, non-reclinable, and possibly shared with 6-8 other members of humanity.)

Thus began 16 hours of sheer torture. Apart from the seats, the other torture was an assault on the senses, by a bunch of insanely stupid movies being played on the screen. I had to go through the pain of watching Tees Maar Khan (No, even Sheila ki Jawani does not redeem it), Toonpur ka Superhero, and No Problem. Back-to-back.

Anyway, at 2 pm on January 1, I found myself in my favourite city. Maximum City. The City of Dreams. Mumbai! Making my way to one of my dearest friends' house. She was suitably thrilled to see me (who wouldn't be?). Spending the next few hours chit-chatting, and catching up on the latest in life was great. In keeping with tradition, I introduced her to a super-insane 'SPAXI' song that was a part of one of those movies that I had to see.

Then, we decided to step out and eat something. Before that, we stopped to get some 'food for the soul' - books, duh! After running amok and spending nearly 3K between the two of us, we made our way to a restaurant called 'La Kebabiya' - after entering the lounge first, and finding it too loud and smoky, we decided to hang out in the non-smoking section (even though it did not have screens telecasting Liverpool-Bolton)

Nice food. Good ambience. Great conversation. A wonderful time. Totalled up to more fun than I've had in a long, long time. (The only dampener was Liverpool trailing Bolton by 1 goal to nil, at half-time.)

By the time we reached back home to pick up my stuff, the match was in its dying stages. And the icing on the cake was the winning goal that came in dramatic fashion in the 92nd minute. I think I might have done a bit of a jig right there.

Then, began another 8 hour bus journey (in a more comfortable seat this time) to Baroda. And here I sit, clattering away at my keyboard and smiling at the adventure that began with a missed train and ended in truckloads of fun.

P.S. On second thoughts, I could've titled this note as 'There and Back Again' too. :P

P.P.S. I hope all of you have a brilliant year. Wishing you loads of success and joy. :)