Thursday, December 25, 2008


Saw that obscure Aamir movie a short while back. It also stars these terrible, very ordinary-looking women called Asin and Jiah Khan. Asin should go back to the South. And Jiah Khan should go back to romancing old men.

A really terrible film, if you ask me. The hall was, not unexpectedly, almost empty, but for me and a few old ladies (that's one of the sentences you never plan on using).

They seem to have made a hash of the Tamil movie that they have blatantly copied. Which makes it a frame to frame copy of Memento. Which was a terrible film to begin with.

The songs suck. This can't be AR Rahman! And why have they got so many songs in a film that's supposed to be a taut thriller.

And who taught the cameraman how to hold a camera. Or probably no one ever did.

Absolutely boring. They should have at least publicized it a bit. Might have pulled in a few more people. Would be a huge flop.

Aamir Khan should give up making movies. That one with that buck-toothed kid was the absolute bottom I thought he could get to.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


While it is true that a woman should be able to dress as she pleases, it is not always wise. - Roger Ebert (in the review for Irreversible)

Am watching this movie called I Spit On Your Grave. I have seen some real crazy shit in movies. In fact, I have grown so immune to bloodshed in movies (but probably not in real life) that I normally choose a gory/horror/violent movie to watch while having my lunch/dinner at home.

But, there are some movies that just kill me. Irreversible was the first. Last House on the Left was the other one. And I'm watching ISOYG right now. Which Ebert gave no stars in his original review. Which is quite discouraging for any film. But, I don't think the movie is that bad (it has a near 5-point rating on IMDb). It is probably devoid of any artistic merits, but it does bring about the horrors of the crime it is about very very strongly. Ebert says that he felt ashamed after watching the movie. And I think that is what this movie is supposed to do. I am 3/4ths into the movie. And if I were Ebert (and how I wish I could have the same authority as he does), I would have given it 3.5 stars.

We really do need disgusting movies like these.

Updated later: I just got done with watching the entire movie. And no, we don't need movies like these. It is very evidently a soft-porn movie that is trying to earn brownie points by saying that they are on the woman's side, when they are just trying to show as much nudity and titillation as possible.

And I pity the people who would find this sad sad movie titillating.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

My Best Friend

I think I love dogs more than human beings. No, I am not into bestiality. We'll talk about the kinky stuff some other time. I mean ell-ooo-veee-eee love. Or a form of it. OK, let's get along or I'll write a few hundred words on a topic I think I am an expert on.

Well, as far as the comparison with human beings is concerned I don't think it is that big a deal. Considering my low opinion of most people, I probably love a snail more than most human beings.

But, I somehow feel really really happy in the company of dogs. And the dogs generally reciprocate.

Two recent instances.

Last Saturday, I spent about 6-7 hours at my boss's home discussing a deal. He has recently bought a Labrador pup and he's a couple of months old now (the pup, not my boss). He was named Frodo earlier, but was renamed as Schumi soon after. And I think this name does suit him better. He is one crazy, ultra-energetic kid. All through the day, interspersed with brief moments of sleep (his, not mine), he kept trying to press keys on my laptop, tear my boss's wife's dupatta, eat the dining table off, bite our fingers off, bite my jeans off, etc. As is evident, the poor chap is teething, and needs to have something between his teeth all the time. All the rubber balls have been destroyed already. So, while my boss and a senior discussed NPVs and IRRs and debt-equity ratios and what not, I took on the responsibility of handling Mr Schumi. I would love to get paid for playing with dogs. I have been pursuading my boss to get him to our office some time soon.

The next day, after all the planning at my boss's place, I accompanied him to a client's home in Chennai. Yeah, I have to work Sundays too, on some occasions. This client's home, which was more a museum than a house, had four dogs. One of the dogs was this huge jet-black Lab called Kipper. He is supposed to be a guard dog and is not allowed inside the house. So while the other dogs - Candy (a pug (thank you Hutch)), Amber (a cross between a Lab and some other breed) and Melody (a Pomeranian) - after having their fill of licking the client's 9-year old son (whose name I can't recall) ran inside the house, poor Kipper could only follow them to the door and then stopped. I wonder how much pain he must have been subjected to to make him understand that crossing that threshold was wrong. Anyway, so I went and patted this chap (Kipper, not the kid). And he jumped on me and put his forelegs on my chest. I hugged him real hard, and we became friends. This was towards the end of our meeting there, but for the remaining 20 min that we stayed there, he kept on following me and apparently loved it when I scratched his neck and back. I know he loved it because everytime I stopped he would put one of his paws on the palm of my hand and ask me to keep doing it.

Was missing our dogs real bad. Sheru and Heena.

The first dog we 'bought' as against the stray ones we used to generally take in earlier, was a German Shepherd in 1991. I still remember very clearly when my father brought her from the Jamshedpur Kennel Club to my aunt's place where we were staying. She was just 1.5 months old (I know this is getting tiring, but I mean the dog and not my aunt) and got completely confused in that huge dupleix apartment. We drove to our place, which was around 2 hours away the same night, and on the way I named her Heena. After the RK Films Henna that I had just seen.

All my memories from that time, when I was about 9, to the time I got into engineering college are marked by her presence. She was a pure German Shepherd, and had a recorded lineage probably older than mine, and grew from a tiny pup into a huge dog in a few months.

I left home after Class XII. As luck would have it, my parents got transferred soon very close to the place I was doing my coaching at. I remember the day they first came to meet me at my hostel in Kota. They brought Heena along and she climbed on to my bed and slept there while we went out for lunch.

About a month or so before JEE, I came back home. During the next 4-5 weeks, all the time I spent preparing for the exam, she would sit at my feet. My mother still thinks I got through because Heena wanted me to.

Towards the end of my 2nd year we bought another dog. His name's Sheru and he's still with us. Being a pup and a little crazy in the head, he obviously used to get more attention from my parents and my sister. The next time I visited home, I noticed for the first time that Heena had grown old. Because she showed it. She wouldn't get excited when I picked up the chain to go for a walk. She wouldn't play. Or even when she did, it was more because it was expected of her.

At the end of my 3rd year, I ended up doing my internship in my dad's company. Stayed at home. One evening, as I was taking Heena out for a walk, a cow passed by. Heena jumped on her and the cow hit her on the face with its feet. Heena didn't make a sound, but I noticed a few minutes later that she was bleeding from the mouth. I called my mom up (my dad had been transferred and was hundreds of miles away). She rushed back from work. We took Heena to a vet. We took her to several vets over the next few days. But the bleeding would not stop. She normally used to sleep under my mom's bed. But the last night, she crawled under mine. Next morning, after my mom and sister had left, I went to see how she was doing. I sat down beside her. Took her head on my lap. A few minutes later, she passed away.

I still remember that day like it happened just now. And it feels like that. My mom drove back crying all the way. I went to my sister's school to get her. I could not tell her on the way. By the time we got back home, she had guessed anyway.

Heena was buried behind our house.

My dad was alone, and he probably felt it the most. A subordinate of his had a Dachshund couple, and they had a litter soon after this. Most of the pups got sold, but one slightly frail female pup got left out. My dad took her. And named her Heena.

Monday, December 8, 2008

TOW We Resume 'Normal' Transmission

Last one was the 150th post. Decided that the usual racist crap - you know where I rant against surds, chinks, nepalis, maddus, muslims, hindus, etc. - would not be in good taste in the current conditions in India, when everyone is getting touchier than usual about such things. And I do see the irony in looking for taste in a deliberately tasteless post. So, I decided to write on the thing I could identify as the next most outrageously idiotic. But, I was hoping to get some more comments. Just one person chose to comment, and that too anonymously. Damn you!!

Work and other higher pursuits have kept me from writing about a lot of stuff I would like to.

These stuffs include:

1) The fact that I am missing Delhi now after reading this.*

2) A value-for-money, slightly unhygienic, hole-in-the-wall joint called Zaks that I discovered recently, which serves Arabic food. I had khaboos, or khubus as they spell it, and grilled chicken after such a long time!

3) I had a Takashi Miike retrospective at my home recently. Saw Ichii the Killer, Visitor Q and Crows: Zero almost back to back. Several more are in the pipeline. I can't even begin to describe how much I enjoyed watching these movies. So, I won't.

4) Am almost through with a book by Syd Field. He would be a really great author to read if he didn't keep dropping names and enlisting all his achievements. His other books might be better. This one's supposed to be autobiographical and he is really painful. But his theories on screenplay are quite interesting, if not always as revolutionary as he makes them out to be.

5) My Tanzania trip got cancelled. Now, I am never going to talk about my trips till they actually materialise. Though I am not particularly unhappy about the Tanzania thing. We were going to do around 3500 km BY ROAD in about a week, and were covering pretty much the whole of the country except Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Meru, Serengeti and other touristy areas. Plus meeting a whole lot of boring government officials.

6) Have finally given in to the temptation of buying original DVDs, which have all the additional features intact, unlike the pirated ones. Have bought Taare Zameen Par, Rock On!, The Bourne Trilogy, Om Shanti Om and a couple of others in recent times. I also found this gem of a DVD brought out by FTII, which has the first films of around 20 FTII grads, including Jaya Bachchan, Smita Patil, Sriram Raghavan and some others.

7) Have taken up reading soft copies of grahic novels again. Mainly because sourcing all of them in Bangalore is difficult. Not, as you thought, because I realized buying each one of them was getting too expensive. Nope.

8) Found a DVD print of Burn After Reading, which is quite good. But Coens have the habit of coming up with an under-whelming experience once in a while to balance their general greatness. So, NCFOM had to be followed by something like this.

* Disclaimer (issued after the anonymous commenter struck again): I did not do everything that the blogger talks about. No, I didn't buy cotton kurtis at Dilli Haat (did have momos and fruit beer though). No, I didn't swear and curse in a bus after being groped. And no, that does not mean that I was groped and enjoyed it instead. As far as I can remember, I certainly never had to worry about my long-wrinkled-cotton-Janpath-skirt getting tangled across my legs and feet (I generally preferred wearing mini-skirts).

And I didn't go to school in Delhi for him. I didn't go to school in Delhi at all.

But I did bitch about women in LSR.

Saturday, December 6, 2008


I hit upon a couple of undeniable truths over the last few weeks.

If you were intelligent enough to do engineering in India, and if you still fucked up and could not get into an IIT, you really are not worth any respect. Of course, if you were one of those morons who did BA, BCom and the other weird stuff people seem to come up with to help the lesser mortals feel good about themselves, you probably are just lucky to have access to the net to read this.

And if you were one of those hundreds of people who decided to do an MBA, and then ended up being one of those idiots who could not crack CAT and could not get into an IIM, well, you really are sad.

You know that water tank on the roof of your building. Unless you are living in some chawl in Mumbai, which you should be, if you ain't from an IIT and/or an IIM. In which case these instructions should anyway be too complicated for you. Go, climb those stairs to the roof. And, then, go jump into that tank.


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Masters of the Whoniverse*

This could be construed as bad timing, considering that we are still going through the one-week post-tragedy ritual of writing seething blog-posts, signing online petitions, passing on chain mails and cursing the government, but it's up, and it needs to be publicized.

I hope you like the site. I hope you would like our questions better, when you choose to call us to conduct quizzes.

* This, as most other, at times idiotic, word-plays, is the creation of the other partner of the company. He provides the creativity, I provide the glamor.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Yesterday, around 11:30 am, I had to go to the mall beside my office for some work. As I was entering through the main door, I saw a group of young men entering right in front of me.

They had beards. They were wearing kurta-pajamas. They had skull-caps on their heads.

The first thought that crossed my mind was - Shit! Terrorists!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Getting Real


"Hello, is this the Sinha residence?"

"Yes, that's right. May I know who I am speaking to?"

"Good evening, ma'am. I am calling from Manipal Hospital in Bangalore. Am I talking to Mrs Sinha?"

"(Already panicking) Yes, that's me. Is everything alright? What is this about?"

"'am, can I speak to Mr Sinha, please? It's urgent."

"(Now frantic) Mr Sinha is traveling right now. Can you just tell me now what this is about?!"

"Well, ma'am...I'm afraid I have some bad news for you. The thing see ma'am...a body was brought to our hospital's emergency ward last night. We are not sure about it ma'am...but we have reasons to believe I said we are not sure...there aren't enough identification papers on the body...that it might be your son. We would need someone from your family to visit us and identify the body."

Mrs Sinha's pretty much speechless by now. And if it required any more effort to hear the person on the other side than just standing there and holding the phone to her ear, she would pretty much be incapable of doing that too.

There's about a minute or so of not knowing how to react. Then, she says something garbled into the phone and drops it. The next 5 minutes or so are spent trying to get through to Mr Sinha, who has probably just switched off his phone on the flight to Mumbai. The reaction comes after that. But it's too unique to be described as mere shock/grief.

And then, after 5 more minutes have passed in the confusion, a stranger walks in, followed by a man holding a camera. The stranger does not wait for Mrs Sinha to say anything before shouting out simultaneously to her and to the camera, in extreme glee:"Mrs Sinha! This is Ultimate Reality TV! You are on camera LIVE right now!! Your reaction has been captured for our viewers across the world, who I am sure are glued to their TV screens watching how you reacted to the phone call! It was fantastic! Don't worry, your son is fine in Bangalore! Congratulations! You have won an all-expenses paid trip to Thailand with your family! You must be delighted!"

How's that for a reality show idea? We could call up people with other less-interesting news like "Your house has been demolished by the municipality" or "Your cat was set on fire by the neighborhood kid" or "This is IIM Calcutta. I am sorry your application form for this year's CAT was rejected. You are also debarred from taking the exam for the next 5 years".

I think I have a winner on my hands.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Love My Neighbor

I am on a Pakistan-induced high right now.

I finished reading A Case of Exploding Mangoes in the afternoon today. I was a fan of Mohsin Hamid. And this far surpasses Hamid's two books. It is one of the funniest books I have read in my life. Of course, you would need some familiarity with our neighbor's politics to get some of the jokes. I would rate it above Shame by Rushdie.

And I just got done watching Zibahkhana. A Texas Chainsaw Massacre-inspired zombie movie based in Pakistan has to be the best thing this side of Mrs Brad Pitt.

I fell in love with Pakistan during my visit there about 2.5 years back, mainly because it is so much like India, and yet so different. And there is genuine curiosity about India among the common people, as there is within India about Pakistan. We so often get carried away in pointless jingoism that we don't realize how much we can achieve if we just try to understand each other a little more. And, of course, share each others' recipes.

The only thing that bugged me during my visit was that Pakistan is, understandably, a little more uptight than we are. But we are getting there thanks to the Thackerays. Also, the youth there are a few years behind the rest of the world in their definition of cool-ness. Which also gets reflected in Zibahkhana. I should not be taking anything too seriously in a movie as campy as this, but since some observations from the movie conform to what I felt when I met people in Lahore, I can't completely ignore them.

The apparently 'cool' bunch of college kids in the movie keep dropping phrases like "chill maar" and smoke up a few joints with such coyness as if they are going full-frontal in a multi-sexual, multi-racial orgy that it makes one wish hard that we could reach out and pull them into 2008.

But it's hardly an issue in a movie this fantastic. I have yet to see a movie as gory as this in India, and it speaks quite a bit about how actually 'cool' Pakistan is.

Even the book sets new standards of irreverence for the sub-continent. Making fun of a political leader, who is still fairly respected in the country, along with a couple of other holy cows in Pakistan - army and Islam - is something that we will not see for some more time in India. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, and felt perfectly scandalised after every few pages, marvelling at the limits Hanif was pushing.

Neither the movie, nor the book are for everyone's taste. But I recommend both strongly.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Life or Something Like It

I made this post last year in March. Hell, it's already been a year-and-a-half! I read it yesterday for the first time since then when someone from New Jersey arrived here from Google after having searched for "I hate engineering". Feels good to know that I have kindred souls across the world.

I wrote in the post that I would be leading a pointless life once I start working, and I, oddly enough, look forward to it. This is one of the reasons why blogging is such a blessed thing. I can pretty much go back in time and look at myself.

The work that I do now isn't all that pointless. As I have written earlier, it has its rewards, for me as well as for the people I come in contact with. It does create an illusion of a world that speaks only in millions of dollars and where a one-day trip abroad for a stupid meeting is something no one really thinks twice about. But there are far more good aspects to it too.

More importantly, something that I realized during my internship too, soon after I wrote that post, I am leading a much happier life. I had written once, on my previous blog, during one of the lowest phases of my life, about the sign I had seen on a department workshop wall - vyast raho, mast raho - and I am living that adage now. Working long hours, doing something that I don't altogether dislike, getting really tired and then crashing on the bed by 11-12 at night - this is more fun than I ever thought it would be. Plus, I am still managing about 3-4 movies on an average per week and 1-2 books every month, which is more important for me to survive than most people would understand.

Of course, I also have a lot more money than I have ever had before this in my life, which helps redeem a lot of things.

Life's better than I thought it would be after leaving IIM Calcutta. Which is a substantial relief, because it hurt real bad on my way home from Joka that April afternoon, a day after our convocation. And, well, I miss it so much, it (still) hurts. A fair bit.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Lost My Religion

In a work-related meeting, a few days back, I met an 82-year old guy who has been a member of one of the Freemason lodges in Bangalore for a long time. I really enjoyed meeting him, and if things go as they are planned right now, I might be making a trip abroad with him. Which is really interesting because, despite being a chap who started working even before my parents were born and who retired almost by the time I started to read, he can still speak and move around really well. He manages a kids' basketball team in his colony in Jayanagar, works regularly as a consultant on mining and still has enough stamina to make trips to Africa. Amazing man.

But this post is not about him, but about the society he is a member of. I have long wanted to become a member, partly because I have read that they do a fair amount of charity work and partly because one gets to come in contact with some really successful people. But another reason has been the aura that surrounds Freemasonry. For some reason, even though I have read enough about them to know that it's not a clandestine organization with secret initiation ceremonies and weird rituals, I still find it extremely intriguing. The word 'Freemason' somehow always creates images of the secret society in Eyes Wide Shut in my mind.

So, I was gathering info on the society yesterday. I qualify in every other way and I even have at least one person who would nominate me, which helps one's candidature. But I fail qualification on one count. The fulfillment of this criterion is the most important factor to be a Freemason, and I don't satisfy it.

To be a Freemason, irrespective of whatever religion you belong to, you need to believe in the Supreme Being. No atheist can become a Freemason.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Haunted by Humans

Reading requires a fair bit more effort than watching movies and TV. Especially along with a job where at least 15-20% of my average work-time goes into reading articles, reports, mails and other assorted keyboard-poop. But I still continue reading books, blogs, magazines...bus-stand print ads, because once in a while something turns up that reinforces my faith in the goodness of the written word.

I finished reading one such book last night.

It's called The Book Thief and it's by Marcus Zusak. If you are one of those who is not put off by book reviews, and book reviewers (but then you probably wouldn't be reading my blog either), you have probably read something good about it already. It might have put me off with the claims of being 'life-changing', of being 'the one book you must read this year if it's the only one you read', of being 'a truly heart-warming story by an author at his prime', and so on, had it not been for a discount on a rainy day at the Landmark store at Forum.

I was bored, stuck inside, irritated with the massive Koramangala crowd hanging out at Forum and inside Landmark, and bought this book because it was on top of a pile of books mercilessly heaped on to one of the tables. It was like Daryaganj inside a mall. With much less scope for adventure, much lower chance of running into a rare, interesting book. The book had a 30-40% discount on it, and the paperback isn't really all that expensive anyway. So I bought it, along with some other more interesting books.

Why I chose to read this one before the others I bought that day is something I fail to explain. It could have been dark in the room I keep my books in while selecting a book from the shelf or maybe I was distracted and just picked one at random. But read it I did. And faster than I have read any book since I left engineering college two-and-a-half years back.

Because it's really good. I have tons of great movies with me that I want to watch, but I left everything, sat down on my bean bag with my thin, cosy blanket wrapped around me (it's getting slightly cold in Bangalore now), placed my legs on the chair in front of me, and read away to glory.

It's a story of the life of a young girl, who comes to a home in Germany during the 2nd World War at the age of 10 and leaves when she is 14. It's about how words meant a lot to her. It's about how some memories stay with us for ever. How one regrets not having said a few things once the people those things were meant to be said to are gone. How everyone holds more within than one shows. And how the simplest of acts can go on to save lives. Or take them.

And it's narrated by Death.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Wall-E*

Spending Diwali away from home sucks. I have spent a good number of Diwalis in the last 10 years away from home, at various hostels, doing pretty much nothing. But this one sucks more, because I don't have the general hostel crowd around as well. And I know that this time, for a change, I could afford to go home despite the distance, and time did not permit. But I'll survive.

Was woken up around 6:30 am today. I had known since I was a kid, thanks to a Tam friend in school, that Diwali celebrations begin in the morning in South India, with oil baths, ganga-snanam and such stuff. I also knew that bursting crackers starts along with that right from the morning too. But it turns out that not only are crackers burst in the morning, there's apparently some sort of competition among kids to see which home starts doing it the earliest. My landlord's kids won hands down this time.

But, surprisingly enough, I did not wake up cursing them or at least irritated as I would have in most cases. I was standing in my balcony a while back, watching them play, and their happiness was infectious. Reminded me of the time, ages ago, when bursting crackers used to be fun and not fretting over how I am literally burning money and creating pollution along with it. I am growing really old now.

But, all said and done, I think it's a bit of a waste, or even more of a waste than it normally is, bursting crackers during the day. Crackers are fun because of the light and sound, but this way one just gets to 'enjoy' the sound.

And also, the idiot that I am, the absolute glee with which these small kids in my lane were playing with scary looking crackers made me think of this - we probably train kids in India too well to handle things that go boom. No wonder so many of them start playing with bigger versions when they grow old. We deserve our crackers. And our RDX.

* This usage is a friend's idea, and is stolen from his GTalk status. So often, for me, thinking up the title of a post takes about the same time as writing the whole post. Couldn't think of anything else for this one.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Got done with the three Tamil movies. Ghajini is OK, and I am really interested now in seeing how Aamir Khan scores over Surya. Asin seems like the best thing to be about to happen to Hindi movies in sometime.

Aayitha Ezhuthu was good and, as a friend had told me some time back, better than Yuva. But the best of the lot was Ghilli.

It's an out and out masala film with mindless violence and Prakash Raj doing a typical hamming villain. But I still loved it. I can't recall right now enjoying an unapologetically commercial movie so much in Hindi in the last few years. For some reason, Vijay's antics made me think of Govinda, before his movies got vulgar. He can carry off any damn thing and make it look good. Need to watch more of his movies.

Rapidshare, along with some good people who upload movies on to the internet, has helped me acquire some movies that I had long been searching for. And there are so many more that I am sure are there somewhere and just need proper searching.

One such movie was this one called Mondo Cane. As Wikipedia puts it, Mondo Cane "consists of a series of travelogue vignettes providing glimpses into cultural practices throughout the world intended to shock or surprise the mostly Western film audience, including an insect banquet and a memorable look at a practicing South Pacific cargo cult." This one and the series that it spawned was referred to by John Waters in his 1969 comedy Mondo Trasho. John Waters, as the knowledgable would know is the great man behind that ultimate classic, Pink Flamingos, and several lesser known movies of the ilk.

I am half through Mondo Cane and I have already seen pigs being beaten to death in New Guinea for a mass feast, snakes being skinned alive in Singapore for a homely meal, dogs being chopped in a Taipei restaurant, sharks being fed poisonous sea-urchins and then left to die painfully over a week for their fins, geese being force-fed and kept in small cages to prevent burning of calories to prepare foie-gras, and similar enlightening stuff. Positively stomach-churning.

Human beings should really show a little more empathy towards animals. I think I'll take a break for sometime before resuming the movie.

Time for some yummy Kentucky Fried Chicken right now.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

That Adiga Guy Got Lucky!

Done reading The White Tiger, which surprisingly enough was this year's Booker winner. It's a well-written, evenly-paced story, but the only thing according to me that worked for the non-Indian jury would be that it presents a fairly non-exotic and unusual (for present times) picture of India. Now, this might be a novel novel for them, but for most Indians this would be like reading what they see everyday, something that hardly deserves wasting 300-odd pages on.

What I liked about the book is that unlike most Indian fiction that I know of, the protagonist here is a criminal, with little conscience, and no regret for his crime. He becomes a rich man, mainly because of his entrepreneurship and buckets of good luck, but partly because he decided to take the first step towards that crime.

There's little else in the book that can place it on the same shelf that some of the other Booker winners - The God of Small Things, Midnight's Children, The Blind Assassin, Possession: A Romance, Disgrace and a few others occupy. In style, but also in terms of the way it relies on providence to make things move, its closest cousin could be Q&A by Vikas Swarup. The latter was also a fairly fast-paced decent read, but just another page-turner to be read during, and not much thought about after, a train/bus/plane journey.

A similar feeling of pointlessness was experienced while watching Welcome to Sajjanpur a couple of days back. Possibly one of Benegal's worst movies.

I got original DVDs of Ghajini, Ghilli and Aayitha Ezhuthu from a friend at work today. After recent viewings of Sivaji and Dasavatharam, I have realized that there is definitely sense in watching South Indian movies in the language they are made in if one wants to derive the most pleasure from them, instead of watching remade/dubbed versions. I can't do without subtitles unfortunately or would have done that too.

I realized today that I can't go home or to my cousin's place for Diwali without missing work. That is one thing about being in Bangalore that sucks. I'll probably end up spending the three-day long weekend reading novels and watching inane flicks.

Which might not be a wholly bad thing considering that I have some hectic work-related traveling planned for the near future.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Soiled Sons

The whole Raj Thackeray issue brings forth several other problems that cannot be attributed completely to the Great Son of Maharashtra's Soil.

The most shocking was this piece of news that was on top of Rediff's news-stories today for a short while. When I saw it my first reaction was - "Fuck! They actually went ahead and killed someone today for the arrest!", and then I realized that it was a story from last Sunday. Yes, MNS activists did beat the guy up, but not to avenge Thackeray's arrest. And it's really sad on the part of the Rediff news desk to portray it that way. I can think of some hot-blooded Biharis already planning to take it out on Maharashtrians around them.

Another Rediff article led me to this site for Shiv Udyog Sena, which was the brain child of Raj Thackeray when he was still a part of Shiv Sena. They have a good vision, but I don't know if they actually did anything much except create nuisance. Their website sure is pathetic. The funniest part has to be this profile of Bal Thackeray. The page title says Caricatures by Shri Raj Thackeray. And this profile does pretty much look like one.

More than anything it makes Maharashtrians appear to be these weak kids, who had been bullied for ages by North Indians, and who needed this senile cartoonist to finally let them taste the fruits of their own soil.

How can Maharashtrians let this joke of a family insult them every day?

Update: Rediff seems to have removed the page now. They are better than TOI and Aaj Tak in that they at least feel shame and correct their mistakes.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Point Counter Point

The slowdown in the markets has finally hit us. No, we aren't being laid off en masse. But since the banks, PE funds and everyone else has gotten really cautious with their money, deals aren't moving fast enough. In fact, most of them are not moving at all. We need to think of something innovative to make things work right now. But until that happens, I suppose I can blog from office.

Last week's Economist had an obituary of Joshua Benjamin Jeyaretnam, the Opposition Leader from Singapore. This was the first time I was hearing of him (which happens with most people that Economist has obituaries of), even though I have read and heard stories of how difficult it is in general for the few prominent opponents to the People's Action Party rule to lead a normal life.

This and a debate on our IIMC message board about Narendra Modi, made me think again of an issue that I have brought up while talking to a lot of people. My own opinions regarding this have changed drastically, several times, over the years.

How important is democracy/secularism/socialism to a country? I use the terms together because I believe that one of the three alone is difficult to exist without the other two.

Even though Mr Modi might not have been personally responsible for the carnage in Gujarat, he pretty much did let it go on unabated for too long. Just as Mr Yedyurappa let Christians be killed and churches be burnt in Mangalore. Both chief-ministers - the former having already shown results, and the latter at least making the right noises - symbolize the minority progressive and development-oriented section of India's politics. Objectively speaking, for someone like me - a well-educated, economically well-off, Hindu - a smooth road, 24-hours power and water and industrial development matters a lot more than some Muslim or Christian family being hacked to death in some village or ghetto. Objectively speaking.

Similarly, even though in some cases it might have been for fear of persecution, across my interaction with people in Singapore, most of them seemed pretty happy with the government that has ruled them with a fairly strong fist for around 40 years. I don't know of any major human-rights violation in Singapore, but an opponent can be made to bleed in other ways too. Economically for one, as Mr Jeyaretnam was. And this is a government that could be the paragon of good governance across the world.

As I said, I don't have a conviction strong enough to be on either side of the debate. I commend Mr Modi for the development Gujarat has seen. I was awed by Singapore's at-times spooky efficiency. And I would much rather live in a place like Gujarat or Singapore or even Bangalore, where I would have a better standard of living than some other place in India or abroad where everyone's treated equally and everyone's safe (though I can't think of any such place at the moment off the cuff) even though living standards might not be all that great.

But not being able to decide for either side actually makes things worse because I get offended by both sides' arguments. How can one ignore taking away a person's right to expression, freedom and even life itself just because the culprit is a good administrator? How can one even compare the two? On the other hand, how much does a few lives lost, a few families destroyed matter when the greater good is being ensured? Aren't more people killed in Bihar, even though it has been ruled by 'secular' governments? Bajrang Dal wasn't responsible for 1984 (ok, George Orwell was, but I am talking about the Delhi riots - the most cited example in such debates).

Yeah, I am as confused as ever.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Same Old S***

We moved into a new office recently. This is a three-storeyed building of our own, as against one half of a floor of a three-storeyed building earlier. It's fun to be able to move one's chair without banging into my neighbor. There are other benefits that the new location entails, including being next door to Garuda Mall, which has got an INOX as well. And I just realized while typing this that I can walk over to Blossom now during lunch and browse for some time. I love Bangalore even more now!

The road outside our building is a one-way and gets jammed every evening from 6:30 to 7:30. Last night, we were playing cricket for a few minutes in our office on the first floor and people stuck in the jam and rain outside started staring at us. Well, playing cricket is a better way to ward off tension than shooting one's family!

The Rapidshare account has been one of the best investments in recent times. That and a software called Free Download Manager (FDM) have helped me be in regular touch with TV series as well as watch a lot of movies I hadn't been able to get my hands on for a long time. Am on a Robert Altman film festival these days. All his movies are these beautiful conversational ensembles, with striking camera-work. A Prairie Home Companion was the last one I saw. Am watching Short Cuts, which is 3 hours long, in stages. Have M*A*S*H, The Player and McCabe and Mrs Miller with me. But my favorite will probably remain Gosford Park, easily one of the greatest ensemble acts ever.

Finally finished off Sea of Poppies. A really good book, and am waiting for the next in the trilogy. Reading White Tiger now, which seems rather ordinary in the first few pages.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Hi Stranger!

Life's moving too fast for me to bother making posts. Have left several posts unfinished because I found them too pointless.

Work's been real fun lately. For a long time I had been apprehensive whether what I am doing now is what I would want to be doing for the rest of my life. The question remains unanswered, but I do feel that doing this for the rest of my life would be a pretty decent thing.

Having a full-time person to take care of food and other household things has also helped me concentrate on work a lot better, and rid me of the guilty feeling I used to have earlier of not working enough for the money these guys were paying me.

And time outside work has been taken up by reading some great books and watching some amazing movies. A recent visit to National Market and a recent purchase of a Rapidshare premium account have ensured that there are always more movies available than I have the time to watch. I am almost averaging one movie per day now, which means I am back to sleeping 5-6 hours a day, which is not as unhealthy as the health experts would make one believe. I survived B-school on less than that.

After a lot of scouring I came across this site a few days back that has the most amazing collection of movies available on it. A good part of it consists of foreign movies and I have been just going orgasmic marveling the potential it offers.

I saw Mishima: A Life in 4 Chapters today. I have been in awe of Paul Schrader ever since I read about a year back that he had written Taxi Driver and contributed on the screenplays of some other Scorsese films. And I have been quite intrigued by Yukio Mishima ever since I read about him over three years back. This is one of the most well-made biographies I have seen, which incorporates an author's life and some of his most famous literary works in a very subtle manner.

One of the movies I saw a few days back is this film called Porky's, which is the highest grossing movie of all time in Canada. What got me interested is that it is supposed to be the precursor to all the American Pie type sex-comedies we see Hollywood churning out with disturbing regularity now. I actually like most of these movies. Porky's is fine, but not great enough to be a top-grosser. I would take American Pie any day. So, this brings my respect for Canadians even lower, which was pretty low to begin with considering their depiction in American pop culture, and the fact that they take in Surds in such large numbers.

The other movies from the ones I have seen recently that I would recommend are - In Bruges, My Beautiful Laundrette and Hellboy II: The Golden Army.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Aur Zyada Ka Irada

I think I have said this before - I used to wonder, the curious creature that I am, how the whole idea of love ended up being associated with the heart. It could have been your kidney, your lungs, even your small-intestine.

Then, a few years back, I sort of realized. If not at any other time, at least when you miss someone, or something, your heart actually hurts (or maybe it was just high cholesterol level in my case). And I also understood that 'heart missing a beat' is quite literal.

Anyway, this chain of thought entered my mind not because I am missing someone, but because I am missing something. I am missing Joka. My B-school.

It's not too late at night on a Friday evening. The loserly me is at home. And he just started watching the 1st episode of the 5th season of Entourage. If you haven't seen the series, watch it. One of the best TV series to have hit, well, TV in a long long time. The last episode I watched was in my room - Annexe 341 (aaahhh!!!) - in Joka. I did a marathon of all 4 seasons, thanks to His Holiness Sri Sri Aara Ji Maharaj (If you are not from the 2007-2008-2009 batches of IIM Calcutta, you won't get the reference. Unfortunately.) And after such a long time and so many pitch books and investor memorandums later, I get to watch a fresh, new episode. And once I am through the two episodes of Entourage, I'll also watch the 3rd season episodes of Heroes. And then, maybe I'll download Prison Break. Life's pretty good, eh?

Moving on, since I am writing right now I should get done with this too - my favorite ad on TV right now is the Max New York Life 'Karo Zyada Ka Irada' ad. I love circularity in movies, books, anything. And the ad does it in a really intelligent manner. Plus, it shows something I realized, maybe for the very first time, during my MBA. Everyone envies someone. And it actually does work out to be a circle probably.

Monday, September 22, 2008

There and Back Again

With the frequency at which I had been making posts here earlier, I had never imagined there would come a time when this blog would see a gap of one month. But one thing led to another, and none of those things included an opportunity to make a post here. Finally got some time at work to write this today.

It's been an eventful one month. But writing in detail about every notable thing would take too much effort.

I had fallen seriously ill a few days after my last post and was admitted in a hospital for some time. My mother was here for two weeks, and convinced me finally to get a full time cook/servant. It has actually been a very helpful development as it has left me with a lot more time for work, leisure and socialising.

Watched Rock On. Thought of writing a long post on it, but never got down to actually doing it. Really loved the film.

Catching up on the backlog at office after having missed work for about 2 weeks took a fair bit of time. Realized that at a job like this, I just can't afford to miss work for such a long time. If not the illness, the absence from work could have been fatal.

Went to the pub quiz at Opus Thursday night couple of weeks back. Some people I know had asked me a few times and something or the other would come up every time. Managed this time, and it was really good fun. Will try to be a bit more regular.

Re-established contact with some friends from engineering college. In the last 2-3 years, I have lost touch with most people I used to spend a lot of time with during undergrad. Spoke to a senior from those times on phone and it was a great feeling.

But the best part of the month was the last week. I got a chance to visit my B-school as well as my engineering college within a span of a week. Last weekend was spent visiting the production unit of a client and meeting the promoters. The flight to the place and back was through Kolkata. On the way back, I reached the city after a tiring 5-hour road journey at 9:30 pm. Had dinner with my colleague, left him to rest at the hotel and reached my campus by around 11:00 pm. Just sitting there in my hostel night canteen, drinking beer, speaking to a few juniors, catching up on latest news and yes, eating the fried maggi after such a long time, felt brilliant. Returned at 4:00am to the hotel and left almost immediately for our flight. Hectic, but worth it. I have to go back there with my batchmates soon.

And the absolutely best thing that has happened to me in recent times was an opportunity to do the open quiz at our college's cultural fest. Balancing work and making the quiz left me with no time for anything at all and I had almost turned into a zombie by the time I left for Delhi Saturday early morning. Was staying in a hotel right opposite the IITD main gate and being so close to the campus, taking rest seemed like a stupid thing to do. So Saturday was spent moving around the Hauz Khas - Green Park area in South Delhi, visiting some of our old haunts with friends from engineering.

Sunday was even better. The quiz went well. Standing near the projection screen in the Senate Room, darkened to get a better look at the question on the screen, asking questions to the teams sitting in front of me, has been one of my most cherished experiences at IITD. And reliving it brought goose-bumps. Difficult to describe.

But what made the trip most memorable was the fact that a number of my friends turned up from across NCR, and beyond, for the quiz. And some of them stayed back even after not qualifying, and the afternoon was spent talking to them and drinking and eating with them. Even though most of them had met, heard of or seen each other earlier, having been in the quizzing circuit, or moving in the same academic-professional circles, I was the only one who knew each of them well. But everyone got along very well, helped by generous doses of beer/vodka. Those few hours at Masala Junction at Safdarjung Development Area would be one of the best birthday gifts I could receive. Thanks guys.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Being Me

While talking to my brother, during my Mumbai trip last weekend, about our TV viewing habits I realized that the channel I have been watching the most is 9X. Not necessarily because it is the best channel around these days, but because for the 1-2 hours I get at home on any average night between coming back from work or some trip exploring Bangalore and crashing on my bed with a book, this channel seems to have the most interesting shows.

I mostly have my dinner on weeknights watching Kahaani Hamaare Mahabharat Ki (I am sure I got the spelling wrong). Watch Kaun Jeetega Bollywood Ka Ticket? (or some such show) quite religiously on weekends. Which, apart from brief snatches caught from NDTV 24X7 and occasional episodes of 10 Ka Dum, sums up my total TV viewing.

I had been seeing promos of Gini & Jony Chak De Bachche for sometime now. Got to see the finals of the show today. In fact, I am watching it just as I am typing this. It must have been a pretty decent show. The concept is fairly interesting, and is, I believe, a product of the Gajendra Singh camp. I have a lot of respect for the man. I would concede that my loyalties lie with the small town team (as against the metro team), for I have grown up in one of the smallest townships of Bihar (and what is now Jharkhand) and I still feel intimidated with the youth from the metros. Despite having stayed in Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore for almost a decade now.

The episode I am watching right now also made me realize, once more after my visits to Chennai, how big an icon M S Dhoni is. I feel really great everytime I see Dhoni doing great because he belongs to a region I love more than any other part of the world.

My dad just got transferred, after postings all over India in the last decade, to the place I grew up at, the place I studied at from Std V to Plus 2. I was talking to my mom this morning and she told me that the conditions have actually worsened in the last decade. We had a maid, who had worked at our place for over 6 years, and she had a son and a daughter who were 9 and 6 years old when I left the place in 1999. Both these kids are married and have children of their own now. I was shocked. The girl would be just around 15-16 now!

A friend of mine from engineering is working in Bihar right now with a firm that is helping to improve the infrastructure there. When he could probably choose to stay in one of the better cities of India, if not abroad, earning far more money. While watching a recent program on NDTV 24X7 about the gradual developments in Bihar I had this urge to give up everything and move there to make some difference. But I know I won't.

I am enjoying making money in Bangalore far too much.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Frequent Flier Program

The Rajiv Gandhi International Airport at Hyderabad has to be the best airport in India. Which is not a difficult achievement in absolute terms, considering how sad most of our airports are, but still. I would even go to the extent of saying that it is probably the only airport in India of really international standards, or it seemed like that during my short stay there. Nope, Mumbai airport, which I thought was pretty good, does not come close. They could do with a few more urinals, but that's about the only issue I could find with the airport. Even the approach to the airport is beautiful. So, if UB Group is The Bangalore Group, I am willing to give that mantle for Hyderabad to GMR.

The approach, of course, gets a little intolerable after a few km. But I was told that it could be attributed partly to the heavy rains that have lashed Andhra Pradesh in the last few days. Bad roads were, in fact, the flavor of my one-day trip to the city. Even the posh locations of Banjara and Jubilee Hills had roads in a fairly screwed up condition.

But the city is a nice place. And I would want to visit it again soon, for the food if nothing else.


My trip to Mumbai for the weekend to meet my cousin and sister-in-law and friends was spoilt partly by the intermediate trip to Singapore that came up at the last minute, but I still had a lot of fun over the weekend. The Bangalore-Mumbai, Mumbai-Singapore, Singapore-Mumbai and Mumbai-Bangalore air-journeys have essentially put me off airline food for some time to come, but it was fun doing the kind of international trip (for a few hours, for just one meeting) that I have only known really rich or really busy men (either of which I am not) make.

I made the cab driver drive past the office I had worked at during my internship last year because my client's hotel was close by. But, I had also intended to visit the hotel near Little India that I had stayed in, but could not. My shopping was limited to the Changi duty free shops.

The feeling of nostalgia while going past those lickably clean roads was unexpected. If it had been a little less humid, Singapore would be one of the best places to stay in the world. Almost as good as Bangalore :D

Mumbai was fun. Could not meet everyone that I had intended to, but met, and had good time with, those that I really wanted to.

Ate at the Rajdhani outlet at the Inorbit Mall in Goregaon. Nice food. Amazing service. A tad expensive, but worth it definitely. They have opened an outlet at UB City close to our office as well, and we have ordered thalis for lunch on a few occasions, but going there to eat is a completely different experience.

Watched Bachna Ae Haseeno, which starts off really bad and spoils the taste for the remaining movie. It improves a bit gradually and both Bipasha Basu and Deepika Padukone are ably used. As a friend commented, Deepika Padukone is like an Aishwarya Rai who can act. Love the music though.

The fact that I managed to lose my wallet meant that my two visits to the Landmark at Infiniti Mall in Andheri on my last day there resulted in just one purchase - Scorsese on Scorsese. But I had way too much fun getting both my cousin and his wife drunk (moderately only), going out bowling and generally wasting time doing nothing to complain. Even losing a PAN card was worth the good time I had over most of the day.

This was my first non-work visit outside Bangalore after joining work, and it made me realize how earning decently is a fantastic thing. Who was that dumb freak again who said that money can't buy happiness?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The 2-minute Friend

A couple of days back, I had my first plateful of Maggi after leaving Cal in April. I had stayed away from it for so long, without any intention to do so of course, that a few days back, in office no less, I started having this uncontrollable urge to have some Maggi. Even though my small office has the facilities to cook Maggi in the pantry, I bug our peon with enough demands related to food as it is to ask the poor chap to cook Maggi now. As it happened, I managed to come home very early on Thursday, and cooked myself a bit of the priceless gift to mankind by Momofuku Ando.

It's heartening to know that in a world where everything is so different from when I was a kid, there are some things, like Maggi, that have not changed. I don't like the new flavors of Maggi - Rice Mania and what not - and still prefer the old Chicken and Masala varieties. Like old Doordarshan serials, or even visits to my old relatives, they remind me of simpler times.

I had the Chicken flavor on Thursday because the local Spencer's outlet did not have the Masala flavor in stock. I hope it's not been phased out completely. It reminded me of my school-days when one of the most important decisions that my sister and I had to make everyday was to decide whether we (I, for she was not allowed to use the gas stove on her own) would cook the Masala flavor (which I liked, and used to add more spices on my own at times to) or the Chicken flavor (which she preferred because it was less spicy, precisely why I did not care for it much). It used to be mostly Masala, of course.

And then she would drown her share of the Maggi prepared with such diligence by me in a huge quantity of ketchup, which I used to hate again. What's the point of spoiling the taste of something as good as Maggi with tomato ketchup? Just drink some ketchup instead!

My mother used to come back from work around 6:00pm, and our maid used to take a break after lunch till around 5:30. So, I used to be free to do anything I felt like till I went out to play. And I put this freedom to good use, mostly to do crazy stuff in my own room, but at times in the kitchen. Some of this time was used up in experimenting with Maggi. Eggs, vegetables, all kinds of spices, even milk - not everything I dished out was edible of course. But mostly the pride in having gone beyond the drab instructions on the packet would make up for the disaster in the saucepan.

Having all this Maggi also helped me have a huge collection of those cut-outs that entitled me to the whole lot of gifts that used to be on offer from Maggi, each worth 5 cut-outs.

Maggi has been like an old, faithful friend for most of my life. And to think I hated it the first time I had it, back when I was 5 or 6 years old. I never had it when I was outside India, but on a vacation back to India, a cousin of mine cooked some mean Maggi, and I fell in love with it. I convinced my mom to carry a few packets with us back to Iraq.

In engineering college, Maggi was one of the things available at almost any time of the day at the two Nescafe outlets in the campus. After late night talkathons, after long walks, or even after a great movie alone in my room on a cold night, a plate of Maggi could be relied upon to be waiting for you.

The canteen in my hostel in B-school introduced me to some new ways of cooking Maggi. I had written about this delightfully oily dish called Fried Maggi a few months back. There were other amazing forms of this simple food-item that those guys used to prepare and deliver right at my doorstep.

I plan to visit Cal sometime towards the end of this year or early next year. Guess what I'll be having at the night canteen?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Reading Again

I have finally started reading on a regular basis now. So, I can justify all those trips to Blossom and all the money spent there. And now I won't feel guilty spending more time and money.

In the last week-ten days, I have read When We Were Orphans by Kazuo Ishiguro, Kari (a short graphic novel) by Amruta Patil and The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood.

After having read three Ishiguro books by now, I believe this is going to be a perpetual thing in his novels - the story starting off very very raw, the characters appearing two-dimensional, the attempt at making the conversations appear typical of the land and time being very transparent, and then all of it gradually falling together and you getting into the flow of things, forgetting the awkwardness of the language, and the story.

In any case, this book wasn't as much fun as I had while reading The Remains of the Day or Never Let Me Go. When We Were Orphans, very often, seemed to deviate into pointlessness, and I still think there were pages upon pages that could have been condensed into a quarter of their total text, with absolutely no loss to the story. I moved on only because I had encountered similar feelings in the earlier books I had read by him, though to a lesser extent, and had some faith in his ability to provide a payoff. Which did come. I liked the way it ended.

There's something indescribable about such endings, which aren't exactly happy, and where the goal is reached, but not the way it was meant to, where you feel cheated, not by the author, for he has done his job well, but by fate, as maybe the protagonist would have felt. You discover, at the same time as the protagonist, the lie he has lived all his life. You feel, at the same time as the 'hero', pained by the realization that he had no say in the choices that had such profound effects on his life.

Kari is an average book, which I found filled with cliches, but still worth a mention in the growth of the graphic novel culture in India. I find such stories very irritating though, which talk about a 'different' person, someone who finds herself difficult to adhere to the cliches of the society, but the different-ness of that person actually adheres to all the cliches of different-ness propounded by our literature or media.

I had read The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood a few years back. It was one of those phases in under-grad when I was devouring e-versions of novels, one every day. Among the many books I read during that phase, and most of which I forgot, this one stood out. I wonder why I did not read another Atwood after that. The Edible Woman is one of her first published novels, written way back in 1969, and it still did not feel dated. One of the best things about her novels, though I have experience of just two from a collection of around 13, is that, unless you have cheated and read the blurbs, there is no way you can predict the way the story would move. In case of The Edible Woman, I knew from the first few pages what Marian, the central character, would do in relation to her 'boy-friend' Peter, and she did do that, but how Atwood went about making her do that, and the collection of interesting characters she made me meet on the way, is what separates the women from the girls. One of these characters, Duncan, is particularly interesting.

And this is the first woman-writer I have seen who could give the best of men a run for their money in terms of coming up with curious descriptions of ordinary things and clever turn of words. Highly recommended.

Also, my previous post, which, if it comes as news to you, was completely fictional, was inspired from a similar instance in the novel.

Am reading Rant by Chuck Palahniuk, The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood and Woody Allen's Collected Prose these days, which I keep altering depending on my mood.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Darwin's Nightmare

I bought a small tortoise about three weeks back. And a small plastic tub for it to swim in. I am not sure of it, but I think it was a 'he'. At least I named it Darwin. It was not much bigger than the palm of my right hand.

Three weeks is not a long enough time to get attached with anything, even if not inanimate. But it was fun marveling at how something so small could possibly have some thought process going around in that minuscule brain. And watching it was a good way to while away time on weekends.

Yesterday, I moved it to a saucepan filled with cold water, which it probably thought was just a new temporary habitat for it as I cleaned its tub. It was moving around playfully enough. Not so much though when the water gradually started heating up. I covered the pan with a lid, and left to watch rest of my movie, after turning down the flame to medium.

I suppose if it had a voice I would have heard it scream, as it gradually turned to pulp under the lid. Unfortunately, it did not. And I could enjoy my turtle soup without any bother.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Flight Fight

I had been really looking forward to traveling by Emirates again. The last time I traveled on it, I had been floored by the friendly air-hostesses, which was some contrast to the crew on Air India and Iraqi Airways - the only other airlines I had flew in till then. I had even been given a teddy bear and a bag full of goodies (I was 8 years old then). I wasn't expecting a teddy bear this time (would not have minded it though), but was definitely expecting service of the same stature.

So, the flight from Bengaluru to Dubai was a massive letdown. The flight was 2.5 hours late, which we got to know only after we reached the airport. The seats in the plane were uncomfortable. The in-flight entertainment had terrible movies - I chose College Road Trip, because the other options seemed even worse. And CRT has to be one of the shittiest movies of the last 2-3 years. The food was disgusting. The wine was of a really bad quality. And, worst of all, the flight crew was really cold. After the great service in Singapore Airlines and, closer home, Jet Airways, this was particularly striking.

On our return journey, the plane was on time and the entertainment options were much much better - better than any I have encountered so far - but the food remained as bad as ever, and the crew sucked equally badly. They should just stop trying to serve Indian food and stick to continental stuff.

Even the Emirates ground crew is extremely impolite and makes one feel obliged for the basic service being provided by them. The fact that their flights are always over-booked does not help the case. The only thing that could have made the whole Emirates experience any worse was if my luggage would have been misplaced by them. Which thankfully did not happen.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dubai Diary - 2

The last day of the trip was the most enjoyable for me. It began with a shared taxi ride from Ras-al-Khaimah to Ajman, followed by another taxi ride from Ajman to Dubai. The driver of this taxi was from Peshawar, and I told him about my visit a couple of years back to Topi in NWFP, which was exactly the place the driver, Zoher, belonged to.

In the next half-an-hour or so that my ride lasted, we spoke of working in UAE away from home, Hindi films, Indo-Pak relations, his family, my family, and a lot else. It is a running theme in all such interactions in Dubai, and probably in other countries with a high sub-continent population as well, wherein we talk about how even though one gets to make a lot more money working abroad than he would working in one's own country, there's something missing. Not being in one's own country, not living close to one's family and friends cannot be made up for by greater income.

This happened later the same day again when I got into a cab being driven by a Mallu guy, who had worked in Indira Nagar in Bangalore (a couple of km from my home here) before leaving for UAE 15 years back. The happiness he showed on realizing that I was from India was infectious.

Meeting a friend in Dubai, who was a wing-mate in Cal and also one of the two friends I used to hang around with in Bangalore in the first couple of months of my stay here, was the best part of the trip by far. The TGIF in Dubai does not serve alcohol so we walked about 500m in the scorching sun to the nearest Sheraton for a pint of beer each. And then, I dragged him across the city to Saravana Bhavan. A non-veg freak like me choosing to eat South Indian veg food in Dubai - that shows how badly the weather had affected my appetite.

Rest of the day went into shopping at the Mall of Emirates and Deira City Centre. After Singapore, the malls in Dubai did not feel that great though.

Saw the under-construction Burj Dubai, the Rose Tower and the Burj-al-Arab. Even without these three, the Dubai skyline is quite mind-boggling. The place is Gurgaon times 100. Everywhere you look there's construction going on, which is not a pretty sight. I would love to call it a beautiful city, and commend the fact that they have turned a desert wasteland into one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world. That too without gambling or unrestricted alcohol (which was the case with Las Vegas). But I could not find one good thing about the place that would make me want to live there. If only the sheikhs could plant a few thousand trees instead of reaching new heights, literally, in achieving their concrete dreams, the place would be a lot more liveable. A place where a child spends almost three-fourths of his life spending the entire day indoors can't be a great place to bring him up.

And the other sad thing is that unlike many other places in the world where if not the first generation, subsequent generations can become an integral part of the local population, that cannot happen in UAE. An Indian remains a second-grade citizen no matter how much sweat he puts into the development of the place.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Dubai Diary - 1

Though I had heard horror stories of the unbelievably high temperatures there at this time of the year, nothing had prepared me for the blast of hot air that hit me bang in the face as I got out of the plane at around midnight in Dubai. The temperature was 40 deg C.

Somehow, I had built up an image of the Dubai airport, based on my short stay in transit from Jordan 18 years ago, which was not lived up to by this visit. Too crowded, fairly mismanaged, and garishly colored. So, the start of the trip did not seem all that auspicious.

The trip to Ras-al-Khaimah was hot despite the AC in the coach on full force, and I just had enough stamina to reach my room at the Al Hamra resort and crash. It was 3:30 am by the time I went to sleep.

Woke up at 7:30 to really bright light coming in through the balcony, despite heavy, dark curtains. Was greeted by a view of the bluest water I have ever seen with my own eyes, from the balcony. It was, unfortunately, already too hot to stay out for long and enjoy the view.

A day of presentations went by and the night presented an option of either accompanying part of the crowd to go to a discotheque/pub in Dubai or choosing to drink in our air-conditioned rooms and taking an occasional walk by the lagoon just 10 metres away from a friend's room. The fact that I had already lost half my body fluids by the time the bus left for Dubai made me decide in favor of the latter.

The drinking session - wine, tequila, scotch, beer - was one of the high-points of the UAE trip, when people who don't drink, drank, and those who don't speak much, spoke.

The next day began with presentations and visits from local government delegates, followed by some light games, which was interrupted by news of the blasts at Bangalore. Lunch was followed by a trip to the desert.

The desert safari remained another high-point, till it literally reached a low-point, with our land-cruiser getting stuck in the trough between two sand-dunes. We had to get out of the car and stand in the burning sand for about 5 minutes. Would advise you not to eat or drink much in the 4-5 hours preceding the safari, if you ever choose to go on one of those crazy trips. Our driver, to make matters worse, was driving with only one hand on the wheel and holding his phone in the other hand and scolding someone on the other side.

The desert camp was a great effort at hospitality by our hosts, but would have preferred if it had been organized indoors, with strong air-conditioning. In the mind-numbing heat, the free-flowing booze, the kebabs, the good food and even the belly-dancing lost its charm. Well, not the belly dancing, on second thoughts.

Returned to the resort playing an impromptu quiz in the car, and completely drained out.

The next (and the last) day was reserved for Dubai. But that'll take another post. The trip was good fun, and one of the perks that comes with working in a small firm that is doing really well. Reached home in the wee hours of Sunday to the news of the blasts having reached Ahmedabad. I leave the country for 4 days, and look what you guys do to it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Another Client Trip

Like any other job, my job has its own perks and pitfalls. One of the better perks, like most client-oriented jobs that one gets into with a background similar to mine - consulting, investment banking, wealth management, etc - is to get to interact with the senior most members of an organization.

During my three months at my present employers, I have got a chance to get to know some amazing people, who are either first-generation entrepreneurs and have taken their companies from scratch to a well-respected position in the industry, or are children of such entrepreneurs, who are ably guiding the growth of the enterprise started by their fathers.

It is a very humbling experience knowing these people on a first-name basis, having access to their unlisted personal phone numbers, wining and dining with them, but most importantly, getting an insight into how they think.

Now, none of my clients are Fortune 500 companies, and with all due respect, won't get there in the next few years by any long shot, but they have still created value and made good use of opportunities. Which is not any less admirable than being a Birla or an Ambani.

A common element of the personalities of all these people is the confidence in their abilities that they have, and the belief in their ideas. Some of them are MBAs from the best schools around the world, some are commerce graduates from ordinary Indian colleges and one or two maybe left studies after school. But they never stopped working hard, and painstakingly, gradually, saw their venture reach levels they probably did not even imagine when they started off.

One interesting thing that I have seen is that while most of them would have expensively decorated offices, imported cars, palatial homes, would travel executive class around the world visiting their businesses spread across countries, and do a lot else associated with the really wealthy, I have yet to find one promoter, one MD (though my experience is very limited as of now), who does not retain the taste for simple food - that curd rice, that bisi bele bhaath, who does not retain the ability to crack a good joke at his own, or your, expense, and who does not mind being patient with a novice stumbling his way through his companies' confidential documents.

I feel great when I realize that at some level my firm might be adding positive value to their business. I also feel like one of those smaller animals of prey - a hyena, a fox - that go and take a small part of the flesh once the lions and the tigers of this world have had their fill.

As I keep cribbing to my close friends, especially when under the influence of Bangalore's own UB's concoction, I would really want to move on to that level some day. Maybe not have enough money to buy a BMW, but enough to pay a dumb banker's 2% fees.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sated in Bangalore

There are many reasons to love Bangalore, but one of the most important ones is that people are a lot more polite here than in any other city that I have lived in. Includes Singapore.

I used to attribute this to the great weather. Which could not be better as I type this. The table with my laptop is just beside my bedroom window, and the dark clouds, pregnant with rain, and the cool breeze blowing in, make me feel happy that I am here and not in humid Mumbai or hot Delhi.

Anyway, so I thought the weather was responsible for the general good mood that I find most people in. My earlier experience of knowing a city in the South was at Coimbatore, which normally has great weather too. At least during the short periods I visited it for. But then I went to Chennai. Have been there thrice and am going again this Monday. Though my interaction with people outside my clients' offices has been negligible, I have found the people very polite whenever I have gone out.

It's still too early to pass a verdict, but right now I feel that this is a common trend in this part of the country. Is there something in the food? Are people here brought up differently? I don't know. We could come up with reasons in anthropology, history, and a lot of other subjects. But that does not matter. We are what we are today.

The thing that inspired me to make this post was of course the interaction I had with the restaurant that I ordered my lunch from. I had ordered food from them last weekend too, but had done it through this website. I should be one of their most frequent customers. A few of my batchmates had started something like this in Delhi a few years back, but I thought it wouldn't work. I don't think it did. But now I see the utility of a service like this. I believe there is another attempt in Delhi at something like this again.

Man, I digress a lot.

So, I ordered food from them indirectly last weekend. The service was very prompt, unlike most restaurants here, partly because of the traffic. And the delivery man was extremely polite. I am one of those people for whom the quality of the food itself is probably not as important as the service and the cleanliness. Their food was packed neatly, and had huge portions (always a delightful thing). He also gave me his restaurant number, so that I could order directly in the future. The first restaurant I have ordered from to do so. Coming back from the movie (and no, I am not going to shoot off on another road describing the movie now) today, I thought of calling them up so that I could have food by the time I got back to my home.

The person at the restaurant who took the order was extremely helpful and polite. Spoke proper English, which is such a relief after the irritating experiences I have had with call-centre guys here. And by the time I got home, the food was here. The delivery-man had to wait for me, but he didn't crib about it. And I am having the steamed momos, which was part of my order, right now. Great taste as well.

So, if you are reading this somewhere in the Indiranagar area in Bangalore, try out Kim Lee sometime. I can't vouch for their premises because haven't been there, but the food is good and the service is fantastic.

I am not saying everyone in Bangalore is like this. And hell, the delivery man is a Nepali guy anyway, but that is the general trend here.

By the way, the movie was The Dark Knight. Yep, it's as great as everyone's saying it is. Scary in its violence, not in depiction, but in intention. The acting is top-notch. From every single person. And no, I don't think Heath Ledger should get the Oscar. Because there will be better performances this year. He's great, maybe worth a nomination, but in an average year in recent times, there have been better performances. This is no Anton Chigurh.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Good To Be Bad

You're killing yourself working twelve-hour days, getting fat on cheap take-out food, and your girlfriend is almost certainly fucking other guys.

Just because you've got a plasma screen TV and a big DVD collection doesn't mean you're a free man, motherfucker. You're just a well-paid slave like all other cattle out there.

Even this comic was just a fifteen minute respite from how hard we're working you.

You think the world was always like this, didn't you? The wars, the famine, the terrorism, and the rigged elections.

But now you know better, right? Now you know what happened to the superheroes and you know the funny thing? You know what makes me laugh now I'm on the other side?

You're just going to close this book and buy something else to fill that big, empty void we've created in your life.

Just in

Was about to leave office when saw this at the Rediff page. I don't know if I missed any news on this earlier, but it's a great development. Open to misuse at times, but mostly a good thing.

The renowned Rediff message board is on full throttle with discussion already.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

These dumb women

I hope this does not become a blog dedicated permanently to KH Mahabharat Kii, or even to Mahabharata, like this one, but I love the epic way too much to not click the remote button to the channel at 9 pm (I have no clue which channel shows the series - Zee, Sony, Star Plus, 9X, NDTV Imagine, all seem pretty much the same to me).

They call Shantanu's 2nd son Vichitra-veer in this series. I used to think he was called Vichitra-veerya, which would translate to Weird-sperm. Considering the fact that he was supposed to be impotent or something, it seemed pretty apt, because of which Ambika and Ambalika had to be impregnated by that ugly chap called Makrand Deshpande, aka Ved Vyas. Amba, of course, had her own plans.

I pray so hard every episode that Ganesh's artificial trunk would fall of. Or at least Ved Vyasa would pull it off. He can't humiliate that poor chap much more, can he? He was anyway called Lambodar in Hindi, which means 'Lamba hai Udar Jiska' - hey, I learnt that almost 15 years back - which, humiliatingly enough, for these times, means He Who Has A Long Stomach (Who the fuck has a 'long' stomach? It probably meant Large Stomach. No wonder the poor chap remained unmarried all his life. Though that could probably be attributed to his rather long nose and lack of hair...hey, that sounds almost like yours truly)

Amba, in this series, is played by Rakshanda Khan (the focus on her face was very brief in today's episode, so can't say for sure), who has to be one of the hottest women to have hit the TV screens this side of the Treta Yug. Or was it Dwaapar?

Ambika and Ambalika seemed to be played by a couple of those over-made-up dumb women who seem to populate Indian TV so much these days. Who would have amounted to nothing much except making bhajiyas on a rainy day in some Gujju household (or whatever sugar-laden dish Gujju families make on rainy days) in some God-forsaken Mumbai locality (btw, isn't the whole of Mumbai city God-forsaken?), but have earned a decent amount of moolah (almost as close to what I make), or at least enough fame to be approached by more dumb Gujju women on shopping trips (spending their poor dumb Gujju husbands' hard-earned money that they make from some fraud on some stock-exchange), for autographs. Which is a miracle that they actually know how to give. Though an autograph that I saw from one of these stars recently had no relation with their screen name. Unless they were given the name - Zzifnsf Asdjasfhe - by their poor parents, these stars really don't know how to read and write.

Needless to say, I miss Neena Gupta and Kittu Gidwani and Supriya Pathak and Malvika Tiwari too much. Hell, even Mita Vashishtha was better.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Greatest Story Being Retold...Sadly

When Devavrat/Bheeshma calls Satyavati (she is called Matsyagandha for some reason, which based on the stink from the fish rotting in my fridge can't be all that good) "Maate" for the first time in Ektaa Kaapooor's Kahaani Hamaaray Mahabharat Ki (or whatever it is spelt as), I could not figure out if she was crying that someone probably 20 years older than her was addressing her as mom or if she was just plain happy that all roadblocks on her way to becoming the queen of Hastinapur had finally been removed.

Ekta Kapoor's serials are an easy target, and this one does seem like a decent watch. Probably because I know that they can't really stretch the story too much, or too wide, unless she wants Bajrang Dal or VHP protesting in front of her house.

And I think her version is actually moving faster than the original B R Chopra version.

Kiran Karmakar makes probably the most sissy-voiced king in Indian TV history. And am I the only one who thinks Ronit Roy's been modelled on Legolas?

And Ganesh is goddamned ugly! But what would you expect from that hairy Shiva that they keep showing every few minutes. He needs someone from Gillette urgently.

And finally, who thought of Makrand Deshpande as Vyas? He is the theatre 'actor' with the worst diction I have ever seen. Has he been signed on because he is hairy to begin with, and save on make-up time and costs? I had this theory since my first year in undergrad, after seeing some of my batchmates, that people who are plain shameless are considered good actors very often, just because they don't feel conscious doing stupid things in front of people. Mr Deshpande, especially after a performance at IIM Calcutta's fest last year, fits that category accurately.

I have always felt that Mahabharata has a lot of scope for x-rated scenes, which our talented serial-makers avoid in order to achieve greater viewership. I wonder if anyone ever will make an adult version of the story.

It's funny seeing multiple close-ups, shaky cameras and over-expressive actors in a myth. It'll probably help us believe that we have always been like this through history, and it's not a recent degradation of filming standards.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

La Mala Educacion

My education taught me to believe that people who didn’t go to an Ivy League or equivalent school weren’t worth talking to, regardless of their class. I was given the unmistakable message that such people were beneath me. We were “the best and the brightest,” as these places love to say, and everyone else was, well, something else: less good, less bright. I learned to give that little nod of understanding, that slightly sympathetic “Oh,” when people told me they went to a less prestigious college. (If I’d gone to Harvard, I would have learned to say “in Boston” when I was asked where I went to school—the Cambridge version of noblesse oblige.) I never learned that there are smart people who don’t go to elite colleges, often precisely for reasons of class. I never learned that there are smart people who don’t go to college at all.

This is an excerpt from a very nicely-written, not altogether original, article by an Ivy League alumnus. Strikes too close to heart.

Not entirely connected, but I was reading this mail from a friend, sent to me and another good friend, a few days back. I am taking it out of context, and anyway these are the days when people trying to adjust to a life of working after two years of bliss at Cal would crib and complain.

So he was talking about how he was sitting in his flat in Mumbai without electricity or water, thinking about similar conditions faced during under-grad in the hostel of an engineering college, and when we used to believe that life would be so much better when we work.

I might have said this earlier - we are funny people.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A Crazy Evening

Left office early today because I had to buy shoes, for which one needs to find open shops, which is a rare sight when I normally leave office. But this post is not about how hard I work. Because I am not sure I do.

This post is about a crazy evening, which sort of restored faith in the fact that life's just made of small moments of happiness, rather than the big ones that we keep waiting for. Cliched, but true.

So, I came home early, changed, and left to find a decent shoe-shop. I could have stopped on my way back to do it, but I don't know why I did not. I hadn't realized, for one, that finding a good shop would be so difficult close to my flat, where everything else is so easily available. So, I decided to take an auto to CMH Road, which is one of the more prominent shopping areas in my part of Bangalore. You can find everything here. Even shoes.

I had no idea which road to take from my place to CMH Road. Waited around 15 min for an auto, but couldn't get one. So, decided to walk. I have been to CMH Road just 2-3 times since I came here, and just once directly from my home. It somehow felt too far away in an auto, and I was pretty sure I would end up in some God-forsaken dead-end colony.

Now would be a good point to disclose a secret about me. Well, it's not so much of a secret considering that it's one of those cliches that I think most men actually adhere to. I hate asking for directions, and try finding the way to a place on my own. It was a particularly dumb thing to do today, because I was tired and hungry and had a very very rough idea of which direction to walk towards.

So, imagine my happiness when after walking for about 20 min or so, and taking turns at random, I actually ended up at CMH Road. I was just too happy and if I had someone I would probably have hugged him/her.

Anyway, bought my shoes. Also, bought some take-away from McDonald's, which I am eating even as I write this. McD's is the ultimate feel-good food, and the last time I had it was in Kolkata, which was a long long time back. In fact, almost a year back.

And I am also watching this crazy, surreal film called Welcome to Woop Woop. It's an absolutely fucked up film, and I can't imagine how someone even got the idea to make it.

And apart from all this, I think I also saw one of my under-grad juniors in an auto while I was waiting for one. I wasn't sure it was him, so did not call out. But Orkut tells me that he actually works in Bangalore. So it probably was him. Co-incidences like these happen much too frequently to me.

In fact, to share another secret, when I was in school, I actually used to believe that I had special powers because of these co-incidences - I would think of some person and in a matter of a few minutes I would see that person walking down the road.

Alas, now I have realized that I am as ordinary as you are.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


What does Friends, the TV series, mean to you?

I have realized over the last few weeks, even though I have suspected this for over two years now, that it brings back amazing memories for me. The happiest moments of my life have somehow come to be associated with it.

Whether during engineering or during my MBA, Friends has been the fall-back option for me. Whenever I felt low, under-confident, just sad, watching an episode of Friends would make me cheer up again.

When you analyze it critically, you realize that it is not one of the best-written shows to have been shown on American TV, the actors aren't all that great, the situations are superficial and unnatural.

But hell, these things do not matter. What matters is that I have grown in the last few years watching this series. It's almost as close to my heart, if not more, as The Wonder Years is. And the funny thing is that, unlike Wonder Years, this did not even attempt to be that way.

I have seen every episode at least 4-5 times. The last couple of seasons remind me of the feeling I used to get during my last years in engineering - of losing my friends. Even today, if a Friends show clashes with any other program on TV, I hardly have to think before making a decision.

The series also reminds me of my friends, none of whom are here in Bangalore with me now, whom I miss quite badly. For everything great that this city has to offer, the fact that none of my friends are here, hurts a lot more. Delhi and Mumbai cannot match up to Bangalore in terms of living standards, not by a long shot, but my friends are there, and I miss them.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Doubting Jonathan

I finally finished reading the Tom Ripley trilogy by Patricia Highsmith last night. Took me over a month to finish off the three novellas totaling around 500 pages.

The 2nd and 3rd stories were fairly underwhelming. The sliminess of the Ripley character in The Talented Mr Ripley was not matched somehow in Ripley Under Ground and Ripley's Game. He transformed somehow into a more confident person, rarely having those moments of uncertainty that was the running theme throughout the first story. Or maybe the fact that he got away easily with two murders in the first story made him more daring later. But there were other factors too that made the trilogy not as interesting as I had thought it would be. Tom Ripley remains one of my most favorite characters from literature though.

Despite the general low standard of writing that I thought Ms Highsmith depicted in the novels, there were instances where the doubts the characters had made it a very good read. Doubts that I keep having or have had.

In the last few pages of the last part that I was reading last night, Jonathan Trevanny, a man dying of cancer, does something that he knows would not be approved by his wife, Simone, whom he loves dearly. Tom Ripley helps him do this. When Simone comes to know of it, she responds in the expected manner - by growing distant and asking for separation. Jonathan is sure he has not done anything wrong and thinks to himself that he still has his self-respect intact. But then, Simone was morale. He has lost Simone, and so, his morale. And isn't morale, after all, self-respect?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The 24-hour Picture Show

There are so many things that come to mind everyday, which I could write about, but by the time I get to my comp at home or at work, I forget, or find some more important work, or feel plain lazy.

It's like these ideas I keep having, one almost every day, very often in my dreams while sleeping, to base my bestseller on, but keep postponing every single day. At times I have even woken up at night to note down the idea that came to me while sleeping, but all pointless finally.

I have been thinking about writing about the various interesting scenes we come across in our daily lives that are worth capturing in a camera, but we don't. Or at least I don't. Partly because of this painful thing called laziness. Partly because these moments are too fleeting, and even if you did bother to focus a camera the moment would be past. But mainly because, I don't have a camera in my phone, and I can't carry my digicam, which anyway hasn't been charged in over a year, all the time.

I had phones with cameras for over two years, and had put them to occasional good use at times, but now the phone I am using doesn't have a camera. My office had given me a Blackberry Pearl, which did have a camera, but I managed to lose it within a week. Well, it got stolen, but the end result is the same. I was afraid that I would be asked to pay for it, or at least buy a Blackberry on my own, but they gave me an old one instead. I am hardly in a position to ask them for a better one now, and it's working well enough so don't need to buy one on my own either. Anyway, for a technologically challenged person like me, getting one phone configured to my Outlook account and getting other settings done was enough work for a lifetime. I am buying another phone like this only after I get a secretary.

Anyway, so coming back to my post, after that long digression, one of the most striking scenes I missed clicking a shot of took place about four years back on a cold Delhi morning. I had spent a night with a friend of mine at the boys' hostel of Ramjas College in DU North Campus and were coming back to Hauz Khas around 8-9am. We got slightly lost on our way to the metro station and ended up somewhere in the slums near Kashmere Gate. So there we were standing lost in front of a shanty, with a couple of kids answering calls (of the non-cell phone kind) in front of us, and a few metres behind them, at some height, there was this futuristic train rushing by. Cliched representation, but very very striking.

There are far too many such moments when I feel I could capture what I am seeing, and the way I am seeing it, for other people. Maybe even a blog is a non-pictorial attempt towards that same aim. Sometimes what I am seeing and find striking might appear very normal and mundane to anyone else.

For instance, the thing that inspired this post was a very innocuous incident. I walk for about 400m after getting down from the auto on my way back home from office. There's a very shady bar on the way (and my choosing to walk has got nothing to do with its being there), and a small shop that sells something to eat on the other side of the road from it. I haven't figured out, in two months, what it sells, but from the very strong smell and the number of dogs hovering about I can guess that it's some fried non-veg thing. Maybe some weird variety of fried chicken. Anyway, normally the people hanging around the shop to buy a plate of that weird fried chicken thing are men who have just come out of the bar or are going in to buy a bottle or two and move on. The other night I saw an old lady with a young girl and a slightly older boy there. The boy was quite fat, was sitting on the backseat of a parked scooter and the old lady, possibly a grandmom or something, was feeding him piece after piece of whatever she had just bought from there. It was very funny but endearing at the same time. And no, the girl wasn't being made to stare longingly while the boy, presumably her brother, hogged. She was eating as well, but not with the same speed.


On an unconnected note, I do read all comments made here. Even at posts made months back. I just don't reply all the time, because I don't see a point in replying with a dumb comment or a smiley just to show that I am interested. It's not that I am not, but not enough to insult intelligence, yours or mine. At the same time, just as a clarification, I don't judge comments on whether they are intelligent or profound. Fire away with whatever you feel like.

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