Friday, December 15, 2006

The Escape...

    A number of times in my life, I’ve likened myself to a lot of fictional characters. And have behaved what that character would’ve done in that particular situation. Part of this had been accentuated by a wave of Calvin books that swept by me in no time. Calvin thinks of himself as different characters in difficult situations and tries to struggle with his nemesis of the moment accordingly, only to realize towards the end that he actually is not what he thinks of himself to be. Reality strikes and things come back to haunt him.

    Lately, I’ve wanted a lot to be like Forrest Gump. If, if I could just run away from some of the things in life.

    The other day, I found a couple of lines a friend had scribbled in my yearbook (and I quote) “…you the complex kid, who’s got all the candy the world has to offer and yet...yet the yearning for that elusive chocolate that you missed.” Of all the things that my friends have said about me, this to my mind is quite a close description. And lately while I’m yet to find my elusive chocolate I think the life of this supposedly complex kid has got that bit more complex.

    “Can I just run away with you to an island with loads of chocolates, water, a pile of Frasier and movie DVDs, music CD’s , my home theater system, comics and some cricket magazines and books?”

    The question to be asked is: If the thought of escapism is quite soothing in itself, what unbridled joy might a real escape actually bring?

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The Escape...

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Tuesday, December 5, 2006

The Art of Superficial Science

    I have a problem.

    Many of my close friends are getting married. The problem I have is I hate attending weddings. And a lot of my friends think that an ideal way for me to express my warmth towards them is for me to attend their weddings. I disagree completely.

    If you conduct a dipstick among my friends I think most of them will tell you that I’ve been a decent friend to hang around with. I have smiled, laughed, frowned, teased and listened to all my friends. I’ll continue doing all of that and more all my life but one thing that really pisses me off more than eating Mutton Palak (They serve it in our canteen. I don’t know why!) is that one line that I dread hearing from my friends.

    “You can’t even attend our wedding?”

    What the bloody f**k?
    I brought you home on my shoulders when you were pissed drunk. I let you copy from my notebooks when you didn’t know that Gobi Desert was not a sweet dish but a spot on Asia’s physical map. I was the one who actually told that girl you finally married that you liked her. And I still haven’t told your wife yet that you got rejected five times before by 3 different girls before you proposed her.

    So what have I done wrong if I didn’t attend your stupid wedding? What was in it for me anyway? You’re the one who gets married, gets all the gifts and takes a vacation for the honeymoon. How will it help me if I attend your goddamn wedding?

    Now the puritan will stand up and give us the explanation that joys and sorrows are meant to be shared. He must’ve heard it from his father and his father must have heard it from his neighbor who in his green fields must’ve heard some donkey braying in Tadzhik (a Central Asia dialect) that joys and sorrows were meant to be shared. This entire world creates a superfluous din about this whole rigmarole of wedding celebrations but nobody realizes why they do it.

    Make a grand announcement from Qutub Minar. Carve an invitation card with sandalwood. Let a thousand odd people eat so much that they can’t even shit properly the next day. Decorate cars with flowers. Get dressed in your finest suit and drive your bride away on a rented limousine. Wake up next morning like a pauper, make a list of all those people who didn’t attend the wedding and then call them up and moan, “You didn’t even attend our wedding!”
    Just as Robert De Niro’s exclaims in Goodfellas, I’m left wondering, “What’s the world coming to?”

    Can’t the world see through the contorted custom, the hollow celebrations and the redundancy of inviting people to weddings? And on top of all of this, the reckless expectation, that everyone should attend these weddings. Sorry, but I fail to get this. Completely.

    The last wedding I went for, I cringed and cribbed and cursed myself for the whole of 50 minutes I’d to be there. There was a group of friends who were seemingly having fun. They danced on the streets of Delhi for no good reason with some losers trumpeting distorted versions of old Hindi numbers ahead of them. I shook a leg and wished I had drowned in Red Sea. And then I hear my friends telling me , “Yaar, shaadi mein bahut mazaa aaya…” .

    I asked my friend, "Isme mazaa kya aaya?"
    He looked at me as if I asked the dumbest thing ever and shrugged his shoulders saying , "Mazaa to aaya..."

    Now let’s spend a moment on the logistics. Even if you go for your best friend’s wedding, you can’t speak to him one bit. The guy/girl will have a plastic smile on his face all the time. He won’t be your college buddy he used to be. He wants you to be there, even if he won’t be able to see you. Why? Even he doesn’t know. But his family must’ve told him, “Invite all your friends”, so if his friends don’t turn up, he’ll be questioned and if you didn’t go his level of conviction in the “Yes! They came!” in his bellow won't shine through.

    I can understand the importance of big moments and the need of friends around you in such moments. But the moment you’re getting married to someone, somewhere you’ve chosen your best friend for life, so why do you need your old friends to be there physically to gape at you? And if you haven’t chosen your best friend to marry, why the hell are you even getting married?

    So my dear friends, get married, have a great life, live long and stay happy! I wish you well even if I don’t attend your wedding. I just can’t practice the superficial science of being able to attend weddings and not feeling hollow about the entire celebrations. Meanwhile, I’ll continue being the friend you could always hang around with.

    Like the good old college days, I think…

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The Art of Superficial Science

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

The rewritten script

    I’m seldom taken in by surprise. Even if I am, I act like I’m in control. Nothing bothers me. The best I’ve always done is when there’s chaos around me. I love tough times because when I’m in one , all I tell myself is how soon I’ll recount victoriously the tale of how I survived that phase. I control the pace of everything around me. I’ve a great set of friends and I live like a millionaire even though I’m not one. I always believe there is a way to make everything happen the way you want it to happen. In short, there’s nothing in my life right now, that isn’t in alignment to the script that I chose to write and I thank my Lord for that.

    Yet what happened last week is so bizarre that I’m still struggling to figure this one out.

    For once, I’m a little stumped by what confronts me. Its one thing that I was never prepared for this and it’s another that even my best preparation would have not helped one bit. Imagine reading a book, that you were told, had pictures on all the left hand pages of the book. You went as far as the middle of the book only to realize that the right hand pages of the book had pictures too.

    Now, would you turn back all the pages to look at all the right hand side pictures as well? Or would you go ahead and keep looking at the pictures on the left hand side of the book? Or would you look at the pictures on both sides of the book?

    But what if, to go ahead you had to choose only one side of the book to look at.What would you do?

    Imagine waking up one fine morning and being told that you actually had two identities. Two lives. Two separate lives...

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The rewritten script

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Looking back. And ahead

    Since I’m back after a long time, need to warm up to blogging all over again and hence this is going to be an attempt at flashback over the last month.

    1. My radio station finally hit the airwaves in style. The media campaign has been received well and Fever104 FM is on its way to Bombay next. After weeks of long hours at work, I’m retaining sanity and with it signs of survival.

    2. Lately I’ve been in love with rickshaw rides as the weather in Delhi is an absolute ripper these days. Have also been spending some gorgeous Sundays between newspapers, movies and friends. On the flip side, I’ve had to quit my theater group.

    3. And lastly, there was one and only one thing I thought and dreamt I’d buy for myself after getting a job on campus. It was the only thing that I wanted to own. Not a car, no shoes, no clothes and no watches and no laptops and no cell phone. There was no looking forward to any of it. Just this fervent anticipation in a beauty called a Sony Music System. Last week I finally uncorked the splendid lady in my room. In a tribute to my idols, the first armory I played on my system comprised a Dire Straits tape, a VCD each of “Taxi Driver” and “And Justice for All” and the Floyd Pulse Concert DVD.

    And the last bit of it only reinforces what I always believed in. A dream is at best a trivial pursuit but when you get there it does feel right. :-)

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Looking back. And ahead

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

A 100 Wishes!

    My cell hasn’t stopped buzzing since this morning. I haven’t written the latest bestseller, neither have I scored a half century at Lords nor have I found out that Bin Laden is still alive. I have still not breached my boundaries of a fairly simplistic existence in any manner and yet my cell has been incessantly buzzing with messages wishing me and my family a prosperous, happy, safe and what-not Diwali.

    Having immersed myself in some of the Freakonomics theories to quite an extent, I found myself asking the question, “Why do people send these mass messages/e-mailers wishing others on festivals like Diwali?” My question is specific to only these “mass dispatches” and not towards people wishing each other on Diwali and the like on a one-on-one basis.

    I even mapped the profile of people who sent me these messages. Who exactly are these people? I didn’t get too far with this one. There were all kinds. Vendors, agencies, bosses and friends. There was no way I could find a common thread in this diverse group of people. My next step was to map these people on demographics. Here too, there was no skew towards any gender or age. So this theory also went for a toss. As a last resort, I shall try to put in my understanding of this phenomenon.

    But before that, a basic truth of our times. Technology has infinitely increased convenience and killed the warmth between people. Earlier, Ms. Arora and family would either meet up or call Ms. Bhandari and family on Diwali day. Today, Ms. Arora finds the click of an SMS to be of immense convenience to make up for that meeting or call or that greeting card. Now this is between friends who’ve been there for each other for some time. There’s another side to it and this is where I think I might be jumping into a controversial net. But let’s see if we can think this through.

    These SMS/Mailers have helped people who hardly know me to wish me. This has enabled these people to cast the net of their acquaintances wide without any incremental cost. The downside being that if I hardly know anyone, receiving a “Happy Diwali” SMS from these people is not exactly my idea of the beginning of an endearing relationship with such people. I’m sure these people are also aware of this fact. If they are, then why do they still do it? More importantly, do these people expect a reply from us? In case of mass e-mailers, am not sure if they do or not but in case of SMS’, I’ve a sneaking suspicion that they are expecting a reply. This means I receive an SMS from someone wishing me “Happy Diwali” which doesn’t excite me at all. As a gesture of simple courtesy, (I make it a point to always respond whenever approached on mail/call/SMS/Orkut) I reply politely wishing the sender as well. Now this is obviously personalized because I’m replying to someone’s message. The sender feels good having received this personalized reply. It is now that the whole exercise of wishing people through mass mailers/SMS’ seems that bit of a farce to me.

    Firstly, you put me in a mass basket.
    Secondly, if I reply, you’re happy about it.
    Thirdly, in this whole exercise, I didn’t feel special at all getting either wished or wishing you. Nevertheless, you’re the one who walked away with the personalized reply.

    It somehow hence seems that the people who actually were sending these mass messages want to be wished themselves. I’d agree that no one consciously sends these dispatches thinking that ‘Since I want to be wished let me send out an SMS/E-mail to the 312 people in my address book.’ But the more I think about it, it appears to me that the singular underlying motive for which people seem to be sending these “mass dispatches” is self-gratification.

    While it might be a coincidence, a majority of my friends, who sent these messages were also single. This also leads me to believe that for such people their need for self-gratification was even more than the average 24 year old who was committed, engaged or married. These were all nice people but probably lacked that constant backing in their life that keeps them informed about how nice or good or great their own existence was. Consequently being wished in return on an occasion like Diwali just happens to be an occasion to feel good about themselves.

    A loophole in my explanation is that why do I feel obliged to reply. I could rant about courtesy but my simple view is every action has a reaction. My reaction is against the stimulus and here I’m trying to pin down the reason for the stimulus.

    Another view that might go against my theory is that these people wished others on a mass basis because they simply thought it’s a nice gesture to wish everyone with least effort. That’s all!

    To which my reply is, if someone is that special enough to deserve this nice gesture, what’s a little extra effort in sending a simple personalized SMS/E-Mailer? And if someone is not that special enough then why even bother?

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A 100 Wishes!

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Declaration

    "You put all of them together , add an extra 10% and if they can do better than me, I'll never... ever... ever give another shot at this in my life! "

    Did Howard Roark ever make such a statement?
    Would I?

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The Declaration

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bend Over and Dont Scream

    Launch. Radio. Vendors. No.No.No.Exciting. Getting fucked. Transmitter.18th Floor.King of Delhi.What am I doing? This is Great! Fuck! Theater.Screw the Virgin! Fantastic.Intellectual.9 am to 9 pm. Calvin and Hobbes.Shirts. Sony Deck.Radio Sets. Bitch! RJ's. HT House. Merchandiser. Jack Daniels. FM104. No Network. Voice Artist. Pyongyang. "Been there myself!". Marketing. Three cubes of Ice. Building. Updates. Music.

    Post launch, shall be coming up with an autobiography on the making of the marketing launch campaign for 104FM titled, "Will Survive, Wont Survive..." :-)

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Bend Over and Dont Scream

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Monday, October 2, 2006

And I am...

    It’s been a long time given my working hours in the last two weeks. Since, in the meantime, I couldn’t find enough time to write a story or think of something worthwhile to write, this post is a random collection of useless trivia. The format of this post is inspired by the column titled “Gleanings” that appears in the Cricinfo magazine.

    I’ve trouble managing my friends because I’ve trouble mailing and calling them and I can never manage to meet all of them

    I find the celebration of birthdays and wishing friends on their birthdays meaningless. There are 364 other days and numerous other ways to make my friends feel special.

    My best friends are those with whom I’ve spent time roaming on bicycles on the streets of a town called Ghaziabad.

    I’ve been in love once. It was beautiful.

    The first time I proposed a girl was in Std. II. I think her name was Bournvita. Or something like that.

    For me, an intelligent and humorous conversation with a lady is as good as making out.

    I always do better than my peers when there’s a lot of uncertainty and chaos around. If I‘m given set pieces and structured guidelines I’m just average.

    I can’t understand why journalists and salespersons are not paid well. They definitely work harder than me.

    I think I’m becoming more conniving with every day I spend at work given that I act like a war General always negotiating budgets and deadlines.

    I’ve a special affection for Jack Daniels.

    I prefer being at home reading comics to things like river-rafting, rappelling and trekking.

    I hate attending social functions and weddings

    I love dogs far more than babies and kids.

    On an average, I’ve about 10 ice-creams very week.

    In my books , if you can’t be punctual, your existence is irrelevant.

    I believe there’s more goodness around than the world credits itself with.

    It’s easy to find morons everywhere. I mean everywhere

    I’ve been told by people that I’m mean and think too highly of myself. I disagree with the latter because if there’s one thing I know for sure are my limitless limitations and mediocre strengths.

    I’m very possessive about my shirts, books, comics, cassettes and CD’s.

    There are only two things I badly want to do in life.
    a. Provide live on-air cricket commentary with Sunil Gavaskar.
    b. Make a movie.
    I came real close to the first. The second, I haven’t started working on.

    I want to do the Tango once with a lovely woman on a cruise a la Al Pacino in a restaurant in Scent of a Woman.

    I used to be a great liar in school. They never caught me except my Dad.

    I always root for the underdog. Most of the times in my life, I’ve been one.

    Someone asked me once what I’m best at, I didn’t have an answer. But if it counts, I think I talk alright.

    There’s nothing in my life that I wouldn’t do all over again.
    I think I’ve been real lucky in my life to say this.

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And I am...

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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Remixed Halo

    When I chose HT 5 months back on-campus, there was a certain halo associated with it. Today after the 3 and a half months after I've spent at HT , I think I'm just glad that the halo has'nt eroded. I think if I were on campus right now fighting for a job in Final Placements, HT would still be my #1.

    I interacted with the the entire Management Trainee batch after a long time today. I used to categorize my friends as school friends, college friends, SP friends and Dell friends. The latest addition is this batch of "MT friends". They're all kinds in there. A normally distributed curve of individuals yet they're nice people. All of them. You should meet them! :-)

    And you would agree for a company that went to campuses for the first time ever recruiting for an MT batch, picking up 15 students across every B-School that counts in India, HT Media Ltd. did'nt do too bad!

    5 months after I selected HT, the halo is remixed. Just that bit jazzier than before...

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The Remixed Halo

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Saturday, September 9, 2006

Money Money Happy Returns

    Inside Dome-2, I was fielding questions from one of the directors of the BPO division of Hexaware Technologies.
    “So you really think the idea of being a big fish in a small pond excites you and hence you want to join Caliber Point?”, Guhan asked.
    “Well, actually yes. I think your company has tremendous potential. Joining Caliber Point at this point of time makes sense for my career because I like the idea of being in this high growth BPO Sector.”
    “Hmm… so is Caliber Point your first choice?”
    “Yes. Among BPOs, it is.”
    “Among BPOs… did you say? What about among other companies?”
    “I think my #1 company is HT Media. I want to go to Media. ”

    I was hoping he wouldn’t ask me the oft-repeated, staid and stinking question of: Why Media? Thankfully, he didn’t.

    “So do you have an offer from them?”
    “Umm… I don’t know. I’d just finished my interview and had to rush into this room.”
    “How did your interview with HT go?”
    “Excellent, actually.”
    “So you’re expecting an offer…”
    “I’d be surprised if I don’t make it…”
    “All right, Issac. I like the fact that you’ve been honest with me. I think I should do the same with you. I think you should go to Media yourself.”

    I laughed to myself. That was the zillionth time I was told that I should be going to Media. The catch being, no Media Company, save HT agreed to come to campus and the ones I’d applied to off-campus had already rejected me for lack of experience.

    Guhan continued, “You’ve my number. So let me know if you don’t make it. I’ll make you an offer to join Caliber Point. Thank you for your time.”
    “Thanks Guhan. Will do. It was a pleasure.”

    I came out of Dome-2 and what ensued in the next 15 seconds rank as some of the most memorable moments of my time at SP and there have been quite a few in that campus. I saw Megha waiting right outside and Vivek was standing with her. Somehow one always tends to notice what the girl has to say.
    “Issac!!! Spot Offer, HT!!!”
    “Phew… Finally. Thank God.” I said to myself and smiled.

    More and much more out of relief than elation. I walked down the stairs and saw Martin, Archana, Aparna, Nikhil and KP and others. Each of them impeccable in their formal attires. Somewhere, they were waiting for this moment as much as I was. I heard gushes of various forms of Congratulations as I walked down the stairs.

    “Why aren’t you jumping?” Appy asked.
    Archana rationalized. Martin came up with a wise-crack. KP smiled. Megha could hardly keep her feet on the ground and Vivek just stood there, happy.
    Guhan followed me down the stairs. He knew something was happening.
    We didn’t exchange a word. He glanced questioningly. I nodded. He came close, shook hands and left. Nice, honest chap, I thought to myself and we left for lunch.

    What a moment! Beautiful. And this was mine. And being in Placom , I was fortunate enough to be able to share the joys of 146 other of my friends getting their jobs at the Mega Job Fair technically referred to as “Final Placements”.

    This was on February 17th and today I’ve completed 3 months at HT. It’s been a steady journey through a maze of Media wisdom. And hence I write this with an understanding of the Media Sector, the standard placement process in the top B-Schools across the country and from my interaction with students from these B-Schools, now settled in their jobs like me.

    B-School students across India would never consider Media as a priority sector. It’s bizarre and funny as to how myths and half-truths about Media being less paying, riskier and inflexible for career growth abound even amongst the cream of intellectual capital in India. So here are 3 simple questions and answers for anyone who’s still reading.

    a.) Why do B-School students consider Consultancy, FMCG and Banking hot compared to Media? Now if the most obvious answer to that is the fact that Consultancy , FMCGs and Banking on an average pay more than Media, my next question would be :

    b.) Were all these B-Schools formed so that students enter into the highest paying jobs in descending order? If the answer to that is Yes, my third question would be thus.

    c.) Are we creating about 5000(and more…) money-hungry Management Post-Graduates every year in India?

    The fact of the matter is for every B-School Grad, money is a foremost priority and rightly so. Who wants to take up an education loan of 5 lacs and end up with a job that pays peanuts? I’m no one to question anyone’s choice but if the choice of a particular student in a B-School going through his Final Placement rests solely on the expected bank balance at the end of the month, there is something wrong with the MBA education set-up in the country. I refuse to believe that the so called “quality of work” is better in consultancy firms or the training in FMCG’s is world-class. Bullcrap. At the end of the day, your job, your business and your corporate success depends solely on the amount of common sense you’re able to allocate to your immediate deliverable.

    Unlike what Dilbert’s bosses would have him believe , it’s a sham to think that there are traces of rocket science in any stream of Management.

    I’ve always encountered substantial opposition within my peer group whenever I’ve said that 80-90% of B-School students in India place money as a top-most priority in their choice of jobs.

    Maybe I could write a paper on this , sprinkled with enough data and send it to Levitt and Dubner and ask them to pay me 9 lacs p.a. as royalties plus a signing bonus and an undertaking for a Social Security-cum-Provident Fund along with a variable component of 25% on the above quarter on quarter ... Jeez, there I go!

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Money Money Happy Returns

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Tuesday, September 5, 2006

The Irony

    All throughout school, I listened to my teachers.

    All through college, I listened to my professors and wardens and principals.

    At work at Cadburys, Dell, Progeon and now HT, I listen to my boss.

    At times I’ve also listened to my friends as an obligation.

    When I was seeing someone, I used to listen to her.

    All my life, I’ve listened to my Dad.

    At church, I listen to the priest.

    If God spoke to me, I would listen.

    If Satan did, I would be just curious to know what he has to say, so I’d end up listening.

    Why cant I just be silent and let somebody else listen now?

    What a stupid thing this life is?

    All your life (at least till you’re 23 ) , you grow up listening and by the time it’s your turn to talk, it’s not even worth it...

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The Irony

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Dude... Where's my Pluto?

    I find even the name funny. I’ve Walt Disney for company. He has a character named after it. Pluto.

    And I find the backlash against the International Astronomical Union (IAU) for demoting Pluto to being a ‘dwarf planet’ even funnier. What got me thinking about this was an article in HT about how different groups are coming out in support for Pluto’s planethood. In it was a mention of a society called “Society for Preservation of Pluto as a Planet”. I find this funniest.

    Different people, different views. It is also one of the reasons why the world is such a fascinating place to be in. I, for one, couldn’t care less about it. And the way I see it for a substantial percentage of people in the world, this hardly means anything as well. Apart from this chunk of astronomers and those students who are still in school. Even for the students, it’s just another line added to their textbooks which they’ll forget right after their next exam. Calvin was right on the money when he said that all he learnt in school was to “cynically manipulate the system.” For instance, I learnt about a figure called the Rhombus in school. I never had to recall that figure after that. It’s also unlikely, in the near future, that the Rhombus will have any material or spiritual impact in my life

    I find the Rhombus phenomenon being applied to Pluto as well. A good number of people will ask us to oppose the demotion. People will wear T-Shirts ($25) , put up bumper stickers ($4), sign online petitions, hold demonstrations, raise a catchy slogan and shout on top of their voices, “S.O.S. Save Pluto!”

    My question is: Why?

    Do these people think that IAU is conspiring against the planet? Did Pluto give these experts’ from IAU nightmares? Was Pluto pulling their ties and taking down their pants in conferences? Was Pluto bewitching the families of these experts’? Is there a hidden agenda in the demotion? If the answer to any of these questions is “Aye”, I stand up for Pluto. Else, I’m already bidding my friend a warm goodbye.

    I think in all of it, there’s a lesson. All of us have a problem when something is taken away from us. We might not need it, yet we want it. We won’t even know what to do with it when it’s with us, but we would want it.

    The way I look at it, sometimes it’s just nice to let go off things with a smile.

    P.S. : If I actually get a nice Pluto T-Shirt, I’ll buy it.
    Paradox, you say? Well, I think it’s funny!
    And if it’s there, I’ll just want it!

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Dude... Where's my Pluto?

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Poetess

    “Hi… waiting for someone?”

    “Yeah, you too?”

    “Yep. Same here. It's funny. Some people just can’t be on time!”

    “True. It’s weird. My friend even stays close-by while I traveled quite a distance to get here, yet I was on time.”

    “And who wants to go for a movie, half an hour late? I’m actually thinking about chucking this movie now. You wanna take a walk?

    “Yeah, but I can’t go far. My friend would expect me to be here.”

    “Ah… that’s okay. You study or work?”

    “I work for a small company in South Delhi. What about you?”

    “I’m working too. Work for Hindustan Times. Just down the road…”

    “So… You an engineer?”

    “Naa… Graduate in Arts.”

    “Hmm... Which college?”

    “Correspondence actually… And what do you work as?”

    “I just joined the Radio Division’s Marketing Team. What’s your name?”

    “Kaavya. And you are? ”

    “Issac… I-Double-S-A-C”

    “Hmm... does it mean something?”

    “Yeah… something like a smile in the Hebrew language.”

    “You know, it’s interesting how names come about. In India a lot of names are derived from day-to-day words of Hindi and Sanskrit while in Western countries I’m not sure if that’s the case…”

    “True, very true. Now that you said this … Ah... here comes my friend… (How I’d love to continue talking with you! Sigh!!!). Will see you some time then.”

    “Yeah, nice talking. See you!”

    There’re all kinds of people in this world. Some happen to be just so simple to talk with.

    In a city of 14 million people, what are the chances that I’ll meet her again?

    None. :-)

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The Poetess

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Mr. and Mrs. Arora

    Mr. Arora wouldn’t mince words when reminded of his childhood days.
    “Yeh poora Nehru pariwaar kameeno se bhara hain…”

    He was born months after Partition and could relive those days like yesterday. And every time Mrs. Arora would listen like never before. She must’ve heard this story a hundred times yet wouldn’t fail to take her place on the sofa when her husband would recount those instances all over again.

    This time, Mr. Arora was narrating the story to his newly moved in South-Indian neighbor, Mr. Swamy. This was a Sunday morning and they’d invited the Swamys for a breakfast. Ms. Arora’s culinary skills were legendary. The last time she’d invited her relatives for dinner, food kept flying into the plates till 2 in the morning.

    Nevertheless, to return to Mr. Arora's story, he was born in September, 1947. And at the height of the rioting in Noakhali and Punjab, his father was trying to get in touch with his mother. His father owned a flourishing cycle business. Flourishing, because the British actually bought and paid for these cycles. Mr. Arora’s father wouldn’t have been able to take care of his wife and hence sent her to Gujranwala to her relatives during her pregnancy, thinking that at the time of her delivery he’ll call her back to Delhi.

    She was said to deliver in September and all throughout August, her husband tried in every manner possible to get his wife back to India. He sent her air tickets and got it announced on AIR. Back there in Gujranwala, Ms. Arora was shielded by a close set of relatives. They would massacre her if those goons on the streets found out she was a Hindu. Mr. Arora’s father sent a trusted aide on train to Gujranwala to bring his wife back. He never returned. He was a Hindu.

    “Forget the fact that she was pregnant, it was getting suicidal by the minute to stay back in Pakistan for any Hindu”, Mr. Arora recounted with pride.

    “All this because of Nehru, that bastard…” Mr. Arora roared. “He wouldn’t let Jinnah become the PM and because Gandhiji trusted Nehru blindly, he could get away with it.”

    “Jinnah was fine with Patel becoming the PM as well but Nehru would have none of it. Being the Congress President himself at that time, Nehru did command considerable clout. The country was plunged into the agony of partition, all because of him. While my mother was trying to save her and my life, that bastard celebrated his post of Prime Ministership sipping a glass of champagne with the Mountbattens. Countless, such stories lie untold… ”, Mr. Arora paused for a while.

    “Finally, on a train that had men and women perched everywhere from the toilet to the roof, she came with her brother to New Delhi on 21st August, 1947. It was a Thursday. The train was late and my father had slept off on the platform waiting for her. He woke up with the commotion at the station. It was impossible to sight her amidst a sea of humanity. My father’s residence was also burnt down so unless he met my mother she wouldn’t know where to meet my father. Those were the days without pagers and mobile phones…”, he said this with a smile.

    “They kept looking for each other for quite some time and couldn’t find each other. Utter chaos held sway over the platform. It must’ve been difficult. They called Dad a number of times from the station too but no one picked up. How could anyone? My Dad was also on the station naa…”

    “My uncle suggested to my Mom, that they leave for Bhiwani, another relative’s place. It was important that my Mom went to a place devoid of riots. Delhi just didn’t seem right. And my uncle said they would call Dad later and ask him also to come to Bhiwani.

    Mr. Swamy was listening with rapt attention.

    “So my uncle took my mother to Bhiwani. And thankfully this time around, things went to plan. My Dad joined us a few days and I was born finally. The troubles my Dad and Mom went over, for my birth. And to think of it, countless, such stories lie untold. At least, my Dad was rich and we had caring relatives. What about others…?”

    Mr. Swamy nodded and looked around the house. He didn’t quite know how to respond. He saw a picture on the wall, that of a young lady.
    He asked Mr. Arora, “Is that your daughter?”

    Mr. Arora replied softly, “She was. In ’84, on the streets of Karol Bagh, she was burnt alive by cronies of that bastard family because she was seen with a group of her Sikh friends.

    His voice choked.

    “Saala poora Nehru pariwaar kameeno se bhara hain…”

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Mr. and Mrs. Arora

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006


    A number of times, I have thought of this and refrained from posting it. As I had mailed a close group of friends this was lest it be seen as a sign of an emotional weakness rearing from a casual and jovial demeanor.

    I’d been to SP for a couple of hours last weekend for a rather basic Placom talk and since then I’ve been on a rather different plane altogether. What affected me was probably having seen the juniors’ AKB video and them orienting the batch of 2007. There’s very little, I can compare that feeling of thrill and excitement of being in Second Year at SPJIMR. There’s nothing, absolutely nothing in my life that can ever equal that. And for me, if you’ve never been at SP, you’ve lost out on an education unparalleled, unseen and unfathomable.

    Something about the place is mesmerizing. The languid feel of the place cocktailed with the dichotomy of the hurried sense of being at the Bistro is near inexplicable. I think even a Salman Rushdie, if he were an SP alumni would struggle to capture the intangibles of being at SP. And then there’s something about being from an SP family that only another SP member can relate to. Given the fact that our institute’s been around for less than 23 years there are so few SP alumni around in the industry anyway that only a select counted children of a higher God can relate to Dome – I, Audi, Bistro or a baby named AKB.

    And as I recollect those images again from the video I was given by our juniors, I’m on that plane when logic gives way to emotion, disinclination gives way to camaraderie and fun gives way to sheer nostalgic ecstasy. And while I do keep kicking hard at that air of nostalgia that engulfs me, it is one hell of a ride!

    Simply put, proud, bloody proud to be an SPJIMR thoroughbred! :-)

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

News is that!

    For over a month now, I’ve been an employee of a leading player in the print media landscape in India. Having observed from close quarters, an industry that thrives on news every single minute of the day, here are my top ten reflections from the industry I depend on for my daily bread. (…and butter and jam and the occasional sandwich!)

    1. Being in the newspaper industry isn’t just as glamorous as it seems. It’s just that bit more you never thought of. Suddenly Vir Sanghvi, Mrinal Pandey and Farhad Wadia become your bosses and you also get to flaunt that ‘PRESS’ sticker on your car.

    2. It’s okay not to be entirely committed to it. As long as you are okay fiddling with news you can get away with a lot of things. E.g. the landmark Bombay Times, the trendy HT Style and the challenger in DNA After Hours.

    3. Working for a newspaper is like playing a One Day Series. The catch being you never get to choose whether you want to play a day game or a day and night game. You just play along!

    4. It is the only industry that makes money between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.

    5. It’s the antithesis of the wine industry. You want the newspaper served the moment it’s distilled.

    6. Selling more and more units of papers in this industry is like risking your life every time you have sex with a new woman. It just about feels right but the more you sell, the more you lose on every paper.

    7. This goes without saying but you are unlikely to be considered fit for the editorial team unless you have an unshaven look, can smoke and sport a low waist rugged jeans without a belt.

    8. There are some news that can’t be bought. For everything else there’s a Page 3 in ToI. Actually I'm being kind here ; you could have their editorial space too!

    9. Most days I love my job. The days I don’t, I love flirting with it.

    10. I’m running out of ideas. Help! :-D

    These are the best of times for newspapers because being challenged across media means that the newspapers have to pull up their socks every single day to stay ahead of the net, TV and digital forms of media. These are also the worst of times for that very reason. Either way, two years from today newspapers will never be the same.

    Now, that’s fairly exciting! :-)

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News is that!

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006


    Something’s moved me immensely and it’s a train of unconnected thoughts. I was winding my day at the HT office at Mahim when a non-descript gentleman at the office declared that there had been a blast at Khar Station. While people were just reacting to that, another voice boomed, “Blast at Mahim too. It’s serial!”

    And before we even knew we were rushing upstairs to the Editorial floor. It was on Television. 4 blasts had rocked the western line of local trains ripping through the heart of Mumbai. Anywhere in the world such news would be depressing but watching the events unfold on television monitors on the editorial floor of Mumbai’s HT office was nothing less than spine-chilling. After this, I don’t know when exactly this evening, I felt disconnected from everything else.

    Myself and my colleague walked the distance from Mahim(W) till our Bandra Guest House and in between I spoke to my dad disinterestedly and lost my temper with my colleague on a discussion that on an average day would have been settled in my favor without any recourse to high tempers.

    The events that followed touched me deeply simply because the worst one can feel in life is when he/she is completely helpless in controlling things surrounding him/her. People at office frantically trying to reach their loved ones, the Editor telling a reporter “Find out whether people jumped off or if there was a fire…” and the bubbly girl, with a bag around her shoulders nodding with a smile and walking out (while news of only 4 blasts had poured in) or the sirens of the ambulances on our way back, everything had a forbiddingly grim sense about it.

    It set me thinking a bit about a lot of things and I cannot help but stay perplexed at the motives of those people who engineer such pusillanimous acts. What exactly must be their reaction to all of this? Do they feel vindicated? Or are they plain happy? Are they celebrating their success of giving 198 innocent souls a horrific end to their ordinary lives?

    I went out for a walk at 11 this night and in my more than 2 years of knowing Mumbai; I’d never ambled through a quieter time in this city.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Travelling Mist

    She stood there.
    And he thought to himself, “She’d be one hell of a woman to make out with…”

    She looked familiar but he also knew of this theory he used to console himself with. If you kept staring at a girl, she would seem familiar in no time. For that matter Sameer also knew that if you kept staring at a girl, it would also seem that she’s staring at you. Nevertheless, in this case it was only Sameer who was gaping at the lady.

    He’d nearly finished his daily dose of business news in the Metro. He must’ve been so engrossed in devouring those stock market tips in the paper that he didn’t even notice when and where she got into the train. His was a daily 52 minutes ride from Dwarka Sector 14 to Barakhamba Road and all he did every day travelling in this train was to finish off his newspaper for the day. He quite preferred it that way. Morning would be such a mess with Sarika, both racing with each other to beat the clock to get out for work.

    Both of them had a rather small courtship period before deciding to tie the knot. It’d been less than two years but they sure weren’t bored of each other as yet.
    Marriage seemed to be turning out fine, he was finding out. But right now, one and only one thing caught his attention. And she stood tall and effortlessly stylish.

    Wearing a white top and a pair of blue capris she seemed nothing less than an absolutely sizzling celebrity. Perhaps, a Keira Knightley or a Kirsten Dunst. She was resting her shoulders against the corner of one of those compact compartments. Her tall legs were crossed with her left ankle resting against the shin of her right leg.

    For a moment he was reminded of Jessica , his college sweetheart. She had much shorter hair though. They went around for probably less than a year but it definitely was the most memorable of all his flings. It used to be disturbingly passionate during those nights. Sometimes Jessica wouldn’t even give Sameer a moment to breathe. And as they reached a crescendo she would whisper ever so softly in his ears…
    “Sam, are you happy with me?”
    And often the answer to that question would be only another spell of silence accentuated by another of those frequent lip locks. He could’ve gazed at her for ages and listened to her for eternity.
    What a pity that the light of day had to follow every such night!

    He returned back to the present as the train halted at Rajiv Chowk. Even as he kept staring at this gorgeous masterpiece every five seconds, he could guess she was engaged or committed to someone. Sameer used to study body language as a hobby and he thought she was giving it all away in the way she was talking over her cell. It was a Motorazr. He could see her smile behind the flap of the cell, which would occasionally hide her luscious lips.

    Must be her boyfriend. Maybe they are meeting at CP.

    Sameer had no such luck. Being the Creative Director gave him little choice but to set an example to everyone at his office by being dot on time at 10.

    Today, unusually though, the train wasn’t crowded to the hilt. Yet he’d to really struggle to see her. He was making some serious effort in craning his neck but smiling to himself, he wasn’t quite complaining.

    “Damn, I still can’t see her”, he muttered to himself. If he were in college he would have at least given her his phone number. It never hurt him back then. On the contrary it used to turn out quite well. Now he even had a dashing business card.

    Alas! As expected he alighted at Barakhamba and he couldn’t sight his morning Goddess anywhere. That’s the last I’ve seen of that stunning dame, he sighed. He dumped his token card and was thinking of his fussy client he’d to speak to in ten minutes from now.

    Just then, someone tapped his shoulder. It was a lady. She looked familiar. He saw the Motorazr and he knew it was she.

    Something was even more strikingly familiar. Then it occurred.

    She spoke smilingly, “ Sam, Remember me? "

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Travelling Mist

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Monday, June 26, 2006

Anti-Socialite?Me? Err...

    This is a great season for anyone who’s remotely interested in Sports. The French Open has just given way to the Wimbledon, the Champions League to the World Cup and the ODI’s to a Test Series. The Heat have just wrapped up their maiden NBA title and Alonso looks on track for a second successive Championship. All in all unless you are a hardcore pole vault fan you should get ‘some’ slice of sporting action that you might like. Now, all this means that I find myself quite clueless when I sit to write about something else. I could possibly write about my favorite team itself but they just got knocked out last evening.

    I could also dwell on HT but you would hardly take me seriously especially because as of now I’ve little to crib about HT. I could also go on ridiculing ToI but that, coming from an HT employee, wouldn’t be to your mind an objective assessment. Nonetheless for the record, if you are on Orkut, do check out a community called ToI-LET Sucks. (Ahem… Sorry, but how could I let you go off my blog without bringing your notice to this…:-D)

    A friend who joined with me a month back was telling me how he would miss his friends every morning when he’d wake up. It would be a tad depressing for him to begin his day like that. After all, this was a new place filled with new people.
    That got me thinking about my first thoughts every day and I ended up saying:
    “When I wake up, I’m blank…just blank”

    Both of us laughed over it but it was quite true. These days, I’m just blank. Hardly anything seems to bother me. Being with friends is good, so is being in the office, so is being in the bus, so is walking and so is eating. Nothing is extraordinary. It’s just a simple life and I don’t hate it and I don’t love it. I’m neither depressed nor ecstatic. I’m not inert but I can’t seem to even attempt to describe what my state of mind is these days.

    I hardly call anyone, hardly message friends, hardly scrap anyone, don’t like going to crowded places and ever since the Messengers have come in, I’ve hardly availed of their services. Not because I’ve just let go off my friends but because I’m sure that when I meet them again I’ll still be the same and not staying in touch through SMS’s, mails or calls would really not matter then. Some people don’t get this logic of mine, so here’s an example.

    Let’s say a close friend gets married and she couldn’t tell me. (Because I never gave her my number or e-mail ID or she never tried finding out or for whatever reason) . Would it be fair on her part to tell me when I meet her that:
    “ Where the hell were you? I tried calling you so many times ”.

    Or would it be fair for her to start with something like:
    “Hey, I’m married. What’s new with you?”

    In all probability the conversations that follow would be the same but isn’t it easier to deal with the second one. All of us attach so much importance to this ‘staying in touch’ phenomenon but my take on this is if you’re really good friends you need’nt speak or mail each other every week. With the kind of lives Management Trainees lead, things hardly change over a year. The important thing in my opinion is that when such friends’ meet, they should be able to exhibit the same level of warmth to one another in spite of the time that’s lapsed between them. Now, I don’t have a problem with people who stay in touch but I definitely can't digest statements directed me at times like the ubiquitous “Where did you disappear?” (Meet me, I’m Harry Houdini!) .

    The accusatory “How come you never called me?” (I was scuba diving and cells don’t work deep down there. Would you believe it? ).

    And the worst “ Are you alive?” (Yep, I was dead but have risen now. Heard of Christ?).

    Even worse “ You seem to have forgotten me…” (How I wish!)

    The other evening I went out with a friend for dinner that had been long overdue. When I was telling her all this, she said could hardly believe it. In her words it was “an anti-thesis of the Issac, we knew in college ”.

    While I used to be known as quite an extrovert in college, I never was. I could always be in a crowd and enjoy it or seem to enjoy it. But given a choice I would’ve always preferred being in my own room reading a book or watching a movie. Doing anything but spending time outside with a group of people and trying to be politically correct.I also mentioned to her that as my college life progressed both during graduation and post graduation, I’d always get a huge group of friends to begin with. I can say for a fact that each of these friends would actually consider me fairly close. While I’d be their best friend, philosopher and guide that I could, I could never fathom why they would approach me in the first place. Invariably by the end of the year I’d end up in a really small group or sometimes all by myself. Most of the times, I preferred that ‘all-by-myself-time’ to anything else. Yet, I played along. I was always seen in a group, different groups at different times. I also got a very good set of friends. Sheer gems, all of them. And yet I find asking myself if my friends actually know me that well.

    Was there a mask to my being? Is there still a mask to my being? Does it matter?
    How do I know? Whom to ask?

    As I’d written in one of my previous posts… uncomfortable questions…

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Anti-Socialite?Me? Err...

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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Hi! I'm Ted...

    Hi, my name is Ted. I’ve lived in India for over 18 years now. I’m 29 years old and I keep my feelings to myself, even my most intimate ones. I make friends easily but I forget everything about them even more easily. It’s not that I want to but I just can’t seem to remember their faces, their voices, their birthdays and their Moms and Dads. People have told me that I’m too full of myself. I don’t disagree. The way I see it I’m just too happy with myself. One of the reasons being, I live in Delhi.

    This city is a little too violent for me. I can’t see myself happy with anyone else. I never recollect having traveled 25 meters on the bus without anyone foul-mouthing the conductor or a bystander or if he is too bored just mouthing obscenities to himself. A friend once told me he was losing his sense of humor. His favorite pastime must’ve been commuting in the Delhi private buses all through the day. I also have trouble getting along with intellectuals. Like the autowalahs in this city who are great economists. They hedge themselves well against any downswing or upswing in the economy by effortlessly factoring a 150% inflation in all the fares they quote. All of them have also installed a device called "meters" in their autos. The reading on the meters is always in sync with the gravitational pull in Antarctica and this helps them to mobilize the sixth force of aero-dynamics to break the clutter on the roads.

    But they’ve great roads here. All of them look so similar that I can’t tell whether I’m in Rajiv Chowk or Indira Chowk. While I’m on roads, I’m sure it must’ve been one prankster who laid the plan for CP. Every single day he must be rolling with pain in his tummy, guffawing, holding his over-sized moth infested belly with his hands in his under-sized coffin. After all among other things, he must’ve seen me perform a near perfect merry-go- around encircling CP 3 times before I could reach my destination. I started my journey from Deutsche Bank and rotated 1080 degrees before I got there again. I never realized that I started exactly from where I wanted to go in the first place. Maybe, the gentleman I asked for directions was seriously interested in helping me. Or maybe he was the haunted spirit of the architect of CP himself and wanted to test if he could convert this great shopping destination into a labyrinth. He tasted stupendous success.

    Not all is well with me either. I have an old cell and an even elder laptop. The batteries of both these modern devices have given up on me. One of them lasts for 20 minutes and the other for 25 minutes. I forget at this point of time, which one of those has the privilege of the longer duration. My sports shoes are in tatters too and my suitcase’s zip also behaves rather erratically. The shopkeepers here are helpful though. My friend Jerry didn’t have a belt. So he thought he should buy one. The shopkeeper told Jerry that he could take the leather strip and return to the shop to get the buckle for the leather strip a couple of days later. Meanwhile I thought I should call Dad and let him know I’m alive. I love dogs so I bought Hutch. On the 5th day, when I asked the shopkeeper, why it wasn’t still activated and he told me that I should take my form to the Hutch customer care center. Shopkeepers here keep the cell activation forms for 4 days and return it to the customers on the 5th day. I was very polite.

    With so much desperation around me I can see that unfortunate day not too far when I might be mistaken for a porter carrying my own heavy unshapely suitcase on my head. But then maybe that would be a good sign. I wouldn’t be surrounded by droves of taxi guys who’d look seriously interested in helping me and then take 210 Rupees for a journey worth 18 Rupees. These days I think mid-life crisis has engulfed, gripped and sucked me mercilessly but then I think of the short skirt of the pretty girl in that right most cabin of the 22nd floor of my office and I get the feeling that maybe I am still young. But then I’m reminded of Wren and Martin’s ageless chapter on proverbs. ‘Beauty is only skin deep’. Not that I want to fall in love with someone’s left ventricular valve but I shudder to converse with a Delhi girl who will keep dropping her charms ‘hair and thair and everywhair’.

    People don’t notice me nowadays. The paanwaalah from whom I bought cigarettes and the guy who sold cheap kulfis have been the victims of the latest New Delhi Municipal Corporation cleaning drive. However, they forgot to take away the dustbins of these two vendors. I wish the vendors were around. Atleast, they cleaned their dustbins in every morning.

    - Ted

    P.S- Share your lovely moment spent in Delhi in the comments section and win yourself a vacation in Kaalapani.

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Hi! I'm Ted...

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    I’m not sure if Bruce Almighty might have spelt it that way. He definitely pronounced it like that. But I took my chance because I’ve just wrapped up one of the best Sundays of my life. It was so lazy and casual that I could live every minute of it all over again. It began with a visit to the Church in the morning, a grand breakfast later and catching up with Sameer before lunch. Thereafter, I returned to the hotel for a sumptuous lunch with friends and that was capped off with the finest of Rasgollas. A blissfully peaceful siesta followed. When I woke up I got to gulp the perfectly heady cocktail of Tennis, Football and Cricket on Television. Later in the evening, the Chidambaram interview by Karan Thapar proved to quite an icing on the cake. And then it got even better. I went out to catch some roadside food with my colleagues and got back for another heavenly meal and this one was followed with one of the finest desserts I’ve ever had in my life. Phew…. Loved every minute of it. I guess, some days just have the right people around you, the right food on the roads and the right live matches on television.

    What a pity that God willed a Monday to follow such a Sunday… :-). Nevertheless, while I’m in here after a long time, I might as well put in my musings since I’ve shifted to Delhi.

    I think a newspaper is like that one woman in your life you wouldn’t mind going down on your knees for. In fact it’s quite similar to your favorite brand of cigarette. As much as you might have to put up with other women and cigarettes in your life, in most cases, only one of those women or cigarettes would actually mean special to you. The newspaper you read, I suspect, commands a similar degree of loyalty from you. It’s special.

    I had been a fiercely loyal Hindustan Times (HT) reader since Standard VII and if Jaydeep and Gaurav (my school friends whom I still manage to stay in touch with) are reading this, they could vouch for how much I hated the Times of India (ToI). I could never fathom even back then how crass journalism could ever sell so many copies. Jaydeep and Gaurav have been my best friends and having studied with them I knew that their sensibility could never have been doubted and hence I guess it was just their age-old habit of reading ToI in the morning alone that made them defend ToI. Little would I’ve thought back then in 1996, that exactly 10 years later, I would end up as a Management Trainee at HT. Ironically though, for the better part of my 2 years in Mumbai I'd to choose ToI until HT decided to have an edition in Mumbai.

    Nevertheless, having been at HT Media Limited for a little over a week, a couple of things could'nt escape my attention:

    1. To my mind, even a blind, illiterate, nincompoop could’ve told as emphatically in 1996, as in 2006, that HT is, by many a mile, the better product when compared to ToI .Hence I wouldn’t have been surprised if every one in HT went about rubbishing ToI. Surprisingly, hardly anyone trod that path at HT. I’d once heard from a friend at Maruti that they wouldn’t allow cars manufactured by Tata Motors within the office premises and that such employees had separate parking facilities. For us ToI isn’t a taboo. It’s an opportunity. The more people read ToI, I guess, people will realize better newspapers are available and will shift to HT. It’s but natural that people can eat rotten apples only as long as they don’t know that better apples are available. The key lies in breaking the habit of eating rotten apples.

    2. The quality of people HT has chosen for it’s new ventures. Farhad Wadia heads the HT Events business. Anyone following the Independence Rock in India since the last 20 years would know what that man is capable of. Darius Sonawala , the #1 RJ of Bangalore is in charge of programming for HT FM. Raju Narisetti, former editor of WSJ, Europe will be heading the Business Newspaper venture. Not to mention the heavy-weight combo of Vir Sanghvi and Mrinal Pande who are at the helm of the Editorial Teams.

    This is also the first time that HT has decided to recruit MT’s. Apart from SP, they’ve recruited from XL, IIM-A, L, MICA, JB and MDI. Incidentally, there are atleast 2 students from each of those other institutes that HT has selected students from and I happen to be the only guy from SP. In more ways than one this was a blessing, for it all the more epitomized the ‘new life’ that I’m beginning to love. No one knows me and I don’t know anyone. No biases, no friends, no relatives and no enemies. It’s a whole-new blemish-less white slate waiting to be splashed with colorful pieces of chalk and I wake up each morning looking forward to it. Pretty much in the manner Mr. Fox had advised Jerry Maguire to.

    And sitting through some of the presentations in the ongoing induction period made me love this ‘new life’ all the more. For instance, HT is about to launch a business newspaper and we are yet to decide the shape, color, size and price. HT Music is about to launch 4 radio channels and we are yet to decide a name for the FM stations. HT Events is another business venture and we yet to decide on our first event. If you’ve ever liked ‘starting from scratch’, HTML is a clear winner and I think that’s precisely the reason I’m all at peace with this company. For some vague reason I’ve always favored unpredictability and chaos. There’s little doubt in my mind that there is no better feeling on earth than etching a new story and giving it a meaningful ending. As of now I don’t know if I will be even a part of those ventures I just mentioned. I might not. Yet the anticipation of how exactly to give shape to each of those little stories is a wonderful feeling.

    Atleast for now, with the closing hours of this perfectly idyllic Sunday, I am completely at peace with myself and the world.

    May the love of the Lord be with you all! :-)

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Friday, May 26, 2006


    Righto, as Tony Greig would say , I leave home for Delhi for a new one all over again! HT Media beckons...
    This blog will lie low for a couple of weeks while I get my bearings right in Delhi. Meanwhile, all those who keep dropping by (few and far as they may be...), thank you and good on ya mates!:-)

    I leave you with the words of David Gilmour's Learning To Fly... Another ripper of a song from the Pink Floyd stable. All I can say is that it comes quite close to expressing what I am thinking these days...

    "Into the distance, a ribbon of black
    Stretched to the point of no turning back
    A flight of fancy on a windswept field
    Standing alone my senses reeled
    A fatal attraction holding me fast,
    How can I escape this irresistible grasp?

    Cant keep my eyes from the circling skies
    Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, I.

    Ice is forming on the tips of my wings
    Unheeded warnings, I thought I thought of everything
    No navigator to guide my way home
    Unladened, empty and turned to stone
    A soul in tension thats learning to fly
    Condition grounded but determined to try

    Cant keep my eyes from the circling skies
    Tongue-tied and twisted just an earth-bound misfit, I."

    Some lyrics huh? :-)

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Migration Express

    It’s hard to restrain your forever migrating thoughts. Atleast I seem be to have little control over mine. Often I begin to write about a theme or an incident and by time I have it complete, it turns out to be vastly different from what I’d begun with. Hence I am trying to make this one a little different. I guess, in this post, I will record the few things I’ve thought about writing in the last couple of days. It's gonna be a thorough potpourri or as I would like to believe an experiment... :-)

    Most of us must’ve read/heard that actresses are dumb. I, for one, seldom believe in anything that I haven’t evidenced myself. However, I was presented with enough proof of the actresses-are-dumb theory on the talk show “Face the Music” hosted by Vir Sanghvi (VS) on NDTV.
    He was interviewing Neha Dhupia (ND), an ex- Miss India and film actress.

    VS: So which political party do you prefer?
    ND: Well…actually I might seem dumb when I say this and I know it is but you know…
    VS: Ah well…come on, say it!
    ND: Well… I think …the Congress cos you know …it sounds “cooool” compared to the B.J.P.

    How, I mean, how?
    But thanks ND. That’s the dumbest thing I have heard in some time. Nevertheless, VS is brilliant on that show. He brings together a motley group of guests and anchors the show with effortless ease. This week he had ND, Scindia Jr. , a fashion designer and a band called Medieval Pandits on the show. That he can carry a conversation with four distinct groups of people and evoke a few laughs is creditable. For the record, VS also happens to be the Editorial Director of the English Newspaper division of the company I am about to join. :-)

    I came across this interesting blog called warfornews on Blogger. Its anonymous owners post intra-office gossip and official e-mails from within leading English news channels in India on the blog. They call themselves spies and going by the number of people who comment on it, it seems to be creating more than just a few flutters. It’s just the kind of blog that will make any of those News Channels stand up and take notice. It’s a cliché but it’s true for this blog: You may love it or hate it but definitely can’t ignore it!
    Reading it made me think maybe these chaps were a little harsh on CNN-IBN but I realized later that these guys seem to be quite unbiased and detached from all the 3 news channels. Well, I say only 3 channels cos even these chaps failed to produce any dope from Headlines Today.

    Meanwhile the other day, Jerry Seinfeld’s numb response got me thinking. This was Season 6 I think.

    Elaine: I have a dinner date with Jeff today.
    Jerry: Isn’t he your friend? You know, you shouldn’t go for these dates with your friends. They kinda mess things up later.
    Elaine: Atleast it’s more interesting than what you’d end up doing in your apartment reading a comic book or watching a game and eating spaghetti at 2 in the morning
    Jerry: Umm…

    If I were Jerry in that one episode, I would have responded with the calm air of a David Blaine. “Well do not forget, I choose to watch the game and prefer it over a dinner date any day!”

    I have spent the last 6 weeks at home watching some sport or other on television or reading late in the night. Munching chips or biscuits at 2 a.m. and walking around the house had become a daily vocation at home. I think I will greatly miss it once I start working. Probably that’s why; I took offence to Jerry’s silence to Elaine’s condescending comment. Incidentally, it’s 2: 42 a.m. by my ThinkPad right now and I am watching India beginning to make a mess of a petty chase against W.I.
    And Elaine if you listening, I repeat: Sports over Dinner Date any day!
    Tennis, NBA, F1 , Football, Cricket, Fencing even Kabaddi, just any sport, bring ‘em on! I love it!!!

    I happened to see “My Wife’s Murder” and I must say I was impressed. I like simplicity and realism in movies and this one had both. Capped with impeccable performances by Anil Kapoor and Boman Irani, the movie had a nice storyline and Jijy Philip has done an excellent job as a director. At the same time it also saddens me how such movies never fare well at the B.O and something like a “No Entry” does well! It also got me thinking a bit. When those criminals who have families are arrested, what becomes of their children? Do we have a system which ensures that such children are provided decent education and food?

    Let me move on. I once saw a play directed by Anurag Kashyap starring Tom Alter who was playing the role of God. The play was called “When God said Cheers!” and I couldn’t have agreed more to some of the dialogues in the play. The play had only one other major character who wanted to know the reason for his existence. It was a war of words between these two characters and it left me a little fishing in the end with disparate thoughts.

    I sometimes take time to just reflect on how I intended my life to be and whether it is going in the right direction. I don’t know if you have ever done this but it turns out to be an excruciatingly painful exercise. You seldom find answers to the questions you ask yourself. For instance, what exactly is the right direction in my life, or let’s say in your life?
    Isn’t it a little surprising that while we don’t know what exactly we want, yet we feel perfectly comfortable telling others what they should become?

    “I know Raj. He’s really good and he should become a journalist.”

    How often have you spoken or heard similar statements? I myself have passed such judgments on other people. Does it mean that when it comes to understanding ourselves we are rather weak because we can hardly figure it out but we seem to know what others should be doing?

    I can say at no point was I sure of myself regarding choices of careers, subjects or even people to hang around with. I wanted to be a cricketer once and a basketball player some time later. That gave way to an actor, then a priest, a consultant, an entrepreneur and for some time a journalist too. In between I even harbored thoughts of becoming a Client Servicing Director, a Film Director and in a rather imprudent state of mind an Area Sales Manager.

    I mean , I have my own few dreams but...
    And then there's the classic clash between 'following your passion' and 'the fear of the unknown'...

    At different points in time I had convinced myself that each among those above professions was the best for me and yet I didn’t know. Even today, though I have narrowed my options to a very few, I still don’t know. I took the example of careers here because for a 23 -year old there can hardly be anything of seemingly greater importance but I have tried extending this logic to whatever I do and to put it simply, I seem to be a little ignorant of myself. Most of us only convince ourselves to do a certain set of things. Why? Nobody knows…

    While eminent philosophers, thinkers and intellectuals have, over the years pondered over “Who am I”, I, an insignificant speck of dust in this Milky Way, am left mulling over “Why am I?”

    You know sometimes, when you reflect and you get in a spot of bother over these uncomfortable questions, some thing within begins to pull you in two different directions. One pushes you to keep asking those uncomfortable questions and in doing so, reach those answers .And the other pulls you away and tells you to let go off such questions. Life is taking care of itself, it tells you, just move on!

    Which one among those is the right way to go? Will I ever know?

Post Title

Migration Express

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Poison with Karan

    I despise Karan Johar.

    I used to think Karan Johar as a director is dull and would never progress beyond ending all his movies with SRK delivering the climax with quivering lips laced with a piteous mishmash of a twisted nose, glycerine-d eyes and trembling hands.

    In fact, if an e-mail forward doing the rounds is to be believed, even his forthcoming film’s ending has SRK delivering the climax which means I see hardly any scope for improvement in the needlessly mawkish technique that Karan Johar employs in his movies. For a change though this time, maybe SRK’s Mom would hear his oncoming footsteps through the earphones of the Nano I-pod that she would’ve plugged in her ears. Since the Indian public at large seems to love it, so be it; no qualms.

    What I do have a problem with is Karan Johar, the person. And I am not referring to his sexual preferences. Twice on television, he has projected himself as a pompously pathetic loser who hasn’t learnt a lesson about grace and dignity ever in his entire life.

    This was a couple of months back when Anisha Baig (AB) , an NDTV correspondent was doing a round of interviews with models around at the Lakme India Fashion Week(LIFW) in Delhi. Karan Johar had been asked a few questions and just while AB was beginning to ask a question to a fashion designer beside KJ, KJ snatched the mike away from AB and claimed in his hopelessly squeaky voice “I’m better than you at this cos I do it regularly in my show, so let me ask the questions”.
    It was an absurd moment on Live Television. Since, it wasn’t my business to ponder on the level of comfort that AB and KJ have with each other, I pushed the thought aside that KJ was rude to AB right there despite the fact that the incident would’ve left a bad taste with any sane viewer.

    But what happened today sealed that wandering thought from LIFW into confirming my belief far beyond the slightest shade of doubt that Karan Johar is an absolute asshole. He isn’t even one of those borderline cases who could be considered being accorded with the status of ‘benefit of doubt’.

    Karan Johar is simply an utter burden of conceited trash of stinking pulp on the face of this planet. This is what was televised on a programme called Night Out on NDTV from the Cannes Film Festival today.
    PZ is for Preity Zinta, who was with KJ:

    PZ (to AB): Hey, I was looking for you.
    AB: Ah, we came in after the Red Carpet.

    KJ: Oh how is that possible? How come you weren’t there at the Red Carpet? (Okie, maybe this was KJ’s well meaning concern for AB but read what follows and you get a better idea)
    AB: I mean, how could we?

    KJ: (with a downright derisive tone) Oh, you should’ve come there…why wouldn’t they allow you? They allow us! (Giggle) (If she could, wouldn’t she come? And doesn’t KJ know the Red Carpet in Cannes wouldn’t be for journalists, least of all for someone from an obscure channel called NDTV!)

    AB: Umm… Err…

    KJ: I see you’ve worn a red dress yourself. You could’ve rolled it as a carpet and walked all over it. (Squeaky guffaw)

    AB: (Silent and points the mike to PZ, who continues laughing along with KJ)
    AB: (Finally after a bout of uncomfortable silence, with a heavy smile) Leaving aside my wardrobe, your suit looks good!

    KJ: (With a pompous air of a hopeless wreck!) It’s linen, my dear and perfectly suited for this weather. (Is that the way to respond to a compliment from someone whose dignity you are yet to acknowledge? He had a chance right there to redeem himself but it seemed he’s never been anywhere close to examples of etiquette and modesty)

    AB is neither a cousin nor a dear friend. And I am not getting a dime from her or NDTV to write all this. I was just another viewer watching a sham of an interview with supposedly one of India’s top directors. At which AB was trying her best to be a professional and KJ was hell bent on taking advantage of the very fact that on camera AB can’t raise a word in protest or respond in a way she deems fit to KJ’s ludicrous demeanor. After all, she was representing NDTV and not herself.

    Somewhere in both those interviews, there seemed a streak in KJ that did not respect the professionalism displayed by AB and I thought it sucked!

    I don’t expect Karan Johar to do a Scorcese or a Kubrick or a Woody Allen tomorrow. He has his own style of movie-making and a good number of people in India acknowledge or maybe even respect that style. If that still doesn’t make him realize how he should atleast begin to respect people in other professions, I don’t know what will…

    Not only is it disappointing to see a celebrity behave in such an imprudent manner but also downright nauseating.
    This was also not my original theme for my post either but I could'nt resist.

Post Title

Poison with Karan

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Friday, May 5, 2006

Jacks, Aces and Queens

    I had been thinking about writing this one since a long time. It’s like one of your special suits that you would wear only if the boss who is supposed to promote you would invite you to dinner. Like one of the very few leg breaks that Kumble has in his repertoire or like one of the few legal deliveries Murali has in his armory.

    This one’s a selected collection of the memoirs of my encounters with women. The endeavor is simply to unearth some of their mannerisms, recall some of the excruciatingly painful occasions when their sheer stupidity left me speechless and provide a handful of caveats for the simple and humble men-folk who’ve been traumatized to unfathomable depths of agony by women-kind since times immemorial. (Did you just notice? ‘Women’ and ‘kind’ did not sound nice together…) .

    First of all, a quality that I detest in all women is their mushy, over-sentimental and overflowing love for kids of all ages. Picture this. You are taking out your gorgeous lady to a friend’s engagement and there is this supposedly cute new born doing the rounds at the party. No sooner have you walked in, that you are unexpectedly delimited by an entire brigade of women of different shapes and sizes because your lady has , out of nowhere, gone and picked up this little terrorist in her arms.“Aww.. shoooo cuuteeee”. Bang, comes the first salvo, followed by a barrage of similar such intonations , stretching each syllable in every word to follow and conjuring voices that resemble the sighs and cries of the wild. These women giggle and squirm, right in front of you with the joy of a flock of sheep who have just discovered an acre of their favorite grass to chew. The sight is quite unnerving to the most valiant of men.

    I have never understood this undying fascination of women with kids. We men love our dogs yet none of us perform those rituals or exhibit those emotions I have just tried to capture. And doubly never so, may I add, in public. I don’t think men have half this fascination with kids, and those who do, simply toe the line of their betrothed. Confronted with a choice of either being seen as single or seen in the society as warm babies-loving men, our folk reluctantly accept the latter.

    Next comes my failed research on the study between common sense and women. The results have thrown into sheer disarray all past theories of correlation, regression and all similar noteworthy statistical tools. These frightful discoveries have made renowned software makers Microsoft delve into the field of Statistical Software for the first time because the startling results have opened up an entire new market altogether. Have you ever noticed that how in a discussion, the first sign that a woman is nearing the end of her reasoning or logic, is not an acknowledgement of the same but the carefully placed punctuation of an exasperated, spiritless and sometimes nasal “Whatever….”. I don’t know of any weapon in recorded history that can counter their “Whatever...”

    While I am on the topic of phrases, two more such powerful “Phrases of Men’s Destruction (PMD)” come to my mind. Right after they have unleashed a “…Whatever”, they do get a sinking feeling that they have been upstaged in the debate and women being women can’t just let things be. Can they? So they release another of those Here-I-am-listen-to-me-and-agree-blindly attempts and this one begins with: “Honey… ”. That sound, I can tell you my friend, is the first seemingly innocuous whisper of a mega-ton nuclear blast of nonsensical logic to follow, a sure sign of the impending doom of your mental faculties.

    I could also never fathom how women and women alone could have the sense of moral and social responsibility to enquire about all and sundry. This , you realize when she begins her concern with the quintessentially intruding “Listen. Is it true…?” …All she wants to know is who that acquaintance of yours, whom you waved a genial Hi from a distance in that rain, approximately 5 months back , is going around with. This question, I have faced from women belonging to different status’ (Do we have a plural for status?). Spinster, Married, Just-broke-up, Just-broke-up-and single, Committed, all kinds have asked me this, about someone or the other.

    Another phenomenon that I have found bafflingly inexplicable in women is their explicit denial or inability of the desire to love sports. Is it just my bad luck or is it a general rule of nature that women genetically aren’t programmed to understand and truly enjoy various sports like Cricket, Basketball and Football? On this planet, is there one and just one Sonali Chander? Give a man his daily dose of sport and you win his heart, pancreas and diaphragm. We don’t need to go to parties, malls, parks or multiplexes for our limited needs of entertainment. A television and a couch is all we need. Unpretentiously simple, I say!

    Now once you are supposedly dating a girl there also happens to be this unstated and rather cold undercurrent of her ego. That you and only you have to face and that very germ called ‘ego’ always prevents her from making that daily stupid call that people dating each other keep making each other n number of times a day. And when you do take that apparently trivial step to call her, it inevitably boils down to the girl blasting you in the shrillest and
    devilish of voices: “How the hell you didn’t call since so long?”
    Has any well-meaning, civilized , elegant man ever ventured or deviated ever so slightly to even respond to that by retorting in whisper : “Err...What the hell were you doing all this while?"

    Speaking of phone calls, I have observed those people in a relationship frequently call each other every couple of hours. I wonder how the conversation must progress:
    Guy: Hey... What’s happening?
    Girl: Heey… I told you right; we are going to Pune today. We are on our way.
    Guy: Great. Let me know how it goes tomorrow.

    A couple of hours later…

    Girl: Hey…what’s happening? We’ve stopped for a break on the outskirts of the city.
    Guy: Oh Okie… Will call you at night. Busy now.

    An hour later:
    Girl: Heey... Guess what?

    At this point the guy remembers all he can to know about the city of Pune, maybe his girlfriend saw the famous monkey, or maybe she met someone famous and finally confesses in a hushed tone.
    Guy: Umm...I don’t know. You tell me honey!
    Girl: We reached!!! I

    Inane might be a nice word to describe this syndrome but I guess it deserves something more hard hitting like maybe a ridiculously dim-witted attempt to appease your partner. Sometimes it gets me thinking how the conversation progresses further or does it? I have seen a number of these couples. These are the few instances when I think even the guy has gone out of his mind.

    Nevertheless let me return to my subject for this post. I once took out a 26 year old lady (this one’s for all who believe that women are the more matured…) for shopping in Bangalore and we went to each and every apparel showroom (Weekender, Lee, Proline, Nike, Adidas and even the roadside vendors got a look-in) on M.G. and Brigade Road. Those familiar with the contours of the city would know that not only these two streets have more apparel showrooms within a space of less than a square kilometer than any other city in India but that these streets are also awfully crowded on weekends. Our sojourn must have taken us nothing less than five hours and after all those tried tops and trousers (… and even a pair of socks I think!) she didn’t buy ,forget a top, even a single shred of cloth… We broke up the next day!

    And lastly I would like to know why women feel uncomfortable in silence and have to come up with something like a “Say something…” (PMD #4 or 5?) at that exact point when you have pressed the play button in the deck with the CD of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and you begin to think that you are finally getting to cherish her company.
    You know, just at that exact point of time…

    Women… Duh! For the time being bring on the beer and turn up the volume!
    Spurs playing Kings on ESPN!

    Firstly: Ladies and Gentlemen who have made it thus far.No offence please. All in good humour... :)
    Secondly: Inspired by fellow blogger and PG-ite, Mukund. Also known by the alias of Darth Midnightmare… :)

Post Title

Jacks, Aces and Queens

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Tuesday, May 2, 2006

When will I learn?

    I think there’s a beauty to knowing something new, delving into something unexplored and learning about something that you have never seen, heard or felt before. That’s why I have half a mind to do a PhD. someday in Contemporary Theater or Behavioral Science or maybe even Victorian Literature… (Yeah, I made that last one up…:D. Someday if some of us bloggers do go onto write for magazines or newspapers, I wonder how we would make our readers realize the occurrence of a joke or the failed attempt of one, without these irresistible smileys. Would we stand any chance with the editor? )

    Nevertheless, when I was at SPJIMR we had a programme called ADMAP. Different brochures had offered different expansions of that acronym and since the ADMAP brochure itself has been in WIP since the last six years, we shall never actually know what it stood for. I am wont to believe though since I was personally involved in this committee that it stood for Assessment and Development of Managerial Aptitude and Potential. (Readers from SP are welcome to give me feedback on the different versions that they have heard of…). The concept of ADMAP was to simply take learning beyond the classroom. The first time I heard it, I was fascinated for I had always believed that the classroom learning is shoddily inadequate. All throughout school and college tomes of unnecessary bits of knowledge are shoved down our throats and we are required to barf it out in the exams that follow there from. I believe that education should apart from other things impart skills that lead to employability and if that is not a natural progression, our education system fails us somewhere.

    A recent MeriT Trac survey conducted in 17 different cities states that only 1 in 10 graduates (Engineers included) who apply to BPOs are ‘employable’ and that the demand for quality personnel is already outstripping supply. As a result, companies are now even looking to recruit even under-graduates.

    Now, there are further two aspects to it. If under-graduates do go on to make a mark in these BPOs , there is a likelihood that they are likely to drop their education further since they see easy money in a relatively easier manner. I am not saying all of them will but what they see is difficult to let go off. I myself have been in two world-class BPOs and apart from the fact that there is a fairly decent looking crowd of opposite sex around you, ( never mind their IQ levels…) there is good food on campus , pick-up and drop to your doorstep and a decent and an assured five-figure salary that’s credited to your ATM account every month. Add to it , your own cabin with a desktop in a swanky workplace that’s air-conditioned and serves unlimited soup ,tea or coffee and it’s an enviable job that you have on your hands.

    Now picture a 17-year old in Bhubaneshwar (or any Tier-2 city) who has just finished his Senior Secondary exams and tell me which of these above benefits, would you say, will not appeal to this guy. He will see a world full of opportunities and try to convince everyone around him that he doesn’t need further education. Now, well meaning parents don’t have an option here but likely to counter the arguments of the son with one of the following clumsy arguments.
    “BPOs are sweatshops”
    “No work happens in BPOs, beta. They are sleazy places”
    “How will we tell anyone that you are working in a call-center?”

    Let’s take this story further. Now, 9 of those 10 graduates who don’t see themselves ‘employable’ suddenly find themselves competing with not only their own batchmates from Commerce, Arts, Science and Engineering but also from a whole new stream of undergraduates. And a feasible option that they see to wriggle out of this situation is for them to fudge their existing resumes and get those same jobs. So much so that the IT industry has even coined a new term - "padding" for the now prevalent practice of resume faking. We have been a country laced with scams and probably this was one time when the denizens themselves decided to go for the kill.

    Let’s say, now a company called X, which until now was only too convinced that India is the hub of Outsourcing, stumbles upon a drop in productivity levels because they have either employed those undergraduates or those employees who have fudged their resumes. This company sees the demand-supply gap and decides to go in for no further investment in India and takes the first flight to Philippines, China or Hungary.

    India, as all of us would like to believe is at the cusp of a corporate revolution and make no mistake it was kick started by the BPO Industry and is likely to be sustained by it for atleast the next five years. A chap from the senior management of a BPO once told me that BPOs will revolutionize the purchasing power of the non-engineering graduates, in the manner IT industry did for engineers. Prophetic!

    If my fictitious story above comes true even in patches, there is a good probability that the climax would be as tragic and we would have our in-classroom lectures after lectures of boredom to blame. I can say for a fact that nothing that I learnt in my B.Com helped me get those jobs at those BPOs. In hindsight, nothing would have, I guess. The only thing that I did right was to do a bit of reading, keeping a tab on general awareness and meeting new people at inter-college fests. That’s precisely why I have a lot of faith in those Inter-College Debates, Quizzes Jam sessions ,Sports competitions and Art festivals that overtly seem waste of time but they are the ones that promote a process of thinking in your minds. Burdening those impressionable minds with the Directive Principles of State Policy, The Securities Contracts Regulation Act and the Indian Banking Act is, just not the answer to quality education.

    While on the subject of Banking, we had this curly-haired professor (..All right that’s not a good distinction because every Keralite is, but he wasn’t worth a space in my memory anyway) who would religiously march into the class and launch into his absolutely stinker of a drone of a voice to give us notes on Banking. There is not a single new thing that I learnt that I didn’t know when he was teaching us that. I mean a VII Standard kid would know all that too! What I find amusing today is how, if we missed a word of his daily address while furiously writing, we would frantically look into our neighbor’s notebook to complete our education for that lecture. Then we had a subject called Capital Markets dealing with stocks. That should have been one heck of an interesting subject but this professor.. Well honestly speaking I don’t even remember his teaching style. Sad eh! Considering he spent an entire year coming to our class and my memory fails me even though I haven’t had any bout of amnesia in the recent past. I guess that just about speaks how significant his role in my college education was. What I do remember though is our XII standard trip to the Cochin Stock Exchange. That was education.

    I rest my case.

Post Title

When will I learn?

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Question of Art

    Three days! This was a first.

    He could hardly remember a time when she had taken this long to call him. On a regular day it would never take even three hours before his cell would ring a familiar tune with the screen reading “Sonia calling”. He could almost predict it. Sometimes when predictability decides to go in for a siesta, one’s at a loss.
    What was taking her this long?

    He had sparred with her parents long back and there was no way he could call them to find out her whereabouts. She wasn’t responding to his messages either. Her cell seemed to be incessantly busy too. They had seldom mailed each other before but in desperation yesterday evening he had even mailed her and there hadn’t been a reply.

    “Damn.” , he said to himself “Even when one has so many options to communicate...”

    Sonia had shifted to Delhi for her Masters in Architecture only a few days back and he didn’t know anyone in Delhi he could call.

    It was a rainy evening in Mumbai and Rajesh took a deep sigh. They say your life flashes before your eyes before you breathe your last and Rajesh could now see the days of his courtship with Sonia of the last 4 years in front of his eyes.
    He never believed in love at first sight but this shook his belief. They had come seeking admission to the J.J School of Arts on the same day. They stood in the queue for only twenty minutes to collect their forms but Rajesh kept glancing at her. He wanted to ask her name but couldn’t bring himself to speak to her. He actually quite liked the way she walked- long confident strides, brisk and chin-up. He used to follow body language as a hobby and he knew this was one heck of a confident lady.

    He was quite happy on the first day of college for he wasn’t expecting to see her. After all there were some seventy-five people in that queue that day and for 2 weeks J.J School of Arts has such queues from morning till evening. Fat chance. He had convinced himself that he was never going to see her again. But then inspite of all theories of probabilities – there could’ve been only two outcomes. And this was a favorable one.

    They took a good 10 months before they actually started going out. She was the prettiest in the college and he knew it. He almost flaunted it in front of his friends. “You could be Tom Cruise and yet you would struggle to find someone like Sonia”, he used to tell his friends. Sometimes he even wondered if she would leave him for someone else. No one who saw them together though would doubt their fidelity for each other. They were inseparable all through the last two years in college.

    He liked the way she used to glance at him during classes. Those eyes that never spoke a word yet conveyed an epic treasure of desire. Those lips that moved in a hushed whispering tone with those words he wanted to hear again and again in a class mid-way discussing Gothic architecture…

    He was brought back to reality rather abruptly with the conductor announcing “Ghatkopar ala”. He alighted and the thought that had been bothering him the entire day returned… How could she not call him in three days? He should have done something today. Maybe he should have called her institute. Maybe even book tickets to Delhi. It was 9:50 p.m. by his watch now. It was late and he was tired too. His boss had given him two extra sketches to complete because a colleague had taken ill.

    Rajesh had taken up work at a small architectural firm in Mumbai after graduation while Sonia wanted to complete her Masters before looking out for a job. While Rajesh always believed that the best way to learn was to work on-the-job with paper and pencil, Sonia was quite the opposite. She reveled in burying herself all day in books authored by past masters and perfectionists. This institute in Delhi that she went to was hugely respected in the student community and to get an admission there was one of her dreams come true. They even celebrated in grand style with champagne and a candle-lit dinner at “The Renaissance.” They had begun early at 7:00 p.m. He paused for a moment and smiled. It was quite a night. Her friends Archana and Bobby had also joined in later that night for the dinner.

    “Archana.. I could call her.” .It struck him now.
    Archana was Sonia’s friend from college. He convinced himself that this would be a good time to catch up and he could also slip in to ask if she knew about Sonia’s whereabouts. He hadn’t spoken to Archana for over six months now. “Truth be told, I don’t even know what she’s upto these days”, he muttered to himself. Hesitatingly he searched for her number in the cell.
    “Ah there it is. Thank God”
    “Archana… Hey...Whassup? Rajesh here… Are you about to hit the bed?”

    The conversation went on for a good five minutes before he could ask the question he had called her for. It was playing on his mind all through but he couldn’t slip it in yet.
    “Damn… She is so irritatingly talkative…” he was telling himself.
    He could only ask her casually. He did not want her to know that he was worried about Sonia.

    “Sonia…” she told him. “ Oh... she’s loving every minute of Venice...Err…Hello”

Post Title

A Question of Art

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Saturday, March 25, 2006

The MBA Hitchhiker's Guide

    The following post comes with an inherently flawed assumption - that I have received my PGDBM degree which is still subjected to the vagaries of nature and the powers at my institute. It is an attempt to demystify some of the myths surrounding MBA education and a guideline to survive a two year journey during which one not only undergoes an emotional turmoil, financial backlash but also a personal renunciation of joys like watching cricket 24/7.

    I must confess that one of the most important reasons I wanted to do an MBA was to have the security of a solid six-figure salary in the shortest possible time. It was in Standard VII when I read an India Today cover story profiling some of India’s hottest professional profiles. All of them were MBA’s from India’s top institutes. I read about this chap called Rajeev Balakrishnan whose salary at the age of 24 read an eye-popping six-figure sum. I was damn impressed by our man’s grey suit and I told myself- “Gotta be like that , Issac, gotta be like that”. I don’t have that issue with me today but yeah the color of the suit was grey. I have a tremendous memory for irrelevant details. That was in 1995.

    Today in 2006, I have a black suit and I am going to pen the following words with the limited wisdom of a guy who has had the pleasure and the pain to go through two years of MBA education at one of India’s top institutes. The following 9 points are some of my most treasured gems of learning I have picked up from my experiences of the last two years. They should be applicable to any wannabe MBA or anyone who is still going through the pleasure such an education bestows. Some of them have been acquired through personal application, some through observation and some have been passed on to me by some of my gurus at SPJIMR.

    1.Play the game of Last Impression and not First Impression: In MBA, the rule of first impression being the best impression never applies. Do not ever attempt to make a point at the beginning of a class if there are CP marks. Make your point when the class is slow, drab and fatally boring. This is usually towards the end of the class. People who speak early lose their recall in the eyes of the professor. There will be a time mid-way when every CP desperate guy will attempt to make a point. During these times you should simply watch the fun from the sidelines. Do not attempt to break the clutter for you will be lost and loathed by those desperate around you. Go for your kill only in times of recession.

    2.Find the goldmine but don’t dig it yourself: In times of exams and tests go to the specialist of a subject for advice. Every batch has an Eco, Quant, FM and Operations specialist. If you are the kinds who never bothered to attend classes or thought of Brearley-Myers as the updated version of Duckworth-Lewis go to that expert for that particular subject. Spend time in his company. Take tips from him including the syllabus for the test. These guys are better than textbooks. Often they might also tell you the exact question that’s coming for they spend a lot of time in the professor’s cabin.

    3.Keep your ego at Absolute Zero- Feel at ease to be thought of as stupid or crazy. Your batchmate or even your professors are hugely unlikely to be your employer. So if you have a doubt, ask but in private. Never take the liberty to make yourself stupid in front of 50 others. That’s dangerous. Always approach the person one-on-one if you have a doubt and preferably don’t approach a professor. I learnt on an average atleast 60% more from my peers than from my professors. How I arrived at that figure is a mystery- even to me.

    4.Keep your options open; all the time - This I learnt from my stint as a Placement Committee member in Second Year. There is a beauty in not committing to anyone, learn to admire it and exercise it. In terms of electives, minors, careers and dates always keep your options open till as long as you can. I never killed my alternatives even when I was always sure what I was going to do. This is an off-shoot of the best answer in any MBA class.
    Professor: So should D/E equity ratio be low or high?
    Dumb Guy 1 : High because blah blah blah..
    Dumb Guy 2 : Low because blah blah blah…
    Smart Guy: It depends Sir..

    5.Be flexible to learn : In the last two years, I have developed a huge interest in Theater, Movies, Writing and Photography. This is only because I was willing to listen and spend time with experts from my batch in each of these fields with an eagerness of a beaver and the curiosity of a 3 year old. I realized later that whenever I told myself “That’s not for me...” I have lost out on something. Some of the things I learnt from my batchmates range from fields of Oil Painting, Yoga and Astronomy to Animation using 3-D Max. There’s no limit really.

    6.Play to Peer Pressure most of the times: I had been told in school to carve my own individuality and not be guided by peer pressure. Conversely, in a B-School, I believe Peer Pressure is an element that one should exploit wisely. So if in a Costing Viva there are 110 before you who have told you that they have said that Cost Control is better than Cost Cutting and you have reason to believe them and you are the 111th, do not , I repeat do not take a chance and play the hero to say the converse. Follow the crowd for something called Relative Grading will plunge you to depths you would have never imagined existed. I used to do a quick poll before any individual assignment submission to gauge how many are actually submitting on time and if a substantial part weren’t going to, I put on my earphones back on for that Quentin Tarantino flick, I’d left mid-way.

    7.Don’t take anything at face value: This I picked up from a Harsha Bhogle videotape in our library. If something is coming your way and it seems too easy, question its validity. So even if you are mid-way understanding a concept from the batch topper and you are grasping it easily, question him in between. If you thought you calculated the Black-Scholes with real ease in the examination don’t sit back and relax but speak to a few people around you .Chances are you screwed up big-time and that means managing better impression in the eyes of the professor from next class. (Refer Rule 1). I once thought I had a real easy Costing paper and came out half an hour before the allotted time only to realize later I missed out on the last Question that was listed on the second page of the question paper.

    8.Speak it out in the hostel rooms: If there is something that you vehemently disagreed with in class, don’t let it play in your mind but speak it out in the mess, the gymnasium, the nearby bar or in your hostel room. I can never under-estimate the wisdom I gained from thrashing things out with my pals outside the classroom. We never reached a consensus and that’s exactly I value those heated discussions right up there in my takeaways from SPJIMR.

    9.I am not like everybody else: I said play to peer pressure most of the times but when things were going to have a greater impact on me and these related to career choices, I was happy to let go of the crowd and tell myself that I wasn’t like everybody else. Placements are the craziest time in a B-School because the stakes are really high and you would see people around you apply helter-skelter to companies and you would be tempted to do so too. Know yourself well and when you feel like taking that step that 30 others are taking around you and you don’t have a reason as to why “ Me too?” pause a second and tell yourself “ You have a right to be different from others”. If that doesn’t still soothe your nerves go right ahead and as I said previously exploit the power of peer pressure. It never let me down. On an average people would apply across 4 different sectors and 12 companies for Final Placements. I applied to 2 sectors and 6 companies. 2 of the companies did not even shortlist me. I came out more than fine in the other 4.

    “Truth be told,” Harsha Bhogle says “Management is fantastic general education”.

    If you don’t try too hard, just let it be and have a smile on your face most of the times you will do great!

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