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?

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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.

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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… :)

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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.

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When will I learn?

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