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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