Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

2 week holiday

beginning today.

the wife and i will be holidaying in bangalore and goa over the next 2 weeks. uncertain internet connections/general laziness will dictate the regularity of the posts. the camera in the new motorazr might capture moments worthy of a post, which may take the blog experience to a whole new level. as you may note, just like any other vacation this one holds promises of new beginnings.

bye-bye bombay. see you on the 16th.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

capital punishment

thats the bugbear thats been raised recently, with all the usual suspects clamouring for their voices to be aired on a public forum. the issue at hand is the shortly to be executed logistics guy for the terrorists who were too incompetent to blow up the indian parliament a few years ago. talk about the sins of your bosses falling on your shoulders. i suddenly like my job a lot better.
i was never convinced either ways about the justification for capital punishment nor the arguments made against it. lately i've been thinking that its probably a more severe form of punishment to give the guy a life term. not the 14 year version we have here in india, i'd rather have the life term actually mean, being sentenced to jail for the rest of his natural life without any hope for parole or reduced sentences for good behaviour.
reading 'shantaram' was an insight into life for an ordinary guy in the jail system in this country. if you aren't rich / powerful enough to get yourself a cushy life behind bars then you've pretty much had it. if the guy is really so poor that he can't get himself a decent lawyer, as the anti-capital punishment brigade would have us believe, then we can rest assured that he won't be enjoying the comforts of cell-phones, television, air conditioning, home-made food, gyms and personal trainers within the confines of the hell hole that is tihar.
another faction tells us that if the guy is executed by the state there is a serious possibility of him being raked up as a martyr to some cause or the other. its a crazy enough country for this to actually happen. i say why take a chance, keep everyone happy; short of releasing the guy and let the fellow rot in the relative obscurity of the state dungeons.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

ganapati bappa morya

thats the chant you'd be hearing a lot of if you happened to be in the streets of bombay for the next 10 days. its the annual deity immersion festival that passes for the local version of the rio carnival.
for the duration of the festival the unemployed find useful work as general noise makers. not a job description that requires much of skilled labour.
the bedeceked stages, motifs, themes and grand statues that are put up are rumoured to be financed by some shady underworld criminal or the other. i suppose it makes immense sense to a fugitive from justice and society. you're suddenly a sponsor with a divine celebrity endorsement. if you can't buy your way out of eternal damnation with this, then what gives?
the culmination of the festival is a practice that will find favour with atheists too. theres some irony and a sense of divine justice in the custom of celebrating a god for 10 days every year at the end of which you drag him to the sea, singing and dancing every step of the way, walk him into the water and then watch him drown.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

independence weekend

15th august is when this country takes a day off to celebrate the fact that 59 years ago we replaced the british bureaucrats and civil servants with indians. well, it gives me a day off and thats always welcome.
i took monday off too and had an extended weekend break. four of us had decided to do a rustic trip and so we went to a village and stayed in a hut for 2 days.
the trip began with a train journey to karjat junction, famous for its wada-pav, 2 hours away from bombay. then a half hour rickshaw ride and we were at the village. the rickshaw driver introduced us to a chap who agreed to let us rent one of his huts, just mud walls and thatch roofs, for a couple of days.
it was as rustic an experience as most of us city-slickers are wont to get in a lifetime. but for a village the place was quite up-market. they had satellite television and regular electricity. water though had to be carried in buckets and brought in to the house manually. and the toilets were in an outhouse, which proved to be quite daunting in the dark.
we indulged in some trekking but mostly we just lazed, ate authentic maharashtrian food and watched a couple of b-grade hindi movies. finally, in true city-slicker style we cut the rustic vacation short so that we could get back to the city with a day left in the holiday.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


its monsoon season in bombay and i'm commuting on my trusted motorcycle. to protect myself from the elements i got myself water-proof riding gear.
but it never rains when i'm all dressed up in it. and these plastic things are too stuffy to be wearing if it isnt raining.
every morning when i'm leaving home i diligently put on the water-proof gear over my clothes and then proceed to ride to work, but then it never rains. the one day i had a tear in my rain gear it poured and i got drenched through that perforation.
so i got myself a new set of rain gear, the ironic bit is that i haven't had the need for it yet. it rains before and after i'm on the road.
in another era, i could have made a career out of this 'talent' of avoiding the rain. i'd get villagers to pay me to ride around their fields without any water-proof covers, i'd get thoroughly drenched and they would have irrigation. they could even pay me to ride around their rivals fields wearing rain gear and it would never rain there, ensuring his bankruptcy.
darn city life! i have no enemies who depend on rain water.

Friday, July 21, 2006

censorship - a fallout of terrorism

a delayed negative for those of us in this city who were not killed, injured or personally affected by the 7/11 bombings, at least for the ones who post/read blog pages.
the indian bureaucracy in its infinite wisdom has ordered the internet service providers to disallow access to blog pages. the reason being that apparently blog posts are the new communication medium of choice for terrorists planning large scale bombings.
the inherent idiocy of their actions are obviously not apparent to them, which makes it pretty evident that it will be impossible to make them see the futility of the same. it's akin to shutting down cellular networks because gangsters also use them, or banning all seafaring ships since thats how smugglers move their loot, or even better, prohibiting air travel since airplanes are what terrorists hijack the most.
how is it possible to indulge in a conversation based on logic with bureaucracy? i'm not even going to get into a tirade against state sponsored censorship, though i must admit i find the prospect quite tempting.
i do think that the governments action is going to make blogging even more popular, as is always the case with any prohibited product/service/idea. when will they ever learn that telling someone "you can't!" is the easiest way to get them motivated to do exactly the opposite.
what's wonderful is that technology allows you practically infinite options. the link below will get you access to the pages that the department of telecommunications would not like to see.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

a city under attack

some unidentified chaps managed to blow up the first class compartments of 7 local trains here yesterday. as of now the body count is at 183, with another 714 injured.
and panic struck the city. the television channels outdid each other in trying to repeat cliches about 'the lifeline of bombay', 'the spirit of the city', 'resilience of the citzens' and more such blah-blah.
interviewing angry and afraid commuters seemed to be passing off as reporting. watching the entire sordid affair was akin to entertainment. ok, one can sympathise with the commuters who were stuck there but realistically what can any government do in a situation like this. shouting yourself hoarse about injustice, inadequate security, ill-fortune or demanding an attack on pakistan will get you airtime on national television but will achieve little more.
lets face it, bombay is a soft target. the way i see it there's absolutely no way that its possible to protect this city from a terrorist attack. there are just too many options on offer, such as various forms of public transport, public spaces, utilities, etc. the same crowd thats clamouring for security today will badmouth security guards frisking them tomorrow when they are getting late to get on a train. detectors are practically no good anymore since most devices are plastics.
so what does bombay do, other than get back on to those very same trains and get to work the very next day itself. this is supposed to be the much talked about resilience of the citizenry. but the truth you'd know if you asked them is very different. there's not much else they can do. for them no options exist. for a majority of this city the trains are the only way to get to work. and taking a day off is a luxury many cannot afford.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

not rude, just brutal

results of an internationally conducted survey on politeness were recently published by the reader's digest, and they've generated much brouhaha. the cause for concern seems to be that the citizenry of bombay happen to come across as quite an unruly, rude bunch of barbarians according to its parameters.
nothing wrong with that perception, many a newcomer to the city would vouch for the genuineness of the study's claims. if only the publication had kept its scoring model secret, then the denizens of this city could accept its decision, grumbling all the while, and move on. but no, in the interests of fairness the magazine tells us in great detail that a random sample of our city's inhabitants failed to hold doors open for others, help a stranger, or say thank you, hence we now find ourselves near the bottom of the international politeness pecking-order.
my contention is that bombay is just very brutal. survival here is almost a darwinian experiment. and this takes a little getting used to. if you have lived here for more than a couple of years or so then its a lot easier to understand. very few people like bombay instantly but give them a few years of a daily commute on the local trains and they'll never leave the city voluntarily.
it is a little puzzling. there's very little by way of quality of life and maintaining whatever little living standards you do have is expensive, all in comparison to the rest of the country. but the city exerts a huge emotional pull that no bombayite/mumbaikar can clearly explain. the city exhibits a certain "je ne sais quoi", as the french would put it.
out-of-towners who grow to love the city possess the zealotry of converts. one of the best descriptions i've heard about this city was made by one of my friends, a recent bombayite, asked to explain the city's sub-culture by her parents back home, and all she had to say was, "it's another country".

Monday, June 19, 2006

jugo bonita

yes. the football world cup is on. and i'm watching every game this time around. 3 games a day, the last one ending well into the night. roughly 6 hours of watching football leaves me too groggy in the morning to be posting. i guess matters will continue this way till the 9th of july when the cup is won and the rest of the teams have gone home.
its an amazing thing to be able to watch one of the biggest sporting festivals of our times without being subject to any partisan feelings. a neutral supporter is able to truly appreciate the game and if he must, then he can choose a team to cheer for. while watching Argentina hand out a 6-nil thrashing to a lower ranked team i came to believe that its a good thing that India doesn't qualify for these tournaments, because then one would have to face the ignominy and embarassment of such results.
marketers must love us as an audience, no matter which team gets knocked out at which stage, a 140 million strong television audience in India is going to follow the matches all the way to the final. unlike cricket, which is our national religion, once the home team is out of a tournament then the bottom falls out of the television ad revenue market.
this has a telling effect on my social life. it would be non-existent if it weren't for amazing friends who couldn't care less about the game but put up with my enthusiasm for the duration of the match.

and most importantly, i'm training the wife to appreciate the game. she's turning out to be quite a raucous supporter of teams she chooses to cheer for, and god help the teams whose style of play she dislikes, example Australia. she practically willed Brazil to beat the aussies.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

everyone wants to be a traffic policeman

if you've ever watched a procession snaking its way through the crowded streets of bombay, you'll know what i mean. such processions always manage to throw up a fair number of guys who divert/direct traffic while selflessly giving up their participation in the event.

these chaps just wave their arms at cars and buses, shout at pedestrains and cyclists, feeling pompous and important all throughout. i guess everyone needs a power trip.

its probably some kind of throwback to their childhood. remember how kids in pre-school classes always want to grow up to be a locomotive driver, a fireman or a doctor? (can't recall anyone i know wanting to be an investment banker) maybe these guys wanted to be traffic cops.

perhaps from a certain perspective a traffic policeman is the epitome of cool. he stands there commanding a multitude of vehicles. every once in a while he gets to pull over a random car and boss over the driver. reality is very different but what the heck, the truth never stopped anyone.

Monday, May 29, 2006

slow taxicabs

i have yet to travel in a cab that has its speedometer working. i guess since they're always the slowest things on the road they don't need to figure how fast they're cruising.

it can get real frustrating to sit in the back of one while every other vehicle on the road overtakes you. if you complain about the lack of speed then the guy driving the contraption is likely to give you the evil eye.

other traits common to the practitioners of this profession include dangling one arm outside the window and steering with the other. this no doubt makes for a cool self-image but the limp arm looks definitely ridiculous to passersby.

and i suppose that keeping spare change to be returned to paying customers is a big no-no in their user manual.

Friday, May 26, 2006

evolving public transport

god bless the guys who came up with the idea of introducing air-conditioned buses as a part of the local municipal corporation's fleet of road transport.

this gives me a viable choice when i'm considering commuting to work rather than take my motorcycle. if you've seen the local trains in bombay during peak hours you will agree that it's only a mode of transport for those who have to mind their monthly expenditure. it doesnt matter if you travel first class or second, the economic status of the crowd pushing against you is all thats different.

same problem if you take the regular buses too, also you have to put up with the heat, dust and noise that goes with the tour. notwithstanding the extended travel time. but the airconditioned bus takes care of three of the above mentioned problems, and yes its mostly empty.

i usually knock off to sleep for the duration of the commute and have to be shaken awake by the driver at the last stop which is a short walk from the office. its a wonderfully refreshing way to begin the work day.

differential service and pricing should exist for all goods and services, public transport is a fine example. there's always a fringe of consumers out there ready to pay more than a little extra for better service.

it surprises me that the local suburban railway hasnt come up with a similar plan yet. i'm pretty sure there are commuters in far flung suburbs ready to pay for the comfort of not getting smothered in human flesh twice every day. it beats me that you could pay four times the price of a second class train ticket in order to buy a first class one and still have just as bad a journey as the poorer sections of society.

damn it, when i pay more i demand comfort. and thats exactly what these buses give me.

Monday, May 15, 2006

the holiday that never was

a five day work-week takes a little getting used to. thats my learning as of last weekend. last saturday was a public holiday thanks to the 2,500th birthday of the buddha. a welcome break for those of us who put in six days at the office each week.

naps on saturday resulted in confusing wake-up states. i kept thinking it was sunday. a marathon movie watching session that lasted till the wee hours on sunday morning didn't do much for clarity. moreover, i substituted all my coffee intake with wine, which didn't help matters either.

thankfully, i didn't leave the house. the extent of my commuting being restricted between rooms. end result being an extremely slow monday morning at work. i havent managed to get past first gear, so to speak. everything's moving ultra slow and a caffeine intake is regularly needed.

if this is how it's going to be every time one gets a proper weekend off then i'm glad that i have a six day week. the one day off is just enough to recharge the cliched batteries. whereas a 2 day weekend causes a brutal shock to the body when you trudge into work the following monday. you're subconciously beginning to think that you're on vacation when you're pulled, kicking and screaming, into everyday life the very next day.

i havent often gotten a hangover from imbibing copious quantities of alcohol but i'm beginning to think i'm seriously suffering a hangover from the weekend.

Friday, May 05, 2006

crossing the road to take a dump

thats what i saw a couple of guys doing this morning. they were at a traffic light carrying a bucket of water each and waiting patiently for a break in the flow of traffic so that they could get to the other side of the road and join a mass of humanity performing their morning ablutions.

65% of this great city either lives in shanties or is homeless. with roughly 20 million inhabitants that leaves 13 million people without access to toilets. the local government and some citizens groups have constructed public toilets but these can service only a small percentage of the demand.

the net result is that no matter where you stay on this fine island city, there is someone shitting in the open and within walking distance of you. this is true regardless of whether you stay in bourgeois or proletarian neighbourhoods.

a commute by the local suburban railway is an assault, both visual and olfactory. the railway lines are bordered by slums and tenements all along the grid. this in effect makes it the longest continuous open air toilet in this part of the world.

a visitor could be forgiven for thinking that this is more a city of shitters than the proverbial city of dreams or the financial capital of the country that it is made out to be.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

just horses here, but you can take a hike

its been quite a while since the last post. once the strike got called off i took off to matheran for a two day break. its a quaint little hill-station near bombay. the most interesting aspect of this place is the lack of motorised transport. surprisingly, here was a municipal corporation that was wise enough to see the benefit of selling the idea of a pollution free environment to bombayites poisoned by traffic fumes and smog seeking a weekend getaway.

and its not like theres loads of horse-shit lying around the place either. the municipality has people employed to clean up after the cavalry, quite literally. the horses i saw there were not the typical ones that are seen pressed into public ferry services in bombay. these were healthy and looked well-fed. the owners apparently understood the importance of keeping the horse well groomed.

if you dont fancy a ride on horseback, then you get to trek extensively. unless you want to exercise the option of getting into a carriage pulled/pushed along by some locals. we were obviously trying really hard to play the role of poor college kids on a budget trip and hence walked all over the place. the exertion caused by this resulted in me having a sound sleep for the next two nights.

unfortunately, the narrow gauge train connecting the hill station to the plains wasn't functional since the tracks were swept away in last years floods. its popularly referred to as the toy train and is one of the prime attractions of matheran and i was looking forward to a ride in it. we had to take a cab to the outskirts and then undertook a 4 km uphill walk to the town centre.

while checking out hotels to stay in i chanced upon my company's guest house. luckily enough they had room for us and we had to pay a grand total of 1 buck per person per day for the luxury of the accomodation. yet another moment of being a proud sbi employee. we ran up a bill of thrice that value just drinking tea while we stayed there.

of course, all the money i saved in the accomodation budget was promptly spent by the wife on her now increased shoe shopping budget. all i bought was a measly hat to prevent myself from passing out in the sun outside one of the various shoe stores. now even that one souvenir of my trip has been appropriated by the wife.

quite a good trip nonetheless, good company, good food (lots of it), a little vodka, some bad beer, too much walking, a couple of good views, clean air and a cold night in the middle of summer (we actually needed blankets while bombay was sweltering).

Monday, April 10, 2006

back to pushing files once again

hallelujah! the strike has ended. the public sector monolith has its employees back. and they're happy. the problem is they aren't used to feeling happy at work. add this happiness to all the backlog and it will be a few weeks before things get back to normal. at least, from an operational point of view.

one can't help feel that there is a certain pattern to all of this. these guys went on strike just after a few holidays and they come back to work for a day before the next bunch of holidays. maybe this was just a ploy to get an extended vacation for everyone here, the pension granted might just be the bonus.

here's the contest question for the week: what are the odds that the dependably rude employees will now be a little polite to customers?

Monday, April 03, 2006

indefinite strike - day one

nothing interesting happened. no shouting, no sloganeering, no manhandling of employees who were attending. now i'm even feeling like an idiot for having parked my motorcycle quite a distance away from the corporate office, rather than in the building compound as i usually do.

considering the belligerence with which these guys were protesting i was sure that they'd burn vehicles on the days of the strike. no such luck. that would definitely get them some air time on the news channels.

the negotiations between the unions and the management/ministry of finance are still on. three rounds of talks have produced no result so far. looks like there's going to be a day two to this strike. which is really fine with me, theres peace and quiet in the office, and much less pressure but it does have its downsides. a lack of availability of coffee is one of them.

i never thought it would come to this but i'm experiencing caffeine withdrawal pangs. if this strike goes on for a few more days i might just get over the need for coffee, and thats not necessarily a good thing.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

happy financial new year

and if you happen to be a client of the biggest behemoth in the indian banking industry then you better be marking this momentous occasion by drawing up an action plan to survive the next few days in the absence of essential banking services.

yes, i know its the 21st century and also that the soviet union has collapsed. and how can i ignore red china creating its own brand of state sponsored capitalism. but try telling that to the 200,000 banking comrades angling for a little more pension.

little matter if you retire as the chairman or the clerk, you still receive the same pension post-retirement. how much more egalitarian can a capitalist institution (a bank is most certainly one) become? marx and lenin couldn't find fault with this either, but yet again, don't tell the comrades for they will not listen.

an initial cost-benefit analysis clearly shows that, at a loss of 120 billion for each day that the banking industry stays shut, the government must incur the 6 billion expense to meet the demands of the protesting employees. but that would be tantamount to succumbing to blackmail.

as strikes in the public sector banking industry go, this one is bound to be different. for starters its indefinite, which usually means nothing so we won't put too much emphasis on that. but more importantly, the top brass are going to be supporting the strike too. logically, they have more of an incentive since they are the ones facing imminent retirement.

the impending strike has created a lot of brouhaha in the workplace. everyone's too busy to be doing any work. but to those of you on the outside, that would seem to be the normal scheme of things here, no?

Monday, March 27, 2006

my experiment with truth

no! i'm not reviewing gandhi's writing. i had an accident in traffic this morning on the way to work.

something absolutely trivial. i stopped at a traffic light and the guy in the car behind me didn't stop fast enough. resulting in a broken helmet lock which was attached to the rear of my motorcycle.

going with the trend of traffic accidents on the roads in bombay, i guess the guy in the car was expecting an abusive altercation. he seemed very surprised, since i wasn't in the mood for one. i quietly parked the bike on the side of the road, walked up to his window and told him, "it's early in the morning and i'm getting late for work, and i'm sure you are too (considering the hurry you're in), so i don't want to get into a screaming match or a physical confrontation. and to top it all it's a monday morning and a fight would be the completely wrong way to start the week. the broken part costs 150 bucks, pay up and we'll be on our way."

well, he looked like he was having a bad day. he was in such a hurry that he left home without a wallet. the fellow looked truly upset and worked up. he asked me to exchange cellphone numbers, but i refused to call him for the money. i didn't have too much time to waste so i gave him my business card and told him to have the money sent over.

lets see if trust in human nature pays off. if it doesn't, i'll feel very upset that i didn't take the nice tie in his shirt pocket.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

great train robbery

it does sound like something that happened in the last century on a more or less regular basis, so its a little baffling that this would be in the current affairs section of all major newspapers today.

apparently, a bunch of naxalites have taken over a train that was travelling through some of our eastern states.

i don't want to get into the sociological, environmental and cultural reasons that justify the existence of the naxal movement. not in the least the economics of it all.

but from a logical perspective, it seems a little idiotic to highjack a locomotive driven medium of mass-transportation. i can't fathom the reasons for this act, not to mention the exit stratgeies.

it isn't an airplane, so you can't have it flown across the borders to some banana republic. it's a train, so its got to stay on the tracks, which doesn't give you too much leeway. and hence, its ridiculously easy for the establishment to keep track of you.

you better not be counting on recovering expenses by robbing the hapless passengers or your revenue generation plan could go for a toss. with all the low-cost airlines flying people all over the country the ones who actually travel by train are going to be the sorts who can't really be paying you much by way of ransom. needless to say, you won't get too much by picking their pockets either.

its not even very media savvy to hijack a train. even our headline hungry, news starved, 24 hour television channels wouldn't be too excited at the prospect of chasing a runaway locomotive in the eastern states for a soundbite. so if the intention was to call some attention to your woebegone plight in the hinterland, this is not going to be working in a big way.

the worst thing is that with the safety record of the indian railways these hijackers have a good possibility of colliding with some other train, jumping off the rails, getting blown up by bombs placed by other extremists at railway stations that they might pass through, etc.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

half century

it's time to raise the willow and acknowledge the polite handclaps from the pavilion and the stands. this page now has 51 profile views.

awesome! i'm impressed. there obviously is a niche crowd that likes the way i put words together.

i'd like to thank all of you who check in regularly, leave your comments and pass on the good word.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

back to b-school

no it wasn't an attempt to get another mba, rather just an alumni meet at the alma mater. so those of you who have been wondering why i haven't been posting as regularly, theres your answer. it was such an awesome fun experience it took me a few days to get over the trip.

everyone assembled there had such a blast. its difficult explaining to people that a crowd of bankers getting together at their old school could turn into a rocking party.

walking around in the familiar surroundings, meeting faculty and staff, seniors from the industry, batchmates and of course the juniors who are still at campus, all in all a terrific holiday. it turned out into a much needed break for all of us who turned up at campus.

visiting my old room and meeting the guy who stays there now brought back old memories. went through much agony and tension while i was there, trying to cram for exams perpetually while working on assignments with impossible deadlines. am i not glad to have that part of my life behind me? thankfully, looking back now, it was all worth it.

the icing on the cake was that the present batch is much better than the last one that graduated (that would be mine), it makes one feel good about the fact that the future is better for the institute and there are worthy successors.

at the cost of sounding repetitive, i say again that it was great to revisit the site of my greatest victories.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

speed demon

for a brief while this morning, on my way to work, i behaved like a juvenile biker. some young punk gave me a little handlebar bump at a traffic signal, and i just had to respond to that. some questions beg answering.

my motorcycle responds amazingly to a speedy start. the gears shift as smoothly as you'd like them to, the throttle opens up and the machine takes off while delivering a super thrust. very efficient response time.

as luck would have it, there was an open stretch of road after the signal and then a flyover. a good bit of road for a drag considering it was peak hour traffic time.

the young punk was ahead of me at the lights, since he nudged me in order to get there. once the lights turned, he went on the outside in order to get a clear run to the flyover. i decided to take the straight line. my gear shifts were better than his and i hit a 100 on the speedometer in good time, much before him anyway. as i reached the flyover a check in the rear-view mirror showed him as just a speck.

that battle was won, easily. but i let the bike cruise at that speed all the while i was on the flyover and this one was quite a long one too. theres quite a few things that you notice while riding at this speed, your shirt collar better be buttoned down or it flaps so much and so fast it hurts the collar bone. the wind whistles in your ear, and echoes in the helmet. your eyes water because of the windspeed. the temperature drops considerably. your visor rattles. and every undulation in the road is very pronounced.

exhilarating! an awesome way to begin the day. i'd have thanked the guy except for the fact that i never saw him again since he didn't manage to catch up.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

i've had an article published

nothing very glamourous, the article is an overview on basel II norms. further, its been published in an arcane banker journal called the "international money and exchange newsletter".

it's always nice to see one's name in print. also, its apparently some kind of a major deal, as far as the folks in the office are concerned. i've been getting a bit of mileage and goodwill as a result.

Friday, February 17, 2006

goodbye movie halls

compact discs rule. throw in a decent home theatre system and most people wouldn't bother with going to cinema halls anymore. at the most i'd give them a few years to chug along but in the long run i see movie halls being quite irrelevant. personally, i haven't been to one in ages.

granted that there's that little extra something about watching a movie on the big screen. but juxtaposed against the pains one must put up with while being there, it just doesn't add up.

even if you ignore the minor hassles involved in checking out movie listings, getting to a decent movie hall, purchasing a ticket, etc. there's always the crowds, the folk who refuse to turn off their cell phones and chat away during the interesting parts of the movie, the mothers with their bawling children, the lack of adequate leg-room if you happen to be a little taller than the average height, the long lines at the toilets and the food counters, etc. i could really go on.

sometimes all you can see is the back of the head of the person sitting in front of you. the temperature varies wildly, it could be freezing cold in some halls, while its stuffy in others.

compare this with the comfort of watching a movie in your own home. its a world of a difference and a much better cinema experience that more than makes up for the loss of the big screen effect. and home theatre systems are only getting better.

coming to the economics of the entire thing, the multiplexes have only made it worse. the tickets are way overpriced. (considering that these guys are exempt from taxes that regular halls pay, you'd rationally expect the rates to be lower, but no!) and then there's the entirely detestable shopping mall feel.

discs obviously allow you to store and share the good films. at this point, i'd like to make it clear that pirated discs are totally not worth the effort and the money expended on them. they can ruin a good movie.

the drawback of watching movies only at home is that you are invariably later than everyone else when it comes to viewing the latest releases. if this doesn't bother you, then it's chill.

its only a matter of time before this becomes a more popular avenue than the movie halls. the long term revenue generating capability of multiplexes come into question. to all the subscribers of the recent initial public offer by inox, a sell recommendation on your stock holding should go down well.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

st. valentine's pagan feast

to mark this same occasion many years ago i had penned an article which was published in the times of india. so i'm going to take the lazy option and republish it here.

“All you virgins out there, thanks for nothing”, catches my eye as I walk down the street. It’s the slogan on a young teenager’s T-shirt. If we excuse him his age, hormones and lack of tact we wouldn’t find much to argue about with him, would we now?

Do any of us know a guy who can stand up and proclaim proudly never to have been jilted, refused or just plain insulted by a woman, while pledging undying love to her, ever in the brief spell dwelt on mother Earth? If you, dear reader, are one of these blessed species, you, my friend, are a better man than most. This statement of course implicitly assumes that you have taken the trouble of falling in love with a woman and have subsequently gone on to undertake the brave act of asking her out.

Popular entertainment throughout the ages has always depicted protagonists who give up the world for their loved ones. That these poor fellows usually have tragic endings is not a reminder we need. Guys are the ones, who look at the moon and pine, get drunk and write poetry, or even just buy roses and wait endlessly for dinner dates that are invariably late. And then the inconsiderate women have to be dropped home early too, more often than not just as we get into the swing of things. Some of us look deep into their eyes and whisper sweet nothings, maybe all the while trying to look for those unborn children that Bryan Adams keeps harping about. When Romeo breathes his last, it’s usually the only option left. So how is it that women are assumed to be more romantic?

Reading a Mills & Boon’s novel and daydreaming about the perfect man. Bursting into tears when the suffering sod in the depressing movie finally dies. Acts such as these and myriad others are what have gotten women the world over the sobriquet of being hopeless romantics. When was the last time you came across an intelligent romantic story that didn’t disturb every nerve-center of your being? One that was written with the guy intellect in mind? Is this justified or fair? Of course not, like everything else in the relationship game, women enjoy an unfair advantage here too. Yet another manifestation of nature’s cruel streak. Why else do you think we refer to nature in the feminine?

Women are strong, pragmatic, ruthless creatures. Don’t let anybody convince you otherwise. Anything you have seen contrary to this sentiment is an elaborate ploy conducted for your benefit. They aren’t helpless babes in the woods. Nothing could be further from the truth. Any happiness you enjoy is only at their mercy and they know it, and each and every one of their kind is a past mistress at turning the screws on us. (Weaker sex, anyone?)

The few who fall in love with us before we do so are the exception rather than the norm and even in this group you would be hard pressed to find those who would take the trouble of asking one of us out. We on the other hand, are expected to win the love of our fair ladies and in this supposedly noble endeavor we engage in bizarre, inexplicable rituals that are none but the human edition of the mating game played by life forms everywhere.

Have you ever stopped to consider that this might just be a pleasure fulfillment sport for women? One that we are genetically conditioned to perform.

We fall in love with them and basically go a bit daft. Isn’t this what usually follows? You’re off in a dream world, bits of your brain stop working, you forget things, you make silly decisions, attention is focused on this one individual and other people and responsibilities are forgotten. Friends, family, social life and careers are only a few of the statistics on the casualty list. Detractors could argue that these symptoms are shown by both sexes but the catch is in the follow-up act. For women the logical next steps are: you become great mates, settle down, raise the next generation and grow old together. Not exactly the stuff candy-floss romantic dreams are made of, are they?

Conversely, us guys are more in love with the notion of being in love itself. It’s only the insanity of the first nutty months of the relationship that we clamor for. Once the head-rush has safely passed us by, things aren’t as interesting as they once seemed, for that’s when the women turn into their mothers. Constant nagging, boredom and sexual familiarity can be harmful to the health of your relationship. We don’t want to be practical and monogamous. We’re just not programmed to function that way. At least not with happiness and content.

So what’s that noise I hear? Is it my brethren asking for a solution? Alas, fellow men, many of our kind, better even than you and I, have frittered away a promising life in this very quest for mankind’s holy grail. As for now, send her a bouquet, forward the cute lovey-dovey SMS and buy a ticket to Manali, just for yourself.

Friday, February 10, 2006

playing to the gallery

given a taste of power, thats what everyone eventually does. (no it isn't one of those supposedly profound thoughts i have on occasion, rather this was told to me by an intelligent friend, so you have it on good authority).

i refer here to the recent victory of hamas (a terrorist organisation specialising in suicide bombings) in the parliamentary elections in palestine. from what i hear they actually have a charter that spells out their numero uno raison d'etre to be the destruction of the israeli state. now that they have won and become respectable politicians they have agreed to having discussions with the very same israeli state they were sworn to destroy. a dramatic softening of stance, if ever.

i wouldn't know but by looking at the trends it would certainly appear that its easier to be a terrorist than a politician. for instance, take our very own naxalites or the insurgents in the north-east. while they live the glamourous life of the revolutionary they're radical, then democracy tames the best of them.

its brilliant, what better way to make the terrorists irrelevant than to have them run for elections. they're damned if they do and damned if they don't. if they lose, then they can't claim to have a popular base. if they win, then they must govern. which is a tad more difficult than having to scream, shout and go to war about injustice because now they must do the dirty work.

in one swift act the uber cool, awe inspiring terrorist is reduced to a mundane politician. in keeping with his updated job profile, he will do what every political animal must in order to hang on to the intoxicating power he has just experienced. not to mention the travails of the seat of power, which only gets worse if the guy is unlucky enough to be caught in the whirlpool of coalition politics.

there's something particularly decisive about launching a squad of suicide bombers into the streets that just can't be matched by having cabinet level meetings with the opposition. even their designations don't have the same effect any more, who wouldn't prefer being called supreme commander rather than defense secretary.

accountability is also a bit rough on these guys. earlier one had to answer to a guy in a cave somewhere in the ravines of the khyber pass. cut to the present, and the same chap must now answer to the official media while shaking a lot of civilian hands and kissing many babies to ensure re-election.

more power to the ballot!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


yet another public holiday, which means the great public sector banking entity that i work for will have its shutters down tomorrow. i'm beginning to get used to this kind of thing. number three this year.

i have a short road trip planned for tomorrow. i figure i can have a lot of area covered around the city if i takeoff for the day every time theres a bank holiday. this way i can cover sixteen areas of interest this very year.

during the previous bank holiday, the wife and i rode to bassein fort near vasai on the outskirts of bombay. this was once the cultural, political and military capital of the portuguese empire in this part of the world for close to 200 years, apart from being a major port. then the marathas invaded which resulted in one of the bloodiest battles of the time. the appalling losses convinced the colonialists to move to the refuge of goa. today bassein is a ruin in the true sense of the word. nothing much to see, there are no major buildings, nothing for the sight seeing tourist, no attractions whatsoever. the ramparts adjoining the sea are all thats really left of the fort.

its a lesson in humility. this place was not unlike bombay today, all thats left to show for it is fallen walls. structures such as these serve as a reminder to the fragility of our environs everytime we get arrogant as a race.

we had great sea food and the beer tasted that much better since we were in the sun for the entire day. all in all, a great way to spend an unexpected holiday. though we did end up with sore butts at the end of the day, not surprising since we rode 150 kilometres on the round trip.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

the cartoon wars

this recent episode of the religion war caused by the mohammed cartoons has been on my mind a lot recently. i find myself in a conundrum and i can't seem to get a definitive personal standpoint vis-a-vis the whole issue.

do i support the free speech proponents who would publish stuff that offend anothers religion or do i agree with the right wing hardliners who cringe like shrinking violets everytime someone, somewhere caricatures their holy figures?

whats really ironical is that five muslims got gunned down in the middle east, by other muslims, for protesting a little too much. i can't figure out protestors. my usual response to an earth shaking event (maybe like this one) is "who cares". i agree that it may not be the ideal one but i guess its a shade better than having my ass shot off.

what i think would have been a whole lot cooler would be al jazeera testing the west's viewpoint on free speech by commissioning an animation movie that depicts christ, the pope and sundry christian holies in compromising situations.

give that making fun of religion is such an easy job they could even get the thing outsourced to india. repeatedly airing the film would make for interesting viewing, increase TRPs everywhere, generate advertising revenue, and give a whole new meaning to the term "cartoon wars" thats being bandied about by everyone.

i'd really like to see a response from an islamic outfit that says "ok! you smirked at us. we're going to laugh at you."

Sunday, February 05, 2006

not exactly blogger's block

thats what i would say to explain the relative silence on these pages for the last few days. its not like i suddenly ran into a creative dead end. the reason is a lot more mundane than that. i have been a little more tied up at work than i usually am. the ideas for the posts are there, its just that i have to put them down on paper.

to those of you who have been checking in regularly, i apologise.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

republic day

this is the day when a nation that chooses its rulers in a more or less democratic manner opts to behave in a fashion more apt for a dictatorship. we have various contingents of the armed forces prance around in a show of arms that would make mugabe smile. and how can one miss the colourful floats that showcase each of the states of the union.

thankfully the guy taking the salute during the march past isnt a fragile old has been, who can't stand for the duration. we're at least spared the ignominy of seeing a head of state take a tumble.

adding a touch of irony and contradiction to the entire proceedings is the fact that the chief guest for the days events is a despotic monarch. who comes up with the list of potential invitees? i'd like to know their rationale for shortlisting.

even when i was a little kid in school i couldnt understand the fuss everyone made for the 26th of january. its an awkward holiday to say the least, when was the last time you wished someone "happy republic day"? if you did then please dont let me know.

independence day has its raison d'etre, we managed to get the english out. maybe its because i dont know much about the law/constitution and hence fail to get excited about it but as far as i can tell theres very little emotional drama that can be squeezed out of the fact that we released a draft copy of a document that would be edited/amended on numberous occasions. thats probably why even the marketers give it a miss. why, it even gets lesser ad spend than fathers day.

thank heavens i dont live in delhi. from what i hear its denizens are forced to put up with a greater number of inconveniences in the days leading up to the grand occasion. all under the name of security measures for the high and mighty servants of the public.

but hey! why am i complaining? yet another public holiday, the second this year. i intend to count them as they go along. the joys of being a public sector official.

Monday, January 23, 2006

a wannabe dictator's birthday

thats what some unemployed maharashtrian youth seemed to be celebrating today. from what i hear this was a citywide expression of happiness for a stubborn geriatric.

some of these chaps were expressing their joy by lighting noisy firecrackers next to a hospital. in fact right in front of a "no honking - silence zone" signboard. to compound the misery inflicted on hapless passersby, they even blocked and slowed traffic.

well! its a free country and everyone has rights, i suppose, even hard-core, right wing, communal proselytisers and their followers. of course, the above mentioned octogenarian would never do the rest of us the favor of being courteous enough to accept the fact that those of us who aren't "sons of the soil" by his definition have any rights in this part of the nation, if he had anything to say about it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

a lack of skill sets and a fall from grace

i happened to speak with a watchman the other evening and during the course of the conversation i discovered that the guy was a tamil brahmin, descendant of a powerful upper caste priestly clan. this bit of information got me curious and i tried to dig for further information about his family as discreetly as was possible. its amazing how gossip, or even the hint of it, can get us enthusiastic.

it so transpired that less than four generations ago, this chap's ancestors led the lordly life. they had always been temple priests and were hence assured of a comfortable life, with enough money to go around, and of course a respectable position in society.

it all went wrong when these guys didn't adapt to the changing times by getting a relevant education. they refused to study anything but sanskrit shlokas, or were refused permission by their elders to study anything remotely more useful. as time went by the descendants of this family found themselves increasingly unemployable in a qualification driven, job oriented marketplace that had considerably lesser time for temple priests.

the slide downwards began, and they found themselves trapped in the proverbial vicious cycle of poverty. a lack of relevant education made sure that they didnt have many employment opportunities, which led to their wealth being eroded and not enough of it being generated. this affected the level and quality of education they could get, which pushed them further into the morass.

so it went from his grandfather to his father to our fellow at the gate. but there's light even at the end of this tunnel. this guys son is apparently doing really well in school and the family makes the necessary sacrifices to make sure the kid gets the resources he needs. the father is of the opinion that this little fellow is their ticket for an entry into the middle classes once again.

i don't know what it is about such stories that really moves me but personally i'm a sucker for them. now i'm going to believe and hope that the little kid continues to do well and achieves everything that his family expects him to. i accept the fact that its too much of a burden for little shoulders but we've all got a raison d'etre, this just happens to be the job he's supposed to do. in this endeavour i wish him and his father all the luck and good fortune they might need.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

cellphone invaders

if you can get by, for even a week, without an intrusion on your privacy by the ubiquitous call centre sales teams then do let me know how you manage it. i find myself bombarded by these callers every other day, they sound pretty anxious to give me various loans, credit cards, and other such goodies. invariably its from some bank or financial institution so i guess i must feel good about the fact that at least these guys consider me a good credit risk, which frankly wasnt the case even a year ago. but i could really do without all the attention.

initially, i did get pretty worked up whenever i got calls like this. but now i've decided to use them as de-stressers. i happily agree to subscribe to whatever service they want me to utilise, then give them a fictional identity and address to contact. i did this last week with some of these callers and they're still out on the streets looking for buildings that don't exist.

yes, i agree that it might be inhuman to have the poor guys who're actually doing the legwork run around in the hot sun, but hey, i'm only retaliating with my own brand of firepower in the cellphone wars. i'm just hoping that after sending enough guys on runarounds i'll get knocked off some of these databases that call centres probably maintain. if they do that because i'm a loony liar thats just as good a reason as any, as far as i'm concerned. if its any consolation to these guys, i'll have them know that they havent been the only people to have branded me such.

it works better for me cause i've threatened and abused demanding to be struck off these lists to no avail. of course, i wont deny that i have an unnecessarily idiotic streak. i extend this logic to hapless folks who make the mistake of dialling the wrong number and in the process reach me.

i pretend to be the person who they're looking for and continue the conversation till such a time as i'm found out. only recently, i received a call from a chap who wanted to order some furniture. i went to the extent of taking down the specified dimensions he needed and even gave him an expected date of delivery in addition to bargaining a fair price for the deal and also settled on a 30% advance commission.

i'd recommend these methods personally. the plus points are that theres absolutely no negative fallout, since termination is completely in your control. its totally amazing as a relaxation technique. and of course, you get to be a little bit of an actor, play different roles, characters, people and gauge how convincing you can be.

Friday, January 13, 2006

walking to goa

thats what some chaps claimed to be doing last evening if you can take their banners at face value.

normally, i wouldn't really care what some unemployed marathi youth did with their spare time. but this once it got my attention since a thousand or so of these guys were walking on the road, and of course blocking traffic. so all motor vehicles around these fellows had to slow down and hence caused a jam that extended for miles till i managed to overtake the walkers.

these guys had banners proclaiming their love for sai baba and their intention to walk till goa as proof of the above mentioned love and affection. i mistakenly assumed that it was a cricket related demonstration since these road blockers were all wearing floppy cricket hats on their heads. mind you, it was past eight in the evening and they had just begun their walk from bombay to goa so there was no way they encountered any sun.

once i got through the chaos that had resulted from their walking i stopped cursing them and started thinking about the motivation that would make a lot of people undertake a task of this magnitude. i'm trying to imagine how recruitment for this kind of thing happens? then of course there's the entire cost factor, what manner of funding do such plans attract?

and what in sai baba's name will these guys do when they get to goa? which happens to be quite far from shirdi, as a matter of fact its even in the wrong direction.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

eid mubarak

the year's first public holiday. i'm so glad i work for a bank. its awesome to have a day off in the middle of the week. this should happen every once in a while, the good news is that since i work for a public sector bank its actually going to happen quite regularly.

its especially nice since my last job was with a retail chain that didn't believe in the concept of having days off for employees. not a bad idea considering most people shop on their days off and hence retail stores stay open almost all through the year. it used to try my patience no end when i had to explain to people that i worked sundays, then they'll look at you with a dead pan expression and ask you once again about the necessity to work on sundays. i've stayed out of jail and away from life sentences only because of the will power i've managed to muster so as to not bludgeon people to death while explaining that most of humanity reserves sundays for their mall visits.

inspite of much editing, everything i've written that attempts to get past this point is a digression and hence has been deleted. i'll sign off here with my best wishes to all of you who sacrificed goats today. and a reminder to invite me to the next partaking of such a feast.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

long delayed book review

i meant to do this almost as soon as i had the blog going actually. since i like reading so much (my wife can testify to that statement, i think it bothers her sometimes), i thought my blog posts will be heavily dominated by review of books i've just read or am in the process of reading. but surprisingly, i've done two slots of movie reviews and not a single one on my reading.

the best book i read in 2005 was definitely 'shantaram' by gregory david roberts. i wont say a thing about it, except that if you haven't read it yet then you're missing something. if you live in bombay and the city is in your blood, then you can't help liking it. especially, if you've hung out long enough in the colaba/south-bombay area.

in a moment of good fortune i happened to find an old classic that i've been looking for since a while now. neal stephenson's 'the diamond age'. this one's a futuristic story, thankfully without the trappings that befall science fiction. brilliant book. best 100 bucks i ever spent. it so happened that i took a couple of friends from out of town over to the british council library, this is when i scanned through their withdrawn shelves and found this one selling for what i thought was a ridiculously low price. anyways, its now a proud addition to my bookshelf.

i'm also halfway through 'white mughals' by william dalrymple. this one's a history lesson in the middle of the love affair between a high born muslim lady and the british resident at the hyderabad court during the days of the raj. this one's a little heavy and not exactly a page turner but it sure is captivating.

just to remove any misconceptions that you might have about me only reading good stuff here are the bad ones.

i'm very sorry that i read susan hill's 'the various haunts of men' and i especially regret having read 'the codex' by douglas preston. this was a particularly bad time since i followed these up by a really mediocre effort on the part of john grisham that goes by the name of 'the last juror'. this could have been traumatic but i was rescued in time by 'the curious incident of the dog in the night time' by mark haddon. this last one is a brilliantly written piece of work. it introduces you into the world as seen from the eyes of a fifteen year old autistic boy.

anybody have a different view on any of the above, please let me know. what would really be helpful are some recommendations.

Monday, January 09, 2006

missing shoe polish guy

i moved into a new neighbourhood last july. we can't mark territory the good old way but we still seek to get comfortable with our surroundings when we find ourselves in a new environment. after the initial exploring is done, what helps us settle down a little more are the service providers in and around our area. they make life a little easier.

of course, over a period of time we take them for granted and expect them to be there on a daily basis. we only notice them when they aren't around. we argue with them about pricing, regularity and the quality of their service. its not all smooth sailing, we have our ups and downs.

so among the various domestic helps, the laundry guy, the chap who cleans my motorcycle every morning, the grocery delivery fellows, the delivery guy from the local wine shop, there used to be this really frail old man who had a shack right outside our apartment block. he'd polish my shoes almost every morning, but of late he's disappeared. i havent seen him for more than a month and i'm missing the guy's services.

since he was a really old chap, poor, not very healthy, lived in uncomfortable conditions (for anybody, not just an old man), and had no immediate family (as far as i could tell) it makes me a little worried that the old chap must have bought his little piece of the big farm in the sky.

what makes it really sad is that i didnt even know his name. i dont know what he mush have done with his life when he was younger. i'm wondering what he must have done (or rather, not done) to spend his last days in this manner. i sincerely hope his passing was observed by others too. and hopefully, some of them would know more about him than me.

"go in peace old man who always had a smile for me". as eulogies go, that's not much but it's the best i can do with the limited knowledge i have about him. it's true that all of us touch many lives, in many ways, everyday. what's more honest is that when someone you know dies, no matter how well or little you knew them, a little bit of you dies with them.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

gods of the elevator lobby

i'm sure that in our ever expanding pantheon of hindu gods and godesses we could squeeze in enough shelf space for a few of these guys. the esteemed entities i refer to here are none other than the almighty lift operators at the sbi head office.

no smirks please. if you've ever seen them at work you'll agree that these are not ordinary sentient humanoids but rather a little more like mischevious sprites. they lord it over on their turf, which is spread over two lobbies in the building, and their weapons of choice travel through the twelve elevator shafts in this very abode.

now you might think, that for a building that has twenty floors and maybe houses two thousand people during the average working day, it would be sufficient to have twelve elevators catering to these needs. if you haven't seen these guys at work, then we'll forgive you your folly of assumption.

to add anger to misery there's a board on display at the lobby on which you can track the movements of all the lifts. this is a very helpful tool since it helps you appreciate the beauty of synchronisation. i kid you not, all the elevators display a solidarity that would put our communist trade union leaders in the shadow. they all travel in the same direction together at the same time.

so if you are waiting for a lift to carry you to one of the top floors and are on the point of praying fervently for one to at least look like its coming down, thats when you'll see all the elevators going up together(it's not that difficult to imagine them doing this hand in hand). then they'll all come down in sync with each other. they'll also make it a point to stop on each floor in the interim.

akin to rubbing salt in fresh wounds, when they do come down to the ground floor you'll be spoilt for choice. thats of course when the operator chooses to let you access the lifts. they have a lock and key system for each of their pets. he can thus turn a key and make your visit to the lobby that much longer. when the guy feels benevolent enough, he'll turn the key yet again and revel in the rush of the crowd to the transport that he has so graciously deigned to open to the public.

then of course you can hear the cruel, evil god laughing in your head when the elevator then stops at every floor along the way. at this point you could be forgiven for wanting to kill the daftoids who get off at the first floor. hello! if you're going to spend so much time waiting for the god-damned thing when all you need to do is go to the first floor, why will you not take the stairs? i want to understand this rationale.

since i dont usually visit temples unless obligated to, i extend the logic to these deities too. i usually take the stairs. since my desk resides on the third floor, this means a four storey climb every day(also counting the mezzanine floor between ground and first).since this is all the exercise i get on an average day, i also give thanks to these gods in the lobby with their powerful machines for doing their part in keeping me a little more active than i would normally be.

Friday, January 06, 2006

always the bridesmaid, never the bride

thats the one phrase that comes to mind when i think of arshad warsi's acting career.

lets not even venture into those films where he plays the supporting cast. thats just too obvious. he does lots of them. even wins much praise for the amazing performances that he pulls off. maybe an award too, every once in a while.

but the real clinchers are in movies where he plays the lead. they're more often than not gutsy movies, with drastically different storylines, sub-plots, able supporting casts, brilliantly executed projects and all in all a good way to spend a few hours. cases in point being 'waisa bhi hota hai' and 'sehar'.

ok! the marketing and hype that accompanies the usual bollywood product is missing in the above mentioned movies but hey 'mangal pandey' couldnt be saved with aamir khan himself indulging in direct selling whereas 'iqbal' managed to float through a lot of movie halls and generate enough interest considering its budget, which was a little more than that of a documentary.

so i'm a little confused. obviously the word of mouth plan isnt working here either, if thats what the makers were betting on. lets just hope that the poor sod doesnt give up and continues to do the good work inspite of the lack of adulation.

if this guy was a listed stock, i'd recommend a buy. he's an undervalued performer, and that too with a consistent track record. any of you producers out there reading this, pick this boy. he'll provide more bang for the buck.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

a diploma in intellectual property rights

as an addition to her degree in law makes my sister view everything from the standpoint of a paranoid lawyer.(the last two words might be repititive, excuse them, they're there for emphasis)

ever since i started posting blogs here, she's been giving me dire warnings about how some unscrupulous reader would plagiarise my texts and get them published someplace else. not to mention the fame and riches that will befall this dishonest person, all at my expense. so as a competent lawyer would, she advises me to register my trademark and at the very least append a copyright symbol to the essays here.

initially i believed that having a copyright on postings would take something away from the spirit of the blog, but she's relentless. she even sends me links to other blogs that carry a copyright symbol. she's obviously been trained well at law school. (i'm beginning to get an insight into how she managed to top the rankings there). in the face of such dogged recriminations i have chickened out and taken the easier option.

hence, all writing here is protected by this shield ©. so you evil, non-creative, plagiarising demons now be gone.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

two bandaids

thats all that i have to show for a providential escape on the bombay roads.

last evening, on the way home after work the wife and i were in thick traffic near byculla station. there was a taxi on my right and a car a little behind on the left. an enterprising driver tried to squeeze his car in the gap between the car on my left. this resulted in him hitting me on the side. thankfully he didnt hit me head on. the side of his car hit my handle bars and i went on to the taxicab on the right, bounced off and went right back on to the side mirrors of the traffic miscreant.

two of my fingers came into contact with the mirror at around 50kmph. this caused lots of pain and some bleeding. my wife's leg got a little bump in this melee too. everybody took off from the scene instantly. neither the taxicab, the miscreant nor me even stopped for a second. all concerned parties promptly disappeared. thankfully no one seemed very interested in getting into a fight.

i rode the rest of the way home with just three fingers on the clutch. and thats pretty much how i'm going to be changing gears for a while now.

a lucky scrape in more ways than one. i dont even want to think of the possibility that the bike could have skidded and led to us falling on the road which would have caused much more injury, thats assuming we wouldnt have fallen into oncoming traffic.

there are moments in life when one realises how lucky one is and gives thanks to a greater power for a favourable roll of the dice. this was definitely one of them.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

the folly of the poor

no other term would be more appropriate in certain instances where the unrich do what they do so as to propogate their economic backwardness.

this recent outrage on my part has been brought on by the resignation tendered by our household's domestic help. now this is a woman who gets paid 250 bucks a month from us. that she scrubs, cleans and dusts other peoples houses for such sums obviously means that she needs the amount pretty badly. unlike most cases, she's actually the second earner in her family since her husband works as a security guard in a nearby housing complex. no disrespect meant, but he probably doesnt rake it in either. add multpile child care expenses to the monthly bill and their household looks precariously placed on the economic ledge.

at this point of time, the rational reaction would be to take on additional revenue generating duties. but surprisingly, this is not the case. in fact reality is far from the truth. the domestic help needs to get up early in the morning and make breakfast for her husband before she comes to our house. since she has to come over pretty early in the day, since we leave before 9, her mornings are rushed and her husband is unhappy with the state of things. so she decides to stop coming over to our place and also to forgo the earnings generated from this exercise. hello! how is this the natural reaction? i would have thought that the response to this situation would be to wake up a little earlier everyday so as to satisfy all parties.

i grew up in a house where the mother woke up at 4:30 in the morning so as to complete all her tasks for the day so as to be able to be at work at 8. if my mom could do this why cant this chick?

i'm seriously curious. i've been in situations where 250 bucks used to make a sizeable difference to the monthly personal balance sheet. which makes it even more uncomprehensible. why do the poor turn down potential economic opportunities on a consistent basis? is it because they are poor? or are they poor because they turn down these very opportunities?

for those of you who cant identify the scenario with the domestic help, and there must be some of you since even i never had to deal with this till about 6 months ago, here's another more relevant example: autorickshaw/taxicab drivers. these guys would much rather hang around at their designated stands than take fares. their apparent reluctance to ferry you anywhere is made obvious through their extortionary pricing mechanism. but this could be an article for another time.

personally, and this opinion could be biased by way too many things, i guess that if i was as miserably poor as these people are then i'd be stopping just finely short of running myself into the ground in the pursuit of economic comfort. so i'm sure you can see why i cant comprehend the lack of rationality on the part of these guys. if any of you have clarifications or can throw some light on this aspect of their behaviour i'd be much obliged.

Monday, January 02, 2006

a wedding in the family

actually it happened almost a week ago, but i've been wondering if it would be prudent to mention my views on it on a public forum. for the record, i still havent made up my mind on the matter but i'm going to be doing it anyways. there's a good possibility that this posting might get deleted.

it began with a disadvantaged second cousin to my mom getting her daughter married off. now it so happens that the above mentioned aunt had run away from home in her teens and gotten married to some poor sod who happened to be a few rungs below on the socio-economic ladder and from a different religion, no less. given such a history i'm sure she was petrified her daughter would make a similar mistake, to pre-empt such a situation from arising she decided to have her daughter engaged as soon as she turned eighteen.

so far so good but the family the kids getting married into also comes from a similar background. the evident problem at the wedding was that there was a huge disconnect between mom's side of the family and everyone else at the wedding reception. the problems began in the church itself. oddly, it was the hindu crowd that kept their peace and children in check while the christians there were distracted and their kids ran amok in the middle of the service. it got to such a level where the priest cut short the wedding mass and performed the marriage ceremony without much ado while lamenting the lack of attention paid by the congregation.

at this point, i was well and truly aghast for i had never known a scene like this to occur. i was sure that things could go no lower. but surprisingly, it did. there was the reception to follow and the less said about that the better. very soon it started looking like the gatherings the poor slum folk have on every occasion. there was a loudspeaker blaring the latest bollywood item numbers in the middle of really outdated and ancient english club music. all of this was played at low quality, high decibel levels.

as if this wasnt bad enough there were the ubiquitous drunken revellers that gather around loudspeakers everywhere. that this happens and is practiced by certain sections of the society is really fine but what i had trouble accepting was that i suddenly found myself related to these sections, albeit tenuously.

the icing on the proverbial cake was just that. the mini-stampede that took place near the ice-cream stand was a fitting finale to the evening.

but in every cloud there lies a silver lining. in this case i was glad for my aunt who managed to pull this event off on pretty much her own steam. i'm sure she had to plan, strategise and budget for an eternity. in spite of the brouhaha it was in more ways than one her crowning moment and a commemoration to her long years of hard work, tenacity and perseverance in the face of adversity.

what gave me hope was the young couple who had their big day. from all that i could perceive they appear to be decent, level headed and hardworking folk who might just make a good future and a comfortable life for themselves. here's wishing them all the very best.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

three movies and a year goes by

thats pretty much how it transpired. the wife fell ill on friday and that ruled out the new years eve party in colaba. so we settled down to a movie marathon with a bottle of genuine french wine. the grape extract definitely helped the settling down process.

so we watched "garam masala", "shark tale", and "paheli". the first one was your stereotypical bollywood nonsensical musical comedy. it was hilariously funny, of course i only got the humour after i decided to try and stop connecting the scenes in my head, especially since the filmmakers had evidently given up the battle to do so. theres absolutely no semblance of flow to the script, but taken in isolation the individual scenes generate enough laughter to make the cost of the cd worthwhile.

shark tale is a brilliant animated movie. it reaffirms my faith in animation, i'm yet to be disappointed by a movie thats been sketched and drawn rather than shot and cut. so far so good but three in a row would have made me suspicious of the new year. too much laughing is never a great way to begin anything, it only looks that way.

so right then we ran into paheli. now this was a special disappointment since i was expecting some good work from amol palekar's directorial venture. this movie took the concept of a daftoid storyline to a whole new level. and since its been nominated to the oscar's as the official indian entry i'm sure that this will just confirm the notion many firangis would have about weird stuff happening in the land of the sadhus, snakecharmers and elephants.

thankfully, this is when the wine kicked in and i happily slept off and missed the last quarter of the movie. all in all, a great way to begin the new year.

happy 2006!