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.