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.