Jul 29, 2006

Simbly South

Recently, we gave our juniors a ‘Fresher’s Nite’ in college. The southie gang put up a ‘Simbly South’ program, which was ‘zimbly supurb’. But, I got into an argument with a friend as to what constitutes a true southie, so to say.

Does speaking the lingo regularly make u one? Or is it because u eat Southie food every day? Or craving for simple curd rice with maanga orugai in this age of Punj-dominated garam masala peppered cuisine? Or wearing a ‘veshti’ or ‘lungi’ at home?

Or is it because every time someone says something derogatory about ‘engal thalaivar Superstar’, u stand up and defend him as u wud defend a family member? Or when people dismiss Tam heroines as fat, obese etc. you silently curse their lack of taste in women? Or preferring to listen to Tam songs over the Bollywood crap? Or going bonkers watching old heroes and fat heroines in loud dishoom dishoom movies and thinking that AR Rahman is the greatest Indian ever?

Or following the politics in TN, where Kalaignars and Thalaivis use the official government machinery to get back at each other? Or getting fired up after listening to a Vaiko’s speech? Or dreaming of the day when Dravidians would rule India, and Tamil would become the official language of India? Or looking for political hidden meanings in Vijaykanth films which ignorant northies dismiss as masala? (For the uninitiated, Vijaykanth kicks the sun in a movie... only people familiar with Tam politics understand the hidden subtleties)

Or thinking of Ooty (rather than Mauritius) every time you hear the word ‘honeymoon’? Or claiming that the Thanjavur temple is the greatest architectural wonder in the world because its shadow never touches the ground?

Or is it because when normal people shudder at what they see in ‘Ripley’s Believe it or not’, you chuckle because this is child’s play as compared to what you saw in the Mariamman temple worship rituals? That people walking on fire seems like an everyday event? That standing in the way of a raging bull is not suicide, but a famous Tamil sport? That you believe Kabbadi, and not Cricket or football should be the national game of India?

Do you think of ‘Veecharuval’ whenever you hear the term WMDs? Do you see a riot weapon a la Molotov cocktail where others see a cola bottle?

Do you believe Kris Srikkanth is the greatest Indian cricketer, after namma CK Nayudu of course, who brought in ‘pinch hitting’, much before the Jayasurias and Afridis of the world? Do you follow Chess and motorsports only b’coz of Vishy Anand and Narain Karthikeyan?

Do you think that ‘Tirunelveli halwa’ and ‘Malli-poo’ are the most romantic gifts? Do you think that Kancheevaram sarees and not diamonds are a girl’s best friend? Does wearing 5 kg of gold ornaments sound normal to you?

What makes one a Southie? Does it have to be any of the above? Me thinks, if you are proud to be from TN (or Kerala, Karnataka or AP for tht matter), and stick to your eccentricities in the face of ignorant taunts, that alone is enough to certify you as a true blooded southie.

Vazhga Tamizh, Vazhga Tamizhagam ;)

June Baby!!!

Recently I received a mail forward. It read, “Which baby are you?” And went on to give gyaan on how people born in different months have different personalities, and blah blah blah…
I reproduce, word to word, what was written in that mail for people born in June, [my comments in brackets].

You've got the best personality and are an absolute pleasure to be around. [Gee, thank you!!! I have always maintained that I’m the best this world has ever seen :D… as for the pleasure part… people luuvvvv to have me around]

You love to make new friends and be outgoing. [I’m the greatest extrovert the world has ever seen. I have made it a point to have 3 new friends every day and at last count I had 3712456 friends!!! I am very outgoing, and hate to sit alone at home]

You are a great flirt and more than likely have a very attractive partner. A wicked hottie. [I’m the next Casanova… correction, I’m the original Casanova!!! I flirt so well, that gals just keep falling all over me, and would kill to go out on a date with me. I have so many wicked hotties as partners that I have lost count… In fact, I don’t do one night stands, I do 2 half night stands :D]

It is also more than likely that you have a massive record collection. [I luvvvv songs… all genres… Classical, Rock, Trance, Pop, Filmi, Sufi, Lounge… I listen to sings 24 hours a day, and you would always find me humming one tune or the other].

You have a great choice in films, [I’m the best guy to talk to regarding movies. I go to the theatre every other day, and never miss first day, first shows. My choice ranges between Iranian docus to serious Malayalam cinema… If it is parallel cinema and intelligent conversation that you are looking for, you have come to the right person].

and may one day become a famous actor/actress yourself - heck, you've got the looks for it!!! [Karan Johar and RGV are waiting at my doorstep, and I refuse to see them. Not for nothing am I called SRK. People have already started calling me Amitabh and Al Pacino rolled into one. As for the looks, well, some people are born with it]
Close friends, who know me well, would hopefully get the point. As for the others, please believe what I have written in the brackets to be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
As for my mom, I have just one question – “Are you sure that I was born in June?”

Jul 27, 2006


Ever read the Godfather? Only then will you understand what I am talking about. It is the scene when Michael Corleone gets smitten by a beauty, and his bodyguard jokes, “Our friend has been hit by a thunderbolt.”

Has it ever happened to you, that you are walking along the road, and suddenly an angel passes you by? An angel who you wish was yours, for this lifetime and the next.

I have been hot by thunderbolts so many times. I mean, she is so beautiful that I stop dead in my tracks, and just keep gaping, mouth wide open, eyes wide open and oblivious to the world around me. Her eyes are so magical, that I can look into them for a lifetime. Long after she has left, her face is still in my mind, haunting my thoughts. Till the next thunderbolt comes along ;)

I have always wondered how God can be so damn mischievous that He just throws in such a sizzler on your way just when you are in a tearing hurry to go somewhere. I mean, there are days when I am strolling along the road, with absolutely nothing to do. And all I get to see are stray dogs and even an occasional cow on the road. And then, there are days when I am literally running, terribly late for something important, and there comes along Ms. Divine Beauty. I stop, have a discreet second look, then a not so discreet third look and then, before I know it, I’m staring on. In better days, when I was younger, and in a group, I might even have let out a sly whistle.

In fact, I have been lucky a few times. These were the days when I was not in such a hurry. Once at ICWAI institute, where I stood in the same line three times just to keep looking at a sizzler. Once in Mumbai University, when me and my friend left three buses go, just to stay back at the bus stop and gape at another more attractive dame. Once in a temple, when everybody else was concentrating on the aarti, and I was staring at a goddess in front of me. Once in a college competition, when I participated in a debate competition just because the event head was a sweet gal who had a way with scapegoats like me. I had never been on stage before and I was tongue tied during the whole damn debate, and made an absolute fool of myself; but I never regret that evening because I was, well, smitten. And in junior college, where I used to stare all day at the most beautiful angel I have ever seen, without ever mustering up enough courage to go and even day ‘Hi’ to her; not even once in two whole years. There are two many thunderbolts to recollect. Whoever said ‘Lightning never strikes twice at the same place’ didn’t include thunderbolts in the same category.

I have noticed that I’m not the only one who stops, gapes and stares… other guys on the road, whether they are fifteen or fifty, do it too. Which makes me wonder… do gals do it too? Or are they too clever, and don’t make it so obvious? I mean I have caught sooo many guys ogling at gals. But it is not often that I see a gal ogling at a guy, unless she is in a Ricky Martin concert. (Or is it Enrique Iglesias, or whoever). Is God so partial that He never chooses to hit the gals with a thunderbolt?

I have never believed in the concept of ‘marriages are made in heaven’ kinda thing, or the DTPH line of ‘Someone Somewhere is made for you’. So, I really don’t think I’d bump into my future life partner on the road, in a hotel or at the bus-stop. I’m more comfy letting my mom do the hunting job for me. I’d rather do job hunting.

But, every time I’m hit by a so called thunderbolt, I keep thinking… Someday, I’ll follow the gal to her house, and ask for her hand, a la Michael Corleone. Problem is, I don’t have two useless bodyguards with me, to save my @$$ in case the gal’s brother turns out to be the local wrestling champion.

And, so, I let my head rule my heart, and console myself by just gaping. No Michael Corleone stunts for me now. But, one day, I will…

Play to Learn!!!

“What I Hear, I forget.
What I See, I remember
What I Do, I understand.”

These were the opening words with which our Prof started the business simulation course. He went to explain about how the game would bring out the link between different business functions and lead to a better understanding of the same.

I initially thought, “Oh my God! Not another stupid simulation”. I have somehow never had a liking for business simulation games. How can one recreate real life business situations in a software package? Such games reduce real life to a collection of mathematical functions, and leaves out the so called softer issues. And the players do not have any stake in the business (other than their grades), and hence do not really care about the logic behind their decisions. And as some of my friends found to their dismay, one wrong link in the excel model can throw you out of the game.

Simulation games do have their place. What a Prof might take twenty sessions to explain might be conveyed by a game in a matter of hours. Also, when students are involved in playing the game, rather than listening to concepts, the understanding improves. Or so they say.

But, after playing the game, I doubt if there has been any quantum jump in my understanding of how business functions. I mean, I realize that different functions cannot work in silos, and strategy is also about ensuring consistency in decisions across functions.

If that is what the game was intended to teach, then I think I have learnt a bit. But, if the game was meant to make me a super duper manager, then, I’m missing something. But then, if pilots can learn to fly through computer simulation, then I guess I can learn management from a game.

But, I still hate simulation games. And I dunno why…

Jul 21, 2006

Why I don’t go to movie theatres!!!

The last time I visited a movie theatre was in March 2006 (to watch Syriana). And before that, it was May 1998 (Jeans, I luvvved Ash in tht). Yes, you read it right, I visited a theatre after 8 long years of freedom, and that too because I was forced into it by two of my worst enemies masquerading as dear friends.

I have never understood the popularity of movies and multiplexes. And I try to stay away from them as far as possible. It is not like I don’t watch movies. I do watch them on TV, and now on my lappie. But, the very idea of going to a movie theatre turns me off.

I tried to put on my thinking cap (or is it a colored hat?), and yet for the life of me, I have not been able to fathom why would people spend good money to go to a dark place, where you can’t even see whether the popcorn you are munching on contains a friendly cockroach.

I mean, a movie hall is not the best place to socialize or hang out. You can’t speak to your friends, without the uncle in the backseat going “Shhhh!!!” You can’t move around freely without stepping on other people’s toes (which btw, I luv to do), and are confined to a seat (however plush and comfortable it may be) for the 2 odd hours.

You can’t go back to a scene which you particularly liked and would like to watch again. You can’t chat on your phone, unless you are so pig headed that you don’t mind irritating people big time. You can’t crack funny PJs during senti scenes for fear that your own friend might accuse of ‘not getting it’.

Hell, you can’t even ogle properly at the skimpily clad vamp on screen without the feminist auntie sitting next to you giving you a dirty stare. You can’t take your kids to a theatre since they might get restless and start fidgeting around, (like when the most crucial scene is going on, there is a squeak – “papa, mujhe su su karna hai”). You can’t take your wife too, since she might catch you ogling at the above mentioned vamp, and give you something more than just a dirty stare.

To top it all, the movie is sooo predictable that you could have written the storyline (???) in your sleep. When I find that the movie has a script the size of the lead heroine’s bikini, I have the option of turning off the damn movie on my lappie. (Of course, I also have the option of ‘pausing’ the movie to get a better view of the heroine’s bikini, but then that is another matter). Whereas, in a movie hall, after paying the equivalent of an average Indian’s weekly wages, I don’t have the guts to walk out, even if the movie is bull shit. So, it is a double whammy. It is akin to going to a five star hotel, and even if they serve you cat’s urine in a champagne glass, you daren’t risk throwing the drink down the sink considering that you are paying five grand for a sip.

And yet, perfectly logical adults willingly pay good money to endure this two hour torture chamber, all in the name of entertainment. I see my friends, bright and not-so-bright MBAs, (the so called future thought leaders of this country) willingly getting themselves duped of their parents’ hard earned money, week after week after week.

In fact, to me, the only reason why one would want to go to a movie hall would be to make out with one’s girlfriend. Air conditioned comfort, plush seats, darkness, popcorn, a lesson on how to do ‘it’ running on the screen (thanks to the Emraan Kiss-mes of the world)… aah, now that is one justifiable reason to go to a movie hall.

But since, I have decided to be a bachelor till I get married, and have entrusted the responsibility of finding a suitable ‘bakri’ to my mom, I see no reason why I should enter a movie hall for the next 5-6 years.

So, all my friends and non-friends, if you are reading this, please note:
Invite me for a dinner, a walk on the beach, a game, a trek… but, never, ever make the mistake of asking me out for a movie!!!

Jul 15, 2006

Dear Terrorist...

For the last few days, I have been spammed with forwards of a mail doing the rounds on cyberspace. It is titled “Letter from Mumbai” and starts off with “Dear Terrorist… We know you may not be reading this, but…” and goes to in the vein of “You may have thought of hurting us, but we’ll continue to survive etc.”

I read it, and I’m confused. Utterly, thoroughly confused. Now, I am not the brightest of the species doing the rounds in this world, so it is normal for me to be confused most of the times. But, this one also made me think, which is not so normal.

Whom is it addressed to? The terrorists? Why are they addressed as ‘Dear’? When the writer knows that they are not likely to read it, why does he start off that way? (I mean, not everyday do you write a letter addressed “Dear Terrorist”). Is it a way of grabbing attention, and making sure that your mail does not suffer the fate of ‘Shift+Del’ without the recipient even bothering to complete reading it.

What is the message? That, we will continue with our lives in spite of all the bombings, and that you cannot break the ‘Mumbai spirit’?? Is it really so heroic to shrug off the loss of 200 odd lives and continue as if nothing has happened? Does ignoring the problem make it go away? (now, don’t ask me what else we can do, I dunno).

If the message is really intended to lift our spirits so to say, and is masquerading as a mail to terrorists, does it really help? I mean, it is ok for me to receive a message saying “We’ll not bow, we’ll show you the fighting spirit of Mumbai”. Try telling that to a guy who is in the hospital, tending to his injuries from the blast. Or to a mother who has lost her son in the blasts? That, no matter how many bombs you throw on us, we’ll shrug it off and go on as if nothing can hurt us.

Is this a psychological reaction that we are programmed to repeat all our lives? That only kids can cry and show pain and the real tough grown ups can take a beating, and just walk through it without flinching. If it is so, then ‘BULL’ to that. C’mon, Mumbai, it is ok to cry now and then.

Why suddenly develop a sense of unity and righteousness? And start parroting lines like ‘we are all brothers, and there is no religious animosity’. I mean, I have friends of different religions, castes and creed (alas, all of the same sex though!!) and I trust they will not drop a bomb on me. I don’t go around everyday assuring them of my friendship for this life and the next. It is something that you take for granted.

And, finally, why forward it to me? Does the sender hope that I might have a terrorist next door as my acquaintance and show him this mail? And, even if such an unlikely thing happens, does the writer of the mail expect the would-be bomber to read this mail, get the ‘Arjuna’ kind of divine realization after the ‘Gitopdesh’, realize his follies and cancel his bombing plan?

As I said, the mail has confused me more than lift my spirits.

Jul 12, 2006

Solitude... I miss it


I miss loneliness. Badly. I am always surrounded by people nowadays. All of them are friends. Well wishers. People who genuinely care about my well-being. Or so I hope.

But, I miss being by myself. Doing nothing. Staring into the open space. A mind without thoughts. Dreaming a hundred impossible dreams. In Absolute Silence!!!

If it is not people, it is books. Or the damn lappie. I am always ‘occupied’. Even when I am free, I am playing games, watching movies or kiruk-ing away on the lappie. Rarely over the last one year have I just sat down doing nothing.

There was a time, not so long ago, when I had all the solitude I wanted. Time to think. Time to dream. Time to do nothing. That was bliss. Some call it boredom though.

Have you ever wondered how it would it be to have a home without any means of entertainment?

No TV, No Computers, No Radio/Music System, No Games, No Books, Not even Newspapers/Magazines. No Telephones/Mobiles.

You go out, do your work, slog the whole day and come back to an empty house. A house, not a home. In fact, not even a house, just a 10 ft x 10 ft room and the hard, bare floor. No sound. No light. Silence. Pin Drop Silence.

No person to chatter away. No music or other sounds. Not even light. Just you. And the universe.

How long can you such a life? Would you like such a life? What would you do?

I tell you, it is absolute freedom. Your life led as you want it.

No stupid television shows or cricket matches to govern your schedules. No depressing news early in the morning to spoil your mood. You don’t have to listen to anybody’s worries. You don’t have anybody to tell your worries to.

Bliss. Freedom. How I miss those days :(

PS: And to think that hot shot corporates spend thousands to 'retreat' to far off places for some solitude