Dec 29, 2011

Of old men and fasts...

'Tis the season for silliness and your not-so-humble correspondent willy-nilly wakes up from a long hibernation to his favourite form of silly...

I'll tell you 'bout an old man who loved to fast
He also conjured up visions of a glorious past
if you drink, he'll have you tied up and flogged
and in his village, all the limelight he hogged
I wonder, how long will his movement last

He has adopted a pro-democracy label
but no one in his village can watch cable
his village hasn't had an elected panchayat
coz he runs it like his fiefdom, makes me think that
to appreciate irony, this man is a bit unable

So this peaceful old man with a love for whips
decided to go on another of his many ego trips
to his credit, he stood against the state without fear
but the lack of crowds did not bring him much cheer
sometimes he flops, because on ideas, often he flips

He is backed by the very-fiery Ms. Bedi
who created history by being the first lady
to become an IPS officer and soon a supercop
once she towed a car and made an angry PM hop
till they found some of her travel deals were shady...

We also have a intelligent chap named Kejriwal
who had a fancy document called Jan Lokpal
He wanted to bring to book all the fools
who have made it a habit to break all the rules
but the wise fools knew one thing: "How to stall"

there is a lesson in this for us, dear friends
that the road is never straight, it always bends
you must strike while the iron is red and hot
because damned public memory is always short
it don't matter how you start, but only how it ends!


PS: The trigger for this post is a statement by our modern Gandhi (or was it one of his team) who remarked that the country is being run by dictators. Coming from a man who flogs people for drinking, forcibly makes all his villagers vegetarians, bans cable TV, and hasn't held panchayat elections, isn't it irony at its delicious best?

Oct 10, 2011

A lesson in Economics...

For the extremely jobless people wondering where your trusted kiruku had vanished, let me assure you (and simultaneously disappoint those who were rejoicing about the silence here) that it was a temporary break caused by one of the following (guess which):
  1. I moved to a new place and have been too lazy to get myself an internet connection;
  2. I have moved in with my parents, and have been busy being pampered with home cooked food and great conversation, and hence have not found time for the blog;
  3. I have been very busy work-wise closing multi-million dollar deals for building the nation’s infrastructure, bringing light to a billion lives;
  4. I have run out of ideas to post on.
Anyways, there has been an idea for a post which has been germinating in my mind for quite some time and it is time I inflicted it on all the three people who still check this space for updates.


It all started one evening when my mom, in one of our usual after-dinner chats on the not-so-usual-non-marriage topic, asked “I want to join a chit scheme at the local jeweler.”

“Oh, what is this cheat scheme?”

“Not cheat scheme, chit scheme! We join a chit system, where we agree to pay, say 5000 rupees, to the local jeweler for 12 months. At the end of every month, there is a draw, and if your name comes up, you don’t have to pay any longer, and you get jewels worth Rs.60000.”

“You mean, if your name comes up in the very first month, you pay only 5000 bucks but get jewels worth Rs.60000?”


“And if your name doesn’t come for the next 12 months at all?”

“Then, at the end of the year, you get jewels worth Rs.60000. Either ways, you don’t lose money.”

“You lose float…”

“What is float?”

“Never mind. It is the interest you’d have earned if you had put in 5000 bucks every month in the bank. No, that doesn’t make up for the lottery. There has to be some other catch…”

“Why do you have to doubt everybody? This kind of scheme runs in every jeweler’s shop across the country.”

Now, dear readers, take a pause. A brief background of yours truly is required. I am a banker. And we don’t trust anybody. Part of the profession. Plus, we know that there are no free lunches and no risk-free super-normal returns. 

“No, how does the jeweler make money?”

“By selling his goods.”

“That is his normal business. How can he afford to give away 55000 worth of jewels just like that? How come he does not run out of money?”

“He does not give away. There are always some or the other people joining the scheme, and so the jeweler does not run out of money.”

“You mean, he takes money from you to pay someone who is already in the scheme? And then takes money from someone else to pay you when your time comes?”

“Something like that…”

“You just described a Ponzi scheme. Or rather, the US Treasury nowadays…”

“What's Ponzi?’

“Not what, who. An old swindler. Never mind. Just tell me, what happens if someone else doesn’t join the chit scheme some day? How will the jeweler pay you?”

“It never happens. People always join the scheme. People in India will always buy gold!”

“True enough. But why would they buy gold from this jeweler? What if some competing jeweler attracts them with some other chit scheme?”

“Every jeweler has his loyal buyers. They usually come back to the same guy once they are happy with his service.”

“Even so, why put in money in a Ponzi scheme? Why not pay the jeweler in one shot when we need to buy gold?”

“We have always bought gold like this. We were not MBAs with fancy pay to buy gold in one shot. And we trust people. Besides, what’s wrong in saving up gradually to buy gold?”

“Ok, why not save up in a Bank RD, where at least we know the money is safe?”

“Because at the jeweler, you might get lucky and have your name come up in the first month!"

“Ok, how does this lucky draw work? Does he invite all the chit scheme investors on a particular day and draw the names from some box like they show in those TV shows?”

“No, he draws in his shop, I don’t know when."

“Wow, you want to put money with an unknown guy, in a Ponzi scheme, where even the lottery is not transparent? Somehow, I am a bit uneasy.”

“Ennavo po! You are always negative. Always doubting people. Forget it, I’ll not join.”

“I didn’t say no. All I am saying is, when you take a leap of faith, don’t do it blind.”

“Forget it. I don’t want to discuss this further!”


I don’t know whether my mom learnt a lesson in economics. But I learnt a very important lesson in psychology. 

It doesn’t matter how many times one says “there is no my money or your money. It is ours, and you can choose to spend the way you want. Just because dad’s retired doesn’t mean you have to check with me for every penny spent…”, if one doesn’t practice it. Even if the venture is not economically sound. Especially if the venture is not economically sound. 

Because only if you let people you care about lose money and not worry about it, will they ever feel free enough to take the money you give them and treat it as theirs.


In closing, a good economics student knows to win any argument. Rationally. But a good psychology student knows which arguments to not get into. Emotionally.

Jul 31, 2011

What does money mean to you?

What does money mean to you?

I have often struggled with this question. As a child, despite my parents' best efforts, I was acutely aware of how this mystical thing wasn't present in as much abundance at our home as at some of the others. I had all that I needed, but not everything that I wanted. And believe me, I wanted a lot. I wanted a new bicycle because the neighbour's kid had one. I wanted a video game, again because the neighbours had one. I wanted a colour TV with cable connection, not the old B&W one in which you could see DD1 (and some grainy images of some other channel provided the wind wasn't blowing too strongly and shaking the antenna). I wanted to go on all the school excursions. And I got most of these too. I still don't know how they managed to do it.

Growing up, one of my dreams was to be a millionaire by 25. Stupid, I know. In spite of having a father who didn't measure himself by how much he made. Or probably because of it. I kept hankering after money. Still do.

And then, I grew up. At least chronologically. Got myself a bunch of useless degrees. And one pretty useful diploma. Which landed me into a decent job. Reached my first million at 27. Two years late, and in rupees, not dollars. And realized that a million is pretty much useless in a world where people talk in crores. Should've accounted for inflation, damn it! I make almost 10 times of what my dad made while he retired. Yet, I never saw him complain about money, while I crib about being underpaid. He traveled two-and-half-hours each way for over 8 years to get to work at his age. I crib about a half an hour commute, and wish I could stay closer to work. Which would require more money. Some people never learn. In spite of having the best teachers at home.

Most parents attempt to teach you through long, boring lectures. And never manage to get the message through. Thankfully, my dad wasn't one of them. He didn't preach, he showed by example. Like resigning from a job when asked to cook the books by the management. Without another job in sight, with a wife and 2 kids to provide for and loans to pay. Like never padding up expense accounts merely because the company is paying. Sometimes, I wish he hadn't been so frustratingly straight-forward in his life. It would have made it much easier for me to come up with fake rental and medical receipts. And save up on taxes. But he taught me that sleep doesn't come easy on a mattress filled with cash.

My dad officially retired today. After many months of me and my mom nagging him to do so. There were no farewell speeches, no exit interviews, not even the symbolic wrist-watch that most companies give as an inadequate thank-you for all the time you devoted to them. But he walked away with the love and respect of his colleagues, people who'd genuinely miss his presence and his advice. If I could walk away with half that respect when my time comes, I'd consider myself very successful.

So, what does money mean to me? It means, at last, I can confidently ask my dad to sit back and relax and enjoy life. And tell him not to worry about money anymore. It means the world to me.

Jul 25, 2011

The fine art of dealing with TBMs

Rock. Me. Hard place. Can wriggle out it. Cut a hand off if need be.

Devil. Me. Deep Sea. Will sell my soul to the former. Can’t swim, you see.

Talkative Mami 1. Me. Inquisitive Mami 2. Oh brother, now that’s something that I have struggled to learn how to survive. If you haven’t figured it out already, this is an essay on that scary species called the TamBrahm Mami (TBMs). Or more precisely, how to deal with them. With interesting tips, from my wealth of experience.

Yes, dear friends, one can survive local trains in Bombay, the occasional bomb blast, the more frequent office canteen 'Chinese cuisine' and the slightly more frequent India’s batting collapse. But to be caught between two TBMs, is to experience the very worst form of torture.

A little background is in order. As a boring, extremely shy guy, I live happily in my bubble of self-inflicted solitude like a monk, imbibing some spirits in the pursuit of 'happiness'. Experience has taught me that when asked to choose between spending time with me and having their perfectly manicured nails pulled out with pliers, most sensible girls (oxymoron?) opt for the latter. And I am quite happy with this arrangement, as I have never liked perfect nails anyways. I mean, for all this hoo-ha, they are just a bunch of dead cells being pushed out by your body. And after all, how boring an existence you must be leading, sans any excitement or suspense, that you don’t even bite your nails off! But we digress. We were to talk about TBMs.

Anyways, the TBMs in question have this miraculous ability to picture every unmarried guy as an ‘eligible bachelor’ who is in dire need of their matchmaking skills. No matter how utterly useless the guy in question is. Some people say, unkindly, that TBMs are jobless ladies with too much time on their hands and hence keep meddling in other people’s lives. Those people have no idea what they are talking about. TBMs are very busy people. But they also care about the losers of the world. And that is why, in the midst of their busy schedules involving keeping track of family problems in TV serials, watching out to check that the neighbour’s daughter is not playing mummy-daddy in the terrace with her boyfriend, shouting at the maid for not mopping the area below the sofa, rustling up a snack for the kids and incidentally, maintaining a set of perfectly manicured nails, they take time out to network with other TBMs with equally busy schedules. After all, the smart kids can get hitched by themselves, but someone has to uplift the downtrodden.

TBMs are very astute people at coaxing out information. Which is why I believe the Mumbai Police should replace their entire intelligence network with TBMs. They don’t use crude methods like torture to ferret out what they want to know. They will sweetly offer you a nice cup of sakkara pongal, and while you are concentrating on the ghee-laden texture of it, they will casually ask you what sound like innocent questions. Even an experienced campaigner like yours truly, with years of experience in handling these tricky situations, has fallen prey to this tactic.

And hence, as one fellow loser to another, let me warn you: THERE ARE NO INNOCENT QUESTIONS! Be suspicious. Be wary wary suspicious!

And since I am in a generous mood, let me throw you another trip. Remember the time when you casually boosted your CV value by making up stories about your leadership skills and fibbed about your CGPA because you wanted that campus job. Or the time you wanted to impress that nice chick and kept harping about how you are a University gold medallist. You don’t want to do that here. TBMs will anyways take your meagre non-achievements and spin them into heroic conquests to pitch you to whoever they want to hitch you with. With such innovative people, some creative liberties are par for the course.

In fact, if ever there was a time to underplay your already bare cupboard of useless talents, this is it. So, if some TBM asks you what you have studied, don’t show off your top-10 b-school degree (or is it a diploma?). Simply say “B.Com.” I can assure you, in a TamBrahm community of over-achieving IIT-ians, there is no better way of ensuring that you remain a Bachelor. Even if it be of stupid Commerce. Don’t say “B.A.” though. We might be losers, but even we can’t stoop to that level!

Similarly, if they ask you your age, don’t preen like a Bollywood actress, and state a number which is about half your real age. You are not a college student. Or Aamir Khan. If anything, add a few years to your chronological age. That’s how old you look anyways. I have it first hand that any number north of thirty is actually quite safe. Of course, having a bald(ing) pate and / or a protruding tummy helps.

Some TBMs may venture further and even ask you your nakshatram (birth-star for the non-Tams, don’t even ask what that means!). Or even your gothram (gotra for the non-Tams. We like our words to end in –ums). These are the sly Shakuntala Devis, the ones who can draw up your horoscope, run it across their database, and shortlist the ones which match, before you can say “Ashvini, Kashyapa Gothram”! And all that, in their mind! Because these Chachi Chaudharys have a brain faster than a super-computer. But usually, this question’s a no-brainer, because, you are not even supposed to remember all that stuff! (What? You do? What are doing here then, go recite your evening sandhyavandhanam!) While they happily exhaust their quota of “1000 lies to arrange a marriage”, you at least have the satisfaction of answering at least one question honestly.

Some of the more adventurous of you may even opt to be a bit more truthful, and drop a few hints about how you relished that mutton biryani at your friend Fatima’s place. Eating chicken can be forgiven, but having friends belonging to that-which-shall-not-be-named religion! Your marriage prospects would be slaughtered faster than that halal goat. Of course, this is only advised for those who have either decided not to get married at all, or have a girlfriend lined up. Those looking to merely delay the inevitable may skip this lesson, since once word gets around on the TBM network about your 'untouchable' status, not even another TBM can get you hitched. And that’s saying a lot!

Jul 15, 2011

Are you safe?

What is it about bomb blasts that make people call up family and friends to check if they are "safe"?

It cannot just be the thought that "something" may have "happenned" to them. I mean, you are walking down the road one fine day, enjoying the drizzle (or if you are like me, cursing the rains), some idiot whose father has too much cash and not enough parenting skills comes zipping in his trendy car and before you (or he) realize, pop! Or you could be sitting at your dining table, smacking your lips in anticipation of that wonderful smelling dinner, and pop! All I am saying is, there are multiple ways of kicking the bucket, and most of the bucket-kicking happens without warning. Or as the news channels report, "dhamake ka purv soochna nahi thi". Yes, next time, they will give 21 day notice. As per Sec 171 of the Companies Act, 1956. Or maybe, we can consult the numerologist who helpfully utters AFTER the blast "the last attack was on 26th, this one is on 13th. They favour multiples of 13. Unlucky number. Next attack will be 39th of the month". Sorry, but no more rants against the media. They are all idiots anyways.

It doesn't even make sense. On an average, 3500 people die on Mumbai's local train tracks every year. In case you are bad at Math, which most of you engineering nerds won't be, is about 10 a day. Give or take a few. Most die from crossing tracks, choosing convenience over safety. Some idiots from travelling on the roof, seeking thrills or maybe escaping crowds. But a few unfortunate ones fall off, or get knocked down by poles too close to the tracks. No one bats an eyelid. Except maybe for the "on duty station hamal and safai karamchari" who are "kripaya" called to the "station master's karyalay" by the loud and mostly incoherent announcer. And maybe the railway policeman, who has one more form to fill and one more case to file. Statistically, I am much more likely to go 'pop' while boarding a train in Mumbai than from some blast placed by brainwashed idiots. But you don't call people every time they board a local train to ask "all safe?", nor do you report to your loved ones "all well", every time you successfully make it alive from Borivali to Churchgate.   (Er, you do? In which case, I am not talking to you, you obsessive fool. I am talking to the normal people. Like me. Who call up home once a week. And then wonder what is there to say?)

I guess it has something to do with the 'drama' of a blast. I mean, you don't see it everyday. Not yet at least. Thankfully. No PM or CM comes to visit you if you fall off a train. Thankfully. No Barkha Dutt goes to your crying mom and asks "Aap ko kaise lag raha hai?". Thankfully. Wait. I shall not rant about the media. Repeat. I shall not rant against the media. Repeat. I SHALL NOT RANT AGAINST THE MEDIA. Unending loop with blaring music. As some writer who wrote a memory book whose name I have forgotten wrote, "a slap in the face" is more memorable than, well, something more mundane which I forgot. A bomb blast is a slap in the face. It stings.

I guess, although I hope not, it is also about people's need to reaffirm themselves. "I am safe. My family is safe. My friends too. Thank God. We are lucky. Blessed, even". I can just about tolerate such people. What I cannot stand, are those idiots who come the next day with an anecdote about themselves / their friend / sister / neighbour, who had a close shave with the incident, and 'miraculously' escaped. Inevitably this happens. After every bomb blast in this city, and believe me, I have miraculously survived quite a few, there is at least one smug asshole believing that 'God' saved him. The fact that 10 other people died and hundreds are in the hospital don't seem to bother him. If anything, it serves to accentuate his feeling of being blessed. "Imagine, 10 people died! And I was 5 minutes away from this place. I am going to Siddhivinayak this week to thank the Lord". Much as I try to push the thought away, silly as the atheist in me feels tapping my cheeks religiously with my hands while I think it, I sincerely hope that the next time they bomb, and much as our government may assure us they won't but they will, I sincerely hope they take you out. You are blessed enough to belong to Heaven. Planet Earth is too low a place for someone like you.

The other species I cannot stand are the ones who suddenly wake up from their slumber, get infected with Anna-itis and shout, "The Government should do something. This cannot go on." Er, do what? Come up with something specific. At least think how you will contribute. For now, you sound as silly as our ministers who "strongly condemn" these attacks. Yeah, the terrorists were looking for your approval and are now weeping copiously from being "strongly condemned". And more, they are very afraid after you have said that "this will not be tolerated." Strange, my Hindi teacher in III standard said the same thing, and still the naughty students never kept quiet. At least, she had a cane in her hand. A cane to hit with, not one to lean on while walking.

Ok. End of Rant.

Disclosure: I was one of the idiots who did check up on a few people and ask if they are "safe". Call it stupidity, call it peer pressure, call it being emotional rather than being rational. After all, I am no robot. Only a fan of the movie.

PS: There was one saving grace. People volunteered to help. Did something. Salute to those who did.

Jul 3, 2011

Yet another stupid poem...

Sometimes I really wonder why
Instead of simply flying by...
Why do you rush towards me
Are you so blind, can't you see
That if you touch me, you'll die...

Yet you come, on a prayer and a wing
With that lovely tilting tune you sing
But you've surely seen the others
Some of them even your brothers
never exit from my deathly ring...

So, in all this heat, I still shiver
back and forth, for you I quiver
not only 'coz of the winds that blow
that away from you, I move my glow
I don't take life, I am a born giver...

But, my dear, you are my life's only cause
with all my buzz, you still made me pause
And that's why, oh beautiful glowing fire
I choose to make you my funeral pyre
coz in love, there is neither gain, nor loss...

PS: So many fire and moth poems in the world. Surely, there's room for one more crappy one?

Jul 2, 2011

Notes from weeks of house hunting...

If the building has a french-sounding name, the price will be quoted in euros. In fact, if the building has foreign anything... french windows, italian marble, german bath fittings, american designer... don't even venture near it.

Buildings with other fancy second names are also a strict no-no. Anything with Heights and Towers will have very tall prices. Anything with a planet name will be astronomical. Anything remotely English sounding, like Meadows and Hills will be affordable only for royalty. In fact, here's where the gods are your best friends. A Ganesh or a Shankar or an Omkar is where you should pray to get something.

If you hear the words 'modular kitchen', don't bother asking for the price quote. Actually, same goes for 'wooden flooring'. And 'Club facilities', 'swimming pool', 'garden'.

Your car parking space would be costlier than your car. And sometimes, costlier than a house in your native place. And you have to pay even if you don't have a car. Future planning, you see.

An open terrace is absolutely mesmerising and utterly useless. For someone used to living in cramped spaces, the idea of an open-anything sounds pretty cool, the view would look majestic and you might think the wind would caress your face and make your thinning hair fly. But, in a city which has 4 months of sticky, humid summer, 4 months of pouring rains and 4 months of what can at best be described as less-hot-than-summer, I'd rather have a room which has a ceiling fan at least, if not an AC.

A window sill can be called a balcony. And the broker will claim that since you can sit on it and sip chai when the rains come down, it is indeed a balcony.

If you can stretch your hands fully to the side in the bathroom without touching the walls, or upwards without touching the ceiling, you cannot afford the place. If you can put a double bed and a cupboard in your bedroom and walk straight and not sideways, you cannot afford the place. If the house has a separate dining area, you cannot afford the place.

House agents are people who have the power to teleport themselves. So, a '5 minute walk from the station' for them may be a 20 minute drive for you. You have to have sold 20 houses in remote areas before you acquire this special power.

End of Rant.

I promise myself, and you, that this is my last house-hunt related post. We'll go back to being funny. Or at least, trying to be.

Jun 22, 2011

Say Something...

I wanted to write a long and senti post.

But then I realized that sometimes, some things are best left unsaid.

And more importantly, when you say nothing at all, you convey everything.

Jun 7, 2011

Some things never change...

Long, long ago, a young boy refused to go to school. The place scared him. It was filled with strange kids, some who bit him and some who pulled his hair. He felt lonely, surrounded by so many strangers. He told his mom that he hated the place and didn't want to go there.

She explained to him, patiently, that it is actually a nice place. That he will learn new things. And make new friends. And will soon grow to like that place. Like it enough to spend more and more time there. She told him that she would always be around, waiting under the big tree in the playground. And the moment the bell rings, she would come and take him away from there. And so, he would wait, patiently, much after all the other kids had left, all by himself, for the one familiar face to appear by the window. Some days, the face would be late. And he would sit there and think to himself, "I don't want to be here."

His mom tried harder. She explained that there was no choice. Everybody goes to school. Everybody had to. Only then could he become a 'big man', and go to office like his father. And be able to earn money to buy chocolates. He didn't understand what money was, but he liked the idea of getting chocolates any time he wanted.

And so, he tried to like the place. Until one day, he did potty in his pants. All the students laughed at him. The teacher made him stand outside the class. And then, at that very moment, he decided that come what may, he would not go to school anymore.

So, the next morning, when his mom laid out the neatly ironed uniform and the nicely polished black shoes, he refused to wear them. He ran away and hid under the cot. But he was no match for his mom. Moms are always smarter. All she had to do was say "I see a cockroach in there" and he came scurrying out like the creature she had just mentioned does when you spray insecticide in a hole in the floor.

And then he fell back on the only weapon that young kids have. He bawled. And bawled. Loudly enough to alarm the neighbours. But his mom was having none of it. And so he was dragged, kicking and screaming and wriggling in her arms, and was deposited in the classroom.

Over time, he came to like the place. He made friends. He played catch-catch and hide and seek with them. And even learnt to pluck boogers from his nose and happily put them in his mouth. They tasted weird, but it was nice because everyone on his bench was doing it. And he did well in his studies too, which pleased his mom.

Many years went by, and he grew older. And older. But he never grew up. People want him to face his responsibilities, get married and 'settle down'. He has already decided that he hates this 'settling down'. But he knows that he has no option. He knows he can't run away from it forever.

Deep in his heart, he knows he should resign himself to mediocre 'maturity' and only hope that things will go well. And he'll do at least half as well as he did in that other school.

But he is a fighter. While Time keeps dragging him along, he refuses to go quietly. And so, he is being dragged, kicking and screaming and wriggling in its hands, into this school called 'maturity'. One year at a time. And Time is winning, since it has made him cross one more year. Little does Time know that this time, he has made up his mind much more fiercely. And he is no longer afraid of cockroaches and can't be tricked out of his hiding place. And thus, he will not grow up and face his responsibilities.

PS1: Little does he know that Time always wins this battle. But he lives again, to fight another day. And another year. He'll live some more, and then merely exist. But till such time, cheers folks. And wish me a not-so-Happy Birthday

Jun 1, 2011

"How could you forget?"

"I didn't forget. I was just... er... too busy."

"Too busy? That just makes it worse. I could have forgiven memory loss. But not apathy!"

"Apathy? Now that's too harsh. You know I care about you!"

"You used to. Nowadays I feel you are ignoring me."

"Oh c'mon. I accept that I haven't been in touch as much as we'd have liked to."

"As much as we'd have liked to? Dude, you have almost ditched me. Is there someone else?"

"There is no one. Although sometimes I wish there was."

"What? You wish? First you forget my birthday, and now you are fantasizing about cheating on me?"

"You'll always be special. But you know what, we do need some space in our relationship."

"Oh, so now you want to shut me out of your life? Might as well pack me off!"

"Trust me, I have thought of that too. Ok, there is no gentle way to put it, so let me be blunt. I am kind of bored of this relationship."

"If anything, you have become boring! All you talk nowadays is about money and houses and all material things."

"Well, I admit that those things are kind of on top of mind, but hey, I do lighten up now and then."

"Yeah, when was the last time you really did that? Remember, we used to have such good times with really sick jokes and lame rhymes. Where has all the magic gone?"

"I doubt if there was any magic to begin with."

"Well, it might have been pretty ordinary, but hey, we did laugh about it. And so many friends laughed with us."

"Yeah. Those were the days... I guess this is what happens once we get older. We forget to laugh."

"You may be getting older. I am not!"

"But you are. I mean, you are 5 years old! And that's like 35 blog years, you dog!"
PS1: I know celebrating blog birthdays is a bit lame. But then, we are such losers. So smile and wish us.

May 22, 2011

More on House hunting...

"You say the station's just a 10 min walk?
Am just amazed at the way you guys talk!
I mean, the distance would be at least 3 miles"
He just stands there, with one of his fake smiles
and says "yes sir, 3 miles but wonly 10 minute walk!"

And the bloody building doesn't have a gate
so, what security do we have here mate?
"Sirji, he says, "I agree the place is a bit dark
but you see these stray dogs, they all bark!
which thief would want to tempt such rabid fate?"

And the approach is so bumpy and rough
It will need those Ceat tyres "born tough"
"Sir, the road contractor has already been paid"
but they have as much chance as I do of getting laid
please don't give me more bullshit, I've had enough!

And now I see why you pronounce it Hole
this is not a hall, it is indeed a tiny pigeon hole
And the thing that you call a 'master bedroom'
One bed + wardrobe and there's no more room
the small size of this place really saddens my soul!

The moment we say area, you enter 'cheat code'
And shamelessly say "sirji, only 40% load"
You had built-up, and now you've super built-up
I see carpet area, not something you've made up
which are as fictitious as the soon-to-be made road!

I am surprised that you call this place a house
Damn it, this thing is not even fit for a mouse
"Sirji, with your laughable middle class budget
you will only get a house sized for a midget
blame it on demand-supply, if you have a grouse!

plus you want to pay in all-cheque and not cash
and you have the temerity to act so damn brash?
you want to buy a house with 80% bank loan
while we have people lining up to pay on their own
in this city, cash is king, and the rest is just trash...

PS1: I know, I am going overboard with this house hunting sob story theme. But then, if your weekends are filled with the same routine, you don't have much else to write about.

PS2: I still prefer the house hunt to the bride hunt though. At least, the house doesn't have the option of saying no, right!

May 11, 2011

Of Friend's Weddings, Beach Holidays and Other Stuff...

The story of my trip to Kerala. Or rather, to a single beach in Kerala. Not a travelogue. Not a guide on what to do there, what to see, where to eat, what to buy. I am too lazy to do all that. But not lazy enough to not put down a long post on the trip. If only to remind myself that I need to get out of Bombay more often than I do.

So, here goes...
It all started when a friend, who has grown a few inches purely from the amount of leg-pulling we have done to him, announced that he is getting married. Now, in spite of my personal opinion that getting married is a bit masochistic (I don't mean it in the literal sense of too much pain for some sex... or maybe I do!), 4 of us decided to combine the wedding presence (no presents, blessings only) with a short holiday. 

Day I
So, we take a flight to Trivandrum which thankfully took off on time and landed only 1/2 hour late. The extra time was well utilized by yours truly to read the tarot card reading on the in-flight magazine which predicted very accurately that I would be travelling on holiday during the month. I still wonder how they got that one correct! Anyways, it also said that my love life is going to pick up, but then one out of two predictions is not too bad. 

We were picked up by Ambi, the go-to man of the resort we were staying at, in an Amby (yeah, yeah, I know I already cracked that non-joke on twitter, but then not all of you follow me on twitter. End of strategic self-promotion). We reached our resort on NelliKunnu beach by 2.00 pm. (The resort, by the way, is right on the beach. Which might give Jairam Ramesh some CRZy nightmares, but for us, it was a dream!)

Of course, we did pick up a dozen bottles of beer and some vodka on the way. After all, you never know how safe the water is in these parts, and one can never be too careful. Best to drink something distilled. An awesome lunch of rice + fish curry, accompanied by some chilled beer fruit punch, induced the kind of stupor that is best enjoyed by placing oneself on the hammock strung between the coconut trees.

The stupor wore off by evening (maybe the fruit punch didn’t have the requisite punch), and though the water wasn’t too inviting (the sea was a bit rough, the waves were huge and the sand was a bit too gravelly), I firmly believe that going to a beach and not getting into the water is an act of sin which should be punishable by drowning. Unless it is a Bombay beach in which case people who do step into the dirty water deserve to drown.

A perfect sunset rounded off a perfect day, but then we are young people and our ‘day’ starts only after sunset. So, we decided to let our hair down (ok, people who are pointing at the near bald head and laughing, shut up!), and finished the day with some vodka and fish curry + rice + fish fry. And kappa, which may sound greek to you, but is just good old tapioca.

Day II
I woke up early (at 6.30 am!) to take a nice little walk on the beach while the others slept off their hangover. After an hour of loitering around, where I was the only guy at the beach at that time (not counting the stray dog that kept following me as if this was the Himalayas and I was Yudhishthira), all I remember is coming back and lying on the hammock at 7.30... only to be woken up by friends for breakfast at 9.30. Went back to the hammock, sat on it, and the damn thing snapped. Maybe the ropes were weak, maybe it was the extra-heavy breakfast, but we are polite and do not laugh at fat people. Especially if the fat people happen to be us. The whole day was spent lazing on the sun-deck, with a old Jeffrey Archer short stories book (Twist in the Tale) which I was reading for the n-th time. The sun shining through the coconut trees, nice breeze, a full stomach, a beer bottle and a good book – this is what heaven should look like, I guess.

Went into the water again in the evening, and got sand in all kinds of places (I mean, my ears) and watched one more nice perfect sunset. The friends wanted to watch ManU-Chelsea so we scouted around for a TV (since our resort didn't have one) and after walking up and down Kovalam beach without any luck, decided to go to the Taj Vivanta’s bar and watched the match in nice comfort. 

I have a theory: all my trips have to be blessed by Murphy at least once. But, I’ll spare you (and myself, when I read this some months later) the details of how Air India made us pull whatever little hair we have left out with their “now we fly, now we don’t, now we do” routine on the return journey.

And thus close with how we returned home with sunburn, a hangover, some badly clicked photographs, ½ kg banana chips and some good memories...
PS: Some of you, especially the ones who are polite enough to call me a friend, would be bombarded with the above badly clicked photographs in your mail shortly. For the others, I hope the (nearly) thousand words I have written paint a good enough picture. Stop reading and go take a holiday already!

May 1, 2011

How much space does one require anyway?

How much space does one require anyway? At the end of it all, we don't even need the 6 foot length, since we are to be turned to ashes anyway, ashes which in turn are dissolved in water.

Why is it that the more well-off we become, the more space we try to create for ourselves? Come to think of it, this phenomenon can be observed in everything people do: houses with larger bedrooms which can house king-size beds and bathrooms where we can stretch our arms fully, larger cars so that we don't sit hip-to-hip, first class section in flights so that we don't have to even share the arm-rest... In fact, the entire quest for material success can be summarized as the endeavour to put more space between us and other people. So much for all that bull-shit about getting 'closer' to each other.

Is this need restricted to physical space? Or do we also, subconsciously, distance ourselves emotionally as we climb the ladder of material success? Do we build forts around our minds to protect our vulnerability from other people? Is that why the richer we get, our full-throated laughter becomes a silent chuckle and a polite smile, loud exclamations of congratulations become muted pats-on-the-back, and we classify everything from music to clothes to people as 'too loud' for our liking? Does the combination of putting more distance between ourselves and toning down our 'volume' ensure that other people do not ever fully know who we are and what we think?

So, what is the purpose of life? Is it to create as much space for ourselves as possible, even at the cost of running around all day and dying out of exhaustion like that man in the Tolstoy tale? What do they mean when they say "live life to the fullest"? How can the same wise men advise us to 'explore our full potential' and 'be content with what you have'? Is happiness then as mythical as 'work-life balance', a term which is good to quote and impossible to practice?

Nothing like a house hunt in Bombay to make one turn philosophical. Maybe if I keep at this long enough, I'll reach a stage where I can renounce everything and head to the Himalayas, thereby rendering the whole house hunting exercise redundant?

Apr 9, 2011

Anna and his witch-hunters...

Long story. Couldn't make it short. :)
Once upon a time, in a land not-so-far-away, in a glorious kingdom, there lived a boring, balding, not-so-young man. But this is not his story. Not entirely.

The kingdom was a happy one. It wasn't very prosperous, but the people of the kingdom had enough opportunities and were making progress. They had just won an archery competition contested by 13 other kingdoms, and were feeling top of the world. 

And then, the villagers woke up one day to a new phenomenon. An old man was standing on top of a tall building and threatening to jump and kill himself. He shouted that there were witches in the kingdom and he wanted to hunt the whole lot down. And he wanted to do it because he wanted to protect people from the witches.

And the people went wild. The witches had been around for quite some time. In fact, the villagers had fed them whenever they needed some favours and helped them grow. But some of the witches had grown into quite a monster, and now were eating the babies of the villagers. And the people were mad. They demanded blood. Besides, people all across the world always loved a witch-hunt. It gave them a rush, it made them feel like they were fighting evil, and it satisfied their predatory instincts even though they no longer hunted for food.

The boring, balding, not-so-young man, let’s call him Sadak (I know, strange name, let it be), was passing by. And Sadak was piqued by the throng of the crowds screaming support for the old man. Curious, Sadak asked someone in the crowd what was going on.

“The old man’s name is Anna. He wants to fight the witches. For which he wants the king’s permission. And he is threatening to kill himself, if the king doesn’t give him permission.”

“But that’s blackmail...”

“Shut up, you idiot. The old man is a great man. He reminds us of that other old, great man, Bapu, the one who freed this kingdom from the foreign invaders long ago. And Bapu did it without lifting a weapon. Entirely non-violent.”

“Is it?”

“And Anna is sacrificing his life for the kingdom. Not the first time he is doing it. He was in the army too. Fought against our neighbouring enemy forty-five years ago!”

“He fought in the army? And he is non-violent too? How come?”

“C’mon now, don’t ask such stupid questions! He is a great man. He has done so much for the country. Why, in his village, there was this witch called Madira. She used to lure some young men who were intoxicated by her charms. Anna warned them once, twice, thrice, but when they did not listen to him, he gathered his team of supporters and had them exorcised. Flogged in public. He said he knew he was causing pain, but it is like a mother giving a child bitter medicine. Ultimately, good for the child.”

“Oh, how is he different from the turbaned people in the hills we know, the ones we call Balitan, who flog their women in public to keep them chaste. They also claim that it is done for the good of the women.”

“They are animals. Our Anna, he is a peace-loving witch-hunter. And now he has decided to go after the biggest witch, Brashti!”

“Oh, Brashti? The same one who some of you guys run to for favours. I thought only you guys fed her with requests for magic potions to get ahead of other people, and get things done quickly.”

“We might have. But that is not important. Brashti is evil, and she must go.”

“Why can’t the king hunt her?”

“Oh c’mon, we all know the king is useless, merely warming up the throne for Prince Charming. The king was had-picked by the Queen Mother precisely because he is toothless. And we hear, even the Queen Mother is friendly with Brashti. So, she won’t let the king hunt her. And so, Anna has to.”

“But we have courts...”

“Aw, you really are stupid, aren’t you? Courts are slow, justice delayed is justice denied. We want Brashti killed now!”

“And how will Anna do it? What magic does he have that the courts don’t?”

“We don’t know all that. All we know is that Anna is a great man. And he is supported by Yogi Baba, the same magical baba who can cure homosexuality merely by exercise. He is also supported by that famous actor, the one who made a play some years back about killing all ministers who were in the evil clutches of Brashti. And the support of famous business heads. And famous Mahashay award-winners. Who, by the way, will also have the power to select the witch-hunters.”

“Oh, impressive. Very impressive. But why can’t we rely on the ministers we elected rather on someone who was given an award from a foreign land? Are we saying that the foreigners are more intelligent that our people?”

“Sigh... your stupidity has no limits. Our ministers have fallen into the trap of Brashti. The whole lot of them. Only these people can resist her charms.”

“Is it? And how do you support Anna?”

“We display badges and banners in our windows, which other people can see and thus spread the message. We also send letters tied to pigeons, but only the free ones, with the same message. We are also doing relay-jumps. One of us will jump 5 feet, then another will jump another 5 feet. That way, we have expressed solidarity with his effort without actually hurting ourselves too. Clever, isn’t it?”

“But I thought the idea was to get the attention of the king. The king doesn’t read what banners you have hung in your windows. Nor does the Queen Mother read your pigeon-mails.”

“Don’t be stupid. The message will spread. And will reach the King. Somehow. We’ll also light candles. So, are you ready to hang a banner too?”

“I don’t know. I don’t fully trust people who claim to have your support, but will not contest against the Brashti-tinged ministers in a fair contest, with the results to be decided by you.”

“What? You dare to criticize our Anna and his witch-hunters? What have you achieved in life? Do you have a solution?”

“I never knew I had to achieve something to criticize. I mean, you guys don’t know how to shoot an arrow, but you all criticized Mahasingha, our kingdom’s captain, when he choose the long-limbed archer for the final shoot-out instead of the turbaned archer. Besides, just because I don’t have a solution does not mean I cannot criticize a bad one.”

“That’s archery, a game. We all know it. We played it in our childhood. This is different. It is service to people. You need to have done something before you dare to call our Anna any names.”

“I am not calling him names. I respect his opinion. And all I am asking for is that he respect this country’s rules. And not resort to such blackmail.”

“Oh, you are not only stupid, but one of those contrarian types, eh? Always clinging to an opposite view, just to hide your stupidity.”

“Er, if anything, I am the one who’s arguing for following the sacred book called the Constitution. And you guys are the ones going contrary to it. Anyways, not much is going to come out of it. Soon, we’ll find a new witch to hunt.”

“Oh, stupid, contrarian and cynical too? No wonder, you don’t have many friends. Such negativity!”

The boring, balding, not-so-young Sadak just sighed. And returned home. To learn that Anna didn’t have to jump. The king agreed to his witch-hunt.

And the people. They were too busy trying to see if Brashti can give them entry to watch the new archery competition that had started.

Apr 4, 2011

I have a dream...

I have a dream...

I have a dream that one day this city will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all money is created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the mud hills of Ghatkopar, the sons of pure-veg Jains and the sons of daily-fish Kolis will be able to sit down together at the table of housing society dinner.

I have a dream that one day even the suburb of Chembur, a place sweltering with the heat of smoky traffic, sweltering with the heat of chemical factory emissions, will be transformed into an oasis of open spaces and Acres club greenery.

I have a dream that my measly little bank balance will one day live in a city where they will not be judged by their color of black or white, but by the currency of their full-convertibility.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Colaba, with its vicious elitists, with its building secretary having his lips dripping with the words of marital status and food preferences; one day right there in Colaba, little bachelor boys and bachelor girls will be able to join hands with slimy uncles and suspicious aunties as tenants and landlords.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every basement shall be exalted, every rate per square foot shall be made low, the car parking will be made free, and the super-built up will be made carpet, and the glory of the land shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our homelessness into a beautiful symphony of home ownership. With this faith we will be able to work alone, to live alone, to struggle alone, to go to bed alone, to stand up for bachelorhood alone, knowing that we might be married one day.

And if Mumbai is to be a great city this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Mumbai. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of Mulund. Let freedom ring from the heightening skyscrapers of Panvel!

Let freedom ring from the Rahejas of Colaba!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of Powai!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Mud Mountain of Ghatkopar!

Let freedom ring from Lodha's Fountain of Thane!

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every building and every tower, from every suburb and every town, we will be able to speed up that day when all of evolution's children, bachelor men and married men, Jains and Gultis, vegetarians and meat-eaters, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old tenant hopeful, "Free at last! free at last! thank SBI teaser rate, we are free at last!"

PS1: Apologies to Martin Luther King, Jr. May his soul rest in peace.

PS2: This is what happens when one hunts for real estate in Mumbai. With the twin disadvantages of being a bachelor, and a non-vegetarian.

PS3: I seriously have a dream. Of buying a house in Bombay one day. And I shall make it happen. Not by hook or crook, but going strictly by the book!

Mar 18, 2011

Conversations with Mom...

Warning: Long. Not boring though. 

"An auspicious thing happenned today at the temple. I inadvertently spilled some kumkumam!"

"Ayyo, that's being clumsy, not auspicious. And I thought spilling vibuthi condemns you to a thousand years in hell. What about kumkumam? Better start chanting Rama-Rama 1008 times!"

"Stop it! I am fed up with your mocking all our sacred rituals. Anyways, don't tell me you don't know that this signifies that a kalyanam (wedding) in the house is round the corner."

"Is it? But isn't Adi too young to get married?" (Note: Adi is my younger brother, in his final year of engg.)

"Ayyo, you and your stupid jokes. You know very well I am not talking about Adi!"

"Who else then? Aren't you a little too old to get married? Besides, what will poor Appa do?"

"One more stupid joke and I am never talking to you again."

"Ok, ok. I know what you are hinting at."



"But you are 28 now, and it is high time we started looking. Vela velaiki ellam nadakanum" (translated to "all things should happen at the appropriate time")

"Life is not a checklist with a schedule, with items to be ticked off one by one at the so-called right time." 

"I am not saying it is, all I am saying is, everybody gets married. And the sooner you do it, the better it will be." (Gentle Reasoning)

"I am not everybody. I am not saying I will not get married, but I am not saying I will either. All I am saying is, it is not something I'll do just because I have reached a certain age, or because it is what everybody else does."

"What exactly are you trying to say? Either you want to get married, or you don't."

"For now, I don't"

"And I am telling you, you'll end up a lonely old man and then regret it." (Mild threat)

"Maybe. But it will still have been my decision and I am perfectly willing to live with the consequences. Rather than get married for your sake and ending up blaming you if things don't turn out well."

"But what will people say? Everyday, I have to listen to people saying that I have not fulfilled my duty. People will say I am happy to live off my son's money and hence am not finding him a bride." (Emotional Blackmail)

"People can say what they want. I cannot live my life based on what other people think. When I was struggling, the people did not come and solve my problems. And there is no your money or my money, but let's leave that for another day."

"But we do live in a society, and you are not an island in yourself." (Back to reason)

"I am not, nor do I wish to be. I am happy to interact with the people that you refer to. I just draw the line at making life choices based on what they think."

"Is this what education does to young people. One fancy degree and you think you are above all rules?" (Rebuke)

"Yes. We learn the golden rule: he who has the gold, makes the rules" (I wish I had an equivalent of the chat smiley :P to do over the phone, but the best I could come up with was a "Prrrr" sound).

"It's not your fault. It is written in your horoscope that you will be this kudarkam pesum kundamandi" (ok, folks, hard to translate that... the best I can come up with is nonsense spouting rebel).

"Glad you brought that up. Don't believe in horoscopes either. So, assuming I do decide to get married at some point of time in the future, I am not tolerating any of this horoscope bullshit."
"How else do you expect me to find you a girl?" (Exasperation)

"You mean, you can't find me a bride unless you use a horoscope?"


"Brilliant, that kind of solves my problem. So, if I understand you correctly, what you are saying is that I can say I am willing to get married, but I will not accept any horoscope. Which means, you can't find me a girl, but the fault is now yours and not mine, because I have consented to getting married? Wow, I am liking this."

"Yes. It's all my fault. Anyways, what's your problem with horoscopes?"

"I just don't believe in them. Simple."

"It doesn't matter whether you believe in them or not. They work. And therefore, we'll follow them."

"Well, tribes in Africa might have a ritual of sacrificing a goat to their tribal god to ensure long lives for their husbands. So, irrespective of whether you believe in them or not, why not cut off a goat's head tomorrow in the name of Appa's health?"

"You and your stupid analogies. We follow our customs, they follow theirs."

"And all I am saying is, horoscope matching is your custom, not mine. You got married by referring to a match-planets-in-a-chart, doesn't mean I am going to do it."

"Ok, you don't believe in them. But what if the girl's family wants to match horoscopes. Are we supposed to say no?"

"Precisely. I am not getting married to a girl if her parents decide to choose their son-in-law based purely on the time and place of his birth, which itself might not have been accurately recorded to begin with. Plus, you will discover some girl is of this inauspicious star, or has chevvai dosham (manglik?) etc. I refuse to judge a person based on events that she had no control of."

"Sigh. Forget horoscopes. Will you say yes, if I find a family which doesn't need to match horoscopes."

"Wow, we did not see that coming. I thought you said you cannot find me a girl if horoscopes cannot be shared. Now I need to come up with some new excuse. Give me some time."

"I knew it. You are absolutely incorrigible."

"I want to marry for the right reasons. Because I like someone, and more because she likes me. And likes me for who I am, not for how tall I am, or based on what my skin colour is, or what my eating and drinking habits  are or how much I earn. And the way I see it, this arranged marriage process usually has those as the primary filters. Besides your mumbo-jumbo planetary chart, of course. And then, they discover that the tall, fair, pure vegatarian, teetotaler, six-figure-salary-earning mapillai who had all patthu porutham is actually a closet wife-beater! Brilliant I say."

"In that case, you should have found a girl yourself. We would not have stopped you!"

"I should have done a lot of things. Like become a millionaire. Learnt to swim. Developed an ear for music. Watched Rafa defeat Federer at Wimbledon. Taken you on a world tour. The reality is, I haven't done those things and I have learnt to live with it. So, you also please learn to live with the reality that your son is useless when it comes to this particular area. Ok, got to go for dinner now, take care."

"What's for dinner?"

"Same old Jeevan Boarding. Kind of bored of it, but few options here. And you know I am too lazy to cook."

"See, if you get married, you will get a nice dinner at home. No need to go to the same boring mess every day"

"Good night."

Stubborn, isn't she? Unfortunately for her, I inherited the trait. Which is why, we are at stalemate for now. Incidentally, the only kind of mate we agree upon.

Mar 3, 2011

Cricket Nostalgia...

Ram looked up and held up his hand. The bowler stopped midway on his run-up and looked at him with an irritated look. Ram mumbled a terse, unapologetic "Sorry macha", dropped his bat, rubbed his sweaty palms on the sandy "pitch", and grabbed his bat again, with a sand-enriched firmer grip. "Batsman joot" he called out to the umpire. 

The ball came crashing into his toes and while he tried to put his bat down in time, the only thing that saved him from being called out was that they had no LBW rule. They had enough arguments over run-outs so both teams had decided not to get into the even more contentious LBW territory. "This bowler is good, and I am lucky to survive that", Ram muttered to himself. Although the said bowler wouldn't pass ICC's 15-degree bent arm rule or whatever leeway they currently allow since his action consisted of running in, taking a small leap more for effect than for purpose, landed on both feet and then chucking the ball while bending forward. But he was taller than Ram, taller than most boys and had a nasty reputation of using his fists to talk. And so, no one around suggested that he was chucking and not "bowling". And Ram pushed such thoughts aside as he concentrated on somehow keeping the next ball from crashing into his stumps.

It was critical not to get out. It was a 'bet match', and each side had ten rupees at stake. It was a ten-member a side team, so Ram's contribution was a whole solid rupee. A significant step-up from the 50 paise per head matches they had played so far. But then, to be fair, the cost of the rubber ball had been increased recently from 5 rupees to 7 rupees, and few in that group apart from Ram could actually divide 7 by 10 properly. And even if they could, how do we collect 70 paise from each, thought Ram.

Ram wasn't much of a player, not even in terms of the limited skills required on that particular playground. Sometimes, he thought the only reason they included him in the team was because he owned one of the two bats that the team used. A bat which was his reward for having come first in class. And when the bat, after 4 years of selfless service, decided to get a bit angry and developed a tendency to ‘fly off the handle’, they just crucified it with a nail on either side and magically resurrected it. After all, it was a "lucky bat", the same one that Saravanan had used to score fifty runs in that famous match last year when they had won the 5-rupee a side bet match and used the winnings to buy ‘kuchi ice’ for the whole team. He still remembered the delicious taste of that mango-flavoured cone of solidified water.

Coming back to Ram's cricket skills, or the lack of them, he bowled some "off-spin" (at least in his mind, it was off-spin) and was more often than not taken off after a ‘baby over’ because of the irritating tendency of the opposition batsmen to come down the pitch and hoist the ball over his head without allowing the ball to actually turn and do its magic. And while he dropped a lot of catches, no one could doubt his enthusiasm while fielding. In the other critical aspect of cricket, he could put a stout defensive bat and steal an occasional single, but hitting boundaries was not his forte and he had never hit a six. Not even in the game they had played with the shorter boundary since some other team was playing at the other end of the "ground".

The "ground" was a rectangular plot of open land, surrounded by houses whose walls formed a natural boundary. It was sandy and uneven, but the boys had managed to find a bald flat spot which became the pitch. And Ram, being the shortest in the group, was designated to measure the pitch, which he did by taking some normal strides, and then smaller and smaller strides, somehow managing to fit 22 "yards" in the space. 

“I should have taken longer strides, at least he would be hurling the ball from much farther away”, Ram thought to himself as one more ball whizzed past his ear. “good balling, good balling, 1 ball, 2 runs”, the wicketkeeper’s words whizzed past his other ear. “Balling illa bowling, idhu kuda theriyadhu, cricket velayada vandhutaan”, Ram’s inner grammar geek was awakened. “92 marks in quarterly exam in English, while this idiot probably failed”. Ram had this annoying tendency to remember arcane stuff, and was particularly accurate when it came to the marks he scored.

His team had been doing well, first restricting the opposite team to 50 runs off 12 overs, and then racing to 30 off 5 overs. And then, the inevitable collapse happenned. And before he knew it, Ram was facing the pressure. Last wicket, the chump at the other end being worse than Ram when it came to batting, tough as it might be to believe.

“1 ball, 2 runs. 1 BALL, 2 RUNS. Somehow connect, run a single and at least tie the game”, he kept muttering to himself. He was a man of modest expectations, after all. 

The bowler came thundering in. And ripped another fast one. Ram closed his eyes and swung. And connected. If it were the movies, the ball would have sailed over the boundary rope (or more correctly, the wall of the acid-tongued lady’s house in this case), and the heroine would be running across the field to kiss the hero. But this was no movie, and there wasn’t any heroine around (won’t be too, for another 15 years and counting...), and so the ball rolled meekly across, not far from one of the better fielders of the opposition.

Ram hollered “TWO”, set off at full speed, all the while imagining that the stray dog of his street was behind him, finished one, turned around and halfway down the pitch realized that the fielder was already lining up his throw. Two of the biggest steps he had ever taken in his life, and one full length dive with bat stretched across, later, and he was... IN! The wicketkeeper still appealed, and after 2 minutes of heated arguments in lieu of the absent TV umpire, in which several ladies of the families of all parties were referenced in a not-so-respectful manner, it was agreed that Ram was indeed not out.

The ten rupees was happily collected by Ram's captain, and off they went to the ice-kaaran. I don’t know if you guys know what I am talking about, but they used to sell these ice ‘sticks’ in bright red, orange and pink colours, packaged in a polythene thingy. It was simply called “ice” in our hometown.

And as he sat there, with blood trickling down one of his elbows, bat tucked under his arm, sounds of “super run da machi” and pats on his back, and that “ice” slowly turning his tongue into a shocking shade of orange, Ram was the happiest sucker around.

PS: The World Cup always brings with it the nostalgia of my very unsuccessful attempts at swinging the willow. And I have never figured why I so much love watching this game that I can't play well. 

Feb 13, 2011

One more V-day whine...

There is a tradition in this blog (or you may call it 'corrupting western influence') of whining on V-day.
I started it in 2008 as a fun thing.
And then cribbed more in 2009.
And in 2010.

And I continue this glorious tradition, risking life and limb in this day of militant senas threatening us against the very mention of the V-word.

So, here goes...


I am getting fatter, and a bit too old,
And unlike the proverb, old’s not gold!
The one other thing driving me to despair
is that small patch of rapidly thinning hair,
And oh, I am still searching for a hand to hold...

I am told, gals don’t care how you look
more about whether you know to cook...
I can make a mean sambhar with... beetroot!
and my friend once taught me ‘Salad-e-fruit’
But hey, I can sure read up on a recipe book.

Am also told they don’t care how much you make
as long as you have bread, and let them eat cake.
All they look for is someone with whom to share
their problems, someone who shows he does care
But, hey, empathy’s something I can never truly fake!

They also tell me, “you will eventually find
that gal of yours with an independent mind”
All the while it may seem very, very tough
But you just have to look for her hard enough!
Sigh! it doesn't help that I am partially blind...

And while it is easy to say “Never say die”
What can I do if I am naturally a bit too shy
I can think of funny (ok, not-so-funny) lines
But when I meet some potential valentines
I can’t even get myself to say a feeble “Hi”

So lately I have turned a bit too cynical
I think my girlfriend is a creature as mythical
as the entity some folks call ‘the Almighty God’
And before some sainik picks up an iron rod
Chill pal, there is no need to get physical! 


PS: I can't even come up with a decent PS nowadays. Loser!

Jan 26, 2011

The State of the Republic...

An Additional Collector is burnt alive in broad daylight. The State CM announces that "firm action" will be taken.

Indian fishermen are killed by the Sri Lankan Navy. The PM says "India is unhappy", and our foreign minister, or was it the diplomat, "lodges a strong protest" with Sri Lanka. A lady politician, with one eye firmly on the upcoming assembly polls in the state, calls the PM "ineffective".

A party, known for its opportunistic stirring of passions, wants to hoist the national flag in a state. The ruling party, known for its opportunistic weak knees, prevents it from doing so. Both seem uninterested in solving any issue, and more interested in calling each other names.

A corrupt minister miraculously turns around an ailing ministry. And gets invited to business schools for the amazing success story. A rabble rousing lady replaces him, and while one can blame her for many other issues, she is least likely to be caught taking money and has a clean reputation so far. And she promptly runs the ministry back into losses.

A girl is kept as 'bonded labour' for 7000 rupees. For the last 5 years. And she is just 17.

And these are just today's headlines. I am not even going back to 2G, Commonwealth, Adarsh, Swiss banks and etc.,

We have an impotent government. An opposition which allows the government to survive in spite of that. A judiciary which is increasingly being seen as corrupt. A media which is more interested in 'breaking news' than in keeping the other three estates on their toes. And we have ourselves. Yes, we the people, who are more interested in forwarding a 'Onion, Petrol and Beer at the same price' sms, more interested in speculating whether we will win the World Cup, people who click on 'Like' when someone reports 'Pandit Bhimsen Joshi passes away', people who'll fight our battles on rediff comment pages.

And some of these people wish me a 'Happy' Republic Day. I just hope they do have something to be happy about.

Jan 2, 2011

Funny Matrimonial Ads!!!

This is from my twitter timeline, cross-posted here since I had nothing better to do... also because I want to be able to look back at what I wrote and feel silly about it later... and looking up blog archives is far easier than looking up tweet archives...

So, presenting, What I find funny about matrimonial ads...

"I am a fun-loving person". 
Er, you mean that others hate fun?

"Looking for a person with clean habits." 
You mean, you are looking for a nun with a good laundry service? 
(People who don't get the pun, please go here)

"Well educated." 
Er, the only education that you can get out of a dug up hole filled with water is swimming lessons. (Again, people who don't get the pun, please go here)

"Traditional, yet modern." 
Can I say "Vegetarian, but eats chicken" or even "Religious, yet atheist"?

Why would you fear a being who is purported to be a source of limitless mercy, who can pardon everything?

"Respects elders." 
For what? Having spent more time than you on this planet? For always saying "Our times were better"?

"Trained Bharatanatyam dancer." 
Ok, you know 36 different ways of shaking your head "No" everytime I am in the mood?

"6.5 lpa, working with MNC." 
You mean, if you ever resign your job, I should be able to divorce you?

More when I come across them...

PS: I just happened to chance upon such gems while pulling my sister's leg since she is on the look-out. To all you babes out there, I am still single ;)