Saturday, December 29, 2007

Genetically programmed to win

This is what Jack Reacher says! Well Reacher is the hero of all Lee Child novels. There are some characters that remain etched in your mind. Reacher, Dirty Harry, Harry Bosch of Michael Connelly! These are guys, to use a phrase to explain them best, are characters out of a story book. Well they are in fact.

The creation of such characters I wonder would be a fantasy of the author himself who he wants to be. All these guys have a common trait. They never lose. They are loners. The girls fall for them. They are anti establishment. They know everything under the sun. They are passionate about the job. They hate the bad guys.

My interest in them is about what I said in the title. Their belief! That they will never lose. Reacher believes that he is genetically programmed to win. He says that killing is his job, albeit the bad guys. As much as a lawyer would not hesitate to see a brief and defend the client, he would kill. No compunctions whatsoever!

I wonder how many of us are like this! Honestly speaking all of us are. Reminds me of an interesting perspective I read somewhere. That all of us born winners, in other words, all of us genetically programmed to win! It starts from our genesis. There are a million sperms that get discharged during intercourse. But there is only one that succeeds in entering the egg and fertilizing it. And that is the one that made you. It had to be stronger, faster and it should have had a desire to be the first, the one that will win. So you start with an advantage. We get made out of winning genes.

But then there are only a few who actually win in the real world. I haven’t bothered much to research or list out the traits of winners. I call myself a winner. I know what I do to be one. I have no guilt, no shame and no fear. ( no fear in getting something done, the normal or the abnormal fears of escalators are very much there ). More often than not I have found that, you just have to ask what you want. Many of them give! When you ask! Problem starts only when you start thinking of what could be the answer. Well, there is always a 50% chance of success, isn’t it? They either say yes or say no. Many say yes. Starting from a normal bargain in a shop or with a vendor! Utmost they say no, they don’t get insulted or hit you for having asked. For many, it is the fear of facing the answer which possibly could be no. But then what is the problem if they no. I read in a small Udipi hotel at Mumbai which said "We do all things possible, the impossible we take a bit more time”. Obviously the hotel owner was someone who landed at Mumbai for north Karnataka with just one rupee in hand. And made it big! Why wouldn’t he?

Sometimes by asking you may even get more than what you bargain for. Because the guy at the other end could be someone who fears to say no! And he is afraid that you may get insulted at the offer he makes. So he does his best. There are plenty of positive thinking books. I never read any of them. I have found no use for them. I know what I am, then why bother someone to tell me what I am. But many find them useful. I actually pity them. You are made to win.

Just go out and win!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Armpits in Advertisements

Sometimes I wonder what these ad guys are up to!!! I saw plenty of hoardings advertising Deccan Chronicle. It showed a lithesome girl with hands lifted up, displaying her armpits. And the caption was ‘Don’t Compromise’. Of course the first two letters of the caption ‘DC’ stood for Deccan Chronicle and there were highlighted. Now tell me what this ad means? What has it got to the newspaper? And what are they asking us not to compromise? Compromising on losing opportunities to see armpits?! Where is the connection? We want to use the female body form for promoting anything and everything, starting from water pumps to pan masala.

While this is a vulgar strategy for getting eyeballs at the advertisements, the endorsement ads are even funnier. Once Sunil Gavaskar endorsed Niki Tasha kitchen range! What has he got to do with that? He was cooking centuries and not curries! But they paid him to endorse the brand which he never uses in his lifetime.

Now there is a new fad. Celebrity appearances! In a recent function at Mumbai where a deal was signed between two businesses, SRK graced the occasion and he was paid one crore for that! Beats my imagination! Why on earth, he would be there and why he has to be paid for that?

For every good commercial there are 10 silly ones. Some of them socially irresponsible too! Like the Pepsi where they used a tea boy when child labor is a crime in the country. Mercifully someone filed a PIL and they withdrew the ad. There was a time you went to saloons for seeing some pictures with cleavage, a confirmed male preserve and domain. But now, they are everywhere, even promoting the toor dhal that you use everyday.

If things don’t change much in the ensuing days, I also should start considering about displaying some deep valleys in my blog for better readership!!!


The only certain way I pass time when I holed up in a hotel room on tours is by watching Discovery Channel. Quite an apt name, because I tend to discover something new every time.

George Santayana told ‘A country without a memory is a country of madmen’. What would he say about the whole species that evolved to its present form when it doesn’t carry the most important memories?

I saw this program about the Bonobos, the closest cousin we have in the primate family. Apparently we lost precious time learning about the chimpanzees to know more about ourselves, when in reality the Bonobos are even closer to us as a species. They are a matriarchal society and the group is lead by the females. The kids hang around the mom’s and the males every now and then display some empty bravado and get chased promptly. The females of the species are the only one in the animal kingdom that is sexually active throughout the year. Maybe that explains their being a matriarchal society. The females know that they hold the key, all through their lives. And the babies who lose their mom and orphaned are ostracized from the community, though the other kids continue to play with the orphan. But not without complications! Any issue between the kids, the mother invariably punishes the orphan kid. And the poor orphan kid writhes in pain with no one to take care and the kids that played with it on the first place and became the reason for its punishment are the only ones that bother. They try to pacify the orphan and bring it back to normal mood. It was so very touching to see that. And at the same time, the adults do care about smaller animals of other species when they get hurt. They take them under their care and ensure that they set them alright.

These are the memories I mentioned that we forget. In the past, we have done such mistakes of interfering in the quarrels of children and in the process get difference of opinions amongst adults, while the children forget that in a minute and start playing. We should have held on to that memory and made ourselves as an evolved species in the literal sense. The community living, the power of women in the community, the care that we showed to other living things, every little thing like this, we have forgotten! Now today because of the civil war in the jungles of Africa, we are even making our closest cousins extinct for their meat.

And this we call as evolution!!!

Let it be

This one happens to be my most favorite song of all time. Yes I am devoted to the Beatles, but this one is a peach. For many reasons, one is Paul’s smoky voice but the clincher of a reason is the lyrics and the ruckus they created when they made the song. John once said that they were more popular than the Jesus Christ. They were confirmed agnosts and when Paul wrote about Mother Mary whispering words of wisdom in his times of trouble, it was considered as a path breaking deviation in their thought process. But Paul later told the world that he wrote about his mother who was named Mary who once appeared in his dream to give a piece of advice. This is the trivia about the song. But I dig what it stands for.

When I find myself in times of trouble
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness
She is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

And when the broken hearted people
Living in the world agree
There will be an answer, let it be
For though they may be parted
There is still a chance that they will see
There will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Yeah there will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Let it be, let it be
Ah let it be, yeah let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be
And when the night is cloudy
There is still a light that shines on me
Shine on until tomorrow, let it be
I wake up to the sound of music,
Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
Yeah let it be, let it be
Let it be, yeah let it be
Oh there will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Let it be, yeah let it be
Oh there will be an answer, let it be
Let it be, let it be
Ah let it be, yeah let it be
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be

Though on a cursory look it appears as a disturbed man’s hopeful prayer, I think there is more to it. Many of the issues in our life, if left undisturbed and we can tell ourselves ‘Let it be’ get sorted by themselves is what I believe. But belief is one thing and practice is another thing. Certain things which doesn’t matter at all when time passes tend to occupy most part of our thoughts today. We are too worried about ‘what if’s?’ everyday. We tend to forget that the light still shines on us even when the night is cloudy. And there is someone who is always standing right in front of us. It is just a question of whether we are willing to hear the words of wisdom.

That is if we believe that we need wisdom.

Monday, December 17, 2007


Fate catches up. Sometimes too soon in your life! Like when you are even just thirteen. I had been warning my daughter to brush her teeth properly and she finds exactly 10 seconds in a weekday for that chore and a princely 20 seconds on a Sunday. And you know what happens. Each tooth was proceeding in a different direction presenting a unique problem to dentistry, as if it has a mind on its own.

But she is so cute that the slipped order lent its own charm to her. And she was happy. It was I who suggested that we fix the issue. Didn’t know that if I was a dentist I would have been happier! Because you get to break people’s teeth and also get paid for that task more than what you are when you are a Business Head. We were given a choice of metal and ceramic braces, the ceramic one only being some 30K. It was another story where mom and daughter fought about which one should be chosen. My daughter looks pretty cute and there are already enough calls to home from her classmates, who incidentally happen to be boys. As it is I was spending a fortune on a cause which I would regret later and I wasn’t ready to double the cost and thus double the agony. Now & later! So we settled for a metal one. I even secretly wished that it will be a deterrent for the so called ‘classmates who happen to be boys’.

It started off with an expense even before I paid for the doctor. Since she was going to wear braces and she can’t eat hard stuff, she demanded that we go out that night for dinner. What she forgot was that she had separators fixed between her teeth to enable the fixture of braces. That was immensely painful and she could not eat. Having come to a restaurant and not being able was even more painful. So she went to the restroom and removed the separators!!! Thus it started. The next day was the actual fixing procedure and because of this adventure that got postponed.

The dentist saw the opportunity in this when she complained that the separators were too painful. So he decided to make more space in an alternate way. He removed a couple of teeth and I paid for it. It at last happened the next day. Now she is with metal all over her teeth and I have named her as Jaws. Her issue would be sorted out and she will turn out even more attractive.

But mine remains. She stays as cute as ever. And the calls don’t seem to stop!!!


My sidebar has been acting up. The damn thing is sitting at the bottom of my page. This I didn’t know for long. One day it suddenly disappeared and I attributed that to the Houdini stuff that is the norm in the household. I felt that I am being very harsh on my wife because we lost a fish and here I have a lost a sidebar. Fairness means that I should be blaming myself too for being a member of the ‘losing tribe’.

Sometimes it will appear to me there is really something suspicious about the mystery of such things getting lost. Fish & Sidebar kinda stuff! So, went to the extent of even thinking of taking some voodoo help. Anyway I was going to Kerala and with some luck if the voodoo guy is also not lost, I can figure out the shrouded mystery of our household. Sheer lack of time in the trip prevented that from happening. Don’t ask what why we were so short of time. Suddenly one guy started about the incompatibility he has with his wife and small things of life and there was a unanimous chorus.

When I resigned to my fate, I opened up the blog at home in Firefox and there it was, in all it’s splendor. That’s when I got my breath back. After all I am a responsible guy, I can’t be losing things like what folks at home do.

Now I am trying to fix that problem and there is too much of help available, just that none of them work for my blog. Change templates, remove pictures, shorten titles, check on the HTML codes, you name it, I have done it. Still the issue is not sorted out.

You know what; Firefox is a better browser than IE. Let us use that only.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It wasn't one more Birthday

I don’t know what I did to deserve such luck and honor!! Maybe it has got something to do with my previous birth when I hoarded tons and tons of blessings that I receive such a never ending supply of love and care. For I don’t see myself as a person who is very sensitive to others or as a great friend to people! I am such a lazy guy that I don’t take any effort to keep the flame of friendship burning forever and given the excess of phone calls I receive in a day, I hardly call my friends or even speak with them for 5 minutes straight when they call me. I don’t remember their special days in life; I don’t wish them and more often than not my actions had been selfish than the other way round. The circle is always limited to family and a few special friends. I don’t call my siblings on their birthdays or for that matter any other day. At office, I pretty much keep to myself and I can’t remember occasions where I have gone out of the way to do something for others. I have strong views on people’s actions and I don’t hesitate to say them in so many words.

I still don’t know why after all this folks show so much love. There had been a flurry of calls since last night and countless gifts for my birthday. Some of them being my classmates in college that I attended 22 years back. Guys from the previous office called me one by one and are planning a get-together on Saturday night.

The buzz has been around at home for a week now and my daughters stayed awake till 2 in the morning to welcome my birthday and keep that extended. My wife has been running around for a fortnight checking out on gifts that she could give me. And one special friend started working on those 3 months back. The kids in the office have decorated my room and have been running around for a cake and surprise me. I see genuine smile in people’s eyes when they walk across to wish me and it has been just a few months since I came into this office.

My eldest sister called me late in the evening and just before the birthday was about to end, gifted me a huge wooden elephant to reminisce my childhood days when she bought me a small one from her Kerala tour, which I ended up as a partner in my sleep for years to come. I kept that with me for around 20 years and it died one day. To gift me something similar when I am turning 42, just reconfirms the place I have in her mind. The kid brother always! I may grow up to the outside world. Never for the folks at home and I shamelessly retain that position and get extremely proud about it.

My daughter buys me a Boxing bag partly to serve as a vent to my anger but more for not ending up as a bag herself in my playful moods. My wife sends me a signal by gifting a Bluetooth device maybe suggesting that we should speak more than what we do now. And I had been wearing the device since it was given and atleast more than a couple of times demanded them to call me so that I will use it immediately. And she thoughtfully shops for bathmats and paper holders because I spend a lot of time reading in the bathroom in which I expect a dry floor. The younger one hand paints a greeting with the National Flag along with the cakes, candles and balloons.

My best friend goes overboard and remembers every single occasion that we had been shopping together and me casually saying that I like something. She prints my blogs as a book with carefully chosen photographs and spending days to get the layout right. She buys me a cycle because I once told that I could never own a cycle all my life because folks won’t buy me and later I grew up to buy only the Chevrolets of the world. She makes a collage of the family photos and buys a self tuning guitar ( maybe she wants me play it atleast once in tune ). Gets me a hand made glass idol of my favorite Goddess and just not to disappoint me folks also get me the n’th sneaker, (n+1)’th shirt.

To celebrate a birthday like this seems to be a throwback to childhood days. Even that I don’t remember to be of such great pomp and love. There should be something that is endearing in me to all these folks. If you ask me, I may not be a great friend to me if I am what I am. And I don’t know what makes me so special to them.

And I don’t think I can ever repay such love. Whatever I may try would not match these gifts. It makes the job of a lazy guy even tougher. But what other motivation could be there for someone to attempt?

Picasso said “It takes a long time to grow young” and Lincoln said “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it is the life in your years” and mine has been filled with life so far and I am marching towards growing young. And with such special people around, I sometimes get pretty greedy about wanting a hundred more birthdays!!

Monday, December 10, 2007

One More Birthday

Another birthday is getting over tomorrow. I don’t remember the earlier ones of my life or its significance. However, these days it is becoming a big affair. As if I am a star or a minister. There are too many people who call without fail to wish and I get flooded with presents. These are the people whom you know in the real sense; add to this, droves of people in the office who walk in to wish. Maybe because I sit inside a cabin and that means even not-so-known people peep in to wish.

Year on year I get to know more people, some of them get really close and a few become an integral part of my life. This means the list only keeps growing. The ones who are in the ‘known’ list are genuinely warm and the integral parts starts partying for this a week before.

I sometimes pity the people who would want to buy gifts for me. There was a time in life there were desires and needs. By God’s grace every single thing of them had been met and some of them superfluously met. Like 12 watches, 14 sneakers, 50 T Shirts, 85 Shirts, 6 perfumes and so on! I have more music collected with me that could last my lifetime or beyond, if I choose to listen to all of them in one go. Don’t ask about books; whoever gifts it would probably be secretly cursed in the same breath as I would thank them. Because the house is running out of space and with the current real estate trends, it is becoming a costly desire just because of storage space. The ones that warm me invariably are the hand painted greetings of my daughters, because that involves hell a lot of effort and every centimeter is filled with love. Being a man is a nuisance to the gifters that much. Choice is limited for a man. Come to think of it the only thing that would really make me feel wow is based on the effort and time the gifter has to put in choosing mine. Even Google doesn’t help you much in this area. So you can imagine, if God fails who can win. So when my father in law called me to find out what gift I wanted for this Bday, I told him that I have got all I want and one thing I would love to have more is ‘peace of mind’ and he replied that my wife would be giving a piece of her mind if that is so! But there are special friends who make every single thing count even in midst of these mounting challenges! Because of their genuine desire to see happiness in my eyes!

One of my friends had it as a habit in his family that they will get themselves dewormed on the Birthday. Just for plain convenience of remembering this annual ritual. I too have picked 2 habits lately. One is that I donate some money without fail. And store those thank you letters for the organizations like treasure. Second habit is taking stock of what I have done in this life. Though I think of it every year, I don’t stop with the preceding year only as an update. I go through the whole works again. Some stuff of the past gives me perspective, some give me smiles, some give me tears and some give me desire to do it again and some give me plain irritation about naivety and adamancy. I vow myself that I would not repeat any of the stupid things of the past and these resolutions are shorter lived than the New Year ones.

As I grow wiser every year I also realize that I am getting softer in my brain. Small things please me more than the big ones. As if I am a geriatric, thing that happened yesterday gets forgotten but I remember dates of small events that occurred some 30 years back. My audacity gets reduced year on year and I convince myself that it is a sign of wisdom. I get more agitated at the choice of dresses by my daughter, the very same ones I have not minded my wife wearing 15 years back. I keep telling myself that I am not turning into a prude but just being more careful about what is to be done. At the same breath, do stuff for which I never had the courage as a youngster. Sentences with the same count of words are spoken for longer time now because it is punctuated is err..’s.

Couple of years back when I turned forty I was almost getting into a depression because of that, as if that marks a watershed in life. Now when I know that I will again feel the same way only when I turn eighty, I can afford a laugh. I was wondering whether I was going through andropause. Nothing of that kind happened. And I stopped thinking about age unless when it is convenient to me or every year around the birthday to complete the ritual of stock taking.

Actually I guess I only grow younger. There is a reverse aging process and now I am worried where that will stop. At 18 like Bryan Adams sang or even lesser? That is a cause for worry. After all I am becoming old; I need something to worry about!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mush & Bush

These guys seem to be the perfect couple I have seen for a long time. If only they were married, they might have celebrated a platinum jubilee or something of that sort together.

Reason is simple, both of them ditch each other without batting an eyelid, or so we think. But looks like they are aware of the ditching that is imminent! One tells the other that ‘Hey better watch out I am gonna to do something that will make you hang your head in shame and eat your words, but I suppose you will back me up, whatever you may say in public’.

Look at what all this Dynamic Duo has achieved. Together they cultivated the terrorists. OK, it is Papa Bush and not this errant kid. But nonetheless, Kid Bush is a perfect son material whose only aim seems to be completing the unfinished task of Papa. The Americans wanted the Taliban against the Russians and Mush was the perfect foil to foster them and he did so also. And suddenly the Frankenstein of the terrorists fly a plane inside buildings in the US of A and our Superman is agitated ( for once correctly so, I always believe that India also should be giving such fitting reply Vijayakanth style ). They need a place to start the raids from and whom do they call? Their best ally against terrorism, the great Mush! This guy is not a terrorism fighter, actually he transfers terrorists. So he tells them ‘OK Guys, the theatre of operations has changed and all of you can you please relocate to Kashmir’.

Everyone is pleased because an American life is more precious than an Indian life and that has been achieved. But the terrorists seem to add salt in their food, so they don’t take the slight so easily. So they fight against our friend Mush making him a martyr in the process and he clamps emergency for this reason, while the real one is to cling on to office. The saviors of Democracy, the Americans turn a blind eye but makes all & sundry to comment that they don’t approve of Mush’s actions. As if he cares! Because he is anyway too mushy with the Bush!

But for the love affair, Americans would have trampled all over Pakistan like what they would do if it was Iraq, Grenada, and Fiji etc. They instead broker peace between the democratic face of Pakistan and the dictator and make a good package for international press to gobble up. If things become worse, they might provide asylum to Mush in the white house ( after all there are too many bedrooms in there ) and hatch a whole new plot.

I would really appreciate it when I see Bush ditching Mush in reality, because then it would be a true American response ‘All things but American are expendable’. If not, we will wait for the wedding anniversary of the most celebrated couple in the world!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Indomitable Showman

Orson Welles was known as the ‘Indomitable Showman’. He excelled in theatre and cinema. And whatever he did was a show. I started thinking the same about myself. Not in a stage though. Somehow everything that I do happens to look like a show. Not that I want to put up a show. In fact most of the times, I simply act on impulse and later it turns out to be something phenomenal. As if I had sat and squeezed my brain to effect such a coup.

Guess, my life is driven by a predetermined script. In a way I think everybody else’s too. And if that is true, God had been in a terrific mood when He scripted mine. As though he wanted to create one of his best scripts, with the right twists and turns and the protagonist winning at the end! Not a very original script, nonetheless an interesting one.

On all occasions in life, I let my impulse run the next course of the events. It is not exactly impulse. But an attempt to be honest to myself! It is something like ‘Is this what you want to do, ok then do it’. And then worry about the consequences later. Unless the action and its results are illegal stuff! Mind you, I mentioned illegal, not about social code of conduct or morality blah blah. I need to have substantial reason to cross that line maybe.

Whoever visits my place get awestruck. They have one look at the house and the kind of fun all of us have in the family and really start feeling insufficient in life. Some of them have come back to tell me that I have a great family as if I sat and created one like that. In fact, my life runs on providence. I never put on a belly despite gallons of beer. That was one example. My kids are the clichéd chip of the block. They put up an even better show for the audience. And so is my wife. She gets into her humorous best when there are people watching us, and cracks all jokes only at my expense. Plus the fact I have a terrace that overlooks the sea and many a visitor had been unequivocal in their opinion that I have the best home. And we hide from such people for the rest of our lives. Because if they hazard a revisit they might see one member less in the house, as we are in a constant attempt to decimate the others. What cute kids they would say, and these cute kids are the most dangerous living assassins in the whole world. And what a nice pair they would ay about me and my wife. Ok I am not telling anything now!

The point I was trying to make is that, none of these shows are preplanned. Maybe it is genetically coded. Because we just take the stage and perform. Or maybe that is what is our true nature and assassination attempts are for plain fun. This house on the seafront, I have written earlier too. Happened out of sheer luck! Never had an inclination to buy a house, leave alone a penthouse at the beach! But, a hangover that prevented me to go to office which lead to reading the newspaper in full and attending a property fair during the weekend because of that and landing in this house the same day.

Now I did something similar this Sunday. Saw an advertisement in the paper for plots at Kodaikanal and went ahead and booked it. He wanted 50% of the value for booking and I had 5% with me. But as usual, bullied, pulled strings and make him accept that. Now, looking back, I would own a house in the beach and a hill station. Can’t get better isn’t it?

It is as if I am destined to be a showman. Point is that this impulse stuff is extremely dangerous. I have 4 days to make up 5 Lacs and I don’t have a damnedest clue on how I can do that. Anyway let’s leave it to the script writer. Why bother too much? It is His plot and let Him unravel the knot.

My business is just to be of a showman!


Have always been thinking that how much people listen to you is directly proportional to how irreverent you are about issues. I guess it is a vicarious pleasure. There are things that you want to do and want to say, but something stops you from saying that and when someone else does that, you either feel happy about the fact that your thoughts have been echoed or the fact that someone at last gets to say what you always wanted to say.

It is mainly because we are too strait-laced to speak out our mind. I read somewhere that no one ever says that a new born infant looks like a monkey. In fact many of them look so. It is only after a week or two they have some features that get prominent differentiating it from a monkey. But all of us say the baby looks cute. No I am not saying that you tell the parents that their new born looks like a monkey. You don’t even confess that to your partner. Really funny!

There are always two things that are expressed. First is what your mind tells you and the next is what the social compulsions make your tongue to say. Few years back, when I was referring about a girl at office to one of my friends, he acted as if he has heard the name for the first time. In fact that lady is cynosure of many eyes at office and I was surprised that he hasn’t noticed her so far. And then told myself, maybe I am afflicted with a chronic disease of getting to know about all good looking women. Later I learnt that when he had a chance to speak with that girl, he had some 3 years of common history to share and lot many common friends. This guy had known about her all along, but simply feigned ignorance. Now tell me, why on earth you would act like that?

That brings up the point of this blog. Saying something honest has become irreverence. When I keep telling what strikes my mind and am pretty sure that it is the same way majority population of the earth would feel, I say that. And I become an irreverent speaker while everyone squirms in their seat when they hear but imagine themselves saying it. Kamal Haasan tells this dialogue in a movie ‘I think it is better to study and go to an exam than visiting a temple and attending the exam’. Absolutely true! No one stops from going to the temple, but then you should first study. Now people think it is an atheist statement. God is an examiner, yes! But not for your answer papers in a 10th standard board exam!

So, I was rather surprised when I listened to another dialogue from the movie ‘Man of the Year’, when Jack Menken says this to Tom Dobbs “Everyone's going to be writing about how honest you are and how straightforward. I just hope your honesty doesn't undercut your irreverence”.

Actually it is the other way round. Honesty never undercuts irreverence, it accentuates that. If you are honest, you tell what you feel and that invariably becomes an irreverent statement. Because half the world is made up of liars.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Of late, my blogs have increasingly become critical about marriages. And invariably they are the ones that get the maximum responses and I keep joking about how I stir up the dormant emotions in everyone’s mind. This is yet another post about marriage. But it is slightly different.

All the while, I kept seeing marriages through the prism of the married lives of my friends & acquaintances, or sometimes my own and look at all the stuff that goes wrong with the institution of marriage. Most of them tend to agree and some like Sid differ. In this entire melee, I completely stopped thinking about the great feeling it can create. Mostly, in the bunch of guys we are, if someone says that he is getting married, we feel sorry for him and start cracking the typical jokes. Not once we had jumped in joy about the news.

Today was such a day. But before that listen to this story! There is this girl. Who happens to the cutest you have seen in a long time and an absolute pet to the bunch of rowdies that we are. Surprisingly, all of us took such a liking towards her, that she became that kid sister for us. She worked with us. And most times guys were afraid of her questions than their boss’s. She can create terror in the mind and absolutely nonchalant about the childish behavior of many of us. And she was a very trustworthy soul that each one of us sometime or other would have confided things that we would probably be ashamed to confess to others. She never had been judgmental about any of us and maybe saw us as grownup kids. In effect she was the best friend each one of us could have when we were so to each other in the gang.

And there is this kid guy in the gang. Each one of us is called by a relationship and his was that of a kid brother. To all of us! And the pastime of the bunch is to tease him to tears. He is such a sport that he never takes anything personally and laughs for the jokes cracked at his expense. Anything and everything there will be some wisecrack at that guy. And there is no mercy shown or indecency spared. The whole party gets livelier and livelier when the jokes start flowing on his account.

Then we all split from the workplace. In a gap of around 2 months, none of us worked in the old place and by some good grace, a few of us landed in the same place, but the ties were so strong that, one cannot see beyond this gang. The loyalty was very clear and there was no inclination and energy to find new friends, as we were invariably in touch with each other.

The girl works in the office as two of us. And she walks in today to tell me that she is getting married. Normally I would have taken such news calmly and with some close friends laugh at him and say why on earth he would fall into such a trap. But with her, it was different. All of us wanted her to get married and our only worry was that she should find the right guy. And then she also tells there is another good news, which is the news of the kid brother also getting married. Life can’t throw such surprises in the same day. And then she tells me they are marrying each other. Give me something that can be better than this. Impossible! Two of the people whom you loved so much and they decided to get married and what else can be better?

This created a laugh riot in the gang through a teleconference and as usual his legs were pulled and condolence messages poured for that girl. But each of us knew that we were so proud of our friend, or rather friends and we were laughing our guts out because that is the only and the strongest emotion we could show. But there was happiness in everybody’s voice and huge pride in his voice particularly.

If there is one marriage I want to last for eons filled with smiles and happiness every second, this would be that. Because it happens between two of the best people and they deserve nothing lesser.

But suddenly he needs to be respected more now, lest we get censured by her. Ellam neram!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pony Tail

I should probably be the only bald guy in planet earth to use a detangler. Let me explain. Guess I read somewhere that all self respecting guys in their teens, want to be a communist, grow their hair, want to play the guitar, zip in a motorbike, get bitten by wanderlust and write poetry.

I have self respect. So I was no different. I had all these desires barring poetry. Didn’t want to torture others, you see. I always wanted to be a communist and even before I was into my tenth standard, I was running behind these communist party members distributing their vote clips. I and my friend once thought that Cuba should be the best country to live in. Bought a bike somehow and zipped around.

What eluded me though were the guitar thing and the long hair. That’s because I wanted the combination. Both of them together! Once upon a time, I had hair in my head, but no opportunity to buy and play the guitar. Atlast, when I had the money, I bought a guitar. But that is when the hair deserted me.

It was so bad that I was managing the hairdo in such a way that I didn’t look bald. If it was raining, despite my desire to drench in that, I never ventured out, because then the cat will be out of the bag. The few strands of hair that I had will get pasted on the head. Let it rain, who cares was always my attitude.

But luckily I found out that I had typical male pattern baldness. That meant that bald in the front, the hair at the back was ok. So started growing it! It is one thing that hair will grow and it is another thing that it will grow as long as you desire. Ultimately I guess it took two years completely to have a decent pony tail.

Now with the rubber bands, pony tail and the guitar, I have started learning. But the issue is that the rubber bands tangle the precious pony tail. And I use the detangler. I don’t think the Hindustan Levers of the world would have ever imagined that even bald guys could be the target segment.

For me, as long as it grows I don’t care whether it tangles. Tell me one thing that grows without entanglement and enmeshment.


Flying Kingfisher is quite an experience. One of the best airlines I have been with, these guys really go out of the way to make you comfortable. Not without issues though. It is the sort of concern typical Madurai folks show. They are there always, whether you need them or not!

First, I guess Kingfisher guys take your home address somehow while you book the tickets. I say this with a reason. The airport is around 17 km from my place. But at around the 10th kilometer near Guindy itself, I see these red shirts. These guys are prowling around to see whether any one is carrying a Kingfisher ticket sleeve. If you do, that’s it. They almost fight and get the luggage from your hand. Maybe, even if the luggage is comfortably kept in the boot of the car, they will somehow manage to get it collected and carry it while they are seated in the car. So much passion they have towards helping you. Well things haven’t gone this bad yet.

But, surely they prowl in the airport car alighting point. With that expectant look of a pimp in their face! And they just have to know that you are flying KF. One day, this guy just plucked the luggage from my hand and started walking that I started shouting ‘thief, thief’. Who knows really! It could be so, isn’t it? Then understood that he was a KF guy trying to help me! They tag along you all the way till you check in and pass through the security check. You can never have any independent mind. If you want to drink a coffee or browse through in the bookshop, just forget it if you are flying KF. They will not allow you, because they want to help you.

And the hostess’s!! They would not let you rest unless you agree to have something. It is almost as if they have cooked it personally and it is an affront to refuse the food. It becomes such a scene when they constantly implore you and you keep refusing that the fellow passengers start thinking that you have a row with them.

I don’t know how far they are going to carry this service. Guess the next time they will send someone home to pack my stuff and if I fly business class, maybe I will get a hostess coming home the previous night itself. :P

Retirement Plans

Apparently 82% of India’s rich do not have retirement plans. I don’t know whether I qualify as rich, hence belong to this group, but am sure that I would belong to the category of ‘no retirement plans’. Somehow never been serious about saving money! I keep reading about a serial article on a Tamizh weekly on how people manage their monthly budget.

Every one of them seems to save atleast some 10% of their salary. I have never done that so far. I never could see myself holding back on spending on something I wanted then, thinking about keeping that money for something I would want later. Maybe it is not in my DNA. I don’t think that my dad had any savings at all. But my brothers are good planners. I probably picked that gene exclusively.

My philosophy about money was always different. I have never thought of saving some 30% of the salary when as an absolute amount it was peanuts. In fact that 30% amount could be a day’s salary now. But funnily I don’t save that absolute amount even now. Surprisingly I am never scared about it either.

Every now and then a thought will creep in, about how these kids today are so smart that they start saving and hoarding money from the first year of their employment. Folks who had worked only for 1 year so far have more bank balance than me. Only saving grace is that my credit worthiness keeps increasing as my play slip gets better and better.

Couple of occasions I have sat through analyzing where money goes, and with the benefit of hindsight also I see nothing that I could stop spending from. Maybe yes, I can control the spend on superfluous stuff, like more clothes, more music, more movies and more eat-outs. But tell me one thing, all along your life when you were a kid or when you were earning some paltry sum, you always wanted a few things and you never had the money for it and suddenly you find yourself capable of getting them, should you stop yourself from that indulgence?

One doesn’t even know how long they can pull along and setting aside money for a late life, sacrificing happiness of the current one is similar to the Egyptians leaving stuff in the pyramids for the mummies. What will I do with that money if I don’t get a chance to spend? What if I cut on my beer now and save the money, and when I retire if I become a diabetic, who will drink the beer? Or for all you know, I may not even like beer anymore. And that today’s beer money will be spent on the then current indulgence! So why not indulge while you are still taking a conscious choice?

I also hate to imagine some doomsday theory like, what if I get incapacitated and not capable of earning, and what if I don’t have enough money to have a decent life if I pull on more than what I plan to! In fact, the guys who make retirements plans today are anyway planning for a maximum of 20 years from retirement, but what will happen if with all the modern medical advancement, you happen to live till 100. Living in penury from 80 to 100, is worse than taking that chance while you are at 60 and healthy enough to work still.

Well all these are not excuses for my incompetence to save money. I can save if I really apply my mind. But I keep postponing every year, thinking that the next year I would need only this much money to retain my happiness and the excess salary can go into saving, but then these buggers in every budget increase the beer cost, taxes etc. Maybe I will take a tough call this year. But still I will not be a fully convinced guy about sacrificing something which is very clear and present for what I assume to be future.

Afterall money or no money, once you grow older, you become senile and you only become a nuisance to your kids. It is not that, if I was a millionaire, my kids treat me better. In fact I know these lovely ones. They would always treat me the same.

And hopefully return the pocket money I give to them now. And that is some investment I am making!! If I can’t trust them to provide for me and if I have to trust a bank more, I might as well die than retire.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Honest Rascals

One of the biggest problems with men seems to be the constant efforts that they take to woo women. Irrespective of their age and the women’s age! I am not generalizing here. I am very very certain about what I say. Kushwant Singh cites one of the three most obnoxious habits of Indian men is ‘name dropping’. He talks more about people who peddle favors by dropping names. And I include name dropping of a different kind.

I have seen many an intelligent man, who has a wide spectrum of knowledge. Be it music, literature, theater, history, sarcastic wit, academics, gift of the gab, writing, you name it, they are there. But the biggest issue is that you will never get to know it if you are a male yourself. All these are reserved skills and knowledge. Applicable only if your anatomy is different from theirs. Highly respectable otherwise, they would not waste a chance to display their array of awareness, and you get lucky only if you don’t mind wearing a sari.

What is it with these men? In fact when I listed out the knowledge set, I was wondering I may qualify too. But despite my self-deprecating writing tendency and a penchant for flirting, I am unable to include myself in that list. I have never once used Somerset Maugham to get me a female listener. Of course I have ended up discussing a few of these names, but that’s when I realized that they do share the passion on specific areas of my interest. And it makes a good conversation. And obviously I don’t dig more of Maugham the next day and keep asking them whether they read this book or that book. I may have even ended up trading books, but never once called to find out whether they read that and what they liked about it.

But this breed is different. Maybe they read the dictionary for a pastime and choose 10 words for the day and then create situations that will warrant usage of these words. I had this friend of mine who carried a Financial Management book when he came home for a coffee. That joker could have left it in the car. His idea was to make me know that he reads that book. Now that is something. Firstly I am not a female. Second, I would probably laugh at people who read a FM book even if the next day is a semester exam. You don’t read such books!

That clown was an exception. Maybe he had some aspiration desires and he tried to impress me with that book. But the clan that I talk about will never display this intelligence anywhere else, but if a chance occurs they will pound the females, non stop with their awareness levels. I probably want to call them Googlies. Quite an apt name, guys who would Google any information on earth just to parade their gray cells and the intentions anyway is the wrong way. I feel it is an insult to do this intellectual strip tease. Maybe they would not mind doing the real one if they pack six-pack abs. For them, they should be seen. But why not show everyone yaar?! Why reserve it only for the other gender? Do you think that men don’t deserve such honor? Or, are you afraid that you will have to endure the spectacle of an intellectual strip tease in return?

And who tells them that this is what woos women? I have heard of guys who will see palms and palm themselves off in the bargain. Should be world’s oldest trick as a dialogue opener I guess. I am certain that the women who are subjected to this are having a hearty laugh themselves and maybe compare notes. “Hey did that joker come to you and tell that you sing like Lata Mangeshkar”. And they know there are atleast a million Lata’s in the office space, if they happen to croon and look good also.

My friends luckily are the ones who don’t even get inspired by my beer drinking prowess. If I manage to adopt such techniques, they will straight tell me ‘Moodu’( meaning ‘close’, but in a very derogatory tone ). And the ones who really think I am intelligent are the ones who are intelligent themselves, so they can see through it, if it is a part of a mating dance. So, I don’t attempt such daredevilry. More often than not, it pays to tell what runs in your mind, rather than enlisting the services of Gabriel García Márquez's ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’. Primarily because I haven’t read that book! And the ones that I read like Penthouse Letters are not quotable even if it is a wild woman. And after all this, any which way I am accused of being a scene stealer. One thing I always did was, I kept these tools and flirting separated. Never had followed up the next day on what was an ice-breaker the previous day. I thought long and hard whether it was a unique strategy employed by me, but at the end of it gave myself the benefit of doubt. Whatever I did was an adult transaction and that I think is an honest behavior.

The ‘forward kings’ (because they first forward the mails they receive to a set of girls and then only read it themselves) are actually backward in nature. So I would rather wait and get those forward’s from the very same girls. These are very adolescent characteristics. Amateur psychology, Amateur astrology, Listening to English songs for the heck of it and parading those are all samples of such traits! If one is carrying these well into their adulthood, one would make a fool of himself.

And the worst insult is that women don’t even attempt such stuff. They are supremely confident that any which way we will do all the hard work, or they simply think that men aren’t worth the effort. And we constantly prove them right! Or, they think that all these attempts are not needed because, as I read somewhere men think with some other apparatus other than brain. Shame on you Brother!

I may sound patronizing and also appear painting myself as above all these, which I am not. As a fellow member of the clan, I have one piece of advice for you. Look for the new John Miller advertisement. There is enough space in this earth for Good Looking Rascals. Maybe I will change it a wee bit. There is space for Honest Rascals.

Be one!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Shrikanth Who?

Folks at home are a funny lot. They ought to be. That’s where I got my sense of humor anyway. They have never lost an opportunity to demonstrate it. Be it my photo in full glory, or my nickname.

When I was young I was called SriGundan. Sri is a take off from my name, but Gundan stands for Fatso. Now this is humor at its best. As far as my memory goes I have been only as fat as a telephone pole. And not that they have all been drumsticks to call me fatso! Still I was named so.

When I chase the etymology of all words that I come across and even get successful at that, this one eludes me. Even they don’t remember now. To get them prophetic and right, I had been trying my best with Kingfisher, but still I fail in that honorable duty.

Now I realize that you really don’t need any reason for naming a nick. Or for that matter all the reasons to have a nickname, because I don’t think one gets called by their name ever at all. I don’t remember calling my daughters by their name. So much so, if I call them by name they know that I am furious at them about something. Invariably they are Pattu, Chellam, Puppy doll, Meen Kunju or sometimes even something I don’t understand what it is. So it’s really not about what they call you, it is just that you can’t be called by you real name.

In office they call me TS, friends call me Ganth, Daddy by kids, Uncle by the whole world, Boss by the team mates and if someone yells Srikanth, I look behind me. Only my mom does justice to my name still. I can’t be complaining too much, because I have kept hoards of names for my friends, colleagues and family. There was one guy I named Pulli ( stands for fullstop in Tamizh ) because he was of that size. Many such names were used and to great embarrassment after 25 years if someone refer to a friend, unless that nick is told you can’t really relate who they are talking about it. So some IIT’ians and Senior Counsels are Mullan’s and Pencil’s.

Once I happened to meet the brother of a friend and I recognized his face, but could not place who he was. And he also smiled at me. When I managed to ask him how I know him, he said he was Mohan’s brother, I still could not place him and I was exasperated. He understood my predicament and mentioned the nick of his brother at last.

But these kind of faux-pas apart, aren’t these names etched so much in your memory that any reference to them takes you back to those happy days and you start wishing that being SriGundan was more fun all said and done!!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Playing Games with Marriage

After a thought provoking blog like ‘To be or not to be’ ( it was thought provoking, isn’t it, please say so, can’t accept 1339 words getting wasted ), once again a marriage topic. People are going to think that I am obsessed with the subject. Well I could be, only as a subject and nothing else. But this is more of fun stuff.

Games2Win has launched a game called as ‘The Great Indian Arranged Marriage’. Well let us first give it to their Humor and the liberal use of oxymoron in a game title. What is so great about an arrange marriage I don’t know, but the CEO claims that their website gets a lot of international traffic, so like the famed Indian mysticism, this can also be sold successfully.

The game has a tagline stating ‘Celebrate the sacred union of two hearts – The Indian way’ and a monkey initially jumps up and down before the much meaningful graphics takes over. Now this is fun, celebrating sacred union of two hearts ( I had a typo stating ‘scared union of two hearts, later corrected ). The game has various stages and starts with a phone call between the prospective bride and groom with an army of relatives listening on either side. Then it goes on and on with various rituals coming into play, like Engagement ceremony, Mehndi, Sangeeth, Wedding, Reception etc. Would become more popular if they go well into the night, but that’s not the case to be.

Anyway, I was imagining Sid playing this game after his account of a long ordeal that is the marriage event. Best part is that you can choose to lose the game in the first level itself by telling something crazy on the phone. I didn’t want to venture further. But I presume that you would have that opportunity to call it off at any point of the game.

Now that is something. Holding the key to escape anytime!

Cash Burn

Sounds like a press release of a Corporate, isn’t it? Earnings lesser than spends and hence cash burn! Well if it is about my own finances and I am perennially in a state of cash burn. And most of the times, I can never afford to buy stuff in cash, hence use credit cards. :)) So there is no fun in talking about it! Mine is a story of increasing equity and market value on paper which I will encash one day and become a millionaire. Well atleast that’s what I dream about.

This is almost a literal cash burn I am talking about. The crackers for Diwali! As a kid, I was no different; terribly fascinated by the crackers and wait for the day my dad would buy crackers. There used to be a rivalry among us friends on who gets the maximum value of crackers that Diwali. As usual figures will be inflated on claims, but the litmus test comes on the D day. There had been silly instances of getting up early and sneaking around to gather the paper rolls that are left over by others who burst crackers and leave it in front of your house to substantiate your inflated claims. At some stage, the desire on Diwali was more about wearing new clothes and checking out what the girls wear.

Then there was this gap if around 15 years, till my first one found awareness about crackers. And that is what is creating the cash burn. Life those days was simple in terms of buying crackers too. Now the choice is too much and at the end of the day all of them create a terrible noise or a firework display in different forms. And this year, it is Chinese invasion too. The simple Sivakasi crackers are now made in technical collaboration with Chinese. Good thing out of that is the rockets are getting shorter. Apart from that it is only a question paying more money for the same stuff. One of the most ridiculed MRP’s in the country is on the cracker boxes. Invariably it is sold at any price ranging from 30% of the MRP to the MRP itself, depending on the gullibility of the buyers. No idea why the government hasn’t regulated this so far.

And these days, when I see those left over paper rolls they all look like money to me. But then certain things in life never change. The gleam in the kids’ eyes, the breathing of only crackers, crackers till the D day arrives and the rare energy level before sunrise and the sudden discovery of siblings on phone. Nothing changes.

Only thing is that you wish it would have been better to have stayed as a kid only. Sometimes growth in intelligence is a pain like the great poet Bharathiar laments to God.

To be or Not to be

A Shakespearean quote would be the apt beginning for this piece. This is not got anything to do with the dilemma of Hamlet of whether to live or die. Or what could death bring as against the known miseries of life. Though maybe something equivalent! Has the same intensity and trouble in deciding. It is about to be or not to be in marriage!

Diwali eve brought a friend home. I invited him because he was alone at his place ( wouldn’t call it a home ) brooding over his loneliness with only rum to accompany him. I have known him for many years now and he along with his wife made awesome company to us in the early days. They met in college, promptly fell in love and married against the wishes of their folks. But they were a cool couple, with her competing with me in drowning bottles of beer and laughing loud. He is a pretty sedate guy, but has a great sense of humor. They had seen their share of trouble and had come out of it and have a lovely daughter as proof.

And then suddenly things went sour. No one knows why! She simply turned crazy. Skirmishes turned to violent fights. Somehow there was always an artificial high, buying of property, changing cities, promotion in jobs that kept the marriage going. And then the bubble burst. They started living in the same house but used different bedrooms, with a daughter caught in between. While, this arrangement was going smooth for a while, at some point of time, even that got collapsed when she started telling her daughter things unmentionable even in my standards of audacity & transparency. And that was it for him. He moved out of the house and found himself a place. It was definitely not one sided as I write it to be, as we were friends for both of them and counseled both of them on various occasions. Used to take both their versions with a pinch of salt, but what made me think in his favor was what she was poisoning the kid’s mind.

This guy was all sad when he called, because his daughter was not visiting him for Diwali, because her mother is planning to take her to a friend’s house. While we were talking this stuff, a call landed in his phone and it was his daughter. He was being escorted by an uncle to whom she was dumped to for Diwali by her mother. That was a shocker. She didn’t allow the kid to visit the Dad and neither was she willing to celebrate it with her, but palmed the kid off to someone completely unimportant. And the daughter wanted to see the dad. It is a different story that she made it to our place and we had huge fun for about 30 minutes. But she made me cry when she left. A kid all of 10 years, being poisoned by mom, with huge love for dad and wanting to be with him, but had to lie to her mother about seeing him and go to some corner of the city to celebrate Diwali with neither of the parents, with them being alone to themselves. How cruel it can become?

I have had my share of friends who wanted to separate; somehow to all of them I have advised patience and asked them to work it out. There was one girl, who already was living alone, but I persuaded her to go back and the next time I heard of her, she was heavily pregnant. With these guys also I made that attempt. Not because I am against divorce, but something tells you in your mind that there would still be something left to be tried. And it comes from what you know of the couple, their stubbornness, their love to each other, and their willingness to compromise on beliefs for the other. When I realized that part about my friend’s wife, I asked him to quit for his own goodness. We knew about the kid, we anticipated this shit, but still there was only a limit someone can take. Another friend of mine, when it was getting a little bit too much for her that included abuse, simply went to office one day and never went back home. And what kind of ordeal it would have been for her, to take a decision of leaving a 7 year old son, who is now at college but she hasn’t seen him again. Another friend of mine has been visiting the court for almost 10 years now, because the divorce is not by mutual consent. That joker of a husband of hers, who ensured that she went through sufficient abuse, claims that he wants to live with her. Maybe he thinks the abuse is not still sufficient.

There is this that ‘Tipping Point’ when people decide enough is enough. And I think that happens when they don’t see any future in the relationship. It cannot run on past glories or what the society prescribes. For many of them, it is the stigma associated with the act of divorce. Especially women, but my friends had been bolder in that context. They knew that it is not the society that sleeps in the other half of the bed. It is them with that demon and they better handle it themselves, rather than wallowing in misery inside, but put up a brave front and a fantastic show for the society. After all, the society would not be there when you want them. At its convenience, it becomes too decent. Non-interfering and it may include your own folks. It is your decision and you need to take it. And the only thing that matters is that whether you look forward to peaceful time with the partner for the rest of your lives, if not and you are sure that it is going to be terrible, if you don’t quit it will be a mighty waste. And surprisingly, we don’t feel accountable for our own happiness; we somehow think that it is martyrdom that is fashionable. We feel that giving into one’s own pleasure is crime and we always have to think about the rest. BS it is. Maybe if you really feel that way, atleast you should start feeling accountable for you own sadness. Don’t pursue happiness, but atleast ensure that you aren’t sad.

I was listening to a very wise man in TV this morning. A college professor who talked so very beautifully about Hinduism, Manusmriti & Samskaras specifically! Only when you hear and understand what the religion has prescribed, you will come out of the shallowness that we all seem to have presumed as intelligence. The Veda’s were oral forms earlier. They are believed to be Anaadhi ( without beginning ) and they always existed as sound waves in the Universe and our great ancestors had the power to make meaning out of those vibrations. The flip side to that was, it was passed from person to person and we don’t know which interpretation is right. This morning the Professor said that Divorce was allowed as per Vedas and he listed out a few reasons on what constitutes the ground for divorce. But when I hunt the Net, all mention on this subject is lopsided. They claim that women can’t divorce, but men can. And in the same breath there is also some supreme glorification about women’s role in a household. Even the Prof was telling how in Brahmin rituals we have the lady of the house standing behind the man and touches his shoulders through a Dharpam, because a wife is called Sahadharmini and that means she is a part of your dharma and you fulfill your destiny only through that partnership.

Anyway, the more you try to seek solutions from outside, the more you get confused. To my friend, if I had talked about Manusmriti when this crazy woman of him was sending anonymous letters to the tax guys about frauds in her husbands business, he would have bashed me up transferring all the anger he had on her against me.

I am convinced the laws of the society are just roadmaps for life. If you are sure, where you want to go, why the hell you need maps for!!!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Look at the temerity of these fellows. They sell the tickets for 100000$ and give you the ultimate in luxury. And then come back to tell you, keep your hands off each other. I am not saying that everyone in a flight like that will be groping around. But this is too much of moral policing. If you say, keep your hands off the crew, it is understood. Quite a decent request! But you are not supposed to touch your partner I believe.

Just have a look at that bed. The setting is so romantic. And you are served the best of wines and cuisine. Sydney to Singapore takes 9 hours. You enjoy all that and like it comes in a K.Balachander movie, place a Bhagavad-Gita and turn the other side to sleep.

Isn’t it too much? What exactly is their issue? I keep reading steamy stories about this kind of stuff happening in the 737’s. You can probably complain about indecent exposure in public space, if there is no privacy provided. Just imagine, what will happen if Laloo puts up posters in first class coupe’s that reads ‘Keep your hands away’. No, not from the window, but your partner!

Maybe someone will keep an eye on the proceedings always. And the captain may come up with an announcement saying the ‘Hands Off’ lights are switched on. In all Airbus 380’s consumption of alcohol and smoking is allowed, but sex is completely prohibited, and sex detectors have been fitted inside all first class cabins. Or, every now and then the crew members might peep in and remind to keep the zipper closed and sit upright.

Looks like, according to Singapore airlines the only thing that should be up is the Aircraft!!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Kindly Adjust

I happened to go through an article about Pondy cuisine and that prompts me to write this. Looks like, there is a national trait called ‘adjusting’!

Everyone everywhere wants someone to adjust. Be it a crowded seat in a bus, accommodating more people than what is possible in a small car, giving lesser money than what is due, not keeping timelines, everywhere this trait is evident in full glory. It is taken for granted in this country that people will adjust.

Maybe this is because of the famed tolerance the religion has inculcated in us. Hinduism without being asked, kindly adjusted many practices and heresies and thus was born Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

While in many occasions this trait has worked for good, I also believe that is the weakness of the system. Let us look at a few good ones. India is cultural bedrock for the world I would dare to say. The religion thrived because it was willing to adjust and hundreds of missionaries and thousands of invaders could not manage to kill it. Within the nation, with so much of diversity, we have always been willing to adjust and accommodate in many things starting from basics like food. You probably will have the most adjusted Chinese food in the whole world only in India. While catering to the taste buds of Indians, they somehow manage to retain the Chinese flavor. And such attitude always gives room for two different types of restaurants. Authentic Chinese and Chinese! You name it; you will get all cuisines of the world even in a place like Ratna Café, but cooked the Indian way.

But look at the flip side of this trait. We accept the most immoral and corrupt criminals as our elected leaders. We don’t care whether bigamy is practiced by a CM, but arrest a guy if he is a commoner. Because we adjust! We adjust with poor customer service. We adjust with bad time sense. We adjust with vulgar behavior. We adjust with lousy leaders at work. We accept mediocrity. We accept husbands as God. We adjust with thieves as maids. We adjust with drivers because they have their idiosyncrasies. We adjust, we adjust and we keep on adjusting. That was one funny and thoughtful campaign by VIP for their briefs. But how true it is! We can’t say no to someone who wants jostle in our car when we look forward for a peaceful 2 Hr drive with good music. And that someone will not even matter to us.

The nation is infected with a malady of not being able to say NO. In bold letters to anyone! You are asked, whether you like it or not, you adjust. And nothing happens out of good spirit. When it really comes to a situation to adjust, they won’t. In a 5 star beach resort, the steward would not allow me to sit in a table, because the restaurant is supposed to open 10 minutes later. A mobile phone that is just 3 weeks old malfunctions and I don’t have the service guys quickly fix it. When it is needed, no adjustment is made.

I am just wondering, whether people cannot say No, or is it that they will say No when it involves effort from them. If they are not directly impacted, maybe they will adjust.

I am at loss completely to figure out. But I will adjust!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Artificial Milestones

Lately I am getting feedback that I keep writing for the sake of writing and some of the posts do not mean a thing, but for the fact that they add to the number. Consciously there is a couple that would have been done that way. But, almost all of them are written with the same earnestness.

When I start writing a post, it surely is because a thought is triggered. Some thoughts grow further, some gets stunted. The grown ones find better expression and the half-baked thoughts with the some masala fillers get classified as ‘Bhlongu’ ( stands for Bhongu Blog and Bhongu can be loosely translated to unreal/superficial ). But I know that I don’t write anything for filling up space. There is no necessity also. If I start thinking about the relevance of everything I want to write, then I may dismiss most of them. Who cares about many of the funny episodes that I write about what happens at my home.

I don’t get burdened about saying something meaningful in everything I speak/write. Unnecessary pressure that is!! Not always you can do that. If I say so, I will sound like a director who is still wet behind his years talking about giving a social message in the movie he has done. After all who cares about a message in a movie? I look for engagement. If it engages me, then it is Paisa vasool. Similarly, when I say something the only thing I attempt is keep readers engaged.

All said & done, the blogs are expressions in a written form. And I am yet to see someone who always is lucid in his thoughts also. If only we can hear thoughts!! Then all of us will meet the fate of Mel Gibson in ‘What women want’. Anyway, such a preamble was needed because I was toying with some stupid thought as I was nearing my 200th post here. My daughter was asking what I was planning to write about. And I thought of Artificial Milestones.

Somewhere deep inside, all of us are driven by milestones. Or deadlines! Not like the cricketers claiming that he would have been happier if the team had won. Bunkum it is. Who on earth has ever done that? These guys who would be running like a steam engine without brakes will start moving like a bullock cart at the sight of a century and then give sound bytes which are so very altruistic.

We are happy about milestones. I was happy when I first got my 5 figure salary and got sloshed. I didn’t waste an opportunity to tom-tom about it. And in each and every such minor accomplishment, I was always happy. When this blog was just about 10 posts, it was already a conversation starter and ice breaker with girl friends.

‘You know, that is the same thing I have written in my blog too’
‘Of course I have my blog, I do blabber something in that’

So all of us have intents, some malicious, some useful, some harmless and milestones do excite us. We always want to reach somewhere and when we manage to recognize that thin line between a pipedream and a goal, we want to reach that goal and get happy when we do that.

So folks, I am happy about crossing 200 posts. I am first of all, happy about the fact that I overcame my inertia, my fear to write something and masking it as laziness and most of all gained the confidence that I can frame my thoughts in a coherent manner and put them down in words in an acceptable manner.

And thrilled about the fact that I can pick a nothing subject and waste 1000 words on it! And my ability of pass off a Bhlongu in the pretext of being honest! :))


’Apocalypto’ as a movie triggers a lot of thoughts in your mind. The tag line for the movie is ‘When the end comes, not everyone is ready is go’ and the quote with which the film begins ‘A great civilization is not conquered from without until it is destroyed from within’ tells the story themself.

It is about the declining period of Mayan civilization and one man’s fight to escape from the sacrificial altar. Powerfully captured in the visual sense, the language is which the movie is dubbed gives tremendous scope to see the movie more visually than anything else, suspending the viewer from reality to quote Mel Gibson. Learnt later that the language is Yucatec Maya language! He has been absolutely right, because I have never watched so many pairs of intense eyes in a single movie.

Sometimes a movie can leave such a tremendous impact that it keeps running in your mind even after it really ends. At first I thought that tag line may well be apt for describing the movie itself. You don’t want to go, when the movie comes to an end. Very few directors have the art of making the viewers empathize with a movie completely. A feeling that you belong there and you are watching a story unfold in front of your eyes! Mel Gibson is one such guy. Be it the ‘Braveheart’ or the ‘Passion of Christ’, Gibson transports you to another world altogether. His penchant for perfection is very apparent in the construction of each scene.

Apocalypto is no different in that aspect. It is shot in such a way that you feel that you could smell the wetness of the soil and the fear of the people. A simple storyline of abduction & escape can never get more thrilling. The movie just draws you to the edge of the seat in the 10th minute and keeps you there for another 2 and a half hour’s.

There is a lot of gore and violence but somehow, as a viewer you tend to accept it, maybe because the story is set about 1200 years back and having been doled out a lot of senseless violence in contemporary movies, you somehow think it is perfectly OK for the men of that age to behave that way.

I kept thinking that though centuries have gone by, some fundamental human traits have never changed. The blind beliefs about God and our rituals to please Him, the fight for supremacy, the strong subduing the weak, the family ties, the loyalty to clan, the senseless behavior towards tribes that are not yours, civilization and barbarism coexisting and the scant respect of human lives, nothing has changed in 1500 years.

The Maya civilization is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as its spectacular art, monumental architecture, and sophisticated mathematical and astronomical systems. At its peak, it was one of the most densely populated and culturally dynamic societies in the world. And yet, there are behaviors that are completely incongruent to what civilization is defined for.

Now after a millennium, we are far more advanced but hold on to the same traits. So fundamentally nothing changes in such a short period. I had always maintained that whatever changes that is required in many touchy areas like female emancipation etc, the change can only be evolutionary and not something that can be achieved in a few years. Traditional men remain traditional.

Though I see plenty of movies, reviews or mention about them in my blogs have been rare & few. Unless I am really touched by the story, narration and the performance of the actors and the packaging of the movie as a whole!

Apocalypto fits the bill, perfectly.

Biting Truths

My house is becoming a veritable comedy show. As it comes in the Jim Carrey movie ‘The Truman Show’, if someone plants a TV camera at my place and airs a reality show, I am certain that folks will have laughs of their life.

For starters, what will call you a place that has more toothbrushes than the number of teeth itself in the household? And we have 3.5 people at home. Every morning starts with the challenge of finding your toothbrush. Maybe that is the reason I am so sharp in my brain, because I start the day with the challenge. Being color blind, my ordeal is doubled. I am lucky if I get up as the last guy amongst the 4, so that I can feel the wetness of the bristles and figure out which is not my brush. It still doesn’t solve the purpose of finding my own. But atleast I eliminated three brushes. After a sincere attempt, I proceed to brush with one of the leftovers, which need not necessarily be mine.

I was using a different technique altogether. It stemmed from my habits. I apply huge pressure if I am using my right hand, even in writing. So much so that you can see the imprint some 10 leaves away in the notebook. The same was true with brushing also. In its 3rd week of existence, my toothbrush appears as if it hasn’t seen oil & shampoo for a hundred years. So that was identification that it is my brush. But, in the 4th week I was almost brushing with the brush handle than the bristles, so started changing them every month. So once again they appear so very new and similar. The technique is no more in use.

With all this, you are tempted to think that we should have the cleanest set of teeth in the universe. Sorry, that’s not the way it is really. Because my elder daughter takes exactly .01 second to brush her teeth, so much so I seriously think that she just applies paste on the brush and washes it off, without coming anywhere near her teeth. So, the brush actually is more sparkling white. The younger one is not that bad. She likes the taste of paste, so takes it to her mouth and eats it. So her timing is around 10 seconds. Maybe she has sparkling white intestines.

So, as you would know by now, the stand in which brushes are kept broke down one day unable to hold the weight of all of them. Now they are in a container type standee. So, even if you succeed in spotting your own brush, extricating it is another challenge. Invariably they all come as a bunch. Pretty social folks they are. And sometimes or most of the times, the standee becomes a sleepee and all brushes fall down.

Guess, I am going to make stickers with our names on it and also start keeping them in our wardrobes. After all each one of us have separate wardrobes and the brushes can’t get mixed up, unless the servant maid ( who is an interminable source of comedy herself ) picks them and give for ironing. That way they will get mixed up again or really get pressed that I start using the handle again for brushing.

Never realized that marriage can bite me like this!! But then the smiles of the kids, whether yellow or disorderly, are worth having a yellow set yourself.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Shangri La aka Finding Maggi

What is that with these tortured souls I don’t know!! And I am not including myself in that. Wherever I see an intelligent soul, whatever I read about the geniuses, all of them talk about a calling in their life. And some responded to that call, a few still wait for the call. I am in the second half of people. I am waiting for that call too, but nothing but stupid phone calls come to me.

Sometimes I feel that there is going to be no call at all. It is not as if I am waiting for a miracle to happen one fine morning inside my head and I construe that as a call. I am wondering what that would be, if at all that happens. It is always about finding a purpose in life. Beats me!

I don’t know what is wrong with the current purpose in life? Someone pays me handsomely and I go around kicking asses. May not be a glorious purpose in life, but still I kick someone else’s ass, so I don’t feel tired about it. Maybe if mine is kicked I would suddenly start searching my purpose. Long time ago, I wrote a piece called Chase, and then also I had the same confusion. Later, discovered that the chase would be to find the lost combs! Now that Airtel has introduced ‘Search made Simple’ my search for the combs would also stop.

Jokes apart this purpose business baffles me. I see a pattern here. All these searchers travel east and land up at India and that’s where they find their calling. Some smoke hashish and see God, others simply follow a modern guru like a lapdog and consume whatever he dishes out. They learn some mantras and keep repeating it in an anglicized manner like a broken gramophone record.

So what do we do now? We are already in the place where called folks arrive! Maybe God is my next door neighbor, I don't know. But,I can’t understand why instead of just peeping above the wall and yell for me, He wastes ISD to call these firangs. I think this whole ‘calling’ business is some industry. Maybe secretly funded by Indian Tourism Development Board! Should be bigger the Voice industry itself.

There are plenty of books that sell dreams of the exotic east and the meditation and yoga ( I am not discounting these at all, but I don’t know whether they are panacea for a materialistic white guy ). And there is word of mouth also. Guys who go back home and spread the good news of the magic of the Orient. Not that I disclaim the power, but I guess the search is something really deep inside you. You dig yourself deeper and deeper, and then you understand what you want to do really. And that could be as simple of status quo, go back kicking asses and retire or maybe just give into your wanderlust and roam for a while and come back hoping that everything from now on will be different.

Sometimes you dig too deep also there is an issue, you would not comprehend a damn thing and get completely clueless about what little you knew already about yourself. There is this series of articles that come in a Tamizh weekly in the title of ‘Care of Platform’. Those guys don’t have a roof above their head. But they seem to be happy within their purview.

Sakichi Toyoda popularized the concept of 5 why’s and Jim Collins also talks about that in his book ‘Built to Last’. For anything and everything, simply ask 5 why’s and you will arrive at a root cause. At a more philosophical level, the 5 Why's also demonstrate Dr. Deming's principle that the real problem usually lies in the deeper system rather than in the performance of an individual who is working within that system. So instead of simply worrying too much and searching for a answer a conscious drill down will help more.

Having said all these, if one is living in a concrete jungle and works in another for 18 hours a day, an Eastern book with its glorification of the serenity of the Himalayas, the pristine Ganges, the Hindu mysticism would definitely give a ray of hope.

There are just Bisleri bottles lying around in all these places nowadays. And of course you can get Maggi noodles also. But that can’t constitute a purpose, isn’t it. Finding Maggi?!

Music - My Soul

I am really not qualified to make such lofty statements. In fact, modesty is not a virtue that I possess. And I am always keen to showcase what I know and sometimes showcase as if I know also. So, if I say something that is remotely modest, then it only means that I respect it too much or I know too little about that. I can’t say that I know too little about music, but the sheer vastness of music makes me feel that I would not have heard even .001% of it.

I used to keep saying myself that Ilayaraaja is a God. And make claims like I became a theist when I discovered music and if Ilayaraaja and music is true, then God does exist. I was not really feeling odd to say that, because I knew a fair number of people who don’t stop with making such claims but also perform pooja.

It is just not Raaja, though he is the one who could make a discerning listener from a novice out of me. At various situations, various forms of music and different composers have occupied my heart fully. I was a late bloomer so to say. Didn’t read a single English book till I left college and haven’t listened any other music than Tamizh film songs till around the same time.

Then Beatles happened. It was easy listening because I could make something out of their music and lyrics. It was simple and it was as if I could relate to what they sang. Then one by one, I graduated into many composers and genre of music. And got this huge realization that music could be anything and one does not need to be particular about what he hears as long it pleases the ear. So with equanimity, I listen to everything from basic Carnatic to 50 cents. My mother could not fathom what I listened in rap which she used to call as mantras at a funeral ceremony. But for me it was just as cool as anything. There was a rhythm in what they did as music and my brain could decipher it. No big hang-ups about the social messages they claim to spread from within a deluge of bad words. It is just the sound that touches some chord inside me.

But lately it does more than touching a chord. The other night there was an involuntary smile in my face when I heard a strain of Raaja song. Once, while I was listening to Yanni, I dozed off with a smoke in hand and burnt my shoulder. Now, with the advent of Prem Joshua and Karunesh in my life, there are strange things that happen. I can feel the music spreading in my body. I may sound insane. But I swear that it happens. I can now understand the IIT’ians favorite pastime of Floyd, Vodka and Grass. Those guys probably would have even communicated with God.

The more I think about music, the more I get surprised about the simple yet powerful sound forms creating such riot inside the head. It creates some kind of anamorphism. Or like a chameleon, it can take the shape of whatever situation you think of. Sometimes the blue sky, sometimes the sea, the green grass, the rain, a river, expanse of a valley, immeasurable universe, endless travel, on and on!!

It really is a gift to play and create music. I guess they are God’s favored children. To be able to manifest a feeling inside you by their sheer genius! Subbu tells that he feels that he is almighty or feels closer to almighty when he listens to Prem Joshua. How true he is.

If there was a choice in life, I would rather wander aimlessly playing music and live with nature. In my wish list of going to Himalayas and listen to the Vedas, I should probably make a correction. I want to listen to a musical rendition of the Vedas.

I will then die peacefully. And more importantly silently! For it seems that is the best form of music I can produce.

Peculiar Men

Every one in the world has some idiosyncrasies. No two persons are alike and it also robs the charm of life if we are all prototypes. But there is something that we assume as basic traits and we have drawn a code that human beings live this way.

But, once in a while I come across really peculiar people. And I get reminded of the Simon & Garfunkel song ‘A Most Peculiar Man’. The song goes like this.

He was a most peculiar man.
That’s what Mrs. Riordan said and she should know;
She lived upstairs from him
She said he was a most peculiar man.

He was a most peculiar man.
He lived all alone within a house,
Within a room, within himself,
A most peculiar man.

He had no friends, he seldom spoke
And no one in turn ever spoke to him,
cause he wasn’t friendly and he didn’t care
And he wasn’t like them.
Oh, no! He was a most peculiar man.

I have deliberately omitted the last stanza as of now.

But I am surprised about such type of men. Complete misanthropes. Living in a world of their own! No, they are not autistic. I have seen many a child that is autistic and to a great extent I understand their behavior. These men I talk about are perfect guys holding senior positions in good organizations, have a great family, but their world is the one where only they belong.

They don’t worry about what’s happening in their partner’s life. Maybe they would have the best person as a partner, but he would care a damn about it. After all he would be worried about a small incident that happened at office in the past and call up home to warn that he is in a terrible mood, so it’s better that no one comes across him when he return, lest he loses his cool. As if he ever was cool!!

Would live a few blocks away from relatives, but never once would visit them or encourage them visiting his home. Would never attend any social gathering and if at all it something is social about them, it would be hanging out to have a drink with their cronies. And then the drinks will help them draw further into their own world, unless there is a deliberate intent of wallowing more into misery, so that the rest are concerned about them.

Would have habits like not eating in any friends’ or relatives’ place (hotels are ok ) and would have the temerity to order for food from the friends' home, in the rare occasions of visiting a friend. No, they are not austere either. Money does mean a lot to them. Would always be thinking and worrying about how to make more money. But it will be extremely difficult in a world of fools according to them. Pretty ironical I would say. Their world is just them and a world of fools for them would be a tacit admission of them being a fool.

They would be embodiment of chauvinistic male traits because they anyway don’t respect human beings and women are lesser human beings for traditional men like them. For them, it is a question of how no one understands them in this imperfect world. Would have no interests in arts and music should probably sound like bats screaming in the night ( maybe there is something wrong with their ears, they can listen to sounds that are more than 20000 decibels and that means they live a very loud world )

Nothing else but their own welfare is primary and they refuse to acknowledge that there is something wrong with them. Would not attempt to listen to friends ( if someone claims to be a friend ) and it is impossible to have medical counseling. After all there is nothing wrong with them.

I am at sea to understand such misanthropic behavior. I would really like to carefully notice someday whether they can smile at little child, look at flowers; listen to what others go through in life. What kind of people would lack basic social skills? Even the Selfish Giant of Oscar Wilde creation understood that his trees started bearing fruits when he allowed the children to play in his garden. What would change these people?

They should, because if they don’t, life will be like what the last stanza of what Paul Simon sang.

He died last Saturday.
He turned on the gas and he went to sleep
With the windows closed so he’d never wake up
To his silent world and his tiny room;
And Mrs. Riordan says he has a brother somewhere
Who should be notified soon.
And all the people said, what a shame that he’s dead,
But wasn’t he a most peculiar man?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Why are you the way you are?

First, sincere apologies to Subbu for flagrantly lifting his title ( which is so far obvious ) and the possible lift of content also. It is bound to happen that way, because from the time I had known him, I don’t think I have thought any different from what he had. But there could be variations also. Mostly that happens because he has the head-start of 10 years on me and in his speed, probably that would translate to 20 years of additional thinking. Maybe when I catch up with his age, I would have realized the basis of his logic and agree to him.

But as of now, in this it looks like we would have some differences in opinion. Subbu sums up that we are made in a particular way and we don’t determine that, so we stay the way we are. Well I disagree. If traits are embedded in DNA and we act only according to that, then a killer should have a familial history of killing, isn’t it.

Way back, the British had a law that prescribed criminals on basis of ancestry and genetics. In an impoverished, drought ridden district of South Tamil Nadu, people had to resort to crime, to keep their stomach from gnawing. And many of them ended up in jails. To keep the district free of crime, the police, basis the new law, repatriated a huge bunch to North Chennai. And there are people who still claim that this is one of the reasons why more criminals come from that part of the city. While there could be some merit in the argument, I think it is too much of generalization. In fact, the terrain supports crime. It is tucked in one corner of the city, has the ocean as an escape route etc. But yet, there are many who had channelised their energies into constructive stuff. Atleast 80% of the boxers from Tamil Nadu come from North Chennai. So not all end up as criminals! If positive change can be brought upon, so could negative change be also.

My take on this, to a great extent we determine what we are and what we want to do. Some have the courage to do it, some have the foolishness to do it, some have the good fortune to do it, some have the genetic support to do it. And, stuff like killing, we don’t do, because we are afraid of getting imprisoned. As the revolutionary Periyar used to say, people tonsure their head for God, not because of their belief in God, but because of the belief in the fact that hair will grow again. I have not seen anyone sacrificing teeth or limbs to God. They are smart; they know that these items don’t grow again. Likewise, it is the fear of punishment that holds us back from heinous acts. When we were kids, we would have easily dissected a dragon fly or a butterfly. At that age, the only thing that stopped us was the grandparents telling stories about we will be tortured the same way at hell when we die. Otherwise, we would have gladly continued our killing spree and graduated to bigger living things, that’s what the psychopaths do.

We always see that during riots and calamitous situations, perfectly gentle people acting extremely funny. There are recorded events of how property was amassed by God fearing middle class Delhites during the anti-Sikh riots in 1984. And we did not have any compunction whatsoever in occupying the houses of our fellow countrymen who fled to Pakistan fearing their lives. Let us say, we are facing a severe drought and things are rationed. If my children were hungry, and I see a weakling as someone who will share the ration, I would not hesitate smashing him up and take his share also for my folks. Psychologists say that when there is extreme duress or sadness people tend to get extra-punitive or intra-punitive. They either harm others or harm themselves.

I believe that all of us are capable of doing anything and a strict diet of rules, regulations, fairness and fear is what keeps us sane. Otherwise anyone would do anything. These days in Punjab they ingeniously use washing machines for making lassi.

So you are not the way you are, you are simply what you want to be!!! Sorry Subbu.:-)