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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Too Important to Fail

Dear Tax-payer,

I realise you deserve to know why I seek a bailout from the country for my now bankrupt Social Network company. I understand you feel the pinch when I’ve sought a Rs.5,42,325.25 bailout package from various financial institutions. But my reasons are too many. And too critical to the future of the country’s economy. Let me explain.

Because of my current financial crisis, I haven’t been able to tip the waiter at the local Darshini where I’ve been having my daily plate of Idly-Vada with an extra bowl of Sambar and two Filter Coffees. I know it’s hard for you to imagine this, but it is not a hypothetical scenario, dear Tax-payer. In fact, I’ve only been eating single Idly, and half cup Filter Coffee, at the self-service section of the Darshini, where I stand and eat. It has also helped me avoid the waiter by simply maneuvering into the crowd that’s waiting to collect their orders by the kitchen window. Because of the plummeting tip collections, our man has had to give up on his daily khamba of Old Monk rum, and now settles for a relatively cheaper quarter of Khodays. You do realise that’s a big dip in India’s economy if people were to replace their bottle of Old Monk, one litre pet bottle of Thumbs Up and a full plate of Chicken 65 with just two 90ml glasses of Khodays, a wedge of lime and a bowl of peanuts (not even the Rs. 5 Haldiram’s Masala peanuts, mind you). Good heavens!

And that’s not the only reason why I seek the Rs. 6, 17, 821. 72 bailout. The attentive reader may have noticed that my losses have increased by a full Rs. 75,496 and some change since I began my plea. Well you see, in those few hours, (err, I’m a slow writer, a slower editor, and the slowest thinker in the SEC C category of failed upstarts identified by the Balkampet branch of the LocalTrust Bank), the INR (sounds better than the Indian Rupee, no?) has fallen against the dollar, the Sensex has crashed more often than the fake windows version at the local internet parlour, and petrol prices have temporarily taken an un-Hindu rate of growth with a Rs. 3.14 per litre hike. But we digress.

With all the financial pressures, I’ve given up on my plans of buying Apple’s latest tablet, and instead I’m buying the relatively cheaper ones manufactured by Dr. Tirumalsetti’s Pharma. I’ve stopped buying songs at iTunes, and now only listen to my own tunes. I also made the supreme sacrifice of giving up on Bollywood movies at multiplexes, and instead resort to watching free downloads of movies produced in the Chinatown district of Kolkata. Don’t even get me started on how it would alter the financial fabric of the country if I was to incorporate these changes in my lifestyle in the long-term.

You may now want to know how I managed to lose it all before seeking a Rs. 7, 06, 659. 53 bailout. Well, that’s a fair question. Now let’s start at the very beginning. It all began during those days when the times were better, when people had more money in their pockets, and Orkut was still the most happening technology innovation in town. That is when I decided to make a pioneering foray in the Sports-Entertainment Industry by launching the Indian Book Cricket League. And going by the number of followers I got on the Orkut page, I was convinced that this would be the next financial page turner, and David Fincher would possibly have to buy the movie rights for my autobiography, which was due to release in the holiday season of 2007. Being a bit of an Amay Khurasiya of the Book Cricket world in my playing days, I was as confident as the aforementioned French Cricket legend that it wouldn’t have been too difficult for me to sell the idea to venture capitalists and private equity funds. But then suddenly, I got a legal notice from Cricket Authorities who believed they owned the name Cricket. And another one from another finance company in Mauritius, who believed I was giving the Pakistani Bookies in their employment a bad name, owing to the use of the word Book. And then, after the financial downturn that’s followed ever since, I couldn’t even afford to buy the latest version of MS Office, never mind hiring the services of an accountant, or a lawyer. That's when I decided to wind up operations, and have been surviving on the LIKES of fans on my Facebook page.

I could still go into financial details, but then I strongly believe that while a clever man does solve a problem, it takes a wise one to avoid it. So appealing to your good sense and wisdom, dear Tax-payer, let’s just agree to help me out with my finances with a Rs. 8, 97, 231. 25 bailout and forget this entire episode.

Yours Sincerely,
Failed Social Network Expert, and currently a consultant to owners of pages and communities on Facebook.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

All about Whittling and verse

Never found a better version of a beginners guide to something. Now doesn't it inspire you to pick up a pocket knife yourself?

The Yankee boy, before he’s sent to school,
Well knows the mysteries of that magic tool,
The pocket-knife. To that his wistful eye
Turns, while he hears his mother’s lullaby;

His hoarded cents he gladly gives to get it,
Then leaves no stone unturned till he can whet it;
And in the education of the lad
No little part that implement hath had.
His pocket-knife to the young whittler brings
A growing knowledge of material things.

Projectiles, music, and the sculptor’s art,
His chestnut whistle and his shingle dart,
His elder pop-gun with its hickory rod,
Its sharp explosion and rebounding wad,
His corn-stalk fiddle, and the deeper tone
That murmurs from his pumpkin-stalk trombone,
Conspire to teach the boy. To these succeed
His bow, his arrow of a feathered reed,
His wind-mill, raised the passing breeze to win,
His water-wheel, that turns upon a pin;
Or, if his father lives upon the shore,
You’ll see his ship, “beam ends upon the floor,”
Full rigged, with raking masts, and timbers stanch,
And waiting, near the wash-tub, for a launch.

Thus, by his genius and his jack-knife driven,
Ere long he’ll solve you any problem given;
Make any jim-crack, musical or mute,
A plow, a couch, an organ, or a flute;
Make you a locomotive or a clock,
Cut a canal, or build a floating-dock,
Or lead forth Beauty from a marble block—
Make any thing, in short, for sea or shore,
From a child’s rattle to a seventy-four;—
Make it, said I?—ay! when he undertakes it,
He’ll make the thing and the machine that makes it.

And when the thing is made—whether it be
To move on earth, in air, or on the sea;
Whether on water, o’er the waves to glide,
Or, upon land to roll, revolve, or slide;
Whether to whirl or jar, to strike or ring,
Whether it be a piston or a spring,
Wheel, pulley, tube sonorous, wood or brass,
The thing designed shall surely come to pass;
For, when his hand’s upon it, you may know
That there’s go in it, and he’ll make it go.

- John Pierpont

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

God Tweets

On the 94,612,288,345,980th day, I created a twitter account. And thought it was good

What all do I need to do just to boost the number of followers. #only176200281followerssofar

Don’t blame me for your problems. It takes millions of years to create fossils. #Petrolcrisis

Sharon Osborne. It wasn’t your dad who created Canni-bus. Say it right!

Now for my favourite reality show – Life. #MUHAHAHA

I’m bored of tweeting. Let’s try creating a facebook account now.

I’m getting bored here. Lets create some new religions.

Hey. You think all I do is judge you people down there. I have a life!

Stop writing so many books in my name. I’m losing count. #Religions

When he came up with relativity, Einstien was playing dice – God.

Nietzsche is dead – God.

Damn it! I’m not the one batting at Eden Gardens! And no, I’m much taller than 5’4”.

What gave you the impression that I’d like to be woken up by bad singing on Sunday mornings?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Wall Street Responds

The man in Wall Street will never take the streets in protest of all the demonstrations witnessed just outside his work place. What he may take however is your job. Here's a mail doing the rounds, written by a Wall Streeter who is clearly agitated by what he's seen -

We are Wall Street. It’s our job to make money. Whether it’s a commodity, stock, bond, or some hypothetical piece of fake paper, it doesn’t matter. We would trade baseball cards if it were profitable. I didn’t hear America complaining when the market was roaring to 14,000 and everyone’s 401k doubled every 3 years. Just like gambling, its not a problem until you lose. I’ve never heard of anyone going to Gamblers Anonymous because they won too much in Vegas.

Well now the market crapped out, & even though it has come back somewhat, the government and the average Joes are still looking for a scapegoat. God knows there has to be one for everything. Well, here we are.

Go ahead and continue to take us down, but you’re only going to hurt yourselves. What’s going to happen when we can’t find jobs on the Street anymore? Guess what: We’re going to take yours. We get up at 5am & work till 10pm or later. We’re used to not getting up to pee when we have a position. We don’t take an hour or more for a lunch break. We don’t demand a union. We don’t retire at 50 with a pension. We eat what we kill, and when the only thing left to eat is on your dinner plates, we’ll eat that.

For years teachers and other unionized labor have had us fooled. We were too busy working to notice. Do you really think that we are incapable of teaching 3rd graders and doing landscaping? We’re going to take your cushy jobs with tenure and 4 months off a year and whine just like you that we are so-o-o-o underpaid for building the youth of America. Say goodbye to your overtime and double time and a half. I’ll be hitting grounders to the high school baseball team for $5k extra a summer, thank you very much.

So now that we’re going to be making $85k a year without upside, Joe Mainstreet is going to have his revenge, right? Wrong! Guess what: we’re going to stop buying the new 80k car, we aren’t going to leave the 35 percent tip at our business dinners anymore. No more free rides on our backs. We’re going to landscape our own back yards, wash our cars with a garden hose in our driveways. Our money was your money. You spent it. When our money dries up, so does yours.

The difference is, you lived off of it, we rejoiced in it. The Obama administration and the Democratic National Committee might get their way and knock us off the top of the pyramid, but it’s really going to hurt like hell for them when our fat a**es land directly on the middle class of America and knock them to the bottom.

We aren’t dinosaurs. We are smarter and more vicious than that, and we are going to survive. The question is, now that Obama & his administration are making Joe Mainstreet our food supply…will he? and will they?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Why I Stopped Tweeting

Best expressed in a tune made famous by the man who never grew up -

It's close to midnight, 140 characters lurking on your screen
Under the moonlight, you see a tweet that almost makes you scream
You want to tweet but another tweet appears before you make it
You start to retweet, as horror looks you right between the eyes
You're paralyzed

'Cause this is Twitter, Twitter site
And no one's gonna save you from the Twit about strike
You know its Twitter, Twitter site
You're losing a good life inside the killer Twitter site

You follow dumb blonds, and geeks who don’t really have a life
You slowly realise, that tweeting won’t really get you a wife,
You close your eyes and hope that this is just imagination,
Back on your screen, more tweets upload and add to grime
You're out of time

'Cause this is Twitter, Twitter site
And no one's gonna save you from the Twit about strike
You know its Twitter, Twitter site
You're losing a good life inside the killer Twitter site

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Homecoming of an Engineer

Dear Parent,

On behalf of the Bokissam Ananthapadmanathan Institute of Technology and Science (B.A.I.T.S), we congratulate you on the acquisition of your very own in-house Engineer. We know it’s a labour of a few years’ sacrifice on your part, and a few lakhs of rupees which were duly invested during the maturing phase of your Engineer, which included buying everything from Study books, Macbooks, and Smartphones with Facebook. But now, after the graduation ceremony, you can take home your very own Engineer for a few months of happy returns – a privilege enjoyed only by parents of a bonafide Engineering Graduate.

You’ll notice the New & Improved bits the minute he steps in. When he deftly slips out of those priceless sneakers without even removing the laces. We know it’ll shock you, and send you into fits of rage, but then we must implore you to take a deep breath and remind yourself that while you may be done paying for your kid’s education, you are still left to pay up for your banker’s kid’s college. And you’ll also admit to the fact that you cannot just ignore that act of nonchalance from your Engineer. It’s a skill they pick up at college, and a skill that’ll hold them in good stead when they start working for the IT Company, which will send them the employment offer letters precisely 8 months and 17 days from today.

In another two days, you may notice that your Engineer is hardly noticed. He is fast asleep when you leave for work. He is never at home when you return. After dinner is served, he quietly heads to the study, to catch the latest episode of the documentary called the ‘Big Bang Theory’. And he quietly polishes off the leftover food in the refrigerator every night. You may find it odd, but it’s a habit that's been inculcated during the four relentless years in a hostel.

A week later, you may find that your Engineer is also given to mood swings. After studying the trends among the three batches of graduates from B.A.I.T.S, we can attribute such behavioural patterns to the following reasons:
Being asked about his MBA preparation
Being asked about when he’ll start earning
Being asked about what he studies online every night
Being asked to help around the house
Facing rejection for a friend request he sent to a girl on Facebook

A month later, you may find that he’s even more moody than ever before. Again, there are some new considerations:
Does your Engineer get enough of pocket money to catch a new movie at IMAX every Friday?
Does your Engineer get enough pocket money to go out drinking with his buddies every Saturday?
Does your Engineer get enough pocket money to pay his previous month’s phonebill?
Does your Engineer get enough pocket money?

Finally, nine months later, when he does get posted to a new city for his job, he may probably indulge in tantrums every time you call him. But are you surprised? Your Engineer is setting foot on the real world for the first time in his life. He can’t meet his needs by sulking alone. Imagine having to spend your own money for four to five bottles of beer every night, barely a month after you’ve started earning? And besides, that would eventually solve the problem of over-consumption, which may have been one of your earlier concerns.

It’s surprising isn’t it? After having endured him for those 259 days from the time he was done with college till the time he got a job, you may still be surprised how he figured it all out within a month at the work place. Well, that’s how your Graduate has been engineered. His life falls in place, normally at the very last minute for your Engineer.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Resignation letter in Rhyme

Found this online. And I must say, the employers of this creative employee must be very proud of themselves if they could inspire an employee to write this:

The name is good, the brand is big,
But the work I do is that of a pig.
The work or the brand; what is my way?
I don’t know if I should stay.

To work, they have set their own way,
Nobody will care to hear what I say,
My will be NULL, they wont change their way,
I don’t know if I should stay.

The project is in a critical stage
But to do good work, this is the age
This dilemma is killing me day by day
I don’t know if I should stay.

The money is good, the place is great,
But the development is at a very small rate,
Should I go for the work, or wait for pay,
I don’t know if I should stay!

The managers don’t know what they talk,
The team doesn’t know where they walk,
That’s a bad situation, what say?
I don’t know if I should stay.

I can go to any other place,
But what if I get the same disgrace,
I can’t keep switching day by day,
I don’t know if I should stay.

The negatives are more, the positives are less
Then why have this unnecessary mess,
No more will I walk their way,
It’s all done, I won’t stay.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Open Letter to Closed Minds

Abey Oye!

We’re from Hyderabad, or the city that’s as old as the Vindhyas. We’ve gone to all cities looking for jobs, but we simply come back to Hyderbad. Or Secunderabad. Or if we can’t deal with the traffic at the twin cities, we move to Cyberabad. Our families think it’s insane for us to let go of the opportunity of working in Delhi, Bombay, or even single-male conducive cities like Bangalore, but still choose to live with them. But we cant help but continue living in Hyderabad and laugh at everything else. Let me explain.

We Hyderabadis speak any language with an accent borrowed from the Kakatiyas, the Bahmanis, the Shahis, the Mughals, the Nizams, the English, the Socialists, the Call-Centre trainers and everyone else who has cared to enjoy our hospitality. And with it, comes an attitude of “taking light” of any situation. Which is possibly why we are always able to see the lighter side of life. It’s true. We believe if you ever have a bone to pick with a Hyderabadi, it’s possibly from the massive plate of Chicken Biryani that you’ve shared with him.

Given our inherited sense of humour, we’re more than thrilled at laughing at a joke, even the poorest ones without discrimination. One fine day, we read this hilarious piece written by a Madrasan in Delhi. It’s got some really funny lines like this one –
“I am very sad to report that your reputation of being an ignorant, chauvinistic oaf with the intelligence levels of an autistic 3 year old on crack precedes you and it hurts me even more to admit to this rather accurate description.”

After reading this, we gleefully LIKEd it and SHAREd it with friends on Facebook. But on reading this piece from a half-Madrasan in Delhi, we realised it was not all hunky-dory. But I must say even this piece had its share of wit in response to what the Madrasan had to say. Here’s what the lady had to say –
“It seems nigh impossible to fall that low. For every Daalli boy living in Defence Callony there is a Medraus boy getting up ‘yearly in the maarning’. Why do we as a people deride our own regional accents while swooning over a French accent? Are you ashamed of your skin, accent or your food habits? You’re weighed down by your colonial hangover, lady.”

Just as we were going to share this piece, we received another link worth its laughs from an offended Delhi-ite who introduced himself by Maa-Behning all the clich├ęs from the two aforementioned blogs –
“I’m a Delhi ‘Boy’. And I’m not a rapist. Or an oppressor of women. I can drive pretty well, and yes, I do appreciate my Rajma Chawal… preferably with sweetened curd. But I’m weird like that. Whenever I talk to someone south of the Vindhyas (This is a stretch… I don’t even know where the damn mountains are on a map), I’m expected to conform to stuff “we people do in the North”. From what I’m given to understand, there’s apparently a large conspiracy afoot to find people ugly, make fun of their cultural/religious leanings and drive my SUV over people on pavements.
And you know, I resent this. Most of all because I can’t afford an SUV right now.”

We thought we were done with this Capital Punishment, but just then came yet another ‘Banda’ with capital ideas. Here’s what he says –
“What is wrong in driving SUV? U know, there is four month waiting for Fortuner. It is great car – even better than my old Civic. Its not for what you think yaar, not for pataoing girls n all, im a car freak. I have need for speed. And what abt this you say Punjab male ego? No man.. we are very chilled people yaar. My cousin brother wife wears bikini n all when she go abroad. My dadaji dadiji are cool with it. We respect women too much. For Rakhi, I gave my sis 25 grand – money is for spending only, yaar.”

Just as we were thinking about the four really funny blogs, we came across this intelligent Ctrl C + Ctrl V rendition –
“I am very sad to report that your reputation of being an ignorant,chauvinistic accent-confused oaf with the intelligence levels of an autistic 3 year old on crack leer of a movie villain to anyone with slightly fair skin precedes you and it hurts me even more to admit to this rather accurate description.”

So Dear Madrasan in Delhi, Quarter-Madrasan, Delhi Boy, Drunk-on-a-quarter-of-scotch-and-SUV-driving-Punjabi-Frnd-frm-Gudgaon, and everyone else from in and around the Vindhyas, we can’t help but pray that there are more such posts. We’ll be more than happy to laugh at anyone’s expense, even our own. And of course, we’ll gladly share all your jokes yaar. We’ll also LIKE and SHARE on Facebook. And we’ll also copy the link on to an email and forward it to mom-dad yaar. Even your poorest jokes of India, my Ctrl C + Ctrl V friend from Bangalore. Looking forward to more such posts.

South Indian boy from Hyderabad.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Not so smart anymore

You may be wondering why I’ve returned to my blog, a tool belonging to an era which was still recovering from the disappointing Season 14 of Simpsons, when surfing still needed a 5-metre board, and when a man’s feminine side was his wife. I regret to say that I have lost my Smartphone. Yes, it’s a loss that’ll take me some time to get over. I think of it every time I hit the snooze button of my morning alarm, when I tuck the day’s newspaper under my arms knowing I’ll have a lot of waiting to do, when I actually use a piece of paper to note down a number and when I’m forced to visit my office on Sundays just to do something as insignificant as uploading this post.

It gets worse. I was forced to look for the phone book that I hadn’t used since I got my 3300 in 2005. I now resort to looking around or reading a book every time I hop onto a bus. I was forced to rummage for my 80GB hard drive for old mp3s, and to listen to which, I’ll have to turn on my old desktop. Internet radio, you suggest? Broadband connection, I ask you? Did you need one when you have your Smartphone? I probably need to go back to getting my connection again. Gosh, so much of work just to update my Facebook status.

By the way, did I also tell you I don’t have your contacts anymore? Yes, I know I never called anyway. Well, to tell you the truth, I never really had the time. There was so much to do with my phone, that it kinda slipped my mind to call you all once in a way, if only to remind you how much life sucks any way.

So here’s wishing you all to go back to your respective mailboxes, and send me your numbers again. I know, I know, I’m speaking a language that’s extremely archaic. I’m hoping you just bear with me for sometime, after I find my way to the bank (no maps on the phone you see), make my credit card payments (no m-banking you see), and then hopefully if I still have any money left, head to a store to pick up a new phone. I assure you, after that things will return to normalcy, and we can all go back to playing Mafia Wars with each other as if none of this ever happened. Cheers.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Things I want to do before I…

I believe I was born in Kerala. Why do I make a big deal of it, you ask? Well it’s because it still remains my biggest life accomplishment. If you can overlook my previous to-do lists that is. Because I’ve a hunch the last time I tried to come up with a list like this one, I may have listed another accomplishment as my greatest ever. Like the time when I learned to tie my laces. Or the time when I got my tongue to touch my nose. Or even the time when I cracked my first pun. Or the time when I completed one full paragraph without one (none here, see!). Coming back to the things I want to do, but without a deadline (To be read as things I’ll never really do). So here we go.
1. Become the official blogger at the Playboy Mansion
2. Go back to classroom, just to get the class do a silent Mexican wave every time a prof turns his back
3. Start a local chapter of Fight Club…and then run for my life
4. Go back to college, and scream inside the library
5. Get a letter published in Penthouse
6. Challenge Mike Tyson to 15 rounds at the Caeser’s Palace on PS2
7. Become Shane Warne’s wingman
8. Write the lyrics of an obnoxious Bollywood number like “ tohra dil ka theatre maa…dil diwana booking advance maare re…”
9. Sing the above song at a Karaoke
10. Attempt to list down 100 such things to do without a deadline.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

So you want to be a writer?

Here's some inspiring stuff from Charles Bukowski:

If it doesn't come bursting out of you in spite of everything, don't do it.

Unless it comes unasked out of your heart and your mind and your mouth and your gut, don't do it.

If you have to sit for hours staring at your computer screen or hunched over your typewriter searching for words, don't do it.

If you're doing it for money or fame, don't do it.

If you're doing it because you want women in your bed, don't do it.

If you have to sit there and rewrite it again and again, don't do it.

If it's hard work just thinking about doing it, don't do it.

If you're trying to write like somebody else, forget about it.

If you have to wait for it to roar out of you, then wait patiently.

If it never does roar out of you, do something else.

If you first have to read it to your wife or your girlfriend or your boyfriend or your parents or to anybody at all, you're not ready.

Don't be like so many writers, don't be like so many thousands of people who call themselves writers, don't be dull and boring and pretentious, don't be consumed with self-love.

The libraries of the world have yawned themselves to sleep over your kind.

Don't add to that.

Don't do it.

Unless it comes out of your soul like a rocket, unless being still would drive you to madness or suicide or murder, don't do it.

Unless the sun inside you is burning your gut, don't do it.

When it is truly time, and if you have been chosen, it will do it by itself and it will keep on doing it until you die or it dies in you.

There is no other way.

And there never was.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rock & Roll Bandh

One is never clear about a Bandh these days. Gone are the days when a Bandh used to have as much monopoly in India as a Public Sector Unit. It used to be a national movement, with everyone adhering to it, resulting in no movement on Indian roads. But that’s no longer the case.

With liberalisation, it’s become a competitive field. If one group is demanding for a separate state, the other is in a state of paranoia. If one state opposes the setting up of an industry, the other opposes unemployment. Because of this, our strikers are rather confused folk. They don’t know when it’s a working day (a bandh in their case) and when they could get up late in the day, get plastered all afternoon, and cause a riot at night. Because of this confusion, they don’t know what they’re fighting for, and end up getting crushed under a hard rock or heavy metal, depending on their weapon of choice.

The reason for this, as participating groups have confirmed is demand exceeding supply. With several employment options today, young boys with a striking background are lured into other fields like engineering, banking, IT, ITES and even media. And add to it the number of projects, the small number of strikers who still retain a passion for their craft are relocated to different states, and each one is now accountable for the work performed by many more strikers in the past.

Case in point is the state of Bengal. For 34-years they enjoyed a golden era of Bandhs, but suddenly when the reds were ousted from their seat of power, many strikers have lost their jobs, and hence have had to move down south to either further their careers or look for jobs in booming industries. Some even go west. To go as far as the Middle East and North Africa with the kind of prospects there currently.

The few strikers who remain in the country are now savvier with demands of the times. They expect recruitment straight from college. They feel they’ll be more battle-ready after a three-month orientation, where they are trained to hone their many cross-functional skills, from pelting stones, to shouting slogans, to talking to the media, to even setting a bus or two on fire. They expect their working day to end before 6, so as to beat the peak hour-traffic. They expect a five day week when on a project, and warm the bench when there’s no work at hand. They are also more secure with the knowledge that their CTC (cost-to-cause) covers several benefits like daily conveyance, medicare, free-food and on special days, as-much-as-you-can-steal grocery allowance. And because of the demand, complacency has crept in, owing to the fact that they cannot be fired(even literally).

Says Bhombhol Bandhopadhyay(roughly translates to Leader of Bandhs), a product of the 70s emergency school of protesting – “Boys today have taken their roles for granted. They do not have any loyalty towards the cause they are fighting for, because if they don’t enjoy it, they can always join another cause who will also give a considerable increment in remuneration. So as a result, they don’t mind taking a few days off, even when the project deadline approaches. As a result, one of the project seems to be stuck for 15 years, and there is no momentum whatsoever. In our days, a Bandh getting postponed, or even called-off for Diwali, Christmas or India’s Boxing Day Test Match at Melbourne was completely unheard of.”

Gone are the days of the Rockstars – the 70s, when the strikers were ever ready to give a demonstration of their skills. Rallapalli(roughly translates to village of stones)Raghavendra Rao, who true to his initials, hailed from a village that specialized in stone-pelting. He’s been involved in this profession of striking since the 60s, and he turns teary eyed when he talks of the exciting times in the 70s, when he was perpetually stoned. “Those were really great days. We were hungry for work. If it was not in AP, we’d catch a train and head up North to UP. And shortly after departure, we’d organize a rail-roko. Years of inactivity have killed that spark in these youngsters. They have no idea of striking with iron rods when the sun is out. Sadly, the boys today have turned soft. They organize a protest like a bunch of old cheer-leaders who have just been replaced by younger girls. Surely it’s the effect of having witnessed four seasons of IPL.”

Clearly, a Bandh is not what it used to be. Its days are numbered. And we as a country might never ever get enough of a critical mass to stage a Bharat Bandh anymore. It’s perhaps time that we light a candle at the Gateway of India in memory of the last successful Bandh, which was sometime in 2000. As Frank Sinatra once sang – When I was 17, it was very good year.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Two-Cow theory on the cricketing field

There's a theory explaining your economic leanings based on what you would do if you owned two cows. If you had two cows, and give one to your neighbour, you're a socialist. While if you had two cows, and sold one to buy a bull, you'd be a capitalist. So for a post on Cricket Fauj, I extended this analogy to the cricketing world -

Indian Cricket - You have two very healthy cows. But you start marketing the calf, and even invite tenders through a bidding process offering 1/10th the ownership.

Pakistan Cricket: You have one cow and a bull. But you sue the Bull's testicles and ban it from participation until further notice.

Sri Lanka Cricket: You have two not so healthy cows, and you rely on BCCI Capitalism for the fodder.

English Cricket: You don't have cows. But the ones in your shed are either Pakistani or South African.

South African Cricket: You only have space for two cows, one being reserved for black cows(okay, Afro-african cows to be politically correct).

Australian Cricket: You have two cows. Both of whom are on the verge of retirement.

New Zealand Cricket: You have two sheep, who are forced to play the role of cows.

West Indies Cricket - You have two cows, who'd rather graze on greener grass fields in India.

Zimbabwe Cricket:You have one cow, but its abducted by Robert Mugabe

Bangladesh Cricket: You have two calfs who dont show signs of growing up to be cows.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fire in Babylon: Movie Review



In a cricketing world where batsmen are as protected from head to toe-nail as Samurai warriors with Katina Blades (read cricket bats), the West Indians no longer remain a force they used to be for a little over two decades from the 70s. And it’s a cruel 157 Km/h beamer of an irony hurled at bowlers today, West Indian or otherwise, that the best of their ilk were responsible for the movement that protected the batsman, which has led to fast bowlers becoming an endangered species. This documentary called Fire in Babylon is made to inspire the kind of people who are up against preponderance today – Fast Bowlers, Faster Bowlers and Batsmen who look a bit like healthy cross of Romesh Powar and Fred Flinstone.

Much like Indian Cricket teams till the late 1990s, the Men from the Caribbean were known to be entertaining visitors, who lost games but won hearts for their stylish attitude towards the game. Barring a handful legends whose names now grace the cricketing stands and trophies around the world, the rest were supposedly as competitive as cows grazing on fields of hemp. But one fine day, when they couldn’t take Caucasian taunts anymore, these very cows turned into raging bulls that were desperate for action on the field(mating season or otherwise). Fire in Babylon begins at that precipice of transition in the minds of Caribbean Cricketers. Never again, would they only play and not compete, said captain courageous Clive Lloyd.

The journey begins with Lloyd choosing his men wisely and encouraging them to make a statement on the field with their talent. As a result, the batsmen scored more runs, bowlers took more wickets, fielders took sharper catches, and Jamaican fans scored more pot. It’s really a simple story of pretty boys becoming poster boys of brute force. But where Fire in Babylon really scores is in its re-narration of Ugly Duckling into one that inspires movie audiences to do a Mexican wave.

Underlying their cricketing achievements, was a lot that happened off the field in their respective island nations – political strife, with casual racism, the legacy of colonial exploitation, and a burning desire to be acknowledged as an equal. It was cricket that united several nations under the West Indies flag. It was no longer the pride of playing for your country alone, but it was the pride of representing a significant population of mankind.

Switching between archival footage and present day interviews with the stars of the 70s-80s including Clive Lloyd, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Viv Richards, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Collin Croft and Michael Holding, the film takes you through a fascinating journey that weaves socio-political and sporting elements into a narrative that's compelling even for those who don’t know their Sidebottoms from their elbows.

This movie helps you get a global perspective in a cricketing context. It opens your eyes to double standards that had emerged when the West Indian Bowlers ruled cricket with intimidating pace. It also helps you understand what really motivates a champion side to go far beyond what is expected of them. Fire in Babylon is a story of controlled rage with a healthy dose of Reggae. And above anything else, it’s a grand tribute to one of the greatest and the most dignified cricket teams ever to grace the field. Which is what makes it a spectacular viewing for any cricketing fan worth his Cricinfo addiction.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Writing drunk

Or wait. Should it have been drunk writing? Not quite. This is an experiment. I was told you write best when you’re drunk. It streamlines your thinking and gives it direction, without ever letting that sober editor in your head take the piss out of your thoughts. So here we go.

But it couldn’t really a solution could it. No, no! In theory it isn’t really a solution. In all likelihood, alcohol is just a compound. Unless of course you choose to have it with soda, which in theory is also a solution. Or even coke(also a solution). Or even with water. And ice. And surely if it’s mixed with other alcohols, as is the case with cocktails. Which I’m told is not a very macho thing to do. Drink cocktail that is. Very effeminate. You’re better off sticking to beer. Which also happens to be a good example of a solution. What with the kind of water that is available to us these days, it’s never really a compound anymore. But an effective solution, nevertheless. You should try it sometime.

This is good. It really opens the floodgates for ideas to flow out. Like a tap that has a lock on it. In these times of water shortage, you can’t trust anyone with your tap. What if it runs out completely, especially when you’re in a desperate need to hydrate yourself? Imagine being hung-over and dehydrated, and then being stuck with a tap that has absolutely no water running through it. It’s a good idea. Don’t you agree? The tap with a lock. Not the hangover. Isn’t it just brilliant?

The hangover is a bad idea. There’s only one solution for it. The water that we spoke of sometime back? The one which isn’t a compound these days, remember? Yea, the one that should also be regulated with a tap that has a lock on it. And guess what? It’s also a cure for a hangover. And dehydration too. Isn’t it just wonderful when things just fall in place? A eureka moment! It’s just that unlike that time when the man in question (what was his name again?) goes running out on the streets straight from the bath tub to dry himself, here you are already dry because you’ve never opened the tap because it has a lock and you don’t remember where you left the keys. Oh man! I’m actually starting to think this was a bad idea. So the lesson of the day is…okay what were we talking about again?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Limerick

Personally, my favourite style of Word play. And this would be your best introduction to a limerick. I haven't ever found out who wrote this one.

The limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical.
But the good ones I've seen
So seldom are clean -
And the clean ones so seldom are comical

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Be Stupid

My first impression of this campaign was that it was trying really hard to be different. But then I came across their motto -

" Like balloons, we are filled with hopes and dreams. But over time a single sentence creeps into our lives. Don’t be stupid. It’s the crusher of possibility. It’s the worlds greatest deflater. The world is full of smart people. Doing all kind of smart things… Thats smart.

Well, we’re with stupid. Stupid is the relentless pursuit of a regret free life. Smart may have the brains…but stupid has the balls. The smart might recognize things for how they are. The stupid see things for how they could be. Smart critiques. Stupid creates. The fact is if we didn't have stupid thoughts, we'd have no interesting thoughts at all. Smart may have the plans…but stupid has the stories.
Smart may have the authority but stupid has one hell of a hangover. It's not smart to take risks…It's stupid.

To be stupid is to be brave. The stupid isn't afraid to fail. The stupid know there are worse things than failure…like not even trying.

Smart had one good idea, and that idea was stupid. You can’t outsmart stupid. So don’t even try. Remember only stupid can be truly brilliant."

Must admit. I'm actually inspired to do something stupid.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Listless Life

Just the other day, a good friend and one of the 14 readers(two more readers since I last checked in 2009. Would you believe it :D!) pointed out that the stuff I publish on this page seem completely devoid of 'personal' details. My immediate response to it was, "I thought that's what my Facebook Profile was meant to do". But who am I fooling? Not her, certainly. Or the 13 of you. But it's true. And as always, I have a very valid reason for not writing anything much about my life.

If you've come this far after reading the rather ordinary title, I wont hold you any longer and make an honest confession. I know I'd rather say this the way Cary Grant did while hanging on to a boulder for his life in North by Northwest, but I digress. The thing is, as far as my life goes, there ain't much to write home about. I could write about what I do for a living - I write about the benefits of pursuing a degree from a world-class institution who'll never admit me for whatever I'm worth, of staying in a 5-star hotel that I could never afford, and of using the new and improved condom that I've never really had the opportunity to try out - but then it's not really in the same league as Al Gore's classy intro in the Inconvenient Truth("Hello, my name is Al Gore, and I used to be the next President of the United States."), is it?

So I find it rather convenient to write about other things. Like things that wouldn't offend anyone. And things that wouldn't alienate any one. And as you can see, after these considerations, I've left myself very little to write about. Which also brings me to a realisation of how rarely I upload this blog these days. Hummm! I seriously need to find things to write about.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Writer's block, and the subsequent tackle...

Yes, ladies and gentleman. I am a victim of the writers block. And I confess, I didn't have the courage to admit this 8 years back, when I first detected it.

Way back, during my years in an Engineering College, I first encountered this difficulty in crafting a sentence on paper. Initially, I blamed it on the exuberance of youth and gladly ignored it along with all other things of little significance, like life, health, remote chance of having a girlfriend and an even remoter(Is that really a word? I couldn't say. Bloody writer's block, I tell you.) chance of having a flourishing career as an Engineer in Electronics. Right. Okay. That didn't go so bad, so I'll continue.

Couple of years later, I felt the need to do something about it, because it was starting to show on my grade sheet. Yes, that's true. The only marks I scored in Engineering was on account of my ability to fabricate concepts that were hitherto unknown to science itself. But then, my inability to put it on paper cost me a few grades. It wasn't funny anymore. At least the examiners used to have some entertainment to look forward to, and now those privileges were denied to them.

After crawling out of Engineering College, I invested some time on a blog at LiveJournal with a hope to see some returns, of my ability to write at least. But then, it wasn't meant to be. I first blamed it on bad vaastu, and changed the blog address to Blogspot. A year later, I could identify a grand total of three readers of my blog. Clearly encouraged by the progress I'd made, I started working on two more blogs. And I even started contributing to two other blogs. Hell, I even took up a job where I was required to write. And if all this wasn't enough, I even started writing status messages on Facebook. Surely something good had to come out after all this.

Today, 8 years later, after 5 blogs, 257 posts, and 389 status messages on FB, and mugging up all the dialogues of Taare Zameen Par, I've decided to stop fooling myself. I've embraced the idea of living with this 'special' (in)ability, and have reconciled. If you reached this far, you'd have already guessed that I surely wouldn't have a clue as to where this piece was heading. So let me not subject you to this anymore.

The end.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why we Indians love Cricket?



As middle-class Indians, we’re always spoilt for choice. Even before we’re born, we’re made to understand that we live in a free world, and we have no choice but enjoy our free will in taking up either Mathematics or Biology for our Class XI examinations. And then having chosen Mathematics, we have the option of preparing to answer any 4 of the 7 questions on Algebra, Trigonometry, Coordinate Geometry, Differential Calculus, Integral Calculus, Probability and 3D Geometry. And we are also pampered with the knowledge that studying Probability should help us not only to choose our subjects and subsequent careers wisely, but also help us in clearing engineering entrance exams that require us to answer multiple-choice questions(When in doubt, always answer c, or all of the above, or both). Cricket, like the life of a middle-class Indian, is full of glorious uncertainties, we are told. And a good game of Cricket is but a great exhibition of great choices made in split seconds. Let’s think about it.

The game begins with a toss, and the leader of men has to consider many parameters before offering his choice of either heads or tails. For instance, what he had for breakfast, how many members of his team are recovering from injuries, and how many are nursing hangovers from the game of strip poker being played in the dressing room. Just think of what all goes through his mind before the roll of the coin. And the game does not end with the toss. After winning half the battle, the remaining half of the game hangs on the decision of the captain, which is either to bat or bowl. Decisions like these require a great comprehension of Probability, which is usually left unanswered as a matter of choice in our Class XII Mathematics examinations. This is the sole reason why, ladies and gentlemen, we love this game.

Now moving on to choosing the team that represents our country, we entrust the responsibilities on the bright minds of former cricketers who have always entertained us with some phenomenal decision making skills on the field; like whether to attempt a shot or leave, whether to walk up to the crease during the run-up or settle for a quick stroll, whether to chase the ball till the boundary or wait for the ball boy throw it back to you, or most importantly, whether to ‘seen’ drinking Thumbs Up or Maltova. In choosing the squad of fifteen, they are probably the biggest custodians of the game in India. Just imagine the fate of the game, if it was not held safely in their hands. This post is a tribute to the final selection made by the Indian selection committee. And here’s the fruit of their labour:

MS Dhoni (captain & wicket-keeper): This was easily the toughest decision for messers Srikanth and co. Should you pick a keeper who can bat a bit, or a batsmen who can keep a bit, or a batsman who was good with stumpings, or a player from Tamil Nadu, or a player from Chennai, or a player who can win tosses, or a player who looks good in commercials, or a player who was good at press conferences. Some compromises were made (at least with the tosses bit) and we have Mahender Singh Dhoni, who is known to make astute decisions, be it with choosing his bike, or his bride. And he doen’t have a bad record either, winning 25% of the World Cups he’s played in, and 33% of the World Cups that he has captained in. Only Ponting, with a 40% WC winning record as a captain, has a better win percentage.

Sachin Tendulkar: The greatest player of all time. At least since Sunil Gavaskar sought his retirement in the commentary box. We have no choice in the matter of giving Sachin his World Cup. So much so that ICC is planning to retroactively award Sachin the 2007 WC trophy for sacrificing his opener’s position, just so that everyone is happy and TV ratings can bail West Indies out of the economic crisis that followed the staging of two world cups there in 2007 and 2010.

Virender Sehwag: Nobody has understood the 0.5 probability of the game better than Sehwag. In his own words, whenever he hits the ball, he either gets out, or he stays at the crease to face yet another ball. It’s this facet of the game that makes him the best choice for the vice-captain’s role ,of appearing for the toss when the captain is attending to his loosies.

Ravichandran Ashwin: Surely the captain’s favourite surprise package. He’s neither a great batsman, nor a great fielder. Neither a pace bowler, nor a spinner. But with whatever roles that remain, Ashwin is known to choose very wisely.

Piyush Chawla: Clearly a smart gambit by the selectors. In fact, Chawla is so far beyond the opposition radar, that the only videos they’ll find of him on youtube is of him promoting basketball (it’s a little late we think, considering he’s not going to grow any taller), and taking a great catch at backward point in an IPL match. Even the fans have no idea why he’s around, never mind opposition planners.

Gautam Gambhir: Easily the most useful cricketer in the team, Gambhir can open the innings when Sehwag decides he’s had enough of the game, or when Sachin declares that he needs rest. He can field at any position, when our best fielder Yuvi is bowling, or when Sachin declares that he needs rest. He can even captain the team when Dhoni has loosies, when Yuvi is bowling, when Sachin declares he needs rest and Sehwag decides...well haven’t we had enough of Sehwag already.

Harbhajan: No bowler in the game offers enough of variety to his skipper as Bhajji does, be it with the faster one, or the slower one, the straighter one or the slower one (got you there again, didn’t he), the turning one, or the tossed up one, the pehla, or the doosra, the right one, the wrong one, or even the one where he slaps another bowler in the opposition camp.

Zaheer: He’s the smartest bowler in the world. Owing to his constant injuries, Zak has learnt how to choose his games smartly.

Kohli: He’s probably done everything possible to get in the team. And yet he may be replaced by Raina in the XI. Virat’s case is a lesson for all youngsters in that, you can do everything in your hands, but to get results in your favour, you’ll still have to pay homage to the upar-wallah (MS Dhoni, the man at the top that is)

Nehra: Ashish reminds you of another generation, when life was simpler, when there was just one TV channel, and when Anil Kumble was India’s fastest bowler. Just watch him bat, or field, or swear at all the fielders when he’s taken for a few runs, and you’ll know why I turn teary-eyed with nostalgia every time I watch him in action.

Munaf Patel: This man used to be the fastest bowler in India. But that was before he started playing for India. And his wise decision is based on the fact that by choosing to cut down on pace, he can actually serve the game for a longer while, much to the delight of his millions of fans.

Yusuf Pathan: Possibly the best learner of the game, Yusuf is a man who can learn the tricks of the game from anyone, even his kid brother.

Suresh Raina: He hasn’t done much right in recent times, but he hasn’t done much wrong either. But what really works for him is his faith, which has moved mountains. Even that mountain which has patented the helicopter shot.

Sreeshant: It’s an old Indian tradition, where every king’s court needed an in-house clown. Sree is the one man who takes that role very seriously.

Yuvi: Every world cup winning team from India has had a tall left-handed slow bowler who gets hit for 5 sixes in an over, only to go on to hit six sixes in an over. After the retirement of Ravi Shastri, Yuvi is undoubtedly the best man for the job.

This certainly has to be my favourite Indian team for an ICC World Cup. Will they win the World Cup? It really doesn’t matter to me. After all, haven’t you heard Dhoni say it 314,159 times before – “ The end results will take care of themselves, if we take every game one at a time, and enjoy being a part of the process.”

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Letter from Santa

Dear Mr. Singh,
1 January, 2001

I don’t think you remember me. I mean, I’d have to take you 10 years back, to a mental image of what you were then – a 17-year old. Yes, it’s true. Let me explain.

You remember being introduced to the concept of internet? And the electronic mail too? And how it drove your imagination (and mine too) wild? And how you linked your understanding of the internet to the concept of the multiverse? So you came up with this theory that the internet is possibly the only mode of communicating with a parallel universe. And possibly with the future too. So to find out for yourself, you send yourself a mail. And address it to yourself 10 years from now? Well, here I am.

As you’d remember, I am very curious to find out a lot about how the next 10 years turn out for you. And I know you understand, so you will refrain from sharing any information that can alter the shape of the space-time fabric. But still, it is this curiosity that has driven me so far. And you surely understand that too.

Okay, lets strike a deal here. I ask you only three questions. And those are related what has happened over the last three-four days. Here we go.

Firstly, I’m very impressed by what’s happening on the world wide web. So would I have property in this world wide web which would only be dedicated to me. As in if people land on this web page, all they’ll ever find is everything about me?

Secondly, would I ever get to drive a McLaren F1 in the next 10 years?

Lastly, will I be working somewhere cool, where I will be encouraged to work on the internet?

Looking forward to hear from you.

Yours truly,
Santosh.


Dear Santosh,
1 January, 2011

Of course I remember. How could I forget that wild idea. Well, I know you waited for a couple of days, hoping against hope, reason and logic for a reply. And I know I’m replying to your mail 10 years too late. But the reason I reply to this mail is because I still believe. In your idea. Your ability. And your innocence. Yes, that’s true. It was easily your first failure, after which you start curbing your ideas on the pretext of being realistic. When I think about it, I wonder which was a bigger failure, your silly experiment, or your silly outlook towards life after the outcome of that experiment. I don’t believe in a parallel universe anymore, and I cannot imagine anything that will help me connect to you, a memory of what I was 10 years back. But I write to you, and hope it reaches you in time. If only to encourage you to take the other path.

You don’t realise the strength of your first question. You asked me this question and decided to wait for an answer. And when you don’t see one in the next two days, you completely forget about it. Till you remember this freak incident 10 years later. And then unearth this mail from your mailbox (it’s amazing who you maintain a mail account with that childish name even 10 years later). Another chap asks himself the very same question, comes with an answer for himself, develops his idea, and gets a million dollars for it. Yes, you will own a property on the web, and if anyone lands on your page, they’ll only have access to your thoughts. But let me be honest. That’s really not saying much. And no, before you go into any of your romantic notions, ‘You’ve Got Mail’ is a ridiculous movie.

I wonder why you’d ask me the second question. And then I remembered. Let me put my gyan cap on and tell you, there’s more to life than what NFS 2 can teach you. No you won’t drive a McLaren F1. Not if you continue playing NFS 2 for countless hours, unless you can think of a radical idea for NFS 3 (Yes. For your information, NFS 2 was never really the best game ever. In fact it isn’t even the best NFS game ever.)

Now coming to your last question. Yes, your job will require your working on the internet all the time. I dare say, you’ll be writing emails for the rest of your life, and you’ll even make a job of it. Yes, not to forget, what you have learnt at that stage of your life (which also includes MS office and MS excel) is all the education you’ll need for the rest of your life.

When I think about it, I’ll say the dark ages of your life will begin on the day you decide to grow up, when you get rid yourself of the last figment of your imagination. And it will possibly end on the day when you entertain a childlike notion once again, realizing that it’s completely alright for an adult to start thinking like a child.

May this mail reach you in another world, another universe possibly, and in the words of a great poet – may you stay, forever young.

Regards,
Santosh ‘Santa’ Singh.