Sunday, December 18, 2011


She absently fiddled with her left index finger, lost in thought. And, suddenly, she jerked awake, as if from a trance. Something was missing, something very dear to her, that she seemed to have left behind, in her rush to get on.

What was she missing? What had she got on with? She racked her brains, searching for some comforting and familiar memory that would free her of this momentary confusion.

And, suddenly she remembered. How could she have forgotten, she chided herself. Those once familiar blisters no longer adorned her index and middle fingers. Her fingers were as smooth as silk now, bearing no evidence of that glorious past.

Her teacher had told her once, showing her own fingers. "Do you see the blisters on these fingers, little one? They show our dedication to what we do. The day the skin on your fingers are smooth and not roughened by these blisters will be the day you would have forgotten everything you have learnt." She wanted to have blisters on her fingers like her teacher, or perhaps even rougher and harsher. For, such are the desires of a young and vain heart. Every night before sleeping, she would clench those just born blisters on her left hand tightly with the fingers of her right hand, hoping that they would somehow grow deeper overnight. And, every morning, the skin would have somehow become smoother than the day before, not causing her disappointment, but an unquenchable thirst to win. The uglier the blisters, the higher her sense of achievement.

Ah! Those were the days. Those were the days she could practice for hours together, despite her tired little hands begging her for mercy. Those were the days when her mom would have to stop her forcibly for fear of seeing her fingers bleed otherwise.

What had happened suddenly? When had she started losing the race to her hands? When had she started ignoring those blisters? When had she abandoned her beloved to a corner, only to be dusted and cleaned by mom, while she herself started to "get on" with life?

Today, as she took the Veena and started practicing again, the unquenchable thirst seemed to be coming back, slowly at first and then like a waterfall, tumbling down a precipice. Perhaps, the blisters would come back again, harsh and rough, bringing with them a deep sense of peace and contentment.

P. S. Thanks V, for the title.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

To each a woe

"I hate her the most when I can't find anything specific to hate her for," he said, eyes blazing in anger and fists clenched with tension.

Earlier in the day, he had come home sullen and had refused to carry on a decent conversation with anyone. It had taken Anita a little bit of coaxing, and a lot of patience to get him talking. Finally he relented, but not without an outburst.

"You have no idea what a sly person she is. Her eyes are so sly, every time she looks at anyone, it is always as if she is trying to use them," he started.

Anita tried to reason with him saying, "But isn't it unfair to judge someone based on their looks or eyes? She might actually be a genuinely nice person."

Before she could continue, he interjected impatiently saying "No, no. She always takes help from us to get her work done, but when we go to her for anything, she never helps out. And, she is so loud you know. As if she wants everyone to know that she is the only hard working person in the room."

He had been talking without a breath and now, when there was a brief pause, Anita tried again. "But, sweetie, don't you think you are taking it too much to your head? I mean, it is as if you want to get angry even over the way she walks and the way she sits."

His eyes brightened on hearing that. "That is what even am trying to say. Sometimes, when she doesn't come at all, I am not able to find a reason to be angry with her, and that is when I hate her the most."

Anita sighed, looking at the clock. It was about to strike 8, and all she wanted to do was go home and crib to her husband about the maid who was driving her nuts with her incessant rendition of "Munni badnaam hui." And, here she was, still struck with 12 year old Akash, waiting for his parents to return, listening to his classroom woes and cursing her baby-sitter job.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

May good sense prevail

Usually, I do not review movies or songs or books on this blog. It is really not my forte. In fact, I suck at it. But, sometimes there is so much to say that a single update on Facebook cannot do justice to my thoughts.

I had three movies in my "to be seen" list this year. Since no one, I repeat, no one, wanted to provide revenue to SRK, Ra-One went right out of the window. Though I had tempted mom into Rockstar by reminding her that it is the same guy who directed Jab We Met (and that is how I made her watch Love Aaj Kal), the movie unfortunately hasn't released yet; which means it too went out of the list temporarily. That left us with the Tam "magnum opus" of the year. And, given that I was waiting for 7aum Arivu (7th Sense) with bated breath and wanted to very badly watch it the first day, it is only fair that I dedicate a full length post to its brilliance.

Some quick observations down under (yes, feel free to diss as you please):

  • Surya, you are an extremely handsome guy, definitely so by Tam standards. And I totally adored you in that Bodhidharman role. The make up actually suited you quite well. And, your look and costume in the climax fight were way too brilliant. You are one of those few people who can look good and calm and brave and extremely drool worthy all at the same time, in a fight sequence. Keep it up please.
  • Unfortunately for you, that ain't ever enough for the Tam audience. If that is all you are giving, we had rather have lots and lots of it, than little bits and pieces. Where were you hiding for a good 15 minutes in the second half of the movie? Yeah, yeah, in that water tank getting some DNA revamping and all that. But, it was a huge waste of our time without you.
  • Which brings us to the next item on my list. Have you guys heard of something called "editing"? All that this movie needed more than anything else was a good pair of scissors. A snip there through that sad song, a snip here through the Chin villages, a snip right across Shruti Hassan's dialogues, we would be good today. By leaps and bounds.
  • Oh yeah, talking about which, for all the "Tam"ness that the movie propagated, pray what language was the heroine talking? What the hell does "vel" mean? Oh, she was actually referring to "veyil", the sun and not "vel", the arrow? Please, oh please, get your accent right? Else, just let someone else dub for you. Let us all not kill Tam while we are still alive.
  • And talking about the "Tam"ness, I think we had some confusion around the story. Were we talking about China attacking India, or Tamil Nadu? Why were we bringing too many countries into the picture? There was bio warfare at one end, the Tamil Eelam at another, the fact that we have all forgotten our history somewhere else, and then the dilution of Indian history into Tam history. And, what was with all that random, patriotic senti? No Sir, it just did not fit in.
  • I do not want to talk any further than everyone else about those songs. Should we start thinking of some other music director for Surya? It is just becoming too stereotypical, and not so nice any more. But, that one song, shot in exotic locales, was damn good. Good feast to the eyes and the ears for both genders and all ages.
  • That villain guy is a good find. He was actually scary. All along the way back, I was nervously looking around for a tall Chin guy who might hypnotize me into killing myself.

But, you know what hurt me the most. When the movie got over, mom said, "We may as well have watched Velaayudham. It would have been wholesome entertainment at least". Perhaps, Surya, it is time for you to start meddling with story lines and not just sit back and trust directors who have proven right for you in the past.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Up in the air

I was flying through the clouds on my magic carpet waving to the twinkling stars. My hands were just about to reach out and touch the moon when a gust of wind threw me off the carpet. And, with a thud I woke up. I had rolled off my bed in my sleep.

It was the Half Yearly Examination of 1993. I hardly remember that 8 mark question in the English paper now. It had something to do with writing a story. And this is pretty much the long and short of what I wrote. I got a 7.5 and much praise from Mrs.JS, my most favorite English teacher of all times. My friend wrote about some houses made of chocolate that children could lick whenever they felt hungry; he got a 7 on 8. I personally liked what he wrote much more than what I wrote.

And, I think that is the last time I did serious creative writing. Perhaps, it stems from a huge lack of imagination and a fear for dreams. I have never thought about it much.

Yesterday, I was on an early evening aircraft for a change. The sun was going down, and the sky was clear. The aircraft was almost empty and I was looking out of the window in a long, long time – not reading, not dozing off, not cursing the delay but just looking out. And, there was a sheet of clouds beneath me and clouds all around me. I was trying to imagine huge white cloud castles in a square shape, a tall tower on each corner, and a clown face with a gleeful smile at the gateway. I was building castles in the air, almost literally. Sometime then, I must have dozed off. For, when I woke up, it was already dark and we were landing. And, I think I felt alive in a very childlike way then.

It is nice to build those chocolaty homes and fly through the clouds with angelic wings, and live a fairy tale life, sometimes. It is nice to forget those concrete jungles, stressed out moments and robotic lives, sometimes. Perhaps, it is just nice to dream sometimes.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Strategic Exchange

I had a very in-depth, mind boggling conversation (interesting or otherwise) with a friend yesterday. We were looking at balance sheets and profit and loss statements of two companies, J and K, in hopes of finding sufficient backups to our discussion.

He: K has posted its year end revenues and seems to have done really badly.

Me: Yeah, I read that. These days, J has just cracked the premium market scene. I am ruing over the fact that I did not back J early on.

He: Haan yaar. I put all my earnings behind K, the ones I had painstakingly saved across different channels over many years. And now I do not understand whether it is going to give any returns. They are also exiting some of their non-premium businesses which mean that our options are going to reduce.

Me: And also, product quality has gone down many notches. I am wondering whether it is time for us to cut our losses, pull out and go behind J, a more lucrative and dependable player.

He: I agree, but we should not do anything impulsive. Let’s wait and watch for at least one more quarter and exit slowly.

If you are wondering why I reproduced this mundane, work related conversation here, wait a minute. You are about to say “Get a life!”

For, that was just two consultants talking about whether they should utilize their Kingfisher miles quickly and move to the Jet Privilege card, and also ensure that all credit card points are remitted into Jet going forward.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

A sense of accomplishment

The roads wear a depressing, deserted look. It is 9.30 in the morning in Mumbai, but it feels like 10 in the night on an empty Gurgaon lane. Elsewhere, maximum city must be celebrating its favorite festival with that famed and often misunderstood “spirit”, its people making a beeline for the legendary pandals in hopes of viewing the opulent badshahs.

There is a strange sense of calm around the workplace today. There are no thronging crowds in the office complex; there is no urgency, no hurried walking, no noise almost. If you have ever been to Mumbai, you know this is not an everyday spectacle.

Coming to work on a holiday always makes me feel like I have accomplished something substantial in life, even better than posting a status worthy of at least ten “likes” on FB.

It is with a noble feeling of sacrifice and martyrdom that I walk into office. “I have made it large”, I tell myself, by going to work on two consecutive big holidays of the year.

I settle down and open my once brand new, unbroken, beautiful laptop. I revel in my commitment towards my job for a few more seconds before switching it on.

I open the file. And, then, I know.

I am not in the armed forces defending the Indian border. Neither am I a fasting fighter protecting the fundamental rights of civil society.

I am just another Excel menial, a Presentation glober, working on a holiday because that is what I am meant to do.

Monday, July 11, 2011


Like I have mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I joined the FB bandwagon pretty late. Firstly, I was unsure of whether my little brain would be able to understand one more UI. Secondly, I had nothing to say to the world. My life was pretty un-happening, if you know what I mean. No tours (international or domestic), no photos amidst the wildlife, no videos of me diving through the sky – in short, nothing that would make anyone (even my hypothetical pet dog) jealous.

Erm.. well.. how happening my life is now is not a wise topic to discuss. So, let’s get on with what I wanted to say.

What has all the networking done to me today? Apart from an exponential increase in my creativity and boldness in writing (if you have a different opinion on that, let us take it offline :P), nothing positive, I would say.

Despite continuously cribbing about social networking’s negative value add to my life, last week, I self-inflicted some more pain into my system. Yes, I created an account with yet another social networking site, despite it being very unimaginatively named the Plus.

But, before getting on with that, it would only be righteous of us to mourn in honor of the debacle that Google came up with sometime last year. I was one of those people who actually saw in entirety, the one hour long video that Google had put up on how to use Wave. And, I conveniently forgot that “enthusiasm” is a two-way street. After much cajoling and threatening of the near and the dear and everyone in particular, I gave up mournfully. And, I went back, defeated, to good old FB.

Google Wave was such a fiasco it would not even go down in history as a failure.

However, Google, just like Mahmud of Ghazni, is not willing to give up the fight so easily.

Enough has been said on FB about Plus already.

My two pence is this: If Google can crack the mobile app well enough for Plus, it is going to be a big hit amongst the Android fans, and sooner or later, amongst other smart phone users too. The “circles” seem like a smart idea, weird that FB did not think of it. But, it might only be prudent for Plus to stay away from the whole commercial pages part for some time at least. The number of advertisements and programs in the media that advertise FB proudly saying “Like us on FaceBook” – well that is going to be very, very difficult to crack and might be a fulsome dilution of Plus’ ‘personalization’ image, with no tangible returns in the near future.

Sigh! If only Larry and Sergey would listen to my periodic advice, they would just be elsewhere I tell you.

Monday, July 04, 2011

An opportunity to "language"

“Send me sample moon charts ASAP,” a friend texted me frantically last week. I replied with a “What the heck are moon charts? Are you referring to Harvey balls?” Pat came the reply. “Oh! No wonder I was getting random charts on moon signs when I ran a search.”

If you are dazed by the abnormality of this conversation, you may click here to enlighten yourself.

And after that insignificant digression, you may continue reading.

The other day, I was apologising to a friend for having missed his call, “There was some major fire here, so could not call back.” He replied in a grave tone, “I hope metaphorically.”

And then, one day, I was cribbing on Facebook about how obsessed I am with thousands separators. A friend replied with a “Do I stand to reveal my total ignorance if I say that I don’t know what thousands separators are?”

Today, I was trying to make sense of what a customer care representative was telling me, when I lost my cool and blurted out, “You are giving me a very global answer.” He was flummoxed, I could say from the tone of his voice.

Aah, well, that is when I realized something. Something very important and possibly highly lucrative.

There is a huge opportunity here – To write a book on “How to communicate better - a lesson in the language of the future”. Essentially, collect all the phrases you have ever come across in B-school and work life, situate them in random circumstances and make a 200 page book out of it. If possible, promote it with a “First of its kind blah blah written by IIT / IIM blah blah”. It will sell like hot cakes, I tell you. Yes, yes, even better than those books on how to hatch without chickens or something.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Many a link between the teeth and the wreath

The first thing I am reminded of when I think about dentists is this Agatha Christie short story (or novel, I do not remember). It talks about how murdering someone in a dentist’s chair is child’s play because people are at their vulnerable best in the hands of their dentist. Or something like that (Gundu Rao style ;))

As you might have guessed, I am terrified of dentists. There are also other reasons like pain in the teeth and loss of talking for an evening (if one pulls out their teeth?). Well, I am not sure of the details. I have never been to a dentist. Yet.

However, a visit to the beauty parlour invokes many such similar fears in me. I am at my vulnerable best when the beautician smears all this unknown, random coloured stuff over my face (sealing my eyes off) and then starts massaging my neck. Every time this happens, I have a nagging suspicion that she could easily break my neck if she wants to. Why anyone would want to murder me is a mystery I never attempt to solve.

And, then, there is this dread of an earthquake or a building collapse when certain instruments are being used on my face. Oh yeah, I even have disturbing images of the result in my mind’s screen if ever such a thing should happen.

As a result, I never really “relax” where I should be at my chilled out best.

Some of the early signs of madness you would say. Being cautious, I would say.

I just hope I will never have to go to the dentist (nice try?). Reliving such imagery in two places in a month does not sound very enticing at all!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Geometries of Life

The car was winding towards the foot hills in measured calculation, avoiding pot holes and stones, small rocks and pin pricks. Avantika looked at the far away mountains in awe. This was the first ever time in her six long years of existence that she was seeing such a huge structure. It seemed to be bigger than the He-Man shown on television, which her cousin Adi totally adored. As they neared Titan – she felt that he, the mountain, deserved the name – she found out something peculiar. She prodded her mom violently, with those little fingers of hers. “Mamma! Did you notice that? Titan is made up of so many mini Titans that seem to look exactly like him.”

Ah, well, Mamma had not noticed, having been lost in thought and seething in anger over having to make the trip alone with Avantika, as Daddy had dropped out due to some last minute meeting.

She looked at the mountain, trying to comprehend what her little one was saying. She knew she had to tell something complicated and unfathomable; else, this over enthusiastic kid of hers would go on and on with questions and observations. She said, “Baby. Those are called fractals – many objects of similar shape getting together to form a larger object which is similar in shape to the components.”

Avantika absorbed this humongous piece of information quietly. However, being the persistent kid she was, complicated terms like fractals could not quieten her for too long. “Mamma, mamma. Is it like how if I do one small mistake when solving a sum, it will be a large mistake at the end of it, giving a wrong answer?”

Mamma said, “No baby. It is not that way. All the components should be similar. It is not like only one component contributes to the overall. But, in the example you are giving..”

She was abruptly stopped by an excited Avantika who started talking rapidly now. “I got it Mamma! If I keep waiting every day for Daddy to get back from work and he gets delayed every day, and comes back only after I sleep, I would end up waiting all year for Daddy who is always late.”

In response, Mamma could just make an expression not very different from the rolling eyes 8-| smiley!

Monday, May 23, 2011

A bride chronicled

(very senti and completely personal)

Completely in charge, full of fun, frolic and laughter, talking random stuff in that typical, assertive, know-it-all tone – this is not how the ideal bride is usually described.

Well, S being S, one could have expected little else.

No ma’am, not the shyness for her. Nor even the tension. Nor, that little bit of agitation.

There she was, 2 hours before her wedding ceremony was to begin, introducing everyone to everyone else. “This is P, he is a CA; this is A, she is an architect”. It did seem like she was trying to do some ‘Aisha’ level match-making even at an hour such as that.

To the most beautiful woman I have ever known: You looked absolutely stunning, your attitude added thrice as much to your beauty. I am sure the dark and stormy night was only the sky roaring in jealousy seeing you get married. There were many reasons why we enjoyed the wedding. Funnily enough, the most important reason was your electrifying and adorable presence amidst us till the very last moment.

Monday, May 09, 2011

A story well told

Each city paints its own story with the help of the colour palette. No one story is the same as the other, as no one colour can be the same as another. There are hues and shades that give each city a life of its own.

And no one does a city show case itself more to than the one who watches from above.

Today, as my flight is about to land, I look down at the city below and wonder what story this one is telling me. It is lush green and beautifully serene, is filled with water, not just of the sea variety.

Inevitably, I take a walk down memory lane.

It promised to be a red city, with swirling dust. I could see neither the greys of the roads nor the blues of the water from above. The city seemed to challenge me, in a mocking tone, with a “Do you have the nerve to touch my red hot soil, smack in the middle of a treacherous Indian summer?” Whenever I hear ‘Ahmedabad’, the only colour I am reminded of is red, a dangerous, deep red.

Did I ever tell you the story of the intimidating grey, warning me of dire consequences if I ever dared to touch it? I remember to this day that fear in my heart when my flight touched this grey and red land. It still does not cease to intimidate – the regal, royal red and grey combination. The red of forts and the grey of castles, sprinkled with a vast expanse of roads and tolls. What a fitting choice of colours by the national capital!

There is this other story of that muddy brown one, muddled up all over. It said, “Can I ever have a colour of my own? I house so many unknowns within me. If you could only define me by any colour, would I be who I am now?” Dear Mumbai, if only I could associate with you a defined colour, I may not love you as much as I do now.

As my flight takes off from Kochi, and I marvel how beautifully this city has spoken to me through its colours, I am still left wondering what my city has tried telling me all these years. Wait a minute. Have I ever bothered to pen it down? Is it the vast expanse of the blue, or the yellow twinkling of the lights (for I have always landed in Chennai in the night)? Is it a multi coloured extravaganza or is it some dull hue of an unknown colour one cannot bother to notice?

Each city tells a story of its own. Mine too would be telling someone its story. Maybe it would tell me too, someday sometime, when it finds me worthy enough of the knowledge.

What does yours tell you?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Familiar Chronicles

The first observation Mom makes every time she lands in Delhi is “Oh! Not bad! You are looking clean.”

After that very significant dent to my personal reputation, she goes about “setting the house right” as she calls it. This includes complaints on how that obscure corner in that very unused room is terribly dirty, how the pickle has not been sufficiently refrigerated, how the TV stand is coated with dust – you get the drift.

Then, after bringing my life back to normal, as she likes to think of it, she leaves, happy and contented. She comes back a month or two later, and the cycle repeats.

I hear from friends that am not a unique victim of such torture as this. Apparently, one of my friends’ mothers questions him unfailingly, day in and day out, on the cleanliness of the fan. As if on ground woes are not (de)pressing enough.

Incidentally, Mom was very excitedly telling me over call last night how she got the fans cleaned by the maid before she left and that I do not have to worry about them for some time to come.

Mom, you have no clue what all creatures live inside my air-conditioner, do you?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Ugly Truth

A cup of coffee and a very obliging colleague were all that were needed to break my heart today afternoon.

So, my colleague has an 8-year old son and she was talking about what a handful he is. “You have no clue Kavitha. He has such a bad temper and he shows it all on me,” she said. I just nodded my head in empathetic acquiescence having no inkling to what she was about to say next.

It was then that she dropped the bombshell. “He is a Leo, you know. An August born Leo. An August 15th born Leo. You can imagine.”

Ah well, dear colleague. It is not a funny sight imagining my mom saying those exact same words about me elsewhere.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

An unkept promise

A year back this day, I set foot in Gurgaon for the first ever time in life. The sight that greeted me was impressive and intimidating all at once – a world class toll booth, a huge highway, architectural monstrosities (or beauties, for beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder), and absolutely no kirana stores.

To top it all, I could not set eyes on any kind of public transport other than cycle rickshaws.

That is when I decided – if there is anyone in this cursed town I should look up to with great compassion and kindness, that would be its cycle rickshaw drivers. In fact, I would promise myself every time I battled through the pothole ridden roads of Gurgaon that when I drove my own car, I would never ever honk or disturb the rickshaw wallahs ahead of me, unlike those “uncouth” other drivers. For, after all, the poor guys were literally heaving and hauling heavy weights around the place to earn their living!

However, memory is such a short-lived b**ch after all. And, don’t all of us suffer from selective amnesia?

The car came. Were I glad or what that my not-so-honeymoonish period with the rickshaws was finally over? I did religiously stick to my vows of never over taking anything on the road, including the infamous Gurgaon pigs. Oh, no, don’t jump to conclusions about my road discipline. I was just mortally scared of the roads and the driving and all the related paraphernalia.

Well, as is with all things practised and perfected, I slowly got used to the driving and the associated madness. And, without even my knowledge (or perhaps, in full cognizance and thoroughly enjoying the experience), those bad words started popping out. One here, one there. One more here, one more there. No one was spared of the profanity, though I mostly ended up swearing under my breath lest the more uncouth ones than I beat me up or worse still, run over me.

Today, my blood pressure goes thumping upwards when I see someone driving slowly on the road. I forget myself, I forget my “well-educated” status, I forget my unspoken assurances to those rickshaw drivers from my past. I honk and swear, I give them a belligerent look while I overtake them, and I accuse them of slowing down vehicular movement on the road.

Cars come at a price, monetary in most cases. Alas! Mine seems to have come at the price of my sophistication, well breeding and sensitivity.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Small wonder

Why does a dress look more attractive when someone else is wearing it than when it is in the store? Why do those set of curtains look so desirable hanging down my neighbor’s windows than while I actually ignored them in the curtain shop? Why do I always want that piece of jewel that my acquaintance is wearing even though I had scoffed at mom’s idea of buying it?

Such pertinent questions have never plagued my life, for I have found them to be natural occurrences.

However, it took me 25 long years and a short trip to Dilli Haat to understand what we fondly refer to as “human psychology”.

Dilli Haat itself is a quaint, colorful place, with much option for shopping, albeit a little pricey. As I know only too well that my shopping expeditions are of no interest to anyone here, I will move on without further ado.

In sync with its overall quaintness, the place had a quaint little shop selling many, many articles made of wood, not excluding lamp shades and well, some more lamp shades. Outside the shop were four cutesy little chairs, two on either side. My friends were adamant on perching atop them for a touristy picture. I obliged (by taking the picture that is).

In that split second between the posing and the clicking, our decision was made. Those chairs were coming home, not just via the picture. After a quick and very ineffective bargaining session, we secured two of them and settled down (not on the chairs) right opposite the shop to wait for a concert scheduled to start any moment then.

Little did we know the entertainment had already begun.

An aunty came up to me and asked, “How much did you get it for?” and promptly walked up to the shop afterwards. She was followed by many more “Auntyjis” and “Unclejis”. Those obscure chairs, which had been ignored till that very moment, had risen in importance and market value rapidly. The shop owner was rationing out the stock from his storehouse to create a pretty supply-demand mismatch picture. The prices were increasing rapidly, at the rate of 10% per minute. All of a sudden, those chairs had become the center of all attraction, just because their position had shifted from that side of the pathway to this, from the seller’s hands to the buyer’s.

That day, we learnt a thing or two, not only about human psychology but also about marketing effectiveness. It is not just enough to have a quaint little shop with some quaint items. Coax someone into it, pay them for it, do whatever it takes – just make sure a few people keep circling the area of your shop with some of your items and an air of just having bought them. If your products are unique enough, I bet you are going to be out of stock by end of day.

P.S. The incident compensated any unrequited yearning I might have had to become a ramp walk model. We were stared at and quizzed by all and sundry, in the station, on the metro and all along the way, till we put away those clever buys out of sight.

Friday, March 04, 2011

A vividly colorful life

What can be more detrimental to productivity in office than a dreary weather? To answer that question, I need to set some context first.

My childhood dream was to own a black sedan. Many sedans came and went, but my dream remained largely unfulfilled because Dad found it to be the craziest idea in town. “Whoever owns a black car?”, he tried to rationalize, with absolutely no logic to his observation.

In the same vein, it has also been my long time dream to own a pair of white trousers. Many trousers came and went but my dream remained unfulfilled due to numerous reasons, transport hassles being primary amongst them. However, as is the case with dreams that are pursued relentlessly, I recently laid my hands on such a dream pair.

And, life has not been the same again.

What does an innocent pair of white trousers have to do with work place productivity? Or, so you would be tempted to ask.

A pair of white trousers is as detrimental to productivity as a music system running at full blast next door when you are trying to concentrate on your board exam preparation. You are forever worried about coming in contact with any opaque surface, even mildly dusty. You are perennially concerned about that single drop of coffee or sauce or anything in any color other than plain (read water) on your person. You are paranoid about alighting from your car and walking those few steps across the patio to reach the lift lobby.

That is the cost you pay for dreaming big, or in my case white. And, all this while, I was thinking that having a car would solve the whitey problems of my life. Sigh!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A lesson in etiquette

I am your typical argumentative Indian. In fact, I come from a family of highly argumentative parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. When we interact with one another, the conversation cannot be devoid of arguments, unless and until all parties are suffering from tooth-ache or something. We are a sect that prefers having our filter coffee with some hot-headed arguments rather than with hot and spicy ‘pakoras’.

Give me an avenue to argue and I would take you full on, heedless of how energy-draining the exercise might be. For instance, I can argue endlessly about the merits of summer over winter, of humidity over desert dryness, of Mumbai over any other city in the world – the list goes on.

Other than being argumentative, I am also extremely hot-headed and the “talk before I think” variety. There have been thousands of times when the uncontrolled me has blurted out hurtful words and felt terribly remorseful in retrospect.

And, that is why I love the written mode of communication. Writing offers a luxury speech can never ever provide – that luxury called time. Time to think clearly, space out arguments (rational or otherwise), and avoid awkward, wounding statements (mostly).

Not surprisingly, some of the biggest quarrels of my life have been resolved over e-mail. Thankfully so! For, I do not think the outcome would have been very pleasant if I had tried to deal with them in my “fly-off-the-handle” mode.

However, over the years, I have been noticing a marked difference in the written etiquette; of mine and of others around me. Perhaps, too much of it has spoilt us sick. Today, most of our communication is written, for most of our time is spent online. Chatting and social networking have given us the license to be a little more direct than we would normally be, a little more blunt than would normally be expected and a little more rude than would normally be accepted.

Is it the comfort that we might never have to meet the person we are interacting with, that gives us this license? Or, is it the notion that nothing that is written in such an environment should be taken seriously?

I do not have an answer to that.

But, perhaps the time has come to include courses on online etiquette for primary and secondary class students, along with the ones on public speaking and social interaction.

For, you can tell me that you did not like what I said or did. It would lead to a healthy argument. However, if you tell me that I am stupid or ugly, you definitely need some classes in etiquette. No?

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The train party

A friend of mine, Nalini, once observed: “Facebook is more like going to a big party. You have these islands of conversations. You can choose when you want in. Almost everything is treated trivially including clicking and joining the most serious of movements. The best part is that you can exit without having to give the host any excuses!”

Back in 2008, I was one of the last to join this big party. And, that was only because some very persuasive friends had their way with me, what with wanting to play ‘Poke’ and ‘Superpoke’ on FB. Not surprisingly, I have not used any of those features till date.

But, even after creating a very insignificant FB profile, it took me a year further to actually get active on it. I was busy concentrating on Twitter then. Twitter was amazing; it had very interesting articles and videos. It was a window to much perspective on the hot news of the minute. Overall, Twitter offered me a platform to happily remain an observer, amassing knowledge, with no performance pressures.

I am not exactly sure when the transition happened. It must have been the winter of 2009-2010. I had just got back from a vacation and wanted to share the photos somewhere. You know how it is with these sites. You share something, then someone comments, you comment back, then you go to their profile to see what’s happening in their life and so on. I started dancing in the ‘party’ then , as Nalini would call it. I graduated from being a mere observer to an active participant, posting and sharing, liking and commenting. It would have been great if it had remained so. After all, who does not like partying once a week?

However, once I started dancing, I was not able to stop. I updated irrelevant and arbit statuses day in and day out, snooped around people’s profiles, took more pictures when I went somewhere just so I could upload them on FB. My life started revolving around FB. And, simultaneously, my Twitter activity declined alarmingly. Now, I hardly log on to Twitter anymore whereas I am forever hooked to FB.

Does this happen to everyone? Is it very difficult to concentrate on more than one social networking site at any given point of time? And, does usage of or inclination towards a particular social networking site really reflect the kind of person one is?

My constant presence on and participation in FB tells me that I am attention craving at the least and self-obsessed at the worst. I like the accolades on my smartness, intelligence, outgoing nature, fun quotient etc. I like being in the news (or, rather, being the news) all the time.

On the other hand, if someone is very active on Twitter, it might actually mean that they genuinely like following current happenings in the world. They also might like showing off their knowledge to others, but might not need external assurance on their capabilities. Just a ‘Re-tweet’ could be enough to make them happy.

I am sure there are a lot of ‘mere observers’ on FB too, and many, many people who use Twitter to share personal rants and cribs. However, it is easier to be tempted into becoming a participant on FB and much easier to be left ignored when ranting on Twitter, for there are not too many avenues to ‘Like’ and ‘Comment’ there.

If FB is a party, Twitter perhaps is like taking a train ride. You say something. If it is interesting and catches someone’s eye at that moment, it gets a reply and sometimes, even gets re-tweeted. If the bug catches on, it spreads like wild fire across the train. But, it doesn’t mean you have to stay on for it to spread. It makes friends with others and goes on. If it does not catch on, you linger on for some time, re-tweeting and replying to other observations, and then get off the train at some point of time. During days of IPL auctions and football matches, budget sessions and Nira Radia tapes, all the passengers get together for a beer and some discussion. But, mind it, nothing stays on for more than 24 hours, for train friendship cannot sustain longer than that.

I really am done with the party now. I want my train days back. I want to spend some time loitering online mindlessly, not wondering all day how I should perform online. Then again, while I was writing this post, resolving to leave the party, I logged into FB four times.

So, hail FB! With more than half a billion active users and a valuation amounting to billions, my one second, half-boiled rant read by a paltry hundred people is not going to change the popularity of the party, is it?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Appraisal time

Mom and I went for a movie last week. The movie itself was disastrous to say the least and I have no intention of giving it any footage here. However, I can blame no one but myself, the “booker”, for the seats. Perched on the very last row, we got a clear glimpse of how well movie halls are utilized by romantically inclined couples. Not the best of things to be entertained by, especially when one is with Mom; or so you would think. But, that was just a minor inconvenience compared to the downright shocking one-liner I got from Mom later on:

“Don’t tell me you are going to blog about your observations in the theater or something”.

After explaining sufficiently convincingly how very sensitive I am to the world’s privacy in general and my brand name in particular, I sat back to reflect on why she would say something like this.

And, then I decided to break the one golden rule of blogging – never blog about blogging itself.

I remember I started this blog quite aimlessly back in 2006. Just so as to check, I went back to read my first ever post. Thankfully, it has not promised to “deliver any value”. Heaving a sigh of relief, I went to my second post. It is long, unwieldy, terribly terribly boring and juvenile. It does not help to remember that I was 20 big years old when I wrote that one. I read the third and the fourth (of which am even ashamed to provide links here). They seem to have been written by a very loquacious person who loves ending sentences with three exclamation marks, like this - !!!

While I was at it, I read the rest of the stuff too, chronologically. There has been senti, poetry, bullet pointed lists. There has been a lot of cribbing, a little bit of mindless fun and some free advice too strewn along the way. There have been random observations like this and then like this.

What I have been consistent with all through this half decade is my global loquaciousness (a tautological emphasis) and absolutely disconnected titles. I am not able to control the former and have no intentions of controlling the latter. So, you can expect succinct posts with matching titles from me in my next life.

What I have failed miserably at, as evident from here, is forced humor, and has always been identified and pointed out to me by ruthlessly critical friends. I really will try hard not to write anything that I do not exactly “want” to write.

What I have been hung up with, much to the chagrin of almost everyone who reads this blog, is the Queen’s language. Sorry. Oh wait, no sorry. Words gives me a high that not even Vodka can, so, I have no plans of shelving that topic. But, Mumbai gives me a high that even words cannot. So, no plans of shelving that topic either.

About five years and nearly a 100 posts later, I realize I have no niche specialization here, no sector I can pin-point as mine. Then again, I have never wanted to commit myself to topics that would need too much use of my ‘little grey cells’.

No wonder Mom thinks, given a chance, I will write a 500-word post on the pigs of Gurgaon. Fat chance that, Mom, not on my death bed!

I did not intend writing about all this when I started this post. In fact, as is my wont, I did not intend writing anything of substance when I started this post. That is why this is not some ceremonial post in the traditional blogging parlance. It neither marks Namesake’s fifth anniversary nor is it the 100th post.

But, while I was at it, I realized that I have an infinitely large amount of time on hand this weekend – to search for and plug in all those links ;) Well, I also realized that I owe you, my readers something.

So, here it is.

Thank you guys, for putting up with this blog and providing a lot of encouragement (hope the counter on the right is not deceiving me) to keep it going thus far.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Sibling-hood redefined

A few weeks back, my kid cousin listed me as ‘Sister’ on FB. I got very excited, and fondly accepted and reciprocated the gesture. Today, when I was snooping around her profile (shameless that I am), I figured out that she has listed almost 10 people as sisters and brothers.

Other than feeling a tad disappointed that I am not an exclusive ‘sister’ (Leos love exclusivity, or so someone tells me), I almost immediately got transformed back to my college days.

We were fresh out of school then, reveling in the new found freedom that only a Government college can proffer. There were no 8.30 a.m. prayer sessions, no first bell and second bell, no full day attendance. We could bunk classes, or just sit around and sleep. No one gave a friggin’ damn.

But, for many of us poor kids from girls-only schools, the freedom came with a huge price tag. And that was to live in peace and harmony with those monstrous beings called boys. At least that was how the 16-something never-been-friends-with-boys* me chose to categorize them then.

Nah! I am exaggerating. You have sure heard of that whole adrenalin pumping thingy associated with adolescence. It is not all over-rated. It actually used to happen, in fair frequencies and adequate quantities too.

It was quite a big deal to converse with a guy. There used to be a sense of accomplishment around such interactions, though paltry and restricted to answering questions bordering along the lines of “Do you have all the notes of all the Data Structure classes ever conducted in the history of this college?”

As the terms went by and the data structures graduated to algorithms and the algorithms to dynamic programming, the friendships happened too. The friendships were funny though. The minute a guy and a girl became close enough, they would term it a brother-sister relationship. Even if they did not announce it so, their associates would discuss very authoritatively on the pure ‘siblingy’ relationship evident between them.

There were girls who tied rakhis on their ‘brothers’ hands and then started going around with them. There were guys who publicly proclaimed who their ‘sisters’ were and then proposed to them. I found it hilarious then. Well, I find it amusing even now.

What kind of society produces humans who are scared to acknowledge a thing called ‘friendship’ between man and woman? What growing-up pressures force people to give a safe label to such a relationship? From where do so many of us get the idea that it might actually be wrong to get overtly friendly with a person of the opposite gender.

So what if it does not remain just friendship in some cases. To me, that sounds much healthier and more logical than having an entire world of brothers / sisters.

* I had exactly one male friend before I went to college. Weird? Blame the same-gender school :P