Friday, April 14, 2006

Congrats ASK. Also featuring: Travails of a sporting also-ran

Achanta Sharath Kamal is suddenly the new poster boy of non-cricketing sports in India. Funny, coz we never called him Achanta. He was either Sharath or ASK to the bunch of us diligently seeking sporting Nirvana under the aegis of A.Srinivas Rao (Sharath’s dad) and A.Murlidhar Rao at the YMIA, Mylapore in Chennai.

Our coaching camps had a strict caste system. The “seniors” practiced with the “seniors” and the “juniors” with “juniors” and both never mixed. Sharath however was an exception to the seniors. We were the same age and same school, and liked each other’s company. He did not let the “senior” tag stop him from hanging out a lowly mortal like me. He would diligently attend every match of mine to “give support”, a practice that meant shouting your voice hoarse for your friend and giving valuable tit-bits in between games. Sharath and me loved cricket. And would take every opportunity to play paper ball cricket, even if it was under the disapproving look of the coach. He was incredibly modest and simple for his achievements. But more on him later.

There’s a part of my life that not many of my friends know about. Not surprising, coz it ended in Standard 9.And a story that will reverberate from all sportsmen across the country who didn’t quite “make the grade”.

Between Std 6 and Std 10 in my life, there was only one purpose, one passion – Table Tennis.
The routine everyday was – Back from school at 4, open the door, have hurried “tiffin”, lock the house and take 2 buses for a 15 Km journey to start practice at half past 5. Half hour of warm up, followed by three hours of rigorous practice under the asbestos sheets in the unrelenting Chennai humidity, and followed by warm down. Two buses down the line (or a much needed lift from dad) back home at 10 to a very worried Mom. Homework and studying for exams needed a super human effort. Weekends meant extra practice and also some fun and games on the beach.

Then there was the circuit. 13 State ranking tournaments throughout the year, added to the zonals and nationals. 13 Fridays taken off from school and thirteen weekends of continuously reaching pre-quarter finals, quarter finals and the occasional semi-final. The same people, the same faces and the same results, day in and day out.

But this is the easy part. The difficult part, and especially so if you are from a middle class Tam Bram background with half your uncles from IIT and your cousins in USA, is the choice you have to make. In the beginning, and especially if you are bright (like I have said earlier, modesty is not my forte), you manage effortlessly. I maintained my “rank” in school (at a respectable Top 5) - that fundamental, non-negotiable, parameter of academic excellence that every self-respecting middle class household will lay down as the bare minimum essential to live in the house.
Then, if you are not brilliant (which yours truly isn’t, notice non-IIT-IIM (A, B, C) tag as much as I am proud of my Alma mater), your acads start catching up. In Std 9, the pressure becomes telling with all the emphasis on the “big exam” next year.

Then you have to make the choice – Is it going to be the hopelessly fruitless Table Tennis career that will give you that one-in-a-million chance to earn some sort of a livelihood, given you have all the “right connections” or is it going to be the Engineer-MBA-I banker-Wall Street routine so effortlessly practiced by all your cousins, all of whom are earning considerably more than Sharath Kamal can ever make, international sporting recognition notwithstanding.
From an economic and rational point of view, it was an easy choice. And I was too young for heroic decisions.

No, there is not a shred of regret in putting all this effort in vain. Maybe I never got to watch those weekend cartoons my classmates always used to talk about. Maybe all those episodes of “Wonder Years” and “Beverly Hills 90210” that were hotly discussed the next day never made sense to me. And yes, I never actually got to “play” gully cricket that all the kids use to rush to play after school. But I learnt to cram for exams in a single day with all nighters as early as Std 6.I learnt very early on in life, that life sucks, its not fair and you have to bloody well work your ass off to make something out of yourself. I learnt the power of magnificent obsessions, of victories and losses, and made some great friends, one of whom is now a national icon.

And then there were the perks. As much as I was the so-near-yet-so-far player in the state level, I was a celebrated and almost revered school and college champion. My cupboard overflows with all those cups and medals so effortlessly picked up at the schools, hostels, colleges and the University level, almost bullying everyone to defeat, with a small hint of guilt that this is not the “real thing”, after all. School champion for 5 years (coz ASK never condescended to play), and University champions twice, it seemed just reward for all those years of missing gully cricket.

Which is why it irks me when arm chair critics who have breezed through mediocre education in mediocre jobs with mediocre lives undermine sporting efforts of people who have, by all means achieved far more greatness in their own way, success or failure notwithstanding.
This post is a tribute to those thousands of sportsmen who have toiled their asses out in the hope of sporting glory for the country. God knows how tough it is.

But this is not the story of an ex-TT wannabe who went on to become the engineer-MBA norm that the country seems to produce effortlessly.

This is the story of a kid who was given a racket even before he could grow to the height of the TT table and was given a destiny to follow. This is the story of the hard life of a non-cricketing sportsman in India, and to succeed in spite of, rather than because of the country. This is the story of a worried mom cheering her son to become a table tennis star when kids all round him were taking the safe route becoming “respectable” software engineers in the Infy’s of the world.

Stories of Table Tennis Champions from India are far and few between. There was Chetan Babur. And now Sharath Kamal.

I can say with a glint of pride that both of them were from my school, and one of them is a good friend.Once again, Congrats ASK.

Friday, March 31, 2006

The End of an Era

I am going to give my last exam tomorrow.This marks the end of what has been a rather chequered 18 years of formal education.Tomorrow is Brand Management.In the spirit of things, I thought I'd mention 2 ads that really caught my eye watching another Indian victory today.

Pepsodent Whitening

I am not sure if this is a global template being applied, but to see my prospective employer break the Kid-Family-cho-chweet routine for one of its brands in an extremely well packaged effort is indeed heartening. The insight is brilliant in its simplicity.At last somebody realised that the temple of today's youth is none other than your ubiquitous coffee place round the corner.
No,we don't run around trees or strum guitar strings perenially in college.We might just try out the risky Mentos routine in class, but I haven't come across a guy who gets the sexually guttural "Yessirs" from all the girls in class as yet.
But what we do sir, and do it rather well, is drink coffee.Well, at least sit in these places.We meet old friends, make new ones, spend time alone, study, chat, play, in these new air-conditioned comfort zones of artifical lighting and bright colors.50 years down the line, when we reminisce about the good old days, I am betting my last 2 paisa that most of our memories will be entangled with coffee houses.The Pepsodent ad hits the nail on its head when defining the cool babe of today, for whom the coffee place is a second home, away from leering eyes of lusty pervs, the hot and dusty roads and the constant monitoring at home.
Good insight, refreshingly new style for the brand.

TVS Apache

This ad is so brilliant in communicating to its TG, that it almost makes you cry for not being the TG. As all of us take our last exam tomorrow, the ad hits even harder.
TVS has come up with a winner, and that too without a celebrity.The imagery is brilliant, the music very contemproary and the kids very,very smart looking.
Looks like for TVS, its going to be "Now" more than "Never", with Apache.
However, here's a thought worth its money in gold when I start consulting huge companies on their marketing strategies. Why not have a seperate prize called "Best Youth Performance in Match" and give away the Apache bike to the best performer under the age of 25 in every match? A few quotes from Sachin, about how he wished he was young enough to get the bike(he's their brand ambassdor for Victor) would make sure Apache is a roaring hit not only with the TG, but also with the aspiring group. Apache is an awesome effort from a company that seems to be on a roll with its ad campaigns with the "Dream big" series for Victor, a bike I personally own.Thumbs up from a satisfied customer. Talk about Post Purchase Customer delight.

Monday, March 20, 2006

My first exclusive

Ok, I am now officially kicked.
My first exclusive interview in a national daily.
No snippets, no quotes, no part of the story.
This time, I'm the story:)

Go to the Education times, Delhi edition and an article called "Dream Job" on page 8 on the edition on 20th March.Of course. its got a lot of things wrong.

But what the hell, i'll take it anyways.

Blasphemy in Bombay!!!!!

It’s a sad day in Indian cricket. No…it’s a sad day for India. I can’t remember the last time I became emotional, but today my heart is in pain.
God got booed. In his own abode!!

Aaaahh, the mob…they can be unforgiving, can’t they?
Now the press will pick on Him. They have smelt the blood. They have sensed the mood of the nation. They will play along now. After a decade of orgasmic praise to Him, they have found new vents to their lust. Rahul’s the taste of the town right now. (he can’t make a wrong move, right? The same sluts who were calling for his exclusion when he could not understand the concept of those empty spaces called gaps in the field are now having sex with him. This too shall pass, Rahul. Coz sluts will be sluts.they will find othe clients)

But back to God. I know what everyone is saying. I can hear them whispering all round me. The infidels. The non-believers. They are gaining in number. They are finding support. Darkness has pervaded cricket and India.

Every man is allowed his irrationalities. This is mine. No, I cannot be objective about Sachin. I cannot stand criticism of my God, no matter how constructive it is .I can’t make a cold calculation about the number of runs scored in the last 10 matches.

Sachin rises above all that. He has made cricket what it is in India. Long before India was shining, he provided hope. To a nation confused, he was our messiah. To a country in flux, he was the constant. To a life in misery, he was the beacon of hope. In the maddening, changing 90’s, he was the silver lining. The standout performer, the angel who could do no wrong.
When the stock markets plummeted. When Harshad Mehta scammed India. When the Babri Masjid was brought down. When a million governments changed. When a sleepy farmer became prime minister. When dotcom went bust. When getting into Infy was a big thing. He stood tall. At 5 feet 5 inches.

When I was in my formative years. When I was a teenager. When I was giving my boards. When I doubted the system. When I wanted to rebel. When I was asking “why not” to everything. When my world was confusing

God made me believe. He was the constant. He would be there. He would perform. He would let the bat do the talking. He would get those breakthroughs with those magic dobblies. He couldn’t drop a catch. Ever. He wouldn’t sledge. He wouldn’t bat as much as eyelid when given out wrongly. He would be the perfect gentleman. He wouldn’t get involved in controversies (like Mahesh and Lee’s split, Sania’s comments, Dada’s striptease, Greg’s interviews, Salman’s driving, Sharukh’s sexuality, Aamir’s brooding,…) No, he wouldn’t sleep around. He wouldn’t lose his grounding. He wouldn’t let all the adulation go to His head.

To me, He is God.

Aaahh…this pain…who said I’m incapable of emotion? Today I weep for my hero, my belief system, my God. Today I’m sad. But my faith remains unshakeable. And I beseech Him to rise above this temporary state of stupor. To show these mortals a little bit of divinity.

I call out to all believers
Now is the time to stay strong. Now is the time to keep the faith. God will reincarnate. He will delight us all. He will score. Beautiful, Magnificient runs.

All the naysayers and infidels, you just wait till World Cup 2007.

You’ll see. You’ll all see!!!!!!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

“You think you know who you are…You have no idea”.

When Matt Dillon says this, it doesn’t hit you as the central theme of the movie. But during the most poignant scene during the movie, when the supposedly neutral police officer covers up the murder of an innocent black man he just shot, it all comes to you like a blinding flash. This is what the makers of the movie “Crash” are trying to say.
Crash is scary. Because it’s very much possible. It not only paints a grim view of the darkest and softest underbelly of the world’s most powerful nation struggling to live up to the U in the USA, but also goes a step further. It paints it darker than it actually is.
Some might say it’s an exaggeration. But to me it will not be as much a movie on America as much as it would be a statement on what can be easily reality.
Crash is a movie that will come as an eye opener not only to people all round the world, but most importantly to thousands of Americans themselves who grow up in peaceful, prosperous, suburbs or quiet mid-west right wing conservative towns in America. To some, it may even come as a shock.
While the movie talks about the simmering differences on the boil in America, what’s scary about the movie is its application to any pluralistic society in the world. Pluralism is a term that has not been treated well so far. Is man innately pluralistic? Isn’t community formation the most natural form of living? Are we creating artificial pockets of urban melting pots and materialistic islands of pluralism that goes against the very grain of our ways of existence? Isn’t the need for identity stronger than anything else? What is it that made all Americans and the Brits look at brown as the new color of terror? Can you blame them for it?

But as an Indian, it makes you wonder what makes us tick. Maybe it’s our culture of tolerance. Maybe it’s our political incorrectness. Stereotypes are a celebrated part of our culture. How can a Sardar ever be portrayed as intelligent or a Tamilian fluent in Hindi? But what clearly comes through is that for a pluralistic society to survive everybody has to understand that deep down there’s a little bit of racism/casteism/regionalism in all us. Once an unofficial limit has been sanctioned by society, people can vent their normal levels of xenophobia in unobtrusive and non-violent ways instead of keeping it within for a long time that’s very dangerous.
America is a perfect case in point where its biggest failure has not been failure to curb intolerance. It has been the failure to identify a little xenophobia and stereotypes as human and allow for a certain measure of intolerance. Something must be right in the system that gives a Sikh Prime Minister, a Muslim President and a Catholic head of the ruling party. Compared to the White House, which hasn’t seen a non-white or a woman yet.

In India, nobody bothers to stop calling people from the Northeast “Chinkies” or South Indians “Illad”. And nobody bats an eyelid before making a joke on a Sardar all round the country. Or is banned from putting up to-let boards saying “Open only to Hindu Brahmins”. I’ve stayed in hostels where nicknames have ranged from “Bangali BC” to “Bihari Ch….”. to “Mallu MC”

Because in India “sab kuch chalta hai”. Political incorrectness and stereotyping is tolerated, and even acceptable to an extent. It’s ok to be asked your caste right after being introduced. It’s ok for my grandma to ask the maid not to come into to the tam bram kitchen. You’re not going to be put into jail for being racist because of this. You are not going to be slapped a lawsuit at the drop of a hat. Salman Khan will not be charged with a hate crime just because he ran down a Hindu. (its another matter that he may not be charged at all, but that’s another blog, ain’t it). And when someone in Delhi asks me in earnest puzzlement “Saauth mein to saare log kaale hote hain na .Yeh Rekha, Hema Malini or Aishwarya Rai itne gore kaise hain?”, I can’t help but smile. I know we still have a long way to go.
But I am not going to file a lawsuit. At least, not just yet.:)

Goa Redux

The rate at which the author seems to be packing off to Goa these days might suggest some rather interesting motivations, but I’m just in love with the place. And to compensate for all those I missed last time during the monsoon, this time, it was the beaches all through


Easily has the best view in Goa, and perhaps the country. The actual place where Dil Chahta Hai was shot, quite contrary to any local guide whose first job to trick you into going to a particular beach (and therefore a particular restaurant-shack) is to mention that DCH was shot there, with practiced nonchalance. Sunset here is must-see-before-I-die experience. Simply breathtaking.

Ingos Saturday Night Bazaar

This is quite an experience. For the first time, I felt like a stranger in my own land. All around me had collected firangs from all over. It is also quite the place to find some young firangs as opposed to the usually almost-nude flabby 60+ lying-all-day-on-the beach- to-get-tanned elderly firang aunty. The flea market is a riot of colors and is replete with the daintiest, beautiful, exotic and most importantly, the most USELESS of things. Basically anyone can sell anything here and pass it off as memoirs. Stones, shells, necklaces, stuff...some of these things are so useless I don’t even know what to name them. The only saving grace for a shop-o-phobic like me was the food. Now there’s an interesting micro-economy at work here.
Tourist arrives in Goa. His plan is to take a cheap holiday, get tanned, doped and do nothing. He manages to do all this. Then tourist realizes he’s broke and does not have money to go back. So he tries earning it back. What’s the easiest way? (if you are not a babe, i.e.) He cooks whatever he can. Who eats the food? The new homesick tourist, of course. What this elaborate microeconomy however ensures is that Ingos turns into a veritable agglomeration of the world’s best cusine, cooked in the most authentic of fashions. Dutch pies, Danish pastries, German Red Meat, Brit Salads, you name it, Ingos has it. The desserts are also truly world class.

The blind turn off the Lighthouse!!!

Ok, here’s for the really adventurous. On a fully moonlit night take the right just before the lightouse and go in for a while. You will come to a cliff which has quite a breathtaking view with very strong winds. The experience is truly worth the possibility of getting into trouble with the cops. Looks exactly like the many shots of South Africa regularly dished up in Bollywood. songs. (or should I say Indian Film Industry:))

Getting a Tan

As much as our national obsession with fair skin sometimes embarrasses me, the Caucasian obsession with the tan borders on the insane. Imagine waking up every morning as soon as the sun is out, coming to the beach and lying down on your recliner, getting baked in 35 degrees, hoping the sun will do the rest Just lying down!!! How many of us remember our grandmas chiding us for playing cricket just for a few hours in the summer, with that rather prophetic “You will become dark” threat. My grandma should take a look at these freaks.

Doing Nothing

I don’t think anyone can love the spirit of Bombay and Goa at the same time. If you ask me to encapsulate the Goan spirit, it would simply be “doing nothing”. After a point, it started getting to me. Rows and rows of Goan men and women, sipping their fenny or sitting on the porch, or a hammock, with a generous sprinkling of perennially doped firangs just “doing nothing”. As are most human emotions, sloth is also contagious. You start getting into the Goan mood, and feel that lifting your butt from the beach shack facing the azure sky and serene ocean is a gigantic task that requires a lot of thought. As a famous campaign said “ Goa…. On Holiday…365 days”!!!!

As I’ve already got into enough trouble with my dedications, this trip is simply dedicated to free spirit, wanderlust and flirting(Don’t bother decrypting that)

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Lonely Planet Guide - Lucknow

I was at IIM-Lucknow for their fest, which I must say was quite successfully organized compared to some of the other B-schools. IIM-Lucknow has a fabulous campus and an awesome library.
Lucknow, on the other hand, on the face of it, looks like quite a typical UP town. It has the characteristic North Indian electricity wires jumble all round it. (If you haven’t noticed as yet, its true. Most North Indian towns have a labyrinth of electricity poles and wires jutting out from all over). The cycle rickshaws jostle for space along with the magnificent Bovines, who, as anyone in the cow belt would tell you, always have the right of way. A river runs close to Lucknow and it could take a while for someone outside India to figure out if we operate on the “keep to the left” or “keep to the right” policy traveling in an auto here.

Except, that Lucknow is not so typical. Its got an old world laziness about it and not the hustle and bustle of the rest of UP. The approach highways are actually good. Some of the residential areas are almost South-Delhi like. It has a range of very good restaurants serving not only delicious Lucknowi Khana, but surprisingly most other cuisine. I guess the explanation lies in the fact that foodies are foodies and give them anything good; they’ll wash it down with a burp of satisfaction.
The history here, however, is not only taken for granted, but also neglected. Much like in Delhi, where you could just be passing by and stumble into a 13th century fort or monument with no fuss around it, Lucknow is full of Mughal architectural splendour lying around in total nonchalance. Because apart from the Imam Bara, none of the others attract attention. So, a lot of magnificent monuments of history are taken for granted in the town. (And yes, some guy in the bus actually said “Pehle aap”, but that was it.:))
The Sahara Mall, Lucknow’s answer to the Gurgaonisation all round India however, seems to buzzing with visitors all year round. A sign of the times, that a pseudo historian-traveller-intellectual-writer like me has to accept, albeit with a sigh.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Fire was discovered on Nov 19th !!!!!!

If that sounds bizarre, read on.
According to a documentary, the process of evolution is so skewed in time that if the entire history of mankind was reduced to a scale of 365 days or a year, Fire was invented only on November 19th!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
What this tells us is that the process of evolution has had a completely skewed growth with exponential changes towards the end. Sample this: the last 5 seconds of 31st December have witnessed innovations and discoveries which have been more than double of what was achieved in the past 364 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 55 seconds!!!!The invention of the computer, the Internet, the mobile phone, global warming, nuclear weapons. Things that could have a drastic and long lasting impact on the future of the Earth, as we know it - all in the last 5 seconds.

Ok, now lets integrate this with what is mentioned in Blink. The power of the subconscious. Or what gets hardwired into us without our knowledge based on the sum of our experiences. Some people call it instinct, some intuition.

This might help explain some of my favorite boy-girl differences.Consider this. If human history is 365 days old, contraceptives were popularized and known only in the last 3-4 seconds. So if the female notion that getting impregnated by a man means that she will need him to look after the offspring has been hardwired into the subconscious for 364 days, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 56 seconds, all of Sarah Jessica Parker’s friends cannot take away the powerful notion of monogamy ingrained in women. Neither can 4 seconds of a mirage of equal opportunity for sexes stop that happily married guy from staring at some female anatomy when concept of spreading the his sperms far and wide has been hardwired into him for 364 days!! In other words, boys will be boysJ.

Some more humbling data. According to a recent study, the history of Earth is represented by a monolithic and gigantic Ice age interspersed with thaws. Apparently, the last 10,000 years have signified the biggest thaw in the history of the Earth. So almost all evolution and development has taken place in the last 10,000 years. In other words, mankind and indeed most of the other species you see around are all just symbols of extraordinary evolutionary growth within the single biggest thaw in the history of the Earth’s Ice Age. In B-school they always say, “Get a macro picture”.When you view events from the timeframe of Universe, it doesn’t get more macro than that!!!!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Sab Gandha Hai Par Dhandha Hai Yeh...

Shortly after my interview I ended up stuck on Juhu Beach at half past 2 in the night after a rather tipsy celebration. I had 2 options now – to take a cab at night rates and go back to the hotel in Colaba or wait for the first local at 4. Considering the 500-buck difference between the 2 decisions, I chose the latter.
It turned out to be quite an eye-opening decision to see the seedy underbelly of one of my most fav cities. Now, I was on Juhu Beach all by myself, with no one in sight in the entire beach.

Suddenly out of the shadows emerged a rather hideous looking (sometimes I wonder if it would have made a difference how she looked) lady (sense the sarcasm, people) with rather heavy make-up and extremely high heels.
“ Kya Saab, aata hai kya?” in a rather phoney pseudo-seductive tone
Ok, now I have seen these incidents innumerable times on television and through hearsay and I always figured, that though I would refuse, I would do it in a very James-Bondish manner.
But something in that entire milieu of an empty beach and darkness filled my mind with something I never expected – Fear. Now, I know what’s going through everyone’s mind. How many guys are actually afraid of women propositioning to them, even if it’s for money?
Blame on my middle class upbringing or on the moonless night, I was shaken.
“I speak English also, Sir”
She could speak all the Languages listed in the UN; it didn’t make a difference to my pulse rate.
I managed a rather vehement shake of the hand, desperate to avoid eye contact and by now very very embarrassed with my own fear, managed to break into a quick walk in the opposite direction, only my pride stopping me from breaking into a sprint.


Now one would think that would be enough for a night’s adventure, but of course Bombay had more to offer. I took an auto and said “24 hour Café”. I meant one of the coffee shops in Sea Princess or one of the gazillion hotels lined up on the road adjoining the beach.
Apparently it meant something else.
This time the auto guy started
“Saab, kitna time hai aapke paas”?
“Bus, yehi, 4:08 ka local pakadna hai”. - I hadn’t caught on to the tone yet. It was around 3.
“Mast chokri dikhaun saab”?
“Kya”??? - Now getting the hang of it….
“Haan saab, bilkul first class…”
“Tip Top English Speaking, Saab” – Now whats with the damn language. Did all men in Bombay seek out English speaking prostitutes????
“Boss, tum bus café chalo, please” – By now, I am a seasoned veteran and palpitations are down to a minimum. I am also amused, so I don’t interrupt his sales pitch
“Saab, inke paas mobile bhi hai saab.aap direct baat kar sakte hain” – Technology helps in improving business productivity, I have learnt in B-School
“Saab, aap bas ek baar aao saab. Uske baad chokri aapko baar baar phone karegi” –. This guy should be in sales. Talk about Customer Delight
Then he said something that chilled me to the bone
“Saab, abhi yeh fresh hain saab. Sirf 14-15 saal ki hain “
By now I have heard enough.
“Boss, tumko pata bhi hai 24 hr café kahan hai”?
“Nahin saab” – rather sheepishly
“Teek hai, mujhe station le chalo jaldi”


Now, bear in mind, I have trivialized the entire issue only because I think the whole transaction was done in typical Bombay fashion- professional and smooth. And because as a society we tend to very hypocritical about sex. Here there were 14 year olds being so obviously exploited and all that people could do was make a fuss about Khusboo’s reported comments in favor of pre-marital sex. Just shows the kind of double standards that Indian society has come to represent.

Now I have an interesting theory. I would like find out some facts and figures. The number of rape cases in Amsterdam. The number of AIDS cases. The figures both before and after the legalization of prostitution. If there is any evidence to support the fact that legalisation of prostitution leads to a decrease sexual abuse against women, if there’s any evidence saying that it leads to reduction in AIDS cases, we have a strong case for it, don’t we?
Lets face it; the flesh trade is not going to stop. Why not formalize it, have stringent norms imposed on working conditions, make sure no minors are involved, collect a 55% tax to be used for female literacy programs and run active AIDS awareness programs now that we have a captive audience in these centers. If it leads to a decrease in rape cases because the pervs now have a formalized outlet, we have a win-win, don’t we?

Of course such thoughts will be considered blasphemous by the moral brigade and they will continue to harass innocent kids in Meerut whilst making raunchy sex tapes involving their party presidents. But food for thought for the blogging community, whatsay?

Friday, December 30, 2005

Who is spreading the terror?

Before I go ahead with this seemingly insensitive post, I must convey my heartfelt condolences to the slain professor in the dastardly attack on IISc. These are not hollow words. My house is about five minutes from the institute. It has made for a serene and sylvan setting for many a morning jog. Some of my close friends study there, many of them having been taught by one of the professors who were injured.

Lets look at the facts that happened at IISc a couple of days ago.
Fatalities: One
Injuries: Five
Yes, these were pre-eminent scientists who probably figured higher in middle class India’s conscience just like Shanmugham and Satyendra Dubey. One of “us” had been killed instead of the lakhs of labor class and other construction workers who routinely die in India due to reasons like natural calamities, work related injuries, lack of healthcare and sometimes even just hunger.

So in terms of just causalities Bangalore’s attacks were pretty insignificant. So what were the attackers hoping for? The point of attack, heart of middle class India-main consumers of the print and electronic media, the education fraternity’s power in the mainstream media and Bangalore’s brand image would help the rather very simple act of killing one professor blow up in the face of the entire country.

But sometimes I wonder which is the real source of terror. Lets take a look at some of the headlines.

“Terror Strikes Bangalore”

Ok, Iike mentioned above, I stay 5 minutes from IISc. Infact I was at the hospital for some medical treatment on both days when the media was all over the place.
Believe me, NOBODY…. NOBODY …is the least bit scared or afraid. Life goes on as normal can be. A couple of more policemen lazily standing at my street corner symbolizes the “High Alert” that Bangalore is supposed be under. At the hospital, all the policemen do is fight jostling news cameramen everyday whenever a dignitary visits. The entire police force in and around IISc and MSRamiah hospital is involved in only one thing - Media Management. Shoving reporters, keeping at bay curious onlookers with everyone basking in the most obvious truth that stares everyone in the face –that the attackers will not come back to the same place the next day when they have achieved what they wanted in the first place – publicity.

“Blood on the streets of Bangalore”

As TV news cameras continuously focused on a small puddle of blood inside the campus of IISc, one reporter bravely said, “Blood on the streets of Bangalore”. Well, if it helps, Bangalore’s roads are as jammed as ever, the one-ways are as clogged and pollution is as bad. There is no change in any routine and most certainly no blood anywhere that I can see.

Act 1 Scene 1
Rookie Reporter: So what will you do now?
IISc geek: Well, I guess today we won’t go to the lab, but tomorrow morning we will. (Today we will sit glued to the television and watch the tamasha and tomorrow we will get back to the labs)
Rookie Reporter: So, there Rajdeep lies the indomitable spirit of the science community. A sense of shock but a deep resolve to get ahead with life in the face of this terrorizing event.
IISc geek: Yawns
Reporter: So what are you feeling now? What are your emotions?
Geek: Er…um…shocked, I guess???
Reporter: So there we have an entire community stunned, a city appalled and a nation waking up to a new wave of terror. Back to the studios

The point I am trying to make is very simple. India’s is marching towards a better tomorrow. There will always be attacks such as these. And like the millions of untold accidents in the country people will lose their lives tragically. But to say that the country is under siege or that we feel unsafe is a ludicrous media creation. It has its genesis in a fundamental western media philosophy starved of any issues in boring, well-developed countries –Terror sells.

That’s what American media runs on. High-speed police chases aired all day, Cops and Robbers shows, Talk Shows about Homeland Freedom Security, and constant and continuous reminder from the media to all the people – YOU ARE UNSAFE. One just has to see Bowling for Columbine to understand this truth that Michael Moore unravels with clinical precision.

In a particular period in New York City, when the crime rate went down by half, the reported crimes on television (high speed police chases, shoot-outs on TV, etc) went up by a whopping 600%!!!! Thereby giving everyone the impression that the city had become more unsafe.
In another interview with a news channel reporter, Michael Moore asks a cameraman whether he would like to do a story on the dangerous smog covering LA probably killing more people than wait at an intersection for some “action” to erupt.
The reporter looks at him coldly and says, “Always go with the gun”

Unfortunately, a rather competitive media business that has ensured a lot of positives like deeper coverage of issues and fast news also spawns cutthroat competition and the never-ending search for TRPs. With a fair bit of inside knowledge of how the media works, I know that the entire consciousness in the media is driven by a single motivation that in itself is a dead giveaway - To sell a story. Whatever it takes.

Story –
a fictitious literary composition in prose or poetry, shorter than a novel; narrative; tale; specif., SHORT STORY b) the form of literature represented by such compositions

I don’t see the word truth anywhere here. Do you?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Pappu Re Pappu

I am yet to clearly define a roadmap or a mission for the blog, which I will do very shortly. But one of the objectives is definitely to make the blog a place where I can record the state of my mind (I don’t like the word “feelings” coz it sounds too gay) at the most momentous moments in my life.
Though it’s almost a fortnight after I got my PPO from India’s best-known corporate address at Backbay Reclamation, I can easily recall what was running through my mind.
Funnily enough, nothing but a huge sense of relief. No ecstasy on getting that dream job, no sense of great achievement, no bloated sense of importance.

Relief, yes. Humongous relief. Oodles of it. And come to think of it, that has marked every turning point in my life. Relief. Is it the relief of expected success? Is it the relief that comes from finishing a job well done? Partly, yes. But I think also because it gives me the opportunity to get on with normal life. Till I become obsessed with something again. Because on and off for the past 6 months I have lived with the magnificent obsession to get into my dream company. 75 days of my summer internship and 15 days of preparation for the interview. That’s 90 days of an obsession.

I have always believed in magnificent obsessions. I have had many. The amazing thing about magnificent obsessions is that they make for a higher form of living. Living for a single cause. Getting up every single morning with only one thing in your mind. Eating, sleeping and living with only one single focus. It’s like being in Love. Your mind is obsessed and focused and gives you inner strength to do things you wouldn’t have done otherwise.

But just like the state of being in love, magnificent obsessions are unsustainable. You got to keep the time period down to optimum levels you are comfortable with. You also gotta keep healthy gaps between them when you can get back in touch with friends, join a gym, blog, do the regular things in life. Like I’m doing now

I can do it for 3 months (not being in love, stoopids) at a stretch. Have done it for GRE and CAT. Succeeded in GRE, failed in CAT (even quit my job for it). Don’t regret a second, though. And it’s even better when the cause is for a common good. Like my state of mind in the FMS Media Cell in the first year. Honest to God, I don’t even fuss about the results anymore.Coz I had such an awesome time in the process. The focus, the drive, the passion and single-minded state of being give me such a high in itself. I think it’s critical that people recognize this fact.

In The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, this is captured beautifully.
“With one eye focused on the reward, there is only one eye left to focus on the purpose”Guess Greg Chappell’s saying the same thing too, isn’t it?

It doesn’t matter if you have broken up with your girlfriend or had a divorce. Remember you were in love once. It’s a higher form of living.

Task: Reclaim Backbay:) Status: achieved. Now till the next magnificent obsession. Coz when the journey’s so good, the destination is secondary :).

Sunday, October 23, 2005

From Harsha, with Love

"Sandeep, you guys were really good"
As someone who gets his fair share of compliments (Modesty is not really my forte, if you haven't guessed), this would not have been the most earth - shattering statement if you don't consider who gave it.
If Shah Rukh Khan had given it - Ho-hum.If Aishwarya Rai had given it - Ho-hummer
I have never really been a fan of anyone famous. And having got to know more about the media, even less. The egotistical asshole I am, I think it’s rather juvenile to take autographs from anyone famous.
But there is one man whom I am an unabashed fan of. He has such an awesome presence.
He is one of the wittiest guys I have seen.(BTW, I consider wit to be the single biggest indicator of IQ and EQ).The combination of his brilliance and humility makes him even more endearing -
His name is Harsha Bhogle.And I haven't even mentioned cricket yet

So when we went for the debate in Acumen 2005, hosted by Harsha, I wanted to tell him so many things
"Harsha, you are the best thing to have happened to Indian Cricket after Sachin"
"Harsha, you are one of the biggest reasons I am here"
"Harsha, keep inspiring"
Instead I mumbled something about marketing and advertising! Like I don't do that enough in life anyway. For the first time in my life I didn't know what to say!!!

So when he took us aside and said that he thought we did extremely well in the debate, and I asked him to write that down in the autograph, I forgave myself.

I forgive the fact, that after a rather good performance we still came only second in the debate... I forgive the possible bias the judges might have had.I forgive the fact that we might have got the wrong end of the topic.I forgive the judge who asked me to come up with an entire marketing strategy to brand Nariyal Pani in 10 seconds..and that too in a rebuttal of a debate!!!!.I forgive my dhobi who made sure I wore a ridiculosly oversized,borrowed shirt on national television.I forgive the guy who decided the host (harsha) cannot judge
Because I now have a personal autograph that says
"Sandeep, you guys were really good" Signed.Harsha Bhogle
I feel like God

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Don't f$%^k with the power of the internet

Have always believed blogging is the next big thing in the way the world will function. Here's why. This is the first time that I know of that the blogging coimmunity has realised the awesome power of networking and information spread. Pass these links on to any MBA aspirant you know and we can at least bring to light the muck that some of these B-schools bring with them. Too bad Mr.Chaudhari.....wrong move.....wrong move indeed.

The million dollar question is : Can a blog be considered as Libel.By making public my online diary am I making myself open to defamation lawsuits. This is a very important question and if the answer is yes, which is highly unlikely, then of course, we shall have to start a movement to change this law.
Other questions that come up
How is the identity of the blogger verified?
Can an email be a legally valid notice?(I know a lot of lawyers will be laughing but ...)
very important question


Friday, October 07, 2005

Goa Diary

I don’t blog in time…that’s the constant feedback I get…I take zillions of years to update something….
But one of the most important offshoots of being as late as this in blogging is you write only what you remember. Which in itself becomes a darn good filter for significant events. Therefore, you can be rest assured that whatever you read has stood the test of time in my already fragile memory cells, and thereby probably good enough to go public. After all, the 2577 bakras who visited this blog (though I suspect that its just 3 or 4 who visit it every day..ok.ok..ONE) need some customer satisfaction, don’t they?
What do I remember from the trip that happened more than 2 months back…
I remember the oh-so-awesome and pristine beaches…I remember the crazy parties at Tito’s…I remember the delightfully exotic Portuguese names and addresses all over the place….I remember enjoying the tragic love saga between the Western ghats and the Arabian Sea. They keep trying to kiss each other and are so near, yet so far throughout the length and breadth of Goa (o.k. no breadth, only length..Goa is not exactly Canada)
Now one of the irritating habits you pick up as a writer in B-school is the horrendous thing called structure…So, as soon as you open a word document, your hands automatically go to format ----.> Borders and Shading ---..> Alignment…
Then it just also moves on to the bulleting and underlining and margins and tables…. its just really really sad…Curse be upon thee, B-skool, for inflicting upon me structure, discipline., formatting …and all that jazz…
Anyway, here go my b-skool fingers

The Wind

Aaahh…absolute delirium…the wind is ubiquitous in Goa.Every where you go, every place you eat, every house you visit, …every road you take…the wind is right there, sometimes caressing you, sometimes pushing you, sometimes kissing you…You can never go out without ruffling your hair, you can never eat outside without some sand getting in your food. It’s a heady feeling, the wind in your face and a 200 cc engine between your legs…

The Sound of the waves

Another constant during the trip, and in fact across Goa is the sound of the waves. Wonderfully soothing, they become so omnipresent that you start missing it once you are out goa. Like somebody just snatched away your contact lens or something.

Off-Season Goa

What is the single biggest reaction you get from people when you are back from Goa?
A half-dirty, glance suggesting your moral depravity just increased a few notches from all-knowing relatives or just a simple “You Lucky SOB”…from the boys
As if you just dated the entire crew of Baywatch….or consumed more cocaine than the whole of Britian…..or had wild sex on the beach (ok the cocaine and the sex were just cheap publicity gimmicks for more of those searches to land up in my blog. Btw, if you want to find out the maximum key word searches for your blog, go ahead…I am betting on “mallu sex”….”dirty porn”……”girl-on-girl”…ha, there I go again…muhahaha..)
Only more beautiful and lovely.


I just fell in love with the exotic Portuguese addresses. I was staying in a place called
“Lobos Bunglow, Le Campala, Miramar, Panjim”…
WOW…I mean WOW!!!!….
For a guy growing up on a staple diet of Nagars and Purams of Madras and later the Hallis of Bangalore and now the Chowks of Delhi…..
I say we all go Latino and Portuguese in all our addresso!!!

Lonely Planet Guide

Miramar: The main beach in Panjim, one of the biggest in Goa and rocks in season.
Calingute: The “happening” part of town. All the clubs and the party places are on this side of town.
Baga Beach: Right next to Tito’s…extremely cool for those long meaningless doped out discussions (as a figure of speech)
Dona Paula: Very overrated and crowded place
Palolem: Most underrated beach in Goa. It’s quite a distance from Panjim, but the imposing western ghats provide a breathtaking backdrop to the beach. Imagine riding a bike atop long-winded beautiful roads of a lush green hill for more than an hour and then voila!!…a beach lands up in front of you from nowhere.
Bambolin: Beautiful little beach on the way down south, and very quiet and private. You feel like it’s your own private beach in off-season.

An ode in dedication of HER

Most of all I remember HER…she, of the great Mallu origin..…. She, whom I get to meet hardly once a year… She kept me constant company, wrapping me in her embrace, completely encircling me all the while. …on my bike(well, not mine exactly, but these rented bikes are as good as new)…on the beaches…in the forts….She was my soul mate in Goa…my constant companion… babe…
The monsoon. If you can read this, thank you, ma’am…Hope to see u in full glory next yr too.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Summers Diary : Recovered from Laptop

Day 1

Touchdown at Bombay. The rather undecipherable cackle of the captain over the intercom announces it’s a warm 34 Degrees outside.

This city has this amazing way of making me feel completely at home and I guess it’s a feeling shared by many. If you ever feel alone and lonely in the streets of Mumbai, then you better visit a shrink. Every time I visit Bombay from Delhi I wonder how 2 cities can ever be so contrasting. Bombay is ugly, full of slums, and has a very functional look to it. There is no attempt to beautify the city; there is no gloss around it.

Delhi, on the other hand is beautiful and neat, parts of South Delhi look right out of a majestic European town, and there is an extravagance of wealth all round it.

Yet the average guy you meet on the road is cold, pugnacious, aggressive and rude. The vastness of city, the abundance of space, the lack of pedestrians and the harshness of the weather cover it with a blanket of ice (sometimes literally).

The town of glitz and glamour, on the other hand, has ironically very few dreamy people. Bombay’s gentry have their feet firmly on the ground, their head firmly on their shoulders and there is earnestness behind that hardworking attitude that is commendable. Believe me you, the city of dreams is still alive with dreams, but the people are not dreamy. Everyone’s too busy charting their destinies to daydream. They know that before their dreams come true, they have to work their ass off.

Training center at Gulita is awesome; unfortunately Infy has spoilt my frame of reference. The other interns think I’m a big show-off when I say I’ve stayed in similar facilities for more than 4 months at the Mysore DC.The view is awesome, nevertheless.

There seem to be too many girls among the 50 interns. I know that must sound stupid or gay or both. But a quick calculation of the average B-school sex ratio shows that the company’s sex ratio is far more women-friendly than that. You are free to make your own inferences.

Have a nice time in the evenings walking along Worli sea face. Armies of Xlers and IIM-A guys have turned up.

Day 2

Day full of talks from the legends at the organization. I wanted to join this company for its people and it has not disappointed me. The head of Sales is awe- inspiring.

This company takes its summer interns seriously, and it shows. Half the people we meet have been summer interns. (Statistically more than half of Management Trainees are PPO candidates).

Day 3

First day at work. Invited to a Monday meeting about the week’s targets and forecasts.

I am more sold on an FMCG career. I don’t think you can get a more exciting life in any other profession. You can get stressed out, burnt out or completely exhausted from this line of work, but you can never get bored. Ever heard of a soldier getting bored from war. Fed up, yes. Tired, maybe. But a boring life. Never. That’s enough for me.

Decide to stay with dad and commute from Andheri everyday. I think the Bathtub, and the Jacuzzi apart from the air-conditioned guesthouse might have had something to do with the decision..

Summers Diary : Contd

Day 4

Brand Re-launch at Marriott. Relaunch of FAL, POCT, PADDOC, and WALP. Figure out these brands yourself. Feel very important and privileged to be part of something so big. Load my bag with free samples.

Day 5

Holiday. Lunch with guide and brand manager of S**f. Very Enjoyable.

Day 6

Day Long meeting with the ASM task force for my project. Am amazed at how everyone is concerned about how much the summer interns should learn. It’s a great heritage, interning here and joining the company. Almost everyone around knows how it feels to be an intern, and they take great pains to make sure our stint is mutually beneficial. The project is planned with a major part of the work allocated to us. A helluva lot of money is riding on this pilot and everything depends on our inputs!!! Most of the ASM’s are women, surrisingly.The company is consciously trying to increase the number of women in the system. Understandable, considering most of their products are oriented towards women and even those that are not are those whose purchasing decisions are made by women. I cannot see a bunch of guys running a L***e, FAL, or even a S****k.

Dinner on the house at Marine plaza. Blow up a cool 9 grand. Delectable desserts. Try to walk a bit down Marine drive before catching a cab back home to burn away some of the guilt.J

Words of wisdom from my guide, whom I have quite come to like.

“You can have a job that involves your mind, your body and soul. But this is the only one that involves your b***s.”

Day 7

Holiday. Sleep most of the time, go to Juhu Beach in the evening with dad. Convince him that traveling by locals will not kill him

Day 8

Watched with pain and agony with the entire nation the Indian team botch up yet another series. Nariman point in the evening.

Day 9

Public holiday but went on the sales stint.

This wholesale market in the heart of Bombay. Null bazaar.

Amaaaazing experience, but to be fair to the salesman, only for a week or two. The dude’s been doing this for 12 years and I can only feel for him. Makes some of us who quit plush jobs in air-conditioned comfort, because it wasn’t “challenging” or “stimulating” look like a bunch of spoilt brats.

Day 10

Sales stint in Buleshwar. Downmarket are. This time with the chemist’s outlet.

Chemists in Bombay are by and large less organized, but have not explored the entire city, to be fair to them.

Day 40

Well, day 10 is all I got to till I could sit back and maintain my diary everyday. Today is day 40, I am mostly done with the initial study, reports and recommendations. We have given our first ppt to the task force which will be driving this project ahead nationally. It’s been a tiring, breathless and exhausting journey. But it’s been exhilarating. I’d take that any day.J Everywhere the term management trainee is used interchangeably with summer intern, much to my relief. Has a good ring to it.

If you ask me one word to describe the internship here, I would say “Empowering”.

The interns are the blue-eyed boys of the company. You are treated like royalty. You are given a car wherever you go. You fly all round the country. The R.S and the salesmen treat you almost like a brand manager. (I was the guest of honor in a particular event organized for the sales force in Bangalore and had to distribute prizes!). But that’s not even close to why this place is the best place to intern at.

Summer internship here is a great tradition. It’s part of the culture here. You are assumed to be competent and qualified if you are an intern. Most of the people you meet have been summer interns here. They know what you are going through. They know the initial insignificance you consider yourself bestowed with, they know your fears and apprehensions and can empathize. But again that’s only part of the elegy that this post is turning out to be.

You are treated part of the system. YOU ARE NOT INDULGED. Your suggestions and inputs are only as valuable as the logic that is backing them. They do not carry the baggage of coming from a novice, neither is there an artificial attempt to humor them if they suck.

“I’M JUST AN INTERN”. This does not exist in this company. The logic is -

“ You have been selected from a rigorous process that we trust. You have been given the greatest opportunity to learn. We back you to come out with good inputs. If you do, you will be appreciated. If you don’t, do not expect to fall back on I’M -JUST –AN - INTERN line”.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Three cheers for North Campus

As much as we all think that a 300-acre campus is the ultimate nirvana for a B-school student, I have come to be extremely fond of FMS’s location. I don’t personally think you need a golf course to appreciate Kotler better or seven lakes to learn derivatives and options. One of the few things I like about Delhi is North Campus.

North Campus is quite unique in its location as well as its structure.

Universities all over India and the world have been closed structures confined to rather beautiful, but impervious campuses. Most of the universities in India are just figureheads, just campuses with a motley collection of decrepit departments. They are neither centers of excellence nor are they preferred institutes for learning. The best colleges in India are affiliated to them and most of the time located at different parts of the state/city.

In fact for most of the top colleges, the university tag is baggage, an unnecessary suffix they have to bear with. Their reputations far exceed that of the university. The Loyolas and the Stellas of Chennai, the Josephs and Christs of Bangalore, the Xaviers and Sydenhams of Bombay have all built up equity that exceeds that of the Universities.

Not only that, the best colleges within a city are located in isolated pockets. It is so important for a university to bring the best minds together, and get them interacting with each other.( Even if it means a large majority of the student population will benefit from cross dating, more than intellectual thought sharingJ)

This is where North campus is so well placed. The best institutes share compound walls; their students rub shoulders with each other, and all the institutes are within a 3 km green radius. But there is no closed structure isolating the University from the outside world. North Campus is as porous to bhel puri walas as it is to ideas. It is as open to dissent as it is to traffic. The student community is as diverse as the range of food items. The Baristas and the Mcdonalds are as crowded as the Gwyer Halls and the KMC Canteens. Sometimes as bored B-schoolers, with our deadline filled and assignment saturated lives, when we take a break at the Stephens Café or the Hindu Canteen or the chaat wala next to Miranda House, we can afford to forget our rigmarole and observe…….

Observe the absolute vela- ness of undergrad life. Observe the blooming romances on campus. Observe the total lack of focus in the extended cigi sessions at all the addas. Observe some obscure protest against some MNC operations in India and silently cheer for a different point of view, however leftist it may be. Observe the Punjabi ostentation strewn all over in the attire, in the Mercs, in the weekly updated camera mobiles. Observe the catwalk that Kamlanagar often turns out to be with the ‘models’ coming not only in all different shades, sizes and figures but also different cultures and countries. And smile silently for a while before getting back to assignments, placements, rankings,marks….

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Beware the Ides of March, the Fools of April and the Labour of May

Well, apart from an absolutely impotent attempt at a Shakespearean pun, I should also mention that far from how it appears , I have been regularly blogging in the past 3 months. I just have not had the time or inclination to upload it yet. Rest assured when I manage to find a lead to plug in my laptop, I shall flood the blog with my Summers diary and the trip to Goa.

Friday, April 08, 2005

Vaishno Devi Trip

Religion in India, especially Hinduism, for me is about a single line - Missing the wood for the trees.
Of all the practicing Hindus in the world 90% don’t have a clue about it and the remaining 10% think they do. (Of course, I can only talk about Hinduism because I don’t know about the others.)

It is the responsibility of being handed the legacy of the world’s most exhaustive database of knowledge and wisdom that should make each of us to learn more about this religion or the way of life, as it truly was.
Unfortunately, the patrons of the religion have failed Hinduism miserably.If the last 5000 years have been constant and serious misrepresentation, misinterpretation, and miscommunication about the Vedas, the Bhagwad Gita and other scriptures due to reasons as varied as lack of effective communication tools, too much of distortion by invaders, and the caste system, with the concentration of this knowledge in the hands of a privileged few, the 21st century will be guilty of screwing up Hinduism due to either total apathy or misplaced jingoism.

Vaishno Devi is no exception to the long list of religious places denigrated from an 'auspicious' place to a corruption filled, money making, commercialized dump, where the presence of ‘god’ has ironically destroyed the tranquility of the place, razed all the forests around it and driven away all the wildlife. The list will probably include the hills surrounding Tirupathi, or the ones in Kerala surrounding Aiyappa, etc. Somehow the presence of Café Coffee day on top of the hill near Vaishno Devi failed to gladden my heart and make me feel proud of “developing” India.

The story was the same as everywhere else – Presence of touts, 'guides', willing to cheat anyone to make a fast buck, the gun – totting security personnel, the ubiquitous temple official, whose palm can be greased to allow you in a little ahead in the queue, the famous 'jugaad' (a term, which I have predictably picked up from its rightful birthplace, Delhi) that can get you through the queue because you know the great grand nephew of the brother in law of the army officer who once knew some official related to the temple.

India has always been about paradoxes. Religion just exemplifies this:
Bribing the temple official to get 'ahead' in the queue.
Dumping all the black money in the Hundi.
Throwing everything we know in any nearby river, spewing chemicals in the seas, all the while worshipping the “holy ganges”.
The list is endless…

I don’t know zilch about religion. But more importantly I don’t pretend to.I don’t go donate generously to any temple. But I pay my taxes.I don’t worship the Tulsi tree or Ganges everyday. But every time I see a plastic cover when I’m trekking, I pick it up, blood boiling.I don’t make it a point to go to all religious places or perform all the pujas I don’t know about. But I sure as hell wouldn’t bribe any pujari to 'see god'.

There is a reason why we were the greatest civilization in the world once upon a time. There is a reason why our scriptures had more scientific research than NASA could even dream of. There is a reason why Hinduism believes that all living things are sacred. None of us know these reasons, or care to know. And instead of enlightening us with such knowledge, the so-called guardians of Hinduism go around protesting against Valentine’s Day.

Till we come to understand our religion better, we shall religiously (pun intended) undertake holy pilgrimages, ruin the local forests there, cause stampedes, push and shove each other in the queue, dirty our rivers, confuse misplaced fervor with spirituality.. all the while chanting…
Zor se bolo - Jai Mata Di

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Would you come over for lunch???....

Its been a quiet weekend visiting some unfortunate friends in Delhi who made what can only be described as social harakiri by inviting me over for lunch and then watch in mute horror as they bore witness to the grand spectacle that my apetetite proved to be. I didn't utter a single word of appreciation to the saintly soul who cooked the food nor did I speak during my hour long marathon when my hands were strugglingto keep pace with my digestive systems. But I guess they would understand - I stay in a hostel...the perenial excuse for boorish behavior, absence of table manners (or for that matter, manners) and the extra levels of testestrone(if you r in an all guys dorm).
What do you do if you want a girl to run naked through a boys hostel safely?

The only other significant event was a bunch of newbies at ICICI trying out a pilot project at FMS of payment through mobile phones at all shops in North Campus.I was stunned that so many guys had turned up when I realized they were doling out 1000+ bucks toeveryone just try out the experiment.There is an near orgasmic pleasure in getting things for free and I think its an Indian disease...:)
God works in strange ways they say. Well, good work, sir and thank you.
That covers my expenses for the Nike Cap and MR book I needed to buy.