Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Short story # 2: Time

17 Dec

Short story #1: Traffic

17 Dec.

Write-ups are passe. Write-downs are in.

17 Dec.

Coincidentally, almost a year to k-guda's silence and olive's lamb.

That was 18th. I never forget good food.

Gults taught me the word for it. "Eidetic" memory, apparently. (Wiki that, if that's your kinda thing. And while you're at it, wiki Nikola Tesla too, way smarter than his Powell namesake. And wiki his Philadelphia experiment.)

Anyway, write ups. The memory deserves one. Only with more fun. And with fewer words. Short visual stories.

Could be a nice little series. For kicks. This is the first.

So, coming up right above, are my two write-ups -downs for the day.

Tug.
Wait a minute, it should be tyg, shoudn't it? Who cares. Too late to change. Stick with it. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bring-a-Blanket: Hyderabad's nights just got a little cozier

Courtesy whatsapp, from an acquaintance, I learnt today about the 'Robin Hood Army' in Hyderabad (they must have a Facebook page too).

Unknown to most, and while the rest of us are sleeping, this young bunch go around doing two things on this city's streets:

#1 Collecting unused food and left-overs from Hyderabad's hotels or restaurants to distribute amongst the poor

#2 Now they are on a blanket collection drive to help the homeless on the streets.

#1 made me go Aha, because this is exactly the idea I had heard in October 2013.
#2 made me think of putting this post up.

If you wish to join forces or contribute, or simply connect with such like-minded people, call Rahul Reddy on +91 9885730673, or email him at rahulr@octopusgroup.in, or search for the Robin Hood Army on FB.

Note to self: This info came to me via Rahul Reddy himself, and I know him because he was the producer / part-director for my second play, "A Distant Plateau". Had I not got into that whole theatre phase/craze/daze, I'd not have known either him or about this initiative. Hugely grateful to the ATC. Actually Rahul is a very interesting chap. Might want to FB-friend him. Runs Octopus Studios as a business. His other big initiative is called "Dark is Beautiful" where he is trying to fight against Indians' abhorrent aversion to dark skin.







#I'llridewithyou

I'm sure it's caught your attention.

The  #illridewithyou hashtag  that went viral in Australia.

It all started  in the aftermath of the Lindt Cafe hostage situation in Sydney where some Iranian nutcase/gunman took hostages. Of course, he was overcome within hours by the local Police.

But in a climate of islamo-phobia, lots of ordinary, law-abiding Muslims in Australia became a little fearful of the backlash.

Until Rachel Jacobs did something small that snowballed into a viral.

Please do read why Rachel Jacob's spontaneous act of goodness, multiplied with social media's power, turned this crisis into a opportunity to spread hope rather than fear. All she said, to a random stranger, was "I'll ride with you."

Reminded me of someone, who would do something exactly like this. And has done it many times. Supporting anyone in distress, who needed someone to ride with. Innate goodness. And given her equally innate social media skills, I know she's only to get better at it with time.

Thanks for riding with me, buddy. Keep that gallop in your heart alive.

Even from this far, I can see your now-famous smile spread at this very moment.

Ah, bliss.

What a start to the morning, 5:52 am, 16 December.

And oh, happy birthday Neil Reuben!





Saturday, December 13, 2014

Yes, misterdutta it is.

Just confirming.

Not miss dutta.

A quick slice of this funny life.

For 4 years now, I've been a phantom member of K-Circle, Hyderabad's famous quiz club.
I say 'phantom' because in these 4 years, I've probably attended no more than 5 KC quizzes.

Twice at YMCA Secunderabad, twice at the Birla Planetarium (incidentally, these two venues share a connect trivia in common, that only draws a faint smile from my lips.), and once, on air via radio.

Anyway, the point is, I still get all their mailers.

So this Saturday's Lone-wolf quiz drew my attention.

For two reasons. A, the change in rules and intent tells me that Hyderabad is finally woken up to improving its quizzing mettle by helping teams form and collaborate, a 'given' in other cities. This will help partners work together better, and also allow them to approach the sport more scientifically, dividing up specializations and so forth. And make no mistake, quizzing is  a sport, whose byproduct is knowledge. Just like football is a sport, whose byproduct is fitness.

The second reason is that it was to be hosted by JK.

I had heard much about this chap. I could imagine him to be Hyderabad's version of 'Keeda', the quizzer we all loathed and admired in equal measure back in Delhi. (Keeda aka Supratik Sen today is in Mumbai making films, the last I heard is he assisted Anurag Kashyap on DevD.)

JK sounds like a cerebral man, whose senses seem to only depart when his heart succumbs. Doing this once is understandable, but doing it thrice betrays shocking stupidity for a mind otherwise of sound calibre!

But JK the quizzer was enough to make me really really attend the KC Quiz on Saturday, 13 Dec.

Alas, not to be.

Bad timing again, something Hyderabad seems to specialize in.

My daughter's annual day in school was also scheduled for the 13th, 3pm to 5pm. Damn. Of all days.

We went. Zuri was spectacular on stage, singing a beautiful song solo "One small child, in a land of a thousand..." that we've been practising at home for a month now.

In between there were hilarious slip ups of accents, as the Globetotters EmCee/Principal went on praising the administrators with over the top inflections of genuflection. "Oh that was a grrreat-full performance.... Our nest oat of thanks to our Director Chairwoman ji...for her radiant soul...etc etc."
It was damn endearing. I hope the principal and directors are able to successing with careerful purpose. God blessing telengana.

But the drama and dancing over, duty done with, quick, quick, clap and depart. There's a quiz to go to. It ends at 630, let's go.

So as I was making a dash to return home, drop kids and then shoot off for La Makan for JK's quiz, I got held up.

By my wife's sudden wish to have a cake.

And where did we stop?

La Bonelle, Gachibowli!

My first stop there since 10th April 2014.

While she and the kids enjoyed their slice, I stood at that wonderful little cake shop, smiling at the irony of it all.

JK. Quiz. Daughter. Clash of timings. Dilemma.  La Bonelle.

Some smartass I know would probably have murmured, well you can't eat your cake and...

Humble pie, anyone?

PS: Speaking of humble pie, scored anything, did we?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Mystery of the Vanished Blog

For the past couple of days, random musings have suddenly become private, open only to 'invited readers'. If this is a glitch caused by changing settings accidentally, it's easy to fix this.

Free gyan for blogging virgins.





Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Double standards? Moi? You must be joking, mister Nean Derthal!

1. When a woman walks out of a marriage: Brave / strong / self reliant.
When a man walks out of a marriage: Coward/ deserter/ self centered.

2. When a woman walks out of a marriage for someone else: Oh wow, she's found true love.
When a man walks out of a marriage for someone else: That jerk doesn't know what love is.


But the statements also reflect how society has got skewed.

This is reality. This is why men stay on. Despite anything. Unless his woman walks. (In many cases, this is is only option and hope. Against a lifetime of stigma, not to mention the guilt of abandonment.)

Isnt rocket science, shoudlnt surprise anyone.


Perhaps this is the step needed for the wheel of justice to tilt the other way. I do not laugh nor rage at it, if this is indeed so. It must be accepted. Just like we read today of RSS mass-converting muslims into Hinduism. A righting of historic wrong is usually how the world works.

I mean, a generation ago, it was the WOMEN who stayed in a marriage despite everything. Perhaps it's only fair, then, that justice is served when, now men stay on to avoid social stigma and guilt and labels.

But thats not my point.

My point is, despite the superficial changes in the way genders wage wars, the underlying societal belief remains unchanged. Remains patriarchal.

In fact, the point of this blog, was to illustrate what is REALLY happening underneath the obvious.

Okay, let's change the statements a little bit.

3) When a man walks out of marriage without his kids: Typical. But at least the kids got their mom.
When a woman walks out of a marriage without her kids: What a Nympho! Psst, who's her lover?

Get the point?

A woman is understood, celebrated, forgiven or applauded AS LONG AS she has her kids in tow. That's her identity in any marriage. 'How good a mother are you?'

In other words, sure, you can be a brave, self-reliant, independent woman, as long as you KEEP THE FUCKIN KIDS. Coz, yknow, thats your job. You;re a woman.

Undeneath all the seemingly liberated worldviews expressed in statements 1 and 2, lurks the same old gendered stereotypes.

That's how patriarchy perpetuates pressure on both genders.

To stick to their goddamn stereotypes.

Or else, you know, Uber aa jayega.




Pun of the day*

Someone who keeps adding FB friends as if chasing records: Sachin Friendulkar.

*Inspired by sleuthing/stalking/scouring a never ending friend list.

Applying thought.

As a kid, I used to dream of becoming a sleuth.

(In fact at this very moment, I am flipping through an old diary, where I used to scribble down lots of detective stories. A detective called Von Balin. Who used to crack cases in London. Driving in a... wait for it.... a Maruti. Not kidding. A London detective in a Maruti. Shows how stunted a 11-year-old's imagination can be. Wish I could share this diary with more people. Too damn hilarious.)

As a college kid, I used to love quizzing.

Putting both those 2 passions together, here's my answer.

Praveena?

Guess only. Scrolling down such an exhausting list of possible 'suspects' was a pain (totally worth the pleasure).


Monday, December 8, 2014

Take 5: Things I learnt this evening

1) That few things excite me as the hours before a Test Match in Australia is about to begin. In 30 minutes, begins the first of the India Australia series, live from Adelaide, the venue etched in our heads for Courtney Walsh's heroics in the caribbean's 1-run epic win in 1993. Waking up for the tests in Australia is a ritual that has stayed with me since 1991, when radio's live broadcast and Richie Benaud's whispery drawl would fill my mind with imaginary visions of Azhar's heroic and ultimately tragic 129.

2) That with quietness, comes a certain bluntness of the many little edges that spike up in our own minds, and while some of this bluntness is the welcome polishing of roughness, some of it is also the dulling of ambition or hunger, and this return/risk paradox in itself needs to be balanced/moderated/tempered out with a skill that I yet do not possess. Sobering and enjoyable.

3) That, according to Sriram Gopalakrishnan who has now spent 4 months in DRL, pharma companies are staffed more with lawyers than scientists given the very nature of the business of patents


4) That Hindus feed crows after a funeral out of an ancient belief about the cawing sound they make; the Sanskrit for 'why' is 'Ka', the root word for kya, kaun, kahaan, and of course the first consonant, an interrogation or enquiry that forms the basis of discovery, wisdom and understanding. The crow's cawing were intended to be the voice of the ancestors to remind to continue reflecting on the 'why's of the fundamental questions of life and philosophy: why fortune turns, why we are happy or miserable, why we do what we do and so on. In fact, Hindu myth features a crow called Kaka-bhusandi who sits on the Kalpataru tree. The tree can fulfill every wish but cannot ever fully answer the crow's ceaseless questioning.

5) That certain ministers of the BJP, in their celebrated and impassioned march towards reviving the supremacy of our Aryan Indian culture, have proposed to make the Bhagvad Gita the 'national book' of India, which is great, and should be followed with making Jatayu our national bird, tinda our national vegetable, and khaadi the national fabric of condoms.

In a minute the test match begins. Bring on the bouncers, Mitch. Let';s see some more blood on the pitch.




Sunday, December 7, 2014

Another 4-letter word

Luck.

"How lucky they are".

Ashwin Sanghvi's new book is about getting lucky. 

No, not lucky in the way that Axe or Set Wet gel commercials depict, you gutterhead. 

Apparently the top 4 skills that bring luck are: Networking, goodness, karma and positivity. 

Hahaha, no wonder. I. Am. Screwed. 

Apart from goodness, I dont really have any clue about HOW to acquire/practise the other three. 

Karma I don't know much about. I mean, I do not understand how it works or how to make it work. If karma is just a fancy Indian word for 'choices' then I get it. It's obvious. But it means so much more in the Hindu philosophy that a spiritual ignoramus like me has no handle on it. At times like this, I feel like Arjuna, wishing his charioteer was around. 

Positivity, hmm, this is a strange one. Since childhood, I have never really been an optimist. Neither a pessimist per se... I do believe things will turn out well. I think I'm deeply cynical. To be positive seems to have 'expectations' that things will turn out well. And I've largely been disappointed on that count. (Perhaps positivity is slightly bigger than 'expectations of happiness'. It's the feeling that 'I'll be happy no matter what'). Anyway? Is it something one can acquire or practise? If so, how? Is there a checklist of things that one can attempt to follow? Is positivity an acquired skill or is it genetic gift? Those who have it may not even KNOW where their positivity stems from. 

But the toughest of these all is 'networking'. The most frustrating impairment of them all.

I did begin to change and cultivate this skill over the last year. Much gratitude, ATC.

Since Oct, it's gone back to zero. 

I don't know why. A few disabilities impede me here: I can only begin to network or talk to new people if I'm slightly high. Or if the other party makes 70% of the effort. 

Compounding matters, living with another person who's equally shy makes it tougher still, because you soon become their world and therefore unable to find time to find 'others'. And two, you do not get access to new people or new worlds. Getting that initial nudge or push is vital. 

Being a phantom on Facebook and pathetic on the phone only makes matters worse. Add to that a conscious attempt to avoid drinking, and suddenly, it's no fun at all to even meet people.  Of these, I can only start in one tiny area: getting onto Facebook. The Phone thing is just a bridge too far

It's very frustrating at times, because somewhere I have seen that when I do make friends, they stay for life. The conversations never lose their freshness and the bonds remain immune to time and distance. 

It's also frustrating for another reason: because my ability to help people gets diminished. I just don't know people who need help. Which is a shame, because people who do know me, always turn to me and know that they will find immediate and unconditional help.

In fact, I think networking FEEDS into the other 3 factors.  It helps you help people (goodness / karma), and keeps you more positive simply because people help you in myriad ways everyday.

.So there you have it: the final score.

Networking - Fundamentally Impaired. 
Karma - Ignorant but curious
Positivity - Ignorant but desperately curious.
Goodness - reasonably good practitioner 
-------------------------------------------
Total score - Now even more pessimistic about the future, hehe. God grant me the courage to change the things I can, the whiskey to accept the things I can't, and a PhD to know the difference.

( Of course, everyone knows Ashwin Sanghvi is a duck. And that's why his muck still makes a buck. What luck. On that note, Osho on 'Fuck'.) 



Marriage: the best contraceptive ever invented.

Generally I find the Times of India only useful to wrap soiled diapers after my son poops.

But on Sundays, I diligently remember to go through the LIFE edition. It's a new habit born of comical reasons. I called it 'Freading', like fraveling, a word found in the aforesaid supplement last year that led to some interesting experiences.

Yesterday, I woke up to see  the story on 'Sad dads'.

It helped to validate everything I've so often said and believed. In many cases, the arrival of kids is a singular act of destruction of marital peace. And the consequent depression, comes from two sources: by placing upon the new parents a tremendous pressure of 'duty' and 'obligation', and by stealing away the very bases of camaraderie that brings two people together. Those who talk of 'pyaar ki nishaani' are either deluded or in love (same difference).

I am tempted to share it with the oife, because she herself has admitted to this depression after her motherhood. But then the additional accusation that "at least I didn't do to you what you did to me" will be hurled at my face and a new round of arguments will begin.

I hope she has read it or understands it. I am too tired to discuss anything anymore.

The article left me feeling envious of men, whose women welcomed motherwood without any such depression. I also envy such men for not having to feel that workload and burden of duty the moment their children arrived.

They do not know how lucky they are.




Friday, December 5, 2014

Why don't I feel lonely?

For me, leaving any city on MY OWN, alone and attended, brings me just the happiness of anticipation. What will I experience anew?

I feel much, much more anxious if I leave with someone.

Because, as I see it, when you go to some place where family lives, I'll be confined. Expected to live by other people's rules.

And that suffocates me.

To live within boundaries.

When I left for Ahmendad the other day, I Loved the feeling when I boarded the flight. There were no expectations or duties to live upto.

I LOVE that feeling: to be away to a new place where responsibilities, assumptions and prejudices dont follow me.

Such loneliness is welcome.

PS. Guess where Destiny and Arvind Mills put me up.



Ha ha ha.

Marisa Tomei!!

Happy 50th babe.

In 17 years, I hope I am still around to wish that...again.

(Damn. Trust a compulsive horoscopist to find out forgotten birthdays. Seriously, this is a gift that will bring some people worldwide fame and personal fortune some day, if only goaded and guided by people of shrewd brains, genuine kinship, cynical humour, undying optimism and generous heart. Yeah, pretty easy combo to find, that. Good luck. Ha!)

Hahahaha!!! Trust a Bengali to fish, if nothing else!

Thank you Uparwala, for the reminder that I missed wishing Marisa. She will light up an "A-ha" smile in any 70s born man one meets.

Was she sexy or beautiful in the conventional way? No.

Was she a Jaya Bhaduri then? Not at all.

She was just a crazy diamond, glittering in multiplicity, with a sense of  humour. Rarest of the rare. Just watch her in the movie Wild Hogs, her character is adorably wise and naive at the same time.

But seriously, it shouldn't be a surprise that she "makes men drool" at 50.

I mean we men drool at anything.

And so do women, by the way. It's just that the labels stick faster.

Labels both external, and internal, that women put on their own heads by way of social conditioning.

Or do they?

I wonder.

A man can drool over any woman, really.

If a man drools over a younger woman, he's just a normal man. (Eg. Search shaado,com.)

If a man drools at an older woman, he's just being a man with fantasies. (Eg search Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate". Youtube that. Or any school teacher fantasy, eg "Main Hoon Na", bet everyone's watched that. Shush.)

But ---

If a woman drools over a younger man, it's blasphemy. Is that blasphemy just biological? or moral? Or just impractical, as Amrita Singh Khan would say?

Perhaps it is. On factual evidence.

But what about lou? Those poor hapless women who fall in lou with younger men? How can one dismiss them, for their feelings are definitely true, even if blinded to reality?

So reality must win over. I do not contest that.

What I contest, is the 'label'.

The label that we use to pass a jjudgment.

Because labels are lazy shorthands for understanding.

Labels reflect what it is easisest to live with wouthout upsetting one's worldview.

"Oh she's a cougar." I heard that once about Sajeda Shaikh. A woman who I still respect, even without knowing her. She had character.

My problem is that the guy who lusts after a younger woman or an older one, doesn't attract such punitive labels.

But a woman who does so, attracts labels of 'slut' or 'cougar'.

That's the 'double standards' that I cant tolerate.

And women perpetuate it the most, brainwashed by social media or conditioning that serves to perpetuate patriarchy.

I agree to disagree with those who believe otherwise. I am at a stage where my opinions seem stupid, or any opinion seems stupid, for that matter.

But I defnitely wouldnt want my DAUGHTER to grow up with such self limiting prejudices. Let her grow up in a world where such labels dont affect her. Whether she falls in love with a younger man or older, or even with a younger woman or older.

Why suddenly on this track?

Because someone asked "how the hell does a 50year old woman make men drool?" Because age shoudnt matter.

You see, this shit affects us all.

And I care about it. I care about if because I want my daughter to think less about the Brazilian bikin wax and more about what she wants or needs to be happy financially emotionally. The two SHOULD NOT have to be interlinked or even mutually exclusive. She needs to meet men and women who are not okay with the duplicity of patriarchy.

Ok, I do not care so much anymore, to enter debates, but just enough to spread awareness. because women today, have become so used to conditioning that they dont even recognize it.

So let me pass on some good weekend-browsing links:

Caitlin Moran, who is unlike any stiff frumpy feminist you probably imagine, has written a very sarcasm-laden book on this subject called 'How to be a woman'. Read this link.

Henry Adams, my beloved ex-guru in Ogilvy Hong Kong and possessor of the  sarcastic ROFL-humour level "why isnt my husband dead already?" kind, has just written a piece on it. About sexism in advertising. Read: http://www.mumbrella.asia/2014/12/pat-law-henry-adams-sexism-singapores-adland/.

She wrote this piece in reaction to a recent Singapore Award show that feliciated a advertising woman with the "honor" of being a 'yummy mummy' or 'MILF'.

For the unintiated, MILF means "Mother I'd like to fuck."

So the next time women or men use the words "yummy mummy" or "MILF" with such carelessnes, just remember you are actually using the very same labels that our patriarchial society would like to use in describing women.

Sex-objects for male consumption.

Which may be ok, or even welcome, in the bedroom, but not when evaluating a women as a professional.

Which brings me to a question I pose to myself.

I enjoy talking dirty in bed.  Does that mean I disrespect women?
No.

There's a difference.
 Sex is a sport. You don't do it unless you're playing.

Shane Warnes and Shoib Akhtars called Sachin all sorts of names on the pitch. Off it, they regard each other as mates.

That's how it is.

So it's okay if you use 'yummy' or MILF as long as you dont treat these words as labels, but as words. But when you use them as a way of classifying people, it is just prejudice.

Intention matters. QED. ATC.

PS. I watched Gone Girl a fortnight ago. I loved it. But the best scene of the movie, for me, was the revelation of the wife, who describes in one scene the various pressures a modern woman faces. Being a man who likes the naked truth as much as he loves naked women, here goes the extract from the book that Gillian Flynn wrote that inspired the movie.

On being/becoming "Cool Girls", she slams the whole damn machinery that produces this double standard of us men, and also of the women who silently play along conforming to the demand of us men:

“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)” 


Please share, all thou who visit Home.

A night of loneliness and friendship

Its 5:49 am on Saturday, 6 December.

(6 December. A date that still shudders in my conscience. Babri Masjid. Can anyone believe that in its aftermath, I spent a whole hour in an empty classroom arguing with my school's best buddy Riten Ghosh about why it was justified revenge against centuries of Muslim tyranny? Two things amuse me at this recollection: one, how opinion and personality changes. And two, I have no clue about Riten Ghosh anymore. In fact, these two observations explain each other. I love the fickleness of life.)

Anyway, here I am, a night spent well.

I mean, nothing happened. Just having Gults over is delight enough. He fled his home, chastised by his brother and mom for being a bad influence on the niece he lives with. Her name is Saanvi. His name is drunkenness. I find it sad that the world cannot see the beauty in Gults. They see the man's vices, but not his love. Like the mist that murks mirrors in heated bathrooms after a geyser bath, people's emotions fog their eyes with petty judgments. If they wipe the glass clean, they will know better.

Gults treated me to watch an incredibly funny and sad movie called the Grand Budapest Hotel. It is incredibly intricate and laughable. I strongly recommend it, I wish I could share the experience with a few people I want to.

We traded confessions, telling each other the most rotten things we have done in life that we are ashamed about. He tells me about how he once lied about another guy to win his former girlfriend's heart. Ironic then, that he has totally forgotten his girl but still remembers the guy. I tell him about getting physical with my own first cousin.

After watching the Grand Budapest Hotel, I ask him why, for a man so passionate and learned about movies, books and trivia, he never harbours ambitions of acting or writing as much as I do. He tells me he "knows his limitations too well." It blew me away, that people can be so self-aware and self-limiting in their thinking. I've always somehow had the feeling that I can do anything, be anything.  He quipped it was attributable to his loss of hair. And he means it. Such simple losses.

We talk a lot, as always. I can never love anyone like I love these guys. Only the half-guy I know earns such premium real estate in my heart.

In between we played Scrabble. Online against Chatur. True to his boastful claims, he beat Gults every single time. Of course with questionable words like 'hoo' (which apparently meets shit) and 'wey' (which obviously means I can invent any word I like coz the inventors of Online Scrabble are Americans.) But who are 'wey' to argue. Chatur is registered with the Indian Scrabble Federation and will participate in the Bangalore national championship next year. Bwah Bung to you chatur, it means God Bless in Spangtin.

Oh did I mention Gults and I also came up with an idea for a great business service? It kicks ass. We will talk to a fe people tomorrow to get it going.

He also kept saying how much he misses Sanvi, the same niece that he's allegedly being a bad influence on. The same niece who loves him to death. The same niece whom he picks up and drops every day to and from school. The same niece he feeds everyday. Teaches and does homework for every day. Gults told me "I can sell out you, Chatur and Cheeku in a heartbeat for one hour of happiness with Saanvi." I know he means it.

And yet, he was cast away from his home by his mother and brother. Ostensibly because he told his brother that he is being henpecked and manipulated by his wife. I do not know if that's true. But it certainly is not enough ground to separate a man from his beloved niece that he can sell out his closest buds for.

He's happily sleeping in the bedroom as I type, wrapped in a blanket like a walrus, snoring loudly enough to put Wagah on its toes.

It's 6:35 am now.

I'm listening to Nenjukulle, a song that is burnt into my memory as the breeze in Khajaguda.

Inspired by this, suddenly -- like always --- a couplet came to my mind as I sat in my foyer, listening to the song and reminiscing.

Here it is:

You were like my shadow,
Without it I do not know 
Where my Sun lives.

You were like a breeze,
Without it, I do not know
Whether my leaves have shed or still rustling.

You were like my music,
Without it I do not know
Where my anklets lost their beads.

You were like my shadow,
In your disappearance,
I look up at the Sun and curse its inevitable journey.

Nenjukulle, by Rehman. I wish I knew Tamil or a Tamilian friend to listen to it with.









Wednesday, December 3, 2014

MoNa darrling

Hmmm.

Lots of fat aunties on scooters, a few younger women in jeans, the odd woman in western wear in office corridors.

But strange, haven't spotted a Gujarat model yet.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Ahmedabad again.

8:40 am.

Sitting outside IIM Ahmedabad. The tea still tastes great, thick, spicy, saccharine, milky.

Students all around in shorts loafers and conversations, smoking and laughing.

Carefree.

The only difference is the fleer of expensive cars lined up where once only cheap CD 100s or the odd Roadking bike used to be.

Its only natural I guess. I'm in MoNa's own country after all. Streets paved with gold. Or could be cow piss. Hard to say. Here they worship cows.

Strangely I miss nothing. Recall nothing.

When I last came here, with Madu, Apu and Gults in the alum reunion, it felt good.

Goes to prove, its only friends who make a place what it is. The company.

PS. Speaking of company, such wisdom on 'lou'. Growth, enlivens, transformation, home. Four words that stand out, oft discussed, always expressed in gratitude.  Exactly. QED.  Isne bhi deja ki voo aarahi hai.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Connect.

This weekend,  Gults and I hosted, wined, dined and entertained Sarc-e-azam Shahehshah Vishal Chaturvedi. One of Chatur's several eccentricities is his addiction to --- and skill in --- solving crossword puzzles. Especially the 'cryptic' kind.

Cryptic crosswords, as you'd know, is infinitely more challenging because it tests not just your range of vocabulary, but also knowledge of trivia, and the ability to connect things using lateral logic.

Today in tribute, and for a very 'timely' reason, I dedicate a blog to this.

A cryptic visual question. 7 visual hints that add upto a two-word answer, one of which is a numeral. 

Connect...





PS. Phone-a-friend 1800-NANDI-MATA  with the right answer. Or leave answer as comment. (QM's deletion will be final.) 

PPS. For lovers of etymology, cryptic is from the Greek word for hidden, 'Kryptos'. Kryptos, also refers to an incredible sculptural installation that famously stands outside the CIA headquarters. Many cryptologists have tried to break its secrets, and while three of those have been solved, the fourth cipher remains amongst the world's most intriguing and unsolved mysteries. 


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Phillip Hughes, caught Destiny, bowled Fate.

In his teens, he was easily Australia's most gifted batsman.

At 19, he was touted as the next Ozzie  prodigy.

At 20, he scored twin centuries -- the youngest ever to do so --- against South Africa in just his second test.

Gutsy, flamboyant, fearless kid.

I still remember that 115 and 160 he scored. Against Steyn and Co. in South Africa, at Durban.

Cutting and hooking bouncers at will, smiling away.

He was supposed to be the future Aussie captain.

Then he lost form.

Lost his spot in the national team.

Vanished.

Often he was dropped after just one setback or too, while other less mediocre players like Alex Doolan, Steve Smith, Marcus North,  and Watson would be given longer rope.

We would all wonder why Phillip Hughes didn't get picked.

Then slowly he fought back.

2 months ago, he hit his highest first class knock, 243 against Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield.

This season, he was in sizzling form.

And finally, the luck was changing.

Because his key contender Chris Rogers was out of form, and at 37, near the end of his career.

He was picked for the squad that will face India next week in the first test at the Gabba.

And what's more, Michael Clarke gets injured so Hughes has a certain chance to play.

Our kid was back.

And then, suddenly, a freak incident on the cricket pitch changes everything.

A bouncer smashes into his helmet, and Hughes collapses instantly.

In this day and age of advanced helmets and protective gear that batsmen wear, bouncers arent supposed to be that dangerous.

And yet, this particular bouncer was.

Somehow it hit him in the base of his skull, a very tiny region of his skull, that burst an artery open.

For 3 days, Phillip Hughes was in coma.

Today he finally succumbed.

At 25.

You know for the past few days, I was hoping that perhaps all the  bad-luck that dogged him during his career, getting dropped from the team too often unjustifiably, would finally add up to some good luck when he needed it most.

It wasn't to be.

His luck never changed.

I knew fate's fickle, but I didn't think it would be such a bitch.

This one's for you, bud.

Nina Simone, reprising "Born under a bad sign."






Coincidence #1

Maybe the ING disappointment happened for a reason, like most things do.

This set me thinking.

Of some recent 'coincidences' that have just struck me.

This post is about the first of these.

But first a little background. From my very childhood, I have felt the tug towards spirituality. A curiosity about god and other such debatable concepts. For instance, I remember spending one entire Durga Puja (I must have been 14 or 15 then) arguing relentlessly, and in vain, with Saikat and Saha, two neighbourhood buddies, about whether God exists. They finally won that debate. I couldn't put forth an argument strong enough to dispel their much stronger logical certainty about god's absence. Even earlier, when I was 8 or 9, I remember reading one Ramakrishna story umpteen number of times, of Jatila, the little boy whose mother couldn't buy him curd, a story that somehow still moves me deeply. Then, around at age 16 or 17, I remember crying, literally crying, those weird saline watery emissions, sitting one little booklet by Vivekananda. I don;t know why, but it happened.

The point is the yearning was always there. The outlet wasn't. Maybe due to the environment I grew up in, or the lack of mentors in this space, whatever, but I just didn';t have the access to explore this part of my thirst. And I perhaps missed out on something that may have prevented some wounds that would later fester into tumours in the years to come.

But, strangely, I did find that acceess. Twenty years later. Maybe fifteen years too late. But at least better late than never.

When life turned absofuckinlutely shitty, far shittier than anything I had faced even in my troubled teens, life suddenly goaded --- and at times thrust without option --- towards spirituality.

In the form of Art of Living. Through more enlightened friends who nudged that door open.

Last year, I got into AOL pretty seriously. And more recently, I have begun to meditate with the sudarshan kriya technique five days out of seven. It's a start.

So imagine my surprise, when I suddenly got an unexpected chance to come face to face with Sri Ravishankar, the founder of AOL.

This happened on 2nd November 2014. Ravishankar had come to inaugurate the Manjeera Platina, a new commercial property in Gachibowli... which, bizarrely, incidentally/coincidentally, was a client and a property that I had helped to launch as part of my friend's agency Quilt 365.



I mean what were the chances? High spiritual leaning, zero spiritual access, thirst for years, then sudeenly life gets shitty, I join AOL, and one fine day, I get an out-of-the-blue opportunity to meet Ravishankar.

But you know what's even more coincidental?

This opportunity wouldn't have come to me if I had not worked on this particular Platina ad campaign. And I wouldn't have worked on the ad campaign had I not met Sunil, my friend who runs the agency that handles the Platina business.

And to top it all, the Platina campaign was the very FIRST campaign that I had worked on with Sunil. Even the circumstances were totally random. I go to an art workshop in 2012. I bump into Sunil. I find out he runs an ad agency. I get curious because I had left advertising years ago and was itching to write ads again. I ask him what campaign he's working on, and if he'd like some help with it. He says "Platina". We create the campaign. Clients likes it.

And then, 2 years later, during which I go through some turmoil, unexpectedly join AOL and begin a journey that would one day bring me face to face with his Holy Beardness.

AOL. Sunil. Platina. Ravishankar. Boom!

Coincidence. Co-incidence of various things at the same time.  Orchestrated by some random mathematical lottery, aka Uparwala.

The floor is open to debate.

I'm just chuckling, shaking my head. And I bet, when the lights go out, someone out there is grinning too.

PS. I pity the poor guy/writer who had to proofcheck the copy on that big banner behind his Beardness. Should it be His Holiness Ji, or His GurudevJi, or his RavishankarJi? Too much 3G for a copywriter's simple 2G brain.  I need a ParleG.




Tough 7 days

The past week has been daunting.

Took the kids to Bangalore to see their mom. And figure out where they/we could live. The schools they could go to. After all, just a month left now.

I had feared how the suffocating proximity will affect my fledgling steps towards peace, and my pessimism didn't disappoint me.

I guess I was tired too. Not having a nanny at all, and then trying to look after the kids alone in a new city that they don't want to relocate to, was pretty tough. Since her work kept her very busy in office, I spent two out of the four days ferrying the 2 kids all day between Cubbon Park, Lal Bagh and Visveshwariya Science Museum and some apartment communities. Tired shoulders and legs lead to frayed tempers.

The tiffs were banal to begin with. I was pissed about why she hadn't arranged for a Cable TV subscription that could keep the kids busy and ease my workload, knowing well that the kids would be cranky.

Then there were the more serious fights. Primarily around two issues:

1) 'Have you disconnected?' - Almost 6 weeks later, I somehow still wasn't able to admit to the fact that I have. Because doing so would basically validate/vindicate her long-held opinion that the disconnection would be inevitable if Scenario X unfolded. While I kept refuting it, assuming some things (wrongly). When Scenario X did unfold in early Oct, lo and behold, she was proved right. She was always right all along. And I am still feeling a bit stupid to have assumed otherwise. I need to be brave. I need to cast aside the ego, (in this case, ego  = fear of proven stupid) and admit, yes, I have disconnected and you were right about Scenario X. I WIL be left looking like a fool, and the 'I told you sos' will no doubt be coming my way, but there's never been any problem about accepting my mistakes if I've known them. Let the Universe fuck me, love me, whatever. I am naked.

2) The more problematic issue that triggers conflicts is my general tone of conversation. I'm quieter, calmer, less effusive or expressive. This, due to the stark contrast to history and how I've usually been, is being construed or received as an unacceptable change, a cruelty that cannot be tolerated. I don't know how to deal with this. I am not trying to be cruel. I am just trying to consistent with this new person I've become, or the old person that is trying to evolve. There's no malice or motive. This is just honesty. I guess, honesty is hard for most relationships. I'll just remain strong and bear the lashes as they come. Good intentions, as the ATC principle goes.

Anyway. On this front, I'm still ok. My optimism came under serious threat, but the upside is - the kids managed to get enthused about Bangalore. Showed them a good time. Plus got some serious work done, in terms of identifying a place to live, and exploring posible schools. The school is a big problem -- they dont usually take in students in the middle of the year. Have to research some more. Ideally, I wouldnt want to ask those old familiar 'governmental allies' to pull strings in order to secure an out-of-turn admission for Z and Z . But no ego there -whatever is good for the kids is ok for me.

The real disappointment was the ING anti-climax.

Just inches close to finalizing it, having presented 2 rounds of some good marketing strategy approaches, having met and earned thumbs ups from the Head of HR, the CMO, and the Country MD, I was pretty sure I'd hear those 4 magic words "You offer letter's ready." In fact part of the reason of going to Blore was to finalize the talk with Sonalee.

This is the role I was keen on: a switch to marketing would be great long term. None of that internal comms bullshit, that glorified version of making presenations over small talk, and sending newsletters in the name of news.

And then, on Friday, got the call from the Head of HR. Kotak acquires ING on Friday 21 Nov, in a move that surprised even their own bigwigs. The Country MD Brett Morgan is moving on too.

Consequently, my role itself was suddenly put on hold.

So near, yet so far.

Poof. Gone, like that.

Anyway, I guess, destiny is just bufferING these days!

A day later, on Monday 24th Nov, I get a rejection call from Ernst and Young Bangalore, due to a mismatch in salaries.

I can sense life's trying to teach me precious lessons. I'm just confused about whether this is justr a normal class or an exam. If there's stakes involved, I just hope the dice rolls the right side up. I say dice, because so much seems so random.

I was crushed when the news came in.

After a few minutes, I was grinning to myself, wondering if this was a 'sign' to not move to Bangalore. The grin disappeared later that night, when Z murmured half-asleep as I was patting her to sleep: "Baba, you will always be with me."

Black-sheep Baba  quickly began to count sheep.

Life, you sexy little fox!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Goodnight folks... 2:37 AM calls for a dedication to the beauty of loneliness

I shall retire now, with a couplet conjured up over the last cigarette of the night, and a timeless song.

The couplet  I conceived is thus:

The Dawn is but just a few hours away.
The jealous Night is hoping She delays.
And yet, the longer Dawn waits,
More painful is Night's own death.

The timeless song is courtesy Lata Mangeshkar and Madan Mohan (I think)... and dedicated to an unforgettably Sybaritic feeling. Those ancient Greeks had a word for everything. What a song, what lyrics, what sadness...and what benevolence and acceptance of life as is, no complaints thereof.





....and are some are scintillating!

Just got off the phone with Varshini. An hour-long conversation, no less. Imust be turning into a girl. Hahahaha. I love it. Any change is good.

The one standout line I'll remember from her several pearls of wisdom and counter-views, and reflect upon, is from her recent play, 'The Dinner'. (Repeat show: La Makan on 21st December, for those interested in experimental Indian theatre.)

Ok, so the standout line is this:

"Once you've robbed a Man of everything, he's no longer under your power."

Thank you V. That's real insight.

Like a pebble you throw into a well too deep, this one line is worth ruminating on. Some 'plops' sound too soon. This one will stay. Let me consider it a wee longer.

Learning#1: I robbed P of everything these last 18 months. And equally, she robbed me of everything these last 18 months. And in doing so, we have BOTH negated the power we once held over each other. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Who knows. It's a gift. Life is learning, even when pain is the teacher. Yayyyy! We're both liberated and equally powerful now. It all depends on how you view 'robbery', actually.

Learning#2 : I should keep in touch with V. She's wise, despite the age difference. I mean, can you imagine anyone choosing a path based on the view from her hostel-room's balcony? V decided she wasnt one to chase escape and solitude of the hills. Sh'es still unsure. But at least, unlike so many of us, she was aware enough to think that far. More power to you Varshini.... or maybe you were just born a Libran. Wise and pragmatic,. At 24, I was blank. Swept by feelings. Irrational, un-Socratic.

And yet, if I've met you -- thanks again to a divine intervention, made possible by the ATC of life and theatre --- I must be blessed.

By that one line alone, "Once you've robbed a Man of everything, he's no longer under your power."

We were meant to meet, if only for me to understand that one line. TUG. Thank you ATC, for helping me stay open to new people, new perspectives, new learning. Extraversion is a gift.




Some conversations are banal....

This evening, i accompanied Zuri to her skating class. She's been unwell due to 'cough and cold'. (Pronounced KofNCold, and prevented by the use of unfashionable monkey caps, in my hypochondriac Bengali language). So I thought I'd be there to see if she's struggling. Or to provide guilt-induced encouragement by a stay-at-home dad.

But thanks to that decision, I got to overhear some incredible conversations, held between other accompanying parents. Mostly women.

Mostly WOMEN.

Here are 3 gems:
Gem#1: "My husband thinks I'm too strict with the kids." Other skatingmom responds: "Tell him its natural, coz you spend all day with your son and it gets tough and one gets impatient."

Gem#2: "Bengalis smart hote hain. Pataa hai kyon? Because they eat fish."

Gem#3: "Aaap dekhoge toh maan jaoge... You must watch 'Devon ka dev' (a popular mythological soap opera on the Hindu deity Shiva, starring various skimpily-clad apsaras who are perhaps role models to the aforesaid gaggle of aunties)..They showed why Goddess Kali was born 'black-skinned'...coz she was born abnormal....yknow why?...coz her Mother drank somarasa, the tabboo drink....which was brewed in eastern india...along the banks of Brahmaputra..."

(This conversation continued long, but I had stopped listening after this point due to the crick in my neck owing to the attempt of keeping up with the ladies' convoluted logic flowcharts. I just hope I can bring up my dinosaur loving, roller skating daughter to grow up differently from THIS kinda shiv sena,)

I recounted my horrific scarred experience to my gang of ghouls via Whatsapp. Chatur reminded me how men's conversatons were even more banal: discussing property prices and new car launches, poking fun at rahul gandhi and rehashing whatever they viewed on CNBC or Arnab Goswami the previous night.

I concur.

Although the women holding the banal conversations that I happened to overhear, were banal, the conversations the modern Coroporate Man, is not only banal....it's intolerable.

Like Chatur said, "It's as if these corporate menfolk find it immature and friviolous to discuss sport, cinema, art and literature,"

So there you have it.

Women talking about parenting and soap operas....men talking about cars, property and politics.

Humanity stuck in the same treadmill of trying to show their self worth,



Sunday, November 16, 2014

28 days later.

So, it's been 4 weeks to the day.

And a fortnight since I last blogged. Shameful. I should feed this more regularly. Maybe, I dunno, copy-paste articles on  Halloween, horoscopes or the Art of Living...

Thing is, it's been a strange fortnight: I have never BEEN busier.
And yet I have never FELT less busy.Unhurried, is the word.
(Coincidentally, I discovered today that Leonard Cohen has turned into a Buddhist monk. Trivia lovers will find his ordained Buddhist name if they read the whole piece.)




A certain calmness and stillness creeping up inside. Slowly losing words, or the need to express them.
Maybe  it's due to the shrinking human contact. Just Sunil and Varshini left now. And of course, my gang of ghouls from the ashen pasts.

But it's pleasant to be like this. Blank. Disconnected. Hermitic. It's not so much "I dont give a fuck", but more like "I dont have any fucks to give."

Meditating and abstaining from alcohol with diligence. The distance from Bangalore is helping. Of course, this idyll will soon be tested, once I move cities after Christmas.

Will this peace continue? Recent experience suggests otherwise: proximity seems to bring out the worst. For instance, the turbulence on 3 to 5 November.

But that'll be my test. I think if I fortify and calm my soul inside, then theoretically, external factors should not be able to disrupt it. Have to get there, pronto.

Right now, I'm reveling in this Shiva-ness. When domesticity resumes, will need to see whether I have it in me to strike that Vishnu-type balance.

The key is to stay detached and unemotional. The first comes easy, the second less so. But therein lies all power and liberation. Never regarded Vishnu much, that chameleon of convenience. I guess the married life demands that compromise. Let's see.

Let's see if I've grown stronger. Have you seen how easy it is to provoke ants? Hover a finger and they start scurrying, agitated. Elephants, well, it takes a lot to piss one off.

That's where I need to be at. To maintain my inner calm and strength despite any provocation. People will do what they will. They're also equally struggling, equal Brahmas with their four heads and countless compulsions, wants, needs, emotions.

Slowly I am beginning to realize that I can actually give up much, much more than I ever have, or thought I could. It's deliciously crazy to realize that.

Anyway back to the fortnight.

Lots of reading, a few movies, and of course, introspection, and daily meditation. A lot of parenting too. Carnivals, games, homework. Making swords, magic wands, crowns and stories. Today the daughter wrote her first 'book'. She called it "Dinosaur Information Book", It featured imaginary hybrid dinos like the Tigerosaur and Catterpillosaur and the Mammothosaur. Good god. I'm raising a  LSD junkie. Yesterday, the daughter threw a fit, tears et al, about WHY i had forgotten to wish her Happy Children's Day. Who's teaching them these things??

Maybe when she grows up, I'll tell them what a complete two-faced Janus that Chacha Nehru really was.  His betrayal of Kashmiris of going back on his word to conduct a plebiscite. His betrayal of East Bengalis on the plebiscite to choose sides. But that's ok. Probably his good karma. Damn lucky chap.

Speaking of assholes, Dad was over for 10 days. For a change, I could sense within myself real forgiveness for him. I could tell, because nothing felt like a effort. Unlike earlier, even the silence between us --- most of it was silence, has always been --- felt effortless, less staged, less tense.

We had decent discussions about geo-politics, science and history though. Nehru figured a lot. At least on that point, we agree. That Nehru was so goddamn lucky. Just lucky. That all his best contemporaries died by 1950. I mean, for all of Gandhi's claims about the efficacy of satyagraha, finally it took the Japanese fleet docking in Andaman to really give the Brits the heebie jeebies. Atlee was quite candid when he said that it was the INA and the Royal Indian Navy's mutiny that finally expedited the British withdrawl.

Dad also tried to play  counsellor, but thankfully I just listened. And he listened too. I was happy to notice that I feel little or no malice I have towards anyone. And I'm approaching things with blankness and compassion. ATC lessons, big tick.

Read a beautiful line from Aurelius: "If all opinion is taken away, then no man would ever feel wronged." I guess, wrong and right are just figments of our own imagination. To remain blank and to avoid all sort of preconceived opinions/beliefs/prejudices...this is a great lesson to remember. All credit to ATC for being naturally wired that way.

Been reading a little bit of Hindu philosophy too. Devdutt Patnaik's, Ramanna Maharishi's. Absolutely fascinating. Once again, a door that I've always wanted to open, has been gently pushed ajar, by the ATC factor. Gratitude, much.

Been attending interviews. Suddenly, when I've stopped chasing them, the leads have begun to pour. Or maybe it's just to do with the fact that December is when new salaries need to be allocated and roles filled. ING, Coke, E&Y, Dr Reddy's... all on the radar. The best part about giving interviews, is the fun of getting deep into different sectors. Banking, pharmaceuticals, Agro, Oil exploration, lots of learning. What else does a person need....ok fine, a job offer would be nice too!

What else?

Oh, the ING presentation. Made a kickass strategy for the assignment. Twice over. If they still dont hire me, it's their loss, hahahaha. Can frankly say I gave it my best shot. Rest is upto the Mother. She'll do whats best for me.

Even the other interviews went well. Coz I'm permanently blank and there's no agendas no selfish motive to 'swing' a job. No need to impress anyone. No desperation. No hurry. Just a blank state of mind.

What else?

Landor's empanelled me. And lots of work / some sustenance money coming my way from there. They're damn kicked. Seem like a good bunch to work with. Quilt and Sunil keeping me busy too.

Have I missed anything?

The teaching volunteering is on as well. Really enjoyable and been extremely regular. Forget the kids, I had the most fun myself. Just revisiting old concepts. And understanding them even better now. And learning new concepts along the way. Atomic structure, orbitals, s, p, d, f, energy states, quantum numbers....just brilliant. Kept reading, studying, watching videos. When the girls understand, that smile on their lips when they 'get' something that flew over their heads in class, is just the icing. (On this topic. What genius dudes these guys were: Shrodinger, Planck, Heisenberg, Bohr. Was discussing this with Mulla, and we couldn't quite decide whether to call them Physiicists or Chemists. The lines blur as you go fiurther up the intellect chain. In fact, Planck and Openheimer would best be described as Philosophers perhaps.)

Met an interesting man as well. Dr. Devaprakash, nearly 50, but what a buzzing mind. Almost like a homegrown Tony Stark, millionaire philanthropic complusive inventor and spiritual seeker, who keeps inventing new tech. What I like most is his intent (what an important word and aspect!) to do anything that creates 'value' not just money. Some of the stuff his firm is developing will not just make millions, but also solve major problems. Knowing the kind of cool tech he has, I don't want to reveal anything more or else he'll definitely know.

Oh and watched movies. Just one actually. But what a hell of a trip it was.

Gone Girl. Only Fincher could make something like this. American Beauty meets Fight Club meets the Game meets the reality of manipulation and counter-manipulation that fucks some marriages up. Came out laughing. Just laughing. Just grinning. Never seen a bleaker nor most honest indictment of our inner devils. And I have my fair share of them myself, so no judgments there.

Actually the opening voiceover in Gangs of Wasseypur said it best: "The world is divided into just Chutiyas (loosely translated into 'fuckin idiots') and Haraamis (street-smart bastards). And troubles begin only when a fuckin idiot gets down to bastardness, or when a bastard loses his smarts and does something idiotic.


Think about it, into your own life, or anyone's. Pretty darn right.

Take a bow, David Fincher. Seriously, The games people play.

So what's the solution?

1) Understand the game
2) Recognize the skills you need to win it.
3) Refuse to play it.

Some people are stuck on 1. Those are the naive or deluded idiots, teach them. Most are good at 2. These are the bastards, learn from them.

But if you really want to laugh through life, move to #3 as quickly as possible, my friend.

PS. Appropriately, a song as unhurried as any. By a Brit 90s indie band called Tindersticks. Love their stuff.




Friday, October 31, 2014

Ka-ching!

Been a packed productive PROFITABLE  day.

Got/getting empaneled as a brand consultant for Landor.
A nice revenue stream, with some big brands to work on. (In all the mess of life, the one thing that's kept me sane and going is my writing. Still paying my bills. Still entertaining audiences. Never ditched me, the pen and paper. Thank you buds.)

Better yet, finally managed to wrangle out my long-pending cheques from RBC. And if I may add, without losing my temper or raising my voice, just good ol' persistence and some new found tricks learnt from Seneca. (more on him, later.)

Plus, made sexy stir-fried chilli-garlic momos for Zuri on special request. Ok, make that special 'order'. And you NEVER mess up an order from a warrior ninja with a sneer that screams death and a Katana made of the finest cardboard there is.


So all in all a good day at Shilpa Park for Dad and daughter and of course, the bank account.

Exhausted and happy.

And YET, I type this...fully sober.

Yeah, baby. Getting back, one step at a time.






"Maid suffers stroke, young actor suspected"

Yesterday, a 'celebrity' dropped home.

Except that I didn't know he was a celebrity.

Until Razia, the lady who looks after my son, had a cardiac arrest just seeing him. Turns out Bharat is a rising television hearthrob of a soap called 'Meghamalla'.

Razia could barely speak. She began fanning herself with her own hands . Words wouldn't emerge out of her hyperventilated gills. In short, she was in celebrity-induced paralysis.

And in a first --- I mean she's never offered me this privilege in four frickin years :) --- she actually asked Bharat (and me, by default) if we'd like some tea.

I was thoroughly amused. Bharat seems such a quiet, low key guy that it's hard to imagine a 30-year-old mother of one to become such a mess at his very sight.

I was also amused at how luck plays out: you see, Razia was supposed to be on leave yesterday and only came in after a few requests from me. And well, she got to meet her fave tv star.

I'm just happy the lady got such an unexpected surprise.

Maybe we're all just conduits. And maybe you should just take a few more chances, like Razia did, and say 'yes' to more and 'no' to less. I know I have, and it's paid off.

I shall print her this photo tomorrow as a souvenir. Damn, just look at Razia's eyes, haha. Good thing Shahrukh bhai doesnt come over so often anymore.


Bharat also accompanied me to the orphanage in the evening. The kids just went crazy ballistic. The funniest part was to see these girls ask him questions like "So why did you fight with your wife in the last episode?" etc etc. Yep, for them, he's nothing more than the character he portrays.

I could understand people falling at Arun Govil's feet in the 80s, but to see young kids still deluded by actor's personas despite all the media and connectivity we have today, was quite a shock to me.

The kids loved the experience. When I went back today to teach them, they wouldn't give a damn about the covalent bonds of Fluorine or the geography of Laterite soils or the sine cosine of trignometry.

All they wanted to know is "When is your 'hero friend' coming back??" Hahahaha.

Anyway.

Thank you Bharat! And thank you Varshini for bringing him over. You and your strange multiple circles of friends, each of them an interesting introduction to human life outside my hermit crab shell.

PS: Bharat is going to appear in an upcoming Telugu feature film releasing on 20th November. It's titled Chill Chesadu". Here's a peppy track from the same.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

10 days later.

And how have we been, dear reader? (Yes, Google Analytics, I know. Reader is singular. That's how I like it.)

Feel a bit like the pianoman in some derelict forgotten bar. But its comfortable inside. And nippy out there. At least this is a familiar feeling.

It's 3:53 am in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, 29 October.

As usual, I'm up. My 6 hours of sleep ticked off.

Except that I feel a little more fidgety than before. I guess this too shall pass.

Checked my phone out of sheer instinct. While doing so, my mind wrote:

Like a coffin  lowered gently into memory's grave,
A number sinks deeper down my 'last dialled' list.

It's been 10 days now.

Like I had predicted, I am returning back to my hermit past. The perks of being an introvert. Loneliness is second skin. Very little human contact now, may be just 4-5 calls all put together in the past 10 days. (As I type, I'm listening to a track called Main Jahaan Rahoon, where Rahat sings "Kehne ko toh yeh duniya saath chalti hai, par chupke se, iss dil mein, bas tanhai palti hai".)

Makes me wonder, am I ok with this loneliness? Thing is I've never noticed it. Not in the past, not now. Or maybe it always bothered me, and I just ignored it through booze.

Will give it a think. It depends on how one uses this loneliness. If one turns to crutches, it feels lonesome. If one introspects, it becomes solitude. Powerful solitude.

The coolness of this solitude is allowing me to lift various shrapnels and burnt embers and really inspect them more closely than I ever have. The will to resist crutches is allowing me to do this.  For both these things --- strength and self-awareness --- I'm grateful to You.

There's a video going around that I chanced upon (yes, thank you, Facebook!), on how boys don't cry and why it fucks things up for them and for the people in their lives.

I could relate to that. It's probably why I turn to booze so readily. I had an interesting and brief debate recently with someone on what's easier to deal with for a woman: Type A - anger/rudeness/violence or Type B- alcoholism? Both are common coping mechanisms for emotionally-challenged men. I have only met Type B. Anyway, I will examine this for myself first and blog about it. Maybe in the blog about boozing.

The last week was predictably rough. Let me get the ugly truth out of the way first.

I drank. On the night preceding Diwali. And on this Sunday. So it's 2 days out of 10.

Aberrations. Weakness. I recognize it as a weakness. I am working on it without self-flagellation.

The good news is that I'v been alone since Sunday. So three days of solitude later, my mind is at peace and the urge to drink has died.

Now that oceans separate us, there's room to breathe again. It scares me, the amount I love being left alone.

I must conquer this easy surrender to provocation. I must get to the stage where I do not allow her to provoke me to anger. As long as I allow it, I'll be a slave. I have no control on others. All I can control and direct, is my own mind, and my own actions. In that, there is true power. And I'm recognizing it. No matter what the indignity, my dignity and self-control should tower above that.
And yet, no matter how my honesty affects others, I must retain the courage to express myself without fighting for it. That too, takes self-control: to stand by the truth without fear or fanaticism.

Self-control. Takes discipline.

Discipline is one of the 3 things I constantly chant or seek these days, when I pray or after meditating, or in thoughts and deeds.

The other two being Gratitude and Compassion. (I was going to chant Equanimity, but I doubt the Universe keeps a GMAT thesaurus.)

How is it playing out in my actions?

Ok, let's pen it down.

Discipline
  1. I have been meditating every day. Praying every single time too. 
  2. I have resisted drinking on 8 out of 10 days (yay - see how I can look at stats more positively ;)
  3. I worked my butt off this weekend on 4 ongoing commitments - 
  4. Taher for the new script, 
  5. Rajat for closing the freelance project
  6.  Sunil for the ADS launch branding
  7. and Madu, for the Mobile App project proposal. 
  8. I am sticking to my resolve to read good stuff every night and jotting down thoughts in my diary. (Current high - Marcus Aurelius' Meditations.)
  9. I am ensuring thatVara Prasad, Uday and the Gig Music School guys help/entertain/teach the girls at JMJ Sneha Sadan. Taking them there this Saturday.
  10. Talking to people, who need hearing, with discipline - Riz, Anjali

Grateful

  1. In the last 10 days, I'm grateful I got to finally watch Gangs of Wasseypur. And wow. Or rather, wowie! (#smilingtoselfatthememory) I havent watched too many better hindi movies in my life. A full review will follow soon. But felt good.  A rare private indulgence, watching my kinda movies on my laptop, undisturbed. Shouldve done this years ago.
  2. I'm also  grateful that on Diwali, I could still manage to take a movie date out for myself to watch Haider solo. (Oh what total crap this movie was. Waiting to shred it apart in a review. Should send it to Aseem Chhabbra and get his feedback. #notetoself: Movie reviews - another side to life/writing that I discovered the ATC route.)
  3. And everyday in my prayers, I'm grateful for the things within myself that I learnt in this journey, that I was helped to learn. I'm grateful to God for keeping me sane in a world driven mad by who's right and who's wrong.
  4. I am grateful that Zuri's limited palate now extends to eggs. Must cook her some more.
  5. And finally grateful to Sunil/Atiya to come over this diwali to our house. Needed it. Seeing Zizou all excited and lighting 'boochakkam' up with me, was priceless. After a day of grown-up gunfire, lighting a bhoochakram with a 2-year old felt cathartic. 

PS. Finally, per tradition, some music. This is 'Sunshine of your love' by the superband called Cream, also fronted by Eric Clapton. Their lead Jack Bruce died last week. Watch this video - a rare one, from their last concert together before they split up. Useful commentary too.





PPS: I've surrendered to Her, but it's She's who's clinging on to me. Which is perfect. Try snatching that, Buddha. Hahahaha.

Until later.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dough deewaane

Meditation - tick.
Prayer - tick.
Workout - tick.
Staying sober - tick.
Bright start - tick.

 Dough has been the theme of the morning thus far. Woke up at 4;00 am again. Cant seem to sleep beyond 6 hours. And then not being a morning person leaves me clueless/ restless waking up so early. But I'll keep that 'insomnia' challenge for a separate blog.

The day began with an email approval from the Lankan client approving my 80k fee. Not bad for 2 nights work.* A few more clients and this could be a good gig.

Then, Zuri woke up at 6am asking for parathas. Yes, parathas. Thank god for youtube. It's taken all the secrets outta cooking. Turned out nice. Zuri called it 'softer than the ones Sujata makes'. Hmm, what did I do right, I have no clue. Was it the dough? The oil quantity? The belan? Zodiac?

Like the chocolate brownie I made for her - one time awesome, other time crap. Dough be or not dough to be? (Note to self: Must watch Haider.)




















----------- MOVING ON-----------

Big tickets for the day:

1) Go to Sneha Sadan to figure out if the Sisters are willing to arrange a Children's Day event for the girls, and of course the kids' prep for 3rd term exams. Vara Prasad and Syed have both offered to help for the Children's Day event  and it'll be nice to put up something for the kids. Grateful for my new-found ability to befriend different people and connect them together. Work in progress, but very satisfying. Thank you.

2) Finish the SuperLosers script for ComicCon Bombay: They want the play extended to 30 minutes. I'm thinking of getting Wolverine and Iron-Man into the story somehow, for obvious reasons, ha! Also - need to figure out how to register/copyright my script in case other theatre groups globally want to lease it out to perform. Damn you theatre! You tempt me and distract me in equal measure. But grateful for it. New skills, new learnings, new networks.

3) Submit freelance invoice to NTB, Chase R for payments.


*The asterisk is for a realization that hit me: And it's about my boozing. . So much 'good' in my life has been made possible only due to booze. Take this very blog for instance: the Lankan contact. The ability to befriend a Syed or a Varaprasad. The ability to deliver a kickass campaign in just 2 nights. Would I've been able to do these things had I been my sober self? Not so sure. On the other hand, there may have been the less positive outcomes as a result: my insomnia, for instance. But that's the dilemma, the challenge ahead. AOL says to accept both sides of every coin as one fails without the other. On the other hand, I've committed to myself towards reducing this habit. How can I retain the catapult and lose the crutch? I must enquire into this more deeply. The drinking bit. Why do I do it? What are the alternatives? Points to ponder and introspect. 

A separate blog on Booze coming up...
-----------------------------------------------

PS: The Blog's title is courtesy that happily hummable hit number from Gharonda. The film is crazy though - an ending that leaves you laughing and lamenting at the same time. 70s were a class apart - so many directors trying offbeat cinema when Anurag and Dibakar were still in their diapers. Oh wait -- so was I.









Monday, October 20, 2014

Day One

And so it begins.

This will be an interesting journey.

What's different? At least this time, I'm AWARE that a journey is beginning.

Growing up was just about tumbling around and getting scraped, dusting the wound, and then getting back up and running again.

Marriage and mid 20s was more of a "damn, now what train did I board again??"

When the kids were born, it was like "Err Pilot, I'm trying my best to keep the draught out but....I think we're missing a wing.. or two. What was that? Sorry can't hear you over the blast I just heard from the fuel tank underneath...hello, Pilot? Helloo?"

Anyway.

Now, for the first time, I'm aware of the journey. And I can therefore prepare a little better. This again, is owed in gratitude to Air Traffic Control, hereafter mentioned as ATC.

Part of me is taking the journey alone, another part is akin to an out-of-body experience: my own self suspended 30,000 feet looking at this "new / old me" almost like a third party / scientist with gleeful curiosity of what will come of this.

Like many other things that I've discovered / re-discovered very late in life, diarizing is perhaps the easiest to sustain. Hence this resumption of blogging. Does anyone blog anymore? Doesnt matter. Fossils R Us.

Anyway.

If one keeps putting one step after the other, in no time, any mountain could be climbed.

This, is to document that journey from time to time, to pen down mini- goals as reminders to self, to pen down successes to cultivate gratitude and optimism, and to put down lessons learnt, wisdom gained or perspectives examined from the recent past, and some that I'll pick along the way here on, And of course the lighter stuff.

 (I do hope the diarizing continues. It will allow me to compile thoughts, if nothing else, that, 20 years later may puzzle me, amuse me, educate me, or perhaps, just sit around as a digital museum for my kids to understand their dad a little deeper. Hahaha. And then they'll wish they didnt.)

So, day one.

Successes?

#1 Began meditating today. Felt so good that I cat-napped for 20 minutes. Those strange drifting semo-conscious bouts of sleep that the sudarshan kriya often brings with it. Or maybe I've been sleep deprived for a long long time.

#2 Began reading  again (Marcus Aurelieus, after a gap of 16 years. It's dense. But some Stoicism is needed now. Hence. Will try and paste excerpts that made sense)

# 3 Freelance: The ADS client's advance payment has come in, so we can now begin the Branding process. And the bank balance enough to last me another 2 months EASILY. Plus the freelance brand book that I'm writing for the Sri Lankan client is looking SEXY! I hope they like it, and pay on time. Not bad for a 2-nighter project. Freelancing is actually good business, provided one networks and keeps oneself visible/circulating.

It's strange how many entrepreneurs I've befriended in the past year or so. John Francis, Sunil Krishnan, Ankit Bakshi, Taher Ali...I still don't have half their ambition. I do wish they had a quarter of my perseverance though. But still, lucky to have found these guys in the past 24 months. All of them have helped me grow too, even if not financially commensurate with my efforts. But that's ok. Education is worth investing in without seeking returns.

#4: Stayed sober and dry for 48 hours. Despite temptation / provocation.


Still to do?

1 - Pay bills - credit card (90K, yay!) and mobile phone (1500, who's surprised!).

2 -Chase pending payments from the Ogilvy of Hyderabad, hahaha, as Sunil calls him. It's funny how many people get busy in workshops and conferences when you start calling them up for money.

3 -Work on the Superlosers version that Comic Con wants us to perform in Bombay, Dec.

4 - IT repairs

5 - Jobhunt on Linkedin.

Anyway. That's day one.

I'm satisfied because I've meditated.

And because I resisted the bottle last night.

And above all, for resuscitating this blog

May it long continue, even if sporadically.

Because writing, for years, has been my inner ATC.

















Wednesday, March 3, 2010

God versus Devil

Sachin: How much for a 55-plus average?
Devil: That’ll be one soul.
Sachin: Err… but my batting never had one…
Devil: Yes it did. That pull shot of yours. And the straight six off a seamer.
Sachin: Oh thooose. Sure, here, all yours. Don’t need them much.
Devil: Deal.
Silence.
Sachin: Umm…
Devil: What?
Sachin: Can you throw in another record or two?
Devil: Hmm. Now lemme see…the highest individual score in—
Sachin: Yippeee!! You mean four hundre—
Devil: Oh no. Not that. Lara keeps that one. You can have the one day version.
Sachin: Oh… :-(
Devil: Special package just for you. Home conditions, flat pitch, full crowd, Lifetime highlights package on Neo, the works.
Sachin: Deal?
Devil: It's been a pleasure.

"When I orgasm I don't come?"

Laughter originated amongst primates as a reaction to extreme fear. For first hand evidence, do a random search on Yahoo Answers. As I was going through some of the questions that people ask, found myself asking: is this world scary or what?!
Some of the questions you might stumble upon:
-Why do cat furs always have holes in the right places for their eyes?
- I was bitten by a turtle when I was a lad, should I still drink orange juice?
-I caught my son having sex with a guy. Is there a definitive way I can tell?