Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The precipice

"Hey it possible for you to come over in an hour?"
"Ya sure...what's up?"
"Aa jana phir batata hoon."
"Okay, see you in an hour."
"Accha sun, quarter leke aana."
"Sure...Royal Stag?"
"Abbe kanjoos, abhi to note chaapne laga hai...bring JD at least!"
Forty five minutes later...
"Early as usual!"
"Well, quarter ghar mein padi thi...and traffic was low..."
"So, you came via Panch Pakhadi?"
"Yeah, but with a few unorthodox detours on the bike, I managed to avoid tell me"
"Arre...let me make a small one first...soda for you?"
"Make mine with Coke, by the way, go slow, I brought only one quarter..."
"Arre mera to on the rocks hone wala hai...I took the liberty of ordering some Chicken biryani..."
"Is this discussion gonna be about your job or the relationship you are in?"
"Oddly enough, both. You see, I got a promotion...did you watch the match?"
"Congrats! Yeah I saw, in spite of Ponting's century, Aussies lost...but unka to time aa gaya hai...what is the new designation that you have been promoted to?"
"Associate Sales Head for Mumbai division; it means a lot more money and some real responsibilites for a the way I ordered the biryani from that guy Khurshid in Talao pali..."
"That is amazing, so your career is finally taking off...Khurshid is is Rashid whose biryani is does this affect your relationship though?"
"June 2006, third Sunday...I had called you up and told you that she has given me a committment ultimatum...remember?"
"How you remember dates and days with such feminine accuracy I will never understand...but yeah I remember the ultimatum, and come guys have been together for 4 years now and there seems to be no serious problem...other than your usual committophobia!"
"Why thank you, I seem to recall you siding with her even then, by the way have you yanked out the knife from my back or have you got a new one?" Anyway, do you remember how I had warded her off?"
"Yeah something about you not being in the place you need to be career-wise, and waiting for a promotion to some the time of reckoning hath arrived?"
"Exactly yaar, is promotion ne maa-behen ek kar di meri! I don't know whether to be excited or not."
"The way I see it, you love this post, what are you thinking about...take the promotion and don't tell her you will be safe.."
"Nahi yaar...she is a part of the legal team which we had contracted for these two years...another pair pe kulhaadi from yours truly...she will definitely hear about this...I have to take the promotion and I have to commit to her now."
"Or, of course, you can break it off...are you ready to do that?"
"No re...everything is fine now...we meet often, and we are both saving money, and I definitely see marriage in the future for us, but not now...I am only 29 damn it!"
"Only 29! At your age half our graduating class has had their first progeny...forget that, how are your parents placed on this issue?"
"Same old same old...they want me to do whatever I want...but in reality they want to see me saddled and bridled right now."
"Why do you look at committment as imprisoning instead of empowering, by the way have you seen my Dido CD, I have lost it..."
"Yes, and once you find it, you must start looking for your testicles as well...committment is empowering!"
"Chubbe...chal repeat bana."
"Sure...the reason I called you is that I want you to take stock of my relationship and tell me what you see..."
"I see a smart, good looking person wasting time with a good-for-nothing useless dickhead."
"Oh come on! Help me out man..."
"Sorry yaar, I'd rather crack String theory than explain this shit to claim to love this female, and yet you do not want to commit to her, is there someone else?"
"No...I haven't looked at another girl all this time...well except Tanya, that sales rep we had hired last week..."
"Or Seema, the HDFC bank girl whose totally useless personal loan you almost took.."
"Yeah but..."
"Or Rekha, that hot neighbor of yours.."
"She's married!"
"Like you care...or Romila that cute girl your girlfriend carpools with..."
"Pagal hai kya, one wrong stare and she will destroy me..."
"What about Sameera, that tall wanna-be model you give occasional lifts to..."
" Well, we work in the same building..."
"Or Reena...aaah Reena.."
"Can we get back to the topic at hand?"
"How many times have I told you never interrupt me when I'm picturing Reena?"
"Sometimes I wonder how logically stunted I must be that I court your advice!"
"Okay chill dude...look, the way I see it, you are being an ass...she loves you and by your own admission you love her...why not just take a few days' break and think over what it is that is preventing you from making the ultimate committment, if there is a genuine answer, you might consider breaking up with her...or swallow your fear and go ahead because that is probably what you want deep down."
"Just when I completely give up on you, you reach down into that abscess you call a heart and come up with something pretty pragmatic."
"Well, I'm drunk enough to give a rat's ass about your problems and sober enough to make sense!"
"Let's stop here then...I am taking a week off and going to Kerala to meet my grandparents...who knows meeting elders or even the journey itself might lead to some quality introspection..."
"Promotion milte hee chutti le raha hai...make way for the employee of the month!"

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Blogger types?

Blogging is more than a pastime. It happens to be a responsibility. Once the blog actually gets a decent audience, it becomes all the more important for the blogger to use it well. In the old days one had to be really good at writing to be heard simply because even the lowliest college newsletter had an editing panel that filtered off the complete crap that was so bad that the week's recipies were more interesting. 

Today, it has become a lot easier for one to be heard if one has any kind of thought about any issue in the world. While that has helped get the ball rolling on people sharing ideas, it has given way to an unimaginable verbal diarrhea that needs to be controlled. 

I guess we can say, don't look at a blog if you don't like its content, and that's that.

Still, there are various species inhabiting the blogosphere. 

The first one is the veteran blogger. This guy has had his profile visited more than, and has a fan following that regularly checks his url for his latest update. RSS feeds were invented for this kind of species I guess. These are the people whose blogs have urls ending in .net or .com or something else exclusive unlike us lowly blogspot/wordpress people.

The next one is the regular blogger. Most of us fall into this department. We blog because our friends do so or because some poor misguided soul once told us that we had a talent for writing and we took them seriously. We smartly blogroll each other in a mutual back-scratching way and take care of one another. We leave comments on various blogs just often enough to induce regular hits on our blog.

The third kind, the one to watch out for, is the 'me too' blogger. This guy is usually someone who does not really have the aptitude or the passion to write but has enough blogger friends and simply does not want to feel left out. Too many blogspot domain names are forever lost to these wanna-be Pulitzers who start a blog, write the first article, usually a self-descriptive hubris chant that asks readers (meaning friends and relatives who have been emailed/scrapped/pinged the url of said blog) to watch this space for more. Such bloggers do not really deliver and the blog tapers off after the first or the second post.

All said and done, the fact that every useless thought that enters our head can now be voiced says a lot about technology and our reach. Let us use cyberspace responsibly and humorously.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rab ne banal di thodi

After much ballyhoo and brouhaha that would take pages of this blog to fill, I reached Sahar airport (Yes, I refuse to call it Chatrapati Shivaji, get over it). One night of tossing and turning and a morn beset by jet lag slowly morphed into my sister dragging me to the latest SRK movie, "Rab ne bana di jodi." It came highly recommended by her friends, which should have been my first warning, which I did not heed. Nonetheless, I found myself in the movie hall, watching previews of a movie called New York, which seems to be akin to the oft-beaten drum of Muslims in post-9/11 USA. Forget that.

The movie opens promisingly enough, with SRK in his simplest clothes, wearing a fresh, un-starlike look that impressed me and convinced me that even Yash Raj films has come of age. A blushing bride, too pretty for him to have obtained her under circumstances other than the tragic death of her original 'would-be', and sure enough, that is what happened. Kudos to the banner for cutting to the chase initially, instead of vacillating on tears and trials.

Kudos to the peppy music, thumbs down to the intellectually numbing lyrics. Back to the story. Imagine a man who thinks that he is too uncool for his wife to be considered a suitable husband to her. Compound that with the fact that she is recovering from the loss of her real love and her father. Garnish it with her bold statement that she can never love her husband but would strangle her dreams to be an ideal wife. This is SRK's position as he keeps sharing with his suggestively gay-seeming hairdresser friend (played to perfection by Vinay Pathak). SRK metamorphosizes to a cool (using the term loosely) chiseled version to capture the girl's attention with innuendo and slapstick humor. 

While he succeeds in interesting her enough to become her friend, he realizes that the more she falls for the new guy, the further she is getting from the boring original guy he is. This ego conflict is the only part of the movie worth intelligent analysis, and as usual, Aditya Chopra has left a lot to be desired in this department. He fails to capitalize on the fact that he has an actor with potential (see Swades) in SRK, and a wonderful angle to exploit. 

Instead he sticks to the familiar pandering to the Indian culture where a woman is supposed to love her husband no matter what. He dresses it up in a deceptive tone of "Mujhe isme rab dikhta hai", but be not fooled, it is the same Bhagwan ne hamein jodiyon mein banaya hai crap.

Many reviewers have written pages on the fact that the new girl can barely act but shows her body well. Don't even bother with the fact that a woman cannot recognize her own husband when comes sans moustache and in tight t-shirts.

All in all, like a typical Yash Raj movie, this one is an insult to human intelligence, with glimpses of cuteness that are so few that they need to be filed under the topic of sheer chance. SRK does a decent job as the shy, unassuming, bumbling Suri-the power company worker, Vinay Pathak does a nice job, and newbie Anushka Sharma is strictly okay. Honestly, some movies need to come with a refund option, but then again, what can one do about the lost three hours that we can never get back?

Friday, December 12, 2008


Ah! The post exam relief is sublime…the end of responsibilities, no need to feel guilty about reading The Kite Runner when you are supposed to be reading Process Analytical Technology, no need to feel like you are wasting time listening to music when you should be captivated by Quality by Design and such like. It is a moment of freedom, where you realize that you are truly done with your subject for the semester. The chains have been untied and you are free to pursue what you really want…aimless enjoyment and idle pursuits.

Or so it is for most people.

To me, there is a cold emptiness that follows the end of an exam. I don't want to read books, or listen to music now that it is not taboo anymore. I don't know about others, but I've not been a model student during any part of my life. My parents have never really had the joy of telling their cousins and the like about how I'm always first in class, although I find it hard to believe the embellishments of all my aunts of how their children are perennial toppers. Somehow, the numbers never added up. There are far too many toppers for me to take those statistics seriously…but I digress.

A lot of our syllabi have revolved around memorization skills, with the best parrots in class sweeping up the top spots. With all due respect to their hard work and dedication, I've always nursed the idea that education should be about making professionals and experts and not mere encyclopedias of trivia…and I'm so not alone.

So whenever an exam has presented itself, I've found myself neglecting the memorization parts on principle, and taking the low marks without a frown. The parents were disappointed, but I couldn't care less most of the time. I have to admit something controversial here. I have always loved exams. The idea of a piece of paper, if well framed, being able to judge what I have taken out of a course fascinates me to no end.

Getting my grades were a kick too, for I was so arrogant and self-satisfied that unless I am really convinced otherwise, I have always used my grades to judge whether a course was taught, tested or graded fairly. This happens most of the time.

I have been lucky for the most part of my academic life inasmuch as I have never had to work too hard. I can't help feel bereft of that supreme sense of satisfaction that one should feel after working hard over something and seeing it to fruition. Chalk it up to arrogance, ADHD or plain laziness, I have always been on the casual side.

Hence the emptiness.

I spoke to a friend of mine, one who has these problems too (I have seemed to attract many friends who share my affliction). If anything, that guy probably needs to work even less than I do for results similar to mine. I put forth a theory to him expecting him to smash it with positive logic, but he concurred, and not only so, he even added to it.

So, our theory is that people like us (and there are many) who don't work hard for some tasks, (academics being at the forefront) do so because of an all-consuming fear of failure. They are so afraid to give everything to a task, because they don't want to find out that their everything is not enough to excel at said task. In other words, they do not want to accept the finiteness of their abilities. They are far more secure in their fool's paradise where they proudly put in less effort, and are not surprised when the consequences are not excellent. Worse still, they almost look down upon the ones who dive into their responsibilities accepting their faults and shortcomings and trying to fix them. Many would not want to admit this, and are going to be shattered when they see this, and see themselves in this. Of course, if there are so myopic about themselves that they ignore this theory, they will need a stronger stimulus. So deep is their denial that they would probably never see the light. Maybe their denial will last as long as they do. If so, I don't know whether to pity them or envy them.

I'll settle for a compromise. I will understand them, for I've been there too. I have always noticed that my blog posts are more objective than most. It's probably because I'd rather focus on external issues than turn the microscope inwards. I guess I should take heart in that I've recognized that problem now, and it is not too late to reform.

This post is more serious and vulnerable than others, so I hope my readers would forgive my indulgence. The ends of certain times are times of introspection and personal growth. Who knows, maybe my readers would use this post to look inwards and find their vulnerabilities too. At a minimum, this post puts forward a theory worth discussing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Nothing quite salutes the ego than blogging. Here is an idea where one can take one's deep thoughts (regardless of their value) and immortalize them in cyberspace. It does not matter whether your works are of publishable quality or simply not worth the chips that store them as memory. You have written a piece and so shall it be, forever. Then comes the idea of posting links on facebook and orkut directing unsuspecting friends to your blog where they can get a taste of your narcissistic personality. Shameless self-advertizing sounds too egotistical, and hence bloggers have resorted to scratch each others' backs by a fantastic tool called blogroll. Here one blogger tells his readers about a list of blogs he follows. I friend of mine (a fantastic blogger himself) had added me to his blogroll, and while I was a little slow on the uptake in adding him to mine, I found many messages on orkut, some on Gchat and a couple of phone calls where I was urged to blogroll him. You know who you are…so blush away!

Well, I've been tagged by buddy to post links to five posts of mine w.r.t certain topics. The list is Family, Friends, Yourself, Your love, Anything you like.

Here is the strange thing. I have not written jack about family. I don't know why. So, sorry buddy. One down, four to go. Friends are few and far between, but the ones there are, are for keeps. The guy who fought so hard to get into my blogroll is a true friend. There aren't many posts on that either. There is one I wrote when a friend was making a presentation. Somehow, I was able to pen down a poem during his apparent soliloquy.

Yourself: Now that is a topic on which any self-respecting blogger can write volumes. So here, here and here are some links on articles about myself.

My love: This is a topic where I cannot speak much, given my shy nature (wink, wink). So here and here are some posts which might shed some light.

Anything you like huh…let's see…I like to talk about various issues: God, politics, philosophy, writing etc.

So here it is, a slate with some of my shameless self-advertizing, or what we call a blog! I am supposed to tag five others, so here they are: avalok ishwar, phoenix, rydhun, sthitapragnya and buddy.

To all you nitpickers out there, I know I am tagging buddy uselessly, as he has already done this one, but I am not gonna pass up a chance to call him brilliant. That's it man…no more compliments for you for a month at least!



Saturday, December 6, 2008

Custody rules

The Supreme Court of India has recently granted custody of a minor boy to his teacher mother of humble means. The father in this case, a Mr. Gaurav Nagpal kidnapped his son after the divorce, and was holding on to him against the rule of law. In this case, the ruling was absolutely right. Clearly, the father has displayed a lack of moral fibre with his acts. Let me say on the record that I completely support this ruling.

The Times of India titled this story as "Money has no meaning in custody battles: SC." The bench is quoted as saying, "In determining the question as to who should be given custody of a minor child, the paramount consideration is the 'welfare of the child' and not rights of the parents under a statute." Fair enough. It goes on to say, "Simply because the father loves his children and is not shown to be otherwise undesirable does not necessarily lead to a conclusion that the welfare of the children would be better promoted by granting their custody to him."

The welfare of a child in a custody battle is paramount. I get that. I also understand that a child needs a mother during the developmental years. Gaurav Nagpal in this case is a rich man who is providing his son an education well beyond the mother's means. He used this point to state that he is in a better position to take care of his son. The SC ruled that as the education of son is very important, the father should continue to pay for the education while the son stays with his mother.

My question is this; to what extent must the mother be proved to be a deviant for the father to get custody? I appreciate the need for maternal love in the growing years of a child, but what if the son is 16 years old? I would contend that he needs his father more. I don't know the age of the boy in this case, but I'm pretty sure that the bench would be skittish in granting the custody to the father if the son was a teenager unless there is sufficient proof of the mother being abusive or something.

I am unclear about this topic as I am far from the stage where I would consider myself mature enough to have a child of my own, but I was always old enough to have an opinion. So readers, please chime in with opinions to clear my mind a little.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Café speak

"A grande latte please, no cinnamon…"

"Boy! You've not changed a bit I see…"

"Hey, if old habits are allowed to die hard, I think coffee preferences deserve immortality"

"Double cappuccino, just a hint of cinnamon, less foam…"

"Wow…living on the wild side, I've never seen you order cinnamon…speaking of old spices I hate, there's Sam…"

"Sam…surely you mean Sameer, don't tell me he has Americanized his name too…he is just in his second semester…"

"I know, it is presumptuous of an international PhD student to become red, white & blue before he clears his comprehensives."

"Ah! What the hell…I heard the NMR machine in his lab is a 600MHz! Is he using it now?"

"Not unless you count the new Taiwanese MS student being spread-eagled on it succumbing to his lecherous advances as research!"

"Well…chemistry manifests itself in weird ways!"

"That stab at humor was passé even for you"

"Hey…you should have ordered a decaf I guess…the last thing you need is more caffeine at your crabbiest best…I take it your animal protocol was turned down again?"

"I will never understand how a person who regularly endorses the slaughter of cows and pigs with a casual saunter into Burger King can cry like a baby if the protocol has a lower quantity of anesthesia than regarded as appropriate…for god's sake I am researching pain management, how can I do that without causing the animals some pain…"

"Calm down, they are doing their job…we can't have people being callous about animal handling in the name of research…so tell me do you get time to spend with your girlfriend at all?"

"Not really, between her trips to the polytechnic department for the gel filtrations and my constant bickering with the animal department and numerous protocol addenda…we manage to squeeze a phone call in every 3-4 days or so…"

"She lives three blocks away…her lab is three buildings away from yours…I think one or both of you might be consciously avoiding the other…"

"I need a refill…what about you?"

"Yeah…tell the waitress to repeat mine too…so I got lucky last night"

"God! I noticed that grin on your face ever since we sat down…I knew if I did not ask you, you would certainly rub in my face all the action you've been getting…so who is she?"

"Remember that cute ABCD biomed student of mine…well…she is not my student anymore, so I asked her out and she came in if you know what I mean"

"Your innuendoes never cease, do they?"

"Yeah whatever, while you spend your nights playing pocket-billiards mulling over doses of propofol, I am playing the game…did I mention I am up for an NIH grant?"

"F#$% you…all the fun and yet you get the laurels too…you cell culture waalahs get your own way on everything!"

"Well, not to sound too churlish, but animal research is like having a girl friend- lots of work and negotiation and not much scoring…cell culture is like my life…scoring all the time and no adjustment!"

"Hey…I have a lab meeting in half an hour…need to shave, shower and order pizza…"

"You are proving my point!"

"Same time, same place, next week?"

"Until then!"

"Bye bro…bye Sam (a little louder)"

"Bye…Hey Sam…guess who I banged last night…"