Friday, October 19, 2007

The script

Today, like every other weekday, he woke with a start, perspiring, cursing the power cut, and cursing the 8 am shift. He had 20 minutes to shave, shower and get dressed before the company jeep would take him out to the site. He was the shift operator for the earth moving equipment that the British company had specially brought over to India by sea. The job was one of great responsibility. He was the only Indian who was given a key to the inventory. The crane was built by a company in an unheard of European country, and he could only understand the images in the user manual, the text was all foreign.

To add to his worries, his wife was carrying their second child, a daughter this time, he hoped. The 2 year old boy was proving to be a rascal with no scruples. Must have got it from her side of the family, he cursed again. She was a tease, he thought, as he trimmed his mustache. If only my wife was as attractive and intelligent as her, he mused. As he picked up his freshly pressed uniform, he noticed the new button stitched into the cuff which the washerwoman had broken the previous week. He paused for a moment, and the usual guilty thoughts ran through his head. His wife was a conscientious, pious woman, who never asked for anything, and never questioned him about the running of his house. He wondered if his fling with the British supervisor's daughter would land him a place in hell, forever. He had even converted to Christianity to appease her. Their concept of eternal damnation, was a very scary thought. The priest never failed to remind him that all his fellow pagans would spend eternity in the arms of the devil.

The cold water washed away all his musings, and jolted him back into reality. He would be late if he did not rush to the corner Post Office, the arranged pick up point for the jeep. He dreaded his daily commute, as it would mean sitting alongside that arrogant ass Romeo. Romeo Chettiar was a constant pain in his side, never failing to highlight that his family converted to the faith a generation before. And was always needling and taunting him. It was all his own fault really, he never should have let Romeo see him with Stephanie. But she was aggressive and independent. She wanted the whole world to know about them. How would her father react! He would be summarily dismissed from his post, and even thrown into jail. She would be sent away back to England, to cure her of her insolence. His whole existence was threatened, and he knew exactly how much trouble he was in. If his wife's relatives knew of this, he could be ostracized from the community completely. He was already in trouble after the conversion. With so many things to worry about, his wife found the perfect time to get pregnant again.

His thoughts began to make his jaw tighten into a frown so dark, he was scared of his own reflection in the mirror. Enough! he thought. Today I will make amends. Today, I will cut off everything with Stephanie, and return to my wife, my family. Even if he was thrown out of his job, he would not care. This constant worrying was driving him insane. The consequences be damned, the whole world be damned!

As I excitedly turned the page of the writers first draft, I could not help admiring the plot line. It was brilliant! An Indian family man, honest and scrupulous, burdened by responsibilities, a family, a stressful job, a British mistress! The time was pre-independence, the atmosphere was buzzing with anti-British sentiments, and the lead of the story was living right in the middle of it all. I couldn't wait to read the entire script. Of course, it would need editing, I may even have to add or remove a few characters, or exaggerate their roles according to my creative opinion. But the movie would be a super hit! The critics always loved these scripts set in the colonial past. The film would have a very decent International audience as well. Music releases, Premiere shows for the glitterati, press coverage, the Muhurat shot! The producers would pour indecent, nay vulgar amounts of money into this! Who should I get for the lead role? That tall star-son, with the super star father, and the drama queen wife, or that ridiculously popular mega star, who loves to stutter, with a violin in one hand and a sweater draped over his shoulders...Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Test rode the Pulsar 220 dts-Fi. Loved it. Awesome bike, loads of power, good torque delivery at moderate revs, perfect balance, rear discs are beautiful, looks good, not too gaudy, not dull either. The showroom guy tells us they have a waiting period of 2-2.5 months. That really sucks. The bike doesn't. If I had 90k to spend, I can think of no other bike to spend it on.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Karma on my side

So I'm on the bike, heading to work, on what seems to be another routine, uneventful daily commute. Bah, you smart alec's out there have already decided that it wasn't an uneventful ride, just after reading the first sentence, haven't you! I'm tempted to spite you and stop writing now just to aggravate you. But I won't, that'd just be letting you get away with your smart-ness.

So...riding my bike in the rain in Mumbai isn't the most stress-free experience of all time, but it generally is uneventful(no prizes for counting how many 'uneventful's' I'll use..). I'm in the left most lane, going at a fairly brisk speed, it is the highway after all, and I see a brown Qualis ahead to my right. I'm pretty sure that he's climbing the approaching fly-over, so I don't slow down, and head to the service road under the fly-over. Just as the flyover is about to begin, our friend in the Qualis decides he doesn't wanna drive on the fly-over, and so he swerves left, almost side-swiping me, and when he does see his attempt failing, brakes like a maniac. Imagine the scene....tyre's screaming, people screaming, I'm screaming, I swerve at 60 kilometers per hour, brake hard, skid to evade him and eventually regain control a few horrible seconds later.

At this point I should tell you that I'm probably not the most understanding, calm guy around. And I do have anger management issues. So, I stop the bike, get off, take off my helmet, and come towards the Qualis with very bad thoughts running through my head, like breaking his legs at 3 different points and shoving the handbrake lever where the sun doesn't shine. As I approach the Qualis, the driver gets a very nasty surprise...remember, he's now between the entry ramp of the fly-over and the beginning of the service road, in short, in the middle of nowhere, with his rear end facing traffic that wants to climb the fly-over, and his front facing the service road. So I'm walking slowly, deliberately towards him, he stays inside the car, and a few seconds later, karma kicks in. An 18 wheeler behind him hasn't noticed that he's stationary. He He He :) The 18 wheeler brakes a little too late, and smashes into his rear end! If you have ever seen 2 vehicles smash into each other, you'll know how horrible it is. Metal against metal, grinding twisting and emitting noises that remind you of aliens in a sci-fi movie. The Qualis is smashed from the rear. The rear entry door literally bent and mangled into scrap metal!

Now any normal human being watching this would run to the driver and see if he's hurt or not. Not me. I almost pointed and laughed. Not that I'm proud of it, but in hindsight it does seem a bit mean minded. But at that point in time, I'd narrowly missed getting hit by his car, and lets just say I wasn't feeling any sympathy for the man. So as slowly and deliberately as I was approaching him, I turned back to my bike, rode to work grinning like an idiot...happy that for once, karma was on my side.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My mind's stuck in a time warp

A quick post after a while, the standard excuses apply, too much work, no time to breathe, its been like hack, hack, hack, breathe, breathe, blink, hack, hack, get the drift. However, I'm excited. My friend is getting married this weekend, and his bachelor party is tomorrow. How can that not be fun, eh!

Its funny, because I've known this guy since school (thats more than 10 years back!! damn time flies!), and I have this impression in my head that we're still as young as we were then. It's something about friends that you've known for ages, every time you're with them, you feel like you're still as young as you were, and that life is still out there waiting for you. Too bad that its all an illusion. Time has gone by, making a swishing when someone pulls the metaphoric carpet from under your feet...swish, that second one was just for effect. It's weird when you see your 20 year old friend, and instead of seeing a smart, well-adjusted, pretty young woman, your mind tricks you into seeing that bespectacled, slightly nerdy school girl in the red and white checkered uniform, with pigtails and braces. This kind of thing happens all the time to me. My perception of some of my closest friends remains stuck in a time warp. And I have to kinda pinch myself to wake up, and realize the facts for what they are. I have to force my mind to sort of create a new save-point for a lot of these characters in my life, explicitly remembering their current status in life.

So you get what I'm saying right. The next time you meet that old buddy from school, don't start acting and thinking like a 15 year old...remember you're a lot older, a little wiser, and so is he or she.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Do you hate your mom's best friend's brother's son-in-law?

The way the world works is, you work like a dog until your very last ounce of energy is exhausted, but your rewards will seem insignificant as compared to your mom's best friend's brother's son-in-law who managed to hit the jackpot with some enterprise, speculates on international stock markets and lets his money earn more money for him, while he sips bloody pina-coladas under the californian sunshine. And after you ask the almighty, 'Why him...why not me? I am an expert at doing nothing! I've got it down to an art form!', you curse yourself for being a tad ungrateful. After all, you're living the good life as well, at least the middle-class version of it. So you can't afford that lexus just yet, so a third of your salary is all you're able to spend on yourself, so your social presence won't exactly be missed at the upcoming grammies or emmies or whatever thingummies. You belong to that respectable class of today's youth, who have everything they need, and most of the things they want. But does this knowledge make you feel any better? I bet it doesn't now, does it? Thats the trouble with being, er..umm...,
a normal, mature, independant, almost well adjusted, middle class youth in today's society. Everybody and his dog wants to soar through the proverbial skies, land in the sands of prosperity, or some other such poetic metaphor that induces voluntary regurgitation. Well, you also dream of better times. But along with those dreams, you are pretty certain that you're gonna achieve said dreams about 80% of the time...the other 20% you'll put down, well...shit happens, or some such non-poetic resignation. So what is the only sane, rational thing to do...not ranting on about how life is unfair, or why shit happens, and more specifically, why its happening to you more than other people...all you can do is keep sweating, keep working..keep doing what you think you must to survive. And then maybe, just maybe...after a while, people will bitch about you as being their mom's best friend's brother's son-in-law who's doing so well and making all of them look and feel like pond scum.

Friday, June 29, 2007

the last train home

The last train is never on time, he waits at the station, in the company of a few stray dogs who barely acknowledge his presence. And he waits. The usual suspicions stir inside his head, am I late, was the train canceled? but no, the indicator still shows that its expected...bah! since when have the indicators been 100% correct! He cranes his neck to see as far as he can without toppling over the platform, but cannot see the headlight of that oh so anticipated train. If he misses this train, he'll have to either stay on the platform of this merciless city, or risk spending some hours trying to persuade cabbies to take him to his destination. Faced with awful odds, he decides to walk out into the city. As if on cue, he hears the train rumble into the platform, just as he has stepped out of the station. Rushing back to the platform, without considering the risks of running up wet stairs, and dodging sleeping dogs, and then running down more wet stairs, he reaches the platform just in time to wave goodbye to the guard at the back bogey. No point cursing the rains, or his decision to leave the bike at home. Looks like he'll have to camp out at the office one more night. He wonders to himself, thank God he has spare clothes, a bar of soap, deodorant, toothpaste and his brush in the second drawer of his desk, and then something hits him so hard he stops breathing...why am I so well prepared for a night at the office?

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

here comes the pain...oops, sorry rain

Its funny when you think about it. The MET department and the BMC predict heavy rains, thundershowers and gusty winds, send out sms's to every body and his dog, warning people, making them think twice before leaving home to get to another workday, threatening them that the next 48 hours will make you wish Noah was still around building that wooden floating vehicle. And the next two days go by, with just a few scattered showers, barely inconveniencing anybody except ants and pavement dwellers, and everybody criticizes the BMC and the MET department. Calling them names, making rude jokes, the works. The BMC goes around beating its chest and making statements like 'We are ready', last time was a fluke occurence, which will only be remembered as a one-off spike on the historical graph.
The average bombay chap now doesn't know what to think. He's seeen the worst weather and knows what can go wrong, there is no visibility from the authorities on our level of preparedness. He's seen a few roads blocked because of the first rains already, and it is completely reasonable if he gets anxious. After all he and his city have been through in the last few monsoons, the doomsday predictions suddenly don't seem all that trivial.
I for one know that the city is not ready for a repeat of the previous monsoon's fury. If it were to happen again, the city will pay for its laziness with human lives. Some enterprising mumbaikar would probably see this as an opportunity to earn some moolah by stocking body-bags to transport the victims corpses. The civic authorities will shift the blame to lack of funds, bureaucratic red-tape, mismanaged projects and anything else you can think of.
I hope I am wrong, and I hope that we will not pay as heavily as we did the last time around, but hoping does not translate into real preventive measures. Even if our disaster-management division is confident about its ability, I'd prefer if it never got the chance to actually prove itself. Mumbaikar, trust no one for your safety this monsoon, not the authorities, not your fellow man, just carry a spare set of clothes and get insurance coverage.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Quarter-Life veteran

So I'm on the way home to my office, riding through heavy traffic, 66% probability of rain, and 70% humidity, in the blazing sunlight. I get here, switch on the two computers that I have to work with, and the Issue trackers on each of them are overflowing with things that I have to do, or get done. Its 10 am (ok 10:45..I woke up late, so sue me), on another Monday morning and the weekend that passed has only served to aggravate me. Monday, bloody Monday! Server's are dying, mails aren't being sent, logs are filled with errors, I forgot to recharge my cellphone, the bike's making a weird clunk every time I shift gears, and I realize that I'm another victim of the Quarter-Life crisis.

Some people whine continuously about how easy life was back when they were young, and I'm assuming they meant their mid twenties. I seriously doubt whether that will apply to our generation. The mid twenties for me seem like a horrible race to get to some unclear finish line, which I am not really sure exists, and if it does exist, I don't really know whether I want to get to it. Adding to this the fact that there are numerous obstacles along the way, and my fellow competitors seem more than able to decapitate me anytime they wish to.

Engineering college never prepared me for any of this. I kept my head down, reading those books, passing those exams, and after years of hard (last minute) work, got the darned degree. Coming out of college with that degree felt like I was a gladiator armed with many weapons, ready to face whatever was out there. I guess I was misinformed. Getting employment was difficult in itself, but once I did get a job, I kept finding myself overqualified for it, while the juicy stuff was passed on to guys with a few more years of work under their belts. Now that I happen to be one of these guys, I can understand the compulsion to pass on seemingly critical work functions to those who have demonstrated prior ability under similar circumstances. I find that I have to force myself to think without a safety net, and just let people make mistakes. The fact that I must correct those mistakes to get things done on time does irritate me, but reminding myself of the big picture, and punching the wall a few times helps me get over it.

None of this however helps me understand where I am, what I am doing, why I am doing it, or where its taking me. Sleep deprivation, continuous pressure, horrible financial condition, family forgetting my name, friends becoming distant, social life fading into oblivion...ah, the heady perks of being a quarter-life veteran.

Thursday, May 31, 2007


Palace grounds I come!!!

Its raining in B'lore, and we'll probably be drenched while listening to Aerosmith...but I don't give a shit, its AEROSMITH!!! theres a nifty little countdown timer on the blog sidebar, reminding me how much longer I'll have to wait...javascript is fun :)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Dead man talking.

So I was in Hyderabad last weekend, and returned on Tuesday. Friday, news comes in of a bomb blast in the Mecca masjid, right opposite the Charminar, right where I was standing. There I was, with a bunch of friends, innocent and vulnerable, hardly aware of the risks we were taking just being there. A narrow escape, very narrow. Two days before the blast, I was standing right opposite the Mecca masjid, trying to bargain with a roadside vendor, for something he called a rose stone, which looked really cool. I found out that the stone was priced at over 300 bucks, and I'd offered the guy something like 30 bucks for it. And while we were haggling over the price, and he was trying to explain the processes involved in shaping and polishing the stone, neither of us knew that in a couple of days, the Charminar area would be in the news for all the worst reasons.

Over the years, I have found myself in situations that promised great bodily harm, and yet I have escaped unhurt from almost all of them. When I was in primary school, I'd gotten lost in Kurla station, and a neighbor of the family ran into me walking on the train tracks, towards chembur station(at least my sense of direction didn't fail me!), so she got me home sans any mishaps along the way. A few years later, the terrible mumbai riots happened, and I managed to get stranded somewhere on the Matunga railway station bridge, with a violin case in my hands, and no idea of why people were running around screaming. I don't remember much of what happened, but I remember walking all the way back home, thankfully in one piece. I remember the neighborhood watches that were organized after the riots, with people taking turns standing guard on the terrace of our building, armed with loud whistles, hockey sticks and all kinds of assorted weaponry. Wish we had some guns back then, I was probably the most qualified to use guns, because of my encyclopedic knowledge of the Clint Eastwood/Kirk Douglas/John Wayne westerns that I used to watch. Gunfight at OK Corral...ah, those were the days. But I digress.

Phew...thinking back a few more years, I was in an auto rickshaw, with a cast on one leg, coming home from the hospital, and the local rickshaw union thugs declared a sudden strike. They were stopping autos forcibly, pelting stones, using hockey sticks, etc. I'd almost reached home, when a group of said thugs tried stopping my auto. Being in the state that I was, there wasn't much I could have done to stop them from tap dancing all over me, but I remember my auto driver swerving at the last minute and reaching me home. More recently, the train bombings, and the BEST buses acting as remote controlled explosives, all are adding up to the dangers that we are forced to deal with.

Now before you come to some absurd conclusion that I am some kind of ninny, paranoid schmuck who's permanently looking over my own shoulder, let me get to the point that all these events intend to support. All these events could have potentially ended my life. Add to these the fact that I've been biking for as long as I have, and the conclusion stares me in the face. I've probably outlived my projected life expectancy. In a city like mine, in a country like ours, we can kid ourselves forever about economic growth, political stability, the triumph of the democratic process, blah blah blah. Nobody talks about how meaningless the loss of a human life has become. The sanctity of human life has been eroded to the point of no return. People survive natural disasters, and do not complain when so many of their friends and relatives are washed away. Human beings orchestrate terrible events in the name of religion and freedom, killing their fellow countrymen in the hundreds...nobody is surprised. After all, whats the loss of a few more lives. This is India, after all. People are used to dying meaningless deaths. The administration is hardly troubled by news of yet another disaster, that claims even more lives.

Enough ranting. The words that you read now, are those of a man who in all probability should be dead. By pure chance I, and so many of you, have avoided becoming statistics, victims of some utterly senseless disaster, one among many. Forgotten when alive, only to be remembered by some over zealous news correspondent, in death. Make of this what you will, just don't get all depressed about it. I intend to live far, so good.
(Steven da man!)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hyderabad heatstroke

I've just returned from a trip to Hyderabad over the weekend, and it was bloody hot there. When I say that I was umbilically attached to mineral water bottles throughout the trip, I am not exaggerating. It is unreasonably hot there, and I cannot for the life of me, imagine how the locals manage to carry on with the weather this bad. People were biking around in temperatures above 45 degrees, buses were packed with mid afternoon commuters, life went on as usual, with nobody even mentioning sunscreen lotion, or air conditioned naps...Suicidal. Theres no other word to describe it.

I spent most of the time in the outskirts of Hyderabad attending a wedding reception, which was good fun, and as usual the wonderful slowed-down pace of life totally rubbed off on me. I never rushed to cross a road, no hectic commuting from point A to points B,C,D, all in the same day, hardly any anxiety (except when I had to fight the urge to check email!), and blessedly both water and electricity were so abundant, that I took them for granted. I must mention the roads there though, they were brilliant. Not a single section was dug up, hardly any potholes, and traffic was at its best behavior. I even commuted standing on the back of a cargo vehicle, a Piaggio ape, which kinda reminded me of the bahubalis in Omkara. Commuting is easy in Hyderabad's interiors, 7-seaters, auto's, buses etc are ridiculously inexpensive and readily take you to your destination in exchange for less than 10 rupees. A stark contrast from the situation in Bombay, where similar distances would cost well over a 100 rupees to cover. Only now I realize the impact of urban cost of living as compared with the semi-urban and rural. If I were offered the kind of work that I am currently doing, with the kind of compensation that I am getting now, I would readily relocate to any of South India's semi-urban or rural areas. No doubt about it. If there are any cons at all, apart from the heat, it'd be the distance from my friends, and the lack of a night life. The day ends at 10:30 pm, and police patrols roam the streets after 11, making any midnight excursion for cutting chai and pav bhaji a dangerous proposition.

We did visit a few places, Ramoji Film City, and the Charminar. The heat made it impossible to even think of any further exertion. The film city is a sprawling 2000 acre establishment with guided bus tours ferrying visitors from point to point. It is beautifully maintained, and the staff there is very professional, leaving no room for complaints. Charminar was a bit of a let-down after Ramoji Film City. The film city really raises the bar for every other tourist hot spot, with its superb locale and beautiful gardens. The place is so huge that it takes visitors an entire day to experience all its sights. My favorite section was the Wild-west area, complete with a mock wild west town, stunt show (desi-Chiranjeevi type stuntmen in leathers), saloon, stables etc. Only tumbleweed was conspicuous by its absence. I even bought a cowboy hat(erm, more like a forest ranger hat), and pretended I was Clint Eastwood sans his trusty steed. My six shooter was actually a bottle of water, which was replaced with fresh chilled ammunition every so often.

We returned early Tuesday morning by the Husain Sagar express, and after a quick shower, I find myself in the office earlier than the earliest birds, dozing and pining for my vaio, which is probably missing me too. Its got vista installed on it, with a lot of bloat ware, all of which I plan on removing...just as soon as I make a recovery disk :)

PS: I didn't get to see Banjara hills, and hence did not keep my lunchtime appointment with Sania Mirza. Hopefully she and Tabu will forgive me for ditching was the heat you see...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Spending spree!

Woaahhh.... I'm spending more money this week than I've ever spent, heres a listing:
1. Hyderabad trip on Friday night until Monday (probably 4-5k)
2. Sony Vaio VGN-C25G/B laptop (70k) Woo Hoo!!
3. Air tickets to Bangalore and back for the Aerosmith concert (5k) Aero Force One!!! here i come!
4. Concert tickets (2k)

Grand Total: 82+k, all in a span of 3 days....headspin happening!

Pics of the laptop will be in the next post, concert snaps later, and am gonna be grinning from 7 pm tonight for a loooong time cuz my next post will be from the vaio !!!

Blame it on the love...of bits and bytes!

Ok let me stop before I start sounding like a nerd on a caffeine OD.
Sane posting shall resume in a week or so..once the headspin wears off...

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

A programmer's point of view

My job forces me to deal with a lot of question marks. I write code for a living. So I have to constantly ask myself...will this code change screw up something else? am I understanding the requirements completely? will the response times get screwed by this teensy weensy change? are the servers healthy? what is the meaning of life? where do I fit in to this jigsaw puzzle also called the universe? did I have lunch today?

Most engineers are forced to study theoretical computer science, so that they may apply those concepts to actual work situations and reduce the number of unanswered questions. Unfortunately most engineers never paid attention to these theories in college. Even if they did, I doubt they'd be any better equipped to answer these questions. The problem with taught logic, is that it simplifies everything down to the duality. There is true, and there is false, and nothing but either of these two. Logic does not leave room for for uncertainty, which is unfortunately a major part of every software implementation decision. Hence university prepares the programmer for nothing, and when thrown into the wilderness of commercial software development, he is like the proverbial bunny facing the headlights of an out of control tank with a maniac at the controls.

So where does that leave me (and most engineers)? Emergencies. Every issue that comes up is an emergency, consequently, any efforts to prioritise tasks, go down the veritable toilet. If you have a fire to your right, and a fire to your left, and one to the front, and one warming your ass, how will you decide which one to extinguish first? Apart from these, you have the other little tasks, like designing modules, bug-fixing some minor parts of your system.. etc.

Management loves these situations. For them it becomes an exercise to assert their superior skills and exhibit their charting/graphing abilities. They'll decide which fire to put out first by simply considering how much money each fire is burning up. It doesn't matter that your ass is being roasted, you still have to put out the fires in the sequence they decide, while they explain their decisions with a lot of meaningless statistics and pretty pictures. Alright, maybe I am exaggerating a little. Maybe, the fires weren't really life threatening. But the intricacies of software development, leave the poor developer with very little margin for error.

There's a story I read somewhere. A big company has its industrial floor, and something is causing a complete shutdown in the machinery. Nobody knows what or where the problem is. So they call in a consultant, he walks about for a few hours, fiddling with knobs, reading meters, doing what consultants do...and then walks over to a boiler, takes a piece of chalk and marks a tiny X on the inlet pipe. He tells them to change the pipe, and almost instantly the problem is resolved. Then arises the problem of paying the piper. Management argues that the exorbitant sum demanded by the consultant hardly matches his actual effort. All he did was put a tiny X on a pipe. The consultant broke up his billing charges as 1$ for actually drawing the X mark, and 49,999 $ for knowing where to put it. This story may or may not be true, but it helps explain my point.

Commercial software development works much in the same way. Everybody and his dog can write code. It requires a special breed of programmer to know what's wrong, and how to put out the fire. It may be as simple as turning a switch on or off...but knowing which switch to toggle only comes from long hours of painful debugging, many cups of coffee, and many missed family dinners.

The point I am trying to make is this. Software development may be touted as a logical, systematic method to translate business requirements into finished product, but it is rarely logical, and even more rarely systematic. Problems never come unaccompanied. They arrive in multiples of 1024, and always on the morning after that late night which has you yawning throughout the day. Solving these problems needs a combination of exceptional judgment, time management, unbelievable skill and dedicated, painful manual labour. Trust me...programmers earn every last dime of their salary... the hard way.

In a future post, I will attempt to redefine the stereotypes associated with the programming fraternity. Some of these include the alpha-developer, his trusty hard-working sidekick, and his reason for suffering..the rock-star programmer.

Monday, April 30, 2007


I make sure my gmail inbox displays 42 items (the answer to life, the universe and everything)
I always get on my bike from the left side
I do not use alarm clocks
I hate wearing a wrist watch
I use the mouse with my left hand, but the mouse keys are aligned as a normal right handed mouse
I hate email
I do not own any formal clothes or shoes(jeans and t-shirts-u gotta love em)
I love Mozart's violin concerto's
I hate boy band music
I really hate boy bands
I love big band music
I hate listening to music with the ceiling fan turned on
I have to read a book before I sleep
I carry around a tiny notepad and pencil...everywhere
I hate talking on the mobile
I like sms's
I think shaving is a waste of time
I hate shave gels..prefer the brush and soap ritual
I sing in the shower
I love goa
I hate madras
I forget...every date/appointment/event and need somebody to remind me...always
I remember... the first time i rode a bicycle
I write poetry
I love my bikes
I hate cars (coffins on wheels)
I hate mumbai traffic
I curse..under my breath
I think men and women can never learn to get along
I think i should stop here...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Unreasonably illogical. Guilty as charged...or am I?

Aargh...If you want your brain handed to you, scooped out of your head with a red hot metal hook,look no further...all of this past week 'He' has been bombarding me with useless rhetoric,
boggling logic and maddening wit. 'His' latest question goes this way...

Say you gave your final exams yesterday.
The results come out tomorrow.
And you have the opportunity to win a free trip to Switzerland/Goa/whatever tickles your feathers.
The offer expires today.
But you do not know whether you will pass or fail in the finals.
Would you take the opportunity, and go get that free trip anyway?

Then, without waiting for me to answer, he stubs his cigarette out, (I see a maddening lecture
on logical reasoning coming here, but am helpless to escape it...) . He assures me that I will
not accept the free trip. That I, being the conscientious individual that I am, will be
unwilling to commit a hundred percent to that vacation, without being sure of the outcome of
those final exams. And he says, while wagging his bony finger at me,
that I am being unreasonably illogical here.
(Stay with me..this head spin wont last more than a couple of minutes...).

Now, he changes the question. He asks me what if I was sure of the result.
I am sure that I have either passed, or failed.
Now will I take the free trip?
Again before I can mumble, he cuts in and stoically states..Yes you will.
If you have passed, you will party in Goa, and if you didn't, well, you'd be inclined
to go there anyway as there is nothing to be gained from not going.

While I scratch my earlobes, he offers to explain where I was being unreasonably illogical.

In case:1, he says, you did not take the trip, simply because you could not separate the
consequence of one event(exams) from the decision necessary for another(trip).

Now, in case:2, it is clear, that had you either passed, or failed...the only two alternatives,
he assures me, you still chose to go on that trip. Hence, your initial decision was
completely void of logic. You did not have the reasoning ability to visualize that the
consequences of the first event, would have absolutely no impact on the decision necessary
for the second.

Also, he tells me, that such obstinacy on my part, saddens him, and he wishes I'd get my act together.

As I trudged back inside, something nagged me like a vulture gnawing away at a carcass...
why didn't I answer the first question correctly?
Grrr... I didn't answer at all did I...
He tricked me again didn't he! Hand me that hammer now will ya...I'll return it to you, a little bloody but otherwise undamaged.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Blogger code of and for retarded, slack jawed, smug, condescending s-o-b's

Tim O'Reilly, smug, do-gooder that he is...has come up with the "first draft" of the blogger code of conduct. He wants bloggers to put up badges on their sites, indicating that they comply with the blogger code. Wow. This is neither wrong, nor stupid...just criminal. The code of conduct implies that somebody somewhere decides what is and what is not acceptable expression on a blog. It implies censorship, even though as yet no governmental authority is enforcing it. For all I'm concerned, its the first step to enforced censorship....I mean, what the fuck! Tim O'Reilly mourns that the blogosphere is not a safe place for all, that theres discrimination, derogatory language, obscene content, violence etc...hence not a safe place. Well, the internet is not a safe place. The world we live in is not a safe place...and inside my head is also not very safe at this point in time! And badges? don't get me started on those badges...! I will not conform...not to this shit. O yeah..and if you'd like some laughs..go read about the code here

Here's my own personal code...

I'll write what I want to write here (no civility enforced).
You go ahead and comment whatever you want to comment (no civility enforced).
If I like it, it stays;If I don't, it doesn't (my other).

Monday, April 16, 2007

Not writers block..I swear...

I had a post ready last week...well almost, but the whole of last week has been spent in working long hours, studying the rest of the time, and on the side, a sequence of events have er...well bamboozled me..if ya know what I mean....So no posts, but on the brighter side of things, the week did provide ammo for future posts, a lot of ammo!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Live to ride...Ride to live

Its dark outside, as it usually gets this time of the day. But the wind is unusually strong, and his jacket flaps violently against his torso. He walks out of the elevator, of the artificially illuminated, climate controlled prison building that is his office. And is greeted by a smile and a nod from the security guard.

He feels that old, familiar pinprick of excitement, as he spots his motorcycle from a distance. He walks over to her, straddling the seat, as the anticipation builds within him. Its almost as if she's urging him kick start his freedom. his hands move almost automatically, and he begins the old routine. Engage the decompresser, half a kick to get the oil moving, disengage the decomp, give her a second to breathe in some air, shoop..! a light kick, buda buda buda buda, her engine awakes after so many hours of rest, and the rhythmic beats bring a smile to his lips. She's ready to hit the road...more than ready, eager, desperate even. As he shifts into first, she surges forward, now second, here's third, and finally fourth. And he cruises past the sluggish traffic to begin the stretch of highway separating the suburbs from the city.

For a few minutes, he's stopped thinking about her, thinking instead of the events of the day, he winces as if in physical pain...a day in that office is not easy, not for the best of men. Suddenly, he is brought back to reality. A red light. That old enemy. Why they ever put up traffic lights on a highway he cannot understand. His first impulse is to ride through it, and she agrees...unwilling to slow down, let alone stop. He hears the annoying voice inside his head, that one with the nasal twinge...(there are others!), threatening him with the worst consequences...imploring him to stop. He rides through it...its late and theres very little traffic on the highway, and he's reached the limit of his patience.

To soothe his anger, she responds as soon as she feels him tug at her accelerator. With all the power of her 350 horses, she surges forward into the night, the gusts of wind blowing away all his negative thoughts . He smiles again. He can feel his heartbeat rising, almost matching hers. The wind in his face feels good, makes him feel alive. Every second on the bike diluting the awareness of his own fragile mortality. The fear evaporates, his senses are razor sharp, and his eyes lock onto the road ahead. He teases her by slowing down a little, but before she can object, tugs hard at the accelerator, pushing the needle past 85, now 90, here's 100! His escape from reality is complete! Nothing worries him now, he is free, and his freedom comes at a 100 kilometers per hour, with the wind tearing at his face, the open road at his feet, and everything else momentarily meaningless.

But it cannot last forever....he's reached the end of the highway, and now faces another 5 boring minutes of sluggish commuter traffic. Those yuppies in their chauffeur driven coffins-on-wheels, sending yet another email from their laptops (may their batteries explode!), the college kids on their electric-shaver-ish, pathetic excuses for bike's, and the lazy buses lurching and straining against their loads. None of them will ever feel the ride, not in the way she makes him feel it. They are consumed by their commute....getting from A to B, thats all that matters to them. Not him, he turns off her ignition, he has to force himself to do it. To leave her in the garage, and resume functioning as a normal human being. She makes him feel like a God, with unlimited power, speed and no concept of fear. As he walks away from her to step into another elevator, he looks back, almost guiltily...but her silhouette promises to make him a God yet again, promising a wild, violent escape from reality...the next morning.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Bike pics

The stripped bullet is Mario's (mechanic at Bandra reclm) work in progress. He's just painted it and shortened the swing arm, removed all unnecessary cabling, shortened the front fork angle, removed the front fairing and headlamp assembly, trying to give this bike an old school chopper look.

The red devil is Vicky's RD350. This dude has a spare engine at home to pull parts from, and somehow managed to break his gear-lever, and was trying to convince me that the bike has automatic gearing...April fools and all that...too bad it didn't work, it might have on someone else.
I like both bikes...but Mario has an old bullet, single seater,100cc,hard tail 1919 model...which I couldn't take a pic of, but I will see, I intend to own her.

Here are my own beauties, my Bull and her city cousin- the Kinetic GF 125.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Reservation?, forget that...Hear Pentagram's Voice

I love this song...Pentagram's latest offering coupled with Channel V's "Shot By You" initiative, that lets people send in their video clips, to compile the video for this song, is an absolute treat.

The link for the mp3 hosted by Channel V is here
Rush to get it, I don't know how long it'll remain hosted there.

The lyrics can be found here

A YouTube video with the anti-reservation theme for this song can be seen here

Are you anti-reservation? Are you pro-reservation? or Are you unimpressed by the hoo-haa, and would rather let those insane monkeys in parliament beat themselves up over vote-bank politics, while the SC tries lamely to discipline them.

I don't know how reservation in educational institutions and private sector companies will benefit anybody. Whatever happened to the merit-based selection process? Hasn't this process ensured that the cream of the crop gets into the IIM's and IIT's? Hasn't this selection process proved itself successful over the years? Why fix something if it aint' broke? Is Arjun Singh the most persevering politico around? he's been in quota mess for as long as anyone can remember!

Word on the street is that the govt will squash all attempts at resistance....both from demonstrators, and the Hon'ble Supreme Court.

Somebody told me that reservation (she called it affirmative action), will work only to divide society. I told her not to worry...our society is already so fragmented, one more won't even be noticeable.

What do you think? tell me...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Brainbench Personality Evaluation.

I love taking tests, sometimes it delights me to see how badly i fail..:)
A certain busybody asked me to get my personality(huh?) evaluated by Brainbench. I figured, might as well post the damn results goes nothing.


Trait |<--|---|---|---- Range ----|---|---|--->| Trait
Introverted |..........X.............................| Extroverted
Candid |..................X.....................| Considerate
Impulsive |..X.....................................| Cautious
Excitable |..............X.........................| Relaxed
Practical |..................X.....................| Imaginative
Concrete |......................................X.| Abstract
|<--|---|---|---- Range ----|---|---|--->|

Your Social Boldness: Introverted VS Extroverted
You are moderately introverted. I bet you hear this a lot,
"You are so nice." That is because you do not have a
brash, bold personality, instead you are warm and friendly
and a pleasure to be around. You are not into the wild,
crazy nightlife scene. To you a nice social atmosphere
tends to be a quieter, more comfortable place where you can
spend time with good friends. Your cooperative nature is
especially pleasant in a group atmosphere where decisions
must be made. You may not always be the person who
initiates conversations or talks first in a meeting, but
when you have something important to say you are willing to
share it. At times you can be shy, but this does not mean
that you are being standoffish, just that you are cautious
and need time to assess the situation.

Your Agreeableness: Candid VS Considerate
You are slightly candid. Social harmony is important to
you, as is evidenced by your cooperative, generous, and
helpful nature. If someone asks you what you want to do,
you may reply, "whatever you want". That is not because you
are indecisive, rather you genuinely want the other person
to be happy, and so whatever they want to do is fine with
you. In general, you are straightforward and sincere with
others, which makes you very likeable. People always know
where you stand. You regard others positively - you trust
people and feel they are honest, so you have no problem
responding in kind. No one will accuse you of being
arrogant. Your self-esteem is just fine, but you do not
think you are better than anyone else. Your desire to help
others is seen in your altruistic nature. You enjoy helping
others and you do not expect anything in return.

Your Self-Control: Impulsive VS Cautious
You are very impulsive. You are an independent thinker. You
do not need a book of rules to tell you how to behave - you
know inside what is right and what is wrong and you act
accordingly. You are able to live life spontaneously,
because you are able to make decisions without endless
deliberation. In fact, when you and another person are
making a decision, you are able to reach a solution fairly
quickly while the other person has to cautiously plan every
step. Eventually, they will agree with you, which is
frustrating when your first impulse is usually the correct
one in the decision-making process. You tend to be a little
more casual, and you do not feel out of sorts when your
home or office is not perfectly neat. In general, your life
is pleasurable - you know how to have fun and will never be
accused of being staid or stuffy.

Your Anxiety Level: Excitable VS Relaxed
You are moderately excitable. In trying situations, you
feel somewhat stressed and frustrated. At times you are
able to overcome these feelings, but other times you feel
overwhelmed. This could run the gamut of just being in a
bad mood to experiencing anxiety, anger, or depression. In
general, you prefer a stress-free existence, so that the
possibility of negative emotions would not be a factor. You
tend to be somewhat self-conscious in social situations,
and are worried that people may judge or criticize you. You
may react emotionally to people or circumstances that you
find threatening, because you want to protect yourself.
Every so often you cave into urges or cravings. Sometimes
you feel a little guilty about it, other times you are just
fine with your fun streak.

Your Openness to Change: Practical VS Imaginative
You are slightly practical. It is apparent to those who
meet you that you are well educated. You are able to speak
on a complex level to one audience, but adjust to a more
basic level for another. You are bright and capable of
thinking logically. On one hand you are down-to-earth and
traditional, while on the other hand you are creative and
imaginative. Sometimes you feel more comfortable with
familiarity and routine in your life, other times new and
novel experiences are more enjoyable. You are not afraid to
try new things. You tend to like to do a variety of
different activities, so you do not grow bored.

The way you Think/Reason: Concrete VS Abstract
You are very abstract in your thinking. You tend to be
quick to grasp ideas, are a fast learner and intelligent.
You possess a hallmark of intelligence that potentially
separates human beings from earlier life forms, the ability
to think about future consequences before acting on an
impulse. Your reasoning activity involves contemplation of
long-range goals, organizing and planning routes to these
goals, and persisting toward one's goals in the face of
short-lived impulses to the contrary. You also have keen
interests in intellectual matters and love to play with
ideas and think theoretically. You tend to be open-minded
to new and unusual ideas, and like to debate intellectual
issues. You often enjoy riddles, puzzles, and brainteasers.

---ends here..the rest is all me...

Oh, and one more thing...Brainbench tells me...

Please keep in mind that scores on a personality assessment are neither good nor bad. As with any personality inventory, scores and descriptions can only approximate an individual's actual personality. Questions about the accuracy of your results are best resolved by reviewing and discussing your report with people who know you well.

So if anyone wants to review or discuss this report of mine....bring it on...

He, She and your's truly

He: It takes him a couple of seconds to decipher the code....but this time theres no mistaking it. She definitely smiled at him. He drops his gaze and almost violently pores over the menu card, pretending to read those items he knows almost by heart. Too afraid to look into those dark brown eyes. Afraid of encouraging even the briefest bit of conversation. Its a defensive impulse. He's been here before. The memories still make him wince, as if in physical pain. But he does not let these emotions control him. He has stored all those feelings neatly, behind closed, locked drawers in his subconscious. Although he is sometimes forced to frown, angered by their presence, clouding his otherwise expressionless features. Maybe this time it will be different? Quickly, his conscience shoots him down. Fool! optimistic, romantic, pathetic fool. He quietly accepts the inevitable negativity, and resigns himself to stay alone....unhappy maybe, but unhurt, and somewhat alive.

She: She cant believe what just happened. She just smiled at that quiet, serious looking guy at the corner table. But this guy did not react like the others. She saw the ghost of a frown on his face, and his blatant rejection, as he buries himself into the menu. What is his story?, she thinks. Is he damaged-goods?, a broken hearted, pessimistic ex-romantic like herself? Maybe, just maybe, he needs someone like me, who better to understand that pain, than a fellow sufferer. She recognizes his instant rejection as a product of his strong instinct of self-preservation, further enhanced by the sorrow's from his recent past. But why risk it, the hell with him, he doesn't know what he's missing...She consoles herself by ordering her pasta, and to spite him further, seats herself facing away from him.

Me:Too bad, neither took the leap of faith. Both so well entrenched in their own troubles that they never gave coupling a chance. And both found themselves trapped in that inescapable black hole of self-pity. Too bad. They would have been perfect together. But who am I to comment...I was too busy pretending to read that damn menu...

Friday, March 16, 2007

The window-sill visitor

He sits by the window, waiting, watching for the little bird to make its way past the towering buildings to his window-sill. There is a strange relationship between them. He whistles Mozart's Violin Concerto No.4 in D Major every morning at 9:30, and the little bird comes to peck at the pieces of bread, sipping at the small plastic bowl of water that he keeps at the window-sill. This routine has been going on for 20 days, and he sits as usual, behind the half-drawn curtain...waiting for his friend to come visit him. It takes all his strength to shoo away the pigeons and crows, so that his friend can have a pleasant breakfast....unhurried and uninterrupted. Today though, he cannot whistle the tune, his lungs have been eaten away by cancer...and even a whisper sends him into paroxysms of pain. But the bird doesn't seem to mind the lack of music, it still feeds on the bread, and seems to thank him with a few chirps and a flap of its wings from time to time. Soon, he knows he won't be allowed to come to the window, the needles intravenously confining him to the hospital bed. With a sigh, he drops his head, and at that instant the little bird looks at him questioningly...perhaps sensing his sadness. In a few months, the doctor said, he would be on life-support...meaning his worn-out lungs would be no longer capable of even the strain of breathing. The thoughts running around in his head cause even him to laugh out loud...that deep, booming laugh which used to echo around the house, today comes out more like a wheezing cough...instantly frightening away the little bird. He isn't thinking about his impending death, nor about the wife and children he's leaving behind, he's wondering who will feed the little bird once he's gone.....

Decisions Decisions Decisions...

Buy this, or buy that, do this or do that, go here, go there, or go elsewhere....heady is the power of the decision maker. And such power is as likely to create the stress of responsibility as much as it can create that nagging question, should I have done that, should I have waited a little while longer, will this decision come back to bite me in the ass! How do we make out decisions. What instinct drives us to select option A over options B or C or D. Is life always this sort of multiple choice test, firing questions without any warning whatsoever?

Or am I unprepared. Where is the README file for life. Where can I look up my Questions for hints and feasible solutions. Or am I supposed to just shoot off the hip. Small wonder that I end up missing the target entirely, on occasion.

Ok.. so I make the usual newbie mistakes, I then learn from them and learn to avoid repeating them. Now how to I maximize their impact? How do I ensure that every decision I make plays out to be the smartest, most profitable one possible. Instinct, that must be it. This is the key to decision making. The same instinct that drives a man to protect and a woman to nurture. We must overcome these genetically hardwired tendencies. For decision making needs a blend of both aggression and the instinct of preservation.

How does one achieve this synthesis. how does one subjectively analyze one's own thoughts to ensure this congregation of instincts. The answer probably lies hidden. Hidden in human thoughts, and in the collective human experience...honed over years of silent, sometimes expensive practice.

Where does one go, in order to tap this vault of human knowledge. Where can one access this zeitgeist, or spirit of the times that we live in. We cannot rely just on our peers, Their knowledge has not withstood the test of time. We cannot even rely on the advice of our elders. Their experience is limited by the circumstances surrounding their decisions. But we can, and must rely on History.

We have to study the mistakes made by legends of the past. It will be a long and obstacle ridden journey to attempt to unravel the faults of the great men of history. Though their successes are well documented, their failures and the lessons learnt from them are, shall we say, obscured. For history is written by the winners, the dominant ones, those who have vanquished their opponents and their own weaknesses. To ask them to detail their failures is to ask a man to betray himself.

Persevere, stick with the damn thing. Dig deep enough to uncover their mistakes, not in an attempt to discredit their legacy, but to only learn that legends that they were, they were only human...just like you.

So you learnt from their mistakes, and their ability to turn moments of weakness into occasions to showcase their genius, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, as the cliche goes. This is where your theory lesson ends. I wish I could just as confidently tell you that this is where your practical experience begins. It is not so. Most men are not fortunate enough to be allowed to test the strength of their bodies and minds like the Greatest, Muhammad Ali. Generations of men have waited for the opportunity to test their fortitude while being under the stresses and circumstances of greats, such as him. That chance is only given to a chosen few. Only they can claim greatness, who have endured what the legends have endured, while still making their mark on history. How can we ever ascertain that our own untested skills and strengths will not fail us under duress. We cannot. We can never compare the reaction of a great with our own.

So what is left for us, just the opportunity to carry on, breathe, live, decide...but this time with the experience of legends to back us.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The differences between men and women.

I just realized something. Before I share it with you I'd like to ramble on a bit, thinking aloud and trying to organize my thoughts...STOP !who am i kidding, I'm a man and my gender never thinks aloud, and never needs to organize its thoughts, they are organized logically anyway! Yep you got it, I've realized that though men and women belong to the same species, they are different creatures, with different characteristics.

It all started when I began analyzing my own parents. My dad with his quiet thinking, efficiency of words and actions, logical thought process, and ability to compartmentalize his entire universe without ever needing outside help, can never find that packet of biscuits in the kitchen. While my mom, with an incessant compulsion to think aloud, obsess over details, indirect communiques, inbuilt lie detector, her complicated relationships with friends and relatives, uncanny ability to predict who it is thats calling, or who's at the door when the bell rings...will be able to locate the packet of biscuits with little or no effort or thought. This is not to say that my dad couldn't have found it given enough time, and hunger as an incentive...but he'd rather ask mom about the probable location of the biscuits and then perform a sweeping search of the area, using the process of elimination to locate it. To him, mom's ability to swoop in and locate the biscuits with an apparent lack of effort or thought, will remain an unsolved mystery. Rather than analyzing her ability, he'd prefer to grumble about how she's always hiding the things he needs. There is a scientific explanation for these differences between men and women. Experts have suggested many theories, that women have better peripheral vision, hearing, sensory apparatus, a nurturing instinct , while men have narrower, more focussed vision, dulled sensory organs as compared to women, and an instinct to protect rather than nurture.

And yet, civilized society insists on proclaiming men and women equal. Don't get me wrong, I am not some kind of misogynist (or am I?), all I want to state is, society can shout from the rooftops about gender equality, and of breaking free of gender stereotypes, I will not be able to silence them, and do not want to either, because they speak(shout) the truth. But the fact of the matter remains, that we are not equals. A man is taller, stronger, loses hair quicker, dies earlier, will sooner go to war if provoked, than his female counterpart. She on the other hand, is of slighter build, less strong, more likely to express emotion, talks more, will live longer, would use retail-therapy to counter mood swings etc. These are differences visible to even the narrowest of perspectives. Then why the insistence of equality? Is it not evident that differences exist in the way each party functions, talks, thinks, moves, smells, listens, lives. Then why does the insistent society still proclaim their equality?

Society has evolved from the times of the cavemen. In those days, gender stereotypes were accepted completely, and were the reason for the survival of the human animal. The men hunted, and the women kept the cave clean while nurturing jr.caveman and little miss.cave girl. Everyone was completely at ease with their roles and were happy enough to procreate and survive for many generations. Then civilization happened. Men were no longer required to hunt for food, and women were more likely to venture out of their homes for basic daily functions. Slowly this shift in accepted roles became a part of society. And hence the argument for equality. We must however remember that when these roles were first identified, the early periods of human evolution were in progress. The early human was still evolving, and his/her role in that society was hardwired into his/her brain, and his/her genetics. The human brain has remained hardwired with these roles till the present, for the basic reason that human evolution is not in its nascent stages anymore, the mind and body are not evolving at that same rapid pace evident in the beginning. So we are left with a lot of hardwired genetic programming that seems obsolete to today's evolved cultural and sociological conscience. So where does that leave us? How do we erase genetic information or overwrite it to match with social evolution, rather than the Darwinian theory of physical evolution through natural selection? Get Darwin back here, give him a computer!

I believe that our equality has less to do with equal rights, abilities or anything else. It is instead more relevant to the continuously evolving sociological and moral aspect of civilization. Pure scientific reasoning will never support this claim of equality among the genders. And evolved morality will always defend it. Be that as it may, dad's of today and tomorrow, and the day after... will always be blaming mom's for hiding the biscuits...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

No. I am sure...No goddamit NO!!

Lets get this over with. I do not want a home-loan, no I don't even want it on zero percent interest, you see, I have zero interest in being in debt..! I don't want direct-cash, or any other crazy scheme you are pushing on me. You know who you are, you banks, insurance companies, dimwits! You think just by getting a girl to push buttons on a phone, stealing my number from some list you bought off a consultant, you can persuade me to be in your debt. Ha! there's no chance of that happening.

I remember the days when members of my family had to almost grovel at the feet of some bank manager to wheedle a loan of such minuscule proportions, at interest rates that would ensure that none of us got that new piece of jewelry or that vacation to the hill station. Now you blatantly pimp your services off the phone, and expect me to dive into debt. No. Yeah, you heard me...No. Stop calling me. I will abuse your employees, then I will demand to speak with their supervisor, so that I may abuse him, then I will send you a very vulgar email detailing every abuse, in some cases even translating them for your complete understanding. If that does not suffice, I will proceed to then pose as an employee of your own company, and when that oh so irritating call happens, I will wheedle out details from that girl. Details like-her phone number, where she got my number from, who gave her that big list, why doesn't the bank contact me directly, who does she report to in the bank, what is his phone number, email address even. And then I will reverse cold call you. You will be amazed at my lack of ethics, and in awe of my command over abuses in multiple languages. You see, I have been abused in many languages myself...but that is another story, for another time.

And another thing. This one is crucial. When I do want to talk to somebody from the bank, why do I have to sit patiently listening to MIDI music, purportedly Beethoven playing. I'm not asking you to respond quickly or any such sacrilegious thing! I merely request that you play me proper audio, preferably 128 bit encoded mp3, and not Beethoven, gimme Mozart.

PS: to all my friends working in outbound call centers and in those lousy banks...screw you too.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

of watering holes and other musings...

It is amazing what patronage of the local watering hole can provide. Complimentary snacks, the occasional tidbit of gossip, your favorite corner table, unlimited time to ponder the mysteries of the universe while being lubricated with your choice of liquids, aerated or otherwise. All of this in exchange for a few well placed tips and a smile here and there.

Now news filters through of a girl being assaulted in a taxi somewhere in Colaba. The waiters here are of the opinion that the absconding taxi driver was bribed for his silence. Amazingly the view here is that the Mumbai police know who is responsible, and fat bribes have ensured not just their silence, but complete cooperation. That being as it may, it is said of the Mumbai police that it knows in advance the details of most major crimes before they are committed, but are held back by forces not within the democratic process.

Forget all that, lets get back to the famous, or should I say, infamous watering hole, the subject of this post. "Ek taraf uska ghar..ek taraf Maikhana" - Pankaj Udhas' honey sweet voice lingers hauntingly inside my head . It is but the truth. Nowadays, the latest Bollywood tracks play in the background, forcing me to realise two disturbing truths. One, this generation's utter disregard for lyrics of any quality ; Two, the contemporary music director's complete understanding of this phenomenon and compliance with it. So what if the results are the often senseless lyrics that are frowned upon by the so-called connoisseurs of hindi music. This is after all pop culture, and complying with it surely is no crime...or is it?

And I digress yet again. What was intended as a post about the watering hole, has mutated into the kaleidoscopic equivalent of random thoughts pretending to be facts when they are in fact umm...random. This is just the nature of the damn thing, or should I say place. Coming back to the topic, (I promise, no rambling this time ) . There is a clear hierarchy here, as in most such establishments. Let me start from the bottom, there is Gopal, the waiter's assistant. He gets you ice, spoons, tissues, your favourite brand of nicotine, and intermittently cleans your table - all with a smile if you are a regular, and a poker-face if you are not. A 10 rupee tip ensures this smile for eternity. Then there's Manoj, my favourite waiter. If you are a patron, he knows your usual by heart. But will also suggest other 'specials' for your dining pleasure. His special is usually the best dish you would have tasted in ages. So you ask him to bring it, like you ever had a choice anyway, and then he's smiling at you like a co-conspirator of some sort. Come now, lets look for where the buck stops. This is Sudhir, the resident cashier. His links with the local police and government are legendary. He never speaks to customers, and a nod of the head is about as agreeable as he will ever get. The king of the jungle is a faceless entity known only as 'Seth' aka Lucas Shetty. Him being the owner of the place. From a long line of Shetty's, his description fits the stereotypical gold-embellished, ultra-rich Shetty who signs every bodies paycheck. Apparently everyone and his dog here knows Lucas personally, though they may be embellishing on the truth a mite. Enough about him, he is best relegated to the darker side of things.

Of course, there are hundreds of such watering holes in the city, each with nuances that identify them, and yet unite them under the umbrella of their combine. They are all patronised by others, such as myself, and have never felt the need for any publicity or marketing. In fact their very existence depends on their ability to blend with the shadows of Mumbai's gullies, never disturbed by local authorities, unnoticed by the yuppie crowds who swear by the Barrista's and 'happening' lounges and eateries which usually have their own DJ playing the latest UK-Bhangra/underground genre of music...Yes, I detest them, those yuppies and their hangouts. I am paranoid about letting them pollute my watering hole, and will fight them till the very end...for now though... my favourite watering hole shall remain unnamed.

what doesnt kill you...

hmmm, there is a theory that the body does not retain any memory of pain. Thank god for that. If only the mind was as cooperative now, there'd be no problem. But it isnt, is it. The damn thing insists on not only recounting painful episodes, but exaggerating their importance until they seem so tragic, that surviving them seems heroic and incredible. The hopeless optimists among us use these thoughts as inspiration; that they could survive some bouts of depression and still come out sane, diminished a little, but on the road to normalcy. Bloody idiots. What doesnt kill
you makes you stronger is their way of rationalizing their traumatic experiences.

How i would love for them to come look inside my own head. The amplification of past pain seems to be a favourite exercise for my mind. And there is no heroic ending here, nothing to support the idea that 'i've lived through it once...and can do so again!". There is only dejection at being exposed to pain, by circumstances entirely within my own control, and yet foolishly
persisting in activities that were guaranteed to encourage the process.

In hindsight of course, there is much rethinking done...many avenues previously unnavigated, or considered unnavigable, suddenly appear to be the sanest, most logical option. Well, in those moments of high passion and intensity, logic and sanity are both overruled by their lesser cousin-instinct. Yes, I have read all the heady stuff of gut instinct being the best guide,
to be relied upon by heroes of our time, to get them out of tight spots etc. Mine though, is not as fine tuned, as it turns out. My instinct somehow manages to pick the least logical, most unnecessary paths, and is terribly consistent.

My instincts though, have begun a marked improvement. In the sense that, those previously illogical solutions are now being replaced by shortcuts. Problems are being solved not by systematic logical analysis, but by looking for the least effort solutions. Of course most of these solutions are straining conventional ethics, but they are showing that trademark of innovativeness-daring. Going through with these suggested solutions is quite another thing.
But their existence in itself relieves the mind of its only fear-emptiness.