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My ship isn't pretty

With a birthday so close to the new year, any wishes and resolutions I make tend to sound oddly similar or rather, symbiotic. Of course, any positive sentiment I'd attach to them is scuttled in moments because a sardonic voice in my head immediately says "Yea, right". My conscience is consistent like that.

Bringing in the birthday this year turned out to be streets ahead of 2009. Last year, I was jolted awake by phone calls a little past 12 am, a custom I still don't understand. Okay so maybe a boatload of people stay awake and bring in their birthdays, but I support the 'be asleep at midnight' philosophy of life. Anyway, the point is, last year I was woken at that ungodly hour by the phone ringing, and then left with the wonderful realisation that I was alone on my birthday, a feeling magnified by the dark silence of night. Then again, it was a crappy year all around, so it stayed uniform till the finish. This year though, friends were in Bombay, so much dri…

No more, no more

One of my oldest memories of Mumbai is of the time I had chicken pox. At 2 years of age, the only feeling I could connect to illness was pain. So I vividly remember the heavy, burning rasp of the sore throat and the sticky discomfort of a raging fever. But I also remember the merciful coolness of the floor, the pleasantly soapy smell of 501 soap perfuming my grandma's sari as I rest my head in her lap and the lemon tang of milagu rasam (pepper rasam) washed over me, soothing me into sleep. My grandma's work-callused hands gently brushed my forehead and I knew I was safe.

Yesterday, I found myself in the throes of my holy trinity - fever, flu and a Force 10 migraine from hell. My throat having given out the previous day itself, I spent hours seeking comfort in the overwhelming cool silence of a pitch black room. I cooked rasam by myself and rested my head on a pillow when exhaustion took over. My keyboard-softened fingers massaged my forehead and I knew I was alone.

Song for t…

All good things

Maybe I'm reading too much into this. Perhaps the boredom of routine is being reflected in seeing patterns where they don't exist. But thus lies the fact. The moment I add someone to my Google Reader list or add their name to the homepage list on my blog, their output drops alarmingly. Some previously prolific bloggers do write on and off; however the names of those still hitting that 'publish post' button is dropping by the day. And, it isn't limited to those who write. Even the sites of some of the photographers whose works I look out for stay stubbornly silent.

Thankfully, not having reached that stage of loony where I think I'm somehow responsible for it, I do wonder what is going on. Have the writers reached an existential plateau, not allowing themselves to draw on daily experiences and write about them? Have the photographers stilled their mind's eye, forbidding themselves to distinguish the inconspicuous ? Is there something wrong with my Google Rea…

Grin and bear it

When people have a work week as torrid as mine, they probably spend Friday evening quaffing back a few cold ones with friends. When people have a social network as empty as mine, they probably spend the same Friday evening parked in front of the telly, making old man Mallya richer by a few shekels. I chose to inflict on myself the dubious pleasure of another 5 hour long commute to Pune.

These journeys are boring at best and intensely frustrating at worst, both scenarios being at the mercy of Bombay's relentless traffic. Trying to doze off and failing miserably, I spend my time wondering why I couldn't be sitting next to an attractive & chatty bird rather than the usual rotund bloke blaring away on the cell phone. Last night, I was handed the golden ticket of strange journeys. Here's how things unfolded.

I was slumped in my seat, morosely pondering on the fact that I've received 6 separate wedding invitations from friends, inviting me to be a part of the joy, jolli…

Between the lines

Presently reading 'In Xanadu' by William Darymple, I am seized by a familiar feeling. It is the same emotion that swirls around when I'm reading Vikram Seth or Pico Iyer; awe. While their mastery over words and talent for evocative description is undisputed, I find myself revering their courage.

'From Heaven's Lake' details Seth's travels from Nanking to New Delhi, via Tibet. Iyer visits and writes about some truly secluded places in 'Falling off the map', including Bhutan and North Korea. The book I'm reading now follows Darymple tracing Marco Polo's steps from Jerusalem to Peking.

Yes, they write well. What separates them as the great writers from the rest (and in my book, making them courageous) is their incredible spirit of ethnography. Think about it; both Seth and Darymple could have been easily satisfied by wanting to just complete their degrees (both were at university when they went on travels that formed the source of the books). I…

Winter winds

There are times a strong case could be made for one of my theories of life. In brief, I feel like the pet project of a malevolent universe or a vengeful god. Smirk if you will, but I ask that you consider the following example from early this morning.

The task was simple. The pride of Punjab (PoP) aka KS, was making his way up-country from Hyderabad. Mercifully for all concerned, he chose to bus it rather than fly in. Whether his decision had more to do with economics than benevolence, is up for debate. What it did mean though was that he'd have to be picked up from Bremen Chouk, rather than the airport. From the chauffeur's point of view, in terms of distance and effort, this was more like being asked to journey to the temple around the corner instead of Pandharpur.

For a man on a 10 day visit, KS didn't have a lot of baggage. At least, not physically. He did sound ominous warnings about travelling with 1 big bag (an entry for many jokes, but we're civilized folks), w…

Chug all night

The place and time doesn't seem to matter. You could be perched on a barstool, seated at a table, sunk into a couch or standing in a nook. At some point, you're staring intently into the mug. The tiny bubbles take on a life of their own. The white foam is now only a thin circle around the edges. Using the palm of your hand, you gently massage your eyes and take another sip. Then, without fail, you look into the bottom of the mug, through the beer & the glass; scrying your way down the drinker's rabbit-hole. What usually follows is this. 
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The Searing Synopsis:

A: Umm... so what do you guys talk about ?
B: Hmm... random stuff man. I mean, there's so much...
C: Yea right! We meet, we drink beer & whine "we don't have girlfriends"
B: *Bastard*
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The Multifarious Motif: 

A: So, what's the scene with her dude?
B: I donno... doesn't seem to be going anywhere.
C: Meani…

On a plain

Someone once asked me to think about whether I actually liked the people who supposedly liked me. It was one of the most insightful questions I'd ever heard; it felt like being shot, but also being grazed rather than injured. Back then, I somehow dodged pondering its implied veracity. Nowadays, its becoming difficult to avoid answering it.

The thing about having a beautiful dream is that you wake up... and reality is way more harsh, dull and lacking.

Song for the moment:17 - Jethro Tull

Elevation

There's one thing you have to envy the Western world for. Most of the people there have actually seen their sporting heroes in action on the field of play. Be it cricket, baseball, American football, the game the rest of the planet knows is really football or rugby, the stadia are by and large conveniently accessible, the tickets more so and the facilities in arenas are at the least, decent. Contrast this with India where you'd need to have crossed the realms of passion and entered those of masochism to actually go watch a cricket match in a stadium. To enjoy a game comfortably the Indian cricket fan needs to be both loaded with money and know some bloke who may just have an uncle who knows an official who has passes to the good seats for the match. 1 seat.

If the recent test match in Mohali is any indicator, one should be able to easily saunter into any venue hosting tests (barring the 5 main centres, the 4 metros and Bangalore), tickets be damned. A lot of comments have been…

Shooting star

An early induction into the game of cricket is all well and good but the kid who enrolled in Loyola High School, Pune in May 93 didn't have a clue about the nuances of the game. This lack of knowledge can be explained by the fact that my family packed bags and hauled me off to Abu Dhabi in 1989. While undoubtedly a nice place, the U.A.E was no cricket Mecca, preferring to broadcast local club football games and camel races on the telly. The Arabic commentators for the football games were a bunch of loonies. On the pitch, the defender would be calmly passing the ball to another guy in his own half or the midfielder would cross the ball to the winger. It really didn't matter what innocuous move was being made because the commentators would risk a haemorrhage from minute 0:01, shrieking excitedly in Arabic about everything.

You literally could not understand what the big deal was about something even as plain as a throw-in. Was the chap about to do something acrobatic ? Was there…

Up to my neck in you

My earliest recollection of cricket on TV is from my grandparents house in Bombay. The house and the building were typical of the city; woefully inadequate in terms of space, inclined to suspect construction but packed to the rafters with people and raucousness. Across 3 floors and 15 flats, everyone knew everyone else. One house on the 3rd floor had a telephone so all incoming calls for many of the other flats were directed there. The buying of first car in the building, a white Fiat Premier Padmini was a grand occasion; the adults stood around trying to look important and making what they hoped were shrewd observations about its features. The kids queued up, hoping for a ride, thanking their lucky stars that they were still friends with the son of the car's owner. The Sunday Ramayan phenomenon meant default hosting for whoever owned a telly, oldies and young 'uns dutifully huddled around the screen. Everything we take for granted now was an occasion back then. Early 80s Bomb…

Once upon a time

Summer in Bangalore, a long time ago.

A family came visiting relatives. The elders got together, drank steaming cups of coffee and caught up with the highs and lows of a year gone by. In a time without email and even the telephone, the rich, orthodox Tamil words entwined themselves in the rafters and burrowed into the nooks. The youngsters, left to their own devices, played games, read books and explored the neighbourhood. Imagination was a prized asset.

M's cousin brother R, called Bangalore - R to distinguish him from Hyderabad - R, owned a gramophone player. More importantly, he owned, as far as one could tell, the only Beatles records in the entire family. And by family, one means immediate, 1st, 2nd and 3rd level relatives. Which, in a Tamil Iyer family, was a LOT of people. Naturally, owning these records made R quite popular among his mates. One in particular, D, would drop in every now to listen, nod and croon in unison.

At 17, M, whose upbringing could only be called cons…

Awake my soul

There are times I wish I'd never started an autobiographical blog. While the quality of the writing depend on me, the themes & by implication, the posts and their frequency rely too much on my experiences. Therein lies the problem - my job.

I've never made claims about a packed social calendar. I've never had one, come to that. There was a short period last year when it seemed like my move to Mumbai was the impetus for better things to come. Ultimately, it was not to be, but I took solace in beer sessions until those ceased also. But that's my life. Or a precursor to hell. Since then, I've almost solely depended on the 'reunions'; those sparkling moments when a group of people decide that a shameful amount of time has passed without meeting up. And then do something about it.

January
March
May
July
August

Could it be a coincidence that some of my fondest posts were born right after each of these memorable occasions ? I think not. However, each of us is…

The weight of my words

The following is fictional, inspired from here.

To the girl who got off the train at Mahim:

Hello there. Last Thursday around 8 pm, I was in the 1st class compartment of the Churchgate slow, standing near the doorway. The guy in the maroon t-shirt, blue jeans, the glasses and the haggard look. It's unfortunate that I was lost in thought as always because I never realised when you got into the train. In fact, it was only when you came and stood by me that I even noticed you.

You were dressed in a cream salwar with maroon print, a blue kurta and sensible shoes, overall a very simple, soothing ensemble. Your hair, reaching up to what I thought was a very graceful neck, was in a ponytail. Even though you'd obviously had a long work-day, your face reflected relaxation, rather than tiredness. Suffice to say, I thought you were very cute.

At one point, between Bandra and Mahim, there was a slight commotion at the other doorway and both of us swivelled to see what happened. It was on t…

One more cup of coffee

The sheer awesomeness of a great trip does not lie in the fondly remembered incidents.

It was not born a moment, hurrying down 80 ft. road at midnight, knowing your friends are creating a pandemonium in the vicinity.

It did not depend on being cheered, greeted and bodily lifted and hugged by people who are more family, than friends.

It did not evolve because of sitting on the kitchen counter at 2 am, sharing a meal and beer, hearing people talking and laughing in every room.

It needed no help from unbelievably desultory brunches on a gloriously salubrious day.

It almost became about finally acknowledging the pub of all pubs.

It was not accentuated by swapping hilariously nostalgic stories in the dead of night.

No. 

You understand that the great trip has happened when you find yourself with friends at dawn...

All bleary-eyed and dishevelled
All flying off in different directions

All wondering why the weekend seemed to last just a heartbeat.

But what a heartbeat!

Song for the moment:On …

Close another door

Back in college, the group I hung out with would engage in an exercise called "Who would you want on the island ?" The idea was simple enough; were you to ever have the misfortune to find yourself stuck on an island, who are the 5 people you would want accompanying you ? In all probability, the people you chose to bestow this dubious fate on, would not view it in quite the same ecstatically touching light, but that's another story. What seemed to matter to all present was whether everyone from the group was included and most often, they were. After all, the alternative would have been downright crushing and rude. I suspect that you have engaged in similar musings, reader. Back then, being on the island list affirmed camaraderie, assuaged fears and doubts of ending up alone and friendless. In some landlocked area, no doubt. Today, if we were to revisit that list and speculate on our hypothetical fates, would any of the names match ?

Old habits, they say, die hard. I wonde…

Rite of passage

In tactful language, it has been suggested that I take a hard look at the rather depressing tone taken by the blog over the last few posts. The words "batty, old man" were used rather forcefully.

I agree with the judgement; while I'm no subscriber to sanguine prose, the melancholy is threatening to capsize the literary raft. There's only so much oddity that can be attributed to creative inspiration before someone loses an ear or drowns themselves, no ? I do have to say this in my defence - it being an autobiographical blog, my moods tend to reflect in my posts. Over the last couple of months I have not exactly channelled any joie de vivre. Partially, this can be put down to my job. For the sake of succinct speech, I'll say that it is sucking the life out of me. My first job, with the NGO, was a retirement home compared to this place. But I like the long hours and the chance to create new content in an atmosphere filled with hidden intrigues and random new developm…

How to disappear completely

After 3 straight days of grey clouds and steady rain, the monsoon weather eased up on the Friday. As the day wore on, the sky became bluer, the whitish haze blushing with streaks of burnished gold.

Hurrying out of the building at 6:30 pm, he happened to look up into the horizon. It had been a long day of a long week spent hunched over the laptop. For a change, he was leaving the office before sunset. For Mumbai, this evening had unusually delightful weather; the humidity could be ignored, the cooling breeze was actually steady rather than teasing in wisps and everywhere, he could sense a gently uplifting buzz. It was a day to be getting out of office early, meeting up with friends, savouring a meal with a beer on the side, perhaps. An evening meant to be wrapped in laughter and bonhomie.

No matter how strong the craving, he would be partaking of none of these. Enough people would want to grab a drink; he didn't feel like meeting them. He could not face the prospect of another weeke…

The seeker

A stubborn head-cold has been dissipating the energy out of me. In the throes of the resultant exhaustion, I find it difficult to concentrate on any one activity, be it sleep which I sorely require or reading, which I can only accomplish in fits and bursts. Even writing a post feels laboured, much like my breathing. Ideas appear in fits and starts. Just when I think I can put together a decent piece, the words stop flowing and I am left to consider the usefulness of ellipses.

This peculiar half-alert, half-drowsy state is accentuated by the weather, which is moodily grey. I wish it would make up its mind and either rain or allow for sunshine, but nature's vagaries are her own. After many years, I am re-reading what I think is the best travel book ever written - 'From Heaven Lake' by Vikram Seth. He commands English so expertly, it feels more like a series of vivid photographs rather than mere alphabets linked together. A book that requires complete immersion for absolute ap…

On a day like today

The weekend has unwittingly provided me food for though. I'm sure Saturday & Sunday don't mean to. Left to themselves, they'd have carried on being the days for which plans are eagerly made on hellish Tuesday afternoons at work, but resigned to lie-ins, late lunches and dinners in restaurants. Come to think of it, that's actually not a bad way for 2 days to breeze past.

On this S & S, a whole load of people took planes & buses at godforsaken early and late hours to come to Pune and celebrate the birthday of a mutual friend. The birthday boy (or man) in question, in passing, should, if he doesn't yet, know that he's lucky to be so genuinely liked by so many people. Or maybe it has more to do with his affable nature. Point is, a plan that would scare the bejeezus out of these people on most days of the year, came together very successfully because of the coordinator. In large parts, the chips fell together thanks to the opportunity for lib…

Power of not knowing

The world as I know it is, for the most part, stained with cynicism and extreme political correctness (PC).

Yet, in the past week, I was witness to two events that went against the common grain. A 'Rin ki shakti' as regards the stain mentioned above. The first case is that of PC. As if it was the most obvious fact in the world, a colleague intimated that I was very Quasimodo-ish, in terms of looks. She said it with a visceral nonchalance that was unnerving. Look, my life's not exactly been sheltered or subtle in its lessons. There's only so many times you can observe a girl's eyes slide clean over you, as if you never existed, before cottoning on to the fact that in a rainbow world, you are grey. So I'm very aware that this visage isn't exactly a gift from the heavens.

But I've never actually been told so.

I have heard of people told point blank that they don't possess that intangible X-factor of attractiveness. However, I have never actually come acr…

Six degrees of inner turbulence

Now that I've settled into my new job and tasted the pickled Mumbai life, assorted well-wishers, noticing my solo social status, have started asking the sensitive question. Right, you guessed correctly.
"When do you plan to go back to the U.S to study ?"
Correct me if I'm wrong, but is it becoming acceptable nay expectable to spend one's life collecting assorted degrees and doctorates ? To avoid generalising, lets just say I have no interest in studying any more. Not even that shady 6-month, correspondence course guaranteeing U.S, U.K, Aus / NZ visa office paperwork filling success. My lack of enthusiasm to once again stroll languidly under the eaves of academe is largely because of my loathing for exams, which has firm roots in history.
Being a South Indian Tamil kid comes with a special burden - your parents hold their breath, waiting for the day you exhibit Ramanujan-like math ability. No other subject holds as much importance and pride of place as arithmetic. …

The memory remains

The 8th of May 2008 was my first day at the UNODC office in Cambodia. As I was very new to the city of Phnom Penh, my fellow intern (J) kindly offered to show me around the city at lunchtime. He was an American of South Korean extraction, straddling both cultures admirably. We were walking along St. 57, being steadily broiled in the heat and humidity when the faintest waft of a very familiar smell made me pause. I turned to J and said "Its going to rain today."

He looked at the sky, which was a clear blue and sceptically asked me how I knew that. I said I could smell it. He thought I was making it up, hoped I was not crazy and laughed my words off heartily. In his shoes, I don't blame him. When a guy you've only just met suddenly makes cryptic remarks about the weather, he was bound to wonder if I was a few slices short of a loaf. I remember that scene very acutely because I could not get him to understand a sensation we take for granted in India. The smell of wet ear…

Ripple

A couple of weeks ago, I almost had an out-of-body experience. Before you go "Eh? Fool, you either have one or not..." let me explain.

The matriarch of the family, my long-suffering grandma was conversing with her oldest (and favourite) grandson. They spoke about this & that, covering everything from the impending wedding of X's second cousin's third child's wedding (a typical South Indian conversation) to the correct way of making Avial. Trust me, that dish is a lot harder than it looks on paper.

As grandmas with long years of conversational nuance experience are wont to do, she casually slipped in this little gem (it's translated into English from Tamil, so you may not appreciate the essence):

Grandma: So, I was talking to Periamma (her older sister in Madras) the other day. She was telling me about a girl she knew there & wanted to know 'when' Girish is getting married and all that.

Me: Uhuh. Okay, that's interesting. I see. Hmm...

Grandma: …

I'll be alright without you

A great book series is like a coin; there are 2 distinct emotional sides to finishing it.

On one hand, you have that extremely satisfied feeling at the end - a mental burp as it were. On the other hand, there's a mild sense of loss, knowing that the pages, plots & permutations (awesome alliteration!!) are no longer new. The feeling is similar to knowing what your birthday gift is before you unwrap it.

And yet, a gift is always welcome. Having finished the Millennium trilogy yesterday, there's quite a churning in the emotional barrel. The books are very well written & for that, I'm a little sad that there are no more in the series. But reading these books has fanned the dying embers of my book-reading patterns. I know with certainty that I'll be reading a lot more.

In my world, there's no loss in that development.

Song for the moment:The night is still young - Billy Joel

As I am

Can you recall the last time you read a book cover-to-cover ?

I don't know about you, but I've always felt guilty that my book-reading rate is no longer as high as it was in the past. From a guy who could read 4 books a week, I've become someone who struggles to read even one. Being employed doesn't help matters.

Between 9 hour work days, making dinner, a laughable gym record & an accusingly dusty saxophone case, books had lost out. I'd wondered if I'd become the guy who preferred the internet and even the most inane movie on t.v versus taking the effort to follow plot-lines, remember characters & test the logic of a story. The supposed bibliophile in me was cringing.

Steig Larsson's Millennium Trilogy is going to change that. I'm reading the first part - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Riveting.

I cannot remember the last time I've looked forward to going home, just to read.

Song for the moment:Surprise Ice - Kings of Convenience

P.S: The song is…

Just let me breathe

Perhaps this is a mixture of sleepiness (I caught the 6 am bus again) & tiredness talking, but I have a sudden longing to visit a musty museum.

You're probably thinking "Whaaaaa ??"

I can't explain why myself. I can actually see the kind of place I want to visit, in my mind's eye. It is an inherently dark place, lit by yellow bulbs throwing the same light as those old ones on local trains in Mumbai. The showcases are all wood with a faintly gleaming cherry hue. It is neither cool nor hot in the museum. Just very quiet. I'm the only one there, although I imagine the curator is pottering around somewhere. The room I'd ideally like to be in is the one covering Ancient Egypt. I want to slowly read through the interesting stories and take in every detail of the impassive royal faces, losing myself in the moment. Letting history wash over me.

Once again, without explanations, this yearning is replaced by a memory. I'm in school and the exams are on. Back w…

Nobody's Home

I have a text message sent to my cellphone on the 5th of March 2009, 8:42 pm. It says 'Beer'.

To me, this terse SMS encapsulates what it was like to have lived in Mumbai in the year 2009. By reading it, I knew when & where to be. Toto's in Bandra at about 9:15 pm, in case you were wondering.

I'd head out of my house, reach the now-familiar corner of Pali Hill, make my way into a pub literally vibrating to rock music, look around and spot 2 gents in formal work attire either slouched at the bar or standing in an unobtrusive corner. Wherever they stood, they'd be holding mugs of beer. I'd make my way over to them and we'd grin collectively. Nothing would be said. I'd signal for an empty mug and be handed one. Nothing would be said. I'd pour myself a glass of beer with a sliver of foam at the top. 3 mugs would clink, sips would be taken, the first cold, bitter spark would ignite at the back of the throat, we'd sigh...

"So, what's happe…

Cold, dark room

One of the most valued experiences in a man's life is sitting down with a few other guys over a mug of beer & shooting the breeze. Its a chance for us to step out of a carefully contrived public persona (if there is one), discuss events & sports, be witty without the hazard of blank looks & just stare into our mugs, silently singing along to our favourite songs or appreciate the comfortable pause. We get to give the stoicism a rest & really talk.

These are not Marlboro cigarette advertisement moments. These are 'in the eye of the hurricane' moments. We are the kind of guys who were born with a serious air & a large sign on our behinds asking fate to kindly oblige. We will laugh at emails about why guys with names like ours will never get any & empathise with the ones wondering why we're stuck in 'best friend' mode all the time. Its so very natural for us to empathise.

Do you know how hard it is to find the right people to shoot the breeze…

We do it like this

It was perhaps a sign of our times or a gentle reminder that life isn't anything like the movies. To the strains of a moving background score, I should have been framed in the bus window forlornly staring at the turn for Bandra as we crossed Sion subway on Tuesday morning. A selection of memory-images from my previous workplace should have flashed before my eyes, followed by a sigh & an apprehensive look to the heavens.

None of that happened because I was fast asleep. Getting up early (anything prior to 8 am is early) and catching the 6 am bus to Bombay has its price, you see. So, when the literal & figurative fork in the road between my old and new job showed up, I was snoozing. I did feel slightly melancholic later but like many times before, it was because I was bidding goodbye to the familiar. Also drowsy. The depth of feeling on Tuesday was akin to a wisp of cloud passing over the sun.

On Thursday morning, the enormity of the change caught up with me. I was performing a…

There's a kind of hush

Two things happened today that brought an involuntary wistful smile to my face. One, whilst leaving for work this morning, I realised my trousers & shirt were the exact same ones I'd been wearing on my first day of work (of course they've been washed after that day). Two, as part of my handover, when going through the numerous folders and documents that have accumulated over the year, I chanced upon the very first piece of work I'd been assigned.

It has been just over a year since I started working at this organisation and today is my last day. It was a good first job; not very demanding and convenient in many ways but in the long run, not the most ideal of workplaces. Every employee among you must have collated a list of negatives about your respective office & I am no different. However, I will not be airing the dirty laundry in public except to say that I have learned a fair amount over the last 13 months, though sadly none of it had anything pertaining to my wor…

Running back for more

Following the match yesterday on Cricinfo, I got the feeling I was watching a baton being passed. VS and ST were phlegmatically taking apart the South African bowling & even as they went about their business, the cricket fan's emotional wagon wheel came full circle for me.

Sachin's batting has reached a level of sublime where one is left with no words, just sighing admiration. There was a time when his batting was described with adjectives like brutal, explosive and the spectrum of others basically implying destructive force. For the fan, there was Sachin's successful innings or there was the t.v off, ennui and much wringing of hands. Of course, this was largely in the LOI's. Test match cricket was a different world in the early 90's. Sidhu was a decent enough opener but his partner was usually whoever drew the short straw on the morning of Day 1. Then there was Manjrekar, who had very nice technique but this funny notion that he was batting at nets all the time…

After forever

The end of innocence.

No matter how close to home previous attacks have been, Pune has never actually suffered one. No, it has always watched nervously while Bombay bore the brunt of those Mofos' ideology and perhaps let out a very very quiet sigh of relief that it had escaped another one.

After Bangalore, Delhi and Ahmedabad, how many Puneites shook their heads at the telly, massaged tired eyes with their fingertips and stared of into the distance for a while. Wondering.

Not any more. The first line of this post is actually untrue. We haven't been innocent in a long time. And I suppose I can say there's always been that thought buried deep - how long before ?

Well, we're now officially in the club. Puneites can now join the previous victims and live a life tainted with apprehension. A quietly whispered prayer when a loved one goes out. A moment when the heart beats a frantic tattoo as we walk into one of the many crowded places in the city.

Walking out of our houses, feet …

Carnival of rust

Q. How do people at work react to your resignation ?

A. Scenario 1 - You are treated to a display of facial contortions ostensibly expressing regret, a few "tch tch" noises and terse congratulatory statements.

Scenario 2 - All colleagues gather in the downstairs lobby for an impromptu yet impressively coordinated Rumba session and a few of them are seen glancing wistfully at the heavens. Or at the damp spot on the ceiling.

In any case, there is a period of time (a few days) when you are made to feel like the version of Moses who, halfway to crossing the Red Sea on foot, realised that it was all a mistake and hailed the nearest boat.

Then the fun begins.

From the activity status of that Vastu bamboo shoot thing, you are catapulted to the role of hand-wash soap. Everybody who is anybody will devise ingenious ways to use you to get writing work done. You can't protest since the relieving letter, experience certificate & recommendation letters aren't in your hands yet. S…

Year of tha boomerang

I've heard it said that one should appreciate the small comforts of life & not worry about the big stuff. The antithesis of this of course is being lulled or softened by the small comforts, not realising that some amount of wrenching could make life a little better, albeit after some sacrifices.

The regular reader is surely in no doubt about my abject view of the current workplace. It is an indolent existence; I get decent internet, the colleagues are blasé, the tasks are far & few and I very rarely have to stay back after 6 pm. If this sounds too good to be true, it isn't. If it also sounds like a retirement home labour racket or life at Blandings without the humour, then yes, perhaps that comes closest to the general state of affairs.

In less than a week it will have been 1 year since I came to Bombay, eager to start anew in the Maximum city, wondering whether I'd be able to handle the hurly-burly speed of life and having nightmares about finding myself in Dombivil…