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Showing posts from 2015

Remember a day

X stood at the kerb, staring after the car that was pulling away. Slightly tipsy, slightly dazed, he blinked slowly, holding on to the fast-evaporating feeling of warmth as fiercely as he'd held on to her. 

"You okay?" asked a tenor voice behind him. Turning around, he saw the old man, silver hair askew in the wind, smiling. "Are you alright?" the man asked again. X wasn't sure, so he considered his reply. He'd joined a group of friends for dinner and they'd been drinking into the early hours of Christmas Eve. X thought he'd seen the old man in the restaurant, seated a few tables away, but wasn't sure. He'd been largely distracted and tongue-tied that evening. Every once in a while, he'd dare a glance at her; when she smiled or laughed, his breath would catch and he'd look away and take another sip. There were a lot of sips, that much he knew.

The old man was still there, waiting for an answer. "I guess" is all X could sa…

Stone in my shoe

Numbers are the bane of my existence.

When I was a kid they loomed because my elders never let me forget that marks were important. 99 in Math was okay, but where did that 1 mark go? Coming second in a class of 75 (and man were we packed like sardines!) was reluctantly acceptable, but why didn't I come first?

Of course, Math itself became enemy no. 1 very soon. Try as I might, the subject never interested me and in many ways, bounced way over my head. I took to English like a duck to water, and to Math like a duck to foie gras. As a subject, History fascinated me, but the curriculum left the hows-and-whys by the roadside and question papers seemed largely about remembering various dates, names and how people escaped their enemies in crates of sweets or flowers.

By the time I was in college, another number began to haunt me - height. While everyone else was shooting up like the young Himalayas, I was emulating the Chota Nagpur plateau. In more ways than one. As if that wasn't depr…

Behold! The Nightmare

One of the rarest creatures in Bombay is someone living by themselves. In a city plagued by inflated rents and insane population density, not sharing 1BHK or even that vile excuse for a residence, the 1RK, is considered a luxury. And the person is branded a spendthrift.

It's a facial expression that can't be missed. Tell someone you live by yourself and watch their bottom lip curl outwards and their head simultaneously do a wiggle. Their eyes have a teasing gleam; read between the iris lines and you can clearly see them mentally say "what an idiot". Having lived by myself for a while now, this familiar rigmarole jarred. Doubtsstartedto creep in. Was I being foolish? Selfish? Was it healthy to not only live alone but also relish the feeling? 

Moving to the U.S was my first exposure to the sometimes Kafkaesque world of room-mates. Having neither the shekels nor the spunk to live by myself there, I learned to come to terms with their varied eccentricities. It was a valuab…

Cold Shot

Unable to stitch two coherent sentences together and shape a narrative (what a horrible word that has become thanks to the internet) I shamelessly resort to writing in points.

So, either bear with me (sounds like we're doing unmentionable things to an animal) or stop reading.

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Beer and rock feels like an 20s thing. Kiddish and earnest in a silly grin sort of way. To appreciate that ride, I need friends (of my age) around me, fuelled by our collective nostalgia and desperation to cling on to the last decade.

Whisky and rock fits way better now. Snug, is the word.

And, while a cigarette has an endless, dangerously cool appeal, there are still enough neurons firing to chastise you that the warm, acrid taste of tobacco heated by fire, flowing like mist into your mouth, kissing your insides and making your neck lean back of its own accord is... a bad, bad idea. 

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Waiting for the train today, I stood surrounded by guys in formal attire (minus the coat. This is B…

Suited N Booted

Dear MLK Jr., 

Forgive me for shamelessly borrowing your inspiring phrase to describe a yearning that is as insipid and shallow as your's was noble and glorious. But I too have a dream. 

That one day, I will watch a movie where the male protagonist, needing an urgent change of clothes, is handed these on cue by the comely heroine or casually finds them on a clothesline or a hole-in-the-wall emporium. As he puts on the shirt and trousers, he locks smoldering eyes with the woman, the electricity in the air enough to power a small city. And then stops with a puzzled expression. 

Because the fucking clothes don't fit. 

Never, and I do not exaggerate, have clothes I have received as gifts fit me perfectly. Some well-wishers who last saw me as a small boy blamelessly assume that Nature would have taken its course, and that I'd become a strapping young man. They (and I, come to that) have been cheated by Nature, because I stopped growing in height at 17. 

Leaving school as a chap of a…

For your life

If someone were to say that India is largely a patriarchal society, I doubt we'd hear too many dissenting voices. Deeply ingrained in the so-called culture, it isn't an ideal state of affairs, but you do what you can to go against this norm. Once in a while though, you can run across some particularly outrageous notions that'd fell you faster than an Andy Roberts bouncer. 

At home, for many years, Diwali has been a low-key festival; lighting lamps, making the effort to be at home and maybe taking stock of the guest-driven mountain of sweets & savouries that accumulates despite our weak protests. A death in the family means there is no celebration at all that year. And early this year, Alzheimer's claimed my grandfather. Naturally, when the topic of Diwali came up, I was mildly surprised and asked why the discussion was even happening. 

Various relatives looked at me quizzically (admittedly a common expression) and explained that we could celebrate Diwali because my g…

Anyone can play guitar

This is a bit of a tech post. Unless you're interested in very amateur Linux talk or curious about my computer adventures, you don't have to read on.

In my last post, I'd written about finally letting go of XP (still think it's the nicest Windows OS) and switching to LXLE, a lightweight distribution (distro) based on Lubuntu, running on the LXDE desktop environment. It is primarily for ageing PCs like mine, though it will function just as well on newer computers. This post consists of layman observations and some experiential info after having used it for almost a week.

First off, LXLE is easy to install and I strongly recommend creating a Live USB using UNetboot.in (which you'll have to download) and using that to install the OS. I mean, use a thumb drive rather than a CD/DVD to install. The steps are simple enough and your intelligence level would have to be dangerously close to that of the average Indian politician's for you to fuck it up.

Since I was gettin…

Monkey Wrench

December 23, 2006. I'd only been in the States a few months had finally nailed a precious on-campus job at the Communications Studies department. The first semester was over and a sepulchral silence settled over the campus and residential areas around the university as the Christmas and New Year holidays commenced.

I sat at my desk in the silent office building waiting for quitting time (everyone else had left hours earlier and I was simply manning the fort) when the phone rang. It was my room mate, Grandpa. "Chote, tere liye kuch parcel aaya hai. Pata nahin, baxa hai. Aake dekh le." is what he said before hanging up, leaving me nonplussed. I hadn't ordered anything and wasn't expecting any parcels or letters, so what was this box?

Eventually 5:30pm rolled by and I left for home at a brisk pace. On opening the door, I was confronted by the startling sight of Grandpa leering like he'd seen a particularly comely female. Though it was his natural smile, it still…

I know what I know

If you've been reading this blog for a while (okay, even the last few posts), you'd know I regularly ponder the dodgy choices made by yours truly that have left me in a awful situations. The fact that these choices also lead to posts of dubious quality but fruity language is cold comfort. The fact remains. To quote Forrest Gump, I am not a smart man.

Why? As I write this, it is a peaceful Sunday night. At my age, this should signal much conviviality. Instead, I find myself in the bedroom, sitting hermit-fashion on the bed, shovelling an early dinner out of a bowl (plates are overrated), moodily tracking the sporting murder at the Emirates Stadium and listening to people 30 years older than me having the time of their lives in the living room. You heard me right.

The pater is hosting one of his quarterly parties. Mind you, calling it a party is rather generous. Because it is more a guys' night out (for everyone but the pater of course), involving booze, fatty foods they wo…

Just a gift

I am at work, in an office without windows.

It is 4:10 pm and the floor is buzzing quietly. Like the whole nation, the office is on its tea break.

In the canteen, I fill my mug with dishwater masquerading as tea, and am walking past a cubicle when I stop. I smell it first. And then see it. A familiar blue cardboard box on a new colleague's desk. She's from Poona too.

She catches me looking at the box in incredulity, smiles knowingly and tells me to open the box and take one. I'm still unsure if it's a prank but I open the box anyway.

And there they are, rows and rows of whitish biscuits with light brown edges.

I bite into the crisply convivial, buttery crust, and a tsunami of homesickness washes me away in a whirlpool, even before I can appreciate the taste.

And it is 4:10 pm. A different, quieter Poona.

I am cycling home on my red Hero Ranger.

The sky is blue, the sun is warmly friendly and a slight breeze brushes away the heat.

I have whizzed down the Abhimanshree S…

Outside looking in

So, here's something that happened to yours truly for the first time. After work on Thursday night, a few colleagues and I headed over to a popular new restobar nearby. None of us had been there before and it took us a while to find the place.

It was the last working day for one of the guys in my team and we wanted to celebrate it with a quiet drink and a good meal. My team-mates and I are all over 30. One of them is a father and another is about to get married in a few months. Though were dressed casually, all of us were in jeans or trousers and covered shoes. None of us looks remotely threatening.

Anyway, we get to the entrance and the guy at the door gives us a cursory glance and says "No stags allowed". I was nonplussed. And then, outraged. Because, there's two ways to look at what happened.

1. We were being punished for being single men / men not accompanied by ladies.
2. We weren't deemed acceptable enough to enter.

Indian men do not do themselves any fa…

Local boy in the photograph

Just when I was on track to keep to my '2 posts a month' target, work amped up. And in Mumbai, once you have a significant amount of work, I'm not sure you have time for anything else, barring the commute. Which also means there's nothing to write about.

That is, until I was asked to go to Bangalore for a weekend TVC shoot. Now, I've always liked the city. Of course, it was a lovely little place about 2 decades ago. And it's neither little nor lovely any more. The combination of the IT boom, nefarious politicians and inept city planning have left their devastating mark on Bangalore. And bad as it is, I don't see it getting better any time soon. It takes way more than outraged tweets and open letters to bring about 'real' change anywhere and the same is true of Bean Town. Sadly, I'm not sure any well-wisher has that kind of power. So, every visit I make to Bangalore depresses me.

The filming location happened to be a devastatingly charming old h…

Something great

A few months ago, I got a second-hand laptop to use in Bombay. Though a little old, it came with amazing tech specs, including i7, RAM and loads of space. In terms of the OS, I wanted at least Windows 7, but it came with XP, which was a bit inconvenient. However, that tech cloud did bring a silver lining because it gave me an excuse to try something I've been wanting to for ages, that is, switch to a Linux-based OS.

Open to experimenting though I may be, I did not want to completely let go of Windows, so I configured a dual-boot with XP and Ubuntu OS. There are enough and more excellent Youtube videos to help do this and it did not take me long. Here are a few quick remarks on my experiences.

Ubuntu is free, amazingly light on system resources and I don't have to worry about installing anti-virus software. The Ubuntu help community is excellent and usually answers every question one could have. The layout is not terribly different from Windows and it will take you little ti…

Jockey full of bourbon

If you are in advertising, is it almost impossible to be an optimist?

In an interview, David Droga, resident ad-world genius and founder of Droga5, the agency any creative worth her/is salt wants to work in, said he was an optimist. Which, if you consider how long he's been in the game, seems a staggering attitude to maintain.

It got me thinking. Has Droga's approach anything to do with the fact that he is a genius (albeit an incredibly hard-working one), whose ideas usually translate into wonderfully effective and memorable (is there a difference?) advertisements? He was born in Australia and started working there. Did that help mould his attitude and craft?

This exercise could go on forever and there's no chance I can distil the elements of his success. And yet, being an optimist, a cheerful person, having a positive outlook on life may be critical to one thing - wanting to wake up and go work in advertising.

Because the average Indian agency attitude goes something lik…

Heaven will know

They say time heals all wounds.

'They' don't know what they are talking about.

Some hurts stay angry and raw forever.

Because Time itself is a cruel reminder.

Of happy moments. Of conversations. Of hugs.

Gone forever.

Of loss. Of emptiness. Of an aching beyond description.

There forever.

Some wounds cut so deep.

They sever. 

Song for the moment: Lucky Guy - Modern Talking

Sludge Factory

I am not an expert.

This post is not another bullshit (heaven help us) 'Open Letter'.

It certainly doesn't take an infuriating 'So-n-so is wrong/right. Here's why' stance just to create controversy and get read.

It is simply my feelings on a certain matter. Without any (and I mean ANY) concern for someone else's opinion on the matter.

The above statement was a polite way of saying 'Keep your fucking comments to yourselves'.

Are you in college? Just out of college? In a boring job? Jobless? Dreaming about a better profession?

Don't join the Indian advertising industry.

Advertising attracted the slovenly. The edgy. The bat-shit insane. The dreamers. The hopers. The witty. The artistic. The dynamic. The intelligent. The strategic. The TALENTED.

Back in the days when there was just one channel, fewer choices of products and people actually read newspapers, these people had a good time, nay, a great time. They came together and made some lovely com…

You won't let me down again

Bikes may refuse to start.
Booze may leave me bloated.
Buddies may screw me over.

Books, on the other hand, won't let me down.
Lesson learned.

Song for the moment: Stay Away - Nirvana

Game, Set, Match

Their eyes met over the net. He paused his serve, captivated by her verve. She glanced through her racquet, imagined how handsome he'd look in a jacket.  With a smile on his face, he served what he thought was an ace. She volleyed it with a smack, all the while smiling back.
T'was two love at first sight.*
Song for the moment: What's love got to do with it - Tina Turner


*Inspired by a true story

Smooth Criminal

The devil and god were squabbling.  Unable to decide what the most precious thing was.  They summoned the greatest thief ever - Z. Z was ordered to steal it. What 'it' was, wasn't specified. Whatever was chosen and stolen by Z would be worthy. Z stood in front of the two ancients and pondered. Just as the immortals were beginning to lose patience (typical of those for whom time doesn't mean anything), Z nodded slowly, smiled and left... Came back empty-handed. The devil and god were not amused.  They asked, in no uncertain terms, what the heck Z was playing at.  The reply stunned them into silence.
"I stole a kiss".
Song for the moment:

Memory Canyon

When it's raining, ginger tea and mirchi pakodas are best. If that doesn't warm the cockles of your heart and leave you looking at the world with a benevolent eye, then nothing will.

For me, taking a bike ride or a stroll comes a close second. A long time ago, when my friends were enthusiastic about bike trips, taking one in the rains came with mixed feelings. Sure, you enjoyed the rhythmic rat-a-tat on your helmet, but only for about half a minute. After that, you tended to focus on how wet you were getting, particularly in the socks and family jewels departments. Of course, there's nothing quite as soothing as taking a long, hot shower, accompanied by a rum & coke (or whatever you want) after the ride is over. It's as close to a meditative state as you're likely to get.

Now, there's less keenness to experience the pain before the pleasure, everyone reasoning that it's just as simple to get into the shower with a suitable beverage without the hoopla o…

Heat of the night

Contrary to what the phrase connotes, an Indian summer does not lead me to think of life favourably. The monsoon has a certain romance and the winter lends a cosy, rosy bonhomie to things. I can wax eloquent about the delights of the rain and become wistful about winters. But summer? All it does is leave me feeling like one of those dish-rags your mom put out to dry but which fell off the line and is now dangling on the ledge, beaten by the whims of fate.

The only good things about the season are mangoes, panna, kokam sarbat and that delicious Puneri invention - the Mastani. Once upon a time we eagerly looked forward to this horrible season because 2 months of vacations came along but that's in the past, when vacations actually meant freedom (after a fashion) unlike now, when I simply want to crawl into bed and be left alone to nurse my chronic fatigue.

Bombay has already started steaming. I try and leave early for work to beat the heat. But in the oven that passes for the train …

We still have dreams

Working in an ad agency has its perks.

You get to dress pretty casually. You can turn the air blue by swearing and no one turns a hair. The scenery is usually quite nice (though your favourite author manages to dent that statistic). And punny jokes fly thick and fast. So, overall, not bad.

However, one thing that can stick in your craw, particularly if you entered the game a bit late and are right now over 30 is the age factor. Most of your colleagues will be at least 6 - 8 years younger. So they can drink you under the table without even trying. They're ├╝ber-thrilled about stuff you don't find mildly amusing or interesting any more. And, their musical tastes seem completely off your map.

For example, a couple of younger colleagues and I happened to be discussing music from the 90s. I mentioned Scatman John, Cotton Eye Joe and other worthies, only to be met with a blank look. This wasn't confusion, mind you. Just total incomprehension. For once, I felt old. The funny part…

Don't wanna dance...

...but sometimes you have to. Because.

So you could either grit your teeth, fume, clench & unclench your shaking fists and let your face slowly turn red with very, very familiar frustration and rage or you say "Fuck it" and groove to the situational music.

If you choose the latter, here's the song for the moment:

Daylight

Rather than blather
Words like turds...

Let's kick off 2015 with something by Neil Gaiman that I wish I'd written.
May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art – write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. May your coming year be a wonderful thing in which you dream both dangerously and outrageously.
I hope you will make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and you will be liked and you will have people to love and to like in return. And most importantly, because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now – I hope that you will, when you need to, be wise and that you will always be kind. And I hope that somewhere in the next year you surprise yourself. - N. Gaiman Good luck, one and all.

Song for the moment:Rocker - Miles Davis