26 June, 2009

R.I.P Michael Jackson….Thank you for the music !


As most of you might have already heard, today, we lost the ‘King of Pop’ to the Grim Reaper. I woke up this morning with Dad texting me that the king was no more. And for a number of reasons, I felt deeply grieved by this news. R.I.P Michael Jackson….

I remember, from way back in the day, MJ was probably the first performer and artist that I took a major liking to. This was way before Metallica, Pink Floyd, Guns N Roses, Megadeth and Pearl Jam came into my life. Well, in India, MJ was perhaps the only English artist whose tapes one had access to. And till date, MJ will still continue to be the King of Pop. It was one of the few songs that I remember growing up as a kid, where I would sit and listen to with the entire family and Dad would not rant about, ‘what filth are you listening to’. And MJ’s music is probably one of the fondest memories of my youth. I remember singing songs like Bad, Thriller and Billie Jean at the top of my voice, going all off tune…this was accompanied by a rendition of my version of the moon walker. Thanks to excessive public ridicule, I don’t dance any more. I remember the very first poster I put up on my wall was that of the cover of MJ from Bad. I recollect wanting the jacket which he wore in the video for the longest time ever. Thank god the obsession stopped before I wanted to own a silver glove. Well, all said and done MJ was probably the first music icon for a lot of us.

MJ had this uncanny ability to break boundaries people thought would never be broken or was too high to climb. And you may not like his music, but one cannot ignore the fact that Michael Jackson is and always will be the greatest performer of all time. No one can boast global sales and recognition like he has done. You ask anyone in the world, Yugoslavia to Kenya, Sudan to Hungary, Mexico to the remotest village of India, Michael Jackson was the most recognized performer. This is a feat no present day artist can boast about…Not even Metallica, Pearl Jam, Linkin Park…or even the so called queen of Pop…Britney Spears!!! MJ was the greatest figure of our times and I feel fortunate to have grown up in this time. I still remember picking up one of the very few first tapes of ‘Dangerous’ off the shelves the day it came into the stores, way back in class 4…this was before we had any of the Music Worlds or any place to download from. The shows, the music and the performer are something which no one can hope to emulate. Everyone would only be merely copying or modifying the standards set by this artist. Music aside, MJ till date remains one of the greatest dancers of all time. If there was someone who knew to take a tune and act it, MJ could do it. Even today, if someone pulls off a moon walker at a party, it still brings the crowd to cheer and go all ooooh and aaah. This is the influence of MJ on our time. Even in his younger days, when one saw a video of ABC from the Jackson 5, MJ was the only one who stood out….like they say, some men earn greatness, some have it thrust upon them…and some are just born to be great. Michael Jackson was one of the few in the last category. And he is one of the many people who realized their ability to move people and make a difference in the real world. Beyond his music Michael Jackson has used it as a lightening rod to make people aware of issues like racial abuse, poverty and hunger in Africa, AIDS, animal protection and many more socially relevant issues of our time.

Even considering the controversies of child-molestation, dangling a baby from a balcony, the black to white skin grafting, one can’t help but feel sorry for the King. At some level, I think the world just got to him. The world just became too much of a place. Some stand strong, some find solace with alcohol and drugs, some with God and some just end up losing their mind. All of us have our little vices and insanities, its just some are more public about their madnesses. I can’t help but pity a person in his shoes, who till the last day, even when people believed he no longer was relevant to our time, would have cameras capturing his every move. Even on his way to court, MJ being the performer he is gets up on top of the car and waves to the crowd. And even now, when one thinks of MJ, they ignore the madness and remember only the music and the way it made you want to dance and it still does. I’m right now listening to ‘Billie Jean’ and my feet are going all crazy, except my butt does not share the same enthusiasm and does not want to budge from the chair.

Michael Jackson will forever continue to be one of the greatest figures of our time, a figure to be as influential as John Lennon, Bob Dylan and Bob Marley. At the end of it all, today we mourn the death of one of the finest artists of our time. Long Live the King of Pop.

Michael Jackson - August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009 Thank You for all the great music and all the great memories. Long live the music you gave us and everything you’ve done for us. Long Live the King of Pop!

My first official writing Gig….

Hey people, I’m totally psyched about my very first writing gig (non-paying) with the blogging team of my college. For an amateur writer like me, this is like the first steps of Columbus on the New World. Now, you might wonder why I’m getting all bouncy about a non-paying gig. Simple reason - experience! When I ventured into the realm of blogging, one of my gurus – Arun Katiyar told me that if I ever wanted to be taken seriously as a writer, do it for free and give it your best. (Obviously he meant when you start….don’t be expecting my Pulitzer Prize novel ‘The DeliriousLife of Me’ a.k.a ‘ Confessions of a Seasonal Retard’ to be handed out for free…. I will take orders for the copy now….It should be out in the next 30 years or so….if I’m around long enough and still writing) And this is as good a break as any. I would have considered this a cake-walk had I been the only blogger, but to find myself in real August company is absolutely awesome.

Some of these guys are really amazing and thoughtful. Some know words I didn’t know were there in the English dictionary. And yet they make total sense of anything they are trying to say. Feels good t be part of this team…who knows…next gig would be with Rolling Stone Magazine !!!! Okay, I really need to stop watching ‘Almost Famous’….. I think I’ve seen it at least 3 times since I joint college.

For further works of other authors and yours truly, visit: http://greatlaker.wordpress.com/

24 June, 2009

Survival of the fittest?

I was recently invited to join a PC gaming clan at college. It so happens the other players are absolute killers…so to speak…in this game. Since this was the very first clan to be formed, we sent a request for other people to form clans. As expected, major uproar.

“How can all the good players be on one clan?” “ We must balance this out.” “ The game is too one sided.” And other comments of the same order.

Alas, I find this terribly hilarious. Why shouldn’t players who are good stick together? Isn’t that why poor Darwin spent all his time studying iguanas? Basic rule: ‘Survival of the fittest….or the perceived fittest.’ In every walk of life, you’ve got people who are going to be better than you, and accept it, we’re not here to form a socialistic society where everyone wins. Such notions are to be left behind at school. I remember a time, when the house that never won a trophy in anything was awarded the ‘best house’…why? Simply because we want equality. It was that day that I understood that there is no place for the weak or meek in the real world. (Whatte epiphany? Full hindi film ishtyle)

Coming back to the truth, you don’t see me complaining that this study group is better, or this team is better at economic analysis. It’s just a way of life. Based on the same logic I need to tell other people to stop studying as everyone seems to be way way ahead of me on the scoring curve in every subject. Speaking of scoring, I need to tell all the Hrithik’s and Salman’s to back off allowing the poor Murthy to get a shot at ….you get the picture.

Take football for example, you will have the Manchester Uniteds and the Real Madrids, you don’t see a New Castle or a Real Betis whining about it. Imagine that, a football premiership where you break up all the good players and divide them among the other teams. It just does not make any darn sense.

I’m not exactly the greatest Counter Strike player. I’m just about getting the hang of it as such. I see no reason why a clan that is supposedly stronger than the others gets together. Anyone telling Bill Gates that he needs to allow others to compete. Welcome to the world of capitalism, the strong will survive.

23 June, 2009

Am not a Wizard

We just finished with our first term exams today. Yes, end of one whole term. And I’m already finding myself writing letters to myself assuring me that things are not going to be as bad the next term around. It has come true, the great prophecy – the wedding between Nikhilesh and Exams is bound to end it bitter divorce with exams getting all the alimony.

Anyway, we got back from yet another grueling exam which I spent most of the time just staring at the question paper. Familiar territory. Oh, I had prepared, don’t mistake that. But I was not prepared for ‘that’ exam. If one is ever fortunate to play cricket on the international scene, then imagine a bowler coming at you with the speed of Brett Lee and the spin of Shane Warne ( I think I’ve used this before), that was how every question felt. I always thought marketing is about ingenuity and innovation – apparently not! The questions felt like I was back in school where the smartest were deemed so based on how well they knew the text book. Alas….que sera sera ! Tis but the bane of the Indian education system….school or b-school.

The first 5 minutes was spent staring in absolute shock at the questions put forth. I am sure some of it was ancient Mayan or Latin for I could not comprehend a word. I looked around and it did not make matters better. People were already going great guns at the paper, drawing diagrams and stuff that I didn’t even know existed. I try to find a few familiar lost souls who are in the same plight as yours truly, but to no avail. Looks like I’m the only one who didn’t study for this exam. (again). Composing myself, I started hunting for familiar terms and got cracking; turns out I actually knew a thing or two.

After the first 30 minutes of answering whatever I knew, I tried resorting to black magic and began muttering spells from all known fantasy novels…’Accio Answers’, ‘Alohomora brain’, ‘Specialis Revelio Paper’. I even tried chanting the ‘Sectumsempra ‘ spell in the hopes that I get a gash on my face or something equally dire and am excused from exam. Even the Patronus charm didn’t work. But through it all, the dude who set the paper was counter-cursing everything with ‘Stupefy Nikhilesh’.

All I could picture was Gandalf standing on the bridge and screaming, “You shall not pass!!!”. All that staring and muttering gave me a real bad headache. I left a 2 hour paper in less than an hour. I have hit a new low in my academic career.

PS: I want J.K Rowling to refund my money for all the books I borrowed and read. The spells she gave are no good. They only cause a headache and a lot of odd looks from people sitting next to you.

P.P.S: As a friend had suggested I should have tried praying instead rather than indulge in tom-foolery. What can I say? At times like these, insane men do insane things.

20 June, 2009

To jam or not to jam ?

I am back to the ever-debatable question of music…which is to be given priority, the music or the audience? The reason I’m back at the drawing board is thanks to last night. We decided to have one of the late night jam sessions spearheaded by one of the violinists in the group. I was, well, told to join and bring my guitar along. At the risk of sounding like a complete jacka**, I kept refusing to play.

I know…you’re thinking it… ready audience and he does not want to play? Must be the heat. Let me set the cards on the table. The clear majority of students here don’t exactly appreciate the kind of music I play. Rock is all noise, forget grunge and heavy metal. Now, while some would unwillingly say that they are open to listening to any sort of music, the truth remains that they really want to listen to the songs they like. Appreciating and acknowledging this fact, I prefer not to play unless I’ve got an audience who would appreciate the nuances of western music. But under pressure, I brought out the axe…and much to my dismay, I’m back to playing the same old Hindi songs that I’ve been playing since the day I got here. At the end of it all, since my heart wasn’t into the whole affair…. I felt completely dejected and basically…never want to do this again. This - as in....never want to play without wanting to play.

This is probably how trained chimpanzees feel. The same tricks over and over again. We all can’t be Alex the Lion and enjoy performing the same show everyday. This unfortunately happens in every group with a limited knowledge of a music genre. I remember even back in college and at the office parties, one ended up playing the same songs…Hotel California…. Words…. Country Roads…Summer of 69….Nothing Else Matters….and the all famous ‘Education song’ ( Another Brick in the Wall). I think audiences have taken classics and have killed them by making every guitar player in the world ( or just in small scale India) play them unto death. I’m honestly not blaming anyone here, but come on….give the poor guy some artistic freedom. Who knows? You might actually end up liking a new band and a new genre all together.

Some might argue that the same applies to me and that I ought to suck it up and learn Hindi and Tamil songs. I don’t mind, I would play those songs, but allow some experimentation. I’m playing the same songs over and over again….i’ll be damned if I play ‘Chura Liya hain tumne jo dil ko’ once again….I’m feeling like a darn one-trick pony. The problem with such a scenario is that you end up being a replacement for the Ipod with your favourite songs on it, a mere complement to Steve Job's contraption. Select favourites playlist and begin playing. And it's the same songs over and over again....

I can’t even imagine playing a song from Pearl Jam, John Mayer or Foo Fighters. Even if I do, a great song would go unappreciated and I’d be back to playing Hotel California. Gorgeous beauties like Better Man, Unforgiven, Georgia go completely unnoticed. One must not even dream of trying any original compositions. And the part that annoys me the most is that people would soon come to a consensus that you aren’t a very good guitar player…(okay…I am not even worthy of being within a hundred feet of the shadow of Jimi Hendrix), which is perhaps the best reputation one can get. Unfortunately, not everyone is open minded enough to experiment. We all love running around in circles in our own familiar territory.

Oh well, back to learning how to play ‘Tum ho to….gata hain dil….’ And hitting the high pitch squeal of Farhan Akhtar.

16 June, 2009

The Calling and the Fallback

I recently got back to watching ‘The Wonder Years’. Only difference is, this time I am actually able to connect with a lot of the characters on the screen. I saw one of the episodes where Arnold goes along with his dad to the workplace to see what his dad did for a living. Sentimental ALERT ! This brought back a lot of memories of when dad would take me to his workplace. I remember, for as long as Dad was in industry, he’s taken me to every workplace he’s been. I would remember running along, my 3 steps equal to his one stride, the power and respect which dad would have when he walked through the reception right to his office, everyone wishing you good morning. And all the offices dad had were absolutely amazing. The fondest memory I remember having was of his office in Coca-Cola. He had a fridge which was stocked up with Coke, Fanta and Sprite. I obviously thought that it was the greatest job on earth, access to all that fizz. But then I noticed, as the day progressed, not once did dad take a drink. He was always busy signing papers of some sort, reading and highlighting long lines of numbers in files that the poor assistant had to carry, serious conversations over the phone, being nice to the boss, sarcastically telling the boss off, getting guys to do stuff. And the sort of power that came with that job was truly amazing. I guess it was somewhere here that I decided that if all else fails, I want that job. Maybe that was Dad, with his own subliminal intentions, showing me a piece of days to come.

I need to explain something here, which is sort of a slow realization. All of us grew up wanting to be something and someone, with a definite outrageous career. And we all had a back up plan, if plan A fails, there is always plan B. But then, looking at dad way back then, looking at this episode of Wonder Years and looking at me…. Somehow, for the great majority, even Plan X, Y and Z don’t work out. I remember Dad telling me that when he was a kid, his greatest ambition in life was to become the guy who punched tickets at the theater – imagine all the movies you could see. This soon evolved into wanting to be a guard on a train – imagine all the traveling you could do. But then, life sort of just carried him along and he ended up being a finance and accounts manager for some of the great companies in the world. Many of which my friends envy…namely ITC and Shaw Wallace Breweries. I’m still all Coca-cola.

In the TV serial, Kevin’s dad tells him; his calling was to be a Professional Baseball Player. While Kevin automatically assumed that the fallback was to be the head of distribution at some company, the truth was that the back up was to be a captain of a ship. And thinking of its relevance to yours truly, I still want to be a Rockstar…travel the world with my guitar….. and my fallback would be to become a writer. I remember my career ambitions spawning from astronaut to archeologist ( I thought their lives were like Indiana Jones) to chef to Fashion Designer ( Yes….the designing minus the gay part) and what not. But right now, here I am - reading up on stuff like GDP, inflation, bell-curves, BCG marketing models, and what-not. While my calling would still remain rockstar, I guess the fallback has sort of been modified to become CEO of a top company.

Its fascinating how one thing leads to another and we end up doing something totally different from where we begun. Taking my Dad’s example, he was born into a humble family where Grandpa was the head of the works floor, Dad merely went and wrote the exam for one of the top B-schools because all his friends were writing it, and he got through…and nearly 30 years hence, he’s worked with some of the greatest companies and done some great stuff. And I don’t think he planned any of this out. And I think I too should stop always looking towards the future. Live in the moment and let life take its course. God knows who I’ll be down the line… there are times you sacrifice ambition for something a little more precious. Maybe it isn’t what you wanted and maybe it isn’t the best thing, but it is the right thing. Come to think of it, I don’t think any of us until a few years ago wanted to say, “ I want to become a manager doing dirty work to satisfy some stockholder…” but then, here we are. 260 of us.

Many times, I’d wonder why even after having such an awesome job, Dad would come home with his mood-off. I’d think to myself in my own little world, if I worked at Coca-Cola, life would be bliss…all that Coke and Sprite. But then, the puerile benefits aside, somewhere deep down maybe this isn’t what Dad wanted to do. It sure was a great job and there were people in the world who would kill for it, but then the truth remains that you are sometimes too good for the place you work in. But you can’t leave it, because if you do, there are responsibilities which only you can take care off which would not be taken care of. And because of this, you smile, grin and bear and go on with life. Sometimes, you don’t choose your career, life chooses it for you. And having worked for 3 years, I now understand what goes through my Dad’s head at the end of the day.

Like they said on the serial, “You can’t go around doing every silly little thing you wanted to do. You have to make your choices and you have to try and be happy with them. And some times you'll find out you've done pretty well....”

Absolute Power

Back to B-school, I got a lot of goodies for my fellow prisoners. Stuff like home-made mixture, sweets and cake. Completely understanding how it feels to merely sample a morsel of civilization on ones tongue, the room was left open for all to come and gorge. Needless to say, it reminded me of a pack of wolves who haven’t seen deer in quite a few days. Not blaming them, I was on the other side of the fence too. By Wednesday or so, I ought to be back over the fence; waiting for some poor unsuspecting mortal who has just returned from home to pounce on them and satisfy my appetite with any sort of home-made food they would have brought.

One of the girls had requested for an entire plum-cake from Bangalore. Being someone who is passionate about pastries, (lol….come to think of it….I am passionate about food in general) I could completely understand and sympathize with the craving. I sent her a message that I had got the cake, the moment I arrived. However, I guess she decided to pick it up later! WHAT???? I know…..if I were in her shoes…..figuratively obviously….I’d look horrendous in heels….am not built to wear them…..anyway, if I were in her place, I would have dropped whatever it is I was doing and run over to pick up my brick of cake.

Anyway, a class later, poor plum cake deprived lass comes over pleading that I hand over the cake. I was kind of busy at the moment and told her that I would hand it over later. You’d think that was the end of it. Nope! The girl hounded me in the cafeteria. Here’s the killer part, genius told her friend and both of them got together and ensured that I spoke to no one about the gold I had hidden in my closet. And they were unusually extra nice to me. I got promoted up the line to pick up samosas. Place was made for me at the table. And they ensured that no one said anything mean to upset me. Yours truly notices the sudden temporary surge in respect being given…and oh boy did I have my time milking that cow….. Muhahahahaha!!!! On purpose, I helped myself to a really large glass of coffee, slowly mixed the sugar, cooled it down, took small sips savoring every bit of that absolutely shameful excuse for a cup of java…and I don’t think the girl took that too lightly. But then alas, the golden rule:

He, who has all the gold, makes all the rules!

Both were very careful not to irk me in any way. On the way back to the hostel, they were quite literally at my heels. I had to purposely stop and talk to everyone who came past, enquired about their health, how the folks were at home, latest happenings in Bangalore, the works. All this, to merely annoy the living daylights out of the two. Alas, I’m only so mean…which is why I will never become a super-villain who’ll take over the world. Eventually, they got to have their cake.

The moral of the story would be how amazing a little thing like a cake can generate so much power that two really mature people would go weak at the knees and be extra nice to you. I don’t think anyone has been so nice to me in the last two months. Good Lord the power….the absolute raw power! Imagine, I could conquer this place. All I need to do is set up a bakery and all those students would be under my thumb… Wait…wait…something not right about this plan! This must be perhaps the gayest way to take over the world….open a bakery!!!!!

Darn…back to the drawing board!

15 June, 2009

Homebound

This entry is going to be fairly long, so get your popcorn and drinks. I finally went home after nearly 2 months and oh boy, it was absolutely divine. There is so much to say, so I’m going to break this up or I might end up sounding like a kindergarten kid who had the most exciting day ever. Here goes:

The Good Food paradox

I finally got home and was back in the hands of the loving food cooked by Mom. The food at campus is …well….not up to the mark. ( There might be some press guys reading this blog and I don’t want to give them any dirt on how bad things are here….Oops!) Anyway, thanks to the fact that the food is not up to the mark, yours truly has been eating lower proportions of food and has successfully lost 3 and a half kilos thanks to that. All cheer please. One would expect that once home, I would be gorging on mountains of food prepared by the ever so divine hands of Mum. But, this was quite the contrary. My stomach was all confused. Two months of terrible ( Oops…I said it again) food, and he was all confused with the sudden intake of actually tasty and edible food. Not to forget the amount of love with which it was prepared. My stomach went all crazy with the good food and was so shocked by this, that it decided to lose its mind. To cut a long story short, my stomach went crazy and oh well….long live Eno Salt.

Apparently my stomach has got used to lowered quantities that I tried very hard to stuff as much as I could in the 2 days I was home, but alas, I am a mere mortal and can stuff myself only so much. Go figure ! I was looking forward to hogging tons of home made food…and somehow, I’m back at college on Monday and feel I’ve done a major injustice to my palate. Sniff. I think the next time I’m going home, I’ll lumber up and starve for a few days so that I can please the palate and make full justice of the divine food that mom makes. Mom actually called up that day before I went home, and I requested that breakfast be Pav Bhaji….needless to say….mum has missed cooking for someone who appreciates food. Dad isn’t really a critic of any sort. If the salt is good, the food is good.


The Best Hangover Ever

The gang and I hit TGI Fridays by 6 PM to optimize happy hours. And by George, I don’t think I’ve loved alcohol so much. After two months of forcefully drinking depressing beer, I finally got to drink some actual alcohol. Long live Jack Daniels…and long live lots of Jack Daniels. And lots of Long Island Ice Tea…and tequila….and B-52 shooters. ( I wonder why a lot of people get the impression that I have a drinking issue? ) Anyway, at the risk of sounding like a total drunk, I believe Sunday morning was the best hangover ever….period. It takes a true connoisseur of alcohol to appreciate the beauty of a Jack Daniels and a coke over a mere Kingfisher beer. I know I have offended a lot of people right now…but you all know it is true. Whiskey and Bourbon rock! Especially if they are ‘on the rocks’….lol…I kill myself….


Back in Love

The major depressing point for me here at college is that I am at the mercy of others when it comes to transportation. This isn’t something I really appreciate. Back home, I had that ego-crushing Activa, but it was mine. From day one, she and I have shared a hate relationship, where we understand that we have no choice as things stand. And I would call her names without fail, every chance I got. However, after 2 months of having to be at the mercy of other people, I fell in love with the Activa when I saw her after all this time. At least with her, I could just go for a long drive, the wind through my hair, zipping past at a manageable speed of 75kmph, whenever I wanted to. But alas, I have no bike here. It was the most glorious 2 days we spent. I guess it is true, what they say. Distance makes the heart grow fonder.

Hot Water

Living in a hostel comes with a price. And living in a hostel in Chennai comes with a greater price. Our washrooms dont have any hot water. For someone who spent 24 years having a bath in hot water, the experience of cold water wasn't quite something I looked forward to, but like a lot of things, i've gotten used to it. Back home, with the luxury of my own bathroom, and my own room where I can play music while having a bath, rather than listen to the guy in the next bathroom singing his guts out to the latest Himesh Reshamiya number, my bath seemed somewhat odd. The whole concept of hot water seemed so foreign and vague. At the end of it, I wasn't sure that I had a bath at all.


Oh well, guess i'm evolving.


10 June, 2009

The big 2 – 5…..

Phew! A quarter of a century gone by! It’s mind-boggling it has been so long. I came into this world kicking and screaming….25 years hence, I’m still doing the same. Speaking of kicking, I ushered in the start of the next quarter of the not-yet-so fabulous life of me by bringing people together. People from near and far came together for one cause and the cause was me. People put aside their personal differences to unite, and for a very noble cause. The noble cause was to remind me that life is harsh and it will continue to kick you in the rear every now and then to state supremacy.

Apparently all the guys in my hostel have sort of Vendetta against me. For what purpose, I don’t know? I don’t remember stepping on anyone’s toes….I’m not even one of the top rankers in class…hell!!! But then, guys I know, faces I’ve only seen, faces I have no clue and suspect that they were there only because someone was getting blessed…all had come together. At the stroke of midnight, I was uplifted (quite literally) and beaten to a pulp. This is one of the times that I did not mind being the chubby fat guy. My ‘assets’ were able to bear the brunt of the onslaught of guys frustrated due to hostel food, impending exams, lack of a relation ship, lack of alcohol and all sorts of other aggravated tendencies, were quite literally laying the smack on my rear. But thanks to the well-fed child that I am, one of the tae kwondo champs left with a sore foot. Muhahaha !!! I am the Kung-Fu Panda whose legend was the stuff of legends…..enough talking! Let’s fight!!!!

PS: There is a video recording of the entire ordeal… I shall have vengeance!!! Long live the Vendetta !!!

The beatings apart, this whole ordeal of turning 25 has me in a rush of mixed emotions. While it does mark a significant milestone in one’s life, 25 so far has seemed to be as un-momentous an occasion as the other milestones like 13, 18, and 21….bit of a snooze-fest. But here’s the part I’m kind of annoyed with...if someone asked me, what I want to do on such a day, I haven’t the slightest clue in the world. And looking back on the past 25 years, there have been tons and tons of great moments, but the ‘optimist’ in me only remembers the terrible things that have come to pass. If someone were to ask me the one defining moment of the last 25 years… I have no defining moment! Tons of awesome and legendary moments….but no defining moment. But then again history has shown that for most of the recognized figures in the world, their defining moment comes post 25….so keeping history in mind…. I have a sneaking suspicion the next 25 years are going to be legen….wait for it…..

09 June, 2009

No spandex any time soon

Living on the ground floor of a hostel keeps one very close to nature, especially the insect world. Owing to the fact that our hostel is still under construction and its bang in the middle of nowhere, we do get visits from certain creatures from the dark. On the very second day, we had a scorpion pay us a visit in one of the rooms. The occupant almost ate it up, then his soul was locked in a pyramid for eternity in an oasis in the middle of the desert, protected by pygmy mummies, and would be released after a thousand years by Brandon Fraiser…wait…wait…wait… I’m confused! Oh, sorry ! I had a tiny clip of ‘The Mummy Returns’ running in my head. Por favour !

Back in reality, I think I am slowly but surely getting cured of my fear of bugs. Normally I would react by screaming like a little girl and climbing onto the chair yelling, “ Somebody Kill it!”. But thanks to the hostel, I’ve learnt to swat the tiny critters away with a fluid flick of the wrists and throw them out with a broom. I do understand that if I stood on top of the table and screamed, no one would come to rescue this dude-sel in distress. ( Dude-sel is the male version of damsel). I’ve also learnt (the hard way) that flicking the wrist at every bug is not the best option. It works well on flies, ants, other stuff…but not on Spiders. A lot of people know my extremely heightened weakness of arachnophobia. However, I decided to try the same on a little 8 legged critter who was making his way towards my laptop. Maybe he wanted to use the web…Get it? Spider? Laptop? Web?....Erm…okay! Sensing the silence, I decided to flick the wrist and send the spider flying into the wall at breakneck speeds.

Apparently the spider was smarter and decided to give me some and opened a can of whoop-a** on me by biting my wrist.

Alright! Juvenile me comes into the picture and is all excited hoping that pretty soon I’d have a high fever, then next morning I’d wake up and be all toned-up, no longer requiring glasses, my cat-like reflexes enhanced by super spider reflexes. The next minute I’m in red and blue spandex swinging from building to building. I’d look terrible in spandex…almost as bad as Jack Black when he took on Spider man at the MTV music awards. Anyway, after all the glee of being bit by a spider, I soon realized there was a flaw in my plan. The spider was not a radioactive, genetically enhanced spider!!! ( Yeah right….that’s the problem….ignoramus here gets bit by a spider and he’s depressed that it wasn’t radioactive…whatte geek!!!) Reality kicks in…and I’ve been scratching my wrist all day. Luckily, I took an anti allergic thingy which helped bring down the itching. Nothing serious too…. If it were, I should have been dead a long time ago. Instead here I am, almost 25 and depressed that the damn spider was of no value. Sigh !!!

On a completely unrelated note… I wonder why my dad keeps yelling at me to grow up and get my priorities right.

06 June, 2009

All the necessary food groups…

The last week has been fairly taxing on everyone. Overburdened with assignments and case studies, Friday saw most of the people with dark circles around their eyes, some resembling raccoons even. Owing to the psychological warfare inflicted upon us in the name of education…we are subject to physical torture by ‘absolutely delightful’ canteen food. I’m personally not complaining because I seem to have shed a few grams here and there thanks to not eating the delicious spread at every meal.

This, coupled with a ban on possession and consumption of alcohol on campus, most of the guys were quite frustrated. Myself included. A big gang decided to give the canteen dinner a miss and head to Mahabalipuram to have some real food. And boy did we have real food. I think your truly has single handedly reduced the prawn percentage in the Indian Ocean. I was back in form. My old ways, live to eat…. But for once, the entire group was like me. Ravaged by hunger and starvation, we gorged on mountains of prawns, chicken, fish and egg. The faces of everyone were a close second to that of a Somalian refuge who has just received their loaf of bread from the UN. We all sat down to dinner and I am not kidding here….we actually cleared out the kitchen at one restaurant. There must have been nearly 30 starving frustrated men, we ordered everything on the menu…barring the veg stuff of course….and within an hour…the chicken was all gone. Not to mention the beer. We had a lot of Kingfisher fans who had to settle for Sandpiper. ( I personally cant make out the difference in taste of lower alcohols…) People would make grim faces owing to the taste ….but still continued drinking..because ..hey….something is better than nothing!!!

We moved to another restaurant in a fashion a parasite would leap to another host after sucking the life out of it. And boy did we binge there. If we were to rank in order the rate at which meat would be consumed by an animal, hyenas would come in third, piranha come is second and leading the pack would be the non-veg deprived students from our college. We ate everything….fried fish, fried chicken, fried prawns…. ( I wonder why my arteries keep clogging up every now and then causing a severe shooting pain down my left arm…)…and this was round two. The one great thing our college is doing by depriving us of meat is that the prosperity of Mahabalipuram is bound to go up in the years to come starting now. Restaurants and bars would be doing more business in one month than they would have done in the entire last few years. And we wonder how India is going to hit 8% growth?..... this is how. Deprivation will generate demand and supply would match….woah woah woah…hold the economics baby!!!

At the end of it all, we all came out being the most satisfied people on earth…I do mean it…MOST satisfied. Most of us were high on food alone. Some are planning to return to town and binge once again tomorrow….but alas. Too much of a good thing. I’m right now all woozy and have downed one packet of Eno Salt and two hajmolas. One can say, I’m having a food-hangover. Burp ! Excuse me…. But I’m in heaven. To top it all, it was the birthday of one of the guys in the hostel and we got some cake. We got our cake and could eat it too. (Predictable lame joke ….)

04 June, 2009

The View from the Back Seat

I was chatting online with a friend the other day. We were talking about the various committees here at college. A little bit of background before I continue. The college is a student-driven college in terms of operations. This means that every student during their time here will have to pitch in some way or the other, no matter how large or insignificant the contribution. Hence, every student is forced to be part of some committee or the other. So we have the student council, branding committee, placement committee, food committee ( No...for those of you who are thinking it…this committee does not get access to unlimited food or to taste it…..even if they did, it’s hostel food! I doubt there would be any romance in that relationship!).

Now friend’s who know me, would expect me to be part of that committee which is perpetually working and is getting the most visibility. We’re all glory-hunters at the end of the day; it’s just what glory we look for that defines our actions. (Whoa….spiritual brain wash!) Coming back to the point, I would normally join a committee like the student council or placement committee…the team with the greatest responsibility and the team doing most of the work. Well, personal statistics have shown, right from class 7, I’ve generally associated myself with such teams; the guys who do all the dirty work while the rest of the junta reap the benefits.

But I guess this time around, for once I would love to be the guy who sits back and watches the world go by. For once, chill and not roam around campus with a perpetual ‘man on a mission’ look which I seem to have perfected. Obviously, the friend thinks I’m ill or something. A leopard doesn’t change its spots….but the leopard can sure sit in the shade of a tree every now and then. Don’t be mistaken to think that I’m not doing anything….I have signed up to organize the B-school fest! And that is a major event here. And all eyes of the world and every other B-school would be focused on the success of this fest.

One might concur that the fest is a grand event and is by no means something to be taken to lightly. However, the fest is a seasonal thing. Once it’s done, it’s done. Unlike many of the other committees, it is not working round the clock. But oh well! C’est La Vie!!! I must say, sitting on this side of the line is quite boring; I’m just not used to the view. There is a slight twinge of jealousy every time I see the teams huddling together, discussing strategy and what not. Until yesterday, I used to be there. But I guess, this time, I need to kick back, for maybe the last time in my life …attempt to study and get a decent grade ( Something that still eludes me….) and reap the benefits of the hard work put in by others. I guess this MBA course is doing funny things to my mind and my attitude… some parts I like, some I really don’t. Responding to my friend - Dude…sometimes you’ve got to stop and smell the roses! Once in a while it’s nice to get out of the driver’s seat…get in the back seat and be one of those annoying children perpetually screaming , “Are we there yet ?...Are we there yet?...Are we there yet?....Are we there yet?

03 June, 2009

Despising the Americans for now

Economics has never been my cup of tea. For that matter, studies have never been my cup of tea. But, I’ll whine about economics this time around. The economics prof has a reputation for being quite heartless with regard to the thrashing out of assignments. We have been warned by our seniors that we are expected to ‘expect the unexpected’ in his class. ( Oooooh... creepy stuff man !). And just last evening, he lived up to his reputation. While he spent most of the class making us regret joining an MBA course and made almost all of us, even the economics grads, look like absolute dunces, he decided it was time to have a little fun at our expense. Somehow, every time he asks questions that are at a level way beyond my meager comprehension, I have a picture of Mr.Burns (Simpsons) running in my head where the prof has positioned his hands in a condescending manner and is going, “ Eeeexxcccellent Murthy !!!”.

Anyway, one of the assignments involved a presentation on the ‘Economics of the Great Depression of 1929’. One might think that this is a fairly easy task which involves mere plagiarism of data from the internet, but alas…thou art mistaken dear reader! It isn’t as easy as we thought it would be to pull up statistics like GDP, unemployment and other equally bamboozling economic jargon from some bygone era. A few hours into the assignment, I quickly realize that the Americans are the root cause of all my economics class related sleep woes.

Here’s how one’s actions today might impact someone many decades in the future. Way back in 1929, if only the Americans were more careful with their spending and were not so dependent on their newly found credit system, if only the law-makers were a little more prudent with their monetary policy, if only the automobile sector had been proper in predicting their numbers and not churn out cars like loaves of bread, if only the bankers were more critical of their statistics and not been buoyant so blindly…if only none of these had happened…I WOULD HAVE GOT SOME SLEEP TONIGHT!!!

Thanks to the Americans, I am made to suffer without much sleep and am forced to spend my evening comprehending data related to their mistakes. I did have plans of reading something else a little more interesting rather than the ‘Great Depression’. Pictures of all those homeless people standing in the breadlines that went around for blocks added to the mood of the evening which was….quite ironically…depressing!!! Alas, the Americans are back to their dirty tricks again, and some poor chap is going to be spending late hours into the night a decade from now, obliging the idiosyncrasies of some economics professor….and why? Because the world’s so called super-power could not read between the lines…..Alas poor lamb of the future, be warned…we shall but suffer from acute sleep deprivation owing to the sins of our fathers...i mean bankers.

02 June, 2009

Nothing to show for it

I’m absolutely outraged today. Angry like you won’t believe it. There is one person in the world I genuinely want to murder, and it’s a photographer. Looks like my bad run with the camera continues. Three cheers….hip hip…hu…shut the hell up !!!!

All of you would remember me ranting and raving about my hosting of the inauguration for the new college campus which was presided over by the Godrej Bros, Bajaj, Shashi Tharoor and the works. That definitely stood out as one of the proudest moments in my life which I can look back upon and smile. Now, what does one normally expect of such red-letter days? A simple photograph ? But alas, I am to be denied even that simple pleasure. And it looks like this is happening only to me. All the other students who had been part of the inauguration or the convocation that day seem to have absolutely brilliant solo shots, worthy of sharing with friends and family. Yours truly, on the other hand, has at least 5 shots…but it’s all in bits and pieces; as in, you can see me somewhere in the background, or you can see part of my head, or it has me turning around and walking away resulting in a picture of my well toned…ahem!

One of my most memorable moments in a long time and I have nothing…NOTHING to show for it. Even the pictures I had a fellow student take with my camera were quite grainy and not too bright. I really want to take that expensive camera and pummel the photographer. I’m not yet a rockstar such that moments like these come everyday. And when they do, the stupid photographer didn’t take any decent pictures. And what’s even worse, I wore a suit and looked drop dead gorgeous in it….Daniel Craig was calling me up to ask for tips on how to carry off ‘wearing a suit’ in Chennai…. And what do I have to show for it. Zilch !!! Not one decent photograph. This happened in college, happened at office functions and looks like the good times are rolling on. Looks like the only time I ever get decently photographed is when I’m making a face or am sort of high or am generally looking like a homeless person. Even my second tattoo didn’t hurt so much as this episode! Please send me the number of that incompetent photographer, so that I may(translating from Hindi to English)make his mother-sister one !!!

01 June, 2009

What’s in a name?

Well, quite a lot! A person’s name, at least in India has a lot of significance. A lot of time is spent consulting astrologers, god men, putting the names of the parents together, or choosing a name that one hopes would describe one’s character, etc. This does however end up with sometimes hilarious results, not for the person with the name, but for the people whom they interact with.

Ignoring the day to day names which one hears, I’ve always wondered what logic the Gods used while choosing their names. Take note, Indian Mythology is filled with names that have just no real time logic. Not taking into consideration the fact that those names would be absolutely inappropriate in this day and age, I’m pretty sure they were inappropriate for that day and age too. Thanks to all the Bhagvad Gita and Upanishads that I’ve been learning the last month or so, I’ve come across a lot of these terrible names. Terrible in the sense, that they are completely uncool and make absolutely no sense to me. Example, Yagnavalkya ! Who the devil comes up with a name like that? I’m sure it means something quite divine like ‘he who shall conquer the heavens on a horse’ (It could also mean ‘he who shall not throw up after binging on Vodka’…who knows? Excuse my Sanskrit…it’s been a while) But why couldn’t he could have chosen a simpler name like Rahul or Vijay. Why Yagnavalkya ? Am sure he wasn’t too popular with the chicks. They probably referred to him as the ‘dude with the terribly thoughtful yet un-recallable name’. Am sure he could have preached the same ‘Gyan’ being called Rahul or something else.

Another such name is Svetaku. Wouldn’t Ajay or Hrithik be a simpler name? Poor dude would have had a nickname like ‘Sveta’ which is a girl’s name in India. I would have been terribly mean to such kids. Not to forget the person name Satyakama Jabala ! Somehow, I only remember Jaba…and consequentially ‘Jabba the Hutt’ (The ignoramus please refer Star Wars). Some more terribly uncool names even for that time are Nachiketa, Atharva, Uddalaka, Artabhaga, Aswala. Believe me; I cannot make this stuff up. Look up the Upanishads if you think I’m exaggerating.

Why couldn’t these guys just use generic names like Rahul, Sandeep, Sooraj, Ramesh, Suresh…but no! They decided to choose the ultimate chick-magnet names. I’ve noticed that a lot of these names are making a comeback in a big way in India. But I still believe it would have been a lot cooler if they could just use simple names. Hell!!! Why couldn’t they use the name Nikhilesh…it’s easy to remember…has fairly mythological roots…refers to the Lord Shiva…and means ‘Lord of All’ ! (Can’t comment on the name being a chick magnet.) I thank my Mum for giving me this name. It was completely her decision and thank god for that. Had it been left to the elders, I too would have had some terribly uncool name like Subramanyam or something equally significantly-insignificant.