28 February, 2011

Why I am worried for the middle-east

Not a post on me being single? How can that be? Isn’t that the only thing that runs through that hamster-wheel driven mind of mine? Ladies and Gentlemen, I am not as superficial as you think. My extensive education (cough….cough….puke) allows me to be more aware of the world around me. And I do have an opinion on everything in the world that affects me….right from the El Nino effect to the Justin Bieber conundrum… it’s all serious. But nothing is more serious than what is happening in the middle east, and I think it is important to use this forum and address all you readers (namely you 22 faithful readers) about such grave global issues.

We’ve all been following what’s happening in the middle-east… a revolution that began in Tunisia, spread to Egypt like wildfire and now engulfs Libya. Brave scenes of the people sticking it to the man. It’s a good time to pull out those ‘Rage against the Machine’ albums….and if you’ve never heard of them, you should. It’s basically ‘Audioslave’ without Cornell….not heard of Audioslave or Chris Cornell? You should. It’s like ‘Rage against the Machine’ without Cornell and Zack de la Rocha instead. (Excuse me if you did not get the irony in that joke). Anyway, it’s a revolution and while the middle-east re-stabilizes itself over time, there is a big global problem that affects all of us. There is a lot of oil locked up in the Middle East and North Africa. And if country by country in that region begins to fall into a revolution, the price of oil is bound to rise. And if that happens, it’s going to take me longer to buy a PS3. (Aha….I knew it… back to superficiality)

This is a grave issue, if oil prices go up, that means I have to shell out more for those long aimless drives I go for. If the fuel prices increase, we are looking at an overall inflation of commercial goods. Food items would cost more as the cost of transportation would go up. If food begins to cost more, then restaurants would have to begin levying extra taxes on us, which means I end up paying more for the same amount of food I eat. With restaurants being my primary point of expenditure, I am left with less money. Which means, there would be less money going into the ‘Nikhilesh-needs-a-relationship-or-PS3’ fund (which stands at a proud figure of Rs.0) Do you not see the big picture? This is worse than when I had the appendix thingy and was not allowed any solid food for 10 days at the hospital. Life as we know it is coming to a slow sunset. And the budget today is most unfriendly to the middle class; things do not seem to be helping my PS3 cause at all. Assuming I do get enough money to eventually buy that PS3, I would find myself short of cash to buy games regularly. That’s like buying the car and not having the fuel to run it.

Hence, I pray for peace and quick resolution of tensions in the Middle East and other oil bearing nations. I’m also really happy that the MBA(towards which I worked so hard(ly)) is paying off and is allowing me to see the bigger economic impact of global issues on local issues. What is it about the Middle East that affects you the most? We can get together and exchange notes if you too are facing PS3 issues, maybe get drunk and sing sad songs or something...

18 February, 2011

Band Baaja Baaraat…indications that all is not well.

I totally loved this movie, so energetic. All that dancing and all that Anushka Sharma! Three cheers for babe from ‘Namma Bengaluru’. For those of you have not seen the movie, you must. So much energy, so much dancing and so much Anushka Sharma….three cheers for….wait….sorry….deja vu. Brief storyline – the lead actors decide to open a wedding planning agency and do a better job than the current ‘wedding planner’ who had more experience and had forgotten about the passion of work which had resulted in packaging and commoditization of her services tailor made to the up-markets. The duo then decided to read CK Prahalad’s ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’ paper and target people looking to get married in the small and mid market regions. Their ability to adjust based to dynamic situations as a tier two vendor proved to be their USP. Eventually this innocent start-up grew many fold in a quick time, like Infosys, then creative and other differences (they did ‘it’…ushoooo) led them to go separate ways, like Reliance. The rest of the story is your standard rom-com with much energy, much dancing and Anushka Sharma.

Notice how I took this otherwise ordinary romance and made it a case study in ‘How entrepreneurs should learn to keep creative differences aside while growing quickly’. And this is exactly what one MBA prof somewhere is going to do. Show this movie to a class, who’d be more than happy to get some time-off from listening to the prof, only to be stunned later on by the words’ Assignment to be submitted tomorrow’. Many a movie has been ruined by many a professor in this fashion. Back in college, I remember how we were made to see ‘Gandhi’, ‘Miracle’,’ The Negotiator’ and ‘Ek Ruka Hua Faisla’ following which we were expected to have an opinion on stuff which was apparently taught in the previous class. I don’t know how you were expecting me to pay attention. And you pull this dirty trick of making movies into assignments. How? Why? To top it all, we had a lot of DCP (Definitive Class Participation) from certain folks who came up with absolutely mindless responses to questions thrown their way because they were checking out the pretty girl two rows ahead. (Aha….dirty college secret out….yeah right! Like you did not know that happens!)

“So what do you think of the last scene? How would you relate it to the Stanford Prison Experiment?”

(Waking up out of a daze)” Yes sir! I believe Gandhi was right to go on a hunger strike because Samuel Jackson had taken the entire American Ice Hockey Team hostage. This situation is a classic example of a "black swan robust" society, meaning a society that can withstand difficult-to-predict events. And it all ties back to Stanford because the same person discovered it? No?!?!?! I guess Pankaj Kapur had something to do that was essential to the plot. He owns the land on which the prison is built? No???!?!?!?! ”

This is bound to happen. Anyway, God save MBA grades. Coming to a more serious issue here, I think I’ve picked up some sort of odd virus from all these weddings I’ve been going to. I now like Hindi movie songs….especially the dance variety. And like movies with elaborate song dance sequences. At the moment I can’t get the ‘Aivayi Aivayi’ song from BBB out of my head. And this seems to be getting worse. Turns out I’m seeing way too many hindi movies…am able to indentify a lot of songs on the radio, a phenomenon which my fellow Rock-heads find difficult to digest. And to make the illness worse, I now even like dancing to the songs….not in a Madhuri Dixit sort of way…more like a ‘Kaloo Mama meets apdi podu podu’ sort of way. But I am grooving none the less. What did you give me you darnn weddings? What? I want to wear black t shirts and headbang again…. I should have known I was ill and gone in for therapy the day I bought a 3500 buck kurta to wear at my friend’s wedding (as opposed to the 1000 bucks one I own from fabindia….can be seen wearing the same at all weddings). What’s next? Please help. I am unable to shake off this evil that has infested this body. One day it’s going to come bursting out of my chest, like in the movie Alien and then I’d be choosing Sonu Nigam (even after his awesome rendition of an English song at the World Cup opening ceremony) over James Hetfield.


15 February, 2011

Valentine’s day, chest hair and airline seat selection

I’d like very much to write about Valentines day and love (or the lack of it that is making me nearly insane) and all those other things that make you go “Awwwww”, but I am sure more than enough bloggers have written about it. If you do want to feel all warm and fuzzy inside, think of this really cute beagle puppy that’s so confused in life that it’s chasing its own tail. That did the trick for you??? No??? Did not work for me either…go figure! I would sincerely like to thank the Vaanar Senas for not doing anything violent this time around. There was one faction of the Vaanar Sena (I believe they were the chimps) that decided that they would record couples and put them on youtube to bring shame to the family. To them I say this, “DPS MMS”…thank you!

Anyway, I just got back from Mumbai. The last of all the very many weddings that I have had to attend. The Mumbai one was fun because I got to meet my gang from college and go back to acting like complete incorrigible morons that we were. ( I am a sophisticated moron otherwise) I am sure you’ve heard about the ‘Shave India’ marketing gimmick by Gillette to sell more razors. Am sure some high-paying MBA grad from a premier B-school came up with the idea based on extensive market research which comprised of 4 friends from the same batch, and their girlfriends,(cute accountant types from E&Y) who were at some pub in Bengaluru (before 11:30 PM of course). Anyway, coming back to the story…. One of the malls we walked into had one of these booths setup with young PUC type girls shaving men. Quite obviously, none of the men were there for the actual shave, but closest they would get to a woman touching them so close to Valentine’s day. (sorry for below-the-belt comment….but I know you liked it when she was putting foam on your face…che…dirty boy). Yours truly refused to get a shave from any of these women for the following reasons:
1. No way I am letting a woman with a blade so close to a jugular vein.
2. I have worked too hard to come up with my ‘Tony Stark’ beard look.
3. How else would I have new blog material….encouraged friend to go and get shaved though.

During one of the announcements, the girl yelled into the mic, “Come to our stall, we will shave anything”. Was I the only one thinking what I was thinking???? (You just went ‘Eeeeeeeewwwwwwww’). By the way, what I was thinking was on how to ensure this girl never ever shaves anyone again…including her own legs….maybe, even give up waxing and become a hippie chick. My plan – walk up to the booth, take off my shirt, show off proud-south Indian chest hair. I was planning on executing the same, but friend of mine refused to accept my bet as she did not want to have to peel those Gillette girls off me…you know what chest and facial hair on a fat dark south Indian man can do to a woman! We have this’ Marlon Brando meets James Dean’ type effect…..like Vadivelu.

Now that that is out of my system, let’s move on to the next piece of whining. Why are you airlines people so mean to me???? Really…why? Not once did you give me a seat next to a pretty eligible girl. Not once. While I do not understand this fixation of wanting to travel next to a pretty girl (Am guessing it comes from hoping that ‘Before Sunrise’ type romance happens) but it would be nice to put me next to one. When I was a toddler, you airlines people were more than happy to not only put me next to nice girls who mummy forced me to call ‘Didi’, but your air-hostesses thought I was the most adorable thing they had ever seen. Nice, fair,chubby,talkative kid who loves food…. nothing has changed, so why the sudden punishment?

Instead of asking me whether I want an aisle seat or a window seat….ask me who I want to sit next to. I’d definitely point out to that cute girl in the lemon green salwar with the John Lennon like glasses, reading that Daniel Steel novel standing two places ahead of me in the line who is so oblivious to everything and everyone around her that she so carelessly flicks her lovely jet black hair as they come in the way of her reading, shortly after which she pulls out an iphone 4 (this is where I fell in love…. Iphone 4, how can’t you?) to say, “Yah sweety! I’m in the line waiting to check in my bags! Come to the airport but 11:00 to pick me up! Bye…love you!” (This is where you hear the sound of glass cracking). Hey, Valentine ’s Day was close by….you can’t help but feel moderately romantic. But then…noooooo….you stupid airlines people had to put me next to the fat Gujju man who snored right through and thought the air hostess had asked him to donate a kidney when she said ‘Rs.120 for the Sandwich sir’. I have a feeling this conspiracy goes all the way to the top….it’s a scam bigger than CWG and 2G put together. Anyway, que sera sera….

09 February, 2011

Corporate Phone-ies

These Blackberry /Smart phone types….very annoying lot….especially at meetings. It is common courtesy (a concept not taught to very many Indians) to put your phone in silent mode at meetings. If you can’t do that, then one would at least expect you to cut the call, because quite frankly, I don’t care much for your ‘Rihanna-Umbrella’ ring tone. But instead, you decide to stare at the phone screen and wonder whether or not to pick up the call , while Rihanna goes” ella….ellaaa….aaeeeyyyy…..aeeeyyy….ellaaaa….ella”. Now that you have decided that you must pick up the phone and inform the other person that you can’t speak for too long, why do you suddenly put your head between your legs and in a very audible excuse for a whisper say, ”I’m in a meeting, I’ll call you back.” Do you get better reception down there?

And why do you have to take work calls while among a group of people. You can always step to the side and take the call…It’s called a “mobile” phone for a reason. We really don’t want to hear you telling some bloke to “ sell short because the cement stocks in the rival company are bullish” or “merge the database after which you can run the xml script which should allow you to filter through the command prompt”(or something like that). If you really want to sit among a bunch of people and take business calls, I will come to the conclusion that your work is actually pretty boring and lame and my job is absolutely killer (which it is….must say these things….office people reading the blog) and you want it, and you are fulfilling some silly inferiority complex by trying to seem important to your office.

Now to you techie mobile users…. I know that technology is a wonderful thing and that today’s phones can do a billion things including accessing laptops, datacenters, running command prompts for hacking and all that stuff I see on Swordfish and Star Trek. If you have the time to sit and try out all the apps on the various stores available does not mean others have the same time or interest to use them. So if you’re going to act all cocky about some app that you use on your phone that allows you to determine pheromone levels in Rhesus Macaques that are in heat, please don’t insist that I’m a lesser human being for not having that app on my phone. I obviously am getting on with life quite well without these apps. I have all the apps I need, thank you very much, I was not born yesterday. Telling me about an app is one thing, but acting as though I would lose one kidney without the app is another thing. And no…. I do not access office email on my phone. If I am busy fiddling with it, it’s because I’m probably tweeting, “Jackass told me about random app that I don’t want to use. Some people will never make it in sales. How to kill a Jackass with his own phone?

04 February, 2011

When boredom hits at the movies

I must start by requesting all sane people not to watch the movie ‘Dil to Bacha hai ji’. I thought Golmaal 3 was insulting to one’s intelligence, but this flick coming from Madhur Bhandarkar is just painful. I land up at a theater after a weird day at work and have to choose between this monstrosity and ‘Dhobighat’ and I chose this because , “Oh, Bhandarkar movie…should be interesting. And Oh! Shruti Hassan….drool! Will be very interesting”. Needless to say I wanted to shoot myself thanks to absolutely banal humour…or that’s what I assumed it was because other people were laughing their heads off. Don’t even get me started on Shazahn Padamsee…..just don’t. I still fail to understand how my parents liked that movie and did not warn me before I went for it. (PS: Also discovered a friend of mine studied with Shruti Hassan in school….but refuses to give me an intro. Typical of you all….humph! Friends it seems…. Tsk tsk!)

Talking about movies, I have this habit of going for at least one movie a week by myself at the theaters. Why by myself? Because quite frankly I have not the time or patience to play personal secretary to everyone’s schedule. Nothing like randomly showing up at a theater, seeing what ticket is available and going for the movie. And once it’s dark, like anyone cares if I came with someone or not. Think about it, you can see what movie you want, no unnecessary interruptions to explain the plot, you can eat whatever flavor popcorn you want, you don’t have to share your popcorn….and the most important – You can actually watch the movie. I fail to see the big hullabaloo people make about me going to a movie by myself. Every now and then, I try to see if I get company, but it ends up being an argument on the lines of ‘I don’t like that actor’, ‘I don’t like that theater’,’ they don’t serve caramel popcorn’,’ I don’t like such movies’…..and if you thought the above excuses were from women only( you sexist cow), you are mistaken….even guys get moody when it comes to watching a movie. It’s simple….Go…see schedule…book tickets….buy refreshments….shut the hell up and watch the movie. But noooo…..this has to be a long winding consensus of what movie, which actor, what sort of popcorn, which theater and all that jazz. No thank you! I’m going lone ranger on this one.

During my painful ordeal of watching the movie mentioned above, there were parts that were in Marathi. I’d have been happy if they had put in subtitles. This sort of got me thinking as to where subtitles would be appropriate or not. I understand why one would have subtitles in perhaps a French movie, or even and English movie considering the fact that many people don’t get a lot of what the Americans say. But the one place I’ve found subtitles very annoying….and please don’t ask me how I’ve come to this juncture….is in porn movies. Irrespective of which language the movie is in….oh and believe me, there are many languages…. Does one really not get it when the actress( being very fair to the fraternity using that word) is screaming’ Oh my God’???? The whole point of subtitles is to understand the plot, so why would some….erm….religious movies have subtitles? (I refer to them as religious movies because somehow people seem to remember God a lot in them) Is the plot really that important that you need to have subtitles? What part of ‘Do me baby’ is tough to understand whether it be Japanese or German? Have you noticed that even in an English movie, if there are subtitles, you still tend to read them although you understand the language perfectly well. The same applies to ‘religious’ movies too, one tends to get caught up in reading the subtitles. Don’t ask me how I came up with this revelation…but I am sure it all ties back to the painful experience of watching ‘Dil to Bacha hai ji’. Perfect case study for the saying ‘An idle mind is a devils workshop….and if it is my mind, it works over time’.