Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Socializing 3.0 edition

Remember the 5"x7" yellow postcard? Remember the blue inland letters, your papa jotted onto in the wee hours of the night? I atleast hope you remember using your wily tongue to stick those winsome stamps. All in the name of remembering that loved one. The handwritten letter has always been romantic and will always be so. Be it for a mother, lover or a friend. That was Socializing 1.0 Gamma edition. Tried and tested. Sometimes executed by a pigeon.

Suddenly the world just shrank into half. The neighbourhood postman fleeting disappeared from the limelight. A pudgy little device took over from him in the form of a pager. But his big Daddy, the Mobile Phone gave the world the Moses it needed. Apart from bridging all the possible seas, it paved new ingenious ways in sealing business deals, marriage proposals, contract killings etc. The Youth icon, the SMS introduced humour in our daily lives and is the most invaluable tool for the Yash Chopra genre fans. The non-socializing elements gorged themselves onto games, cameras and the jerk-special MMS. Socialising 2.0 edition. Eating it, drinking it and snoozing on it.

Welcome to the Socializing 3.0 Beta edition. Not fully tested, but turning out to be a humongous success. I am talking about the latest fad of joining online social networking groups like Orkut, Hi-Fi, Friendster, Fropper, My Space etc etc. This edition unlike the others, introduces a add-on into people's lives - meeting new souls. What outshines it is that one can never lose touch with old friends and relatives. Its relatively free. An update via a simple ping or a scrap brings back those beautiful memories. The way its going, the day is not far when a new lexicon enters our dictionary: online marriage.

All the 3 editions are intertwined and compatible. However, the scientist in me is already gearing up for the 4.0 edition. Holograms.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My Role Model

Calvin: I understand my tests are popular reading in the teachers' lounge.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I am Mumbai

I. Mumbai. Bombay. City of Dreams. City of Fortune. City of Commerce. City of Bollywood. City of Local Trains. City of Fashion. City of the Gateway. City of the Seven Islands. City of the Vada Pav. City of the Bindaas.

Right from the Armani clad Colaba businessman to the Koli fisherwoman in Virar, my Mumbaikar epitomises the high adrenaline urban way of life. Time never stops in my bustling streets. A minute lost is a business opportunity lost. The 15 million populace carry out their daily regimen with an unflagging, unflappable and unflinching spirit. Binding them all is my Heart, my Holy Grail - the local train. This iron beast might seem rusty and archaic, but it pumps over 6 million commuters a day. I am also blessed with paradoxes all over me. Do not be surprised if you find a slumdweller's shanty right next to a corporate bigwig's mansion. Vegetarian Hindus living next to meat eating Muslims is commonplace. I dare you to find me a peer city which can boast of a National Park right in the soul of its concrete body. I am free. I am bold. I am just waiting to be the best.

26th July, 2005. The day that bought me to a screeching halt. The day when I was left at the mercy of the rain gods. The "City of Disintegration" was born - my new alias.

I might have a huge fan following, but I could not satisfy them that day. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not fight against the apocalyptic thundershowers. I had seen it coming. I had sensed the ensuing destruction. Atleast now everyone understands my plight of being slowly buried under my own weight. Flagrant commercialization, indiscriminate construction and the huge inflow of migrants is creating a major strain on my resources. I was once tree laden but now am gradually being shorn of all that greenery. My bountiful rivers now stink of garbage and are nothing more than an open drain. I am sick and I really need a good makeover.

11th July, 2006. 6:24 pm. The moment that cringed me. The moment that left an indelible scar on my psyche. Leading many to re-christen me the "City of Terror".

Just when it seemed that it couldn't get any worse, the blasts tore through my Lifeline. It hurt where it hurts the most. My Pride. And it hurt more because I feel it was committed by one of my very own children; someone whom I had nurtured and provided solace. My freedom was taken for granted. My tolerance was tested. But at the end of the day, I feel vindicated. It surely is satisfying that I did not have to bow before such inhuman instruments.

The Sword of Damocles might seem to be hanging over my head. For the conspiracy theorists, this signifies am impending doom. It is true that there are some elements within my caretaker group who are still stuck in the Excalibur rut. No matter how hard one tries to extricate them out, they refuse to budge. These few elements are the main catalysts for my rapidly deteriorating situation. But I am someone who stands for Hope, Optimism and Spirit. And they too always stand by me. They always come to my rescue. The rains might have crippled my denizens for the day, but those very people braved the rising waters to reach out to others. The blasts might have terrorized many to run away. Instead, I could see droves of people lining outside hospitals to donate blood and soothe the injured. My tears of sadness are wiped out by such acts of humanism. I do however feel the need to convey to my caretakers that the Spirit in me cannot be relied on forever and that there is an urgent cry for change.

I do not want to sound boastful. Nor do I want to sound like Dominique Lapierre's "City of Joy". But I feel that there is an idiom I ultimately deserve after all this mayhem. The "City of Spirit".
Submitted for an essay competition at my workplace. Not concerned about the outcome. I am simply basking in the glory of being in Mumbai's shoes.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Beauty of the Behemoths

"Sea or the mountains?"
"Beach or the hill station?"
A lot of people have asked me this question. And my vote always seems to waver.

The sea has played the protagonist in some beautiful moments associated with my life. I have sat on the edge of a rocky cliff, peered over the surging sea and witnessed the most amazing sunset ever. I have kayaked on an ocean with seals jostling below me and snubbing me from the shorelines. I have a T-Shirt imprint of a photograph featuring me and four of my best pals' backs gazing over the shimmering sea at Lands End. The sea reasons me to think about infinity, the unknown depths, the limitless horizons that abound in our lives.

Cut to the mountains. Its all about the associated mysticity and the adventure. I can never forget those gruelling yet enjoyable treks. I can never forget the heavenly view of all the major Himalayan peaks at 11,000 feet. I can never forget the struggle in watching the birth of a river right out of a glacier's womb. I can never forget the mysterious monastery perched at the top of a huge hill. I can never forget the never-ending-brute-flow of water from hilltops behind all the fogginess. The mountain reasons me to think about the goal, the adventure and nature.

Today's vote would go to the mountain. An absolute tryst with nature - trekking, rain, greenery, oxygen, waterfall.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rage against the Censorship

Censorship feeds the dirty mind more than the four-letter word itself.
~Dick Cavett

I can't help but use that four-letter-word on our government who committed the heinous sin of banning a few websites. Most of them falling under the beloved 'blog' category - the new age information renderer. Aren't we living in the world's largest democracy? Gosh! The country's name joins the famed illustrious company of China, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Saudi Arabia - countries which love gagging their own people's right to express.

I doubt whether the babus have enough literary sense to understand a blog or better use the Internet. Some of the websites which faced the axe are nowhere close to spreading propaganda; two of them are infact pro-Republican parties based in the US, who never comment much on India. One of them is not decipherable because it uses Chinese characters. Another, a right wing Hindu website might be considered the ideal choice for pro-censorship baiters but then do inflammatory statements justify bans? Did the same government convict a Modi or a UP Muslim politician who demanded a Muslim Pradesh? All the government needs are scapegoats to blame in an attempt to shield their own weaknesses.

As far as prohibitions go, people are cunning enough to find their way in a maze. This BBC article lists a few of the banned sites. To evade the ban, go to and enter the banned URL.

I stand in solidarity with my fellow bloggers in condemning this reprehensible act. Jai Hind!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Up, Up and Away!

Its not a bird, its not a plane, its not Krrish, its Superman. Woah! Look at him fly.

I watched Superman today - the legal version - in a multiplex. I have grown up reading the Tinkles, the Chacha Chaudhris, the Tintins, the Phantoms, the Supermans etc. Watching a superhero movie is an extension of myself. So, dare I miss the opportunity today, albeit alone!

Even before the national anthem could begin, I could hear a kid wailing "Superman" behind me. He just couldn't wait for the action to begin and so did I. And then an amusing moment. A middle aged lady with a husband and two kids had to settle on the seat next to me and boy, wasn't she alarmed at having to sit near a lone stranger. I felt myself thinking whether watching a movie alone was a taboo or whether I looked like a flirt.

Well, I liked the movie to an extent. But the impression that I had of Superman as a macho dude completely evaporated. He is depicted as a wimp, a romantic fall guy who cannot fathom the loss of his love. A metrosexual in general terms. But, a thumbs up to the graphics team for the rollicking jet scene. My heart just stopped breathing that moment. And here's the tagline which caught my ears "To sell news, you need three things: Sex, Terror and Superman"

The world really demands a saviour like Superman. A true superhero. Someone who trashes off all the hate in the world. Someone who takes all of us into the Cartoon Network universe, where no one dies and where the good always triumphs over the evil. Unfortunately, the only Superhero the entire humanity (except me) relies on, is either non-existent or is too busy to open the Earth file in which case, He needs to be bribed.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The Art of War

"Therefore, just as water retains no constant shape, so in warfare there are no constant conditions. He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain."
- Sun Tzu, Chinese military strategist in The Art of War

I am no warmonger. But, when the enemy slaps you on the left cheek, I'd never advise you to proudly showcase your right cheek. Not in the present generation. The enemy, these days has no heart, no religion, no territorial boundaries. His life is only guided, lets say propelled by a mad ideology. He sees success in every soul killed, which further motivates him to exterminate more.

To counter such invisible insular entities is a mighty task, though not impossible. A fluid approach is needed to be able to percolate into the enemy ranks and cause tension. An approach to make the enemy implode from within. The Art of War suggests determining such an approach governed by the five laws below to triumph over your enemies:
1. The Moral Law: An approach where people unhesitatingly support their leader
2. Heaven: An approach which take the time and the weather advantage into consideration.
3. Earth: An approach which takes the ground situation, distance and danger into consideration.
4. The Commander: An approach where wisdom, sincerety, courage, benevolence and strictness reign supreme.
5. The Method and Discipline: An approach which marshals and organizes the resources systematically.
Let me add the 6th Law for the new generation -
The Non-Machiavellian: An approach which takes into account protection of innocent lives and a human touch.

The Israelis are surely following the first five laws in wiping out the whole of Lebanon. All major infrastructure installations are being blasted to smithereens by the Israeli forces. Reason: Lebanon seems to have kidnapped two Israeli soldiers. They aren't even ready to be hit on their left cheeks. But the absence of the 6th law will make Israel suffer for generations to come.

Indians have been hit on the left and right cheeks with an ever bloody nose. Going the Israeli way will lead to a continous and vicious spiral of violence. Tactically implementing the 5 laws and abiding by the 6th law is the key to success for the Indian government.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Mumbai's 7/11

How cruel can a human be? How evil can a human be? Can such a human live a life of dignity and peace after committing such a gruesome act? I am referring to the terrorist responsible for blasting Mumbai local trains today. Eight bombs ripped apart over 200 innocent people; people just like you and me; people who dreamt big in the suburban chaos that is Mumbai; people whose only mistake was to board that crowded first class compartment on a Mumbai local around 6 pm; people who had families eagerly waiting for them at home. What remains of these people are their ruptured innards, scattered limbs, grieving families and watershed dreams.

But then our Mr. Terrorist ceases to forget that Mumbaikars are a resilient lot. Despite the monstrosity of the attack, hundreds of locals embarked on a quick rescue operation, escorted the injured to nearby hospitals and donated blood. And the trains are already up and running.

Its a day to contemplate on the future of humanity. Peace on Earth.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Red End

Yeah. Yeah. I know. The fairy tale ended with a red card. The reaction was totally unexpected and ridiculous. The Effect this time ruined France and gave the Italians a not-well-deserved Cup. But aren't geniuses mortals? Maradona might have reached the pinnacle of soccer greatness in 1986, but he had to taste the dust in 1994 after testing positive for drugs. Zidane might seem godlike with his skills but he proved that he is as emotional as all of us. Zidane was either racially provoked, called a 'militant' or as some reports suggest, his sister was called a whore. Guess, sometimes honour takes over nationalism.

I appreciate FIFA for awarding him the Golden Ball despite all the drama.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

L'Effet Zidane

4 Hours:50 Minutes:33 Seconds - Time left for the singing of the national anthem
7 Hours:50 Minutes:33 Seconds - Time left for Zizou to hold the Gold Cup. Time left for him to claim the Golden Ball. Time left for Paris to rejoice like never before.

Though I had anticipated an Argentina vs France clash, its not too bad. That clash would have really tested my choice for the favored team. But now that we have France, it has to be the Zidane effect to take them through. The present generation is damn lucky to see him because I am sure his name will be echoed with the likes of Pele and Maradona. I am just hoping that he delivers that killer goal. No matter what the result says tonight, I wish that the Italians, the stadium, the media and the French of course give Zizou the farewell he deserves.

Enjoy the visual spectacle offered tonight along with a billion other humans - from Siberia in Russia across to Tierra del Fuego in South America.

Damn. Isn't it boring that we all have to sleep early, Monday night onwards?

Saturday, July 08, 2006


Have you ever taken part in a Laughathon? I am not talking about the desi comic show, which has taken India by a laughstorm, which has a Bihari and Sardar as the two hosts and which has a pretty petite damsel taking India by a heartstorm. I am talking about the last 24 hours of my life, which has been nothing but a laughjerker - includes painful spasms of the stomach, jaw and neck muscles. LOL. All this due to an old (pun intended) Montreal friend Ankur to whom I am dedicating this blog entry.

This guy is on a brief sojourn to India. Being the gracious (pun intended) host, I received him at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus Airport in Mumbai on Wednesday night - the eve of the France Portugal tie (see thats why the pun was intended). However, I could only find time till last evening to meet him at my city's favourite spot - The Marine Drive. He was with his cousin Vijay, cousin's wife Amrita and a common friend's bro Ankit. The Laughathon timer started right then. The dude has such a great sense of humour, timing and wittiness, that we all ended up staying over at Vijay's place, rolled all over the floor and hardly caught a wink of sleep. The guffaws and cackles lasted an entire 24 hours. Unfortunately, a few of his friends (and my friends) in Canada could never understand his crude Mewari style and fortunately, he found the perfect audience in us. After getting a hold on our senses, we dropped him onto a bus - full of farting men and women - on his way home near Udaipur. Guess, he's already been afflicted with fart flu. Please laugh, that was a joke.

This was just a starter. The asli mazaa is likely to be witnessed soon at a friend's reunion meet in Goa.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Life ain't Beautiful

Its dark and I can't see a flicker of light. Not even a flicker of hope. My dilated pupils can't sense the blackness around me. I wave my hands anticipating a feeling of touch. Alas. I attempt to speak, but all I can manage is tautological gibberish. Am I in Heaven or is this Hell? Am I about to see the Light of God or the Fury of Satan? My head is spinning and all my thoughts are plunging into a deep vortex, an endless abyss of paranoia. In this moment of madness, I find it. Yes. The antidote. Life will be beautiful again. I pump the needle deep into me.

The "I" here refers to a drug addict. Life can never be beautiful. Stay away from drugs.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Maximum (Spirited) City

Two posts back, I was ranting on whether Mumbaikars are rude. I realised today why all that should flow through an open manhole. Mumbai rocks big time on the Rocks-Sucks scale. Period.

This morning, it was raining as if the whole Arctic has melted and all that water is showered on Mumbai. But you see the funny thing. I was leaving for office and had taken an auto. All along the way, water levels had crept upto knee level. And you'd expect people to crib about the damn thing. Surprisingly, everyone - men and women of all ages and all sizes - had come out to drench themselves and play SOCCER and VOLLEYBALL. The uncles and bacchas were playing it and the aunties were cheering in the rain. They were all celebrating the undeclared holiday! And where ever there was trouble, these citizens formed human chains to escort people out. Mumbai might suck in terms of infrastructure and slums, but in terms of spirit - it is right up there.

Despite all this, I hope Antarctica isn't planning to melt too soon.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Half Yearly Results

Now that all of us have become a bit older by 6 months in 2006, I have my half yearly results out. Lets see whether the Blogsex, the stock market index does some speculative trading on these results.

In January, I was completely numb, something I would owe to my first ever Delhi winter. I learnt one thing. Dreams on cold, wintry nights under a warm blanket are way better than those on sultry nights. Biking on cold weekend mornings and Rang De Basanti took the Blogsex to whimsical heights.

February might be the shortest month, but it was then that the Blogsex reached catastrophic heights. Most of them in the last week of February, which featured a roadtrip to the Himalayas. Watching snow after a period of 14 months, skiing, trekking and the aura of the NandaDevi peak takes lifetime trading to record highs.

Do you see people smiling in March? Income Tax deadlines, the surly Delhi heat and losing out on wonderful roommates quietly brings the Blogsex to a low plateau. The only bit of smile surfaces after I reach home - to Mumbai permanently on a transfer.

Avril is spring time. Basant. New life. And thats what I can say about myself. New hope, new job location, new friends brings with it a new thrill. A quiet, but exciting month. A month, when the video game industry found its new hardcore fan. My family being happy, traded more to spike up the index.

May will be remembered for my driving. I gained a lot in confidence and I was simply zooming past cars on traffic-ridden Mumbai streets. I am so damn proud of my skills nowadays - the ease with which I follow every rule in the book, avoid every pothole, listen to Himesh and check out chicks - all at the same time. And not to forget the start of this entire blogging ruckus. The session witnessed highly intensive fluctuations.

And June has to be dedicated to soccer. I literally did nothing throughout the month except watch the World Cup. Every moment was spent on analysing the various moves on the field and am sure I can now vouch for a coach's job. The Blogsex was not proud of me spending all my time in front of an idiot watching 22 idiots running after an idiotic ball - all these judged by a single idiot. But my predictions did cheer it up a bit.

It all lies in our hands. Trade more. Invest more. Profit more. In other words, simply Smile more.