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Tuesday, April 27, 2004

It's been a mixed week --up to the jowls with work and then a sanguine trip to Bhopal, stranded there on Sunday inexplicably due to the paucity of tickets caused by the fervid zeal of the devout at Ujjain. Still, a welcome return to the bastions of Pataudi and an even more memorable tete-a-tete with old colleagues over lunch and dinner.
Am having expected hurdles in coercing Bhopal give off its best denizens to me--that will need more work.
The old organization meanders on--awake to the harshness of the corporate rays but yet preferring to cast a somnolent eye.
The old lake near the restaurant is still an eyeful--magnifique, many times better than the infernal Marine Drive with its strong sinister L Sayers feel.
The weather in central India is still the pits, sweltering and dry.

Got back in time, however, to be with my parents on their wedding anniversary. Also visited the house at Panvel where they will shift shortly, and which, one hopes will reduce the time I get kicked, crumpled and trampled on in my local train capers--what an experience, I can only empathise with sardines.

Dined in a restaurant yesterday ( treat for all the years my parents have endured one another)which was a little like the Christie story where the murderess is found out by a mirror clue. The dishes were all wrong, as in a continental dish was served in an Oriental mode, the Mughlai was of Chinese vintage etc, you get the picture. Water was reliable, though !!My mind harks back to one fine day ( somewhere in central India, again ) where my timid request for a cup of tomato soup was negated by the waiter saying they did not serve Chinese.

Sometime last week watched Barca bamboozle Real at the Bernabeu--serves them right ,the arrogant bunch of no-gooders. And I finally remember who Roberto Carlos reminds me of, the invincible Dr. Evil in Austin Powers ( which is about the promontory of English movies I watch, I confess )

Glimpsed the interminable fuss made over poor Ms. Ahlawat and it struck me as rather ineffable the pecuniary talents of some superstars of the land who have changed brands they endorse so seamlessly that it seems almost heinous. SRK , from Omega, to Tag Heuer ( one notoriously irrelevant endorsement to another), the Mr Clean Dravid whose association with Thomson seems destined to die out from public memory given its moribund status, Saif Ali Khan from Limca to Pepsi, and the list goes on. As Sprite so eruditely says " yeh to public ki kheenchte hain"

Read the pret-a-porter dished out by the Bal, unfortunately the movies i find corny makes me blasphemous in this naive land--HSJK, DDLJ, Sholay et al ( I can think of atleast one good friend who will unstintingly take up cudgels on behalf of the aforesaid films so dosti ki kasam ( sic) I give up ).
However, it reminds me of those good old college days where we used to pun Hindi film antaras and we did come up with some gems then. I will post them if I remember later.

Talking of bad ditties there is some list floating about the 50 worst songs ever which has " Sounds of Silence " at no. 42. Hmmm !!


Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I did it !!!
Obtained a membership of the British Council Bombay in one shot. The sister had come down to change her Wodehouse copies ( in the noble pretext of borrowing some incarnation of Gray's anatomy, or some such gravity-defier ) and both of us reached the precincts of Mittal Towers, which the canny cabbie pretended not to know. Asked for an application form which was dished out , filled it up the note changed hands and Voila, I was a member. Not a hint of referrals, photographs, waiting periods --then I remembered that this is the land of the brave and home of the free ( my apologies to John Kerry)--still it's a good feeling in this urban slum. The good news is that the manager is my old chum from Bhopal days, Mr Kunkur, and I am not above plotting some heists together.

The lane next to my home always makes me always wonder whether I am in Bombay or Arabia--such is the overpowering influence of the land--never saw so many perfume shops in one street. It uncannily resembles all the Arabic advertisements I've seen on TV although my cynical mind divines that there may be far more to this than meets the eye. I say this at great risk to body and soul, because all it takes is for someone to breathe a word to some of these goons, and I will be safely despatched to Jahannum.

Saw some parts of Munnabhai MBBS, and I think we've had enough of this nagging patois, replete with gangster lingo and mannerisms. It may be appealing in the same way that certain oft-repeated phrases, accents, gesticulations are popular because they are comforting in identifying and segregating "us "and "them."

Yet to fully reap the benefits of the air waves via FM--I know there may be some times that they may play my kind of music--the rest of the time with mindless RDB and punk music.

The office is closed on Monday and that can mean it will be a long weekend--looking forward to that.Indolence is Inviting, I say !!

Tonight is a big night for the Zadoc-philes and I feel all 4 teams are undeserving in some way but that's the beauty of a competition.


Monday, April 19, 2004

Has been a harried stretch of time and only promises to get worse--still, some saving graces in these vicissitudes.

Mustered the insolence to catch the 0650 flight to Calcutta, duly had the rest of the crowd waiting for me at the airport and traipsed in half an hour late for the meeting attended by over 20 managers--endured the stony glares well though.
The grime and the humidity make for a compelling proposition and it may not be a great idea to use lighter coloured kerchiefs anymore in future--and in fact the Jet people may also need to take a fresh look at their humanistic offer of a steamed towel, which may go from white to black, never to return. The venerable Prahlad Kakkar travelled , beguilingly, in the Economy Class--yet another example of what Ramanand, in quite another context, calls retro-elitism.

Another day, another trip to Ahmedabad--familiar issues of how to organise without time, space and infrastructure--managed that well enough.

Took the Sunday to meet a colleague who had shockingly suffered a cardiac arrest a few days ago--he was admitted to the cool confines of Ruby Hall and on the verge of staging a complete recovery. Earlier, met up with the gang of yore at the Boat Club--always a pleasure with Ramanand, Samrat, Harish & Gaurav along with some assorted folks from different places.

Have begun " Madame Bovary" a very vivid book replete with fulsome descriptions of nature, furniture and discomfiture- a tale of a bored housewife stuck with an ordinary husband.

Meenaxi has been taken off by the makers, almost inexplicably so--still, methinks it took the protesters a long time to come up with a riposte --hence smacks of a contrived and misplaced sense of victimization.There have been some good articles recently on what can be the boundaries to ban a work, and the answer to that has a lot to do with what a community/people can put up with--also with some of our own inherent needs to seek and find Good and Bad, self-righteous pretence taken to ridiculous heights when opinions congregate, and stealing over our very souls when unwatched and unguarded against.


Thursday, April 15, 2004

For once, made good while the sun shone and decamped to the parental home yesterday--all thanks to the noble deeds of Dr. Ambedkar. Got a lift from the caring father , otherwise would have been stranded on the highway.

Made the most of a lazy old day chatting up with family and trying to got interested in a laboured and tepid Dravid . Cannot fathom how the stands are still empty. A heavy lunch and a languid snooze later, back to the abode --such is the distance from home.

Am sure this horrendous Bombay weather doesn't suit me at all--I get so sweaty and hot that the day is not far when I will contemplate and commit murder--April is the cruellest month and all that..

Tried to listen to something at night--settled into a Wadali brothers tape after learning to my chagrin that all my grandiose attempts at creating a Dewey classification for my tapes had been laid low by the caprices of the Packers, and Brian Silas was keeping Enya company. Someday I will complete this !!

It's been a decent day so far and will walk into a Budgets presentation tomorrow at Head Office much in the manner of Lamb playing Maninder. Got a pimply-faced tyro from some management school asking me what I thought were the emotional qualities required of a manager--I thought of saying he/she should be anything but a human --curbed myself in the nick of time.

Just discovered that I have more f(r)iends in Bombay than I give myself credit for--will put my shoulder to that wheel when I return, after conquering Kolkata and Ahmedabad over the next two days.Amen !


Monday, April 12, 2004

Just returned from the WebWorld outlet opposite the Akbarally's ( since 1897) store, where I thought I'd pop in to get my Reliance number changed from its international tarmac at S'pur to the more bucolic climes of Bombay. Happy to note that
a) The WebWorld seems to have it the roof--Broadband and all ( I know, I've looked at the "Luddite" comments about my technological superiority !)
b) There is no water at Flora Fountain ( a la the guinea pig not being a pig etc etc )
c) The Reliance damsels take after the Sehwag school of customer orientation--( Sirjee, y don't u get tie-ad)
d) Java Green is a great way to lure the gourmands who might saunter in to dekko the mobiles on offer.

Spent the better part of the Sunday helping my mother and sister get me settled into my abode at Colaba ( note that this is not the other way around). A lot of time poring over really state-of-the-art stuff like the Teddy bear ( mera humsafar, literally !),powder box ( which is nearly as old as I am ) and the radio ( which is actually older ). Grimly reviewed the soon-to-be-relegated Philips Skipper radio which now faces stiff competition from the multi-watt Sony and the svelte Philettina ( yes, radios have names, too !)purely on the FM front--reminded of an old James Herriot story that ends well for the senior citizen--will this augur the same for the Skipper--wonly time will tell.

Had a comparatively good day in office--today--got a lot of work done and even managed to plan ahead--even though the daunting prospect of early dawns for travel looms large.

Another occasion when the incomparable LAP did not quite manage to pull it off against the steady Goicho Motomura costing us the Davis Cup tie. It is confounding and heart-rending that a nation of so many cannot remotely find a player who can aspire,hope,dream of winning one singles match. I refuse to blame LAP--he gives off his best every single time which is more than what can be said for the bumpkins who take the collective cricket imagination for a ride. How I wish someone somewhere had what it takes to win !!

Harish has done some thinking on the sports arena and all I have to say is that someone somewhere ( OK OK I like Jagjit ) would have made a killing on the odds of RM, A & ACM going out in the quarters. Arsenal has been my team for quite awhile and that Henry not firing means a lot to the Gunners.It's a rhythm team and am not sure that their arrant failures at the Champions League quite nullifies the sheer footballing pleasure that they provide. No, Harish, while the players are considerably tall ( though the likes of Liverpool with Hyppia, henchoz, Heskey have always matched them) and may be the tallest man for man, what makes them tick seems to be a desire to play well with panache and flair, and win. What Henry, Pires, Vieira, Ljungberg do for a living is markedly and pointedly different from how Nistelrooy, Scholes, Keane and C Ronaldo ply their trade, and it shows.

Navneet has done a great job for those who claim that sporting greats have better statistics to show for them. More power to him !!
My own views on SRT are all too well-known.

Caught Priyanka Vadra questioned on why she purported not to belong to a dynasty, she replied : It's not a dynasty, people elect us" before blushing crimson and saying that she had not been elected yet. Hmm !!!


Friday, April 09, 2004

A relaxed day at long last and my addled brain queries--what is that ??
I have been a rivetting troubadour less the ballads and hopefully the aerial soujourns are past me.

Have done Ahmedabad, Nagpur, Bhopal and Pune over the last week in my humble attempt to familiarise obdurate denizens of the organization with the new-improved Medical Policy.

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single misstep--almost missed the Air Sahara boat to AHD on Day One, my maiden Sahara voyage. A cramped craft ,if ever there was one, making me wince wistfully at my slender co-passengers. Learnt the much-vaunted air bid-n-buy auction procedure, a welcome departure narrowly missing to win the camera that I was eyeing. A bolt from the blue when the First Flight Officer, or whetever, announced helpfully when I was clambering out of my reverie, that we were about to reach Hyderabad. That I was not hallucinating was ratified by the pallid visages of my co-sufferers. Mercifully, landed at AHD and on time too.
Didn't see much of Modi's Medellin and left the same day, even more tired.

The Nagpur trip was similar except that the timings were even more arduous.

Spent the weekend imparting the same to the honest do-gooders at Mumbai and Monday and Tuesday at the vastly overrated Maurya Sheraton facilitating an Appraiser Skills workshop. Interestingly, some of my former cronies have come up with a variation--they say it should be called not Appraiser skills but Appraisers Kill !!!

Now Bhopal is a place where I have spent 2 years and fairly happy years at that--but the unearthly arrival and departure times coupled with the distance from where I was staying put paid to any noble intentions of catching up with my old buddies. It has worn some modern shreds but still the laidback lotus-eaters abound.

Had to undertake the climb to Pune by road, halted at the Food Village to tank up with kanda poha and sabudana vada, now that's been a long time coming !!The Pune office is a spanking new one somewhere in Dhole Patil Road. Also was filled to the gills with consternation as to how the hoary COEP had metamorphed to Pune Institute of E & T--appeared the same way, though with all the new-fangled ideas from the 14th century still carefully in place.

Just had the time to drop by home for my sister's b'day--again a low-cal meal of potato chips, cutlets, sandwiches and about 3 pastries washed down with some gallons of Coke ( or was it Pepsi) ensured that had met my dietary needs of about 6000 cal for the day.

India lost--great news for an inveterate Pak supporter. Sometime today the great LAP will battle the Japs. More about that later




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