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Tuesday, November 30, 2004


After four gru-ell-ing days spent under the aegis of a gimlet-eyed Canadian/Australian trainer at Gurgaon, I hit Madras dimly aware that the weekend would be spent up to the gills with work.
Trudged up to the office and was exhilarated to find the doors securely locked. Did the equivalent of throwing my hat into the air and was on the verge of skipping back when sanity prevailed and I took the very Indian route of the side-door. Sure enough, it was a holiday ( Guru Nanak Jayanti ) but the usual suspects were already hard at it. Gone are the days when I could have muttered a sullen word and retraced my steps. Hence, ploughed through the day during which I was also given to understand that most folks would be going for a picnic from Saturday morn on and only three of us would work on that day too. Bad to worse !
Managed to finish earlier than usual on Sat though--a blessed relief to the battered mind and the bruised soul.
Finally found a Saravana Bhavan, which true to its patent retro-elitism was safely tucked away in a thicket inside the Shanthi theatre. A grand meal--great food, attentive service--Culinary Heaven. Of course, it doesn't need me to build on the profound goodwill it enjoys--deservedly so . The only quibble that I could think of was the rather tepid attempt to serve Mughlai ( ouch !) and Chinese cuisine.
Madras auto-drivers are as rabid, insouciant and divinely confident as ever. Contemptible scoundrels--every one of them. I mean, which other breed would endeavour to overcharge all the people all the time by such insane missives such as--I charge more because--It's the time of night/day/morning/evening------- It's raining/hot/wet/windy---- Petrol prices have increased/Roads are bad/Passengers are bad ----You weigh too much ( While this, sadly is true, they meant the luggage )---
Spent the Sunday with my gran and uncle at a place the journey to which I was forewarned but not forearmed about. Took the physically-easy but fiscally-tougher route of a Call Taxi. The ride was composed mostly of the Lonely Planet's description of Idaho ( or was it Iowa ?)--5 % Dirt Road and 95 % Countryside. I am made of sterner stuff though so survived hardily enough.
Saw a Liverpool-Arsenal match to the gory end--the Gunners losing through the last kick of the game. There are problems galore now, Ljungberg not in form, a patchy Cole, an overworked Vieira, the anemic and enervated Reyes and Fabregas both finding that the EPL requires a body too and not just a gossamer talent, Lehmann very erratic. Yet I persevere .... Beauty shall conquer the Beast
And hey, what do we have here ?? The cocky Aussies seem to have quietly buried their ambitions of scoring more than four an over in Tests. I think that more noise can be made on this. The Kiwis fought to the last ball, but the absence of Tuffy, Bond and Cairns renders their attack stingless. Among the other Aussie delusions of grandeur have been the Rotation Policy ( learn from Pakistan ) and the Hellenic ambidextrous monsters that they sought to inflict.
Contrived to find a colourful Daffy Duck Bag granted by an overly munificent air hostess. This is meant for kids, but methinks she unearthed the , uh, entelechy. Couldn't shove the thing into my bag on touchdown soon enough. Log kya kahenge --yeh samaaj ki zanjeerein. Phew !


Saturday, November 27, 2004

What do you give as a birthday present for a three-year old who has everything ? A loving home, lots of paternal care , plenty of pampering, incessant coddling and unwavering and sometimes undivided attention. Well, more of the above is what I plumped for, after passing through that momentary twinge of abject inadequacy when the futility of such a gift dawned on me.

The toddler, in its short life, has already seen and acclimatized itself in four varying settings, braving the heat and dust of the hinterland, coping with teeth-chattering icy winters and buckets of rain. The child has also endured pangs of jealousy, insinuations and aspersions and has somehow turned a deaf ear to uninvited mutterings of distrust. A constant and loyal companion indeed !

So returning to the larger question, what does can one get ??

An unasked-for bottle of cleansing liquid, was all I could muster.


Thursday, November 18, 2004


Have got all kinds of “good management” practices ensconced into my daily routine—Time Planners, Cross working models, aide de memoirs and a host of other paraphernalia that will abet and assist my hitherto unrequited attempts at being the Captain of My Ship & the Master of My Soul. All these have been rendered necessary by the simple expediency of leaving office by a respectable hour, and someday, someday, I will actually see the sun set over the boulevard in Mumbai.

Music is in place and that can be only at the expense of reading—reduced to a few motley newspapers and rags like Tehelka which have breezed in uninvited.

Saw a film on the telly yesterday for which the director should have been booked on criminal charges. The signs were in attendance that it would be a Himalayan blunder watching a sophomoric spiel , yet found the will power to sit through the poorly written, shoddily shot and appallingly conceived effort.

The story begins with a vacuous clip of the sun shining cheerily on a courtyard and beyond. In itself innocuous enough, except that the same has been done to death by Coppola to Tak. Designed to evoke inadequacy, probe for emptiness, and all that drivel.

A religious bloke turned heathen played by a confused and rather stretched Mel G , whose wife was trapped between trucks, which must surely rank as one of the most banal flashbacks I have ever seen. Somehow that incident is meant to make gullible viewers believe his reticence, vacillating between emotion and convoluted bouts of silence. Again, somehow meant to convey a ponderousness that I simply did not feel.

A demented/crazed brother played by a puerile Joaquin Phoenix, whose ailment somehow the director fails to mention .adds to the eerie ambience of the family as they are hemmed in by aliens.

Two of the most soppy characterizations for children I’ve seen on screen –an angelic daughter with a sense of foreboding, and a precociously uncanny son, whose dialogue delivery is supposed to heighten the illusion that he is some sort of science whiz.

Into this mélange one adds tacky-looking spacesters and the result is something quite cataclysmic. I have only my stupidity to blame for willingly enduring this blob of excrescence.

Off to Madras—will return to office only on the 30th now—Delhi looms next week too. Aching for some good winter weather—am used to the biting chill now. Alas, Bombay blazes !!


Wednesday, November 10, 2004


Completed Margaret Atwood’s eleventh book-my first look at the author, in three stretches, and was not disappointed at all.

Oryx and Crake is a dystopian fantasy, which embraces the nuts and bolts of phantasmal paroxysms laced with stark and striking socio-political messages. With a felicity that I found particularly acute, the book unleashes waves of acerbic expositions, scabrous witticisms and didactic tropes in equal measure, leaving the reader gasping for breath at the author’s powers of invention and her vision for an apocalyptic delineation of the future.

It’s the science fiction tale of a character calling himself Snowman, jettisoned in an age sometime in the late 21st century, believing himself to be the sole human survivor of a disastrously wiped-off world. All he has for company are genetically modified life forms like the ravenously hungry pigoons, wolvogs. To top this , he is responsible for the Crakers, the innocent scions of Crake, free from primal urges of aggression, purged of lubricious intent and other warm-blooded instincts. Crake was his erstwhile best friend, an embittered genius who is in love with the enigmatic Oryx, a former Asian child prostitute who Jimmy, now known as Snowman has also fallen for. Crake deviously plots a catastrophic end to the world and he dies in the process.

Atwood manages a veritable pot pourri of images gleaned from disparate sources of high science, genetics, physics, Literature coupled with subtle pinpricks of mordant brevity. Her pronouncements are ready and risqué, and her biases are revealed with open disdain. She is in complete command of the webs she weaves throughout the tale—through pleeblands, Paradice Project, RejoovenEssence, Webgame Dynamics, Kwiktime Osama.

There are enough touches of Huxley, Orwell and even Crichton in the book and the satiric overtones of the flagrant profiteering of medical companies, the feckless pillage of talent, an Arundhati Roy-esque angst against the brazen abrogation of justice, and the incessant War between Art and Science are themes that Atwood has done full justice too.

I will dock points just for the saturnine surrealism that suffuses the feel of this book, and some aphorisms that I found invidious. An 8.5 on 10 !

Kodak moment of the Day
Michael Phelps arrested for drunken driving.


Monday, November 08, 2004


One of my more-successful sojourns to date, even though it involved missing a flight and ending up missing what must be the only weekly programme I watch with any constancy.
Got off to a fortuitous start—with a cloudburst of inspiration ( aided by a more creative colleague—that’s better, stay honest -Ed ) getting the flight changed from the heavenly ( actually, unearthly ) time of 0615 hours to a manageable 0800. Reached Cyberabad and was whisked off by a colleague to three market visits in quick succession. Yep, the city sleeps late –most of the supermalls I entered were just brushing aside the cobwebs of sleep—groggy with dirt and stupor.
Lunched at a good place with interesting confabulations with a senior on the role played by the Exalted Profession in various Indian and foreign companies—this “ interesting “ is not in the same vein as Dizzy’s take on the Wankhede terra firma.

Made a dash to Chikoti Gardens where had one of the most engrossing conversations with somebody’s brother who is based in Chicago—tales of natives being abstemious, the rabbit-in-the-headlights countenance of the current software geeks and the sheer scope for body-shopping that India appears to be thriving on. Then ran right into trouble –all I had to do was cross the road wedged between a Big Bazaar showroom and a Pantaloons outlet to the other side where an ex-colleague was waiting to meet me. Given my careless nimble-footedness, sleight of brain and an inherent characteristic eel-like slipperiness, it should have not taken me long. But, No ! I was stranded on one side of the road for more than ten minutes. It was like standing at La Guardia – oceans of vehicles whizzed by with nigh a care for the Guest of Honour. Two-wheelers regarded the pavement as perfect driving terrain with no question of slowing down, no zebra crossing in sight. Was beginning to feel foolish before deciding to risk life and limb—peremptorily halted the monsters in their tracks and regally marched over. Whew !

Hyd appears to have changed a bit over my four visits spread over fifteen years—I guess the inner core is yet the same—slightly bohemian, carefree and lotus-eating. The gloss of success ( Ed—yet another misunderstood phrase ) does mask this picture—folks are surer of themselves and there is the inescapable nouveau riche demeanour. Still, perhaps far better than the rustic simplicity it was known to have. In the modern world, ‘tis better to be an empty vessel to make noise as Bangalore has exemplified!

The Air Deccan flight was delayed –expectedly so—was depressed to know that I had to turn my 9-kg suitcase as Check-in baggage, was thoroughly proud of myself at having pinched a seat off the bemused Security Guard. You see, Cyb, like Bangalore airport before it, does believe in burning calories by inveigling unsuspecting passengers to stand.
The flight itself was uneventful—the comfort levels are acceptable and the only aspect that bears reporting was the endearingly South India-tinged accent of the stewardess while enunciating safety instructions in Hindi. Made two false moves at the Luggage collection counter—had confidently descended on two ‘cases that looked suspiciously like mine, before being growled at by a forbidding person in the vicinity, and then a Sikh child shrieking” yeh to hamara hai” upon espying my supposed filching of his bag,to all and sundry, to my consternation and inviting reproachful stares from travel-weary passengers. When I finally gathered my burden, I suppose half the waiting public was muttering “ Watch him, he’s not right” behind my back. However, I let these imagined barbs run off like water off a duck's back,straightened myself and sauntered off—don’t mind if you played and missed, it’s the next ball that counts, right, mate !
There's a new Bush doll doing raoring business in the USA, apparently it can pronounce over 100 words wrongly.


Monday, November 01, 2004


The long vigil has ended, the night has passed, the sheep finds its meadow once more. Time to throw those hats into the air and rejoice, revel –the King is Home, God is in His Heaven and all’s well with the world.

After a hectic week spent running pillar to post, ground floor to the house and knotting up untied ends, I have taken up residence at a building which is about 200 metres from the Office.

It is a picturesque place on the 11th floor ( quite a climbdown from the promontory I was eyeing earlier) , surrounded by a mass of laundered concrete on all its seven sides with a peep at a distant mountain, designed for those poignant moments when one is through with worldly truisms.

Was a chaotic business all the while to unpack—all the while I watched with horror at the sheer weight of stuff that I picked up over the last three houses. Pile after pile of something it was a headache to place, classify and establish—it being almost two months since I had last seen my earthly possessions. Am only a hoot away from markets which have most things that dough can buy, so no fear on that count.

Stout support, encouragement and work from the Father—a rock of Gibraltar able to keep his head while all others him are losing theirs and blaming it on him ( however wretched an ingrate that it may make me appear, that is the Truth, folks and hence must be told ).

Expectedly, the nicest outcomes are my ability to switch from FM to Tape to CD to WorldSpace at a careless waving of the remote without wires and other encumbrances. Another delight was having all the books in one place—some more Seiri Seiton work awaited there but was convulsed with some delight at going through my SCMHRD yearbook. A masterpiece of capturing all that was dear to the Class of 2000. Nostalgia-thy zephyrs waft afresh….

Was elated to find that a colleague listens to some classical stuff at work first thing in the morning. Of course, after work hours ( is this an oxymoron or just a rule impugned with impunity ? ) ,the place hums with vibrant music—pop, bhangra, RDB, Marathi folk but today the strains of what was clearly a thumri took my breath away. Nine in the morning—Monday—first day of the month—right priorities and way to go, man !!

Off to Hyderabad on Wednesday and the Madras on the two days after that. My normally mundane rites of passage rudely jolted by my using Air Deccan for the first time. No, the safety is not the scary part ( remove the door and let the breeze come in , gaaru ) but the ticketing part definitely is. Am supposed to land up at the counter and hand them a printed paper—and that’s it . No ticket, confirmation. Weird !!! Anyway, can plonk myself on any landmass that attracts my attention and say I represent the Vox Populi-the Naxals that is. That’s what what out good ol’ tech mates in the outskirts of Hyderabad have been asked to do--shape out.
Super Tuesday--the Horse versus the Donkey/ Elephant, whatever...
Someone discussing the personal wealth of Messrs. Bush, Kerry, Edwards and Cheney--in comparison all APJAK are his books, rudra veena , love for kids and knaaawledge. It's an unfair world, alright !


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