Thursday, August 28, 2008

July Morning

It was a sultry July morning, the sun was hiding behind the clouds peeping out once in a while like a blushing bride, people were jogging by the sea religiously as they do every morning, some of them faced the sea and murmured their prayers, some of them fed the pigeons, some of them just stared into the infinite horizon that stretched for miles…
It was a Friday, they woke up, smiled at each other, cuddled, and went back to sleep. Fifteen minutes later, the alarm clock jarred as they jumped out of their skin. It was time to make a hurried breakfast, time for a hurried shower, time to catch the auto so that they won’t miss the 8:04 local… until they remembered, “Hang on, we quit yesterday!” So it was time to roll back on the bed, it was time to make sensuous, ravenous love, it was time to devour each other…
For once there was no rush, no frenzied ironing of crumpled shirts, no burning the toast and no banging on the bathroom door. They walked by the sea, fingers locked together, her hair all over her face, his face flushed as he looked at her, and they kept walking… their feet playing with the waves, the water desperately trying to catch up with his rolled up jeans, the hem of her dress glistening with the hint of the sunlight. They walked barefeet inside the mosque in the middle of the sea, her scarf wrapped around her head, their shoes dangling from his hands, they stood quietly: nothing left to say, nothing left to pray for…
Back home, they had the entire day ahead of them, nothing left to look forward to, but they lived every moment of it: slowly, deliberately, experiencing every sensation, every movement, every touch- no longer going through emotions, no longer taking their time together as something inevitable… they took the longest shower of their lives, exploring each other hungrily, passionately, they cooked their favourite meal and the only meal they both knew how to make, made love in the kitchen and ate overcooked khichdi from the same plate, as it rained outside, their voices drowned by the thundering showers. They curled up under the quilt, watching their favourite movie for the last time, laughing and crying at the same time. They played their favourite game of scrabble for the last time and this time he let her win just to see her happy, just to see her triumphant smile after the numerous games that she had lost to him. As the overcast day gave away to the darkness, they didn’t switch on the lights, slowdanced to “Wonderful Tonight” as music flooded the room.
As they walked on the streets washed by the fresh showers, taking in all the little things, trying to carry with them the insignificant memories: the home that they had built together, the little kirana store just outside, the chaiwala, the laundry guy with his emergency miracles, the panipuriwala who made puchkas her way, the bumpers on the road which they had cursed every time they have tripped as they rushed for work, even the muddy pool where she had once slipped, soiled her clothes, and angrily lashed out at him until she had seen her reflection in the rearview mirror of a parked car, burst into laughter as he had kissed her there: with dirt dripping from their faces…
They made their way to the temple, climbed the 315 steps as he held her hand helping her up the stairs, stared at the view from the top, the glittering diyas on the steps: it was drizzling, the aarti being over, the crowd had dispersed and a handful of children wandered about not caring about the rain or their mother screaming behind them. They sat down, leaning against each other, listening to the occasional toll of the bells: they did not pray, they did not ask for anything, they were there to celebrate a new beginning as they ended their journey together, as they stood on the edge of the ledge hand-in-hand, as they smiled contentedly…. But it rained, and it kept raining…

Monday, August 25, 2008

Trashy Tales!

With lectures barely happening once a week (and I bunk even that), I don’t know what to do with my free time. Yeah going home is an option which has been exercised far too often, and the thought of a long journey puts me off. As you can see, the lack of academic activity is making me extremely lazy as well. And am completely broke, so no money to go shopping or eating out either. Sleeping, eating sad mess/café food, gym, jogging and swimming take up some time, but the rest of the time I am lazing around on my bed, reading trashy literature. Yeah, that’s my new obsession: devoting hours on shallow, feel-good fiction by young Indian authors, still trying to find their feet. Well, since I aspire to be in their category in a few years, I am lending them some support. So in the last week itself, I have finished half-a-dozen books like ‘Joker in the Pack’, ‘Keep off the Grass’, ‘Bombay Rains Bombay Girls’, ‘Almost Single’, “Above Average’ and yesterday I finished “You are Here’, which was launched the day before! This is the book based on the blog of Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan, more famous as the compulsive confessor. While these are nice easy reads, complete no-brainer, extremely alike in their tone and setting, they don’t particularly offer the kind of satisfaction you derive from reading good literature. The protagonists are uncannily similar in their lifestyle, their ambitions, their trials and tribulations- they are young people in their twenties, educated, independent, urbane, rich, successful in their own fields, with too much money and no idea what to do with it. Yeah, I identify with them at some level, especially as most of them are still disillusioned in spite of being sucessful- looking for a passion in their lives. Yeah, my dad totally disapproves of my reading tastes (or the lack of it), but I still can’t give up on it. What began as a fleeting interest after reading Chetan Bhagat’s “Five Point Someone” has steadily developed into an addiction. Just to take a break and feel good about myself I read “Thousands Splendid Suns” by Khaled Hosseini (enjoyed it more than Kite Runner) and “The Namsesake”, but I am abashedly pro chicklit, because, hey, that’s where my passion lies!

Monday, August 18, 2008

From I-Day to Me-Day!

Yet another Independence Day (61st to be exact), yet another round introspection about our progress (or the lack of it) in the last 60 yrs, yet another day of patriotic entertainment, yet another day to make money out of a “cause”… and for most of us, another holiday, a well-deserved break from the mundane grind, from trudging through filthy roads and battling the traffic during the monsoons. The icing on the cake is that it fell on a Friday with Raksha Bandhan the next day, giving ample opportunity to get away, to enjoy the extended weekend, to indulge ourselves without any inhibitions, to celebrate the spirit of freedom while reciprocating to our repressed desires.

While the Olympics are in full swing, and India repeats its embarrassingly humble performance yet again, Abhinav Bindra manages to salvage some pride as he won India’s maiden gold medal in the individual events in 107 years of India’s Olympics history. That few seconds of seeing him on the highest podium, with the world at his feet and the Indian anthem in the background made me more proud than all the hoopla surrounding I-Day.

Now that I have trivialized the most important landmark in Indian history, let me be even more brutally honest: this year, the best part of I-day was that it was a Friday, which meant no FSA lecture (HUGE SMILE), an extended weekend and a trip to Mumbai (yet again). So it ended up being yet another self-indulgent unproductive jaunt with lots of pampering, shopping, food, ice-creams and coffee. As they say, a lot can happen over coffee; it just depends on the moment…

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Gtalk Gibberish!

If you ask the Indian youth about the three most important things in their lives, their source of daily sustenance, the most common answer you will get is food, clothes and yeah, gtalk- the revolution that has made easier to communicate cheaply- forget about emails, expensive STD calls where you are counting the seconds, and definitely the fine art of letter writing. Yeah, while it’s easier to maintain long-distance relationships, it’s also simple to bond over chat and form new alliances. Now being an avid gtalk addict, I have come up with the following cost-benefit analysis (my MBA “education” hasn’t been a complete waste)…

1. It’s a sheer waste of resources: you save money, but end up being poorer in terms of time, productivity and quality of life.
2. More often than not, you end up talking rubbish to people with whom you wouldn’t otherwise even consider talking to.
3. While you are waiting impatiently for a particular person to come online, you have already exhausted yourself chatting with a million random “strangers”.
4. It’s easier to get caught by people whom you are particularly trying to avoid- teachers, creditors, annoyers…
5. It’s an addiction: there is smoking, drinking, drugs and then there is gtalk

1. It IS easy on the wallet, and as they say, ultimately everything can be monetized.
2. You get to get in touch with long-lost friends whom you would have otherwise forgotten and to your surprise, you renew the friendship (doesn’t happen often)
3. It’s simpler to get hold of that group member who is always missing (chances are he/ she is online)
4. You get to share files immediately without having to log in to your mail account
5. The fact that you can chat with multiple people at the same time, does save the pains of individual attention.

Ok, got to go, too many people are online 

Saturday, August 2, 2008


I was so close to breaking down, I was so close to losing my mind, I was so close to crying out loud, I was on the brink of despair…

My dad, my adorable, philosophical, supremely talented and most of all the most loving dad ever born, suffered a silent heart attack- one of the resident evils of modern day fast paced corporate lifestyle. The irony is after years of nonchalant disdain, neglect, utter disrespect for his body, he was finally coming around, he was finally trying to ring about a positive change in the way he lived his life. He had all the vices of a stressed out leader who dished out advice, who implemented long term strategic growth plans for a billion dollar company, who made headlines in business papers, and yet, did not have enough sense to make small changes in his own life! A hardcore non-vegetarian, a chain smoker for over 35 years, a worshipper of the unhealthy sedentary lifestyle, he simply refused to grow up! No amount of emotional blackmailing by me (and I am a pro at it, given that I have practiced it since the age of seven) could make him quit that cigarette. During my occasional Bombay trips I would drag him out for a walk by the sea, but then it was always back to business: late hours in the office followed by dinner at fancy restaurants and a bulging tummy as a legacy. But this year, he decided that it was finally time to wake up take care of his long-neglected health. He quit smoking, hit the gym, went for long walks, exercised, kept his diet under control, and then when he looked and felt ten years younger, out of the blue, he started having chest pains and ended up in the hospital.

Freaked, panic-stricken and anxious, I made my third trip in this month (the third unauthorized trip) to Bombay- I rushed to the hospital straight from the bus stand in the pouring rain, only to find his hospital room crowded with investment bankers, phones ringing and my dad actively discussing debt-financing and EPS dilution. For all I care, it was just another full-fledged meeting: only that it was being held at Bombay Hospital, and my dad was dressed in white hospital attire. So it was only after being ignored for the next two hours until the nurse shooed away the visitors after visiting hours were over, did I get to talk to him. He seemed to be in the pink of his health, and we were both convinced that nothing was wrong with him. But the next morning we discovered much to our horror that he had a 99% blockage in one of his arteries, that he has suffered a small heart attack and he had to get an angioplasty done right away. I have forgotten the last time I had felt so vulnerable, so helpless as I waited outside the OT, biting off whatever remaining nails I have, alone and irritated with the numerous phone calls that were pouring in. The very sight of a stretcher and doctors and nurses in starched uniforms and my sedated beloved father was enough to overwhelm me- and during the one hour of the surgery, I went over and over again thinking about how I could have prevented it, that I should have taken better care of him, that I probably shouldn’t have put him through whatever stress I did and immediately I became even more vigilant: god, what if he found out about the tons of other things that I did do but never told him and even more convinced that after a certain age, parents should be spared the minute details of what their children are upto, that may be white lies weren’t so bad at all!

Anyways, the good news is that everything is fine again, he has been released from the hospital and he back to doing what he enjoys the most: negotiating with banks! But for a split second, it gave me the shock of my life, to imagine that even my parents aren’t going to be healthy all the time, that it won’t be my last visit to a hospital… quite a sobering thought!