Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Resolutions or the lack of it...

It’s that time of the year again: yes, Christmas, New Year, birthday- all together. And like every year, I get super excited, I start making adventurous plans about how to usher in the new year, and top it up with extremely ambitious new year resolutions! No matter how different my plans or resolutions are, the end result is usually the same: i.e. I end up doing NOTHING adventurous or even remotely interesting on new year and I end up following none of my resolutions, which also explains why I still weigh approximately the same I used to some 3 years back (and I still can’t fit into the beautiful yet ambitious dress I bought two years back in the hope that someday I will fit into it)

So this year I have decided to make a different list, stating things I WILL NOT do in 2010:

1.Make unrealistic promises to myself, i.e. (losing weight, finding a job that pays a lot and involves a lot of writing, being in a fulfilling relationship)
2.Make plans of doing something noble and keep postponing the plan, i.e. (joining a gym, being a part of an NGO, getting in touch with long lost friends)
3.Well, basically making an ass of myself
But 2010 will be about simple things done right: i.e. being happy with myself (the way I am), not having too many expectations, not having too many forward looking plans, taking each day as it comes, laughing a lot, listening a lot, and yes, writing a LOT!!!!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Maverick turned conventional...

3 Idiots: the most awaited movie of the year, in a year that has seen a dismal performance by Bollywood with big budget movies tanking in the box office; the movie slated to bridge that gap between the masses and the classes; the movie that depicts what goes behind the scenes in the elite institutes of India; the movie which brings together the genius of a successful investment banker turned writer Chetan Bhagat and a successful filmmaker Raju Hirani (of the Munnabhai fame); the movie which was expected to showcase the versatility of Aamir Khan yet again (after all, he kind of has the knack of saving the best for the last, at the fag end of the year, when the expectations of the audience is really low after being put through some braindead nonsense in the name of creativity)…

No wonder the critics showered it with good reviews, and suddenly for a change, five stars seemed inadequate to describe what was considered to be easily the best entertainer of the year. The audience seemed happy as I closely observed the status messages of my friends on facebook and gtalk. Yet, I am going to stick my neck out, and at the risk of committing an act of national treachery, admit that I found the movie just about, well, five point something on a scale of ten! And, mind you I watched the movie on the day it released, on Christmas Eve, even before I had read any reviews or watched any trailers or heard any third person’s opinion…
Yes, it is hilarious at times (especially the “chamatkar balatkar” speech and the sequence where they mix up the exam papers), endearing at others (where Sharman Joshi finally stands up for himself during his interview in spite of being relegated to the wheelchair and Madhavan convinces his dad to let him follow his dreams), and some of the characters stand out despite their limited scope (millimeter and pia: for the first time, I found Kareena Kapoor appealing in her spirited spunky role).

Yet, something somewhere didn’t quite fit in; it seemed that the movie was trying too hard; that it was playing safe, keeping in mind the sensibilities of an average Indian audience and trying to give them their due of 2.5 hours of thorough entertainment (and hence the song-and-dance, the unnecessary delivery sequence, the typical kidnap of the bride from her wedding); that it was fully aware of the high stakes and hence being politically correct, and hence trying to make everyone happy, and in the process losing its plot a little! Too many events, too many twists in the tale ended up diluting the key message. Bit of an irony, given that it was about being a maverick instead of towing conventional wisdom, but the movie itself, ended up doing just that: being a conventional potboiler…

My favourite sequence in the movie: the scene where the bearded student (forgot his name) gives up after failing to meet the project deadline, sits in the dark, playing his guitar, “give me some sunshine, give me some rain, give me another chance, I wanna grow up again”… touches a chord with all of us, and yet retains that elitist IITian flavor.

Aamir Khan is brilliant as ever, and sans dark circles and wrinkles (unlike a visibly old college student played by Shahrukh Khan in KKHH) but then again, it’s kind of a sad commentary on the directors and the new age actors, when a 44 year old has to play half his age to sell a movie (or is it just another instance of playing safe?)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The "Aquired" Taste... why "acquire"?

So this weekend I attended (correction: I was forced to attend) a classical music concert by Pandit Ravishankar and his daughter Anoushka Shankar, thanks to my dad, who, thanks to his job, gets free passes to all such “elite” events, and he insists that it’s high time I “acquire the taste for good things in life!” Now I have never understood this concept of “acquired taste”. I mean, if I don’t like it, I don’t. Why do I need to “acquire” this taste? I am comfortable being myself: i.e. this tasteless, culturally challenged simple person, who doesn’t know how to spend her Sunday evening in Mumbai because there aren’t any movies left to be seen and she is yet to “acquire” the taste for the finer things of life. If anything, I would like to acquire the taste for wine, or at least whisky… I have been trying that for some time now, but I am yet to get there!

Now contrary to me, my dad is someone who has acquired many a new taste, and he insists that for an individual to grow, it is very important! Can’t argue with that… and to some extent, I did acquire a taste for some of the things which I hated to begin with: rock music, Jane Austen, and of course, boys (the latter has proved to be quite a disaster), but classical music? I don’t think so!

I mean, no offence to Pandit Ravishankar, but I am really no judge of instrumental music, so there is no point saying how awesome the concert was! He plays to a very niche audience: half of which is truly connoisseurs of classical music, and the other half is like my dad- corporate yuppies who have been offered free passes to attend the concert because their company is sponsoring it, or they have been invited by their clients, whose company is a sponsor! You get the drift! The problem arises when they decide to bring their ignorant, aesthetically challenged daughters who don’t fit in and who have no intention of fitting in; who dress casually in jeans and a T shirt amidst elegantly clad ladies wrapped in expensive sarees and big bindis; who have their eyes fixated on the “Exit” gate; who keep counting each second of the two and a half hour program (torture); who appreciate talent but from a distance; who would rather spend weekends lounging around in red pajamas with equally obscure friends; who are comfortable in their own world without trying to “acquire” the finer tastes of life…

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

How I Survived a Wedding...

I hate weddings, or anything remotely to do with them: reception, sangeet, engagement, roka, and the thousands of other rituals associated with them. But lately that’s all that I have been inflicted with and it is getting on my nerves big time. Each time I open my Facebook homepage, there is some update on somebody getting married/engaged or changes in relationship status or worst of all, photos being put up of some obnoxiously expensive ceremony. As if that’s not enough, there will some 100 people commenting on the same, and another 100 people replying to it, resulting in a long chain of exchanges, all of which, note, are dutifully reported on MY homepage, even though I am remotely interested/bothered about it.

So with this kind of a negative attitude towards the Big Fat Indian Wedding scenario, I traveled all the way to Delhi (Faridabad to be specific) to attend the wedding of my ex room mate. It was a hard fought battle, and both the bride and the groom are close friends of mine, and most our entire CKB gang was going to be present. It was the first big wedding of our Symbi family, so we were all adequately excited, some (namely an alien called Webstar) more than the others! After a two hour struggle with my sari (borrowed from my mum) which left me with no time for make-up or hair (which, by the way looks abnormally flat on the scalp now that I have committed hara-kiri) we were on our way to Faridabad. As it is, I looked ghastly, and the bumpy ride through the Delhi traffic made it worse. So another two hours later, when we were finally there (and handsomely conned by the cabby), I was a picture of disaster! The Delhi cold kind of made it easier, as I wrapped a shawl around me and planted myself on a chair, determined not to move for the rest of the night. The wedding was long and detailed, as Kashmiri weddings are, with most people leaving or dozing off in between. We had no place to go, so we were stuck there, even after the bride, the groom, and the rest of the relatives had left, drinking n cups of coffee, and waiting for daylight, so that we can go back to Delhi. The next day, the reception went off smoothly, though the aftermath did not. While divulging further details will violate privacy norms, let me just conclude that may be free alcohol is not the best idea, especially when you have an early morning flight to catch. However, it did add to my list of experiences, so I am not complaining. This will definitely go down as one of my favourite stories I will bore my grandchildren into hearing repeatedly!

So yes, I DO NOT like weddings, I DO NOT like the obnoxious displays of grandeur that most weddings involve, and I definitely DO NOT like the elaborate rituals. But somehow, when I saw my old roomie walk in dressed in red, looking like a goddess, when I saw the groom look at her, when I saw their eyes light up, it somehow seemed worth it! Every bit of it: the years of struggle, the contemplation, and the grand finale! Finally it was the celebration of being together with someone you love, it was the victory of heart over head, and in the end, everything else faded against this simple yet profound reality. I have seen so many relationships fail the test of time, the test of acceptance, the test of parochial differences, and the test of narrow social norms. This one, though, survived it all.

It was THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WEDDING I have ever attended, and my roomie (the same one I had seen lounging around in obnoxious yellow pyjamas in Room No. 213 for two years) was the most beautiful bride EVER!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Being straight!

Being a straight A student: Not that I have ever been one (and thank god for that), but I have heard from friends who were that it wasn’t as easy as we think it is! While the rest of the world thinks you have it all, that it’s a cakewalk for you, that life is easy because you don’t seem to work hard and yet, the As just keep pouring in, you yourself are embroiled in an internal conflict. Being a teacher’s pet doesn’t exactly make you popular among your peers, you are considered an ‘outsider’ and u don’t quite fit in! You’d rather score less marks and ‘belong’ with your friends instead of considered a geek with no social skills…

Being straight forward: Yes, it has its disadvantages, and God knows I have suffered. For one, you inevitably say things without thinking them through, and immediately regret them, but by then, it’ too late. You end up hurting people you love, and you are perpetually caught with your foot in the mouth, until you feel completely handicapped in a social situation, to the extent that you are scared to open your mouth, afraid that you will end up saying the wrong things at the wrong time. And being in the corporate world just magnifies this problem because you haven’t mastered the art of diplomacy and you are yet to get over the disease which prompts you to lay all your cards on the table in black or white, unpretentiously…

Having straight hair: Yes, I am not someone who was naturally endowed with poker straight silky hair. So like most teenaged girls with frizzy, wavy unmanageable hair I grew up admiring movie stars and models who flaunted their shiny long hair which glistened on the screen as I dolefully looked down at my curls. Once in a while I would get them ironed temporarily, admire myself for a couple of days, and then be back to my normal self, cursing my hair every day after a particularly fast auto ride which succeeded in making my hair look like a tangled up birds’ nest. So till now, my hair experiments have been like my relationships: short lived. But post my Hyderabad hair experiment, I decided to go all the way, to make that one year commitment. Now that I am earning and all, I thought it was the best time to take that leap of faith (before I am thrown out and jobless again). So three hours later and five grands poorer, I was there finally! My childhood dream come true. Only it was a nightmare… I HATED MY NEW LOOK! Yes I did look awkwardly sophisticated, but I didn’t feel sophisticated. I just felt like my usual gawky, crude self with a wig! I so so so want my mess of curls back. At least I will feel myself!!!

Being straight: This one is a no brainer! You thought being straight was easy? It was conventional? It was the socially acceptable thing? Wrong! The point is it deprives you of 50 percent of the population, and being a girl it’s harder, because it deprives you of the better 50 percent! So you are stuck with the rotten half, and even in that rotten half, the good ones are already taken!!

When did being straight become such a pain?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Ascend: The Beginning of my Descent!

This week, our company bribed us to attend some training program designed by some bigshot (who wants to get brownie points for his “organizational activities”- mid year review is approaching people) in Hyderabad. Five star accommodation, awesome food, no work for two days: well worth it, even if it means going through some inane exercises, some clichéd jargons, and some hackneyed jokes by the “who’s who” of the company. It was a trade off, but one that we were willing to take up! And then I decided to improvise! I left a couple of days early for Hyderabad, which gave me the whole weekend with my friends: the first ones in the company, whom I met during my summers, and who continue to be an integral part of my life. So yes, giving up the luxuries of Novotel was a tough choice, but all the haggling with autowalas, sleeping on the mattress, washing dishes, and walking 30 minutes in the sun were well worth it, because it gave me the chance to go back to my Summers days, when I would stay up with the same people, discussing the same nonsense, bitching about the same people (this time, we just added more people to the list)!

Now the training program was the typical exercise in corporate jargon, big words, and “best practices” laundry list, interspersed with “simulated team games”. Titled as “Campus to Corporate”, it was supposedly a “revisit” of our marketing and HR classes in MBA (but since I never “visited” them in the first place, I wouldn’t quite call it a “revisit”; however, whatever little jargons I had picked up in between my sleeping sessions, like “customer value”, “change”, “responsiveness” etc etc in college echoed here as well). And of course, how can I forget: it also gave us a chance to “network”, to “interact with the senior people” and to “broaden our horizons”. I had no expectations from the program: for me it was supposed to be a paid holiday, a chance to catch up with friends, free alcohol on “ladies’ night”, and yes, when we were asked to mention our key takeaways in two words, we were tempted to say, “breakfast and lunch”.

But it turned out to be quite an enlightening experience, much to my surprise, as I met someone who could have been the potential love of my life. The only minor glitch is that he is 20 years older than me, married, with a teenaged son. But note, it’s only a “minor” glitch! This was our coach, in Breakout 6, where I was thrusted with a bunch of strangers, and asked to “bond”. I reached late, as I was too busy talking to my friends who were all in different groups, hating this huge conspiracy of the company to keep us away, and therefore forced onto the front bench, where I couldn’t’ possibly sleep. But 15 mins into the session, and I knew that there was no way I can sleep! The guy had this uncanny ability to keep you enthralled: while he said nothing awe inspiringly new, he articulated simple things in a simple manner and the sharp wit made it all the more lively. Before I knew it, I was eating up all his words, listening agog, and actually participating! (People who know me, also know how rarely I open my mouth in a public gathering, and especially in classroom like environments). More than the chocolates he gave me, I appreciated the way he got my name right in the very first attempt! Anyway, before I start sounding like a ‘crush’ed and mildly crazy teenager, I would just shut up…

By the way, I decided experimenting with my hair, and got more than I bargained for, and ended up spending more for something I didn’t want in the first place. So yes, the disease is spreading: from clothes, to books, and now to hair!

Hyderabad rocks, and it also marks the beginning of my descent to complete degeneration…

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Hangover!

It’s been ages since I wrote something… anything really! It was the subprime crisis that got me into Deloitte two years back, and two years later, subprime continues to haunt me. For the past ten days, I have been struggling with CDOs, delinquencies, foreclosures, and loan modification programs, thanks to my never ending project on subprime which simply refuses to leave me. By, now it is as sick of me as I am of it.

So while I continue to be haunted by the crisis, other aspects of my life seem to be falling apart. Like my drinking capacity for instance! I was never a seasoned drinker, but I was at least dignified enough to hold my drink. There have been times when I have had a quarter, walked home without humiliating myself, and gone to the gym the next day morning. But now, I am kind of losing it. Like yesterday, for instance. I will not elaborate further to prove my high loser quotient (LQ), but trust me, I am an embarrassment. I also found out how difficult it is to shop for certain things, and also how liberating it is, to walk out of the shop one and a half hours later, armed with a fancy gift and increased knowledge. Finally, I have developed this penchant for watching extremely pathetic movies at exceedingly high prices. Yes, the world will come to an end in 2012, but please, when will the movie end?

All said and done, I kind of like this phase of my life, the confusions and the uncertainties notwithstanding. At times, it amuses me that my life is happening, when I am waiting for other things: things I am probably not even ready for. So yes, rationally speaking, I am drifting but while I am doing so, I am kind of enjoying the ride. Well, you get the drift… the hangover refuses to go away!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Revisting (running away)...

The advantages of ‘estrangement’ (don’t ask me about the disadvantages) are that you suddenly rediscover yourself, the world around you, and most importantly, other people who had suddenly stopped existing for you. So while you are running away from some things, you also end up running into some other things and remember that they aren’t so bad after all…

So this weekend, I ran off to Pune and stayed with Webstar, my ex roomie, still my best friend. She is as mean with her words as she was in college, but as sweet in her gestures as she used to be. In fact more so, now that we hardly get to meet each other, that I was visiting her place for the first time, that she has mastered the level of domestication. I watched her in admiration as she scolded the bai on the phone (as I memorized her words determined to use them on our bai who is absconding at her own free will), as she cooked me breakfast and lunch, and as she mothered me about small things (she is even worse than Monica Geller in her obsessive compulsive disorder). I revisited the old places: the lassi from Mann Dairy, the dosa at Idlicious, the movie at E Square (It seems I can never get enough of Wake Up Sid) and my favourite parlour (which conned me into paying 100 bucks more for hurting me more).

While you are so caught up in your mundane life, the newsletters that you have to complete, the trainings that you have to finish, and yes, the very important sms hours that you have to enter, you tend to forget the good things in life that you had given up so easily: going back to Pune kind of brought back those happy memories of the past two years, shared with the people (in this case person) who made it so special. But from tomorrow, I am back to my usual life, back to my routine, back to my reports, back to the mini meal, and yes, back to ‘estrangement’: which defies logic, rationality and definitely happiness!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Going down (the elevator)...

The other day, I was in the lift, leaving for work. My teenaged neighbor asked me a very innocent question, but it offended me: “So where is your office? You work for a call centre right?” Now I believe, I was dressed formally and appropriately, I was leaving for work at an appropriate hour, and I carried a bagpack bigger than me which pretty much announces that I have a laptop in it (please note my intention isn’t to announce it… just that it’s convenient to carry the bagpack). So obviously, my middle-class, educated (read MBA) sensibilities were offended. After all, I didn’t slog for so many years and I didn’t spend so much money on “higher education” to be mistaken as a ‘lowly’ call centre employee, right?

Wrong! I went into a hurried explanation about how I work for a big consulting company, that I am an MBA, that I am from Symbi… things that made no difference to her, and she looked at me like a typical teenager does, especially when it comes to parents/teachers/relatives/ ‘wellwishers’ (trust me, I know that look… I kind of mastered it) which said it all: “Whatever! Sorry I brought it up. Leave me alone.”

But the journey down the elevator was extremely enlightening, as I realized that I was being the insecure one, that it really didn’t matter what she thought, that at the end of the day all professions are similar really: you have clients to serve, you have calls to attend, you have complaints to take care of! So whether you are a call girl, or you work in a call centre, or you are in a KPO or in an IT offshore unit, the basic essentials of the job remain the same! And as long as you are earning your own living, and you respect yourself for doing so, it’s really alright. And of course, I took it as a compliment that she took me to be too young to really be a post graduate and hold a ‘serious’ job (I know I am kidding myself, but still…). So yes, the downward journey doesn’t always bring about your downfall, but your ego definitely does!

Monday, October 26, 2009

December Song...

December is approaching, and usually I would be super excited because it means, Christmas, new year and yes, MY BIRTHDAY! And it also means that for the next two months I shall have the license to do anything, to eat anything, to not feel guilty about not exercising because, hey, the new year resolutions are coming up, and if I start being good from now on, what new resolutions can I make? Perfect as I am, I also need LITTLE room for self improvement, which can be postponed for the next two months. So right now, it’s time to live it up, to get up late, and to not obsess about weight (and finish those Diwali chocolates) and career (the job hunt/further studies/doing something meaningful).

But unfortunately, this year, things are a little different. On the job front, well, people say even though the worst is behind us, things are still gloomy in the marketplace. Not if you look in our department as everyday we are greeted by the news of someone or the other leaving. Nobody knows where they are going, how they are going, but yes, they are going. My concern: we have to arrange more pizza parties and farewell cakes and parting gifts, and of course, with the team size reduced to half of what it was when we joined, we don’t know what’s going to happen next, or who is going to go next. The other problem is that people around me (batch mates, seniors, friends) are suddenly bitten by the marriage bug, like this December is their last chance to get hitched or wait for six more months (very like the twice a year concept of CFA/FRM): if you don’t clear the hurdle now, it effectively means losing a year. So yes, as people are on the marriage fasttrack, as they outdo each other in the race to the mandap, as they make lifetime decisions in a matter of few hours, it freaks me out:
a) Because I have to spend money, travel across the country, and attend weddings, which admittedly, isn’t my idea to spend a weekend.
b) Because now I can no longer push my weight loss goal to next year. I have to do it RIGHT NOW.
c) Because I have to obsess about what gifts to buy.
d) Because I have to pacify my mom that just because everybody else is getting married doesn’t automatically mean I will die alone (but secretly, I know the probability of that happening is quite high, which is why I may get a dog for myself).
e) Because, I am yet to unravel the mystery behind choosing the life partner: so far, I was blissfully happy and convinced in my “feel right” theory, according to which I am supposed to when it happens, when I meet the right person, when it, well, “feels right”! But as I talk to more people, it no longer seems so simple, so effortless, and so natural.

And yes, I read Chetan Bhagat’s latest book, ‘Two States’, and it further freaked me out: The Great Indian Marriage, really really has all aspects of a B school education- legal, political, economic, social, and of course that vague jargon that we throw in when we can’t logically explain what we are doing: STRATEGY! But on a serious note, while this book was better than his two previous ones, I can’t help wondering how little expectation we have from Indian English literature. Sure, the guy is funny, but four best sellers? Seriously? May be I do have SOME hope of making it big!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Diwali: our contribution to environment and economy!

The last couple of weeks have been kind of crazy. What with a lot of reshuffling at work, I suddenly found myself neck deep in projects, and people who know me, also know that I am the kind who doesn’t really like to work! So, yes, it hasn’t been an easy time for me, but for a change, I do enjoy my job, I do feel like I am doing something meaningful, and therefore, I am not cribbing as much as I should, given my sleepless, zombie state!

And of course, it was also the Diwali weekend. Now I remember being a kid, and celebrating Diwali in Asansol with my cousins, complete with crackers and ‘Diwali ghar’ and the annual ritual of ‘bhai fota’. I also remember past Diwalis in Mumbai, uneventful and quiet, except the fireworks show at Marine Drive. And I remember getting my PPO on Diwali last year and breaking up with someone the previous Diwali: both very important events when it happened, but just some passing occasions as it seems now…

Contrary to all these past Diwali experiences, this time it was more like any other Saturday: being at home, ordering the same lunch, drinking the same pepsi, chatting about the same things- no fancy crackers, no meeting people, and definitely no puja at home. It was MY home, so I had the luxury to spend it my way. In the evening, we did light up the house with diyas, we did wear traditional clothes, and then, and then, we drank for 4 hours (or more precisely, they drank, I ate). I thought it would be fun, just watching two guys drink and listening to them, but as it turns out, when drunk people insist on ‘making points’, ‘stating facts’, and ‘establishing theories’, you really don’t know how to react… especially when they keep admiring some 6”2 woman behind you!

So that was Diwali: like any other weekend, like any other normal holiday, except the few universal, impersonal Diwali smses that came my way to which I replied dutifully. But the people who matter, called up, and that’s all matters really.

And then amidst a spate of really sad Diwali releases, we ended up watching a little known movie (Inglourious Basterds) with a little known actor, Christophe Waltz, who stole the show! And there was the usual pizza party, the lunch with old friends under new circumstances, the eat-till-you-throw up Gujrati dinner at Rajdhani, and then there was the TADA! Factor yet again which seems to haunt me now.

This Diwali was ordinary unlike the previous ones, this Diwali was nothing special, and yet, something tells me I will remember it, precisely because there is nothing to remember, because this is how my life is, this is how I spend each day…and yes, we didn't burst crackers (that makes us envieonment friendly) and we drank (that makes us economy friendly)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Not quite, but almost...

I watched Wake Up Sid and Vicky Christina Barcelona: two very different movies, based on completely different premises and with no apparent parallels to be drawn… However, there were shades of me in the protagonists of both the films, people I could identify with or just sit back and watch them go through the similar turmoils, similar idiosyncrasies and the similar trials and tribulations…

Aisha Banerjee (Wake Up Sid): Played by Koko, she is the quintessential Bong girl from Kolkata, alone in Mumbai to make a career out of writing: independent, conscientious, honest, and headstrong, sure about what she wants in life, only to figure out later that may be, just may be, she hasn’t quite got it all figured out yet. And of course, there is the younger guy: the best friend, the juvenile nuisance, the kid-man, the last person she would dream of ending up with, but eventually does just that! My story? Well not quite, but yeah, almost…

Christina ( Vicky Christina Barcelona): Like most Woody Allen movies, this one too is special, in its own special, slightly sick, slightly crazy way. But that’s the hallmark of a great artist, and Woody Allen IS a great artist. So Christina (Scarlet Johansson) is the young woman, creative, artistic and liberal in the true sense of the term, but still a drifter in life, still trying to figure out what she wants, where she fits in (if at all). Diametrically opposite to her orthodox, conventional best friend Vicky, she is adventurous, intuitive, courageous, ready to make mistakes (stupid ones) and repeat them, allergic towards labels and societal conformations, willing to take chances even if it meant getting hurt, brave enough to walk away from things which “doesn’t feel right”, knowing only what she doesn’t want, while being clueless of what she does want! Me again, well at least the drifter part, the not knowing what she wants part, the allergic towards labels and conventional wisdom part. I may not kiss another woman, but the rest is pretty much on the cards, especially making stupid mistakes and repeating them…

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Dowry Structure

Someone we know is getting married. So what’s the big deal? Well, the deal is indeed big, literally! He is getting a dowry of Rs. 25 crores. Yes, 25 crores!! Obviously, like the CTCs of B school grads, the lump sum figure sounds impressive, but the actual in hand cash component isn’t that much. Still, 25 crores, in whatever form is a good enough compensation for settling down, or may be just settling… as a friend of mine put very seriously: “the size of the car you get should be directly proportional to the size of the girl… the fatter the girl, larger is the car!” So 25 crores? How fat are we talking about here?

No, this is not a feminist post raving and ranting about what’s wrong with society and the Great Indian Marriage Market- we have enough people already commenting about that. This is about the 10 minute IM conversation with my padosi immediately after we heard about the 25 crore “deal”. So yes, like we have a very well defined salary structure, now we also have a structured “dowry structure” based on this 25 crore “package”:

So the breakdown of the salary is as follows-

Joining Bonus: the 80 lac cash upfront
House Rent Allowance: the 2 bhk flat
Transportation Allowance: the Ford Fiesta car
Special Allowance: The X kg gold jewelry and X acres of land
Esops: The share in the family property

So you are left asking, where does the bride figure in? Still wondering… may be the cranky boss that comes with a handsome package!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Being a "Bangali"...

I have been anointed a ‘farzi bong’ and justifiably so: I don’t like sweets, I don’t like fish, I don’t like tea, I don’t go gaga over communism or Sourav Ganguly, and I definitely don’t stall my life for four days during Durga Puja…

Speaking of Durga Puja, last weekend found the Bengali community of Mumbai gather around Puja pandals, over dressed and over enthusiastic. I spent a couple of days with my parents, visiting as many as TWO whole pandals (a personal best in 2 years) because it made them happy, talking to relatives over the phone wishing them Shubho Bijoya and telling them how much I appreciated the dresses they gifted me (when in reality most of them were too big for me… girls in Kolkata come in plus sizes). The whole act of being the true blue “probashi bangali” was kind of draining, and I heaved a sigh of relief as I went back to my own small place in “Chindi Valley”, to my own world of take away food, watching How I Met Your Mother on the laptop and late night show of The Ugly Truth.

Earlier I used to feel guilty for not being true to my culture, for being so confused about my identity, and blaming my shift to Mumbai as the prime reason for robbing me of my bongness. But the truth is I was always this way, even in school, even as a teenager. I never liked fish, I never liked sweets, I never drank tea, I never worshipped Sourav Ganguly and I never followed CPM’s ideology. Durga Puja was never about religion, it just gave me an excuse to wear new clothes and go out with family/friends which I get to do anyway and I no longer need an annual ritual for it. I have nothing against Bengali culture, just that right now I don’t have the luxury to cultivate ANY culture. I don’t go out of my way to emphasize my Bengali roots, but at the same time I don’t try to hide it. I have known Bengalis who don’t speak Bengali because they “have been out of Kolkata for ages”, but I don’t think I will ever forget my mother tongue irrespective of how many years I spend outside the state. So yes, for me, being a Bengali doesn’t imply that I conform to the idea of bongness; it’s just about being me: natural, spontaneous, and well, me! And yes, I do have a name which screams of bongness…

P.S. The first person to wish me “Happy Duserah” was my BROKER… may Durga Ma bless him!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Game of Life...

So cricket… yes cricket was always my favourite sport, but till now I was focused on mostly the batsmen and the bowlers and at times the fielders (especially if it happened to be Azharuddin at 2nd slip). Well, today I can’t help wondering about the umpire: the neglected, third party who incidentally plays a very important role in the outcome of the match, whose good work is overshadowed by the brilliance of the players, but who gets all the flak for one wrong decision.

Hypothetically speaking, let’s imagine life as a game of cricket; at times you are the batsman, the cynosure of all eyes, ruthlessly murdering your opponents, when you feel on top of the world with the ground beneath your feet, capable of achieving anything you want; at other times you are the disgraced bowler under the hammer, when nothing seems to go right no matter how hard you try. And on most occasions, you are the hapless fielder, running after something which is annoyingly just out of your reach, and well, just running, because most of the others around you are also doing the same…

So it makes me wonder, how about if I can be none of the above: the batsman, the bowler or the fielder? How about if I can be just the umpire: the behind-the-scenes matured guy, quietly, dispassionately watching the action; estranged yet passionate about the game; not getting too involved in the outcome and just doing his job; not caring who wins and who loses as long as it’s fair; and most of all, appreciating that it is after all, just a game, where you are the winner one day and the loser the next, and the next and the next… But yes, that elderly man in black has it all and I would do anything to be like him- to not care, to be cool, to just watch as a bystander as the game of life goes on…

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Reality Bites...

Well, there are good movies and bad movies, and then there are tear-jerkers. The last category is a mish-mash of different kinds of films, very different from one another, but similar in their ability to reduce me to a red-nosed, five year old. So yes, I have watched Stepmom, When Harry Met Sally, Father of the Bride, Dil To Pagal Hai, Life in a Metro, Taare Zameen Par, so on so forth and each time I have ended up with a full bucket, albeit imaginary…

But the movie which had turned me into this hopelessly hopeless romantic was Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (KKHH). Released when I was still in school, a teenager eager to fall in love easily, it made a deep impact as I slipped naturally in the role of Anjali Sharma (Kajol at her remarkable best). She played basketball, I played badminton/kabaddi, she sucked at putting on make-up, I had a horrendous dressing sense, she fell in love with her best friend, my best friend left the country. In the next ten years, I have seen the movie n number of times, and each time I have cried like the same 5 year old…

I happened to watch it again on Sunday, and this time I watched it from a matured feminist point of view, unlike the starry-eyed teenager hoping for a fairy tale ending. This time I identified with Anjali Sharma, not the college-going tomboy but the sari-clad engaged woman who is still trying to come to terms with a life with the perfect guy who makes her the centre of his world, for whom she is the only woman and is willing to be with her in spite of knowing that she doesn’t care about him the way he does for her. Instead she goes back to her college crush, the guy who broke her heart, for whom she was always the second choice, i.e. the “imperfect” man who still wielded as much power on her as he did ages back. Yes, it’s a fairy tale ending, yes, she finally gets the man of her dreams, yes she finds happiness after years of waiting, and yes, the audience is definitely happy! But the nagging question that still bothers you is, “Isn’t she a pushover? Why would she go back to someone who rejected her in the first place? And what if Tina (Rani Mukherjee) was still alive?” I hate to admit it, but if I were in her place, I would have done the same thing, but unfortunately, in real life, things aren’t quite so convenient. Tina would have never died in the first place, Rahul (Shahrukh Khan) would have lived happily ever after with the woman he really fell in love with, and as for Anjali Sharma, she would have disappeared into a mundane existence and an ordinary marriage, feeding on her memories like so many other women.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

For the people who matter…

1. The lady who cleans the washroom in office: At a time when most people around me (including me) are complaining about their jobs, this lady is refreshingly different. I meet her everyday as she sits in the washroom, making small talk with the women, making sure the toilets are clean, the tissue papers in place and the washbasins dry. As we exchange polite smiles, she asked me if I was new. I nodded respectfully as she proudly informed me that she has been in the organization for three years (i.e. she is the equivalent of senior analyst) and she manages the entire floor. Even after three years, even after cleaning up the mess left by other people, she seemed contented, she took pride in her work and she cared enough to make the new people comfortable while most others were out to intimidate them.

2. The Tam room mate: I have never met him, I have never even spoken to him but he dominates our conversations- the brilliant guy who reads a lot, the finance geek who explains valuation model when he is drunk and yet fails CFA Level 1 repeatedly, the man for whom I have somehow developed so much respect that I trusted him when he said inflation is positive in America even though three different sources stated otherwise.

3. The ‘other’ broker: He is the uncouth, unsophisticated typical mobile flaunting Mumbai broker, but at the same time endears himself to you instantly. He calls you even after the business transaction is over, he informs you that he is in the neighbourhood in case you want to meet him, and he checks on you if you need any more help, and yes, he helps you with the curtains and the cleaning up as well.

And most of all, this old old friend of mine, my first friend in Mumbai, with whom I have nothing in common, and yet, who helped me get through college, who showed me all the cheap places to shop and eat, who is suffering from this godforsaken disease which no doctor has been able to detect, who spent a month in the hospital, whom I had almost forgotten as I got involved in my own narrow life…

Monday, September 7, 2009

The "Quasi" Life!

So I am this quasi person, living a quasi life, stuck in a quasi job: the beauty of the quasi life is that to a third person it would seem to be the perfect existence: what with the perfect labels, the perfect lifestyle and the perfect ingredients that make your life, well perfect! But the only problem with this perfect life is that doesn’t quite feel right- yes, you are grateful for it, but at the same time you crave for that little imperfection, that would make your life a little more meaningful, a little less empty and a little less “quasi!”

So my quasi job requires me to write endless meaningless reports which allow me to clock 20 hours on the sms (another inane jargon to make my work sound impressive and important) for a project which is tossed into the bin in less than two minutes. My quasi job also entails some “responsibility” like collecting money, organizing team lunches (during which nobody talks by the way), ordering cakes and buying gifts. But yes, the most important aspect of my job is to ccp email ids and addresses of high profile executives of the hedge fund industry on an excel sheet. But no, I am not complaining. I have been taught to respect all kinds of work, especially work that pays this kind of money. I am just wondering why I invested in higher education, when I could have done the same kind of work ten years back.

My quasi house (for I am still not used to my new abode with its new sofas) demands a lot of my time and attention and I am amazed at myself and the way I spend my weekends: bargaining with the carpenter, giving instructions to the plumber and the electrician, fighting with the Airtel technician (ironically his name is Sangram) over the phone, trying to figure out the elaborate application process for a gas connection and forgetting to sign the deposit cheque for our patient avuncular landlord who sits by watching us struggle through setting up a house as he kindly gifts us a spare TV. When I have some spare time to breathe, I wonder when my life turned so sickeningly domestic, when I became so abnormally dull that it takes me a herculean effort to drag myself out of Hiranandani. Let alone plan any get together, I can barely coax myself into meeting people, calling people, or even answering phone calls. It takes too much effort to order food for myself, or even go down and buy biscuits. So while that one afternoon take away is a luxury for me, the rest of the weekend usually finds me in bed, with a book (I finished Unaccustomed Earth and in spite of Jhumpa Lahiri’s obsession with Bengali diaspora, it’s a good read) or watching little known movies on the laptop. And most alarmingly, I have even given up shopping! No partying, no socializing, not even watching the US Open on the big screen.

So yes, it’s very much a quasi life: a life full of waiting and wishing and wanting- call it the www effect…

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Moving and Moving On...

I moved to my new apartment this weekend. Again! From the first floor to the 11th floor: well, it’s been a meteoric rise in three months. People tell me that this place is even better. I really couldn’t care less. For me, it’s just a house, not yet a home and I doubt if it ever will be one. It’s a place where I go at night and crash and read a little and stare at the phone. It’s a place which still doesn’t mean anything, but it evokes a lot of memories, especially when I stare at the broken green sofa. And I can no longer hear that common dog barking, or see that puppy faced lost look. So yes, that “dog” element is missing and I miss it a lot. And this time I am cautious, this time I appreciate the transience of everything, especially good things! I was asked to move out of my home on Independence Day, so I am half expecting to be thrown out on Republic Day once our lock-in period expires.

Anyway I have been told that my blog is becoming boring since it’s so focused on my house problems, so yes, I am making a conscious effort to add some variety. Like the weekend for example! Uplaksh being in town, we decided to meet up, and I decided that my friends are expensive! And I also decided that I should NEVER go to Bandra: the traveling, the alcohol and the dinner make me broke, the beautiful, well groomed women out on a Saturday night intimidate me as I look at my own unkempt self, and the after effects of tequila shots and vodka in 20 minutes are embarrassing, not to mention the long dowry conversations in a very, very expensive auto ride back home at 2 a.m.

So yes, I am tired: tired of moving, tired of moving on and tired of fighting. I know I claim to be sober and sensible and strong when I am semi drunk, but secretly at times, I just want to be that little girl, to be taken care of and to be held…

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Making and the Breaking of a Dream (HOME)

As the story goes: Last Saturday (yes, Independence Day) we woke up to a “pleasant” surprise when our godforsaken broker (who had haggled for the deposit money, who had sent three men late at night to our place and who had made our lives miserable) called up to wish us “Happy Independence day” or so we thought. But no, the real idea was to inform us that we are being thrown out of our house (the dream house, which we made our home for the last three months) since our landlady wants to sell off the place! Obviously two days of frantic calls to our landlady was of no use, as this forty year old woman refused to pick up the phone and was apparently scared to talk to us! US: two little kids, new to the real estate underworld. Anyway, to cut a long story short, we were homeless once more, out on the streets (literally) serving a month’s notice. So every morning on my way to office, I would stop by at random buildings, chat up suspicious security guards asking them if there were any vacant flats available for rent. They would look at me suspiciously, ask me to come through a broker and on rare occasions, try to be helpful. So while we did manage to almost fix a deal at a nearby apartment, it eventually didn’t work out, and we were back to square one, me half afraid that all the buildings in my locality will now sport a new signboard, “beware of dogs and Shimonti.”

So this weekend we set off on our househunt with renewed vigour, determined to seal a favourable deal. But the houses shown by our moronic broker were either too expensive or way out of the way where only the cream of society can afford to live, because they don’t use public transport and are willing to pay extra for superior furnishing, modular kitchen and smell of fresh paint. Such houses intimidate us, such sophisticated societies scare us and clearly, we don’t belong there. All we wanted was a functional house, with functional bathrooms, in OUR locality where the security was chilled out, where Welcome home delivered groceries and we had “black forest flirt” ice cream when we were either miserable or ecstatic, not to mention where friends dropped by at odd hours and left at odder hours.

Now that we had had enough of our broker and his “Palatial Heights”, we decided to put Padosi on work! And 15 minutes and one phone call later, we had done it. We had a new home, same complex, same rent, similar amenities, and yes, most importantly, same security and same entrance. Who knew finding a house in Mumbai was less time consuming that ordering pizza (Soumya’s perfect analogy). So yes, Padosi has a new alternate career option as a real estate broker.

We shift next weekend, we get rid of our confused landlady and our blood sucking broker and we begin a new life: hopefully a less complicated one. And this time, we try to be less emotionally attached to our home, because, as they say, “nothing lasts forever!”

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Perfection, Completion and Complication...

Ok, so we have the theory of perfection and completion…applicable to almost anything: people, circumstances and even life as a whole!

Like for example, take my house, no, make that my HOME (from which we are being thrown out by the way… serving the one month notice till we find an alternative, but more on that later). It isn’t perfect by any means: what with the cat poop, the lizards, the bed bugs (some people crib about them… I never had any problems), the plumbing, the malfunctioning television, it has its issues. But as far we are concerned, it’s complete! We couldn’t have asked for anything more, or make that, we were (still are, even though we know the happy days are coming to an end) so happy in this house that we can’t ask for anything else which will significantly add to our satisfaction. On the other hand, consider my house (and not my home) in Kolkata: the plush, 3-bedroom flat in the poshest area of the city, the spacious living room where you can play football, the 42-inch TV, the music system, and not to mention the closet space for my huge bundle of clothes. For anybody who walks in, it’s a dream home: perfection personified! But for someone like me, who has barely spent any time there, who has just visited it for a few days during vacations, who has no emotional attachment to it, it hardly means anything. I miss my childhood rented flat in the modest locality where I grew up, where I made most of my friends and where I made memories: not perfect memories, but definitely complete ones!

Similarly for people, I may not be perfect, in fact, I am very very imperfect… but I would like to believe that I am not quite as incomplete as I am imperfect. I am complete in the sense, that I have not missed out on any of those phases of life (childhood, adolescent, hostel life, working and studying, campus life and now the independent domestic life). Nor have I missed out on the any of the stages of life: I was never born with a silver spoon, nor was I perpetually deprived: so that journey from badly craving something and not being able to afford it to gradually being able to afford it and not wanting it, has also been an experience where you appreciate all the good things simply because you know how bad it can be.

So while perfection need not imply completion, it’s not necessary that just because you are imperfect, you are incomplete as well. In fact, I would rather be complete than be perfect. It helps to choose because right now, I am neither!

And of course, apart from perfection and completion, there is complication which is probably the most rampant feature of our lives! So yes, I may not be perfect, I may not even be complete, but yes, I am definitely complicated…

Friday, August 14, 2009

Freedom or the lack of it...

There are times, when it starts with small petty issues, and before you even know it, things have escalated to such an unpleasant extent that you are left feeling pretty small yourself. So after two months of shifting to our dream home, two months of enjoying the domestic bliss, two months of freedom and late night banter, two months of what was only the beginning of a new journey, we encountered a pretty nasty surprise! Without getting into the petty details of what can only be described as materialistic oneupmanship, when a second hand fridge and a malfunctioning TV destroyed our peace of mind and embroiled us (my gutsy flatmate more than me… don’t know what I shall do without her) in a war of words, we were left defending ourselves against three random delivery men at 10 p.m. Yes, we did have “manpower”, but that doesn’t make it any less repulsive. Life throws you into all kinds of intricate complicated situations and if you manage to survive it, you take back some valuable lessons with you. In this case our learning essentially was that it is one thing to deal with uneducated crude people who try to take you for a ride and do so in an unpretentious way, and quite another to deal with sophisticated and articulate conmen- yes, the second is much tougher. It was no longer about rotten furniture anymore, but about trust, about rapport, about constantly being lied to and about credibility. “Unfortunate” as it, it is the unpleasant truth.

Anyway apart from the rendezvous with strange men late in the night, my life is pretty much boring; yes, I am eating out too much, yes, I barely get any sleep, yes, I no longer go jogging and yes, I am putting on weight and suffering from that familiar “I am so fat” feeling, but yes, it no longer makes me insecure because that extra 3 Kgs of lard is so worth it: yes, even that half asleep, half lost, sucking on an empty bottle retarded look! And yes, covering the whole spectrum from whether debit cards are accepted by Indian Railways to balloon decorations in our living room in a matter of five minutes at 3 a.m. when you are trying to stop yourself from crying as the 12-year old looks on with a smile may not be very interesting, but extremely demanding.

What with the swine flu panic spreading across the city, protection masks and closed multiplexes, the Independence Day weekend promises complete lack of freedom as we look forward to staying cooped up at home.

P.S. We have discovered that the theory of diminishing marginal utility doesn’t hold in case of alcohol… think about it!! I don’t know how it never struck me before…

Monday, August 10, 2009

cake, candles, childhood and getting old!

With great power, comes great responsibility! ... seems like with no power also, you have great responsibility and the worst part of responsibility is that you are assumed to be doing your job when you do things right, but lo and behold, you slip up once in a while, and you are singled out for all the mistakes committed by your last three generations. Well, I guess that’s how life functions and no, we ain’t complaining because we get to crib about it till the early hours of the morning while watching “deadly” movies on a dysfunctional TV.
So this weekend was my flatmate’s birthday, and for the first time in my life I got to plan a whole birthday party which is no mean feat. While in campus, you had neither the money nor the opportunity to indulge or be creative. The standard thing was to gift a huge card with scribbled messages, cut the cake at midnight, make a collage of some snaps, torture the birthday boy/girl, go to Tamanna Café on D-Day, not eat anything and share a bhel and a sandwich between 13 people, and finally have one combined grand birthday treat some two months later when we have pooled in enough money. The lack of surprise element, the lack of variety and the lack of finance was made up by the sheer number of people who celebrated your growing old.
But this time, now that we have an apartment to ourselves, more freedom and a little more money, things were a little different. Being the only flatmate I had a lot of responsibility with no power; This wasn’t quite a cakewalk but the walk for the perfect cake was quite long. I mean, after I had narrowed down all the bakeries in Hiranandani, after I had spoken to all of them, and after I have zeroed in on a shop, it should have been an easy task to simply walk down to the store, take a quick look, select the cake and place an order. WRONG!! There I was, wondering around Galleria on a Saturday afternoon looking for the illusive BROWNIE POINT, asking random people and coming back to the same place I started as people kept directing me to this swanky salon called Brown n Brown which I can never afford. Finally after about an hour when I have had enough, I called up the shop again, this time asking for their exact location, and the morons had the nerve to tell me that they have closed down the shop at Galleria and shifted to JB Nagar and suggested that I should come down there! Yeah right, like I have no life. Ok, I don’t but they don’t know that. But think about this… you update your phone number on the net, but you don’t update your address!!! Who does that? So yes, I definitely didn’t buy anything from such a place and stuck to good old Monginis, trying to fit in a message from my roomie’s parents on a tiny cake. While the rest of it was smooth thanks to my precision and planning (I did study Operations Research in college, even though I almost flunked it). Cake done, gifts done, card done, decorations done, birthday messages collected from the entire CKB group over the phone, security guard taken into confidence! As we somehow managed to whisk the birthday girl to-be to a nearby pub where we were offered cake by another anonymous birthday girl (thank god for the power of alcohol), a couple of my friends sneaked into our empty house, decked up the place with balloons and paper streamers, switched off the lights, and screamed “happy birthday” (albeit a very feeble happy birthday given that we were only four people instead of some 25 people at Sweety Stores in campus) as we stepped into the house sharp at midnight, a little high, a little happy.
Sunday was chilled out, as all of us just lazed around the house, bitched about people, ate huge amounts of cake, ordered biryani and my flatmate dutifully paid homage to her temple (D Mart) on her birthday, buying groceries for the house and making me coffee!
So yes, this weekend was about the “TA DA!! Factor”, the alcohol connection, and yes, a bit of childhood: what with the birthday party and the children’s park…

Sunday, August 2, 2009


A hectic week in office (which includes feedback, i.e. polite way of saying “nit picking” about consistency in decimal places, font size, font colour, and spacing) with me being stuck in office till midnight on a couple of days followed by stifled dinners, difficult and intense telephone conversations, late night movies and cold wars with my bai (I think sarcasm, and that too in my broken Hindi is wasted on her… I should be more firm and nasty like the middle aged aunties portrayed on TV, but I have no clue how to be like that) have taken a toll on me. But strangely irrespective of how much I crib, irrespective of the fact that I have been told that I act like an immature, impatient 5-year old and irrespective of how my salary seems miniscule compared to what people earn around me, I am a happy person: both generally and specifically.

And finally I have seen some application of Micro Economics in practical life and I can’t express how glad I am!! I mean I have studied this subject, for five years, each time wondering how I can ever apply it in real life simply because it stood on some pretty strong assumptions which rarely hold true in todays dynamic situation. Macro economics, on the other hand, is something which is easily identified with. But, at last, one fine aspect of Micro economics has found favour with me: “the theory of diminishing marginal utility”! and yes, it holds for the big M, i.e. MONEY… the point is that, once you have the basic minimum to sustain yourself, to have a decent lifestyle, that extra thousand bucks really don’t add much value to your life. You can easily do away with it for other things like satisfaction, work life balance, good people, better quality of work, so on and so forth. So after a point, money alone stops being a motivation; but yes, that basic level of financial security is important, and the basic level is defined differently for different people, and thankfully for me, that level is pretty low. So yes, my kids will grow up like I did, they will wear unbranded street clothes, they will eat ghar ka khana (which my husband will make because I am a bad cook) with no junk food, they will play kabaddi and kit kit and pittu instead of fancy video games or playstation portables, they will go to ganpatiphule and goa for vacations instead of fancy foreign trips and they will take education loans to finance their higher education, but most importantly, they will figure out that they don’t need obscene amount of money to be happy!

And yes, I am not ashamed to admit that I have watched Love Aaj Kaal and irrespective of the Brazilian model playing the part of a 1970’s conservative Punjabi kudi, irrespective of cheesy dialogues like mango people (translation of aam aadmi), irrespective of Deepika Padukone’s pathetic acting skills and irrespective of my aversion to commercial Hindi movies, I still liked the movie;

there was a certain imperfection about the movie, a certain imperfection in the characters, and I am a sucker for imperfection…

Saturday, July 25, 2009


I have touched an all time low, and I kind of exemplify what Rachael says in Friends: “Earlier I thought I had hit rock bottom, but now it’s like there is rock bottom, 50 feet of crap, and then me!” I so so know that feeling, but yeah, make that 100 feet of crap…

I mean when you are discussing monetization of debt, velocity of money and sub prime crisis at 3 in the morning, and that too after ten hours of banking nonsense at office, you know there is something seriously wrong with you. But curiously, now that we have an one month pilot project of no-alcohol situation, now that the movies running in the theatres are unpalatable and the near all time high body mass doesn’t allow me to eat out (the 20 bucks mini meal works wonders), these inane but at times ridiculously hilarious conversations are the only reason to smile, the only thing to look forward to and the only thing that keeps you together during these trying times.
With each passing week, I am more convinced that corporate life isn’t meant for me, or rather I am not meant for corporate life. Subtlety, diplomacy and conformance are not my cup of tea and every time I look at my 'kaam kaaj’ sheet, every time I question the meaningfulness (or the lack of it) of my existence, every time I feel like having my ‘cake’, I am reminded of my landlord, my eight creditors, and my impromptu shopping trips (I have decided that roadside shopping at Hill Road is the way to go. So no more malls for me or my children and grandchildren). Yes, as I struggle to survive this tug-of-war between utilization, efficiency and acknowledgement, as i fail to master the art of sms-ing and calls, as I give up on my ‘maverick’ and as I strive for my ‘cake’, these random conversations become the ‘stepping stone’ to deeper ones.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Of indifference and apathy!

I think being able to make small talk with just about anybody is an art- an art that is extremely useful in the corporate set up, and unfortunately an art that I am yet to master, and by the looks of it, I will NEVER master! I had a full fledged session with a senior, trying to help me out with this very subtle but very important art: like there are some socially accepted topics that you can initiate a conversation practically with anybody: weather, food and traffic being the most popular ones. Then you can gradually build on it and move on to work and real estate and rent and family. As of now I function in a retarded manner where I am pouring my heart out to people I get along with (very very few), where I don’t hold back, where I give everything and for the rest of the world, I am this rude, unapproachable, unfriendly stuck up person who rarely smiles. So far, this has worked just fine for me: I have few friends, but they are genuine friends. And I think the concept of indifference rocks! I love not caring about what I think of people or what they think of me, where I don’t bother enough to hate anybody, where the bottomline is “it doesn’t matter if the person doesn’t matter”…but now, I am suddenly stifled, suddenly confused… may be that isn’t the best approach after all!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A D(raining) week...

It’s been a rainy week in Mumbai, and I keep getting calls from an agitated mom and agitating relatives asking me to stay put at home, warning me to be careful, and in general being a nuisance. Like this is something earth shattering in Mumbai. Rains and Mumbai are synonymous and this is probably the least rains that Mumbai had seen in the last six years that I have been here and being in Powai, I can safely assure that life has never been more comfortable. So yes, all those flood images on the television do not apply to my life. I am on top of the world, literally, given that the entire Hiranandani area is at a higher altitude. We did get stuck in office one day, but that was more due to stupidity of donating my umbrella rather than life threatening rains. However, thanks to the turbulent weather, our weekend trip to Panchgani did get cancelled, and I can’t crib enough about that.

Otherwise it’s been a pretty uneventful week: lot of bills to pay, yet another cooking episode followed by yet another marathon washing exercise, shopping at sale (even in Mumbai you still get skirts for 60 bucks! I repeat, 60 bucks!) and in between my busy schedule, I did manage to get some work done as well at office. Now that we are inundated with work with all the companies coming out with their 2nd quarter results, I don’t feel quite so useless, which is good for my emotional well being. But yes, this blog is still my “cake”. The “cake” theory states that while a job and making your living is extremely commendable, especially in such times when jobs are hard to come by, you still need a passion, a reason to live for, a challenge to strive for, i.e. you need your “cake”! So while corporate finance, treasury, FRM and CFA are eligible for that “cake” status for some people and a fancy inter-company competition which may end with a dream vacation in Europe for others, for me writing and dreaming about writing still continues to be it. So yes, since this blog is my only mode of expression as of now, this IS my cake, ok, if not a cake, definitely a big large chocolate pastry!

But the highlight of the week was obviously my successful blood donation attempt. After my previous two attempts were unceremoniously rejected on medical grounds, this time I was considered healthy enough and as I lay there minus one mother dairy packet of blood, I felt extremely elated, though my right hand felt a little numb. So growing up has many dimensions as I am starting to discover: from confusing bill payment exercises (which are very confusing indeed) to taking care of sick people to blood donation to sodexo management (do not underestimate the importance of this very tricky business)…

P.S.: Thank you Vodafone, Airtel, Reliance Energy, Newspaperwala, Maid, Westside, Pantaloons, Big Bazaar, and most of all, landlord, I am broke again!!

Friday, July 10, 2009

This n That!

Now that I am one month old in the organization, I am starting to feel more comfortable with my new environment: i.e. being a nobody, not having much work, not knowing what to do with my life and conforming to a system that I don’t agree with. But yes, not withstanding these minor roadblocks, my life is pretty smooth! The idli, the mini meal and the channa kind of seals the deal! Not to mention the occasional Garcia, KFC and ITC Sheraton treat. And when we are too bored, the “deep-diving” and “the whisperacy theory” keeps us busy!

So yes, we do have high hopes: 42 inch LCD TVs, DVD players, playstation portables, expensive mobile phones, and of course Sony Vaio laptops. We also have loans to pay off, deposits to reimburse and debts to repay, and expensive exams to register for. And the money in our accounts is irreversibly depreciating. So while it’s fascinating to wander around E Zone pretending to be rich yuppies who can afford all the luxuries paraded in front of us, the truth is that we are the kinds who take a round, ask meaningful questions that excite the sales guys and finally settle down on the comfortable couch in front of the above mentioned 42 inch LCD, watch Will Smith and Eva Mendes looking even more gorgeous than we thought they were and discuss our realistic financial status. So after we have accounted for all our expenses, we are left with a budget that can barely buy kurtas, shirts, sarees and coffee mugs for our family. So we gracefully take our leave from E Zone, empty handed after empty promises of coming back and head to Westside and Spykar showrooms before the sale gets over! So long for all our “first salary” extravaganzas. But we reason, it’s the thought that counts and the gesture that matters, rather than obscene displays of material riches! As long as the “tadaaa factor” is there, satisfaction is also there.

So as the world moves on, as the Williams sisters bag yet another grand slam title and as India finally takes a bold step towards civilization by decriminalizing homosexuality, my life continues to be as confusing as ever, as much of a roller coaster journey as the bumpy rickshaw ride on a rainy Saturday night, as wrapped up in the past as it is in the future: the minor glitch being the present!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Man (Boy) in the Mirror!

In the early nighties when I was growing up sans FM, sans satellite television and sans gossip tabloids, western music meant just two names to me: Madonna and Michael Jackson, both around the same age, both in the prime of their careers and both legends in their own way! They made as much news for their music as they did for their extra-musical activities, and as kids we eagerly imbibed as much of it as we could access, at times going to extreme lengths just to get a glimpse of that fantastic dreamland (Neverland being only a miniscule part of it) and living vicariously through it. I remember being confused for a long time about who Michael Jackson exactly is: I mean, the very basics, I mean, a man or a woman, I mean black or white! His plastic surgeries, his antiques, his personal life- none of it survived the media onslaught, none of it was handled with dignified silence and none of it made it any easier for him. Most of it just added colour to his already colourful personality as his face became whiter, his appearance ghastlier. For somebody who had been in the limelight ever since he was five, for somebody who had sold his right to privacy for his right to fame, for somebody who had thrived in the media glare, he was still the kid who craved for attention and yet didn’t know how to handle it. While the world worshipped him, while the youth imitated him and while the women fantasized about him, he himself was an insecure, vulnerable and largely misunderstood child lost in the big bad world. From multiple surgeries to multiple marriages and fatherhood, from having the world at his feet to seeing it disappear, from being one of the richest entertainers in the history to a pauper reduced to abject poverty, he had seen it all. Scarred forever as a victim of child abuse, he found solace in the company of a pet chimpanzee, and later in teenaged boys in his very own version of Disney land. Marred by allegations of paedophilia, he found comfort and romance in the arms of women who were more of a caregiver rather than an arm candy to the “King of Pop”.

So while Michael continued to live life as a child trapped in a grown man’s body, he also continued to make impeccable music which took the world by storm. From Thriller, to Bad, to Dangerous, to HIStory, to Invincible, he was unparalleled as an artist. While I watched his moonwalk moves in awestruck wonder, tapped to the beat of “Beat it” and “Billy Jean”, laughed at the irony of “Black or White”, and stood up in reverence to “Heal the world” and “The Earth Song”, I couldn’t help wondering how this supremely gifted person with his supremely good intentions (he holds the record for contributing to the most number of charities by an entertainer) can so royally screw up his life!

He may be the media’s favourite bashing boy¸ he may be the crook’s easiest target, he may be the greatest anti hero of this century, he may have lived alone and died alone, but he is definitely the little kid who never grew up, the pop icon who lost his way to stardom, the celebrity who never really celebrated his success!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Alice in Wonderland!

30th June, 2009: it was going to be a big day in my life! I was going to get paid my first salary (I know I have worked before, but that was just an interim thing, while I waiting for something else). So yes, for all I care, this WAS my first salary, and I was badly in need for it. I was already running on borrowed money and sodexo coupons and for the first time in life, I knew what it meant to be broke. So I dressed well (as well I could afford to), armed myself with my brand new atm card and chequebook and internet banking password of my brand new salary account, and then, I headed to office with aspirations of being rich.

For the rest of the day I checked my account online every half an hour (which kept showing a dismal zero as available balance), I kept staring at my cellphone waiting for that promised sms from HDFC saying that my account has been credited, I refreshed my mailbox intuitively hoping for that mail informing me I am finally rich… between all these, I found time to ping every possible acquaintance on the IM trying to squeeze out some inside information about that hallowed moment when we will get our salary. I asked my seniors who annoyingly cool about it, assuring me that it would definitely be done ANYTIME before 11:55 p.m. But that vague concept of “ANYTIME” was not good enough for me. I needed to know the precise hour and the minute so that I could plan my future (future here implies immediate alcohol consumption plans). After I was put through some extremely sad practical jokes by dumb colleagues who call themselves my friends, after I had abused the entire world a million times over and after I have had the affordable sandwich at the café for dinner) at 8 p.m. I was still poor, I was still sober and I was extremely dejected. So like everyday we set off for home gloomily, our party plans put on hold yet again.

And then, and then, and then it happened. One of us received a sms, and he just stood still, his face blank and his expression white as he extended the phone to us! Yes, it was the lonnng awaited sms from HDFC Bank declaring me as “rich and famous”. Well, may be not famous, not yet, but rich definitely! And suddenly the guys were rushing towards the ATM with me struggling in my heels and running behind them as I tried to keep up. My hands trembled as I inserted the card for the first time in the slot. Not surprisingly I got the pin wrong and was asked to enter it again. But finally, it was there, right in front of my eyes! Rs. 1.5 lacs balance against my name. MY hard earned (ok, not so hard earned) money! I took a mini statement of the cash position of my account on 30th June, 2009, 8:55 pm which I intend to take to my grave. And then I withdrew some money to fund my drinking plans. And then I called up parents, friends and other random people to share this landmark moment. This was bliss, as I had ever known bliss!

I rushed home, changed hurriedly in the dark (first power cut in my new house) and for the first time I felt like dressing up to go drinking and this time we were determined to graduate to an upmarket resto bar with good music and karaoke instead of our usual shady pubs and happy hour drinking binges. And, yes, vodka followed by tequila shots is great: good enough for drunken late night conversations.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The BEST supper!

Yesterday was a ground breaking day in my life… I COOKED, or more specifically I TRIED TO COOK!

Now why on earth would I do something so uncharacteristically outstandingly mindblowingly impossible? The reason was simple: as simple as a rotten gobi, or more precisely, an about-to-be rotten gobi.

Our home has a very simple modus operandi . My flatmate cooks, she bakes yummy cakes and she shops for relevant groceries, i.e. rice, dal, spices, vegetables. I mostly eat out, or order in or gleefully accept whatever she dishes out, and so far I hadn’t really ventured to figure out what we store and where we store, and how all of it looks like. So while I am content with the eggs and the Maggie and the bread, I can hardly distinguish one spice from another and terms like dhania powder, lal mirch and turmeric barely make any sense to me. No correction, they barely MADE sense to me. Please note the past tense! Because since yesterday night, I am no longer a cooking virgin and yes, I know how to add spice to my life, I mean cooking. So far my kitchen exploits were strictly guided by my mom’s expert instructions, but now that I am all grown up and alone, I can manage with valiant directives over the phone, a few downloaded recipes from the net, detailed descriptions on the IM and Q&A sessions with colleagues with a little help from padosi who has more experience in the kitchen than I do.

So it all started with my flatmate mourning about the rotten-to-be gobi and her inability to come home early enough to cook. And since we are both broke, we appreciate the value of each penny and consider wastage as a criminal offence. So clearly letting that expensive gobi rot wasn’t an option. So the only other alternative was that I should cook it, as impracticable as it may sound. I borrowed some money from her and on my way back after managing to convince a very (I repeat VERY) skeptical padosi, we bought rice along with Maggie and pepsi (back up options).

And, ladies and gentleman, at the auspicious hour of precisely 9 pm, I started peeling potatoes and that life changing gobi! The next couple of hours were kind of a whirl that I never imagined I would put myself through as I tentatively navigated through uncharted territories and alien objects like oil, spices, not to mention microwave and non stick pans. My padosi was a little more steady, a little more confident and a little more comfortable than I was. I managed to burn the gobi and what was initially intended to be a curry, ended up being a fried, burnt variety, but which was still edible (or I would like to believe so). Padosi came up with a dal which he proclaimed to be amazing (and in absence of better options, I agreed)
So as we messed up the kitchen, as our sink was filled with dirty utensils (as if we fed an entire baraat), as we sat there exhausted at 11 pm, as we ate our first home cooked meal in one month, I felt so blissfully happy: my first cooked meal, as terrible it was, it was THE BEST SUPPER EVER!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Happiness Quotient>Poorness Quotient

Right now I love my life; it’s not perfect, but it’s as close to perfect as it ever was! Yes, I have no money (not even to pay the autowala) and yes, I am still single, and yes, I don’t enjoy my job as my hypothetical idealistic hopelessly romantic alter ego would like to, but I AM very very happy.

I love having friends who bring home alcohol and chicken as we get drunk, as we make noise, as we go out at 230 in the morning for chocolate mousse and as we somehow squeeze ourselves on the bed, the sofa and the divan. It reminds me of my childhood when I would do the same with my cousins in a small two roomed apartment with my mom perpetually grumbling!

I love the cafeteria food: it’s cheap, it’s simple and it saves me the headache of worrying about food. The same old idli for breakfast, the same old mini meal for lunch and the same old leftover dinner all for 50 bucks works wonders!

I love my mundane life in spite of disappearances of “beautiful” dustbins and appearance of deaf and dumb maids after three rounds of interviews and cat poop on the window!

I love the fact that I get to have weird guests who turn up late at night and then we land up at somebody’s place even later to wish them happy budday and mess up their flat and then go drinking when the bar is about to close and then end up spending 200 bucks for a single flame shot (described as 2 mins of ecstasy inclusive of the 1.5 mins of foreplay)

And I love discussing hypothetical parental ground rules about my hypothetical kids and the hypothetical games and the extra- curricular activities that I will impose on them!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hypothetically Speaking...

At times when you are sitting at your desk, post lunch, desperately looking to come up with “deep actionable insights” and failing miserably, your mind drifts away to hypothetically important issues which lose their significance the moment you pen them down (like right now… I am supposed to comment on some four financial parameters and after two days of struggle I have given up and decided to comment on my life instead: the not-so-important aspects)

So I am still to receive my first salary (one more week to go) and I have Rs 7 left in my account and I am paying off kind padosis not through cash but through Sodexho coupons.

I hate running into my senior in the washroom, especially when we are in the adjacent loos and we hear one another pee and come out sheepishly, not knowing what to say.

I indulge in day dreaming and futile discussions with friends over the IM, planning a hypothetical trip to some hypothetical place when we finally get our hypothetical salary.

I finished my first peg of whisky without getting drunk and I can finally claim that I have “acquired” the taste for it, though I still can’t claim I like it. When did drinking become a proof of sophistication? It’s similar to reading classics. You love to claim that you have read it, but secretly you know you didn’t enjoy it.

I dislike Fair and Lovely shade cards, BMI, excel sheets, CV shortlisting and surprise engagements: all of which lead to drinking with hypothetical friends and walking alone and lengthy late night conversations and sarcastic chowkidaars.

I know I should do something useful with my life: like FRM, CFA, IAS, or at least journalism but all I do is obsess about hypothetical situations.

All said and done, a lot of things in my life are, well hypothetical

Friday, June 19, 2009

When the going gets tough, the tough eats ice cream...

Now that the honeymoon period in my new house is over, reality has started sinking in, and well, not everything is as hunky dory as it is supposed to be…

1. It seems like we don’t employ people, they employ themselves. Like for instance, one evening, a boy in jeans n T shirt turns up and asks for clothes to iron, even though we never called any laundry person. But we thought it’s rude to refuse him, and we give him our most expensive clothes and he disappears for the next 10 years…
2. We employ a maid who stops coming after a week. Then a new one walks in and says she will work. We let her, no questions asked. Then she disappears for three days and we don’t know her name or contact number and we also don’t know how to abuse in Hindi…
3. Our apartment doubles up as a mini zoo where we get regular visits from insects, lizards, pigeons and a particular cat which wakes me up every morning by jumping in through the window…
4. Then people who claim to be unstable and sick suddenly seem to get back to normal human tendencies and I realize that the problem was with me, and not them; and I find myself getting high on ice cream and cribbing for four hours to a patient padosi on a moonlit night, coming up with the “Bucket Theory” after we reject the hypothesis of “compartmentalization”.
5. Finally, the bad news is that my oh-so-perfect room mate who makes the perfect rice and who shares the perfect life with me is supposed to be transferred to Chennai by her oh-so-imperfect company. So I am back to square one, back to waiting (for a flatmate this time) and back to uncertainty…

FRESH UPDATE: My oh-so-perfect flatmate isnt leaving after all!!! n we are ecstatic... paradise regained...
and due acknowledgement to Soumya for the title of the post!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The moment of truth... FINALLY!

As I settle down in my new office with my new friends and new neighbours and new cats, the days of sleeping through training sessions is over. Now I am on projects, going through umpteen reviews and by the time my product is back after god knows how many edits, all that is left over are numerous track changes (IN RED) and nothing of the original piece is retained except my name (even the title goes through thorough transformations). It’s kind of heartbreaking when you have spent hours, when you have left office at 10 pm when everybody else have left, when you have worked on weekends and come to office at 8 on a Monday morning, but well, I am trying to learn to not get too emotionally attached to my product. And yes, I try to convince myself that I am still a good writer!
But the weekend was kind of eventful. Friday night when we finally left office at a godforsaken hour, we decided that it’s too lame to go home and so the only other option was to get drunk! I was tired, I was hungry and I was depressed and I figured that this was my best chance to get sloshed at minimum effort and cost. So yes, the marginal utility theory definitely was applicable here. And 800 bucks later I was there! I was high and happy, I lost my way back from the washroom, I struggled as I was helped down the stairs and into the auto and then into my flatmate’s arms at 1:30 am by an equally drunk padosi. And then, ladies and gentlemen, the moment of truth: yes, I FINALLY THREW UP!!! Something that had eluded me for so long no matter how hard I tried!
The next morning wasn’t nearly that much fun as I woke up with a terrible hangover made worse by the fact that both Shals and I overslept and didn’t open the door when the maid knocked which meant that I had to clean up the mess I had made. Then we played hosts for the first time as we shopped for groceries, stacked our fridge, spruced up our rooms (and ourselves too) with this “blue” theme: i.e. blue bedsheets, curtains and matching blue outfits but stopped short of the blue movie! And then the best part was that our adorable guests brought chocolates for us and then, and then, THEY COOKED ROASTED CHICKEN and French fries and Maggie at our humble home while WE ATE. Once more after our Kerala trip we experienced the magic of this certain mallu guy who is so passionate about cooking that he talks to the chicken as he stands there peeling off the muscles, the fat and the liver. And I quote him: “I have legs, I have breasts and I have wings!” and that definitely makes us scream, “Hot chick(en)”…
And finally rounding off the weekend was coming up with the “Theory of Cupboards” at 1 a.m. with my padosi who is now my padosi in every sense of the term!

Monday, June 8, 2009

The Dream Weekend!

My first weekend at my new house was kind of a liberating experience… I had guests staying over, losers dropping by anytime they want, for food and for making fun of me at MY OWN HOUSE, drawing room “mishaps”, staying out till midnight without having to face the wrath of parents/security/warden, fooling around with the cooking gas (cooking is too strong a word to use for preparing Maggie and omlette but yeah, I am getting there, slowly), making people jealous about my house and trying on a combination of nail polish, sunscreen n foundation at 3:00 a.m. in the morning!

And yes, CLEANING THE TOILET FOR THE FIRST TIME IN YOUR LIFE really really liberates you from whatever inhibitions you may have left…

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Theory of Beer Equivalence!

I survived the first week in the Mumbai office, still in training, and still not much work, and lots of free coffee, free water (yes, I understand the value of water now that I have to BUY it) and full fledged social networking! And since I am not much of a cook (I mean NO cook), I have all my meals in the office cafeteria only. May be that’s the reason I am blessed with a work station in one corner right next to the door which leads to the café, so that I can slip out unnoticed umpteen number of times! Well, when I am not in the café, I am chatting with my padosi who also has no work and whose motto in life is, “eat till you are sleepy, and sleep till you are hungry”. Now in the past five days, after n cups of coffee, long lunches, and roadside dinners, we have come up with three very important theories:
1. The Theory of Aesthetics and Privacy
2. The Theory of the Coffee Machine
3. The Theory of Beer Equivalence

Then Friday was Impact Day when all the employees of our company the world over go on the streets to work for a cause that they are passionate about. And then there are people who are forced to register for causes about which nobody is passionate about. So I was in one such thread, “Road safety” with a couple of other friends. So finally what was supposed to be a long, tedious day in the sun, turned out to be not just that, but more, especially since we kept slipping in and out of the nearest CCD! However it was a pretty cool experience given that we got to scare people pretending that we were these hotshots masquerading as police proxies.

I am still getting used to domesticity, still getting used to grocery shopping, still wasting money on locksmiths, plumbers, electricians and broadband connections. I still can’t imagine that things I took for granted till a week ago, actually required so much of hard work! And yes, I am also a host now! Nidhi is staying with me tonight, and I am monitoring her progress for her exam tomorrow. But why do people inflict so much torture on themselves VOLUNTARILY by writing exams at this age is beyond me…

Monday, June 1, 2009

MY house, MY life!

Last night was mind boggling, unbelievable, something that happens once in seven years for me! I actually slept in MY VERY OWN ROOM, all by myself!! No loud noises, no sleeping with lights on, no screaming in the background, and definitely no getting up stealthily because you are scared to wake your room mate. Mind you, all of it was fun for seven years, and hostel life was THE BEST phase of my life, but now, that I have been there, done that, I crave for this little corner all to myself, my little space where I can do whatever I like and not do what I don’t like! I know shelling out one fourth of my salary on rent is simple stupidity (as have been pointed out many a wise individuals) but I am willing to pay that price: alcohol and partying are important to some people, privacy is important to me, and just to make sure I justify the exorbitant amount of rent, I have decided to spend quality time at home, with myself, almost as if to enjoy that privacy that I am paying for so dearly!

But yeah, things I like about my new house (this even after getting locked out of my room for an hour and paying the locksmith a ridiculous amount to get me inside-

1. The closet space: you can’t imagine the thrill of at last seeing ALL my clothes and accessories together at one place! For seven years I have lived out of a suitcase, where one third of my outfits were stuffed in some bag, which never saw the light of day, and therefore I never had a chance to wear them!
2. The fact that it’s so ridiculously close to my office, so close that even autowalas refuse to drive at times. Five minutes of travel time in Bombay is a rare luxury!
3. That it is close to the Hiranandani main market which makes all the hip places accessible, yet far enough to enjoy the serenity of suburban life!
4. The hall, the cane furniture, the homely feel to it, which makes you want to come home and invite people too!
5. And ahem, the kitchen! I am no cook by any stretch of imagination, but I like the idea of having our own fridge, our own corner where we can store our favourite fat free ice cream (such a thing doesn’t exist by the way) and make what we want, even if it’s just Maggie or omlette or sandwich!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Giving up but not giving in...

So I gave up… it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t impulsive as is the case usually with me. For a change, it was backed by cold hard logic. Painful as it was, empty as it felt, still it was the most sensible thing to do. And two weeks into my job, I have already started being sensible, pragmatic and definitely a stronger person. The long hours and the tiredness helps! Less time to brood, less time to obsess and less time to think (in fact less ability to think)! It gave me a strange sense of freedom though and right now, freedom seems a rare and cherished luxury…

I offered the best of me, but didn’t settle for something less; I gave up, but I didn’t give in; it was a sacrifice, but it wasn’t a compromise; I lost something precious, but I didn’t lose myself…

Monday, May 25, 2009


So I am halfway through my training, most of which involved “analytical thinking”. I am not sure that you can alter the way a person thinks in a 3 hour session, but what do I know… I am a new hire and I am supposed to behave like one, i.e. enthusiastic, eager, excited… As if the long "thinking" sessions aren't enough, we are also encouraged to "ask questions" especially "So What?" and at the end of it all, the only question I am left asking is, "When is the lunch break?" which isn't looked upon too kindly. Other than analytical thinking, another much abused term is “networking” and we have been strictly instructed to “network” with as many people as we can: seniors, colleagues, HR, operations, IT and anybody and everybody “from whom we can learn and who can be helpful in future”. Strangely getting along and liking the person aren’t really important enough reasons to “network”! So yes, I did learn a lot in my weeklong training. The weekend was wasted in trying to pass inane online exams, one of which I flunked 8 times but finally, much to my relief, I have managed to clear them all.
Much to my surprise, I have been politely informed by a friend that people who don’t know me too well (i.e. the other new hires) don’t like me too much because I come across as rude, unfriendly, unapproachable, introvert and sarcastic. So I get upset when people avoid me or don’t initiate a conversation with me even if I don’t exactly like them. The idea is that I can be rude to them, ignore them¸ but not the other way round. In a perfect world where I live, things should work the way I want them to, i.e. others should love me, they should die to talk to me and they would consider me as the most fascinating person EVER while I can be judgmental, moody and basically a nuisance…

Bottomline: It’s an unfair world, but so long it’s unfair in my favour, I don’t really mind!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I am back Hyderabad after a year, back in Silicon Valley guest house, back to smiling familiar faces, all ready to start a new journey, to begin a new phase in life. A couple of weeks of training and induction and I am back to Mumbai, where I belong. So I begin work officially from tomorrow, and today being the last day of freedom, will solely be devoted to my favourite pastime, i.e. mindless thinking and obsessing about irrelevant little things and deriving a perverse pleasure out of it! Strangely, I am not as excited as I should be about this whole new beginning: may be because I have worked before, or may be because I did my summers here and so it’s not so new an experience or may be just that I am not the kind who gets super excited about a corporate career. I am more preoccupied with my new life in Mumbai, my new house and my potential dysfunctional relationships.

But now that I AM a part of this jungle, now that I am formally and legally bound to this terrible thing called “the corporate rat race”, now that I have gracefully agreed to be a part of this rut, here is my PLEDGE before I embark on this journey which has trapped many an innocent soul:

I will NOT sacrifice myself at the altar of corporate rat race…
I will NOT sacrifice my self respect to climb up ANY ladder…
I will NOT compromise on my values, my principles and my beliefs (whatever little I have)…
I will NOT suck up to people, bitch behind people’s back or go to extreme lengths to fast track my career…
I will NOT be unethical, unfair, partial or dishonest…
I will NOT get personally involved with the people I work, especially if they happen to be (un)happily married bosses…
I will NOT lose perspective, forget who I am, forget my social life, family or my hobbies in my race to the top…

Finally, I WILL always remember that at the end of the day it is JUST A JOB (yes, even in this recession) and not what I REALLY want to do, and therefore I should continue to pursue my dreams…

I love my dad, I am so proud of him and I think I am the luckiest daughter EVER, but I DO NOT WANT TO BE LIKE HIM!!!!