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.