Friday, December 30, 2011

The Girl Who Ate Maggie (a lot)

I remember the first time I met her… I was new to Mumbai, new to hostel life, first time away from home, away from family and friends, away from everything that was safe, comfortable and familiar…

I remember my first impression about her… she looked so matured, she was so different from me, she was so much of a “woman”, she couldn’t possibly be 17…

She didn’t even like cricket… how can ANYBODY NOT LIKE CRICKET? Ergo, I did NOT like her…

But it’s not like I had a lot of options. I was already late by two months, people had already formed ‘groups’ and she was the only company I had. Plus, she had a cell phone and she let me use it at times…

So we became ‘friends’ and here, I use the term ‘friends’ loosely.

We hung out, though we had very little in common. I was an Eco student, she was doing sociology; I was a hardcore non-vegetarian, she had never tasted meat; I was (still am) pint-sized, she was tall and broad; I was a miser careful about money (I still remember sulking about the one rupee she had borrowed and not returned), she was a spendthrift who made STD calls everyday to her entire khandaan; I was still a schoolgirl, she had already grown up…

Then compulsory Hindi happened. I was screwed big time and she came to my rescue. Before the exams she would take me to the study room and teach me, and once I managed to just scrape through the first year without a backlog in the subject, we had finally managed to establish a common ground…

The next two years were all about long walks on the Marine Drive, shopping sprees in Colaba, Crawford Market and Fashion Street, arguing about which movies to watch (we had the exact opposite tastes), trying out all the eating joints close by, late night chats and maggie (too much of it) and last minute cramming before exams despite our different majors…

She went off to Pune for her masters, and a year later, I followed. She became a media professional while I became a confused misfit…

I confided in her about my dysfunctional relationships and she listened…

She got married at 25 and babied at 26…

The baby was born on December 28, at 3:45 p.m… Coincidence? I don’t think so. It’s called friendship, and I do not use the term loosely now.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

On Tuesday, a few of us went to the MMRDA ground in Bandra to “lend support to the anti-corruption campaign by Team Anna” or as Mumbaiites call it, “winter vacation”.

There were a whole bunch of kids tagging along with their parents, making it quite apparent that this was more about a free outing for them (school is closed for a week, and they have already been to the Borivali National Park, Hanging Gardens and Gateway of India) than about a serious agitation against corruption. Otherwise, the turnout was quite disappointing which made Annaji call off the fast. Let’s face it, this is not Delhi; the common man here is indifferent to politics and for most people out here, life revolves around the 5:14 local from C’gate to Mira Road: the other passengers WON'T let us get off at Bandra to listen to the rants of an old inflexible man.

So why was I there? I would like to blame my “keen interest in democracy and heartfelt support to the cause of a clean India”, but the truth is unfortunately not so noble. See, irrespective of my cosmopolitan upbringing, I am essentially a Bong, and at times the temptation to shirk work on the pretext of ‘doing something for the country’ which doesn’t really require any ACTION on my behalf, except echoing some inane platitudes, gets the better off me. So those three hours made us feel extremely proud of ourselves, as we sat through the speeches, participated in patriotic slogans and flag-waving, interspersed with singing along to popular nationalistic songs. At the end of it, it was more like watching a sequel to Border/Lagaan/Roja or a combination of all three.

We came back purified and less guilty about working for a Swiss Bank.

Apart from that, there was a small matter of my birthday, but now that I am officially OLD, I would not like to dwell on the event too much. While my plan was to sit at home, watch India crush Australia and romp to a convincing victory and sulk about growing old, there are some people who hated me a lot in college and therefore they just can’t let go of the opportunity to make a big deal about me growing old AND make me pay for the alcohol. To make things worse, they gifted me something which can only be described as a bumper sticker to someone who has no car.

But the ghosts from the past still refused to let go for good…they are still lurking around in the dark corners of dimly lit roads at midnight…

Monday, December 26, 2011

Déjà New

It’s that time of the year again when we look back at the past and also wait for the future with shameless optimism, like things are drastically going to change as soon as we step into the new year. I am sure I am going to turn into Katrina Kaif, Anna Hazare is going to stop being annoying, Mamata Banerjee will be kidnapped by aliens and of course, Kapil Sibal will finally do what I have been hoping for a long time now: GET RID OF FACEBOOK!

But, just in case, all of these things do not happen AND the world also doesn’t come to an end, as a back-up plan (we pseudo bankers always have a Plan B, because we KNOW that our Plan A sucks), I do have a few things on my to-do list:

1.Watch more stand-up comedies. Yes, this weekend, I hit rock bottom (actually make it I had hit rock bottom long back, but this weekend it manifested itself in terms of sheer intellectual decay) and shelled out money to LAUGH. It felt so awesome. It’s like having a shrink, only better, because you also have alcohol…
2.Travel more. This year wasn’t too bad, but I wasted the first half of the year, because I was busy ‘focusing on my career’. 2012 will be about getting away more often…
3.Work on the book. I made a start this year, but got demotivated. So to keep myself consistently motivated, I am going to put up my boss’ picture as my wallpaper…
4.Run more often. Now that I live two minutes away from the park, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to come up with convenient excuses like “I shall get run over by a drunk truck driver” or “If God wanted me to run, he wouldn’t make me live in Mumbai”…
5.Read less trash. No matter how depressed I am, my one-night stands with Indian authors HAVE to end. I am old enough, smart enough and matured enough to have more satisfying and meaningful experiences which stay with me longer than my mood swings…

And no, I DO NOT aspire to have similar satisfying and meaningful relationships, I DO NOT aspire to lose weight and I definitely DO NOT aspire to find a job with a newspaper which pays me well, because let’s face it, there are some things, which even the new year can’t change.

As for 2011, I am quite happy the way the year turned out to be:

1.I changed two houses, set up my own place completely by myself and finally, I can claim that I have indeed grown up, irrespective of what my dad says.
2.At work, I joined a new company, set up a new team and it turned out to be quite a ‘success’, as ‘success’ is conventionally defined. I got appreciated, got an excellent rating and managed to hold my own, DESPITE being headstrong, stubbornly anti-establishment and at times downright RUDE to my boss.
3.I read extensively, traveled a bit, wrote a LOT (over 100 posts and some freelancing), explored new avenues like theatre, lit fest, Kala Ghoda festival and stand-up comedy, though I can never have enough of these.
4.I spent more time with my folks, something I hadn’t done enough in the past for whatever reasons.
5.I also helped India win the cricket World Cup (this one is self-explanatory).

On the downside, 2011 also meant being single in the true sense of the term, for the longest time ever, which also meant getting used to loneliness like I have never known before. The silver lining is that it doesn’t bother me anymore…

Friday, December 23, 2011

Welcome to the Working Week

This time of the year is the best at least as far as work is concerned. In the two and a half years of corporate life, I have learnt a very important lesson: NEVER take leave during the last week of December because most people (including your boss) are on vacation which makes your life so much better. It’s like vacation without vacation and you wouldn’t want to waste your precious 21 days by taking a break around this time.

So a typical day at work for me around this time goes like this:

1.Come to work thirty minutes later than I usually do
2.Check emails, have coffee
3.Fiddle around on my blog
4.Take a breakfast break
5.Read newspaper editorials
6.Take coffee/bitching break
7.Read other people’s blogs
8.Take lunch break
9.Listen to Sada Haq at maximum volume to ignore the loud people around you and keep an excel sheet open, pretending to work
10.Take coffee/bitching break
11.Check out yatra/make my trip/cleartrip sites and plan vacations for next year
12.Make frustration noises as if you are neck deep in work
13.Check out snapdeal/timesdeal for a good bargain
14.Take coffee/bitching break
15.Read random articles online
16.Sigh and say “I am so tired” and go home

I like the work life-life balance, even though it’s shortlived…

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's a Long December...

So this friend called me up randomly. He was in his super-peppy mood, which I so dislike.
-“Heyyy!! What’s up? What plans for new year?”
- Groan!!! “Why?”
-“Because we are all going partying.”
-“Can you be more specific, when you say, ‘we’?”
-“It includes you as well.”
-“Don’t you know by now that I DO NOT PARTY?”
-“You were so much cooler in college.”
-“I wasn’t. I just didn’t have better things to do.”
-“And now you do?”
-“I have to watch the India-Australia test match highlights.”
-“But aren’t you going to watch the live match as well?”
-"What’s your point?”
-“Come on!! The world is going to come to an end in 2012. This is your last chance to live it up.”
-“If it does come to an end and I am being very optimistic here, I assure you I have better things to do than party all night.”
-“Yeah, like watching highlights of test cricket.”

So that got me thinking. What IS it about this holiday season that gets everybody excited like Anna Hazare? What are we celebrating exactly? The end of a miserable year or the beginning of another?

Especially if you are in Mumbai, it’s a nightmare with the cramped space, the overcrowded dance floors, the toxic smell of smoke and alcohol AND being charged the entire bonus pool of my company this year for one night. Definitely not my idea of a ‘celebration’.

If I did have a chance, I would spend it differently, so so differently…

Monday, December 19, 2011


This weekend we tried to be ‘cool’ and watch Mission Impossible 4… but secretly we were happy when we didn’t get the tickets and gleefully settled for Ladies vs Ricky Behl. I don’t know if the movie was really entertaining, or it’s just the fact that I am suffering from the trauma of watching a lot of bad films lately, but the truth is I quite enjoyed it.
Conclusion: I am NOT cool.

This weekend I tried to be ‘intellectual’ and read The Argumentative Indian. Instead, I spent the whole of Sunday curled up with Dilbert and the Way of the Weasel, laughing like I haven’t laughed in a long time.
Conclusion: I am NOT intellectual.

This weekend I argued with my dad because he refused to be supportive, logical and understanding. Instead, he proved that I am a sulking 3-year old with an attitude problem.
Conclusion: I am adopted.

This weekend I went back to my college photographs, trying to convince myself that I have grown up. Instead, I cried.
Conclusion: I have NOT grown up.

This weekend I decided NOT to get depressed over Christmas and New Year. Instead, I kept wishing that I could get away.
Conclusion: India-Australia Boxing Day match better be something special.

This weekend was empty… like most others

Friday, December 16, 2011

Hell Frezes Over

This last week has been crazy at work, and by ‘crazy’, I don’t mean busy or hectic, I mean, ‘crazy’; literally!

So I have a new boss, who was visiting the India office and being the only pretty girl in the team, and no technical skills or expertise, I was the easy target for all the administrative duties: i.e. taking care of IT and access card issues, booking cabs, making restaurant reservations, dressing up and receiving him from the hotel. Sometimes you really wonder about the use of HR anyway. Now since I am perpetually in my ‘corporate world sucks’ mode, I do not invest in formal wear on principle and I also don’t have a car. So on such occasions, I find it rather embarrassing to dress up in my shabby clothes and enter a 5 star hotel in an auto (cabs don’t ply short distance in suburban Mumbai), sandwiched between luxury vehicles. The embarrassment reaches its peak when I am stopped at the main entrance by the security and a dog just walks inside the auto.

We also had long-winded meetings and they all lived up to the expectations of a successful meeting, i.e. wastage of man hours with no concrete results but a feeling of satisfaction. Now, one way to measure the success of a meeting is by counting the amount of meaningless jargon thrown at your face, while the other person is rambling on, operating under the illusion that he is making sense…

Jargon 1: This year we should sharpen our offerings to focus on more strategy/high-level projects.
What it means: This year, we don’t expect to have too many projects in the pipeline.

Jargon 2: We should evaluate our current subscriptions to the various databases and make the necessary adjustments.
What it means: We should start copying from new sources, as people have now figured out that our forecasts are really those of XYZ and ABC.

Jargon 3: We should avoid re-inventing the wheel and leverage the best practices already existing in the marketplace.
What it means: We don’t have budgets or expertise to introduce new innovations and therefore we should follow the herd.

Jargon 4: We should enhance our interactions with stakeholders and encourage them to take ownership of projects.
What it means: We can’t solve their problems; we can only PRETEND to care.

Jargon 5: India is a country rich in diversity and natural resources with an extremely young and dynamic workforce.
What it means: I don’t know the answer to your question, but please, please transfer me to the front end.

Hell has a new synonym; it’s called Knowledge Process Outsourcing…

Thursday, December 15, 2011

It's Now Time...

There are times when you just want to be angry…
There are times when you just want the other person to shut up…
There are times when you just want to stare at the menu card and ignore everybody…
There are times when you just want to feel wronged though noone agrees with you…
There are times when you just want to get up and leave…
There are times when you just want to point and laugh…
There are times when you just want to sulk and be left alone…
There are times when you just want to rant on the phone and expect the other person to LISTEN…
There are times when you just want to press the ‘send’ button on the long, strong mail sitting ugly in your draft folder…
There are times when you just want your dad to be more supportive and IMPROVE that long, strong mail and not the logical, rational PARENT that he is…

These are the times known as the year ends…

Monday, December 12, 2011

Who Let the Dogs Out?

So the much awaited dreaded company annual party happened on Friday night at (the garage of) The Intercontinental. The food was awful, but obviously noone cared, because of the OPEN BAR and the home drop facility. The idea was to officially get all employees smashed. Now I have this peculiar drawback in my otherwise flawless character: I CAN NEVER GET DRUNK AT OFFICE PARTIES. I guess the sight of your boss in a red T shirt (don’t blame him, the dress code was red and black) takes all the fun out of the red wine. So there I was, holding my glass of orange juice and holding my breath simultaneously to tuck in the stomach flab, wishing I had listened to my mom, when she suggested I buy the dress in one size bigger. But no, I take pride in squeezing myself in the smallest size available, though I can barely breathe in it.

Anyhow, as the three of us took a stroll in the quiet, breezy lane outside the hotel, NOT NETWORKING, I was so glad that my happiness was not defined by the empty chitchat of senior people, the smoky dancefloor or the pungent smell of alcohol…

I was so glad that I was still untouched by this aspect of the corporate world…

I was so glad that I was still not completely consumed by Mumbai…

I was still me…

Friday, December 9, 2011

You Gotta Be (kidding me)

I have always been a true blue GIRL, in every sense of the term. I don’t get a perverse pleasure running down women or their “annoying” habits like shopping, matching clothes/shoes/accessories, reading chicklit or watching demented movies/serials, because I DO ALL OF THOSE THINGS. And no, I don’t consider it “superior” to be a tomboy or being ‘one of the boys”. I am happy being slightly stuck-up, moderately shy, terribly moody and I don’t need to swear/smoke/drink/backslap/all of them together ‘to be different’.

Having said that, there are some things about women (no, let’s make it, most of the women I HAVE SEEN) which I don’t understand:

The washroom bonding: Why is it that in any public place, women tend to go to the washroom TOGETHER? Is there a scientific reason that automatically co-ordinates the physiological aspects when more than two women get together?

The changing room discussions: Why is it that women ALWAYS need a second opinion while shopping? If you look fat in that dress, you probably are. No friend waiting patiently outside the trial room can change the fact.

Elaborating minute details of personal lives: I totally subscribe to the ‘best friends forever’ and ‘sharing’ and ‘emotional support’ and all that jazz. But once you make me a part of your bedroom antiques on a daily basis, it makes me feel like I am in a threesome. Thanks but no thanks!

Spending ages on getting ready: I know we have long hair, lots of clothes which make it confusing to pick JUST ONE, make-up which we HAVE TO USE and shoes which DON’T GO WITH ANYTHING, but seriously, how long does it take to make up your mind? It’s NOT cute to be fashionably late when you are just trying to be fashionable.

The Wedding Fixation: How, I repeat how, can you think spending so much money, wasting so much time, taking so much trouble, going through painstaking planning for ONE SINGLE DAY is “all worth it because it’s THE MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF YOUR LIFE?” I mean HOW?

So men, don’t fret if you don’t understand women completely. I don’t either…

Thursday, December 8, 2011

God of Small Things

I thought there is no God...
I was wrong.
There IS a god, and his name is Virender Sehwag.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


This post is for all you “independent, successful, intelligent” power women who are secretly vulnerable, lonely and scared…

This post is for all you “vivacious, cheerful, witty” girls who howl away to glory for no apparent reason in the middle of the night when nobody is watching …

This post is for all you “strong, practical, no-nonsense” re-incarnations of Jane Austen who resort to the high-calorie chocolate ice-cream hidden in the deep dark corner of the refrigerator, nursing past memories…

This post is for all you “pretty, well-dressed, carelessly stylish” young ladies who lounge around in tattered polka dot pink pajamas weekend after weekend after weekend…

This post is for all of you who spend your weeknights watching re-runs of Sex and the City, guiltily binging on greasy takeaway food, simultaneously worrying about fitting into the body-hugging red dress for the Friday night party…

This post is for all the single women out there, especially those away from home, alone in a big city...

And no, this post is definitely NOT for me, because I would NEVER publicly own up to watching Sex and the City…

Monday, December 5, 2011

Maximum City

Just when you are sick of this city, just when you think it has nothing more to give to you, just when you are pining for another vacation (it’s been almost a month since I got away, so yea, I am itching for a break), it opens up a new horizon just like that. I am talking about the first Times of India Literary Carnival held in the Mehboob Studio in Bandra.

I spent the whole of Sunday shuttling between Venue A and Venue B, the calendar in my pocket, excited like a schoolgirl. Now, thanks to my dad’s poor taste in friends, I have met a few of these CXO-type people, the who’s-who of the corporate world, and honestly, instead of being awed and inspired, I have always wondered what the big deal was. But yesterday, when I was faced with some of the eminent personalities in the field of journalism and literature, I felt a shiver down my back. True, I did stick out like a sore thumb despite my desperate attempt to blend in with my whole jeans-kurta-jhola-junk jewelry-generous dose of kohl get-up. This was an entirely new world and I was a wonderstruck kid trying to break into it, as I hung on to every word uttered on the podium by the likes of Bachi Karkaria, Vinod Mehta, Vikram Chandra, M J Akbar, Swapan Dasgupta, Jerry Rao, William Dalrymple to name a few. The only person I could identify with to some extent was Anuja Chauhan, the writer of the best-selling book, Zoya Factor (though I have no intentions to read it). After a long and successful career in advertising, she was also an outsider to this hallowed intellectual arena, as she sat perched up on the sofa, petite and confused, rarely opening her mouth (pretty much like me in most team meetings). It was only a sneak peek into my Garden of Eden, as I kept struggling to find the keys to it.

I also watched The Dirty Picture, the way it was meant to be watched: in a shady theatre on a Friday late night show, as we sat in the fourth row, right in front of the screen, amid rowdy men whistling each time Vidya Balan set the screen on fire (which was pretty much all the time). For a movie where the main cast was cleavage, Vidya Balan did manage to hold her own, albeit in the supporting role. Hats off to her for getting under the skin of the character, though the film was repetitive and tedious at most places.

And oh, I have a brand new 32” Sony LCD which has all these features that I have no intentions of using, but I got a good deal from a guy in Lamington Road, who knocked 20% off the MRP, and therefore I HAD TO HAVE IT, though I didn’t need it. Finally, to treat myself after all the hard work, I bought the most expensive pair of shoes EVER.
To think I spent so much on sports shoes… impulse purchases are so not worth it.

Anyway, now that I have a park close by, loads of eating joints right across the street, a TV AND a library membership, I just don’t have enough time to do all the things I want to do regularly: jog, read, write, eat out, watch back-to-back episodes of deranged serials. So I am seriously considering doing away with some of the excesses like WORK. Spending 10 hours everyday in that demented environment with people I don’t like doing things which doesn’t excite me is a sheer waste of time.

Time to set my priorities right...

Friday, December 2, 2011


After three weeks of uncertainty, chaos and a LOT of phone calls, bargaining, arguing and new experiences, I have finally settled down at my new place. Well, almost. I am still pondering over which television to buy, but hopefully by this weekend, I shall make up my mind. Last night when I finally reached home, I felt a quiet sense of peace and achievement, when I looked around. I know, the house is old, the flooring is ugly and the elevator refuses to stop at the second floor (anyway I take the stairs, so doesn’t really make a difference). Still, this is the first home that I set up ALL BY MYSELF: right from sweet-talking the security guard, deciding which bed to buy, hanging up the curtains to choosing which pictures to put up in the hall. In the process, I did fall off the chair a couple of times (still got bruises on my left arm), I did visit the police station and I did miss out on my beauty sleep for quite some time. But, finally, it seems all worth it. I go to a park twice a day and my office/ bank/ dmart/ KFC/ Dominos/ Aromas/ a mall are all five minutes away…

In the process, I also saw gut-wrenching poverty, like REAL POVERTY: the pint-sized old woman who helped me clean the apartment or the emaciated labourers who moved my stuff. The advantage of growing up in a middle class family is you have the highest respect for dignity of labour and I don’t just mean lip service. So I didn’t have to think twice before I doubled up as the third labourer when the two fragile men struggled to carry the refrigerator up the stairs or cleaned up the bathroom, previously used by other people.

Obviously, my parents weren’t exactly thrilled with my adventures and found it very difficult to accept that their ONLY CHILD (note: now I am a CHILD, but when it comes to the marriage discussion, I am an old maid… talk about double standards) was “struggling so much”. They even felt guilty and helpless because they “couldn’t do anything to make it easier for me.”

But I assured them they had given me the greatest gift that any parent could possibly give their kids: EMPOWERMENT. As a kid, I was sometimes resentful that my folks ALWAYS made life difficult for me: no private tuitions, no maid to clean up after me, no car to drive me to school, no cell phones till I was in my 2nd year in college, limited pocket money and definitely no spoon-feeding. The most annoying part was they NEVER told me what to do: like ONE SINGLE COURSE OF ACTION. They would just give me options (clothes to buy, holiday destinations or even college major), explain the possible constraints and the consequences, but leave my young, inexperienced head to obsess over the final decision. More often than not, I would make the wrong choices (relationships included), and it was at those unexpected moments, that they would spoil me rotten when I least expected it.

Anyway, long story short, when I look at myself or my quaint little home, I feel like Barbie in her dollhouse, but a responsible one, who can take care of herself, irrespective of the circumstances.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Cop Killa

There are three sets of people in Mumbai that I am still scared of despite so many years in the city: short-distance auto drivers, real estate brokers and most of all, the Mumbai Police. They are powerful and they are dangerous; almost dangerously powerful, because they know how important they are to the common man, and they are not shy of abusing their power for that extra buck or that extra bit of sadistic pleasure in harassing helpless people.

One of the main reasons I moved to my new place was because it allowed me to do away with two of these three sets of people, viz. the broker and the auto driver. But still, the local policeman had to be dealt with, and I was postponing the inevitable, because every time I thought of walking inside the Powai Police Station by myself and cajoling a slimy policeman to do HIS JOB, I chickened out. Usually administrative hassles like police verification for moving into a new house are handled by the broker, thus creating this broker-policeman nexus which is more complicated than calculus. However, since this time I had taken it upon myself to NOT avail of a broker’s services, the dirty work had to be done by me. To make things worse, our lease agreement wasn’t registered, which would give the policeman enough reasons to harass me. But, yesterday, when the society in-charge told me to get my police verification done immediately, I knew I had to get it over with.

After a night of worrying and tossing and turning, I got up in the morning as if I was about to appear for an interview in my dream company, armed myself with all the documents, practised the excuse for not having a registered agreement for the 100th time, dressed conservatively in a salwar suit and off I went for my first tryst with the Mumbai police. So far, my criminal activities have been limited to a legal suit by a certain telecom company and underage drinking.

I saw a couple of familiar brokers who went in before me, exchanged pleasantries with the police officer on duty and got his valuable signature under 30 seconds. But before I could break into my Aishwariya Rai-like giggle, it was my turn. I sat down nervously, and though I was trembling inside, I tried to maintain my composure. He addressed me in Marathi, I listened hard, nodded and smiled brightly, though I had no idea what he said. I handed him the papers, hoping he wouldn’t notice the unregistered agreement. But of course, he could smell a chance to make money like an I-banker can smell an opportunity of an unethical way to increase his bonus. I argued, I made a few calls to my landlord and most importantly, I persisted. After an hour and a half, he gave in, and finally I got what I was waiting for: the precious signature!

Now you know why women take so long to climax… the men just refuse to do the right things upfront.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Smells like 'team' spirit

Remember growing up on a heavy dose of family unity and melodrama churned out by the likes of Suraj Barjatya and Yash Chopra? No? Good! Neither do I. But I have heard that these are long sagas of endless artificially-created complications of usually very good looking, well-dressed and stinking rich people with nothing better to do in life. Throw in a dozen songs, a few action sequences and some exotic destinations and you have enough masala to keep a generation of extremely bored and jobless people entertained for half a day.

Now apply the same analogy to an offsite “team building event” organized by an investment bank. Replace the very good-looking, well-dressed and stinking rich people with many bespectacled, pot-bellied, semi-bald, jargon-spewing men, a handful of bespectacled, superior, efficient women and a misunderstood stupidly rebellious, introverted unsocial, differently-enabled misfit ME. And instead of exotic locations, take Khandala, instead of laboriously-composed Jatin-Lalit music, imagine repeated amateur renditions of Sutta and instead of testosterone-charged action sequences, consider some artificially designed “problems” which would “test our endurance, co-ordination, communication and teamwork”. Also, instead of Johnny Lever making funny faces, you have an old, retired colonel as your instructor who offers the adequate comic relief. And the lady with a fake accent as his sidekick can best be described as Katrina Kaif in any movie.

I have always thought teamwork and group activities to be unnecessarily hyped. If you think about it, things get done much slower when there are more people involved: parliament, judiciary, meetings, which is why I have always been more productive when I am working on my own. But no, HR has this obsessive compulsive need to prove that ALL employees belong to this one happy family which results in these completely pointless events. While my friend (let’s call her s2, s1 being me) and I kept our participation to the minimum level, we could not escape the ordeal of being put through a day of “fun activities” as we kept grappling for the “fun” part. We dealt with the situation in a matured grown-up way: SWITCHED ON OUR HEADPHONES…

Quite a long way to go before we become the teary-eyed Karishma Kapoor suffering in quiet dignity…

Friday, November 25, 2011

She's Leaving Home

Tonight is the last night at my current house home. I just loved this place, even though it signified the larger part of my life this year: loneliness, independence and a tinge of nostalgia. But I did learn a lot here: I managed to learn cooking, I managed to run a house by myself, I managed to keep it in shape without a maid and most of all, I learnt to sleep alone and live alone without getting scared.

And somewhere in between, I also learnt to become a decent host and throw some alcohol parties though most of the credit will go to my friends who came with very little expectations.

After everything I had been through, this house was just what I needed: quiet, peaceful, uncomplicated: Far enough to get away from all the bitterness, close enough to avoid the Mumbai peak hour traffic.

I will miss my long walk back home everyday from work which helped me to switch off while I listened to music…

I will miss the calm Sunday evenings, sitting by the window, sipping coffee and reading…

I will miss the long phone calls in the middle of the night, unable to fall asleep after that, as I stared out at the dimly lit Eastern Express Highway…

I will miss my enthusiasm while preparing the “most awesome chicken curry”, which would quickly get dismissed “as bland hospital food” by a certain Jehadi brother…

Most of all, I will miss being a neighbour to the certain Jehadi brother, who surprised me with his kindness, who moved my stuff and set up my kitchen, who listened as I cried on his shoulder, who sat there in my hall binge drinking with me, who wheeled me to the hospital when I got hit by a bike and who, most recently, annoyed me at lunch…

I so hate change, especially the kind which makes me more lonely, more independent and more cold…

Monday, November 21, 2011

Material Girl

I have always been scared of commitment: the very word screams of PERMANENCE, which scares me and hence I have avoided renting an unfurnished flat so far. I just want that flexibility to get up one day, pack up my bags and MOVE. But a few months back I was forced to buy a refrigerator because the old, rented one gave in. While that was a big step for me, it also made me realize the joy of possession, the excitement of buying something new which is MINE (not my parents’, landlord’s, flatmate’s or broker’s) and the satisfaction of doing it all by myself.

Which is why, I decided to take up an unfurnished apartment (it was also financially more feasible) and do it up myself, adding my own creative touches. Obviously, the first step was to buy furniture.

So this is how you go about it:

1.Research, research, research, so that you know your options and price ranges for both second-hand and new furniture. There is a reason why your company provides you with high speed internet access. USE IT.
2.On the day of furniture hunting, wear your shabbiest clothes (or look like a tramp as my dad describes me) and DO NOT shampoo your hair.
3.Go to the shady lanes next to the railway station which sell second hand stuff, haggle with them, but don’t buy. Move on to a proper store right next to the second hand shops which has new furniture and innocently ask if they have cheap used stuff.
4.Use your natural qualities to your advantage: in my case, I look like a school girl, lost and confused in a big city, which is why shopkeepers assume that I am a student looking for the cheapest alternative. Obviously, I don’t correct them. There are places to flash your MNC badge, but the roadside furniture store isn’t one.
5.Tell them you are planning to share an one bhk flat with three other people, which clearly establishes your financial limitations AND explains why you need a four-door wardrobe (it’s embarrassing to admit the number of clothes I have).
6.Tell them you want to buy EVERYTHING from them, if only they had it second hand.
7.The kindly shopkeeper offers to sell you new stuff at extremely reasonable rates AND agrees to buy it back (in case you want to sell) after a couple of years at half-price, when you presumably “finish your studies”.
8.Use ‘thank you’ and ‘bhaiya’ (but NOT ‘uncle’) at regular intervals and smile brightly.
9.You walk out with a neat quotation for a double bed, double-door cupboard, divan, side table and centre table, to be delivered at your doorstep, all within your budget (i.e. the money you saved from brokerage)
10.Most importantly, IT’S NOT PERMANENT. You can give it back to them and get some money back.

I am moving. Hence more excrutiating details to follow. Live with it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Black Swan

My MBA gradesheet shows that I have majored in Finance (which also explains my huge number of backlogs), but somehow I am ashamed of that fact (not the backlogs, the Finance major). I find it so much cooler to say “I specialized in general management”, which is a polite way of saying, “actually I fooled around in my MBA.” I could still get away with it in Company D, but when you join an I-Bank and say, “Oh I am a right brained person”, people look at you like you are Paris Hilton.

And it doesn’t help when you sit right in front of the Equity Research team. As soon as the markets open, everybody gets excited as if Aishwariya Rai just gave birth to a baby. All kinds of alien jargon like “rally”, “short sell”, “stop loss”, “option trading” are thrown around by people (why is it mostly men?) and the next half an hour would be spent on the geek’s version of locker room discussions, i.e. vomiting the contents of the Economic Times they just memorized on their way to work. Male bonding amazes me at times…

No, I am NOT passionate about the markets and no, I do not trade, but that doesn’t mean I am not human. I may not get orgasms comparing the P/E valuations of different companies, but I also have feelings. Every time someone at work asked me, “So where are you investing these days?” like an innocent, truthful person, I would say, “Actually I let my dad handle my investments”. Over time, I have noticed that this honest admission leads people to treat me like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man.

But thankfully, I have discovered some sane people (all of them women) on the floor with whom I can take coffee breaks and discuss the Kardashian sisters, travel destinations and other people’s shallow tastes.

At times, you wonder if there is indeed a valid reason for stereotypes…

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Struggling Writer Turns Struggling Broker

When I was a kid… I wanted to be a globe trotter
When I started reading… I wanted to be a private investigator
When I began to follow cricket…I wanted to be a cricket commentator
When I was trying to fit in… I wanted to be an engineer
When I didn’t get admission in engineering… I wanted to be an Economist
When I read Education Times… I wanted to be a MBA
When I was in B school… I wanted to be… ummm… EMPLOYED (2009 batch, remember?)
When I joined a consulting firm… I wanted to be a banker
When I joined an investment bank… I wanted to be a writer

Yes, ladies and gentleman, I have finally found my calling. How could I NOT see it? How could I be so blind as to not notice it when it was RIGHT THERE? How could I be so FOOLISH?

So far, I was kidding myself that I am a ‘gifted’ writer; the obscurity was only temporary and it just added to the romanticism of a struggling author who was waiting for the eventuality of being ‘discovered’; and one day some publisher/newspaper would just call me up out of the blue and announce that “You are the next big thing in Indian literature and we would like to make an offer that you cannot refuse. You can sit at home and make a living out of writing.”

But no, I have finally woken up to the reality… I am not supposed to be a writer (that’s just a temporary distraction) but my true calling lies in real estate, more specifically, central suburban Mumbai real estate.

So I have been in Powai for two and a half years now, during which I have changed four houses. I have dealt with different kinds of brokers, societies and owners, I have had lunches/coffee with them, I have whizzed on bikes at all hours with them and on any given festival, the brokers are ALWAYS the first to wish me. Even at work, every time someone new joins, he/she is directed to me as I am the in-house broker who has the real estate market in Powai at her fingertips.

On that note, I embarked on a new challenge, i.e. finding a house WITHOUT a broker, and preferably one close to work so that I don’t face rejection from a dozen haughty auto drivers every morning. And yes, I walked into the building right opposite my office in the middle of Hiranandani, made small talk with the security guard, charmed my way into an empty second floor apartment, got hold of the landlord’s phone number and in 20 minutes, I had a deal: a decent one at that, WITH NO MIDDLEMAN milking me for his services.

(note to self: always wear a salwar kameez, preferably with a bindi while embarking on a house hunt)

Admittedly the house is not as nice or as spacious (even by Mumbai standards) as my current one, but the location more than makes up for it. Now I can go home for a quick nap in the afternoon, go for a jog in the park close by, admire from outside the dozen expensive eating joints right opposite my house and tell people that I live in Hiranandani. That’s like poor man’s Bandra, and while it makes no difference to my life, my friends anon can no longer make fun of me, saying that I live in “Chindi Valley” or “Kanjoos Marg”. Most importantly, I DO NOT HAVE A SLIMY BROKER TO DEAL WITH…

Say hello to the new broker in town...

Monday, November 14, 2011


I assure you this weekend was more than just going back to college, meeting the same set of people, talking about the same stories for the hundredth time, going for a sleepy LONG drive to Mulshi dam, drinking, having breakfast at Café Good Luck, lunch at Blue Nile, high tea at Chaitanya and dinner at Mezza9.

It was also about suffering a slow death inflicted by Nargis Fakhri. Katrina Kaif, take a bow. You have competition. Who said, you can’t act?

Now, as a group, we are very diverse. We have very different personalities, tastes and opinions, which is why it takes us at least 30 minutes to reach a consensus, even on simple things like in what order we should use the loo. The process can go on for over two hours if it involves critical issues like, say, how to have fun, because we can’t even decide on a common DEFINITION of fun. But Rockstar achieved what nobody else had ever managed: instant agreement.

Anyway, moving on, the trip reminded us of the old days, the carefree life, the little things that made the two years so special. But it also confirmed something which we already suspected, i.e. certain things/people never change:

Like the awesomeness of the bun maska/baked beans on toast/scrambled eggs at Good Luck, the Patiala lassi and parantha at Chaitanya and the joy of ravishing daal chawal at 1 a.m. after four hours of binge drinking…

Like repetition of the same jokes which still manages to bring a smile on your face…

Like huddling over the laptop to watch old videos and snaps and randomly hugging each other…

Like revisiting every corner of the college and trying to recreate the same memories: sitting on the swing where we had our ‘deep conversations in the dark’, crowding around in front of the Sweety Stores (only it’s now called the Rangoli Stores), arranging ourselves in the exact order in which we used to sit/sleep in the classroom (Room No. 307) or sitting opposite the canteen by the Zenia flowerbed (the guys arguing over who gets to face the girl’s hostel)…

Like barging into Room No. 213 (the hostel room we shared) and squealing like excited schoolgirls as we posed for random pics (me cursing ‘my’ wardrobe by the door)…

Like the guys taking care of us (booking cabs, buying tickets, food and alcohol, arranging mattresses and pillows, making tea and waking us up in the morning) while we let them…

But then, we also noticed the differences: like getting older, getting married, talking about bosses/investments/property/family, tiring more easily and slowly giving in to mundane mediocrity…

As I tossed and turned on a rented mattress, I found myself a little less impulsive, a little less spontaneous, a little less uninhibited and a tad more scared than I was two years back…

Friday, November 11, 2011

Good Riddance (time of my life)

There are reunions, and then there are REUNIONS. The first one implies the formal alumni meet organized by your college strategically timed (during summer/final placements) so that the college can hand out colourful and badly edited (trust me, I worked in the Corpcomm team; I know how we made these pamphlets) placement brochures in the hope that some bigshot alumni will be charitable and nostalgic enough to “give something back to the college”. The alumni, on the other hand, with nothing better to do on a Saturday night, will turn up for the free food and the booze, in the hope of networking and passing around business cards, while comparing their cars/houses/size of… (I was going for bank balance, you dirty-minded losers). Thankfully, I haven’t attended any such meets (except as a student, when I was there to hand out the colourful, badly edited pamphlets).

But this weekend, we are going to Pune for the REUNION, which implies that our small but extremely confused group of 10 people (the other three spoilsports apparently have better things to do and I am jealous of them) are going to get back together to mourn over the misfortune that hit them four years back, when they met in Div B. The idea is to revisit college life, i.e. do all the stupid things we used to do, get drunk at the same place, watch the cheap morning show movie at the same theatre and generally try to go back to the past on a very expensive time machine ride. If you ask me, it’s just the desperation of a few OLD members, pushing thirty, trying to hold on to their youth.

Anyway, as much as I tried to get out of it, I couldn’t think of enough creative excuses, and hence I have reluctantly agreed to spend my otherwise happening (yes, I can never get enough of cooking/cleaning/washing/doing laundry/reading/watching marathon episodes of BBT) weekend in the most unpleasant way: meeting people who got on my nerves for two years, getting drunk, dressing up, staying up and discussing the same old stories about college life.

The sacrifices you have to make for family… oh yea, they are like family (remember, you can choose your friends, but not your relatives)

Purani Jeans all over again… time to buy a new pair?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


A couple of days back, there were some disturbing changes in my team, none of which I liked. Let me rephrase: all of which I HATED. So I did what my instinct told me to, i.e. call up my dad and whine.

Me: Dad, I have a problem.
Dad: Only one? Aren’t you being too optimistic?

One other recent conversation…

Dad: I think you should get married.
Me: Do you want me to be happy OR married?
Dad: Either way, it doesn’t matter. But I want your mom to be happy and myself to be happily married. So till you get married, she won’t be happy, and till she is happy, I won’t be happily married. It’s about me, not you.

Another not-so-recent conversation…

Me: Do you know XYZ paid Rs. 20 lacs for his son’s education abroad? You are so lucky you never had to invest anything in MY education.
Dad: Is that your excuse for being uneducated?

This time a consultant is at the receiving end…

Consultant: Sir, given our current pipeline and bandwidth along with the demands of the urgent deliverables, I guess we can come up with a timeline for the actionable granularities regarding our end-to-end services as well as our value proposition. I shall bring my manager up-to-speed on this and give you a heads-up as soon as the project gets traction at our end so that we can circle back around and close the loop on the next steps.
Dad: Call me when you learn to speak English. If I can’t understand you, I won’t hire you.

And then the boss…

Boss: Can you please write the CEO speech for the Press Conference?
Dad: Err… but aren’t you the CEO?
Boss: Yeah, but I am a little tied up.
Dad: In your left brain.
Boss: What?
Dad: Nothing. Sometimes I forget you are an IIT engineer. I shall take care of the speech.

Monday, November 7, 2011

About a Boy

So once upon a time, I turned three and started going to school. There I met a boy, who was made to sit next to me (if I remember correctly, he was kicking and screaming and wasn’t too happy about it). The boy also happened to live in the same locality as I did. After the initial phase of sulking and ignoring, he gave in and accepted me as a part of his daily life, at least for the next one year, till we were promoted to Nursery II. And obviously, the cute, charming and hilarious little girl that I was, he soon became my friend. Or may be because I was the smallest in class, he found it easy to bully me. Before we knew it, he had given me all sorts of nicknames (none of them flattering), but he shared his lunch with me, so all was ok. We even started hanging out AFTER school, and being in the same locality meant we would also play together in the evenings, and get to know each other’s parents/friends.

Now, he was much smarter than I was, but he had terrible handwriting. And he was lazy. He wouldn’t pay attention in class, he wouldn’t take down notes and every evening, his mom would come to our house, and with a hassled look, borrow my notebook. So while I was an average student, he was a slightly below average student, purely going by marks. We had this perfect quid pro quo: I helped him with my notes and he made me laugh. Of course, I was hanging out with all HIS friends, and NO girl in class would even speak to me. I didn’t miss much…

By the fourth standard, he had decided he wanted to be a forest officer, while I had decided I wanted to marry “someone exactly like him”. Not him, because he was my best friend, but someone identical. But then we went to junior high and then high school. I was now starting to hang out with girls, and before I knew it, he started dating one of my friends. Suddenly I was this studious (I had to be an engineer you see), bespectacled kabab mein haddi who wasn’t welcome any more. So I studied harder and became fatter.
Anyhow, 12th standard was a mess thanks to organic chemistry, calculus and physics and my dream of being an engineering graduate in a reputed IT company in Kolkata was dashed to pieces. So my mom would often call the boy and ask him to cheer me up, the boy would bring me ice-cream and explain complicated Physics equations to me. Also, for the first time, the boy scored more marks than I did and went to a good college in Kolkata, while I had to “settle for” an Arts degree in Mumbai.

After that I am not quite sure what happened. The boy tried very hard to screw up his life and he almost succeeded. The worst part was I was no longer allowed to be a part of his life. My calls went unanswered and every time I landed up unannounced at his place, he wouldn’t meet me. So I lost my best friend, and after a point I gave up trying (too easily perhaps).

Until yesterday. When the boy called me out of the blue, I couldn’t believe it. Seven years lost in between, and we still spoke like we used to. He called me some of those unflattering nick names he had christened me with some twenty years back. But for a change, I was happy…

I have no memory of him as an adult, but the picture of the restless, naughty, tongue-in-cheek schoolboy is as vivid as it was two decades ago.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Every Dog has its Day

Last weekend was sort of a landmark for India, especially Delhi. What with the Metallica concert on Friday and the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, just following Diwali, it was quite an occasion… for the airlines and the hotel industry.

So we all know what happened to the Metallica concert and we also know how successful the Grand Prix turned out to be (bit of a salvation after the tainted CWG event). The obvious question is why am I writing about it AFTER one week? For a wannabe journalist, I am wayyy too slow.

No, my intention is NOT to debate/argue/discuss who should be blamed for the cancellation of the concert or if we need a luxury like hosting a F1 event in a poor country (incidentally, if we are talking about criminal waste of money in a state like U.P., Mayawati’s Rs. 685-crore memorial park is probably a better starting point). Of course, another interesting observation was that there were hardly any takers for the India-England one-day series, tipped to be a ‘revenge series’ for the World Champions, as for the first time, I saw empty stands in the Eden Gardens, something which was considered almost blasphemous when I was growing up. Good thing is we won. The bad thing: nobody cared. May be that’s why we won. Our men boys in blue perform better when there is less pressure.

Anyway, I am rambling. Some old habits (like trying to get a word in, even when I have no value to add, amid ten screaming powerful voices in a GD) die hard. The advantage of blogging is nobody interrupts me as soon as I say, “To add to that” or “I agree with you but…”

I just have a simple question: WHY IS THAT DOG SO FAMOUS?

The funny part was the odds on a dog running on to the track and interrupting the inaugural Indian Grand Prix were priced at 100-1. Bookies don’t leave any stones unturned, do they? Or any Pakistani cricketer, for that matter. That’s a different story altogether…

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Of Mice and Men

Lately I have noticed that Flipkart was enjoying my salary more than I was (as it is, my landlord and various creditors receive a major chunk of it), since I was buying a lot of books: mostly forgettable ones which I laboured through and would probably never pick up again. As much as I love Flipkart, I love myself more, and these are tough times (my bank has again announced further job cuts).

So I did the smartest thing ever since I convinced my mom NOT to buy the IIT entrance exam form in class XII because it would simply be a waste of money. I became a member of a library after spending a very pleasurable lunch hour browsing through its vast collection. Now for a mere 150 bucks a month, I can borrow upto 30 books, and knowing the kind of person I am, I would probably give up eating, sleeping and working just to utilize my full quota of 30 books, even if I don’t enjoy them. It also means that I can read all the trashy stuff I have always wanted to but was too ashamed to own permanently.

This also explains why I called in sick at work yesterday so that I could stay home and READ. Now readers of this blog (all five and a half of you) would know that I try very hard to portray myself as this “deep, intellectual and matured” reader: look at my reading list on the right sidebar or the books I talk about on the blog, and you would think of me as someone with a “refined taste” who only reads classics/critically acclaimed books/ books featuring in the BBC Top 100 list. While I do like all the books I claim to like, the unpleasant truth that I have never admitted so far is that for every “good” book I read, I also read at least 10 “mainstream, trashy, intellectually stunted, shallow books”, after which I end up feeling slightly cheated (not by Flipkart, but by the “author”).

Now, one such popular book which I didn’t particularly like was Karan Bajaj’s “Keep off the Grass” which I read while I was in my 2nd year of MBA. Yes, I was young, and at that age we all experiment and make mistakes. Other people in college were falling in love and I was just flirting with new-age “Indian literature”. Anyway, after reading it, I was not tempted to pick up his second book, “Johnny Gone Down”. But now, two years later, when the librarian informed me that the book I was looking for (D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover) was in circulation and would take a day to be available again, I had to settle for an overnight breezy read (remember my 30-book resolution) and so I picked up Johnny for a one-night-stand, with very little expectations. And I never thought I would admit this on a public forum, but I ACTUALLY LIKED HIM IT. I don’t know if it was the Ivy-league educated guy’s brush with a whole new world, very different from the cushy corporate rat race charted out for him, or the one-armed man’s struggle for survival or simply the vivid descriptions of the places I dream of visiting someday: Khmer Rouge and Rio de Janeiro. The wit was sharp, the story, despite the over-the-top elements, was engaging, and most of all, it did not degenerate to the ridiculous levels of melodrama. It laughed at itself, before the readers could do so. Like the author himself admits, new-age Indian writers are like the Rakhi Sawants of entertainment. The point is, it’s an insult to Rakhi Sawant and not the writer.

Oh screw it, I just liked it because the protagonist was my kinda guy: morally corrupt, financially broke, adventurous, impulsive and running after things just because ‘they felt right’ and getting himself into a bigger hole each time, instead of milking his MIT degree to settle into a comfortably numb boring life ‘with a sweet pregnant Indian wife’.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Urban Jungle

For a change, this weekend I did the “cool stuff" that you are supposed to do if you are in Mumbai: like dressing up, going to Bandra and spending one hour sweating in the traffic just to travel from Bandstand to Carter Road to Pali Hill. If that wasn’t being a “happening” Mumbaiite, we also had dinner at a nice-sounding place with very expensive alcohol. But of course, the climax was the 11:30 3-D show of Ra.One! No, I would not like to waste blogspace articulating what I thought of the movie, but let’s just say, I would have loved it if it remained a video game and did not inflict excruciating pain on the audience by turning into a “movie”. Even Ravan would be turning in his grave after this mockery of anti-heroes. Anyway I guess these days there are two kinds of movies: good movies and movies which make money, and unfortunately 50 percent of the reigning Khans of Bollywood are ONLY making movies for money. Now I am having recurrent nightmares of Ra.Two…

For a change, I also became this social person and visited my relatives (don’t you just love Mumbai for its lonnnng distances between places which always provide you with excuses to not meet people you don’t want to). After sitting through a two-hour discussion on death, diseases and failed marriages (I am not implying any correlation among the three completely separate topics), I was finally rewarded with the elaborate spread I had been eyeing ever since I entered the house: indeed, there is a reward for patience, and who am I to refuse a reward this delicious?

For a change, I also decided to pay attention to company policies and got my annual health screening done. Now I have always been a strict believer of ignorance being bliss. If I was carrying some deadly disease, I preferred not to know about it, even if the knowledge came for free. That would only reduce my life expectancy further. Besides, repeatedly having my blood sucked out of me or peeing in the cup or having strangers (even if they were doctors) feel me up wasn’t my idea of a perfect Sunday. But it turned out to be quite an experience: if you are a single woman in India and opt for certain tests (even if it’s because they are free), it gets the hospital authorities all hot and bothered, reaching out for all kinds of consent forms and asking all kinds of concerned questions that only make you laugh. If it wasn’t so regressive, it would actually be funny…

After so much of uncharacteristic activities, I restored some sanity by reading this year’s Man Booker Winning novel, “The Sense of an Ending” by Julian Barnes. Thankfully, all award winning books are not all hype. Or may be, this one struck a chord because I identified with the sheer mediocrity of the protagonist. There is some comfort in the story of an ordinary, unimaginative, conventional, slightly coward guy with dysfunctional relationships and all the human insecurities and imperfections.

There is comfort in other people’s shortcomings…

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Lil Brother Who Grew Up

So did you have a happy diwali? Did you dress up? Did you burst a lot of crackers and light a lot of diyas? Did you eat a lot of sweets?

Surprisingly enough I also had a good time. I got dressed up (is it my imagination or does the mirror play tricks when you wear traditional wear), I had awesome seafood (Bombay Duck is a fish by the way) and LOTS of chocolates, and I spoke to a few people.

But this post is about my my newly-employed, first-time-out-of-home kid brother. Now growing up with ten cousin brothers is no mean feat, let me tell you that. When I was not getting bullied, I was busy trying to fit in and not get dismissed as “oh she is a girl! She can’t play soccer or she can’t bat or she can’t climb up that wall.” Alright, may be I COULDN’T play soccer (I was a decent enough goalie though) or bat (someone should be in the field doing the dirty work right?) but I DID CLIMB UP THE WALL faster than any of those big fat bullies. Anyhow, just because it’s bhai fota today, doesn’t mean I am going to vent all my childhood frustrations.

But this brother was always special and I spoilt him rotten. Every year when I would visit him, I would save up my allowance and buy him ice-cream or video games or one of those useless things that teenage boys are crazy about. Every year, we would disappear for hours, going for long walks and then when he started driving, for long drives, when the crowd at home would be desperately looking for us. Being the shortest in the family, he was the only one who restored my self-respect, because at 18, I was taller than the pint-sized 13-year old boy. Unfortunately, that changed soon enough, and while I remained the shortest in the family, he grew up to be a strapping young man, head boy in his school, captain of his football team and most recently, placecom lead in his college. Besides being a computer geek, a car/bike enthusiast, he also cooks awesome and plays the guitar better than anybody I know. He knows how to live life king-size while I TRY to teach him the merits of frugality. But most of all, he has been my best friend in the last few years, who confides in me and vice-versa. From arguing over Sachin Tendulkar vs. Mohammed Azharuddin, we moved on to arguing about which one of my boyfriends sucked the most. And oh, unlike many grown men, he actually knows how to make a long-distance, childhood relationship work. So yes, he is the epitome of the “perfect guy”, and at times like this, I really miss him.

Apart from that, I struggled to finish a booker-winning novel, and finally accepted that may be it’s alright if I don’t understand why a certain book won critical acclaim, instead of ploughing through one painful chapter after another, trying to find a reason. So I pulled out old boxes, located “The Last Lecture” (thanks to the sixth reader of this blog) and finished it in one evening. And after a long long time, a book managed to reduce me to tears, and these days, that doesn’t happen too often…

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Diwali Dampener

I always had a sneaking suspicion that I was a loser, but now I have proof!!! So apart from everything else that is wrong with my life (stark staring singledom for over a year, a job that only gets worse by the day and a book that refuses to get moving by itself, if you leave out the other macro factors like inflation, recession, corruption) there is also Diwali.

I don’t know whose “bright" idea it was, but I think it’s a completely useless festival. I came up with this illuminating hypothesis when I switched OFF the lights in the washroom at work and walked home by myself. The roads were empty, but the whole of Hiranandani was lit up like we were in a developed country with ample power supply. Add to that the waste on diyas, crackers, gifts, sweets and two days of holiday, and it runs the risk of being the most senseless event right up there with the IPL.

This morning again, as I walked into my office, all decorated in ugly rangolis, I switched ON the washroom lights, wondering why I even bothered to go home. Oh, TO CHANGE from ONE OVERPRICED NEW OUTFIT TO ANOTHER.

On that note, happy diwali, if you are reading that is. Why should you get to enjoy a long vacation when I can’t?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sunday with Morrie

It was a pretty awful lonely weekend. Everybody seems to be going home for the festive season, while I am stuck here in this godforsaken city, working like a maniac. I was planning a solo trip to Ajanta Ellora during Diwali, but had to cancel it because of work.

I am so sick of the computer screen that I decided to spend the weekend doing something completely self-indulgent, and yes, away from the screen.

Of course, there is nothing more uplifting than SHOPPING! So yea, I spent a very satisfying five hours in the mall, buying completely unnecessary stuff at prices I can’t afford. Dear showrooms, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT assume for a moment, that just because it’s Diwali, you can fool people into buying overpriced clothes for sentimental reasons. I was completely aware that the dress I bought wasn’t worth the price tag, but still I bought it, well, because I WAS DEPRESSED. Anyway no regrets. At least I can look pretty at work while I sift through slide after slide of gibberish. Not that it matters; almost the entire floor is on leave but still I like the smell of new clothes on me.

More importantly, I did a LOT of reading these two days. What with the assassination of Gaddafi and my complete ignorance about the dictator’s whims and fancies, I had a lot to catch up on. At times like this, I do appreciate why my dad calls me UNEDUCATED. Besides, for a change I read a good book. Lately I had been reading a lot of junk dished out by Indian ‘writers’ (because someday I aspire to dish out similar junk), so I had almost forgotten how it felt to read a really good book. Thankfully, this weekend, I found one. “Tuesdays with Morrie” is no highbrow literary masterpiece, but it sure is a breezy read with just about the right sprinkling of humour, philosophy and candour. And oh, before the book became a worldwide success, it was rejected by several publishers and one went as far as to declare that the author didn’t know how to write a memoir! So I guess there is one thing common among publishers across geographies: STUPIDITY!

“Don’t let go too soon, but don’t hold on too long”… as you say, Morrie Sir!

Friday, October 21, 2011

TGIF... Really?

I have been staring at the screen for over 60 hours this week: vacant, blank, empty. My eyes are lined with dark circles, my head hurts and my body aches. I have work piled on my desk email, and I am completely lost. It’s Friday (and I have no plans, except that I do know I have to work late and fill up the damn year-end appraisal form), next week it’s Diwali and yet, I am as far away from the festive season as I could possibly be.

What happened to those Friday nights when we would brave the Mumbai traffic and local trains just to go to HRC or ogle the Bandra crowd?

What happened to those Friday nights when we would have all the enthusiasm in the world to dress up at 10:00 in the evening and go for the latest movie on the first day itself, irrespective of how bad the movie was? (ajab prem ki ghazab kahani anyone?)

What happened to those Friday nights when we would rush straight to the bar from work (to take advantage of the last 30 minutes of the happy hour) with me cribbing about the huge laptop bag and the shabby outfit?

What happened to those Friday nights when we would just stay at home, watch Friends and kick off our weekend pizza marathon?

What happened to the kohl-rimmed eyes, the high heels and that transparent shade of lip gloss?

What happened to the uninhibited laughter?

What happened to me?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Three Wise Men

Some of the most famous and talented people passed away recently, and they were relatively young as well: Pataudi, Steve Jobs, Jagjit Singh…

They were all achievers in their own right, they all touched a lot of lives, and each of them made a huge difference in their respective fields. Sure I have never seen Pataudi play, but I have heard about his charismatic leadership qualities as well as his regal presence in the field. Being a completely technologically challenged person, my exposure to Steve Jobs has been limited to using the i-pod and listening to his presentations during the launch of a new product. As for Jagjit Singh, one of my biggest regrets is that I never saw a live concert of his, even though some of his songs are forever etched in my mind i-pod.

They all seemed invincible at their peak: the world at their feet, enthralling people with sheer genius, touched by the magic wand of success, glamour and fame. Every little kid had a poster of them by their bed, inspiring them to dream of making it big as they went to sleep. They taught us that obstacles were just minor distractions, if you were passionate enough, if you worked hard enough, if you wanted something bad enough. If Pataudi could do it with one eye, if Jagjit Singh could continue performing despite a tragic personal loss or if Jobs could do it without a college degree, surely there was something more to success than conventional wisdom.

They gave us a reason to be mad, an excuse to be impulsive, the courage to follow our dreams, the nerve to stay foolish despite failing repeatedly.

They taught us to LIVE, even if they died young

Monday, October 17, 2011

Message in a Bottle

This is an alcohol post… pure, unadulterated, shaken but not stirred, though it does stir up quite a lot of memories!

Now people who know me well will vouch for the fact that I am an occasional drinker, who, can at max hold five (at times as little as two and a half) drinks. Anything more than that, then beware of your car/home/clothes, because I can throw up on any of them. And that too, as my dad aptly says, like all other things (meaning guys), I have very immature taste in alcohol as well and his isolated attempts to help me acquire the taste of whisky or red wine have fallen flat. Me, I prefer to stick to my breezers/ vodka/ gin/ tequila/ LIT/ margarita and the occasional sex on the beach (the cocktail).

Over the years, I can confidently say that alcohol is one thing that has stood by me thick and thin, in the hardest of times as well as the happiest of days.

My tryst with alcohol started in high school, when as a seventeen-year-old, I was pining for my “best friend” who was leaving the city for good and we drowned ourselves in an entire bottle of port wine kept in the fridge and then filled it up with water. Ahh… “love”, separation and alcohol make for a lethal hangover…

My initial days in Bombay were pretty mundane, when I was this sincere, demure career-oriented CAT-oriented girl, “who did not want to let her parents down or misuse the trust vested in her” (my mom’s words, not mine). So for three years, I just studied, topped my exams, took CAT classes, discovered the joys of roadside shopping and street food, without giving in to peer pressure to party. Thankfully, I never felt I was missing something, as I watched sloshed girls sneaking into the hostel from the safety of my 8/8 room. May be the watchful eyes of my religious Muslim roomie who prayed twice a day and stayed away from all the ‘vices’ kept me in my senses…

But soon, I was working (after failing to crack CAT in my first attempt) and then I decided enough was enough. Being “good” and “responsible” was getting me nowhere AND my above-mentioned “best friend” was now moving to the States which meant our occasional phone calls and annual Kolkata meets would also come to an end. Now that I had a little money, it was time to “misuse the freedom and trust vested in me” by my parents. So the next year, I really “discovered” all that Bombay is famous for. The vodkas and the LITs poured in, affections were showered, the music became louder, the nights longer and the morning-after hangovers more frequent. So yes, I was finally ready for B school…

The key takeaway from MBA was discovering my OTHER passion (writing, and no, the first one isn’t finance). But very close was our ability to find the most creative excuses for drinking. You give us an event (say xyz company is visiting the campus for placements) or a non-event (xyz company cancelled its visit due to recession) and we would automatically reach for the bottle. And then add to it, freshers’ parties, farewell parties, birthday parties, clearing exams, failing exams, placements, lack of placements, Neev, Kerala, Goa, well, you get the picture…

Company D was just an extension of college, except now there were occasional company-sponsored parties which meant you could get drunk for free. And now that we had more money and we were yet to learn to cook, we would be eating out multiple times a week, and of course, no self-respecting first-year analyst has ONLY dinner at a restaurant. But, but but, then we discovered the beauty of home-delivery of alcohol. So on a particularly lazy weekend, we could just order for tandoori chicken, beer and vodka to be delivered right at our doorstep. Of course, having a flatmate who prided herself on her “refined tastes” and relaxed with a glass of whisky after a long day, was constant peer pressure, one that I didn’t mind giving in to. Now that bachelor parties were starting to slowly replace birthday parties, the only thing that restored the sanity was alcohol. Admittedly, I have a very poor track record as far as bachelor parties are concerned (I have thrown up on each of them), but I completely blame the enormity of the occasion rather than my inability to hold my drink.

And then it was new year’s eve… and it turned out to be the longest and most expensive hangover of my life!

After some impromptu drinking binges, t-shirts soaked with tears and sweeping changes, I am sober again, and except the occasional moment of weakness, I stay conscious and careful and very much in control…

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Once Upon a Time...

Once upon a time I wanted to be a cricket commentator… and then I saw Mandira Bedi

Once upon a time I loved reading fairy tales… and then I realized life isn’t about happily ever after

Once upon a time I watched all romantic comedies… and then I discovered the ugly appeal of American Beauty

Once upon a time I listened to mushy pop music… and then I came to know George Michael was gay

Once upon a time I was seduced by Mumbai… and then I fell in love with the small-town charm

Once upon a time I was a little girl… and then I lost my rose-tinted glasses

Once upon a time I was happy… and then I became ‘independent’

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Paper Planes

There is nothing romantic about poverty. Trust me, there isn’t. I respect money, mostly because growing up, we didn’t have much. So every time people tell me how money isn’t important or how it can’t buy happiness, I nod along respectfully, though in my heart of hearts, I do know that it makes life a lot better. Let’s just say I would rather be rich and miserable than being poor and miserable. So yes, while money can’t buy happiness in the long run (neither can poverty), it works wonders for instant gratification!

Take my Kerala trip for example. The first time I went there, I was 11 years old. We traveled for 44 hours in the general compartment and by the time we reached Ernakulum, I was almost sick with exhaustion, dirt and pollution. The second time was a lot more fun, when we went from college (more details here and here), piling on a Mallu friend and the famous ‘Kerala hospitality’ ensured that the shoestring budget didn’t affect us.

But this time around, the four-day self-indulgence with all the luxuries just made me realize that probably money isn’t a dirty word after all.

So there we were, at The Leela Palace in Kovalam, soaking up the sun, the beach, the pool, the rejuvenating spa treatment, wondering if this was what heaven was made of, while I secretly harboured apprehensions of the next day, when I would be back home in Mumbai, in my one bhk pigeonhole masquerading as an ‘apartment’. I was used to it, but I was scared of how my folks would react to my minimalist existence.

But as it turns out, I had nothing to worry about. We checked out of Leela, boarded the flight, braved the peak hour traffic and finally reached my handbag (aka 'flat') in Powai. Obviously you can imagine the drastic transformation in a matter of few hours as I nervously welcomed my parents inside. They didn’t bat an eyelid, as my mom quickly took charge, sent me for grocery shopping and within an hour whipped up a sumptuous khichdi that only my mom can make, while I made my “delicious” chicken curry without any major mishaps. And there we were, just like old times, sitting on the mattress, newspapers spread on the floor, eating home-cooked food. As they relished the food, I stared at their happy faces more out of relief than anything else, deeply grateful. As we sat by the window in the dark, my dad smoking and both of us grumbling (much like the old times), he summed it up, “I have traveled all over the world, stayed in the most luxurious suites, tasted all sorts of exotic cuisines, but nothing beats this moment.”

May be there is something romantic about poverty after all… or may be it’s just the nostalgia!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Is it Me?

Is it the glistening sand, the virgin beach and the out-of-this-world sunset?

Is it the serene backwaters, the fishing nets and the charm of the local fishermen?

Is it the quaint little church with the rich history?

Is it the pristine waterfalls lashing against the boulders, the gurgling resonance breaking the early-morning tranquil?

Is it Kerala?

Or is it just me?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wedding Jitters

If you have been reading this blog for long enough (yes, all five of you. I was told that there is a fifth reader lurking around), parts of this post may be familiar to you. Anyway, here is my Viewspaper column this week.

Now am off. Flight in two hours.

And shubho bijoya…

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Happy Days

So today is “Oshtomi” or as all of you spell it, “Ashtami”. Don’t worry if you are a non-bong and hence it means nothing to you. I am a bong, and STILL it doesn’t mean anything to me. Except that I do know this is supposed to be the most important day of the five-day circus or what Bengalis call, Durga Pujo.

I don’t even remember the last time I spent this auspicious occasion in Kolkata. Ahh, the dhak, the crackers, the excitement, the décor, the waste

But what I do remember are my childhood days when these five days would rank as THE MOST IMPORTANT OCCASION right up there with my birthday and bhaifota.

Each year, the Durga Puja event would have three distinct stages:

Stage 1: The Preparation
This would start a month or even earlier, when my parents would start working hard and shopping for the occasion. The instructions were clear. As a seven year old who was newly exposed to multiplication, the math was simple: five days of Durga Puja equals 5*2=10 instances of going out (mornings with friends and evenings with family) and no self-respecting seven-year-old would be caught dead wearing an old/same outfit on these 10 occasions. Ergo, Durga Puja DEMANDED that I should have ten NEW outfits. Ergo, my dad had to work overtime.

But they (evil parents) also did their math. I was told that my budget would be Rs. XYZ and I could choose how I wanted to spend it, i.e. divide Rs. XYZ by 10 and buy 10 NEW BUT CHEAP dresses. Alternatively, I could divide Rs. XYZ by 5 and buy 5 NICE dresses, though I would have to repeat/wear old stuff in the mornings. Unfortunately, my division was a weak link at that point (why have TWO methods of division anyway?) and I agreed to the first option without really understanding the implications (me sticking out like a sore thumb in my ankle-length, ill-fitting 50-rupee frock when the others were fashionably dressed in branded clothes).

Stage 2: The Event
The actual five days had NOTHING to do with religion or worship. It was about having a legitimate excuse to dress up and hang out with friends since morning, sing along to bad music played at the pandals, participate in all the art competitions, eat roadside puchka without having your mom looking over your shoulder and play antakshari (our contribution to the overall bad music) sitting five feet away from the place of worship.

In the evening, I would again dress up in the different set of new clothes, go out with my parents (and relatives) pandal-hopping across the city, comparing and counting. Now for those of you not familiar with the chaos that ensues in Kolkata during Durga Puja, the closest analogy I can offer is the Indian fielding team comprising Navjot Sidhu, Bishan Bedi and Saurav Ganguly. The traffic goes haywire, there is no such thing as parking and everywhere there are separate entrances for men and women. So inevitably we would lose track of one another and in an age prior to mobile phones, it wasn’t as much fun as it sounds like. Besides, being the precious little princess (I can so imagine someone commenting on this) that I was, I would refuse to walk after the first 45 minutes, thereby spending the remaining night happily perched on my dad’s shoulder.

Bijoy Doshomi (Dushera) would be the final day when there would be tears all around, the women would feed sondesh to the idols and we would swear that even Ma Durga had tears on her painted clay cheeks (I am not exaggerating). All the kids would bring their text books and place them dutifully at the feet of Saraswati (for the uninitiated, Ma Durga is always accompanied by the entourage of her children: Laxmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Karthik, each with their respective accessories/pets). I would make a last-minute dash to our third-floor apartment (we didn’t have elevators) and come down panting with whatever book was lying nearest to the door (come to think of it, it was NEVER Maths). Finally, it would be time for visarjan and this was my favourite part where we would dance on the roads as we followed the matador carrying the idols. It’s pretty much close to what happens in a Punjabi baraat (I have attended one and hopefully that will be it), only it doesn’t have the tragic ending.

Stage 3: The Depression… and The Anticipation
The next few days following Durga Pujo would cast a shadow of gloom over all of us, who had gotten used to the luxury of indiscipline. Now it was time to go back to the books, eat boring home food and wear boring old clothes. But we would soon cheer up as Durga Pujo only marked the beginning of the festive season. There would be Laxmi Puja, Kali Puja, Bhaifota, Christmas, MY BIRTHDAY and New Year punctuated by something called Half-Yearly exam which nobody bothered about.

Sighh… those were the days. It’s oshtomi today and I am at work in my ONLY new outfit, with my colleague forcing me to listen to Akon singing Chammak Challo.

But, tomorrow I am off to Kerala for the third time. Self-indulgence, here I come!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Three Mistakes of My Life

Mistake One: Economics? What were my parents thinking? MBA Finance? What was I thinking? Investment Bank? What was the Bank thinking?

Mistake Two: Mohammed Azharuddin. I showed early signs of falling for the totally wrong guys. It should have been nipped at the bud and I would have been this nice, homely, conventional girl married to a rich left-brained banker by now.

Mistake Three: Mumbai. I am more of a Greece/Barbados/Mauritius sort of a person.

Now let’s assume that my parents and I did NOT make these three mistakes. I would have studied English Literature and been a poor but thoroughly fulfilled person living in Kolkata, doing my PhD (everybody there studies till their 30s because there are no jobs and further studies give us the satisfaction of doing something useful with our lives) and sitting in the Coffee House in College Street with my equally unemployed friends in our Fab India kurtas complemented by the junk jewelry and the jholas, discussing the shortcomings of the current government/cricket team/contemporary Indian literature.

My parents would be registering me to some/all matrimonial sites (short 5”3, dusky wheatish complexioned, tolerably decent-looking pretty unemployed B.A./M.A./M.Phil/PhD freelancer virgin girl with traditional values from middle-class good family, seeks rich professionally-qualified well-settled suitable match) and every evening I would come home, sip the chai that my mom makes for me (after all, her ‘baby’ has had a long hard day), religiously sift through ‘profiles of the day’, shortlist a few and ask her to fix ‘meetings’ for the weekend. After a couple of hours of channel/net surfing I would retire to bed early with a ‘headache’, have my dinner served on bed, shut the door and talk on the phone with my intellectual, equally unemployed B.A./M.A./M.Phil/PhD ‘boyfriend’ who ‘UNDERSTANDS ME’ till 2 a.m.

Weekends will be solely dedicated to visits to the beauty parlour, getting decked up in a sari, learning to balance the tea tray in my high heels (the ad said 5”3, remember?), faking a plastic smile and making small-talk with perverted IIT/IIM boys (why grown men are referred to as ‘boys’ in the marriage market I would never understand) trying to ‘size me up’ (literally).

-“Boy”: “So, you are a freelance writer? That sounds fascinating.”
-Me: “It is. It’s so nice to have a job I am passionate about.”
-“Boy”: “I wish I was doing something as fulfilling. But you know, the jet-setting corporate life with its 7-figure salary and perks is exciting too.”
-Me (thinks: why else will I be even talking to you?). Aloud: “I am sure. So what do you like to do when you are not working?”
-“Boy”: “Oh, I like to track the capital markets, read management books and travel. I prefer to go abroad though. The weather and the grime in Indian cities just don’t agree with me. I plan to visit Greece, Barbados and Mauritius soon.”
-Me: “Let’s cut to the chase. I will marry you.”

So both families exchange mishti doi and sondesh and the wedding date is fixed three months down the line on December 11.

Later in the night, I would call my ‘boyfriend’ to give him the ‘good news’.
-“Boyfriend”: “How can you do this to me? I thought we ‘UNDERSTOOD’ each other.”
-Me: “I can’t help it. I have to do this for my parents.”
-“Boyfriend”: “But can’t you tell them to wait?”
-Me: “Wait for what? Are you going to marry me?”
-“Boyfriend”: “You know I am not ready.”
-Me: “Well, then you have to let me go.”
-“Boyfriend”: “But noone UNDERSTANDS you the way I do.”
-Me: “Yea. But this other guy works in an investment bank.”

And there you have it: the perfect life, had I not made the three mistakes. A freelance writer married to a rich banker, traveling around the world, specifically to Greece, Barbados and Mauritius

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Ok, so I have already spoken about my love for anti-heroes (in excruciatingly painful details) in this post.

So this post is about heroes I hate: I mean I know they are role models when we were growing up or we would be made to read about them or watch them over and over again on TV, that they are perfect and larger-than-life, but the very fact that they are larger-than-life, makes them somewhat unreal, somewhat vague and not quite identifiable…

And I am not even talking about super-heroes, i.e. the supermans, spidermans, batmans or catwomans.

But for instance, take Hercule Poirot, the little Belgian detective, created by Agatha Christie, who is always using his “little grey cells”. Of course, I have read ALL his books, trying my best to find him likeable or at best, tolerable. But each time I read about him, I only found myself more alienated from the character. His arrogance, his condescending attitude towards his friend and partner-in-crime, Hastings (who is infinitely more lovable) and his fastidiousness (really, who keeps a consistent bank balance of 444 pounds, 4 shillings, and 4 pence?) often annoyed the hell out of me. I couldn’t agree more with Ms. Christie when she said she found Poirot “insufferable” and a "detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep". However, the public loved him and he continued to survive for as long as he did…

Or let’s look at James Bond. According to the creator, Ian Fleming, he named the character James Bond, because he wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name he could find and it’s a pity his character didn’t stay that way. If you ask me, for a grown man, his penchant for sophisticated clothes, gadgets, pretty women and fast cars is almost juvenile, smacking of insecurity. There is something cold, ruthless and cruel about him and he lacks the vulnerable charm of Rocky or The Terminator. He seems more like a comic caricature to me than anything else…

Now as much as I love Fountainhead or completely subscribe to Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, Howard Roark’s character makes me squirm. Not because he is anti-establishment or independent or individualistic or because he ‘draws outside of the lines’ (these are qualities which make him stand out), but because he is so, well, inhuman, selfish and puerile. Blowing up a building? Not cool. Walking around like the whole world is a fool? Not cool. Forcing himself on a woman? Definitely not cool. And dude, stop taking yourself so seriously. Get a sense of humour…

No, I am not a misandrist. I hate women heroes (or heroines?) as well. Jane Austen’s Anne Elliot from the novel Persuasion fails to stir any sort of empathy for her. Give me a break from the Cinderella Story: overshadowed middle daughter overlooked by her father and manipulated by her sisters, heartbroken after her failed relationship with the unsuitable Prince Charming and resigned to a life of loneliness and emptiness, she is the quintessential patient, strong, wise and gentle ‘lady” who makes me want to throw up or die of boredom. Give me a scatterbrained, foot-in-the-mouth Emma any day.

And last, but not the least, closer to our generation, there is Harry Potter. This one is self-explanatory. Case closed.

But the hero that I DO like: Aticus Finch from ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ (yea yea, call it the “my daddy best” syndrome)...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Say a Little Prayer

It’s Monday morning. So let me start by saying a silent prayer, that I love my job. No, I seriously do. These are hard times, and when I listen to stories about ruthless banks firing people, or the crappy work or the long hours or the mean bosses, I thank my stars for everything that this company has given me.

I love it because of the complete freedom it offers me: to do my work the way I want to, when I want to and how I want to…

I love it because of the minimal pretentious frills that are a part and parcel of corporate culture…

I love it because my boss lets me be: we can spend days without talking to each other and I can leave office right under his nose without worrying how it will affect my appraisal…

I love it because I hate it enough to hanker after an alternate career…

But most of all, I love it because it pays the salary on the 24th of every month…

Which brings us to the weekend…

Lately I had been a little cash-strapped given the inflation, my sudden urge to ‘explore’ as well as the last-minute vacation plans. Goa was expensive and add to it my next trip to Kerala next week, which is going to be a completely self-indulgent one, as well as the Pune get-together and the tentatively planned Coorg visit.

So my joy knew no bounds when my salary got credited this Saturday, thereby allowing me to buy a pair of shades (replacement for the ones I broke in Goa), an ipod shuffle (replacement for the nano that stopped working in Goa), two horrible books (the benchmark for Indian writing is so low that the only explanation for my script getting rejected is that I wasn’t bad enough. No seriously, think about it) and watch a horrible movie (what is Kevin Spacey doing in Horrible Bosses? Jennifer Aniston, I can understand, given her bad taste for, well, everything…but I still love her.)

I also watched an awesome play, “The President is Coming” at Prithvi Theatre. While Konkona Sen Sharma was thoroughly missed as the Stephen’s-educated intellectual bong, Kunal Roy Kapoor was mind-blowing as the racist IIMA graduate social-activist-turned-MNC employee. The other stereotypes like the geeky closet-homosexual IITian Microsoft employee or the stockbroker with no social skills kept me in splits though the screenplay tended to drag at parts. And oh, should I be concerned that I am seeing more of Dilnaz Irani than my boss?

Well, speaking of the devil, switch off your mobiles and your cameras, because the President boss is coming

Friday, September 23, 2011

When Harry Never 'Met' Sally...

You are mushy if you celebrate your anniversary over a candlelight dinner at an expensive place…
You are romantic if you celebrate surviving another year together over daal-tadka at the roadside dhaba where you had your first date…

You are mushy if you like exotic vacations at luxury resorts…
You are romantic if you like getting drenched in the monsoon on an impromptu off-season trip to Goa…

You are mushy if you surprise your spouse on her birthday with a lavish party, lots of gifts, 100 guests, 200 balloons and 400 “cute” pics on FB…
You are romantic if you show up at his/her door at midnight, light a candle on a single pastry and take off together somewhere randomly…

You are mushy if you tell someone you love her after you dedicate (and sing) “Lady in Red’ at a Karaoke Bar…
You are romantic if you tell someone you love her when she is reading The Economic Times, with specs firmly on her nose, oiled hair and bushy eyebrows…

You are mushy if you propose on Valentine’s Day with 100 red roses to signify that you would like to spend the next 100 years of your life with her…
You are romantic if you propose when both of you are drunk and in pajamas, when she is least expecting it…

But you are her best friend if you can make her laugh year after year after year...