Monday, July 30, 2012

V for Veronica

Despite having my share of male friends, there are some things about guys which doesn’t fail to surprise me… still!
For instance, the fascination with cars or expensive phones or stock markets or even the choice of movies. Now, I sit with half a dozen juvenile men at work, who exhibit some/all of these cretin characteristics, but the magnanimous, open-minded, tolerant person that I am, I usually overlook these foibles in my fellow human beings, and continue being friends with most of them.

So, I don’t mind when they discuss the volatility in the Sensex, as if their lives depended on it…

I don’t mind when they interrupt me with inane questions, especially when I am trying to focus (on timeless classics like Beedi, Pardesi and my favourite, Maa da Ladla)…

I also don’t mind when they compare the features on their ipads/android phones/blackberries when all I have is my stupid Nokia handset which doesn’t do anything…

Most of all, I ignore the lamest jokes, even though I am the victimized more often than not… Example: Nefertiti is so down-to-earth. Haha… I get it, I am short. Move on!

So they are also hardcore Batman fans. They have seen The Dark Knight umpteen number of times, and set their wallpapers with posters of The Dark Knight Rises, three months before the movie released. They have even formed their very own Batman star cast, and bestowed on me the responsibility of being the Catwoman, and then quickly changed it to Kittenwoman.

Now, call it a sacrilege, but I am no Batman (or for that matter, any man) enthusiast, I don’t care if Batman begins or Batman ends or Batman lives forever and I definitely did not track the release date of the movie, ready to pounce upon the first available tickets. But when I made this confession to my aforementioned cretin colleagues, they graciously offered me THE ROPE! Hence, I decided to watch the movie and figure out what the big deal was (yet another example of my open-minded tolerant personality). For three hours, I sat there, clutching my hair, my head hurting, as I saw Batman demonstrating all kinds of stunts in an excruciatingly long and painful movie. At one point, out of sheer desperation, I considered sneaking out of the theatre to watch Ice Age 4, being screened at the next theatre. The only saving grace were the female characters; both Catwoman and Miranda Tate had the layered personalities which could keep the audience hooked till the end.

But personally, I would rather be the one-dimensional person, who likes wearing pink, listens to crass item songs and only appreciates shallow movies.

I have done the dark brooding act; now it’s time for the Veronica in me…

Monday, July 23, 2012

Uptown Girl

I like to believe I am a very fit and active person: after all, I go jogging every day, I can walk for miles to save auto fares or for street shopping and I have always been a sporty girl: taking part in swimming competitions (even though I finish last most of the time) or athletics or playing cricket/football/badminton/squash for hours.

Even on Saturday, I visited the latest temple mall in town, and spent half the day exploring each new store with ample enthusiasm. People who are religious will totally identify with this fanaticism, where nothing, I repeat, nothing, can keep you away from God, or in my case, a retail outlet, tired feet notwithstanding. So, on Sunday, when we signed up for a MEDIUM DIFFICULTY trek to Sagargad, close to Alibagh, at a height of around 1350 feet, I was slightly contemptuous, thinking that it was too easy, and we should participate in a more challenging journey. True, I have never been a trekking person, but ever since I BOUGHT MY SHOES, I have turned over a new leaf.

At 6 a.m., I was all rearing to go, in my STRONG Reebok shoes, ready to conquer the world, or the fort. The yummy cheese sandwiches in the bus only made me more energetic. As we started the EASY walk, I was my cocky self, wondering why people made a big deal about trekking in the monsoons.

But then it began: the slopes, the stones, the mud, the rough stairs, the rains, the CLIMBING and the SLIPPING. I was back to my college days, trudging along, panting, struggling, falling repeatedly, cursing everybody. Yes, the valley was beautiful, the view was breathtaking, the waterfall was mindblowing and most importantly, the lunch served in the quaint old village was sumptuous, but I was still the spoilt urban girl, who would rather admire nature from a distance (or from google images). If going up was a Herculean task, coming down was only more treacherous, with the rain making it worse. And then the inevitable happened: I fell in the water, drenched myself completely and as I clumsily picked myself up, I was determined never to be so foolish again.

I am not made for trekking, I am not made to be in close proximity with nature, I am not made to be adventurous.

I am happy in my shallow concrete jungle, I can live with pollution and traffic jam and I am infinitely more comfortable in high heels in a suburban mall, rather than enjoying the fresh air at an ancient fort on top of a godforsaken hill.

I am an Uptown Girl…

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Leaving on a Jet Plane

My B school is a strong believer of making your life miserable by forcing unpleasant subjects/schedules/roommates down your throat, because, apparently, reality doesn’t give you any alternatives. So while students in other colleges enjoyed a lot of freedom and were considered matured enough to be responsible for their choices, our college was a replica of our government: a moral police telling us what to study, who to study with or even who to live with. Hence, we were ALLOCATED roommates on the very first day, based on some random variables. I, for one, DO NOT believe it was random at all; they deliberately put the MOST INCOMPATIBLE people together, so that we could learn to adjust, compromise and become more tolerant, i.e. more prepared for marriage.

So this is how I met SH, five years back, on an unpleasant June afternoon. Now, given my gift for judging people accurately based on first impression, I had immediately decided that I wasn’t going to get along with her. After all, she was from Faridabad (and NOT Delhi), she was tall, slim, fair and worst of all, she was an ENGINEER! In the following months, my dislike for her was only more strengthened: we were opposites, like Rahul Dravid and Shahid Afridi, like Bono and Justin Bieber or like Shah Rukh Khan and well, a normal person.

She was a social butterfly, who would hang out in the cafeteria/Sweety Stores with people even AFTER classes got over at 10:00 p.m., while I would rush upstairs to be on my own/go for a jog just to be alone…

She had her entire bookshelf empty and NEVER read, while I would finish off one bad book after another…

She could never study on her own and would insist that we mug up Segmentation variables TOGETHER, while I needed to be alone in one corner of the library, scribbling notes, WITHOUT HER MAKING PNEMONICS…

She loved to party and dance and despite being older than me, she had enough energy to put a 5-year old to shame, while I would crib every time she booked a table at Mezzanine… AGAIN…

She had the metabolism of a hummingbird, and she ate everybody else’s food but still remained thin, while I was fat despite my jogging/diet/gymming/diet/swimming/diet…

And since she was the queen of the room (apparently three years of pre-MBA work experience gives you the right to boss people around), she would ORDER us about. There were so many times she would scream at me, “Close the windows”, while I would scream back, “Close them yourself!” and she would retort back, “Stop lying around and lose some weight” and I would stop talking to her, SUFFERING SILENTLY.

To cut a long story short, we BARELY tolerated each other, and anon, as the most moderate of the three, had to act as a mediator to arrest the collapse of Room No. 213. But somehow we managed to survive through the open wars and the cold wars, and finally after two years of living with her, I heaved a sigh of relief that she was finally off my back.

But, no, apparently that was not to be. Both of us got placed in Mumbai, so even though she got married in the same year and we weren’t roommates anymore, I saw her more than I would have liked to. Every weekend, I would dread her phone call/text message, again ORDERING me to come to town or Bandra or to her place, not caring if I actually WANTED to go to town or Bandra or to her place. The worst was after every few weeks of avoiding her, when I would be celebrating the rare peace of mind, she would call me innocently saying that she was coming to Powai for some work and we could catch up for a quick cup of coffee. But it would NEVER remain ‘a quick cup of coffee’ as promised as she would just crash at my place, again not caring if I actually WANTED her to stay back. And then there were those times when I would be drunk/sick/upset and I would explicitly tell her NOT TO COME HOME and that she WAS NOT WELCOME, and yet she would show up in the middle of the night with medicines/alcohol/a shoulder to cry on, repeatedly buzzing the doorbell till I finally gave in and opened it. Or she would drag me to her home on my birthday or help me with the saree every time I had to go for some guest lecture/placement duty/social event.

And now, after five years of being bullied by her, she is finally gone, if not from my life, but from the city, as she starts a new life in a new country, leaving me a little more lonely, a little more nostalgic and a little more sad.

There is something about the person you have shared beds/closets/bathrooms with...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Take Me OUT of the Paradise City

You know those weekends, when you feel good because you are doing something ‘cool’, but secretly, you wish you could just sit at home and watch Comedy Central? Well, every once in a while I go through such ‘happening’ weekends, where we go to the newest and ‘happening’ places in town/Bandra, and come back home at some godforsaken hour, poorer, fatigued and drenched in the rain.

So yes, we went to this new place called “The Big Nasty” in Carter Road, where we had been trying to go for the last three weeks. But no self-respecting new place in Bandra will let you in if you aren’t some page 3 regular/know some page 3 regular, so each time we had been turned away unceremoniously, which only made us more determined. Remember being in Class III, when your parents wouldn’t let you watch Swabhimaan, and that would make you even more curious about what was so mysterious about it! Finally, this resourceful friend of mine managed to use her connections and get us a table at one corner, where we sat for a couple of hours, literally cornered. No waiter, worth his while would serve us; half the food we ordered just never came; and god forbid, if you dare to ask for ice-cubes, water or tissue paper. As for the ambience, it was a garage pub, with minimal décor. Not too many places live up to its name; but this one sure did, which reminds me, if I mess up my place a little more, I could start my own Small Nasty in Hiranandani.

If that wasn’t enough torture, I let myself be persuaded for my very first Hindi play, Humsafar (make that Hum Suffer) in Prithivi Theatre. While I simply love the old-world charm of Janki Kutir, which houses the theatre, a quaint old café and a bookshop, an emotionally draining, serious diatribe on a divorced couple’s dysfunctional life is so not my cup of tea for a Sunday evening. Yes, the performances by Harsh Chhaya (remember Swabhimaan? Why do I keep thinking of that serial so much?) and Lubna Salim were powerful, yes Gulazaar’s lyrics moved the crowd to tears (not me, because I am not intellectual enough to appreciate Urdu shayari) and yes, apparently it portrayed the intricacies of a troubled marriage very effectively. But dude, give me a break. A smooth talking cheating husband, a loudmouth bitter wife and a couple of badly brought up kids may be the middle-class reality, but I prefer to live in my own Fool’s Paradise, which is located diametrically opposite to Realityville.

When life throws a lemon at you, you can of course make lemonade out of it; but isn’t it much easier to just order home delivery of alcohol?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Jungle Book

This is a guest post by a close friend who is also in the same industry as I am, but in a different organization.

“Once upon a time, our maid used to scare me by saying, “If you are naughty, you will go to hell.” But years later, I have realized that if she REALLY wanted to frighten me, she should have said, “If you are naughty, you will go to an Investment Bank.”

Especially now that it’s the season for appraisals, the office environment has transformed into a jungle from a zoo, note the increase in wildness and emphasis on food chain.

So, I spent a pleasurable morning imagining the animal equivalents of all the people around me, and it never fails to amaze me, how appropriate they are in real life.

My manager, who is an incompetent nincompoop: A monkey who is sporting stolen jewels

His boss: The jackal, plotting and cunning, watching everyone, scheming all the time

His boss: Some unidentified animal in a lion's outfit... ruling the place at his whim, roaring at the weaker species while bowing down to the stronger ones

The aggressive chick who is hardworking but self-obsessed and mean to the core: The jungle cat

The guy who with bad English and a thick accent: The village buffalo who accidentally gets lost in the wilderness, but trudges his way through anyway

The campus recruit who has the airs of Bill Gates and who suddenly started lying abt having 4 years of experience: The chicken who went to B school and believes he is a peacock after sticking a few feathers on his tail

Me: An ant to be treaded upon by all the heavyweights or cornered by a bunch of hyenas

P.S.: Nefertiti, you don’t know how lucky you are…”

Monday, July 9, 2012


I have never been a fan of conventional wisdom, I don’t do things because I am supposed to them or because my family/my boss/society tells me to and I don’t toe the line because everybody else is doing it and I don’t want to be left behind. Which is why I still don’t have a smartphone (as tempting as the What’s App application is).

But herd mentality is contagious and it hits you hard at a very early age, and by the time you are in your twenties, it’s so ingrained that you don’t even recognize it anymore: you are almost programmed to be a product of the assembly line, and like just another piece of luggage you rotate around the conveyor belt in an airport.

At an age where you should be enjoying your childhood, experimenting with your choices and making mistakes, our education system makes you a slave to unpalatably heavy text books devised to program you for entrance exams rather than teaching you the basic concepts…

At an age where you should be traveling around the world on a shoestring budget, weighing your options and working your way through shifts at McDonalds and pizza joints to pay for parties, our respected universities ‘prepare’ you for the rat race, while our families mollycoddle you for a ‘future’ a.k.a another set of entrance exams…

At an age where you should be allowed to remain confused about career opportunities, trying on different roles, meeting different people and figuring out what suits you best, our big bad corporate world tries to suck out the last bit of individuality out of you, reducing you to just another programmer/manager/analyst…

At an age where you should be relishing your freedom, falling in love with the wrong people, getting your heart broken over and over again till you finally meet the right person, our society judges you for being single…

At an age where you should be encouraged to be young, you are constantly pushed into being “one of them”, because, god forbid, if you don’t become an engineer/MBA, you won’t have the latest model of the iPhone, you won’t be employed with the MNC where ABC got placed and you won’t get married to XYZ and give birth to cute, fair, tall, smart kids…

At an age, where I am just discovering myself, the world takes over me

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Whiter Shade of Pale

One of the things I love most about Friday (except of course the fact that it means the weekend is here and therefore I can finally indulge in my favourite activities like cleaning/washing/cooking), is Friday Dressing. Throughout the week, I am forced to dress dowdily and I eagerly wait for the end of the week which allows me to pull out my relatively cooler clothes, so that I can make a strong statement: I am a girl, I am young, I am cute and hence I am dumb.

So, while I have a limited stock of formals, my collection of jeans, skirts, floral tops and matching accessories can put a garage sale to shame. Every sale season, I go to a mall, determined to buy “sensible” clothes, but end up splurging on more of dresses and colourful sandals, consoling myself that it’s not a complete waste, since I NEED these for Fridays.

But no, my company simply can’t stand to see me happy and devises new ways to make my life even more stifled. The latest measure includes ‘extension of the business casual dress code on Fridays to adhere to global policies’, which when translated, means ‘you are not allowed to look cool anymore.’ Apparently, casual Fridays are more in line with the IT/BPO culture, and god forbid, lest we, the superior banker bandwagon, are put in the same league as other lowly species. So yes, we shall instead volunteer to dress like sophisticated robots, identical in white shirts, leaving no room for a dash of colour, creativity or personal touch, because we have a boring image to uphold.

Every time I imagine myself in trousers and a collared shirt on a Friday, I conjure up the picture of a smaller Bipasha Basu (before she started gymming rigorously and developed biceps) in the movie Corporate, and I so don’t want to be that. Women are always talking about being as successful, as aggressive and as ambitious as men, but I have no intentions of being a pseudo man, because I sincerely believe that while I may be different, that doesn’t necessarily make me inferior. As long as I can get my work done, it doesn’t matter if I am in a chiffon skirt or a three-piece suit.

With the last brush of colour wiped out off my palette, it’s an extremely clean slate indeed, waiting to be painted, hoping to be tinged with a new beginning and craving to be freed

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Underdog Pride

I have always been an underdog: from the time I won the 100 metres race in school despite being one of the smallest girls to being the first person to be placed in college, multiple backlogs notwithstanding, my limited “success” has always taken people by surprise. My numerous failures, on the other hand, have been in line with the low expectations that most people have from me. So yes, I am never in the limelight, never the favourite and definitely, never the one burdened with ‘potential’, and I prefer it that way.

So my tryst with anonymity has made me a sucker for other underdogs, and almost instinctively, I find myself standing up for the black sheep: be it the lost new hire awkwardly sitting in one corner at an office party, or a wild card playing her first match in a Grand Slam against a top-ranked player.

Which brings me to the third round match between the four-time Wimbledon champion Serena and her Chinese opponent, Jie Zheng. While not exactly a newbie in the WTA circuit, Zheng had lost all her previous encounters with Williams, and the petite underdog was not a serious challenge to her powerful opponent. Or so we thought. The spirited pint-sized girl put up a tenacious fight, making Williams slog for every point, running down everything that the American could throw at her and even taking the first set in a tie-breaker. The match went right down to the wire, as Williams finally won the decider 9-7, but for me, Zheng was still the winner.

Obviously, as I made myself comfortable in front of the TV last night for the Euro Final, there was little doubt that I was going to root for Italy against Spain, the clear favourites. It has absolutely nothing to do with my recent visit to the country or my fascination with the volatile yet supremely talented Mario Balotelli (ok, may be the second reason does impact my loyalty to SOME extent). But unlike the Williams-Zheng match, this time there was no contest as Italy suffered a humiliating defeat, though my only consolation was that Italy would go home, head held high, for giving their fans something to cheer about.

With underdogs, it’s never about winning, but it’s about pride