Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Karma Chameleon

I remember two years back, when I was desperately looking for a change from company D after barely a year, I would be taking interviews with random companies for random profiles. Somehow, nothing was working out and I ended up being interviewed about 25 times by different people for roles as diverse as private equity, consulting, journalism, credit research or even news reader before I finally joined my current company. At that time, I had wondered what the hell was wrong with me, but now I am reaping the benefits of being grilled by so many employers, because, wait for it, NOW I AM ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TABLE, and the repository of questions is proving to be invaluable!

So yes, while work has been hectic, now I have the mandate to hire new people for my team, and it’s quite a thrill to sift through multiple CVs, shortlist candidates and then speak to them. I get to ask all the questions to which even I don’t have the answers to: random case studies like “how many burgers does McDonalds sell in a day” or moral dilemmas like “what would you do in so and so situation?”, fully aware that even I would be confused in similar circumstances. But it’s so much fun to see people take me seriously for a change or be nervous as I try to put them at ease (generously use their first name) and generally be the corporate b*tch I have always aspired to be, with very little success.

The best thing about my job is it’s not my dream career, so I can afford to be detached about it, while giving it my best.

I think passion is over-rated, especially if your rent depends on it

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Complete Man

So now that I am all grown up, independent and mature (cough cough), I don’t go to my folks with every teeny tiny problem, which is why I did not tell them about being sick in the first place. But, but, but, my dad has this very strong antenna when it comes to me. Somehow he figured out that I wasn’t keeping well/feeling well, and decided to come to Mumbai for the weekend on the pretext of some work. But I like to believe it was because he knew there was something wrong with me, and the spoilt only kid that I am, I could do with some pampering.

Now, for someone as workaholic as my dad, it’s a wonder that he has managed to be such a caring husband/father. I have always seen him give everything to his work, start from scratch and make it big on his own terms and I am very proud of him for that. But what amazes me even more is the way he has managed his relationships with friends/colleagues/ex-colleagues/family, the way he has managed his personal interests (whole lot of them) and most of all, the way he has made time for me over the years. He wasn’t one of those overbearing parents who would sit at home and make me study for ages or get hyper during exams and see me off right till the exam hall or call me multiple times if I was away on trips with friends. Right from childhood, he trusted me to do the right thing (eventually), take responsibility and not let him down. And he made sure that he never let ME down. So whenever I needed him and told him so, he was there. And whenever I needed him, but never said so, he was STILL there.

Like this weekend. Not only was he around to cheer me up, we did all the father-daughter stuff that made us happy over the years: took a long walk by the sea-face, ate till we felt like throwing up, fought over the remote and then peacefully settled down to curse Manchester United as they got lucky against Liverpool and then quickly moved to India vs England. More importantly, he contributed generously to the Nefertiti smartphone relief fund (AND got my usually stingy mom and grandmom to contribute to it as well), so now I am all set to go up the phone ladder, if such a ladder exists. But of course the usual arguments continued, as he rebuked me over my ‘frivolous’ expenses, took away ALL my money and put it in some god-awful fund after discussing MY finances with an equally brain-dead colleague of mine and then asked me why on earth I didn’t have a boyfriend!

Because, my dear dad, you set a very high benchmark when it comes to the complete man

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Annie Hall

Being a corporate slave with no life, I am not ashamed to admit that I pay hard cash to laugh. Yes, it’s been scientifically proven that laughing is good for health, that laughing increases your well-being and that laughing makes you a better person. Altogether, and companies should reimburse us for any expenses incurred at The Comedy Store.

Lately I have been having my daily dose of laughter for free by just switching on a news channel. Mamata Banerjee’s antics (and speeches) can easily put a stand-up comedian to shame. But since yesterday was a holiday and Anuvab Pal was performing, I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to spend my evening listening to a fat, short, bald and badly-dressed Bong guy (that pretty much describes most Bong guys I know) make fun of himself, our community and the sprinkling of Bengali audience present at the show.

But 'The Nation Wants to Know' turned out to be a let down: while he was a natural on stage, the script left much to be desired despite a good start. Yes, the obvious jibes at our political leaders (without Ms. Banerjee, half of country’s comedians will be out of work) were funny; yes, the Arnab Goswami impressions were begging to be made fun of and yes, the stereotyping of Bengali men (lazy/cowardly/bordering on gaydom) were easily identifiable. However, at the end of the day, we came out feeling a little disappointed: the humour was loud, the humour was crass, the humour was forced, more like what I would see in a Rohit Shetty movie.

Call me old-fashioned, but I still like the touch of subtlety as opposed to on-your-face jokes, I still like wit over gags, I still like quiet sarcasm over vulgar puns and I still like the straight-faced one-liner which leaves the audience wondering whether to laugh or not.

I still like the old world charm of Mark Twain, Groucho Marx and Woody Allen. I still like Annie Hall

Monday, September 17, 2012

Kramer vs. Kramer

It’s been a hectic couple of weeks, with me working on weekends also. Add to that the rains, the gym and the general messed up way of things. So on Friday night I watched Barfi and then promptly fell sick, bed-ridden for the entire weekend, having recurrent nightmares about the deliverable on Monday. If you thought being alone in Mumbai sucks, try being alone and sick in Mumbai. It’s more depressing than watching Rohit Sharma bat, but it lasts longer.

I did try to cheer myself up by reading The Case of Exploding Mangoes by Mohammed Hanif, a satirical take on Pakistan’s political situation at the backdrop of General Zia’s mysterious death. But even that didn’t work as I kept tossing and turning, red-nosed, eyes permanently swollen, unable to fall asleep. Now I pride myself on being a very strong GIRL, who exhibits none of the GURLY characteristics (i.e. annoying girly behaviour), but in sickness and in poverty (yes, since my dad takes away more than half my salary to invest in all sorts of complicated structured products), I become one of those irritating species. So I did the things which make me feel better: random mean texting, planning my Manila trip early next year with anon and SH, planning our family trip to Pataya with my kid brother and convincing my dad to allow me to buy a smartphone since he maintains a strict control over my finances, which would otherwise disappear in more of clothes, shoes and trips.

Anyway, coming back to Barfi, I consider a movie to be good if it manages to make me laugh/cry. This one made me do both, at times together. While I found the love story between Shruti and Barfi a little unconvincing, the back-and-forth narrative a bit unnecessary and the length a tad too long, overall it was a refreshingly different movie with strong performances, which, as a certain critic put it, “despite being a love triangle, focused more on the love and less on the triangle.”

The usual sensible GIRL in me refuses to think and the emotional, vulnerable GURL in me is incapable of it

Friday, September 14, 2012


So the brand new iPhone 5 has been launched and apparently it’s slimmer, sleeker and has more attractive features.

To me, it sounds more like an ad for weight loss pills than a phone, which reminds me,

I REALLY NEED TO GET MYSELF A SMARTPHONE, or the world (meaning my shallow ‘friends’) will soon disown me…

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Wake Me Up When September Ends

It’s like a haze, a continuous blur, a never-ending miasma of smoke…

It’s like the clouds hanging over the city in the Mumbai monsoons…

It’s like the murky shadow lurking in the corner…

It’s like the disquieted air taking over me…

It’s like a nightmare which suddenly jolts me

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Runaway Bride

So it’s an open secret that I have a lifelong membership to ALL the matrimonial sites in India, and I strategically renew it every year during the ‘sale’ season. Yes, would you believe it, even matrimonial sites have a ‘limited period offer’, and the cheap Bengali that I am, I simply can’t resist taking advantage of this ‘discounted’ opportunity to meet and marry a fellow cheap Bengali!

Earlier I would get resentful and create a fuss every time my mom would ask me to go through xyz profile or meet abc guy. But over the years, I have got used to it and now it almost has an entertainment value to it (yes, my life is THAT empty!)

So, I have this really elaborate profile haunting the matrimonial space with me in a black saree, hair in place and a perfect smile (not too wide) with completely irrelevant details like my birth date/time, caste/sub-caste, rashi/gotra etc. etc. most of which I don’t even understand. Also, my personality is described as ‘modern yet traditional with very strong values’ and apparently I am a teetotaler/occasional drinker. Obviously, my parents know none of this is true, since we have all got high together at multiple times, but my mom was strictly instructed by the ‘consultant’ (yes, matrimonial sites also have consultants) to tailor my profile in a way so that it receives the maximum number of hits, which explains the abundance of certain keywords to ensure high visibility in search results.

A typical ‘alliance’ would start with my mom calling me hesitantly and asking me ‘to check my mail’, an euphemism for ‘there is a guy waiting for you in black and white’. Excited I would immediately do so, only to be disappointed that there IS no new mail. I would call her back and crib, ‘but you promised!’ Puzzled, she would rack her brains and say, ‘check your spam’ and I would wail, ‘see, it’s a case of natural selection. Nature is against me marrying this guy.’

A few days/months later (depending upon my mom’s hectic schedule/availability of ‘eligible’ Bong bachelors on matrimonial sites), she would again call me. This time, there would indeed be a profile sitting pretty in my inbox, mostly as a PDF ATTACHMENT! Yes, it did take me some time to recover from the shock, but now I have learnt to take it in my stride. For the next half an hour I would put all important things on hold and minutely scrutinize my potential husband’s resume, watching out for phrases like ‘engineer’, ‘investment banker’, ‘social drinker’, ‘settled abroad’ all of which scream out, ‘I am adequately qualified to bore you to death’.

Once in a blue moon, I would fail to find any glitch in the profile and agree to share my phone number with a stranger, who would appropriately call me after a gap of 2-3 days and we would politely discuss the weather, our individual job descriptions and career aspirations, moving on to other neutral topics like hobbies, movies (I would NEVER admit that I have watched American Pie a million times and stick to Schindler’s List as my all-time favourite movie) and cricket. After a few calls/chats, we would figure out we are ‘not compatible’, i.e. too ugly/too boring or even worse, decide to meet.

Now this boy-meeting phase is a bit disappointing since I am not at home, which evidently means that I miss out on the filmy bit: i.e. the decking up in a saree, making chai and carrying it till the living room in towering heels, eyes fixated on the floor. Unfortunately even my parents are not so paranoid to insist on flying down every time I am supposed to meet someone and ensure that their only daughter is ‘protected’. So they happily put the ball in my court and ask me to go ahead and meet up casually ON MY OWN. With so much responsibility to live up to the claims in my illustrious profile (i.e. modern yet traditional/pleasant/pretty), I have to be extremely careful to hide MY REAL SELF.

And there it is: the life of the eternal Runaway Bride

Monday, September 3, 2012


As a kid, I never liked playing with dolls. In fact one of my darkest secrets is that I am abnormally attached to this ONE doll (I still have it in my home in Kolkata) and despite my mom’s subtle suggestions that I am too old to hold on to it, I have steadfastly refused to give it up. But no, I am definitely not proud of it, because the rest of me is testosterone charged: I love no-nonsense, objective conversations and I love sports (and no, golf is not a sport).

In fact I love sports so much that I can lounge around the house for two days tuned to different sports channels without getting up, other than to go to the gym. Yes, I have joined a gym, and since I am paying through my nose, I ensure that I put in my one hour EVERY DAY, even if my body refuses to co-operate.

But coming to my weekend, I had the MOST awesome time, as I remained glued to the TV in my old college T shirt, munching on Kurkure: while the India-New Zealand Test match served up a mouth-watering contest, it was followed by the Premier League in the evening and the U.S. Open at night. What more can you ask for? I mean, really!

Take yesterday for instance: my day began with Virat Kohli getting his 2nd Test century. Then following a brief entertainment by Dhoni and Ashwin, New Zealand dismissed India managing to get a narrow lead in the first innings. But India hit back with Ashwin taking yet another 5-wicket haul, and today India will be chasing a challenging total in the 4th innings, while I shall get no work done!

After the cricket match, I had a narrow window, during which I hurriedly finished my cardio, had a bath and again settled in front of the TV, this time to watch Arsenal vs Liverpool, followed by Manchester United vs Southampton. I rooted for the underdogs as Southampton almost drove home with a fairy tale victory over the favourites, but for the last minute heroics of Van Persie.

As soon as the match got over, I switched over to the live action of US Open. Some of the old favourites like Kim Clijsters, Lleyton Hewitt or even Venus Williams are crashing out in the early stages which only reminds me that I am also getting older.

Have I become an addict? Or was I always an addict kept under control by reality?

May be it’s time for me to retire as well, and go back to the doll I love so much