Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Best Closing Sequence I Have Seen


People disappoint me.
I tell them at outset
they will. They insist...
(in not so many words)
"No, I'm the real deal..."
and sometimes
I am taken in. But
in the end... people
Disappoint, dismay.
Thankfully in most cases,
the lightbulb flickers
soon enough. In others...
Well they linger to crystallize
The Pain

PS: I am Sure that I disappoint people too

I sign-out with one of the most beautiful closing sequences I have known. Its from the Bergman movie, Skammen, and it summarizes his work, and a lot of other things so beautifully:
"It wasn't too awful since it was so beautiful".

Good night. You have been a wonderful audience.

Right Now-2

Progress Report

My need has frayed with time; you said it would.
It has; I can walk again across the flood
Of gold sil popples on the straw-gold hills
Under a deep Californian sky that expels
All truant clouds; watch squads of cattle graze
By the radio-telescope; blue-battered jays
Flash raucous squaking by my swivelling head
While squirrels sine-wave past over the dead
Oak-leaves, and not miss you_although I may
Admit that near the telescope yesterday
By a small bushcovered gully I blundered on
Five golden fox-cubs playing in the sun
And wished you had been there to see them play;
But that I only mention by the way.

Vikram Seth

Right Now-1

At thirty-one when some are rich ...               by Philip Larkin

At thirty-one when some are rich
And others dead,
I, being neither, have a job instead,
But come each evening back to a high room
Above deep gardenfuls of air, on which
Already has been laid an autumn bloom.

And here, instead of planning how
I can best thrive,
How best win fame and money while alive,
I sit down, supper over, and begin
One of the letters of a kind I now
Feel most of my spare time is going in:

I mean, letters to women—no,
Not of the sort
The papers tell us get read out in court,
Leading directly to or from the bed.
Love-letters only in a sense: they owe
Too much elsewhere to come under that head.

Too much kindness, for a start;
I know, none better,
The eyelessness of days without a letter;
Too much to habit ('Stop? But why on earth...?'):
Too much to an unwillingness to part
With people wise enough to see my worth.

I'm kind, but not kinetic—don't
Enlist a word
Simply because its deed has been deferred;
Ends in themselves, my letters plot no change;
They carry nothing dutiable; they won't
Aspire, astound, establish or estrange.

Why write them, then? Are they in fact
Just compromise,
Amiable residue when each denies
The other's want? Or are they not so nice,
Stand-ins in each case simply for an act?
Mushrooms or virtue? or, toadstools or vice?

They taste the same. So summer ends,
And nights draw in.
Another evening wasted! I begin
Writing the envelope, and a bitter smoke
Of self-contempt, of boredom, too, ascends.
What use is an endearment and a joke?

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Take The Chance

Someone I know vaguely once wrote: This is your life, the one place you get to play God.

Lovely background score for this. As usual, just push play and read on.

D has taken a big chance in life. Professionally it is a perfect decision- albeit a hard one. RV has taken a similar decision, though under very different circumstances.

Circumstances... they present us with options, or force us to do things.

That don't appear easy to begin with.

The amiss comfort, money. Living in an apartment is replaced with a dorm and common lavatories. Sometimes I want to cry.

But they have still done it.

For D in a sense, for a while, hopefully it is just a loss of financial independence. For RV, I guess there was no better way out.

I have had my options this year, and chosen status quo, and hopefully in life I have made the right choice, professionally. Just recently I got voted the top 5 professionals in the country in my line of work (Thank you Thank you). Of course it does wonders to my arrogance of things in general.

I watched the movie Metro a few days back. Certain parts of it were pathetic, everything I think cinema should not be. For instance, I am of the opinion that films which claim to be intelligent cinema, should not be a metaphor on life. When you claim to depict life as it is, you should be observant enough to realize that Life by itself presents these beautiful yet poignant, happy yet lingering experiences, bitter yet laced with sugar moments. You just have to observe. And have the calibre to translate that observation.

Its different if you're making a song and dance movie. Or comedies.

I am talking about the entire episode on the call centre sleeping around phenomenon.

It was loud, unclean, in a sort of way that only crude cinema can be. The script was unpolished, with little style. One only has to see "The Apartment" to figure out how cheap the Hindi version was. One only needs to see Shirley MacLaine, to figure why Kangana Ranaut, inspite of wearing smart business suits is only a small town girl who says "congretulashions". Life is not about wearing the right clothes Baby. And why Sharman "who the fuck is that" Joshi, is a P.I.M.P, and nothing else.

But then may be, as D says, I am just a normal person, who wants to carry forward happy thoughts.

But I liked the bit about Irfaan Khan. Though SSS says his eyes scare her, I think he is a good actor. And that he was given a small yet useful role to play. That no relationship, even marriage, comes with a guarantee card which says its going to work. Its upto us to make it happen. That if a relationship fails, it is failure on the part of the characters in that script. You just have to TAKE THE CHANCE!

Communication is beautiful. Its all that matters. All the wonderful people I have known, and have amazing memories of are a function of the awesome dialogue I have shared with them. That I ran a minimal risk of being misunderstood, and vice versa.

I love people I communicate well with. I am thrilled when I communicate well with myself.

Like I told DP the other night. As it is impossible to hate everything about someone, it is equally difficult to love everything as well. You just have to give people time. They reveal. Beautifully.

It is after all, one life.

There is someone I know (rather used to) who I only happened to talk to at 2AM, once every few months. She still thinks I only want to get into her pants. So far from true. I enjoy hearing her voice on the phone genuinely. She complains she gives the wrong vibes. But who cares about vibes once you've got the communication going?


But then, this life as Metro shows is about making choices. You may choose status quo, or choose to make that big decision. Sometimes its better to settle down, and not look for the next better deal. Sometimes it is better to move on. Who knows what works. In life, you can only connect the dots looking backwards.

Settle down. Ah! I think every human being, myself included, does want to settle down. At some point of time. To abort the search. To have that light bulb moment. To live happily ever after. After all the search is a draining exercise.

I have trouble settling down. But then I think when I do, I will be really happy about it.

Sometimes I think two years will pass by in a wink. And then sometimes I just hang my head and think how unrealistic a thought that is.

The other night for the first time ever I was drinking alone at the Shack. I go there on Tuesday nights, because they play good music, and on weeknights the crowd is great. On weekends its only a place for the cheap.

I see all these young early 20 something women with long haired guys. On weekends I see them again, rather versions of them who are 5-7 years older. In the fancy places where I drink to avoid the crowd, and to enjoy my music, I see them with stable looking, well off guys. Who wear checked Tommy Hilfiger Shirts, tucked into designer CK jeans. The women carry boat shaped dainty purses. With possibly no money in them. And I wonder, if there is a message in there.

And I wonder if there isn't a better way to end the Search? Is submission the only solution for the ordinary?

In such choices there is really no telling to how unhappiness manifests itself . And when. Like someone I dated along time back recently told me- you can't imagine how difficult it is to live in the same house with someone you don't love day after day.

My response was: Have babies. There is a fair chance you'll love them enough, and for the next ten odd years they will be home. Analgesic.

I am happy D is pursuing her ambition. Like I have heard it said, in life so often we walk away from our dreams, afraid that we might fail, or worse yet, afraid we may succeed.

While I knew so early on that she would realise her dreams, I sometimes wonder whether I shall have to wait till the winter of my life to make mine come true.

In the meanwhile, seasons change. And I... I just live in the hope that someday so will we.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How Things Change

When I went to engineering this would have been a demographic impossibility.

Sigh. Once more... Well Never Mind

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Right Now

I have the terribly irritating habit of listening to the same song again and again, till my ears can’t take it anymore.

Currently, that song is “Me and Bobby McGee”, written by Kris Kristofferson, originally performed by Roger Miller, and made, oh so famous by Janis Joplin (after changing Bobby’s gender, some lyrics, and adding a hell lot of Jazz). Her rendition made it to number #148 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Kristofferson and Joplin had been dating till just before the song was written, and though Kristofferson denied it; Joplin is rumored to have been the inspiration for this song (mostly arising from the line on slipping away in Salinas).

It was the last song that Joplin was to record. Released posthumously- making it only the second song to top the charts after the singer had passed away. Joplin’s slipping away into the night, from a heroin overdose, followed that of Jimi Hendrix a week before. Both were aged 27. Their deaths, coming less than three months after Jim Morrison was found dead in his Paris apartment bathtub, dealt one of the biggest blows to rock and roll. He too was aged 27.

Ironically, the heroin that killed her, was prepared by a substitute taster, who made the batch “too pure”. Among its victims the same night were many of the LA jet set.

Depressing stuff. So much talent wasted. Such levels of self-destruction.

Janis Joplin, Keith Moon, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain. Sometimes, life does not give a second chance.

Or does it… Johnny Cash, Ozzy, Ray Charles. All saved by love.

I think Lennon got it right. Probably all you do indeed need is love.

Anyway, the song is brilliant. Lyrics evoking some very strong imagery … “Windshield wipers slapping time” and the super famous “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose”, Joplin’s powerful and distinctive voice- rasping through the speakers is amazing.

Spent the long weekend shopping (so many irresistible offers on everything from M&S shirts to Honda Civics), getting done in by gimmicks to buy things I have no use for (have over a hundred shirts now, all of them either white or blue), stuffing myself with whatever I can eat (which is pretty much anything that’s moved when alive), read some very ordinary posts, and just for kicks flattered the authors by posting glowing comments (I guess they couldn't be bothered), being dragged to and falling asleep in a random play, drinking, getting horribly hung over, moaning over the lack of good books or movies (not even Rat a-fucking too ee) , sorting out admin matters of life (a dated passport, buying new hand towels, polishing shoes), and some meaningless chronicling at Smokerings and working only a little bit.

Just push play and Sing-a-long. I have taken the liberty of changing the gender back, but kept some of Joplin’s defining touches.

Me and Bobby McGee
Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waiting for the trains,
And I’s feeling nearly faded as my jeans.
Bobby thumbed a diesel down just before it rained,
Took us all the way to New Orleans.

I pulled my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana
And was playing soft while Bobby sang the blues,
With them windshield wipers slapping time and
I was holding Bobby’s hand in mine
We finally sang up every song that driver knew.

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose,

Nothing don't mean nothing honey if it ain't free, now now.
Feeling good was easy; Lord, when Bobby sang the blues,
You know feeling good was good enough for me,

Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.

From the Kentucky coalmines to the California sun,

Hey, Bobby shared the secrets of my soul.

Through all kinds of weather, through everything we done,

Hey Bobby baby! kept me from the cold.

One day up near Salinas, lord, I let her slip away,
She was looking for that love I hope she’ll find,
Well I’d trade all my tomorrows for a single yesterday,
To be holding Bobby’s body close to mine.

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,
And nothing left was all she left to me,
Feeling good was easy, Lord, when Bobby sang the blues,
And buddy, that was good enough for me.
Good enough for me and my Bobby McGee.

La la la, la la la la, la la la,

la la la laLa la la la la Bobby McGee.

La la la la la, la la la la la

La la la la la, Bobby McGee, la.

La La la, la la la la la la,

La La la la la la la la la, hey now Bobby now Bobby McGee yeah.

Na na na na na na na na, na na na na na na na na na na na

Hey now Bobby now, Bobby McGee, yeah

Next post: Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Irrelevance of Reciprocity

RESTAURANT: Bombay Talkie, New York City
ON THE MENU AS: Unrequited Love
PREPARATION: 2½ ounces of gin, a half-ounce of sugar syrup infused overnight with saffron, and 1½ ounces of sweet lime juice; shaken with ice.
PRICE: $10

Often in life we are told stories of unrequited love. Everyone has heard them, in lore, or real life. Most have probably experienced it as well. Today, I wonder how important reciprocity is really.

Sometimes I have felt affection towards people, and understandably only on a few occasions it has been reciprocated. I think back, and I realize that they didn’t feel the same, can in no manner take away from what I felt for them. Conversely, when reciprocated, I didn’t feel a stronger affection, just because I was loved back. At best reciprocity adds longevity to relationships. At worst, it just creates expectations.

The reasons why I am thinking of this is because lately a friend of mine, has been going on and on about how he is growing old, and no one loves him. It is becoming too much, and of late I have only a few drinking buddies left. Though I wear this absolutely stoic expression during the discussions, I realize that he is indeed serious. But presenting my views to him is unlikely to be of any consequence.

Now I have a very strong sense of ego, which does blur the objective train of thought that I am now trying to pursue. And I realize the agony over unrequited love, is nothing but an outcome of ego. It is a manifestation of an exaggeration of the self, which finds it difficult to deal with rejection. But truly, honestly, reciprocation does nothing.

Once you have a thing going, and by a thing I mean an essentially exclusive relationship, it leads to a whole host of experiences, which is difficult to go through by yourself. I guess it is a desire to have those experiences that make it so important for us to have a closure in our affections.

But unfortunately, in life there are, as Arundhati Roy so aptly put, Laws of Love. Which lay down who is to be loved by whom, and how much. Actually, it isn’t a law, a theorem, because those have some basis. It is an axiom. No reason, no argument, just that it is.

Which is when people bemoan their unrequited love, it is so boring, because as an outsider, you know that while one person is in love, the other is merely thinking, should I get into this, what is there in it for me, or worse, is there going to be a better deal soon? Its not nice, but it is true.

Of course, there might exist cosmic moments when both parties are equally in love (if it is possible), and then they go into the sunset holding hands. But most of the time, it is just two people having a very good time in each others company, and calling it love.

And think it is unreal.
And hence I think reciprocity is the most exaggerated concept of our lives.

And I think I am not making any sense in this post.

"In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make."
The Beatles

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

More Than a Lot

"The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same."

Tonight I Can Write, Pablo Neruda. (0)

(This post comes with a background score. Just push play and read on)

I really don’t think I can live alone. Whether I live with people in the real world, or peep into their lives through books, newspapers, movies, music; they are indispensable. Fortunately, perhaps, I cannot watch TV.

For the last fifteen years or so, I have been living on my own, with infrequent company. My family, I spend a sum total of two weeks, over the course of the calendar year. So that’s not much.

Under such circumstances, it is natural for one to develop ties, albeit by accident, elsewhere, and remarkably one finds that such ties… are capable of such joys, and remorse.

Biological ties, I guess, stay, despite distance, or time, despite your actions (within certain tolerances), or inaction. The Other wither away, mostly as a consequence of the same.

And before They wither away, mostly the going is good.

At times like this, Time steps in, fills spaces, brings comfort, the comfort of familiarity. Of waking up next to someone warm. Of coming home- sometimes to an ear-to-ear grin, sometimes a frown. Of long conversations and shared silences. Tastes, and more importantly, shared distastes. Of unconditional discretion (1) conveyed through understanding nods. And sometimes, through scathing criticisms.

It is only much later, that it is confessed, that that advice was given without always understanding everything. In the knowledge that once the frustration had passed, I would know exactly what to do, and how best to do it.

All criticisms, however mild, were well considered.

Finally perhaps, the comfort of a shared conscience. (Once you get there, together you have basically made a trip to a place from where there is nowhere to go- in a pleasant sort of way.)

Later, Time… that bitch is gone. There is so little left of it, and then I am running, running to stash in every possible experience. And then suddenly it is over. (2)

“Time is the enemy of lovers, the thief that robs them of precious moments together. The foe that raises doubts and questions.”

There is this Space. With only one thing left to say: “I wish I had seen this coming, or I wish I had done that, or I wish…” And way too late in the day, I realize that the one wish I was granted with is this gift of friendship.

However, looking back, there were no missed steps, nothing that could’ve been done any differently. If things were conducted a little by design, it would hardly have been this perfect.

On a particularly wet morning, passing through Mahim on my way to work I see people scurrying for cover- in the melee there is this handicapped man, on the contraption they drive themselves around, and seated next to him is a child, in a raincoat and a school bag. They seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. The child clapping his hands, the man laughing out loud, while the world gets drenched to the bone around them.

Then, one particularly bacchanalian night, I walk back home, and there is a little more than a mild drizzle, and I am carefully evading puddles. It is an hour or two past midnight. There is a solitary tarpaulin hutment, next to a stinky garbage dump, huddled inside a family of about 8. They are eating out of a paper bag, and from the look on their faces, one would think that they are looking out from the verandah of their beach front property in Goa, fascinated by the rains, and eating the best food in the world.

Probably I read too much into all this, but know what, these sights mean more than a bit to me.

Fondness, I guess, dwells in the unlikeliest of habitats, weathering the worst storms. Togetherness, it seems, makes up for quite a bit.

There is a person at work who recently moved to a desk on my left. We call him Mr. Reality Check. He is my batch business school, got married between graduating and joining the first job, the same time during which I was tripping on Kovalam beach. He has a house, and a school going kid. He has decent savings, and the house is worth three times his investment. He showed me a spreadsheet which he uses to track multiple household bills. All these disclosures in a matter of a week or so. He asks me why I am not married, and what savings I have, and what I do with all my money.

While such people are usually the butt of my ridicule all the time, I do realize that I am pissing away my money, and chasing off anyone who has ever loved me. That as I am growing old busy having a good time or fighting those imaginary demons in my head, slowly things are being taken away from me. And that I won’t realize what’s gone for quite a few years.

I wonder what will it take, for a person like me to embrace such a life. I, who can write a thousand word post on relationships, can advocate love, why is it so difficult to be able to hold on. To get beyond relationships, love and affection which comes with a Use By date to begin with.

I have been told that in writing, and in life in general, I have a problem with closure, with endings. So I will leave this now, with this reliable borrowed expression.

For Chivo:

Because, we are also what we lose.

Amores Perros


0. I know this has been quoted recently, but it is somehow apt for the moment.
1. Indra Nooyi:

You know, people like us get very lonely, because you cannot share too much with other people. So you come home and he is there and you can discuss anything with him and he gives you sound advice.
2. Woody Allen:
There's an old joke - um... two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions." Well, that's essentially how I feel about life - full of loneliness, and misery, and suffering, and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


I am a day late into this post.

I promised Ms. Rowling a post the day she was done with hers. She is, presumably. I just finished reading the last HP last night.

I have read all the Harry Potters. For a person residing in the shell of exclusive taste in almost everything, thats quite a bit. But I made her a promise, in my mind, not in person, to comment once she wrote that last one. My thoughts... and at Smokerings, thats all that counts.

I latched onto the entire HP thing a little late, towards the end of the year that the first one was published, on a long train ride from Jamshedpur to Ernakulam, a four day train ride. And I found it engaging.

Honestly speaking, out of the seven, 1, 4 and now 7 make a good reading. Really. The first one was obviously good, which is why everyone sat up and took notice, including cynics like me. Yes, even back then. The concept was brilliant. That there might exist a world, which we were unaware of, that we were Muggles, while the smart ones were called Wizards. And that they had a world where the dishes could be done with a flick of a wand.

And then there was the fourth one, pacy, interesting with a real purpose.

And finally the last one, which I bought only by way of an obligation, but turned out to a fascinating read nevertheless.

But I have a problem with the series. It has nothing to do with its popularity. I think it paints too nice a picture of life. No, I know its not that easy, there's that grey in the book, that entire bit about He who must not be named. The Slytherins, etc. The entire good against bad story. But alas life isn't that nice. In life there is no sorting hat to begin with to tell you, who is nice (Hufflepuff), who is intelligent (Ravenclaw), who is brave (Gryffindor) and who is evil (Slytherin). Because in life, everyone is a bit of everything.

I see people and I find that in everyone, there is something so exquisite, that you just have to watch and wonder. This is a lot coming from a misanthrope like me. But then in most people there are weaknesses too, there are flaws. What shows up first is a function of how you approach a person. If unfortunately, the flaws surface much earlier than the pearls, and I realize thats what life is all about- you've gotta give people time.That they're not around to put up an act for you, to showcase their jewels for you. That with time it all shows up- who is nice, who is intelligent, who is brave, and who is wicked. Not who actually ... what- what is nice, what is intelligent, what is brave, and what is wicked. That it all resides, in measures, inside all of us. And if you haven't figured it in someone yet, just give it time.

Time, there's so little of it nowadays. I don't have it. There are so many people who don't have it for me, they write me off, and I'm OK. They'll probably come around. But I wish in life there was a Sorting Hat, something you could conclusively use to say whose right and who's not your type.

I own all the Harry Potters, and the only other author I can say that about is Vikram Seth. but then probably I can't borrow one from anyone I know. I can't.

Too much on my mind right now. More later.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I'm sentimental, if you know what I mean
I love the country but I can't stand the scene.
And I'm neither left or right
I'm just staying home tonight,
getting lost in that hopeless little screen.
But I'm stubborn as those garbage bags
that Time cannot decay,
I'm junk but I'm still holding up
This little wild bouquet
~ Democracy, Leonard Cohen

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Delayed by Design

I actually waited eight hours so that Anuja could be crowned the Queen of the Universe.

So here is my post on my personal 8 idiosyncrasies.

1. At home I wash my hands every time I touch something. It is somewhat of an obsession, and something I just can't keep myself from doing. At work however I can live the entire day without washing hands, unless I go to, you know where. However, I do end up using a lot of hand tissues at work.

2. I walk bare feet at work. On the entire trading floor. I even have a pair of beach slippers which I use to go to the loo. But being fussy about clean feet I also make sure the flooring gets shampooed regularly.

3. My hair grows faster on the back of my head than on the front. Being intolerant of hair over my neck I almost always end up getting a haircut prematurely, often with disastrous results.

4. I hate using any handkerchief for more than a month- because they start looking lumpy after a wash.

5. I end up having some 50 windows open on my comp by end of work day. I think I am bad at closing things, so once open, it stays that way. And oh, I don't shut down my comp for months.

6. I do not have a credit card... not a personal one at least. Used to long back, lost them, and never really tried to get one afterwards. The one I do have, the office one for my expense account, I never claim, which is messier.

7. I am hugely superstitious. Hugely. I believe that professional success, especially in my line of work, is mostly a function of luck. So the jinxed Mont Blanc is not taken to meetings, the faded blue shirt which botches of antique tea stains (which D calls pochha shirt), is worn on a day when I might be doing a largish trade, or need Lady Luck's assistance to ease out some ass whipping day. Many other things.

8. I don't like being tagged. Being tagged expects me to write a funny post. Which I am absolutely incapable of. Cynical, yes, funny, no.

Original Tag Rules
1) Each player starts with 8 random facts/habits about themselves.
2) People who are tagged, write a blog post about their own 8 random things, and post these rules.
3) At the end of your post you need to tag 8 people and include their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment and tell them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.
4) If you fail to do this within eight hours, you will have to acknowledge TO as the King of the Universe

Problem: I do not know 8 people. So I tag no one!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

No Point Crying

"Men at some time are masters of their fates. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings."

Monday, July 16, 2007


Night In Jiangning

A glass of tea; the moon;
The frogs croak in the weeds.
A bat wriggles down across
Gold disk to silver reeds.
The distant light of lamps.
The whirr of winnowing grain.
The peace of loneliness.
The scent of imminent rain.

Vikram Seth. All You Who Sleep Tonight.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

It is said that if you only read one page of Spanish in your life, make sure it was written by Neruda. Not entirely true, but for now this line is perfect:

"The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same."

Tonight I Can Write, Pablo Neruda.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Guardian's 1,000 films to see before you die,,2108487,00.html

I've seen 165, including some I wouldn't regret not seeing before I died. Anyway, good fun.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Homecoming

She stood in the doorway, every night around this time. Night had not yet fallen, neither could it be called daylight. Little girls hurried back, while their brothers, a bit less concerned, dragged their cricket bats home, as though a day’s work had been finished in the fields. She had none to call her own, she sighed. Just some memories.

She remembered that once there had been a few, two actually. Her daughter, now a doctor far away in America, would scamper home, and dive straight into her books. While her son, that little devil, dragged himself home, only to watch the most useless program on Doordardshan. She remembered how he wouldn’t drink his milk, had a terrible memory for tables, and homework, and an immaculate one for the TV schedule. Impeccable.

Now, he too was gone. Gone to faraway Tokyo. She didn’t understand what he did for a living, but her husband kept mentioning something called an investment bank. She kept his visiting card in her bedside drawer. It said “Vice President”, and on the reverse was a scribble which apparently meant the same in Japanese, he had said. It made her feel kind of important. It had been so much easier to tell all the relatives what he did when he worked as an engineer in the nearby car factory. Everyone knew what an engineer does, and everyone saw the cars he made.

She realized that her children had turned out exactly as she wanted. Daughter doctor, son engineer, once. Daughter married with a baby, son, married, once. But they hardly ever came home.

She remembered the one time she had gone visiting her daughter in America. After the initial euphoria had died down, she realized that this was not a big city. Not even close. Nothing compared to her Delhi. Or Calcutta where she had lived a long time back. She realized that small towns were all the same, whether in America or India. Even then, there was no way of getting from point A to B, unless she walked. In fact there was neither point A nor B. Just her daughter’s house. And when she did go for those long walks, she got stares from passers by. Probably it was her saree. Or perhaps, as her daughter told her later, that nobody walked on the streets in Wisconsin. She remembered how irate her husband had been on seeing her son-in-law’s well stocked bar. And what a difficult time she had keeping him quiet.

She remembered the time she had gone visiting her son when he was in Bombay. How detached he seemed from them. There was no connection, nothing. He came home most evenings, not drunk, but with alcohol on his breath. Client meetings he said. His work hours were treacherous, and on weekends, if he was home, he slept. He had no time for them. No time. They cut their trip short, and never went back. And then news arrived that he had married. They wondered why they hadn’t been told of it before. Then when they were ready to go and visit him, to mend fences, they were informed that she had gone away, for very long. She never came back. He too went away to Tokyo. Alone. Briefly, quietly, stopping over at home. Recently, he started coming again, on work, but rarely, briefly. There apparently was a lot of interest in India suddenly, he told his father.

She felt a tug at her saree, and saw two children- a boy and a girl, probably aged no more than five or six. They had freckled faces and runny noses, which probably had been carelessly rubbed on their sweater sleeves. The boy dragged a cricket bat. The girl, carried a school bag. She knew them well. They belonged to the neighbour’s servant. She knew what they wanted. They had been coming every day for the last six months. She went into her son’s room, and pulled out a little racing car card. It said Pinnfarina Quattro- a fine green coloured sports car, 2100cc, 1974. She had been dreading this day. The card was the last one.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Rain…

... moved in noisily last night like a victorious army walks through the gates of a fallen city. Stealth in approach, raucous in conquest, its drops made the pitter-patter on the corrugated steel canopy of my house, much like the beating of a victory drum. There was no sense of compromise in its beat; it was, here to stay.

I stood by the window, watching a people taken by surprise, scurrying for cover, or blithely stepping out for a laugh, a good time. Its time had come. I remembered how I read somewhere that the first showers of Bombay rumbled in like a train. It is easy to associate trains with rains in Bombay- they will eventually be brought to a halt one day, if only for a few hours.

The Flame of the Forest blossoms outside my window, which I can almost touch, extending my arm from here, sway wildly, as if intoxicated. The sky in the absence of stars is a deeper blue, with only occasional blur of clouds made orange by tiny specks of sunlight trapped within. The wind is maddening, breath taking, bringing in splashes of rain, and many memories. My face is moist, and my lenses lashed with pristine drops of water- I have long given up trying to keep them dry. The wind, it feels heavenly, and almost is.

Tomorrow, there will probably be images of fallen trees, uprooted telephone poles, of trains wading through murky water. In the morning, twigs and blackened flowers will be found on the sidewalks, on tops of cars, to be wiped off by well meaning hands. Tomorrow, if this downpour does not subside, the ride back home will be murderous. But for now, I don’t want to think about that at all.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Views From an Alcohol Addled Ante Chamber.

“Draft beer, not people." ~Bumper Sticker

It is rarely that I post anything of any practical consequence. Here is an attempt at one.

Shrek is usually my least preferred drinking partner. This in spite his absolutely avant-garde taste in music, views on inconsequential things etc. However, his habit of posing uncomfortable questions is very irritating. Last time we were drinking, at some 4 AM, both of us must’ve been a bottle down, each, he asked- Alcoholic hoye gelam naaki aamra? (Have we turned alcoholic?). Between us, though, we nurse a plan to open a bar some day where entry will be based on a Multiple Choice Questionnaire (Where did Sid Vicious of Sex Pistols shoot Nancy Spungen? Girls allowed inside if they say New York, but guys have to say Chelsea Hotel.)

Anyway, the reason I bring up that discussion again, is because, I mentioned to D at Tavern the other the day that I must do a post on the top 10 18 drinking places in Bombay and she instantly offered the services of her Lenovo for it (thank you, thank you- my MacBook is indisposed, for reasons best left unsaid).

When it comes to drinking, I shed modesty, and admit, that owing to some extremely quality company (D, TinMan, Chops, Rosh, BossMan, IK, and Shrek), over the years I have developed a certain sense of discretion. And six years of doing it in Bombay, let me say that I am an absolute authority on this aspect of the city. In this respect the buck stops here.

The List only includes places, which are in currently existence. For that reason, Library Bar and Suzie Wong are not on the list. Nostalgia is dangerous when mixed with alcohol. Also discotheques and eateries, which serve alcohol, are out. The ranking also does not include places which I frequent for certain other reasons. So Kandeel where I go because there is no cell phone network coverage does not appear on the list.

(In descending order)

Toto’s Garage: Toto’s is everyone’s elementary school of drinking out. When you first land in Bombay, it forms a part of the handout given by Elders on how you should find your bearings in this city. The music is familiar, booze cheap, the staff friendly, décor, interesting and possibilities unlimited. It is a very good place to meet up, and then head out elsewhere. Turn offs: Plays the same music everyday, in the same sequence; tends to get too crowded even on weekdays, and very bad ventilation.
Café Leopold: The United Nations of drinking out. At any given time there must be people from 10 nationalities drinking. Get one of the pavement side seats to watch the world go by as you work on your beer. Turn Offs: Exceptionally bad service.

Café Mondegar: Baptism by beer. The Juke Box is a killer, and ensures that as long as you have those coins to push down the slots, you get your money’s worth as far as the music is concerned. A like-minded crowd ensures that you don’t end up listening to 50Cent, even if you run out of coins. Mario’s artwork ensures that this place remains a South Bombay legend for many years to come. Turn Offs: The heat and the AC room inside is not quite it.

Irish Pub: The music is a big plus, and the fact that it has fallen out of favour with the jet set. This is the story of a place which lost the plot somewhere along the way and acquired a shady reputation. Turn Offs: The occasional snorter, and bad blood afterwards.

Geoffrey’s: An excellent after work hang out, possibly the only bar in town which has flashbacks of a time gone by- the classic English pub. Great service, reasonably priced, and very close to the financial district. Turn Offs: Too many people you know from work.

Hawaiian Shack: How many times have you been asked by friends who have never been to Bombay, what the Shack is like? Bombay’s most famous suburban hang out. Plays good music, but only on weekdays, especially Tuesdays. And then again on weekdays the women are close to irresistible. They get all dressed up and land up at 11PM on a Wednesday night, and you wonder what they do for a living. Turn Offs: Avoidable on weekends, very, very crowded. The drinks take forever to come, and it can turn into a sausage fest.

Wink: Yes, we all know that the Library Bar was better, but then once you’ve put that behind you this isn’t very bad. Sometimes I drink to have a conversation. The music is muted, or better incoherent, so one can have a conversation without ripping off those vocal chords. And the seating makes it cozy for a date, if one is so inclined. And the Trattoria next door is a great place for a bite afterwards. Turn Offs: The limited menu.

Janta: What would Bandra alcoholics do without Janta? Probably live longer. But once you have come to terms with those issues Janta is indispensable. Where else can you get a choice of Chinese food and alcohol at 3 AM in the night? Home delivered too. This is that place where we went towards the end of every month, when every penny counted, and when you just couldn’t bear to drink out of a bottle at home. Turn Offs: Very loud crowd and of course, no music.

Indigo: Ah let me tell you, I might say that I do not consider this important, but a few (read 5 at least), those leggy beauties around the bar, do make the experience headier. When I was younger I found Indigo a little stiff, but now my needs are more basic. A great choice of booze, (Blue Label, anyone?), good music, and stays open till quite late. Also some seriously good food on the menu. Turn Offs: Watch the Bill. And getting a place to sit is next to impossible.

Dome: The best views in town, awesome breeze, this rooftop watering hole atop the Intercontinental, is one of the best place for a quick couple after work. Overlooks the Queens’s necklace and assured to score you the best points with your date. Unless, as in my case she is a veggie, and only gets to eat the most expensive Teriyaki potatoes in the world. Turn Offs: The Menu.

Opium Den: Arguably the classiest watering hole in all of Bombay. The richest and the most successful- I mean the biggest swinging dicks in the markets drink there. The famous Oberoi view, those large windows, the super-comfortable sofas to sink in, the most softest music, for the most important conversations. A league of its own. Turn Offs; None.

Sports Bar (Express and the Original): Friendly place, booze is cheap, and it allows an occasional dunk, and a round of pool. The pleasure of watching a game of cricket all day over beers. Turn-offs: The music is too loud to have any conversation at all.

Boat Club: This non-descript Bandra bar turned a hot spot once Toto’s shut for a while. Of course, we used the go there from much before, from the time Shrek was thrown out of Toto’s. The best music on Sunday, a familiar feel and a Thursday Hip-Hop night, which had, even me hooked. IK, Shrek, D and me once drank here four days a week. Rumour has it that we funded the renovation of the place. This is also the only place where we have witnessed a “No Holds Barred Bombay Lesbians” gathering. Unforgettable. I always have high respect for a place where the DJ knows his stuff. So Umagumma instead of Coming Back to Life, and Never Rains in Southern California, played when least expected are always welcome. Turn Offs: Fudged bills, and polarized crowd.
Golden Chariot: This is a concept place. Open air; with live old Hindi film music, harmonium, tabla combo. Just love the Hemant Kumar songs they sing there. The only respectable place in town to offer this experience. Ample parking, cheap booze, plenty of dining options. Not to be missed. Turn Offs: Just the occasional aircraft taking off for disturbance.

Not Just Jazz By The Bay: The only place, till recently, which offers karaoke and live bands of choice. Sadly the quality of bands in Bombay leaves much to be desired. I wonder where Sixth Sense and Deep Freez, two of Bombay’s best bands, have disappeared. I am a regular here, so the stage side tables without reservation are par for the course. As Chops would say- “quality Man, quality”. Turn Offs: Please refer to previous post.

Hard Rock Café: Bombay’s best and latest acquisition. The best DJ on the house (Baba O’Riley, anyone? And how about One, Shook me all Night Long?), senses the mood and plays accordingly. We can safely say that here, we own the floor. The high ceilings give an awesome sense of space, a thing that is very, very rare in Bombay. I absolutely love the Alice Cooper guitar on display. Plus, they also serve the best cheeseburger in town, with the most juicy veal steak within. The choice of alcohol is unlimited. Did I hear Grey Goose? Turn Offs: The irritating, uncouth south Bombay college crowd, which only wants to hear “Summer of ‘69.”

Tavern: Ah! Bombay’s best when it comes to drinking out. Small cozy place. The best collection of music, with the videos projected onto a large screen, Stuff I have not seen in ages. Alcohol of choice. No one doing the twist on Hotel California. I mean where else would you get to see an AC/DC video (though I must admit they all look the same), GNR, Coldplay, Greenday, U2, the works. Never gets crowded for some reason. Stays open till very late… in fact it’s the last place to shut in town. Turn offs: Parking.

A Certain Place in Bandra Called Home: There is absolutely no experience which comes close to drinking at home, sprawled on your bed watching the rain outside the window. The choice of alcohol, music and everything else. Food on phone, and so is alcohol. Never opens, never shuts- the perpetual hedonist alcove. Minus all the getting back worries. Not having to rely on the proverbial beer scooter. I invite my readers, for an unparalleled experience, to indulge in a choice of over 5,000 songs, and the best spread of alcohol this part of town and the most comfy settings. If you’re still with me, thank you for your patience.

Stay busy, get plenty of exercise, and don't drink too much. Then again, don't drink too little. ~Herman "Jackrabbit" Smith-Johannsen

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


D made me read Ithaca ( on Sunday.

It was beautiful, illuminating, mildly nostalgic and led to a bit of introspection. It made me wish my copy of Odyssey was around, the one with yellow, well-thumbed pages. (There was a certain joy in picking up those at Book Street, but alas). To take it off the shelf, dust it off, and snap it open once again, to let in that old book smell, which lends that distinct headiness.

I remember reading the book a few times in my early teens, conjuring up images of gods, demons, heroes, nymphs and most of all the sense of adventure. And the joys of getting lost, and finding the way back, at times almost unwillingly.

This poem once more brought up the “journey versus destination” debate. I remembered how after reading Odyssey many times as just an adventure/ fantasy flick, how once I stumbled across the inner meaning. Likewise, this poem brings to mind the subtle meaning, as the journey of the homebound soul. One realizes that demons do exist, but only within our mind, and so too does the concept of home itself (in Odysseus’ case Ithaca). Ithaca, that true home, is the reason for the journey.

But if we rush past everything that’s along the way, the markets and the wares of the world, if we do not pause to feel the first bloom of spring, the summer morning, the first rain, not let the winter chill our bones, will our senses ever know what home is when we finally arrive?

I remember reading somewhere that the story is actually that of love, not mere adventure. Odysseus was urged by Calypso, a nymph of ageless beauty, to stay back with her on the island of Ogygia, an offer with obvious attractions- physical, spiritual and mortal. However, he chooses to return to Penelope, his wife in Ithaca, who by now is well past her prime. Therein lies the essence of Odyssey: the beauty of human form is far outweighed by the glory of human love.

D'll be misseD.

(Four days, four posts- that definitely is a record.)

Monday, June 18, 2007

Marriage has teeth,

... and him bite very hot: Jamaican Proverb

Third post in as many days. This must be a record.

The Venue: Jazz
The Occasion: Weekend

I am dragged out of bed, not entirely against my wishes, by Chops and D, after I have been gradually marinated with small doses of Chivas 14 years since afternoon.

The band is a new one. I have seen their name on hoardings, but never heard them before. It turns out that they have a particularly good bassist, and great choice of music. As we enter we are treated to a near perfect rendition of almost the entire The Wall Vol 1. Side A. After this some Nirvana, then again some very, very good Dark Side of Moon. Agreed, the lead vocals were a little feeble, but then that could be a technical issue.

Suddenly, a bunch of high-pitched women start screaming those horror words: “Hotel California”. Now, I have nothing against the song, but just that it is one of those which have been rendered boring by repetition. Any band which performs this, or even Sweet Child of Mine, is downgraded two notches in my scheme of things. Horror of horrors, the band decides to play this song, with the women breaking into a jive on the song with their men folk. Ugh!!!

Inspired by their success, they go on to ask for Sweet Child (a very good song, but not again please!!!), converting the purist again. This time I decided not to even look at what dance form befitted that song. My friends and I shake our heads in dismay, but then I am reminded of a verdict passed by KD recently at HRC recently, when they were playing some seriously puppy love music (and obviously to the gallery). KD had said: “DJ o toh manush, oro niche jineesh potro ache. Chhoto chhoto jama pore kochi mey guli giye ‘summer of 69’ chaile, koto baar mana korbe.” (Roghly translated: The DJ is a man too, he has things down under to take care of. When cute girls wearing short dresses come up and ask for summer of 69, how many times can he say no.”

Well, that explains. And I was just hoping things wouldn’t boil down to “Summer of ‘69”. And thankfully it didn’t. What transpired next was a little more horrific though. It turns out that I knew those women, actually their husbands. They work in the same firm, but in some obscure department though. Then I made the next mistake of telling my friends that. And the wrath is now directed to me and I am told five years down the line, I will find myself in a similar situation- when my wife and her hysterical friends will be screaming likewise and break into a tango over Sweet Child. And I won’t know where to look.

Later at night walking on Marine Drive, I wonder if that is possible. Perhaps. I am sure each of those guys considered themselves real cool cats/ rock stars, or whatever, strumming that air-guitar while waltzing with their wives. Maybe they even appreciated their wives’ sense of music and timing; and their choice of dance form (man, I am married to the Prom Queen). May be they felt a certain sense of pride in it. Maybe that’s what marriage does to you. Maybe I do not understand their Point of View. Maybe that’s why I am where I am today.

If I get married, I will do it with the knowledge that it is going to change me like no relationship ever has or even will. But I just hope the changes are not of this nature.

PS: I do impulse shopping every Sunday evening to fight the crabby pre-work week mood that I am in. This time I bought a mannequin- i.e. everything that was there on it, and then a bit more. Odd sized shorts (which a friend calls Pauni Chaddi), matching T-Shirt, floaters, sneakers. Would have bought a jacket as well, but they didn’t have my size. And then D bought identical sneakers too, but in a lovely pink. All from the same Nike store on Linking Road. Damages? INR20k. Sunday Bloody Sunday!!!

Calvin (on Sunday): Any day you have to take a bath and go to bed early isn’t a day off in my book.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Buy That House … Now!

My second post in as many days and that’s something that doesn’t happen too often. And on a similar sounding topic. But no.

Last night on the way to Jazz, D, driving, asks me, why don’t I buy a house. She recommended a certain “almost south” Bombay property with a going rate of INR21,000 per sq. ft. (approximately USD500). That would typically translate into a cost of about INR 25 million for a decent house. Wow!!!

Now, its not as if I am a novice in these matters. For the last three or four years, with little money in my pocket, and thus an axe to grind, I have been prophesying a crash in property prices in Bombay and other such cities. But now it is unlikely to happen very soon. It is a classic case of markets remaining irrational longer than anyone can remain solvent.

But as a financial markets professional, I am expected to have a certain understanding of basic economics and I would be foolish to ignore the arguments that can be sought in the same to explain the current bubble phenomenon.

(The views that follow are personal)

I know at least 200 people who can afford a house that expensive. Mind you, afford, not simply write out a cheque. The difference between buying a house and buying any other item is that most people often leverage themselves quite easily. Take my example. I have been considering a new car for the last few weeks. However, even though the current choice is considered an expensive car, I am slightly averse to taking a loan to buy it. Thankfully being under-invested I can probably write that damn cheque and drive the baby home after the rains are over. However, if I wasn’t, I would probably have had considered something a little less expensive.

I am not saying people don’t take loans to buy a car, or a computer, it is just that in each of these cases there is an option of scaling down ones expectations, or desires and buying something out of savings. Not so with property anymore.

The problem with property is that one almost always will have to leverage. There are exceptions, but they are about 15 in my set of 200. So when I am borrowing I might as well buy quality, as long as I can foot the EMI. The other problem is that most people I know have little idea on what to do with their money. As the economy grows and we get the best bargain deal on our compensation, the resultant lifestyle leaves little time to consciously deploy that money. So after having burnt fingers with some investments, and dealing with spiraling rental yields, you look to land. So the demand for housing remains undiminished.

The next issue is that of wage inflation vis-à-vis the more commonly discussed consumer/ wholesale price inflation (CPI/ WPI). In India, we are currently seeing an explosion in wage inflation- this in the context of the fact that owing to structural and political policy CPI and WPI are targeted by central banks and kept low. Consider this, while WPI hovers around 4.50 to 6 percent, y-o-y, what are the chances you would settle for that kind of a hike the next time your boss calls you in for a compensation review? Highly unlikely. Such a vast disparity in these two measures leads to what is commonly called flight to quality. At a certain level, we realize that our earnings are growing much faster than our expenses, and hence we need to either escalate the quality of our spending (which is equivalent to moving to a higher consumption curve) or invest. This is a somewhat modified adaptation of the IS-LM model of macroeconomics.

Under a flight to quality scenario, quality housing, say in Cuffe Parade (or downtown Shanghai) is likely to remain expensive even as those in Dahisar are affected by factors such as rising cost of leverage. The cost of leverage is however the same irrespective of where you buy the asset, since the bank is not going to charge a higher rate of interest for property in the former. Quite the other way around, actually as the former is a better security. Moreover, since the people who buy property in search of quality, have a seriously steep forward income curve (i.e. their expectation of what they will earn 5 years from now), they become insensitive to small increases in interest rates (cost of leverage), since if you believe you will earn twice of what you earn today three years from now, you are unlikely to believe that you will run a 20 year mortgage for its entire duration.

Wage inflation is very grainy, different for every layer of society, different for every industry, and so on. Ideally under the wage Price/wage spiral concept of economics, this would lead to demand side inflation, and also pass through of labour cost into finished goods prices and the situation and could be explained very easily, and possible remedied with traditional macroeconomic policy measures. However, the situation in present day India is a little different. The highest wage inflation is in the services sector. The biggest consumer of the services sector is not in India, but overseas. Hence the burden of higher wages is passed on to clients in the US, or say Europe without any follow through effects on local prices.

The situation may reverse under the following circumstances though. First, wage inflation in the services sector becomes so high that India ceases to be a destination for outsourcing. It does not even have to get there. There might emerge a stronger, cheaper exporter of such services. Under these circumstances, wage inflation in those sectors will dip sharply, or even turn negative. Second, taking cognizance of this overheating, the central bank decides to mop up all available liquidity in the financial system. It has happened once before in the 1990s. Under that situation, money will not only be expensive (i.e. high rates of interest), it will be scarce, i.e. people will either run their loans to maturity, or at least be sensitive to its cost, or finally the demand for assets will plummet. Under either circumstances, interest rates in India will head very, very high. So whoever has been talking of overheating of India’s economy, ain’t seen nothing yet.

However, since either of the above two scenarios are unlikely in the very recent future, it is advisable to look up the property section in today’s (Sunday) papers and consider buying that house.

If I sound doomsday-ish and depressive, I shall leave you with this thought carried in the Times today (was read to me). With H.E. Pratibha Patil emerging as the strongest candidate for that big house on Raisina Hill, the term “R...pati” has come under threat. May be we should replace it with “R…patni”. But since that is likely to be a longer debate, let us settle for “R…Aunty” in the interim.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Moving On, Maybe

"You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming."
- Pablo Neruda **********************************************************************************

I have finally gotten myself to reconsider my choice of address. After close to six years in this house, it feels a little strange that the decision to move is an outcome of materialism, not from boredom, or a cataclysmic move out of the city or country, or even , marriage.

I used to advise people, without of course implementing it myself, that one should consider the following three paths to induce excitement in life- change of jobs, change of marital status or change of houses. Of these change of houses is the simplest way out of boredom. Suddenly one is faced with some small shake-ups and in many cases it is quite welcome.

I have kind of found myself a house. It is not in Bandra, where I hoped to live out at least my single days, a location I have defended in numerous fora , mostly office parties since my colleagues- every single one of them chooses to live townside. The closing argument in all these debates used to be that in Bandra I can get drunk and walk back home.

That apart I quite like Bandra. The place is young, and cosmopolitan. While there is a Catholic overhang, but it is not definitive. Most of my friends live, or used to live here once. I still bump into strangers every once in a while who I end up being friends with. It is open, yet non-intrusive. There is a certain colour to the suburb, a zest which I absolutely adore. Be it the Christian bakeries, or the eatery strip along Carter Road. Be it the little bars, or the big discs. Be it the cheap liquor and the 3AM home delivery of Janta, or the chic restaurants of Landsend. It has everything. And best of all it has the sea closeby.

This house I live in, like any other that one would inhabit for 6 years is full of memories. But now the walls are peeling, and it really isn’t quite it. For sometime now, the directions to my place have always included the phrase- the most dilapidated building on 36th Road. Over the recent years many people have offered me various arguments to move. From D’s outirght disapproval (it’s a fuck all place to stay) to Trips’ clairvoyance (you’ll never get married if you stay in this dump). To AD once conceding, many months after breaking up, that it was a depressing place to come back to at night with me, to IK’s diplomatic (It’s a good house, but you know you deserve and can afford a lot better).

And of late the long drive back home has begun to bother me quite a bit, and with the coming monsoon it will only be worse. Even though I now have a driver, I still remember the fact that in the last two years I have had to walk back home from Mahim or Prabhadevi, in heavy rains at least once.

The house I am considering is on Altamount Road. Swank building with Page3 occupants. It has lovely views of the sea from a bedroom window, of Marine Drive from the other, and that of a densely wooded park, that you thought couldn’t exist in this city, from the hall- though the windows themseves are not quite as big as I’d like them to be. Its current residents chose to colour the walls of the hall and one of the bedrooms in red, while the other, where their kids stay is blue. But that is a minor deterant. The current occupant’s wife could make out that I didn’t quite like the walls from the grimace on my face and suggested that I get them painted, and I said if I had the temperament of going through a paint job, then I probably wouldn’t be moving houses at all. I have already started planning the furniture, low seating cane in the hall, wrought iron in the bedroom, while the other one (that which overlooks the Queen's Necklace) will be just for my books and music- something I have always wanted. The house is obviously expensive, but not entirely unaffordable. It is seven minutes from work in the morning and about 15 on the way back. Best of all, it comes with a rare 3 year lease.

So what exactly is the problem? Well to begin with, the area. It feels like a 100 years old as soon as you get on the road off Peddar. D’s first reaction when I mentioned this possible relocation was – You can’t do that, you’ll age so much faster. Also I cannot move in before August, and that does take away from the right here right now pleasure of making decisions. Also, all my friends currently stay in Bandra and I see myself there every weekend anyway (of course, according to BossMan, I should keep both houses). Then the fact that I am not entirely convinced that I should move out of Bandra.

But the problem with Bandra, apart from the ones I mentioned before, is the fact that my friends seem to be in the change mode too. Bose is off to Paris for good, and D to London for about two years (which is just the same). IK is going to be in NYC for a good part of the year now, and that just leaves Shrek who I almost always meet only at Hard Rock. So all those pluses wil sooner or later be gone. Perhaps I should consider the offer made by Two recently and try a different city for a bit. And Tokyo did sound enticing. New place, new languange. Enormous anonymity. According to Buch the city is so fast that just looking out of the window numbs the mind.

But then I think about the last few years and I realize that there was once a time, may be two years back when I was in a similar situation. RV had just moved to Dubai, Viper and Nu to HK, Buch to the US and Tinman headed home to Hyd for good, and I was almost friendless. But back then, because I was in Bandra, I was able to form new conections. It might not be as easy to repeat that considering I am on the other side of 30 and too far gone in my ways.

Let’s see.


"Before I can live with other folks, I've got to live with myself. One thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience"-
Atticus Finch. To Kill a Mocking Bird. Harper Lee.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What’s playing now?

Just happened to browse the Top 25 list on my Ipod on the way to work this morning and was quite surprised to see some of the entries. Most wouldn’t rank as my favorites, and I’d be even more surprised if I admitted to people that I liked some of those songs. But I guess listening to music on the Ipod is a very, very different experience, compared to any other music experience. I tend to choose songs because it just goes with a certain mood I happen to be in at that point of time, without wondering where the damn CD is.

So here goes…

1. P.I.M.P. (50cent). Now you see why I was surprised. This song has just grown on me. Every time I am feeling reckless, and slightly high gear, I just tune into this. And this also happens to be the only hip-hop song I’ve heard more than once by choice. Also helps that 50cent, alphabetically is just below 4 Non-blondes. Wassup Gangsta!!!

2. What’s Up!. (4 Non-blondes). While the song does happen to be an old favourite, the reason why it ranks so high is purely alphabetical. Also helps that it often captures a certain state of mind. But seriously T.O. what really is going on???

3. Feel (Robbie Williams). Have no clue how this song crept up my chart. Nice, but not so.

4. Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) (Greenday). Love the muted “fuck” uttered when Billie Armstrong screws up his opening chords- twice! I have always have had this thing for acoustic stuff and slightly vagrant visions of a “fork stuck in the road”. And in the endgame, is that not what matters most, whether you had the time of your life? I think Greenday is a good band, our coming of age punk rock.

5. I Don’t Wanna Talk About it (Various). Now I know the original (“the” Rod Stewart) is the best, but I somehow like the Indigo Girls version better. Just love it actually. And I also like this band in particular, their activism, taking a stand attitude. Am thinking of doing a post on them later.

6. Chelsea Hotel (Leonard Cohen). Now, that’s a shocker, because I almost always listen to this one and the one that follows only at very select occasions, not because I like them less, but because Cohen does tend to depress me with his absolutely raw lyrics. And also because the music, is no music. Its just not hummable. But lovely lyrics anyway.

7. Famous Blue Raincoat (Leonard Cohen). I love the concept of this song. And that of a thin gypsy thief with a rose in his teeth. But Cohen is depressive, hugely.

8. Under the Bridge (Red Hot Chili Peppers). Now that’s more like it. Love the peppy, artistic, distinctive music of this band. Much like Coldplay, they make music that one can tell from a mile. Songs like Tell Me Baby, like Snow… and so many others. I find it sad that most places only end up playing Californication.

9. One. (U2/ Johnny Cash). Can’t decide which version is better. While U2 sounds better at Hard Rock Café, Cash (in his baritone voice) is much, much better on the way to work. “Did I disappoint you, leave a bad taste in your mouth? You act like never had love, and you want me to go without”. Wow!!

10. Don’t Cry. GNR. Now this band has that special, special place in my mind. This is the only band that I can say I belongs to my generation, and who grew up with me. November Rain, Don’t Cry and Paradise City. What mind-blowing music.

11. Shook me All Night Long. (AC/DC). Would’ve expected this song to figure much higher on the list, but then, well. What a song, what lyrics, and what a fucking typical AC/DC video.

12. Can I play with Madness? (Iron Maiden). Can I? Can I? Yes, yes! And that is my pep up song as I walk into the trading floor.

13. Diamonds and Rust. (Joan Baez). I like songs with a story, a dedication. Chelsea Hotel for Janis Joplin. D&R for Dylan. “Our breath comes out, white clouds, mingles and hangs in the air”. And elsewhere, “We both know what memories can bring they bring diamonds and rust.” Does it get any better?

14. Build me Up. (The Foundations). Love the movie, the song, peppy, fun, and full of memories.

15. She’s a Rainbow (Rolling Stones). She is, isn’t she? All of seven colours, and sometimes a bit more. The thing about Rolling Stones is that they are such a super live performance band that once you’ve heard them live, you just can’t take it otherwise. My personal grudge against them is that they never sang Ruby Tuesday at the concert I attended. But then… I can’t get no satisfaction!

16. Best of my Love: (The Eagles). My all time favourite Eagles song. “You see it your way and I see it mine, but we both see it slipping away.” Don’t we baby? And you’ll say… Awll the time!!!

Now I’m bored… rest later.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Mini-size Me

The problem of being an odd size means more often than not I end up at the tailors. I like being there though- get my choice of fabric, and having spent a large majority of my life being terribly unkempt I am now at last waking up to the pleasures of fine dressing. I have always been choosy about footwear, but that isn't quite in the same league.

Off the shelf, I can buy shirts of only one brand. And even that brand reserves plain whites and blues for my size. I mean who gets to decide that big guys can wear anything they want while we have nothing more than blues for a wardrobe. If there can be outlets for over-sized women, why not for under-sized men!!!

Recently I was pleased to note that Lee has introduced a line of skinny jeans. Thank God for that. But while I do get the rare size in denims, with trousers... no way!

Which brings me to my current predicament. Finding myself at home in Bandra at 7PM on a Monday evening (a rare event), I decided to get myself new trousers. Being a veteran in superstore mega-disappointment, I headed to a fancy tailor. Unable to make up my mind in choosing between charcoal grays or fine pin-stripe blues, I ended up buying quite a bit. Am not used to much choices in life, you see.

However, it means now I'll have to wait a full 48 hours till the tailor turns the cloth to something wearable. Women definately have it easier- just buy a nine yard sari, wrap it around and there you go.

Now, by instinct, I am an impulse shopper- I even walk into Shoppers Stop on a Sunday evening just to de-stress. Whats the point in having money when it can't translate into things you fancy and whenever you fancy them. Having to wait for 48 hours I run the risk of losing interest in the purchase altogether.

I guess its the punishment I get for not gulping down every single glass of milk that Ma placed in front of me.

"I used to be Snow White, but I drifted." - Mae West
(Ooooh what a drift!!!)

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Compliments Limewire...

Friday night (the most important time of the week) at Bombay Gym. The old company re-unites- Rosh down from HK, Pom from Indo... and the rest from the trading-floor here. Alcohol about to come out of my ears, and suddenly this long forgotten song is played. When sobriety is restored (late, late on Saturday evening), its instantly downloaded. I had forgotten how much I liked this song once (and of course the reasons why).



You talk like Marlene Dietrich
And you dance like Zizi Jeanmaire
Your clothes are all made by Balmain
And there's diamonds and pearls in your hair, yes there are

You live in a fancy apartment
Off the Boulevard Saint-Michel
Where you keep your Rolling Stones records
And a friend of Sacha Distel, yes you do

But where do you go to my lovely
When you're alone in your bed
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do

I've seen all your qualifications
You got from the Sorbonne
And the painting you stole from Picasso
Your loveliness goes on and on, yes it does

When you go on your summer vacation
You go to Juan-les-Pins
With your carefully designed topless swimsuit
You get an even suntan on your back and on your legs

And when the snow falls you're found in Saint Moritz
With the others of the jet-set
And you sip your Napoleon brandy
But you never get your lips wet, no you don't

But where do you go to my lovely
When you're alone in your bed
Won't you tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do

Your name, it is heard in high places
You know the Aga Khan
He sent you a racehorse for Christmas
And you keep it just for fun, for a laugh, a-ha-ha-ha

They say that when you get married
It'll be to a millionaire
But they don't realize where you came from
And I wonder if they really care, or give a damn

Where do you go to my lovely
When you're alone in your bed
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do

I remember the back streets of Naples
Two children begging in rags
Both touched with a burning ambition
To shake off their lowly-born tags, so they try

So look into my face Marie-Claire
And remember just who you are
Then go and forget me forever
But I know you still bear the scar, deep inside, yes you do

I know where you go to my lovely
When you're alone in your bed
I know the thoughts that surround you
'Cause I can look inside your head

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Never Been Spanked

I am scared. Really. And this is what I am scared of.

I read this post on the ibnlive website under a section called blogs. Now, I quite like the channel. It is a refreshing and practical change from the self-righteous, “cricket means sports and vice versa”, “entertainment is partying” NDTV.

The writer, who it seems is a reporter with the channel, says that he is scared of the Mayawatis and the Laloos. And is petrified that he runs the risk of living in a country which is run by one of them. Now I do not know this gentleman’s background or area of expertise but I would’ve expected better.

I considered for a while whether I should post a comment on his blog, and realized that he didn’t deserve it. But then one can’t ignore mainstream media. One may not like it, may crib, but can definitely not ignore it.

To be fair to the guy he admits that he is not vote bank, not even close. But then he goes on to say some things are so divergent that I just cannot help pondering. Consider this:

“Why does a Raja Bhaiya, renowned for throwing bodies of his opponents in a croc-infested pond, so violent and corrupt that he is called Kunda Ka Goonda, win elections? Why does Amar Mani Tripathi, accused of murder, get votes? Because their electorate vote for one of their own.”

But in the same post he goes on to say

“Actually, you know, if you ask many like me, we are happy to be with the Gandhis and their Family-Is-All-ness than the Mayawatis and the Mulayams of the world. The Gandhis speak our langauge, they, we hope have our concerns, and they, we hope express it, in our words."
And I wonder, if so then how different is he from the people who vote for a Raja Bhaiya, because he is one of their own?

And consider this:

“But if you go by pure instinct, Rahul and Priyanka, and Sheila Dikshit, and Salman Khurshid and Mani Shankar A. beat the Amar Singhs of the world anyday.”

Whose “pure instinct” may I ask? And on what basis are the names of the Gandhi siblings put alongside that of Sheila Dikshit? Oh, I forgot… instinct!!!

Now I am not really worried about the Mayawatis of the world becoming CM PM or whatever. Her previous stints have been riddled with controversy and dubious deals. But I do believe that sooner or later most leaders of mass following, elected through a democratic process do promote a development agenda. It took 20 years in West Bengal, and I am sure it will come around in UP and Bihar at some point of time. Someone will cut through the red tape. Somebody will ensure that these states pull their own weight, and that their people are empowered to dream and achieve those dreams. It will not come out of some vague philanthropic urge, but as a calculated outcome of ambition. Mayawati presumably wants higher things- and to have any hope of getting there she'll have to prove herself and her state. This time around she has no excuse. I read that Nitish Kumar is already doing some good stuff in Bihar, and so is the media’s favourite Laloo with the railways.

But every system has its rotten apples. I mean the US has George Bush but there is no place for such a concept in the media. Since polity is a numbers game, it is important that mainstream media is aware, enlightened and eloquent to capture and propagate the message. That issues are identified, escalated and brought to focus. People in mainstream media have an extra-ordinary responsibility, which is why we have seen the emergence of some really phenomenal observers in the past. I mean I have respect for Rajdeep Sardesai, for Pronoy Roy, and Cho Ramaswamy… and so on, but this article (and its author) disturbs me.

I am scared that the current crop probably doesn’t have it in them, and holds India and its polity in such poor esteem. There is nothing worse than an opinionated media.

But the bit in the post, which takes the cake, is this, and which made me write my first meaningful (only to me) post in months is this:

“I am aware that were a Lalu or a Mayawati were ever to become PM, I would have to choose to leave the country.”

And the closing line is a killer (I can almost see the guy beaming as he would have penned it)
“And that, as sophistication deserts our politics, means perhaps one day I will have to leave.”

It is not the business of politicians to be sophisticated. As long as they do their job, I do not think its anybody’s business. If Mr. Reporter feels that something like this would force him to leave the country I ask: Leave the country? Why the fuck? How much worse can they be from an emergency imposing Mrs. Gandhi?

But a statement like that also makes me wonder what is a nation? What makes our country worth living in? Is Manmohan Singh the reason why you choose to live here. No. We live here because we like it here. Because we have certain advantages of domicile which would disappear the minute we went abroad. Because moving abroad means starting from scratch. And most importantly because in our individual scheme of opportunities, we are best off where we are or decide to be.

A nation is not about who rules it. It is about the people who make it, the people who we meet everyday, our family, our friends. The people we work with. The opportunities it provides us- and no one can say that there is any dearth of opportunity in our land today.

Aristotle said, the worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal. I am conscious of a great divide in our country. I realize that one cannot begin judging people, because everyone has a different story to tell. The trick is to recognize, or ignore, but not to even out the differences. Its impossible. There is not one, not two, but many, many Indias. To pull together, someone has to override these divide and make it work. Which is exactly what Mayawati has done very successfully this time around. I am all for individualism, and defiantly against uniformity. According to me the worst form of democracy is a dumbed down one.

Lastly, I think, to get along in life, you need to believe in something. Believe. You can choose to believe in yourself, and then it doesn’t matter where you are, because you are going to strike that balance anyway. Or you can choose to believe in the System. I choose to believe in myself. I believe that I will make things work for me. And then the System doesn’t upset me. However, believing in the System is just as good. It simplifies things. You just have to choose the system that’s right for you. If you believe in nothing- you’re screwed.

In the meantime, I shall go back to my weekend, with a little suggestion for our “Journo-Blogger”. After this UP election, I think Mayawati (or her type) becoming a PM in the future is a distinct possibility. It is advisable that you pack your bags and scoot and leave us to deal with the mess. Goodnight and good luck!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Paris, je t'aime (2006)

X Listen. Listen. There are times when life calls out for a change. A transition. Like the seasons. Our spring was wonderful, but summer is over now and we missed out on autumn. And now all of a sudden, it's cold, so cold that everything is freezing over. Our love fell asleep, and the snow took it by surprise. But if you fall asleep in the snow, you don't feel death coming. Take care.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

fabulously flawed... much like the hope diamond

"What's so great about the truth? The truth hurts people - try lying for a change. It's the currency of the world."

Closer, stage version.

Had seen this long back, and this line struck a chord. But of late I have developed this unhealthy streak of truthfulness. Completely unecessary and extremely inconvenient. And have realized how bad the truth can be.

In my current state of hightened dissonance, professional and otherwise, truthfulness can be very very dangerous. If one must lie, it has to be in states like this. Well, never mind (that cure for all evils)!

My respect for Ken Kesey overflows whenever I come across absolutely anything he's written. Couple of days back, when I logged into my Bloomberg terminal at work, there he was saying: “Take what you can use and let the rest go by”. And it struck me that there lay the key to happiness.

I have realized that I spend my life between states of extreme. About 95% of the time I do nothing. Nothing at all. Not just nothing of any consequence. Simply nothing. I frustrate people around me, but I think they love me, partly for that (though they might complain that with me there never ever is any hope of "closure"). I keep listening to the same music, reading that book, writing that book (yes RV, THAT book). In that same house, in with that same car, which I will never drive. That house whose walls now talk back to me in those rabbit-shaped peels.

I am aware I am missing a few things- swank apartment, fancy car, hot dates that IK keeps lusting after. And oh yes all those gadgets that the money in the bank can buy, that fancy new club...

And then all of a sudden something happens (for instance the week before my parents land up). And I want to pack everything, all experiences, into a day or two. I then want everything- a night of binging downtown, of movies, that holiday in Ladakh, of fancy cars, of big bonuses and blowing it up instantly- oh yeah!

And some things are managed. Others not. Stuff how hard I might, it just doesn't fit. It can be frustrating... sigh!

But I do realize something. The moments I really relish in my life, the memories I cherish, are from that 95% when I have accomplished nothing on paper.

~ Like walking from Mt Mary to Bandstand and Back... uphill-downhill with AK and CDC. in the middle of the night, all of us alone, with only the shimmer of the moon on the creased sea for company

~ Like noticing how your skin creased around the corner of your lips. How the follicles near your ear stood up each time you exhaled, and the incandescence of them in my dimly lit bedroom.

~ Like having tea from that flask, in between, sips of Old Monk, and writing stuff like this
~ Like that walk in the first rain... so many questions on my mind and so few answers. And that one that just refused to go away.
~ Like those numerous debates on things- like love, like youth, like relationships - things that are unlikely to be relevant for me ever again, but once were.
~ And things that do concern me, enormously.
~Like inspiration that needs to work, but alas won't
~ Like discovering the Johnny Cash rendition of Bono's ONE. That brilliant baritone voice, and those beautiful words: "act like never had love, and want me to go without" And movies... ah movies. Falling in love with such things is so easy. Why isn't it the same with people?
~Like discovering Calcutta, while roaming iaround in a cab driven by an Osama-bin-Laden look-a-like
~Like doing that little bit of ego massage and some humour in the process
But then how can I ever forget that the only meaningful thing I have written was the product of the other 5%

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

From Any Given Sunday

I made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make. I, uh, I pissed away all my money, believe it or not. I chased off anyone who’s ever loved me. And lately, I can’t even stand the face I see in the mirror.

You know, when you get old in life things get taken from you. I mean that's...part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out life’s this game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small -- I mean one-half a step too late, or too early, and you don’t quite make it. One-half second too slow, too fast, you don’t quite catch it.

The inches we need are everywhere around us.

Friday, April 06, 2007

If you're still reading this...

The End

A towel, fig bars and a bottle of mead.
The End. I cannot grasp it, and I plead.
You cannot "keep me hanging", as you say.
Well, cut me down tomorrow, not today.

~ From All You Who Sleep Tonight. Vikram Seth

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Whatever happens to Loooove...

In all the hoopla about cricketers losing their corporate sponsorships, one important issue has been forgotten.

Just wondering...what happens now to our cricketers who were dating models/starlets/Page3 wannabes? Do they get DUMPED??? Is someone going to ask the all important question to Isha, Priya, Nagma, Kim?

Of course, I think the smartest of the lot is Amrita Arora, who (a) dates a Paki cricketer who hardly plays any cricket which is aired- and hence doesn't risk public bad performances, (b) Has a hot brother to keep her entertained while Big Brotha is playing village cricket in England.

Anyway... I guess I just happen to be in aparticulalry bad mood today.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Maine Bahut Duniya Dekhi Hai

But for the sky there are no fences facing
In the society we live in, our growing up years are littered with instances when someone or the other tells us – Listen to my advice- I have seen the world. I have heard this, and so has almost everyone else I know.

I have often wondered what it means- to have seen the world. I mean almost everyone without exception goes through experiences throughout their living years. Everyone sees the world. So what is it that differentiates my world from yours?

Recently, I found myself in a somewhat of a spot. I was forced to shake myself out of inertia, take some possibly life altering decision… a lot more followed and even till date I am not quite comfortable with the outcome. Actually I am not even sure if there has been an outcome. But anyway, that’s not the point. Over the course of this (in) decision-making process I was told time and again by various people the same lines, over and over. And since there were people on both sides of the fence, I had to sit down and ask that question all over again.

And I realized this one thing. Life throws experiences and opportunities at almost everyone, but probably at different points of time. So technically everyone has had their one big moment, their one shot at ever lasting fame. Likewise, life also takes you through these twists and turns the outcomes of which are not always pleasant. But what matters most is what they did with it. How they reacted to those situations, and I have come to the conclusion- that what you see in life is actually a function of how you reacted to what you saw. There is always this “outcome” tint to experience.

Consider love. People who have had great experiences at relationships are more likely to prod you towards one. Consider drastic career changes- people who have managed it successfully will always tell you to throw off the bowlines, catch the trade winds and sail away from safe harbors. People who have never lifted their anchors are unlikely to be able to advise otherwise.

Which brings me to the next issue- that of being called the original vagabond. Not that I am called that all the time, but yes it has been done before. I have also heard many people use the word in their profiles on Orkut and their like. I guess the only people who can definitely be called vagabonds a re those who have in their heart of hearts never felt the need to act as one. Never desired to break the chains, they usually just slip off. I guess vagabonds are the only true believers of the fact that life is a series of dots and one can only connect them looking backwards- so they just follow their heart.

Been watching a few movies lately- Namesake (which was OK) and Little Miss Sunshine (better). Now I want to watch 300 and Pursuit of Happyness. Maybe tonight. Today I came into work all excited to find that most markets are closed… hence the post.