Friday, May 26, 2006

Feeling Friday…

Anyone who saw Karunanidhi take oath as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for the fuck-only-knows how many-th time couldn’t have helped reflecting upon the sorry state of affairs our country is in. The way he walks leaning on someone else’s shoulder is symptomatic of the state that Indian politics is in.

It is not that I am championing the cause of the youth here. I am all for giving merit where it is due, irrespective of age. For instance, it disgusts me to see that Subir Raha is not being given an extension as the Chairman of ONGC just because he has rubbed the ex-Minister for Petroleum etc the wrong way. Just imagine losing out on the experience , moral fiber and caliber of such a person just to soothe the bruised ego of perpetually whining politician.

However, I nevertheless draw a line somewhere. And people who cannot walk on their own two feet I think have no business running a state as big as TN. And the sad part is that, he’s not the only one around. Very soon, a visit to the Parliament may feel like a walk through the geriatric ward of any city hospital. With each passing day, as the Government’s actions become increasingly autocratic and arbitrary, and India’s place in the world as the largest democracy grows suspect, I am sure we would find little competition for another title- The World’s Largest Gerontocracy.

That’s why I am saddened by the demise of relatively young and enterprising leaders like Rajesh Pilot, Madhavrao Scindia and more recently Pramod Mahajan. I had been meaning to write a piece on that, but here is what I had randomly scribbled.

The Man Who Would be King
(Written before some magazine used the same title, but much after a movie by this name)

(A delayed post)

Pramod Mahajan died last week. Every morning on my way to work from Bandra I would go past the Hinduja Hospital, where he spent his last few days. It was crowded with pared TV vans. On the way back, when all of Mumbai was choked and everyone initially expected that stretch to be a disaster zone, it was in fact the smoothest part of the drive- perhaps as a tribute to man known for his smooth handling of screwed up situations.

The announcement of his demise came out late afternoon. I was surprised to see that within hours the entire TV crew had vacated their post. Just an observation.

I knew little of Pramod Mahajan- even lesser of his accomplishments. However, I always got the feeling that we needed people like him. I now read that he was a man of humble origins, a product of personal merit and hard work. Our corporate world is full of self-made men. It is a great meritocracy, more so than anywhere else in the world. I guess to see a person like Mahajan succeed in the political world, restores a bit of faith that my type lacks on Indian polity.

(Abrupt ending here…)

My parents are in town currently. And after one week of being the good son, I have virtuosity coming out of my ears.

This is the way these annual, or once in two years trips turn out. Week One- I am playing the responsible adult and obedient son- that means not smoking at home, coming back early from work etc. My parents in the meantime are observing me closely, waiting for signs of fatigue. By the middle of week 2, I am full of it, and resume my activities albeit muted. By the end of week 2, a full-fledged war is on- and I am presented with a list of things that I am doing wrongly and acts of irresponsibility (with documentary evidence like 3 month old unopened bills of various nature). By this time obedience has gone out of the window. However, every time we part amicably, with promises of a more responsible attitude from my side. Promises like- drink less, smoke even lesser, drive more, a more positive approach to marriage, timely payment of bills etc. etc. So at the end of Week One, I know what’s in store in the near future.

Last evening, I decided to take a break from the virtuosity overdrive and go bowling with some friends. Now, I can’t bowl to save my life. In fact, yesterday all the five attempts landed straight in the left gutter (which is why my friends and colleagues call me a Leftist). But I do enjoy going to a bowling alley, especially one that serves booze, because while I drink and drown, I observe people around me having such a good time. In one swing of the arm, people can be happy or sad, and the longevity all such glee or otherwise is only till your next turn. I guess it represents the way I view my life currently- moving from one state of momentary happiness or minor depression to the next, consciously avoiding commitments or actions which can have a deeper impact on me or my state of mind.

I have been really fatigued this week- and for no tangible reason. I guess it is only because I cannot look forward to a weekend of bacchanalian debauchery into which I can drown the other me- The Five Day Week Responsible Banker.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Whip Whip Whip!!!

I guess Anu's post says it all:

So what if we can't kick and punch, now we can definately sit and smirk!!!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

First Rain

It rained at dawn today- the first shower of the year in Bombay. As I woke up and opened the windows, a familiar and much longed for aroma filled the room. A mango tree outside the window, which has been trying to share spaces with me for the last four years, glistened with pearly raindrops, and smelt “sour-sweet”, and eager. Its neighbor, a tree laden with red-yellow flowers bore a balmy sweet fragrance. What a way to start the day!

Yesterday had been really rough- markets tumbling, clients worried, lunches missed, and then too many cigarettes. Got back home to a headache, upset parents (on a short stay visa to my house) and more depressing news on TV- reservations, four blasts in Srinagar- graphic displays on NDTV.

But today seemed beautiful. Not done anything much today, and though I realize it is way to early to be thrilled about the rains and that it is bright sunny outside, I still think the weather calls for a bit of a break. I would think monsoon is still a few weeks away, a few hot, tepid weeks. Of course, after it has rained for a few weeks I will again crib and moan, but for now it is all about the beautiful monsoon memories of the years gone by.

How many monsoons since we walked hand in hand along a shingle beach? How many seasons to that evening walk in the forest, stepping on fallen summer leaves, the suspended smell of damp wood, and fresh flowers? And how many rains ago, did we climb along the rock face somewhere along the Western Ghats, just to marvel at the beauty that beheld us, every time we cleared our frosted specs, each time the fog lifted? (Your hair silvery from the mist, and my saying- You know, you’ll still be sexy at sixty!). How long since we sat on that boulder next to the sea, and got washed off it? Again and again. And now, how long since you crossed that very sea and then some more and went away, perhaps forever? For good. Ah! The joys togetherness, without commitment.

And then that time, when I sat down to dinner, alone at home, startled by a distant rumbling and the slight opening up of the skies. The sound and smell of a drizzle and then the sudden burst. Dinner forgotten, the remnants of a bottle of Old Monk emptied into a cola bottle, a cigarette pack, tucked away within the rolls of a wind-cheater, stepping out in the rain. Walking along the sea, at Band Stand, getting drenched to the bone, shivering, sipping slowly on “Rum-Cola”, the oldest intoxicant known to me. Taking shelter at a bus stop, and a smoke. And then being offered a joint by a stranger. In return for my matchbox. Slowly getting stoned with someone I hardly know, or will ever bother to. Breaking a few rules. Even some of my own. I guess the first rain does warrant a few liberties.

And the music that goes with the rains, alone or together. On the train we took to the treks. On the shingle beach. Or humming alone, on Band Stand. Whatever. Just wonderful.

I could go on, but some times even The One has to work.

Friday, May 19, 2006