July 28, 2007

When Reality Hits you Hard

Reality is scary. All these days safe in my cocoon, I used to sit smugly with a cup of coffee in my hands and look at the news updates flying past me with reports of floods hitting every part of the Gangetic-Brahmaputra plains. I wrote essays on the how the Huang Ho and Damodar were termed Sorrows of their respective lands. I debated on the futility of our administrative efficiencies and lamented the corruption that stopped the benefits from reaching the truly needy. It got me accolades and I guess a couple of debating prizes. Today I understand, how superficial everything was, and the fact that perhaps it was unintentional and born out of ignorance is not any relief.

Having spent a considerable amount of time in Patna, it was time to move on, rather move back to my tried and tested and trusted Muzaffarpur. The Gandhi Setu is the longest bridge in the world and while travelling over it, I could make out that The Ganges was full of life. Strange, isn’t it? Water, the most potent source of life and yet with an immense capacity to destroy life at will. In North Bihar, almost all rivers are flowing above the danger level. Deaths are being reported every hour and the administration seems helpless in front of Nature’s fury. All along the journey, the National Highways seemed the only places above the water level and the town I knew so very well welcomed me with completely water logged streets. Two cities, in two continents, one in the backyard of a developing superpower, the other in a G8 Capital, were facing similar trials and I knew that I was travelling to the safer one.

The people around me displayed the calmness so customary to the regions around here that I could feel it seep into me. Displaying an unprecedented proficiency in acrobatics, I balanced myself and my bags in a peculiar exhibition of hop, skip and jump to land on the Hotel Porch from my Bolero without dropping anything in the poodle around me. I was back in a completely submerged Muzaffarpur.

July 25, 2007

Work to do

1. Visit the Deathly Hallows
2. Be the good son and do the things I promised dad.
3. Find out how to find time for the entries in Number 1 and 2 after long working hours, which i don't even complain of. I actually love them. :-)

Harry Potter is something I would love to write on. Sometime.


Task 1 completed at 02:37 hours on the 26th Day of July after the longest reading session undertaken by me in 2007 A.D. Anyone who has followed Potter should not miss this. Too many thoughts racing in my mind. I guess I'll need a better time to write about it. Just I would like to mention, even at the cost of a red eyed day at work tomorrow, it was worth every moment of it.

July 24, 2007

Poorva Express

I hate Goodbyes and hence I never say them. I believe that we all are destined to meet again if the relationship we shared was special and even if we don’t, it just means that it was something not meant to be - The greater scheme of things as I often philosophically call stuff I do not understand. But this post is not about Farewells. They seem to make people sad and there’s enough sadness in this world without this blog pitching in. This post is about a train – The Poorva Express.

My Love Story with Poorva began exactly 6 years ago when I boarded it for the first time to reach Delhi and ultimately move to Pilani. Since then, every trip I have made to and fro Pilani
, (all but two) have been in Poorva. It was the train which we all prayed would move through Gaya and not Patna as it was slightly safer. It was the train where Soumya fought with the RPF while I pulled him away saying, “Iska tabiyaat kharab hain.” It was the train where we used to fight in every single journey with the daily passengers who never respected the right of reservation of seats in Indian Railways. It was the train where Bugs and Abilinda were the only two people aged 5 years or more who wore shorts through the entire journey. It was the train where Soumya and I got up on the train to find three juniors happily occupying our seats having missed their own train. It was during that journey that I found the most brilliant Punjabi family who gave us one of their berths and gave me their bedding to sleep on the floor. It was the train where Bodhi would start quoting his Tagore with Troy, Minu and Payel pitching in, while his batch mate Uddip, the most brilliant treasurer I have met, showed me how to make profits for the association even during a train journey. It was the train in which Dibba would talk about microbes as we blinked and focused our attention to Psycho who would prove his baptism to be true in every sense. It was the train where finally someone appreciated my story telling abilities and I bored the two of them to death. It was the train where the most amazing make-a-story was played, a story that could beat any Hollywood pot-boiler. After the normal twists were introduced by pseudo-ju and science fiction could not be put to use any longer, the plot turned incestuous and highly controversial and as critics would term it, ‘bold’. A visibly disgusted elderly gentleman walked off cursing the effect of television on today’s youth, but it remains the best impromptu story I have seen made or heard about. It was the train where new relations were made and old ones re-forged or broken. It was the train when someone in the group would shift in her place restlessly as soon as the train neared a certain station. It was the train which brought Souramita, Soumya and me, the last set of the batch of 2001, back from campus. It was the train which used to bring the ‘Bongs’ to Pilani.

But there was something about Poorva that pained me a lot. I used to stand at the gate, seeing the worried face of my parents, (who tried to smile very hard) slowing fading away and somehow I would pull myself inside the train and in order to look brave and macho put up a fake smile on my face. Then there would be the usual cacophony in the train, we would disturb every single soul in the compartment and start for the home away from home.

6 years later, things have all changed. Today I think everyone travels by Rajdhani to reach Pilani. The group, starting from the 97 to the 2003 batch have scattered everywhere all around the world. (The batch of 2004 came in as we were graduating.) Yet, today as I had to go back to work at Patna from Cal, the only way I could think of travelling was by Poorva and heaven conspired to book me on this train. It’s rare that as professionals today, we do not get the tickets we want, be it on a flight or on a train. But the rare things do happen to add spice to life.

And this time as the train left the station, my parents were still standing out there, but I could return back to the train without the smile on the face. I was travelling alone for the first time in Poorva and I still hate Goodbyes.


If you ever look at slam books that we used to fill up at school, (I do not know if they exist today), the most common entry for ‘One thing you hate most’ would be ‘hypocrisy’. I too wrote that and really meant it. Even today, if given a chance I would perhaps write the same thing. However, as I stood facing the mirror in my hotel room, my hypocrisy stared me at my face.

I have always been fascinated by the use of impeccable English. Growing up with The Statesman in Calcutta meant that you are introduced to ‘Good English’ at an early age. When I went to Pilani, I suffered from the lack of availability of The Statesman in the morning. The very logical substitute was The Hindu. And then it happened.

One day when I went home on a vacation. I was scandalized to find The Telegraph in our house. A tearful mom told me that Dad was fed up with the declining quality of The Statesman and had finally made the painful switch. It was one of those moments when the family comes to the brink of a collapse. A sacrilege of such magnitude was unheard of. In our house, the tradition always was Ananda Bazar Patrika and The Statesman with any two other Newspapers which were allowed to be experimented with. Dad had broken that tradition. The Statesman did not feature in the four newspapers kept on the centre table.

Today I realized that consumerism had gotten hold of me long back. Even in the high and mighty days of The Hindu in Pilani, Jopy and I would not fail to scrutinize the Page 3 of The Times of India. The Asian Age was too loud, The Hindustan Times was not yet ‘there’, The Hindu would never have anything like ‘it’ but TOI seemed to have got the right mix that attracted us every morning. In Bangalore, along with The Hindu, I would regularly receive the feeds from The TOI. We all called it The Slimes of India, yet we all read it. As the Media Manager of IIMB, my greatest hob-nobbing in the print media was with The TOI, the ‘Tam’ in LG made him lean towards The Hindu.

And today, even with a chance to settle for The Hindu or The Statesman I actually am fine with The TOI being slipped under my door every morning. Before the day’s hard work I do not mind reading a paper which is not too heavy and yet I would never endorse it in public.

Something I would term as hypocrisy.

July 19, 2007

In Search of a Creation Myth

Blogging isn't actually something I like and yet I seem to be blogging regularly these days thanks to an available net connection. I was looking back at my first few posts and there they were, still hesitant to make a beginning.

Before I can figure out for myself how I have over-lived my self predicted lifetime in blogosphere I need to have a credible creation myth to satisfy myself. And so I started searching for one. and this is what I suddenly stumbled across.

"It's free, you don't need Editors or publishers, you don't even need to write well!"

To Fight for Autonomy

As I painfully opened my left eyelid and then my right one today morning, I had no idea that The Times of India was carrying a shocking piece of news titled, "For first time, govt to choose IIM directors." You can read the story here.

More than 12 hours later I am still in a state of shock. The institutions I have received my education from have all been autonomous bodies, something I always believed was the main reason behind their brilliance. Autonomy to me was always the greatest tribute to democracy.

For some reason, the concept of autonomy has always intrigued me. In my version of utopia, everyone does what is expected of them, is given the necessary power, authority and ownership to achieve the same. Everyone is ethical and the world moves on like a well oiled machine. To be very frank, I can not be held responsible for what I have become. I was in a school where the Vice Principal gave the House Council absolute freedom to fulfill our responsibilities. He trusted us and we never broke his trust. Don Bosco in those years was very close to the utopia that my yound mind was conjuring up at that moment. And perhaps for this reason, after I left school, three of my most memorable fights have been over autonomy.

It all began with a magazine which wanted no one to dictate it's voice. Later down south, it was for a Club which was the voice of Institution to the outside world and wanted to remain so. And finally, it was for an Academic Council that wanted the authorities to believe in its capabilities. But those are now dusty pages in my book of life.

Autonomy with responsibility. The search for my utopia continues.


He looked at the sky. It was dark and yet he smiled. The rains would come soon and her classes would get over. They could go around to the little shop under the tree and he would see her sip the hot tea feeling its warmth on her palms.

He looked at the sky. It was dark but he could no longer smile. Hundreds of miles away, she sat near the window and stretched her arms. She would never know that it was his tears that fell as raindrops on her palms.

Sometimes emotions, even when surreal, are not really nice.

July 15, 2007

A picture speaks a thousand words

I have been told that it's time to make my blog look more attractive with pictures accompanying my posts. Somehow, the idea does not appeal to me, especially with a 9.6 Kbps connection. It's a huge pain. That's also the reason why I am lethargic to put my anything fancy on my blog, including some of the blogs I visit often.

However, there is a series I have been planning for a long time now; posts on my 10 most favourite photographs of all times. Today, I once again visited Sanketh's Blog to see if they had started blogging again. I haven't seen a better bow out of a blog, ever and that's the reason I hope they would be back. The picture below would be amongst my top 5, the number 1 being already reserved though. I think it's an insult if I want to describe this photograph, so i won't. It's a classic showing man's triumph over himself.

However, if I had clicked this photograph fro his BOSM, Sanketh would have been after my blood saying that I had cut it at the joints :-)

A picture speaks a thousand words

I have been told that it's time to make my blog look more attractive with

Continuing on Pain

I have always believed that the human species excels at inflicting pain on themselves. Imagine a common situation where a boy meets girl and for some reasons things do not work out in the way they had hoped. For anyone with any sense the worst that can happen is captured in this song from Mili.

Aaye Tum Yaad Mujhe Gaane Lagi Har Dhadkan
Khushboo Laayi Pawan, Mehka Chandan

Jis Pal Naino Mein Sapna Tera Aaye
Us Pal Mausam Par Mehndi Rach Jaaye
Aur Tu Ban Jaaye, Jaise Dulhan
Aaye Tum Yaad Mujhe...

Jab Maein Raaton Ko Taare Ginta Hoon
Aur Tere Kadmon Ki Aahat Sunta Hoon
Lage Mujhe Har Tara, Tera Darpan
Aaye Tum Yaad Mujhe...

Har Pal Man Mera Mujhse Kehta Hai
Jiski Dhun Mein Tu Khoya Rehta Hai
Bhar De Phoolon Se, Uska Daaman
Aaye Tum Yaad Mujhe...

But we are never happy with it. We have to ensure that it causes us more pain than it should and we like to say to ourselves,

Shayad Unka Aakhri Ho Yeh Sitam
Har Sitam Yeh Sochkar Hum Seh Gaye.

For those of you old faithfuls who still remember someone called Salma Aaga and a movie called Nikah,

Dil Ke Armaan Aansuon Mein Beh Gaye
Hum Wafa Karke Bhi Tanha Reh Gaye

Zindagi Ek Pyaas Bankar Reh Gayi
Pyar Ke Kisse Adhoore Reh Gaye

Shayad Unka Aakhri Ho Yeh Sitam
Har Sitam Yeh Sochkar Hum Seh Gaye

Khudko Bhi Humne Mita Daala Magar
Faasle Jo Darmiyaan The Reh Gaye

TV Series

I have never been a fan of TV series. While at BITS, most people seemed to be affected with the FRIENDS bug, but it never caught on to me. At IIMB, the people hard pressed for time often found TV Series a good time-efficient way to relax. There are in fact a very few series I would sit down to watch and here are three most favourite of mine. I have deliberately put out old Doordarshan serials as I do intend to relieve those good old days in another post.

The Wonder Years: My favourite show of all times. I watched it after I grew past Kevin’s age but somehow this series reminded me that kids and teens the world over are pretty much the same. It’s only when we grow up, we fill our heads with ideas and draw our own boundaries.

Scrubs: I started watching Scrubs the night I got my Summer Internship offer and I was hooked on to it. Somehow JD seemed to commit the same mistakes that I had committed or was committing, Dr. Cox had this wall built around him which I was so very familiar with and their life was so much like ours in the B school.

Mind your Language: A fascination for the Queen’s perhaps is my reason for absolutely loving this show. Though exaggerated at times, this show promised a multilingual world bound by a common language and I fell in love with it.

The other shows which have survived more than one viewing includes Heroes, for it’s X-men like fantasy, How I met your Mother for suddenly making me realize that even my friends were slowly settling down and I never bothered to think about it and FRIENDS for being a series which one could always watch reruns and never get tired of the same.

I guess that’s who I am

There has been a time in my life when my writing was essentially morose, something which very very egoistically I termed my ‘Keats’ian days. There have been few readers of this blog who keep asking me to put up those jottings but somehow I am never enthused. Trust me; it’s not difficult to write them. A lonely dark room, a psychedelic screensaver, Floyd in the winamp and you would feel like penning down your deepest regrets. Yes, they do sound nice. As a reading they are perhaps even better but I do not find a justification any more to be unhappy while I write when it’s so easy to be sad all through the day. The bigger challenge for all of us today I believe is to be happy and even though my posts might not be as witty as a PGW, at least they don’t remind me of a boulevard of broken dreams. I guess that’s who I am, just another ordinary guy, just trying to remain happy.

July 08, 2007

A Wasted Passion

I am a decent photographer. The experiments I have done with film photography while at BITS are not entirely insignificant. There was always a dream; to buy the best camera available in the market when I finally start earning. My friends did it. But they turned prodigals. They were buying digital cameras. Somehow the DOPYite in me could just not accept the fact that they were going into something so non-human. The Department of Photography did give us memories of failure, memories of rolls after rolls going to waste by our negligence and yet we survived, and learnt photography for what it was worth. It’s true I couldn’t do much while at IIMB, but even the minutest opportunity I have had, I have ensured that I click like crazy, albeit with a digital camera. And as a very strong critique of myself I can say that though my sense of lighting hasn’t improved much,(and has been nothing to write home about) my composition and framing have not lost their magic. In fact, the pictures that I take with my phone are not bad at all.

Every time I speak to one of my friends from the Department after a long hiatus, I am reminded of my promise to myself. It’s like your first love. It’s always difficult to forget the first hands that you held in your own, as it is to forget the first shutter that you pressed and the first lens that you adjusted.
But I think these days I am ready to face myself much more ruthlessly and I realize that perhaps this dream will never be fulfilled. I shall always be buying cameras that can more or less do my work for me. But the search for my perfect camera is now hidden behind the shrouds. They say it’s sensible not to flaunt a new camera in the streets of a city you do not know much about. I say, it kills me slowly every time I flash out my cell phone to respond to that irresistible call to ‘write with light’. And then I delete what I captured.

The child is grown; The dream is gone;
Have I become Comfortably Numb?

Wah Taj

I kept awake late into the night to watch Taj make it into the New 7 wonders of the world. It was a strange feeling. On one hand a part of me cried out against the senseless commercialization of monuments which could never be categorized.
After all how can you put a tag to something like the Statue of Liberty which gave our world a new meaning of freedom? Even today, it represents the American Dream as thousands of people look at it in wonder and people like me hear it welcome us into freedom. On the other hand was the Indian in me, lamenting the fact that we can’t even build proper infrastructure for sustenance in our country and yet we figure in the list of architectural wonders. But I was proud. I can’t deny that.

This was the final list of Seven Wonders.
The Taj Mahal - Agra
The Colosseum in Rome
The Pyramid of Chichen Itza - Mexico
Machu Pichhu - Peru
The Statue of Christ Redeemer – Brazil
Petra - Jordan
The Great Wall of China

By the way, now they have started The New 7 wonders of Nature. At least that’s what a sleepy me is hearing and typing out. Also, I think that the hosts of the function should be called the 8th wonder – Ben Kingsley for a wonderful disappointment as a host and Bipasha Basu, in spite of looking gorgeous, proving once again that we just can’t be ourselves when the whole world is looking.
Good night. My hands feel just like two balloons.

Growing out of a Crush

Growing out of a crush is an interesting phenomenon. There might be someone who just looks amazing, who speaks amazingly or maybe who looks great in a movie and WHAM! You have a crush. But that’s extremely common. As I switched on the TV one fine morning in Bihar, I suddenly realized that growing out of a crush can be extremely painful.
Imagine yourself meeting the person you had this huge crush on in college, completely out of the blue, and then suddenly there is no feeling. A part of you feels relieved that you have grown up considerably; the other part feels sad to remember how happy you were when you animatedly defended your crush’s latest flop or the latest zero in cricket against everyone whom you cared for in real life.

Sometimes, knowing the truth kills the magic of it all.

Every Town has its Story

I have spent more than a month in Muzaffarpur. It has been a different experience from all that I’ve had so far. Every town has its own story and I guess it’s important to know the stories of a town to understand the uniqueness of the smaller towns in this country.

Very few people remember someone called Khudiram Bose. An almost a forgotten name outside Bengal, he is still remembered with pride by the commoners here in Muzaffarpur. He belonged to a time when the fire against the British Rule was yet to be lit to its fullest capacity. He was the one of the first to produce the spark that we all needed so badly at that point of time. After they threw the bomb at Company Bagh in Muzaffarpur, Khudiram Bose and Prafulla Chaki fled the scene. Khudiram was later caught in a railway platform nearby where the station master gave him away to the police. The reason – Khudiram had worn his dhoti in the Bengali style which was immediately identified.

The Bengali Shopkeeper – Dada is everywhere. And by dada I do not mean Saurav Ganguly for a change. Wherever corners of this country my travels have taken me, I have always found a Punjabi Dhaba, a Mallu Bakery and a Bengali Kirana without fail. Invariably I think there’s something in me that gives me away as a complete Bong. Much to the ire of the salesman along with me I normally engage in deep conversations about life which sometimes do turn into the fact that I am not married. I recognize the red signals well, that’s the cue for a hasty retreat.

Speaking of marriage, I think most towns in India still have a place separated out as the meeting place of the brides and the grooms. In Muzaffarpur, the Santoshi Ma’s Mandir is one ideal place. It’s also the place where you get the best lassi I have drunk till now. So the awkwardness at standing at such a place is negated by the glass in my hand. One of the few good things remaining in life; lip smacking good; I vouch for it. Oh yes, often you do run into Father of the bride. Coming out alive is the most important and difficult part as often you are at a loss for words to answer why you are not settled in Bangalore.

The politics over chai – Chai and politics have a strong connection in India. People gulp down litres of chai in the roadside tea shops and discuss issues that directly affect their lives and sometimes even events that have no relevance. My life revolves around these chai shops and samosas. Speaking about samosas, people here seem to love their singaras/samosas. Lunch is often a good plateful of the samosas. Since I am speaking about food, I must admit that Bihar loves its dose of gutkha and ghee. I haven’t seen a town buy so much of Gutkha and have neither seen Chinese noodles prepared in ghee ever before.

I do not feel ashamed to admit that I do chicken out at times. On Election Day in Bihar, RAF was everywhere. The men in the green uniform looked determined not to let anyone try things that might cause trouble. It was an unannounced holiday and trust me it was irritating. As a free Indian, I refused to stay locked up in my hotel room, more importantly I refused to eat the stupid food that my hotel served and I moved out. Two steps into the road and I was stopped and asked to move in. After all, you do not argue with the men in uniform. So what the Free Indian was locked up in a hotel room all day while eating really bad food.

The visit to MIT - It was a humbling moment. I stood outside the gates of MIT, full of awe at the seat of learning and excellence. Boston might be far far away and it might be sometime before I stand before it. But even then visiting the Muzaffarpur Institute of Technology was not a very bad choice.

The Devi Mandir at Muzaffarpur reminded me of the Saraswati Mandir in Pilani. Somehow sitting on the green grass is much better than working the lonely corridors at night. Have you ever woken up at night to find that there is a deathly silence around you all around?

July 05, 2007

The Rat Race

Long long back (even when I was a child) I had given up cut-throat competition for doing what I loved. I always thought work should be fun. It's not that we have to beat others at some stupid contest in a make-belief world.

This is the quote that had set the child in me thinking...

The problem with a rat race is that in the end even the winner is a rat.


Innocence was Sharmila Tagore in Kashmir Ki Kali. But then sometimes that’s fiction. Life offers far more interesting examples. For example, innocence was her humming to herself as we sat together doing nothing. That was a time when even doing nothing meant a lot. Innocent were our smiles when we unknowingly made the false promises. Innocence, sometimes it let itself lose its own significance.
And as I stood alone, the veil of hypocrisy took over.


The predator stood smirking. His job was done. It was not exactly the flesh, blood and gore that excited him. The predator lived on fear. His presence was enough to paralyze the hapless prey. The predator waited. Hunger could wait. But he could not resist playing with his victim for a little longer. The fear it its eyes, its silent plea for death made the predator want to savour the moment for a little while longer.

What the predator forgot was that the will to survive made often the impossible possible.

7 months back

While working on my excel files late into the night, I suddenly realized that 7 months back I was sitting with Kushal in a swanky office in Singapore trying to help find a way so that a multinational services organization could make their entry into India. Yesterday morning I was braving the rains in the markets of Patna. As I stood under a shed, I realized that when people call me up most of them are taken aback by not finding my voice dull and tired. :-)

It’s not true that I do not have my doubts. But then a pretty favourite Peanuts strip comes into mind. In it Charlie Brown says,

Sometimes I lie awake at night, and I ask, "Why am I here?"
Then a voice answers, "Why? Where do you want to be?"

Today however, the cold I caught though seems to want to answer, "Home with a hot cup of coffee and tucked away with a book."