January 28, 2008

Last Action Hero

Last few weeks I have been on a movie watching spree and before you get worried, I am not going to write how great Taare Zameen Par was. If any movie can bring home the Oscars, this would be it. But this post is about another movie, about another context. It’s about Halla Bol. If I am to choose two movies in the recent past that have rallied the Indians together, the first definitely would be Chak De India and the second, Halla Bol. People might be surprised seeing this comparison. While Chak De was a raging success all across the country, Halla Bol can best be considered only a moderate success, even though Pankaj Kapoor and Ajay Devgan might have given memorable performances. In fact, last time I had seen Pankaj Kapoor in such a brilliant role was perhaps in Roja. Frankly, he could have done a lot better in Blue Umbrella.

This is not a movie review blog. In fact, I do not know what this blog is about. But I know that this movie raised several questions in my mind. Do we as a society need an individual to lead us all the while? Do we need someone else to raise the first question? Do we as educated and law abiding citizens turn away our eyes from situations that evidently are wrong if they do not concern us directly? Why can’t I stand up to the gang of youngsters who were throwing litter all around the Marine Drive yesterday night? Why did I feel just disgusted and hoped for a policeman to appear and stop these people who seemed oblivious to the destruction of serenity that they were causing to my favourite place in Mumbai?

We are all afraid. Afraid that we will get into unnecessary trouble, afraid that the offenders in question might just be armed, afraid that 1 against many does not stand a chance. We create Manjunath Trusts and then forget about it in the day to day activities of our lives. We sit back on our cozy sofas and watch a reality show which promises to custom make our next leader.

Are we bad people? Definitely not, though Steven Levitt might try to make us believe that we are the reasons behind all white collar crimes. But we definitely have defined our boundaries. Boundaries beyond which it no longer remains our problem but becomes some one else’s. And it requires a hero to evolve from within us to lead us to break down these boundaries.

Today we all wait for the last action hero, the breaker of our boundaries.

January 21, 2008


I have let gone and I know there is an abyss waiting for me at the end of this fall. But I also know I have hope. I have hope since I know that I have taken the leap and not taken the plunge. And maybe, just maybe that small difference in semantics will remind me how to fly. I feel like a bird, but a bird whose wings have been clipped, a falcon whose eyes have been hooded, whose legs are free to move but yet there are invisible strings attached.

I wonder if this is worth it at all. I wonder if as usual I am fighting a losing battle seeing the last remaining defences fall down one by one, watching helplessly as more and more people cross over to the other side. But then I see a few Samurai there who is on the other side, but who is striving to make the other side, ‘our’ side.

The Blunder of a Bladder

There are often instances in a man’s life when he tries to find the meaning of bliss. For the more enlightened ones, there is always Nirvana; but I am no Saint Buddha. Tonight however, I found the meaning of true bliss or at least came close to it. (To keep my blog live up to the title of “For the entire family”, certain details will be obviously glossed over.) Anyway, to give you a background, certain recent events have made my doctor advice me to keep a check on the water I drink outside. For most of the times, my trusted Bisleri is always by my side, but sometimes it is just simpler to finish a bottle before you walk out of the room. Now, even though the kidneys in humans are amongst the most developed in the animal kingdom, it takes a lot of work from the sweat glands to ensure that certain urgencies do not raise their head. But the recent weather in Mumbai have been far less conducive to aid this game plan to keep one self free from all water borne diseases. For one thing, the winter does not feel like ‘Winter’ and neither does it make one feel the heat and sweat of a tropical country.

As a result it becomes imperative for one to know the ins and outs of the city one lives in to know in which nook and corner can be found an useful outlet for excess water stored in the body. Given that the country has larger problems to tackle, I think the Lords of our Destiny conveniently forgot to give us enough public restrooms in the country.

So even though everyone will disagree that they think about this matter, it remains one of our urban horror stories which no one would love to experience in their lives. But then, they do happen, and happen at the most inopportune moments. Take for example, the time you were invited for a nice chat and coffee by one of your most favourite friend at one of your favourite coffee outlets and you remember to your greatest discomfort that you have come to the same Coffee Day which boasts of great coffee aromas but not a restroom. At that time of urgency, friendship goes for a toss, the chivalrous knight runs faster than his own horse and you reach home. You don’t remember opening the door but you remember the slow smile spreading across your lips till you finally reach the ultimate state of bliss.

Salvation – could it have felt any better?

Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeves

I never have looked at my wardrobe carefully enough. In fact, I remember a certain consultant storming into my room one fine night at IIMB and declaring, “Banjo, you have zero dressing sense.” In fact, I believe that she took up deciding about my interview attire as the first consulting assignment of her life and she passed with flying colours. Anyway, when I look at my suitcase, almost every other T shirt has the emblem of one or the other of the institutions I have attended. Surprisingly, it never mattered to me till someone passed a comment on it. At night, while I thought over it, I realized there was a reason behind it. I accept the fact that DBPC, BITS and IIMB have contributed a great deal to making me into the person I am today, good, bad or ugly and I have left behind a part of my heart in each of these places. These T-shirts, Sweat shirts are the only physical connection I have left with them. It’s like crossing over to the other side, yet wanting to belong to the places you love.

Literally, it’s refusing to let go of the Wonder Years and wearing your heart on your sleeves as long as you can.

The Year That Was

After the hoopla over another ‘new’ year has finally died down, I think it is worthwhile to take a stock of what has been happening over the last few months. The greatest change over January last year is definitely the pleasure of experiencing financial independence. But like with every other freedom, this too came with an associated cost - that of financial recklessness. Sometimes, I do sit back and wonder how any one of us ever managed to have a great time without spending a fraction of what each one of us does now. But that is something that can never be explained. A glass of ‘chai’ at Nutan or Athicas can never be replicated by the most well decorated coffee shop in any metro around this country. It is true that Lifestyles have undergone a complete change. A Mariott, a Hyatt are places that are visited often these days and soon you begin to realize that the thing you want most is to go back to a place called home. The glitter of the chandelier begins to fade away soon.

The other thing that has changed greatly is the meaning of the word ‘deadline’. Deadlines these days seem to have an uncanny deathly shadow around them which seem to pass only when the ‘line’ is safely crossed. There are other minor changes. I have found my long lost taste for quality tea thanks to someone who let me experiment with different blends in the cosiness of my room. As much as I would like to love my competition’s tea bags, I feel that my own products give me a flavour that I left behind years back in Calcutta.

The other day I felt a great kick as I was testing certain Networks. Finally, the time spent in my engineering days was bearing some fruit. It was a sort of redemption for myself. My travels have taken a backseat but my interactions with different cultures across the world are on the rise thanks to the work I am doing right now. It’s amazing to note how different cultures will respond differently to an e-mail written exactly in the same manner. So rather than my backpack, my laptop serves as my trusted aide to help me soak in the sunrise in Milan and the sundown in Tokyo. I miss the carefree lifestyle of a student who used to just pick up his camera and go around the country without checking how much money was there in the wallet but then sometimes things do not work out in the exact same way as you would like them to.

But the greatest change that has come in my life is through meeting new people and yet not letting go of the ones from my past who really matter. So I have this tall cynic who is one the few who can push me to my limits in order to be able to defend my standpoint. In fact, one night last year the lines below cropped up.

The A is A and the B is B

And seldom does the twain meet.

But if they meet my friend you see,

They have the world beneath their feet.

I met a CA who would rather do well as a philosopher in case he finds his tasks unchallenging, and that is a possibility since he makes all this tasks look so much easier. I also met this guy whose career path till now has mapped mine to the last detail, so much so that in the last instance we have swapped bosses and he was there standing by me in the darkest hour of my short work life. But the greatest fun is in perhaps re-meeting people. People from college who you knew to be nice but once they are your colleague, you realize they are much nicer.

So as the year grows older, I would just say, March on…