Vantage point

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Nida Fazli is one of my favourite poets. He writes most of the stuff that Jagjit Singh sings. Here's a poem he wrote about Advani in 1990 or something. Nice one.

Mujhe maloom hai tumharey naam sey mansoob hain tootey huey sooraj
Shikasta chand, kala aasmaan, curfew-zada rahein
Sulagtey khel ke maidan, roti cheekhti maae'n
Mujhe maaloom hai charo taraf jo ye tabahi hai
Hukumat mein siyasat ke tamashe ki gawahi hai
Tumhein Hindu ki chaahat hai na Muslim se adaavat hai
Tumhara dharm sadiyon se tijarat tha tijarat hai
Mujhe maloom hai lekin tumhe mujrim kahoon kaisey
Adaalat mein tumharey jurm ko sabit karoon kaisey
Tumhari jeib mein khanjar na haaton mein koi bum tha
Tumharey rath pe to Mariyada Purshottam ka parcham tha!!

Didn't see the end of Humraaz by the way. Got too damn bored. After a point, Bobby started doing Michael Douglas and Amisha became Gwyneth Paltrow, and "A Perfect Murder" unfolded.

Caught up with my sleep backlog last night. Went to sleep at midnight, and woke up at 10, in the process missing two classes. They were the last 2 classes of that topic anyway, so did not matter much.

There was a business quiz last night. By quiz, I mean the real "teams, "quizmaster" and "10 points!!" type quiz, not those small tests we have in management school. Learnt an interesting bit of trivia. The Pakistani army, apparently manufactures and sells a brand of corn flakes in that country. What an army. They rule the country, take bribes, draft policy, budgets, head cricket boards, capture their own TV stations, train terrorists, and now, as if that was not enough, sell corn flakes!!!! No wonder we've beaten them in all the wars. Maybe if they focussed a bit more on the actual army part, they would not be such a confused entity today.

Any guesses what this brand of corn flakes is called?

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Chhota Shakeel: Aur Kya hal chal hai?
Sunjay Dutt: Bas, First class Bhai

I must have read these two lines at last a dozen times in that whole transcript of the conversation between the underworld Don and the Bombay film star. Shows you how unimaginative people can be. I mean why ask each other after every few moments, and then answer "first class bhai", as if the bhai is a booking clerk at a railway reservation counter.

It is extremely hilarious, the way they refer to Salman Khan as 'nanga' throughout the conversation, indicating his propensity to get rid of his shirt at the slightest excuse ( Salman Khan is mentioned in the 1999 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the only filmstar to have shot for a song in the Swiss alps without his shirt). They also keep calling Hrithik Roshan 'chikna' and say that he won't be around much longer. It also shows that Sunju is not Govinda's biggest fan.

The tapes are also available in real media format.

I am watching Humraaz from the insti network today. Seems like a typical Abbas Mastaan movie. And Suku has already told me that La Patel kills Akshaye in the end. She has also told me the ending of 'Kaantey' (she was told the ending by Sanjay Gupta, the film's director who also features in the aforementioned tapes). Very considerate isn't she?

Saturday, July 27, 2002


Sonal commented on yesterday's post saying that Delhi's peddlers too have an 'I don't care' attitude towards selling stuff!!!

Surely there are two Delhis? Because the Delhi I visited, begs to differ.

The perseverance just kept on increasing wherever we went. Be it the shopkeepers of that vastly over-rated dungeon called "Palika Bazar" or the street vendors of the treasure trove called "Karol Bagh" or even the peddlers of Chandni Chowk, they all seeemed to have been Economy Size packets of some adhesive like Fevicol in a previous life.

First there was this vast community of tie-sellers! Wherever you went, they were selling ties for 25 rupees. At first it seemed like a steal, but then after observing the quality of the material, the deal went "tie tie phiss".

The shopkeepers of Palika Bazaar sent these scouts after us as well. Then there were the food vendors who would appear shell shocked if to their question "Chholey Bhaturey khaoge?", you chanced to answer in negative. But when one of these scouts managed to lure you into their shop, was when the real drama would unfold. It always consisted of a lot of bargaining.

The bargaining pattern followed pretty much the same path as markets elsewhere. He says 1000 rupees, you snort and say something like 52 ruppes. You hem ( while examining the shirt's uneven hem), you haw, he hems, he haws, and finally the sale takes place at somewhere in the range of 213 or so. I always leave wondering if I have been had, inspite of the 80% drop in the quoted price. But I digress....

One tribe that infests every nook and crany of Delhi is the hanky-sellers. They carry these hankies all around and are absolutely hell bent on unloading some on you. "Roomal le lo", the fellow will say in pretty much the same way that a mother tells her child to pick up a loaf of bread on the way home. There is this authoritative, yet, helpful tone in the voice. He continues, "10 rupaye mein 3" or some such irrelevant price. You will, obviously not be wanting hankies at this point in time. Then begins the "put doubt in his mind" routine. "Roomal nahi chahiye??!!!!??!!" he will ask bewildered, this time the tone sounding like what Queen Elizabeth's reaction would be if she offered to return the Kohinoor to Vajpayee and he refused. For a few seconds that emphatic surprise does set you thinking. "Might I be coming a grave folly in turning down this bargain?" or "Maybe it's better to buy hankies now than repent later" or something like this is how your thought process runs. Fortunately wiser counsels prevail and you reject him with firm finality. He will make a loud "tch" sound, shrug exaggeratedly in disgust, throw a puzzled glance at no one in particular and move on to the next guy mouthing "Roomal le lo".

Then there are guys who live their life by the motto "Leather Maketh a Man(or Woman)", and believe that we all do so too. They will seek to lighten your wallet by offering you another. "Ye batua le lo, sirf 25 rupaye main, asli leather, Jodhpur se". Now firstly, your naps in the Geography classes at school come back to hound you as you have no idea if Jodhpur is famous for leather. Secondly, you wonder why anyone would sell genuine leather for just 25 rupees. It was like when our proffy at IIM asked "Would you buy a Mercedes if you got it for 1.8 lakhs?". The answer was an obvious NO. Thirdly, you realise that you have a perfect and faithful wallet and you don't really need another one. So you convey your unwillingness to the peddler. Then he proposes that you buy a belt "Toh belt hi khareed lo, sirf 40 rupaye". The thought process mentioned earlier is still residing in your cache memory and this time your rejection is much faster.

Then there are these peddlers with some solitary item to sell. I mean they carry only one piece of whatever they are selling and hound you forever. There was this guy who showed me an original Rolex watch and hissed conspiratorially "Ssssirf 1200 mein". Intrigued, I took the Rolex in my hand, admired it, gave it back to him, and made a stupid mistake. Instead of just a "No", I said "I don't have 1200 rupees.". That set him on my trail and he followed me from Parathewaali gali till the steps of the Jama Masjid (Delhi-ites like Sonal should testify that it is a long distance, even for a peddler to stalk you). He kept reducing the price, I kept saying No, all the time wondering why Rolex hired such unorthodox retailers. Finally, I turned down his offer of 500 at the steps of the Masjid. He got all teary eyed and said "Meri beti ka operation karwaana hai, is liye main ye apney seth se chura kar laaya hoon, meri beti ko bacha lijiye." I must confess that I almost melted and gave in, but the fact is, I did not have any money and I had no desire to buy stolen goods. I conveyed my final rejection and suddenly his expression changed from pitifulness to annoyance, and he said "Theek hai, tu nahi to koi aur mil hi jaayega", and walked off. Wierd experience, huh? There have been people trying to sell me solitary sleeping bags and teapots(!!) as well. All of them, I suspect, stolen.

There was a guy who insisted that I buy a rolling pin and that thing they roll rotis on (we call it polpaat, I dunno what the Hindi word is). I was like , what is this guy's target market, and who is he hounding? He also suggested that I take the 'belan' as a gift for my mother. I put high value on the structural integrity of my forehead and so did not take the risk of buying a lame gift like that for my mother.

There were many other peddlers who made sure that I never walked alone on the streets of Delhi. While it was irritating for a while, it makes for good anecdotes.

Friday, July 26, 2002


At the turn of the last century....................... heehee, that sounds so majestic and pompous. But it is right, so I will say it. At the turn of the last century, our class of Electronics and telecomm went on a "study tour" to Northern India. We visited Agra, Delhi, and Rajasthan. You would be surprised to see Agra and Rajasthan on the itinerary of the "study tour" (by these quotes signs, i mean to actually put my two hands in the air and draw quote signs like they do on TV) of a class, learning Electronics, well, that's a post for another day.

Maharashtra in general and Pune in particular is notorious for its unenterprising shopkeepers. Hence the peddlers in Pune too are pretty stoic and disinterested. Their attitude seems to say "hey, This is what i am selling. tell me if you want to buy, but don't waste my time". They won't convince you or hound you, or even show the slightest bit of interest in you. In Pune, the peddlers act so detatched that after the sale is done, you feel obliged that the great peddler took time out of the period he had reserved for 'meditating about the deeper issues faced by the human race' and actually sold you something. Get the picture?

Ok, Now join me as we cross the Vindhyas, march a little further and enter the city known for it's monument of love.

We were supposed to leave very early in the morning since we had a very busy day ahead of us. At about 6:30, since the hotel we were living in was probably owned by a Marathi, the kicthen hadn't opened yet. So we set out to hunt a tea stall so that we could warm ourselves on that chilly December morning. We were not prepared for what would ensue.

Firstly, it took us a lot of time to locate a tea stall. the first thela(handcart) that we saw was selling jalebis, laddoos, halwa and barfis. I had never seen anyone sell sweets out in the open and that too in the morning. What was even more surprising was that he had quite a few customers giving him business. However a kid he had employed came and attached himself to us.

"Bhaiyya, mithai kha lo" he pleaded.

"Nahi chahiye" one of us responded.

"Bhaiyya, kha lo na" he persisted.

This persistence continued with the boy insisting that we have sweets at his employer's stall. The way he talked was as if he was offering us the food of gods or something.

If you feel this boy was just an aberration, you are mistaken. All the stalls that followed, selling even more unexpected food stuff, had such scouters who would at times even cling on to your clothes, in an attempt to lure you into buying their absolutely undesirable concoctions. I mean, who eats such heavy sweets in the morning? Especially and avowed sweet-hater like moi?

So this was our first brush with peddlers. The next followed on the way to the Taj Mahal. As you might be knowing, you have to walk quite a long distance from the parking spot to reach the Taj. Along this path, when the beggars were not trying to get some money out of you, the peddlers were trying to push wierd stuff on you. Here are some of the statements heard during the day.

- Some guy selling camera rolls says
"Bhaiyya, roll khareed lo".

"Nahi chahiye, yaar"

"Jee, roll to aapko lagegi hi"

"Bola na nahi chahiye"

"Dekho, abhi khareed lo, baad mein bhaav badh jayenge".

Now, product pricing is considered volatile during recession, but not this volatile.

- Boy selling gajras

"Bhaiyya, gajra khareed lo"

"Main gajra khareed ke kya karoonga?" a bewildered guy asked.

"Apni maa ko de dena"

"Meri maa to yaha aai nahi, Poona mein hai" he said.

"To kya hua, Agra se giphit (gift) le jaiyega"

Why would anyone want to take a gajra as a gift from Agra?

- The best for the last, a guy selling guavas (is that the same as grapefruit?)

"Bhaiyya, Taaj dekhne jaa rahey ho?"

"Haan", a well controlled reply, though extremely sarcastic comments like 'Nahi nahi, hum to Yanni ke concert ke bachey huey instruments dhoondhney jaa rahey hain' spring to the lip.

"Toh amrood khatey khatey chale jao" the guy said, adroitly shoving two guavas under my nose. What was remarkable was the way he said it. As if it is the most natural thing any tourist in Agra does. As if that is what Shahjehan ate while he walked to the contruction site of the Taj. I know the full humour of his comment may not be conveyed thrugh just typed words. However, it was hilarious, the ease with which he said "Toh amrood khatey khatey chale jao". It was hilarious.

There were other peddlers as well, who kept getting on our nerves. I know what you will say, why not just ignore them. But if you think that just ignoring or not answering to these North Indian peddlers keeps them at bay, you obviously have never been here.
The guys who sell the camera rolls are the funniest ones. I have never seen anyone buy a roll from them. Why would anyone buy such a delicate and expensive item from a roadside peddler? It is almost guaranteed to be bad. But still, they are at it, diligently, exhorting you to buy rolls since "Rolls to jitaney bhi logey kam padengey".

Coming Up- Delhi's peddlers

Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Statuatory Warning: Blogger in an extremely corny frame of mind

"If Ghalib were an advertising copywriter"

When we were in school, there were these sher's which used to start off on a serious note and end as an ad line, with just the lines rhyming. I know it is not as sublime as a haiku or a sonnet.............................. in fact it is not sublime at all. It is downright corny and meant to sound funny at 3 a.m. in the night mess when you are having maggi with your classmates and not studying for the next day's MANAC quiz.

Here are a few, some which have been handed down from generation to generation, and some which us enterprising shayars composed. Only those who watched Indian television can make sense out of these.

Maine tujhse pyar kiya tere baap ne mujhko peeta
Maine tujhse pyar kiya tere baap ne mujhko peeta
Tan ki shakti man ki shakti Bournvita

Tu mere kapdey seeta tu mera darzee
Tu mere kapdey seeta tu mera darzee
Boost is the secret of my energy

Tere ishq mein jaanam chadh gaya main sooli
Tere ishq mein jaanam chadh gaya main sooli
Ab samjhe ye tikiya maine kyun li?

Meri yaad mein aap itna na machaliye
Meri yaad mein aap itna na machaliye
Iodex maliye kaam pe chaliye

Main ek gareeb aashiq hoon jaanam, main koi nawab nahin
Main ek gareeb aashiq hoon jaanam, main koi nawab nahin
Palmolive da jawaab nahin

I think five is enough. You guys have it in you to come up with your own?

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Aniruddha Kane must be in Bombay right now. He leaves for Virginia tomorrow.

Anya has been one of my closest friends since childhood. I can still remember those days when we used to go together to school in 8th standard. We used bicycles and we worked out this novel scheme which only lazybones like us can conceive. Only one of us would take the cycle and the other would ride doubleseat. So it was a free effortless ride for one of us and we took turns everyday. Later of course, as we grew up, we started putting on weight and growing in height and double seat became too cumbersome a proposition. But when we graduated to two wheelers, the double seat thing started again as we went to college. Luckily, we've been in the same schools and colleges throughout. Until now that is. I can't imagine life without Aniruddha.

We've shared many secrets, had some fights, and done many things together. He lived very close to my place and we were always very close emotionally too. I'll miss that.

One thing common to us were our blasphemic non-hindu eating habits. Both of us loved to go to Shivaji Market in the Pune Camp area and have dinner in this place called "Shahi Dawat". It is famous for its beef rolls and beef tawa gosht and parathas and we used to hog beef so very often during the past year or so since we discovered the place. Beef is very very cheap in India, almost 1/3rd as chicken (all that demand-supply thing Banerjee keeps talking about in class), and we could afford to visit it very often. We were the two real die hard beef fans and though others often joined us, it was mostly 2 of us. We would sit downing the forbidden meat, talking of everyday things, sharing jokes and what not.

The other day when we met on MSN, he said he would gladly travel a thousand kilometres to Lucknow if he could, just to have one beef roll with me. I felt like I would cry.

We also fancied ourselves as great chefs. Together we've cooked almost the entire menu of any restaurant. be it bhajiyas, kheema, fried fish, chicken (really hot as Ameya would testify), burjee (spicy scrambled eggs), china grass, ice cream....the list is endless. It was fun to cook stuff with him in the kitchen, with him in his exuberant enthusiasm to put as much spice as possible in everything. I remember when he bought a new microwave, and we cooked lunch for Shilpa, a friend of ours, since her parents were out of town. Met her on MSN the other day too and she still remembers the lunch, fondly, I might add.

If I decide to write about Aniruddha and my friendship with him, it will take me hours. So I'll mention just one more thing.

He was never punctual. He used to keep me waiting outside his house, be it those days when I was on a tiny BMX cycle, or on my motocycle recently. He would come to his window and say "Aaloch, ek minute" (just wait a minute) and redefine the whole concept of a minute. He has played a large part in tanning my skin by making me wait for a long time under the sun.

Now he leaves for a foreign land, returning, I know not when. Again, he leaves me waiting for him. But I'll gladly bear all the heat of the sun as long as he comes back.

Do come back soon, Anya.

I'll miss you. Thanks for all those wonderful times together.

Warning: Blogger suffering from acute case of writer's block

I sit here to write a post and realise that I have absolutely nothing concrete to put down. So much trouble for nothing!! What trouble, I hear concerned souls enquiring. Get some pop corn and get ready to read.

I have had to make a lot of positional changes to get this post across to you. I hope you appreciate all the trouble that I went through.

First i sat on this comp and started writing a mail, in my usual "head down and looking at the keyboard" posture. At the end of that mail, I discovered that the 's' key was acting pricey. It decided to appear randomly only in words in which it wanted to, and more often than not, it messed up the whole meaning. For example, I meant to type "I can be a good person", and it appeared "I can be a good peron", something that Madonna probably said some years ago. Till it was evoking Argentinian politicians, it was OK, but that was when the keyboard moved on to crass jokes. What i meant to say was "Her face looked shiney" and it came out, you guessed it, "Her face looked hiney".

So I decided that enough was enough. After having inflicted various multiple Newton (that's a unit of force I learnt about in school) punches on the 's' key to make the email more fit for human consumption, I logged off and moved to another comp.

Now this computer was the one closest to the telephone in the lab and it kept ringing every few minutes. I, being the guy nearest to it, had to pick it up and make announcements like "Any Sourabh here?" or "Does anyone from Hostel-5 have any idea why there is no water in the loo?". About a dozen phone calls later, I threw in the towel and logged off again and moved to the comp farthest from the phone. Here I was getting along fine, until I become, yet again, the target of one of the cruellest jokes kayboard manufacturers have inflicted on humanity at large. Does you keyboard have those "sleep" and "power" buttons? I mean what purpose could those two buttons possible have? Is it so difficult to access the Windows menu and shut the comp down or have it on standby? But some lazy bum with a chronic case of Carpel tunnel syndrome decided that he also wanted "Expert Sadist" on his resume and decided to introduce those buttons. As if that wasn't bad enough, he......I say 'he' but it could well be a 'she' considering the sheer lack of necessity of the button.... placed them right next to the 'delete' and 'end' buttons which are frequently used by people like me.

Anyway, you might have guessed what happened. I hit the 'sleep' button and the comp, metaphorically, changed into its pyjamas and slipped under a rug snoozing. That 'wake up' button is just a ruse, at least in our computers here. It is there for merely decorative purposes and is meant to drive you into a superlative level of frustration as you keep pounding on it in the hope that the light on the monitor will turn from orange to green.It does no such thing. I moved to the fourth computer in half an hour.

And it is from this computer that I now compose this post. As if by some divine intervention or poetic justice, the two deadly buttons on this keyboard are broken, Just two black stubs stare at me and I smile back at them benevolently, for now I can be uninhibited in my access of the 'delete' button.

All for what? Nothing!!

Writer's block refuses to leave me.

Got Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulltizer winning "Interpreter of Maladies" today. Will read it along with 40 pages of Management Accounting and 50 pages of Macroeconomics. Then again there are 70 pages of "Organisational Behaviour" to go through.

I really am a glutton for punishment aren't I?

Monday, July 22, 2002

I have no idea what to put down in today's blog. So I think I'll just ramble. Please bear with me.

"I love deadlines. I love the whoosh sound they make as they rush past"
- Douglas Adams.

Never before have I identified with this comment more, than after I came to IIM Lucknow. I always knew it was going to be a hectic course, as did everyone else. in fact people would talk to me as if I am about to take up arms and stand vigil on the Line of Control in Kashmir.

"Remember, it may seem tough, cause you bodily harm, and make you cringe, but hang in there"

was the gist of all the homilies I received. One month into the course and I can assure everyone that they were right.

Have you ever walked in a huge swimming pool with varying depth? If you haven't then do so immediately. Do as I tell you. Descend into the water at the 2 or 3 feet level. (here I am assuming you are not a pre-teen who actually stands shorter than this. i do not want any lawsuits.) Then slowly wade towards the deeper end of the pool. Very rarely do pools have a gradual slope into the deep end. It is usually a step. So at the threshold wait for a second with water upto your chest/stomach and then step into the 7 foot deep water. Now if you immediately attempt to speak, your exact first words would be "glubbllbdlubplubb", and you will feel water filling your windpipe.

That is the exact experience I had the other day, metaphorically speaking. For a few days, I was in comfort zone with just a few assignments, and suddenly, all the deadlines came crashing into the small of my back.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you are saying. This guy is saying he's got tonnes of deadlines but he finds enough time on his hands to write a blog.

Kya karein? Control hi nahi hota.

Sunday, July 21, 2002

There is this friend I have.

She is a really remarkable person. She always seems to be happy and perky. Whoever she talks to, she brings smiles on their faces. She can bring humour into any situation. She is sensitive, but she is also strong. She has dreams, but also has nightmares. She has aspirations, but also thinks she has limitations. She is so zestily involved in whatever she does and wants, but also wants some form of detachment. She has a wild and fertile imagination, but also wants to stick to the rules and traditions.

She is so different. She is going to achieve more than she thinks she will, and make all her friends and family members proud.

Have you ever walked in the sun for hours, or played cricket in the sun for hours? And then, have you come back for a glass of chilled ice water?

That's the effect she can have.

I am not naming you, but you know who you are.

Shine on, you crazy diamond!!!

Saturday, July 20, 2002

I had made a post earlier in response to some condescendent comment made at me. But then I realised that it isn't necessary. Why trouble poor electrons to work so much for nothing?

So just deleted it.

I write what I feel like writing and I am not going to feel guilty about it.


I always thought some things in life never change. Like friendships. They always withstand the test of time. Whatever happens, the bond remains just as strong. Take for instance me and Satyen. If I ever feel homesick at Lucknow, I just have to see his comments on my blog and it makes my day. Or one of his mails or his hilarious posts. Friendships like these make the distance between Pune and Lucknow seem like a few metres. I am sure the distance between NJ and Lucknow will shorten too. There are people like Vallari, Nachiket, Madhura, Chaitanya etc etc with whom it's the same. One hardly feels the distance. Then again, thanks to blogging, there is this new set of great pals like Sukanya, Sonal, Nikita, Prashant etc who seem to have added a new dimension.

Too bad not all friendships seem to be like that. There are people who used to have long phone conversations with me, or used to meet me very often and hang out. Life seemed incomplete without them. But this distance probably proved too much for those bonds to withstand. Today i got a 2 line reply from this friend to a mail I sent her on 7th July. There are a few who hardly mail a short one once in a while. There is one friend who hasn't mailed me AT ALL in the month that I have been away. We used to talk on the phone for 2 or 3 hours at times.

I guess, I had better accept the fact that it'll never be the same with some people. It will only be "hello, how are you?" and "are you doing fine?" with them all my life.

It has happened before and I suppose it will happen again. Zindagi ke safar mein guzar jaate hain jo makaam................

Friday, July 19, 2002

I have been telling you about what all we get in our mess at various instances. Today was something very different.

So there were hot dogs in the mess today. Some blokes kicked them around. The final idea was to get them out, but it took some time. Hot dogs arent the easiest to expunge from a mess. They protest and have this tendency................

Wait a minute. Is there confusion amongst the ranks? Has this blogger finally flipped his lid? Is he not making any sense at all? I know what you mean. There is scope for ambiguity here. You people may be confusing what I am mentioning for those meaty things called "frankfurters" that they sell on the streets of USA and the swanky restaurants of India.

Nope, here I mean "hot", as in those suffering from the high environmental temperature, and "dog" as in the animal of the canine variety.

Today's menu had tandoori chicken, and I suspect it was this motivation that brought them dogs poking their noses into our mess. So as we sat tearing the tandoori apart and eating it (tearing it is the real way to eat tandoori chicken. You should also use both hands. Only one hand, and that means you are a pseud. heehee), a few hot dogs, bothered by the weather and attracted by the chicken meandered in to check out the fare in our dining hall. I don't think they'll hold the IIML hospitality in high esteem as their arrival was not greeted with joy, but with marked disgust. One of the dishwashers kicked a dog (by dishwasher, i mean a fellow who washes the dishes, or rather pretends to wash the dishes fast enough, so that they can be used by the next batch of diners. I don't refer to the machine, which would also double up as a dog-kicker, as some may think.) Another grimy inhabitant of the kitchen, who obviously did not hold the motto "Dog is a man's best friend" close to his heart , actually removed his right shoe and chased a dog out with that. There was commotion, with the dogs making their views felt through intense howls. Maybe that was dog lingo for "##$$@^&&%^%^^. These two fellows thus, gallantly removed the dogs from the place where we have all our meals. The sight of these not-showering-twice-a-day, while still cleaner than the kitchen staff, did not serve to whet our appetite. A lot of the food ended up in the blue barrel, which I have referred to earlier, and the dinner ended hastily.

Let us hope we don't have more visitors from the animal kingdom in the near future.

Thursday, July 18, 2002

Finally saw Devdas yesterday. Good movie. I can realise what the fuss is all about. Let us keep aside for a moment the question of whether I sympathize with him and look at the movie's merits.

It is a fast film. It moves along at a rapid pace, and does not slacken like many hindi films tend to do. The songs are such that the story proceeds when they are on, and so there are no bottlenecks in between. I also liked the ending.

I won't write too much since my fellow bloggers have already analysed the movie down to it's molecules. But Kiron Kher got on my nerves.

My comment- The movie is 50 crore rupees well spent (unlike some movies we know named Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham).

Here's something I'd like to share with you-

An Indian soldier from Maharashtra was on the battlefront in the 1962 Indo-China war. He had no warm clothes or blankets to protect him from cold, nor did he have good weapons to counter the Chinese. He was shivering in his bunker in the icy environs of the Himalayas and was having suicidal thoughts. He was very spiteful towards life and everything. To keep himself warm he started burning the pages of an unread marathi magazine he had brought from home. As he started throwing one page after another, his attention was captured by an unusual title called "Maajhe Khadyajeevan"(My life as a food lover). Intrigued, he sat down to read this article which described the author's experiments with food all over India. It talked about Bengali mithai, the Delhi parathas, and many such delicacies all over India. It was like a small food guide to India. It was also very well written. The soldier read it and loved the article so much that he thought to himself "I have to live and experience this rich diversity of Indian food. This will be my motivation to survive." He survived and wrote a letter to the author recounting this incident. The author had no idea how to react to such a unique piece of fan mail. P.L. "Pu La" Deshpande, a wizard of the marathi language, was at a loss for words.

That was 1962 and this is 2002. The late Pu La is still considered by many as the greatest author to grace the marathi literary scene. Every kid knows about him. Even Generation Y (isn't that what we are supposed to be?) knows him. But one thing makes me sad. Most of my peers know of his literature only because of the 10 or so audio cassettes that he made of some of his work. Hardly anyone has ever 'read' a Pu La novel, hardly anyone from English medium that is. In fact, Satyen and Mihir are the only two english medium students I know besides myself who have read his books. We too consider ourselves unfortunate because we have read mainly Pu La's books and not even touched the surface of the vast sea that is marathi literature, or even hindi literature.

I wonder what the problem is? Any friends whom I ask about this, say "I can't read the 'devnagri' script." That is extremely ridiculous. We have all been taught the devnagri script, and I am sure we can all read and understand it very well. Maybe there is a greater sense of comfort in reading english because that's all we read nowadays, but if you pick up a marathi (or hindi, for future references) book, then two pages is all it'll take for you to get used to the script and the language.But there is a discernible inertia among us upper middle class maharashtrians to read our own mother tongue. People will proudly tell you that they've read all Sidney Sheldon novels (most of them, utter crap in my humble opinion) or that they just adore Daniel Steel (i dunno how that is spelt), but ask them if they have read "one", I am not asking for too much, just "1", uno, "ek", one book in marathi and they'll shake their heads and say "No, I can't read marathi." Then I ask "You can't read? You weren't taught in school?". The reply is so standard that it should be registered with the ISO. "I can READ marathi, but I am very slow and it takes me a lot of trouble to understand it." Laziness anyone?

So is this phenomenon common to all Indian languages? I have met people from the north who read 5 books a month, but haven't touched a hindi book. Maybe it's this bias we subconsciously grow up with. Desi is uncool. If you see a guy talking chaste hindi or marathi at a public meeting, that won't impress you as much as an expert english orator. If someone is not too good with english, he/she is immediately termed a vern. Hence, it is implied that Indian literature must be crap.

I don't want to make this about sociological issues. All I am saying is that if you can read marathi and you haven't read those books of Pu La that aren't available in audio cassette form, then you are losing something. If you can read marathi but haven't read Mrutyunjay, you are missing something. If you can read marathi, but haven't read Va Pu Kale, Jaywant Dalvi, Kusumagraj, Acharya Atrey (sound like strangers?), you are losing as much as you would have if you had not read a single John Grisham or P G Wodehouse or Frederick Forsyth or Steinbeck or Ayn rand, or any other english author.

Think of our kids. You and me, we had parents who read Indian literature. they could tell us about it. What about our kid? Who will give them the key to the treasure of Indian literature? Will all these great authors end being just names on obscure books in a dusty corner of the library? Can you imagine an entire generation of Maharashtrians not knowing who Pu La was? Scary? well, that is where we are headed. Okay, forget about the coming generations. Let's think about you.

When you look back, do you really want to feel this sense of loss just because when you were young, you were too lazy to read those difficult first two marathi (or hindi) pages that would have set you on your way to a wonderful journey into the fascinating world of Indian literature?

Think about it the next time you reach out for an english novel.

How many Indian books have you read?

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

The Prince of Sprinklers - II

So, here I am waiting for a friend(who is always late) to come online, to socha ek post hi kyu na kee jaaye?

It shall warm the cockles of all my reader's hearts to know that my foot is now free from the pain that it has been through. Now I can get back to playing "Prince of sprinklers - II". What is that, you ask? It is just like a video game, except that it is played in real life.

I have, in the past, described the lush green lawns that proliferate IIM, Lucknow. Such greenery comes at a price, and that price is sprinklers, one of the nascent enemies of mankind. Our insti has lawns all over the place and hence, also has sprinklers all over the place. Management students spend a lot of time in the library, or in the computer centre, and this can dull their reflexes. I suspect that is the reason why the insti people have installed these sprinklers all over the place in such wierd order.

So how is the game played? There is no separate time to be set aside fopr playing the game. It is a continuous process, which stops only when you go to bed (fortunately, no sprinklers in the hostel rooms yet). At any time, when you are walking on the fairways, the sprinklers raise their heads and start firing(or rather watering) in all directions. They follow varied trajectories-

a. Clockwise
b. Anti-clockwise
c. Spraying in all directions
d. at 0.8 mach
e. at 0.008 mach
f. at 8 mach!!!

One sprinkler falls in various categories at any random moment. It is like those demons in a video game, changing their forms. It can come at you from any direction and drench your shirt (or worse, pants) in a few seconds. Since it is so hot, and there is no sign of the monsoons, one doesnt mind it too much, but there is the pride which one values so much.

I can get by with just one drenching day or so, but having seen "Matrix", I have this man-vs-machine thing in my head. I can't let those damned machines(may not be embedded systems but still..) win. I can't let them take control. before I know it, I'll have a rod sticking through the back of my head, if things go that way. So I play "Prince of Sprinkler- II", which is the improved version, every morning.

There is this football field in between my hostel and the mess. Usually, when the sprinklers are on, we used to walk on the road around the field. But now, if I see the sprinklers ON, I deliberately walk through the field, dodging the spray and weaving through the dense cluster of sprinklers, with the aim of reaching the other side dry. For every sprinkler I avoid, I get 100 points, and for every time that they manage to spray me, I deduct 50. The game is going on, with me at 850 in 12 days. I have noticed that the sprinklers, without the aid of microchips are anything, appear pretty dumb, but they do have these flashes of brilliance. Once, for instance, two sprinklers plotted to get me by hook or by crook. One started spouting water at me, and I grinned and stepped to the left, when another sprinkler right besides me splashed at my legs and succeeded in docking me 50 points. To avoid it I jumped back, as a reflex and got drenched by the first one. Tricky customers, these.

So anyway, the battle rages on. My friend has come online, so I'll stop here.

Any games you play in real life?

Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Yesterday, I sprained my ankle. Today, it certainly started throbbing with pain. So I can say that pain has been my constant companion. Was limping throughout the day.

I wish I could say something glamorous like "I was trying to dunkslam while playing basketball" or "It sprained when I was chasing a thief", but the truth is, there is this section near our hostel where they still havent put up lights. So I did not see a pit there and promptly stepped in it, causing the sprain.

Painkillers...main aa raha hoon

Monday, July 15, 2002

Hmm, to lighten the mood, here's a song. Identify it and the performer/band and win a wadapav

As time goes by I probably will
meet a girl and fall in love
Then I'll get married have a wife and a child
and they'll be my turtle doves.

and if this seems too easy, one more

When I grew up and fell in love,
I asked my lover, "What lies ahead?
Will we have rainbows day after day?"
Here's what my lover said:

So two wadapavs up for grabs

After the unreal and refreshing victory at Lord's, one conversation brought me firmly back to terra firma.

I was chatting with this friend, let's call him "Y". I asked him if he saw the match, and guess what his first reaction was?

"Now I think there are atleast 2 good muslims in the world- Zaheer Khan and Mohammad Kaif".

I don't know about you, but I find this statement very saddening. Inspite of everything, all our education and awareness, that's all that we judge people by- religion! When Y saw Kaif fighting back and hitting those sixes, or when he saw Zaheer Khan take those wickets and stay there to score the winning run, he did not see human beings, or even Indians. He saw "muslims", that is all. As if they needed to validate their patriotism or commitment to him.

I am too disgusted by this attitude to say anything much. People speak about ghetto-isation of our cities, where hindus and muslims are slowly moving to separate neighbourhoods. However, this is a worse danger, the ghetto-isation of the mind where we compartmentalize the entire population into religion and caste. And they need not be terrorists, they could be lawyers, doctors, or heroic cricketers. that's all we can identify them as. Yuvraj Singh- hindu, and Mohammad Kaif- muslim, Ashish Nehra- hindu, Zaheer Khan- muslim.

We are playing into the hands of the mullahs and the sanghis by doing this to ourselves. What do we want, a Balkanisation of the country?

I think there is hope. I think people like Y are in a minority, and most Indians are still secular and broadminded in their outlook, not narrow minded bigots.

Am I right?

Saturday, July 13, 2002

Something funny from politics is this whole Vaiko issue. It's as if the NDA government took an egg and splattered it over its own face. I just can't stop laughing.

For those who came in late, some months ago, the government enacted this draconian law called POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) which has many strange things. Aimed mainly at the Islamic organisations like SIMI, it has provisions for arrest without bail, and many other seemingly harsh measures. The relevant one is, if you publicly support a terrorist or a terrorist organisation, you can be jailed.

Now this Vaiko, an ally of the Vajpayee government from tamilnadu, is a vocal supporter of the Lankan Tamil terror group LTTE and he made a public speech in which he supported their casue. Jayalalitha, promptly used POTA and jailed him, and now the BJP and the NDA are at a loss about what to do. It is all so hilarious. Their own law being used against them. The BJP is further compounding the issue by opposing this arrest and saying stupid stuff that can't be good for their image. The message it sends is, POTA is meant only for muslims.

Hilarious. Wonder how many more NDA allies Jaya will throw in jail.

Imagine this!

A room of 8 feet X 10 feet.
Around 150 guys inside this room.
The fan in the room not working.
Sweat sweat and more sweat.
No music, no food, no chicks.

And yet, that half an hour there was one of the most memorable occasions of my life.

Am, I a masochist?
Or was I in some previous incarnation, stuffed into the black hole of Calcutta?

None of the above, I am a true Indian, and therefore by implication a cricket fan!!!

Didn't I mention there was a TV airing ESPN in that room? There was!

Yesterday's match was so good, I still can't believe it happened. As Harsha Bhogle said, the cobwebs in our mind had led us to believe that we couldnt never pull off such an unlikely victory. Only two men believed it, and those two men were where it mattered most- on the pitch at Lord's. Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif scripted a Lagaan-like ending to what was definitely one of the most amazing matches ever.

After England posted 325, the mood at the insti was one of despair. Everyone gave up hopes and headed to the Concrete Floor, the scene of Parichay (as I mentioned in my last post). Then word trickled in, "Ganguly's on Fire", and everyone headed to the nearest common rooms and the audience at 'Parichay' sorta thinned. India reached 100 in just 13 overs as hopes of a repeat of Dhaka '98, where India chased 314, resurfaced. But then Ganguly got out and Sehwag followed suit. Tendulkar has never been a big match player or good at chases, and as expected he got out in a clumsy manner. At 146/5, India seemed to have stuck to the script. As Crimemaste Gogo so aptly put it, "haath ko aaya, mooh na lagaa" (roughly translated, faltered at the post). We all headed to watch the show and forgot about the match. Then during the dinner, someone broke the news..."India needs 65 off 60 balls, with 5 wickets still in hand. Yuvraj and Kaif going great guns". I almost choked on the tandoori chicken, then proceeded to finish it off in haste and headed to the Hostel 9 common room.

The room was packed with humanity from wall to wall. I managed to weave my way through close to the television. The air was thick with enthusiasm and patriotism. people kept screaming the following things at periodic intervals-

i) Bharat Mata Ki jai and jeetega bhai Jeetega, India jeetega
ii) All sorts of expletives of punjabi origin with not so flattering references made to the mothers, sisters, and various body parts of the English players.
iii) For some wierd reason, dialogues from the movie "The Legend of Bhagat Singh", like "Down with Imperialism", "Long Live Revolution" and "Britishers go back" (tho it was the Indians who were in England).

So my ear drums got the workout of a lifetime, as did my sweat glands. But it was a thrilling experience. One of the guys gave me a camera to take a snap of the room the moment the winning shot was hit. Can't wait for that pic to develop.

After the match, we headed to the insti party in the Badminton hall. Everyone danced their hearts out. It was special to win such an important match from such an impossible position.

Go India!!!

There is this entertainment show called "Parichay" at the insti today, performed by the freshers, followed by a typical saturday night party. Hence I will be up till late and wake up late too.

I love this lifestyle!!!

By the way, some seniors caught hold of some of us and made us have a "group discussion" on potato chips, for their marketing project. How can you have a GD on potato chips? Well, it was a free and frank GD, with some people displaying remarkable knowledge of the subject. I felt a little out of place. How often are you asked the question - "What do you look for in a potato chip?". And just think, in a year, I'll be asking such questions to bewildered PGP-Is myself.

By the way, now I am pretty sure that the cook reads this blog. So what follows is intended for him.

Dear cook bhaisaab, I am sorry if by praising your cooking during the initial days of my stay at IIML, i breached some protocol. I am sorry I confused banana with doodhi. But did you have to make doodhi today to show me what it is? As it is, you had made idlis in the morning, not really my idea of breakfast cuisine. I shall henceforth keep my trap shut about the food. Please make respectable sabjis only. Kapish(is that how they spell it?)?

Current mood- Very Happy, since I at a very pretty sight, and my eyes are happy
Current Music- Piya Basanti rey..(Ustad Sultan Khan)

By the way, Satyen, an IITB-wallah has got CD's of all the 8 seasons of friends from your network. Saw a few episodes today.

All in all, Life is Beautiful!!!

How's your's?

Read the most apt review of Devdas ever written. I don't know who wrote it (wink wink), but it is great. I predict great things will happen to this journo, maybe she'll open a successful prep school and trounce J K Rowling.

Read the review- Devdas Revisited

Friday, July 12, 2002

Hmm, something very Sonal,

Song guess karo, lucknowi chaat jeeto

Very easy to start off

New blood joins this earth
and quikly he's subdued
through constant pain disgrace
the young boy learns their rules

with time the child draws in
this whipping boy done wrong
deprived of all his thoughts
the young man struggles on and on he's known
a vow unto his own
that never from this day
his will they'll take away


Man, such a political post!!!

So, what is a blog really?

Among other things, a forum for you to express thoughts that no one in real life would sit and listen to patiently. Today's post is going to be one such post. A political discourse, if you will.

It was set in motion after this chat I had with a fellow blogger last night about the Shivsena. For the uninitiated, it's a far right Indian political party that belongs to the ruling coalition at the Centre.

So this guy, a marathi from Mumbai, seemed to like the sena, and me, a marathi from Pune, dislike it. Here's a critique about the Shivsena.

How did it all start? From what my limited GK tells me, the Shivsena was started around the time the movement for "United Maharashtra" was going on. You see, under the Brits, there was just "Bombay Presidency" which included Maharashtra and Gujarat. In the 50's the gujarati domination, as also the southie and northie presence in Bombay grew. The marathi was sort of sidelined. Then the government decided to split the Presidency into 2- Gujarat and Maharshtra and there was a bit of bad blood about which state Bombay city should go to. It was during this movement that the Shivsena was born. Then, through the 70s and the 80s, the Sena worked at protecting the interests of the marathis who were apparently being discriminated against in Bombay, in many walks of life. The Sena was this typical reactionary rightist party that had presence only in Bombay. Then in the late 80s and early 90s, with the emeregence of the hindutva movement, the ramjanmabhoomi issue etc, the Sena found new frontier. their anti-south, anti-bhaiyya, anti-gujju tirade was converted to an anti-muslim, which again found echo in Bombay, but also elsewhere.

Till then, the Sena had been ignored in places like Pune and Nagpur, where the marathis were in an absolute majority and were not insecure like in Bombay. But this anti-muslim policy gave them a wider appeal. Through-out the 80s, there were these neighbourhoods in Bombay and other cities, where, whenever Pakistan beat India in any sport, there were celebrations. Add to it, the Shahbano case that made hindus feel that muslims were being pampered at the cost of equality. So just as the BKP rose to prominence, so did the sena.

So why do I dislike the Sena?

I believe that the Sena is a necessary evil.

Why evil?

Because the Sena has been bred only on hatred. It has always been anti-something. Anti-nonmarathis, anti-muslim, anti-congress, anti-western culture. There are no positives that they seem to possess. They have always been a reactionary force rather than a pro-active one. While such an existence might be enough for a bubblegum rightist party wanting 10 minutes of coverage, like the Bajrang Dal, Shivsena aspires to rule Maharashtra. I don't think that this anti-ist attitude can make a good government. Governance, at least good governance, stems from positive ideas. The Sena spent so much time in hating people, that by the time they came to power in 1994, they realised that they had no idea what to do as incumbents. So they got down to pillaging, looting etc. The corrupt Congress before them realised the simple fact that "to steal from the treasury, you need to earn something for it first". The sena ignored the earning part.

Add to it, their cocksure behaviour, especially the episode where Thackeray insulted Pu La Deshpande, Maharashtra's greatest author and most loved personality. The reason for this outburst was that Deshpande was being given an award by the government and in the speech he criticised the government's functioning. Democracy? Freedom of speech? No way, says Thackeray who longs for a civil war in India and lambasts democracy. he made churlish comments like "Deshpande spat in the very plate he ate from" and "In fact, I should have gotten the award, but I told the government to give it to him".

In short, power intoxicated them.

Shivsena was swiftly voted out in the next elections.

It flaunts it's disdain for democracy and gets away with it. It is ruled by just one man, Bal Thackeray, who indulges in gimmicks to entertain people. Make sensational comments and votes will follow. Nobody else in the sena has any voice. I dare the Sena people to logically justify their opposition to the labour reforms. No real reason, just oppose something. Because that's the way they've been bred.

I wonder if the Sena has an economic cell of its own.

In a place like Pune, the Sena has no foot to stand on. The marathis have always been at the forefront in most businesses. There aren't too many outsiders, not enough to threaten the interests of the locals. There has always been communal peace and harmony (touchwood!!) with no riots even during the 1992-93 imbroglio. So what do we Punekars need the sena for? To stop us from celebrating Valentine's day?

That's the height of hipocrisy. A man who invited the crotch-clasping-child-molesting Michael Jackson to perform at his nephew's pocket-money-fund-raiser, threatens to blacken the faces of couples who express their love for each other on Feb 14th, because it is a "western concept".

Anyway, there are a lot more points why i feel the Shivsena is evil, the recent kidnapping saga being one, but this much is enough.

Now into, why is it necessary?

There are elements in our society that are intolerant and xenophobic. I have always believed that bigotry and xenophobia are like the seven deadly sins. each one of us has them in some degree. It is up to us and our upbringing to conquer those vices and think like educated, secular (that's a dirty word nowadays isn't it?) Indians. But some people will need outlets. Rather than muddle the thinking of the mainstream with this hatred, it is better to express it through these right-of-the-right parties. They should not indulge in violence however. But the far-right is a necessary evil that should be kept within check.

I agree with a few things the sena propagates. I want uniform civil code. But I dont want it only in the anti-muslim way. Uniform civil code should include abolition of reservations, or at least a radical revamping to avoid misuse. But that's a post for another day.

So what is the alternative?

The Congress? I don't hold Sonia's Italian descent against her. I hold her stupidity and dumbness against her. She is so not qualified to even walk on Rajpath, forget living there.

The third front? What? Where?

Maybe time for you and me to form a party.

Thursday, July 11, 2002

I have been impressing my friends back home by telling them how I sleep just 4 to 5 hours a day and get by quite well. Ahh, my body deemed otherwise today. Yesterday, I slept at midnight and woke up at 9, just minutes before the first lecture. Then I came back to my room after lunch and was reading "Glenngary Glen Ross", a funny play (also made into a movie I believe) about sales people, but fell asleep at 3 and woke up at 6 in the evening. So that is an amazing 12 hours of doze, taking care of the backlog of the past few days I suppose.

Walya left for Wisc-Mad today. The fellowship is breaking up.........

Soon Kane will be in Virginia, Satyen in Princeton. Wonder when the eight of us will get together again?

So anyway, the concoction that day turned out to be banana. The doodhi lobby lost and some people made a rather bambaiyya crack when they said "Aaj messwaalon ne humko kela diya", a sentence that loses it's meaning of translated to english.

But that was yesterday. Today the dinner was supposed to be dosas. Have you people heard of paper-dosas? Well, the ones for dinner today were sandpaper-dosas. You could have served sandpaper with the sambar and aloo-masala and it would have had the same effect.

However, considering the bong fare that Satyen seems to be living on, I still am much better off.

I am sure that Lucknow has like a mine of rajma or something. Every alternate meal has that sinister bean floating in red gravy. I am not complaining .....yet.. because I like rajma, ...still.

With all due apologies to my non-marathi speaking readers, here are two jokes that I heard today and absolutely have to share.
If any Shivsainiks are reading, well guys, thumbs up your *****.

Ekda Shivaji Maharaj pattey(cards) khelat astaat.
Te haak maartaat "kon aahey re tikdey?"
Ek shipai yeto, ani mhanto "mee maharaj"
Shivaji Maharaj mhantaat "arey tu maharaj tar mee kon?"

Heehee, I know it's bad, but it's just building ground for the next one

Ekda Shivaji Maharaj pattey(cards) khelat astaat.
Te haak maartaat "kon aahey re tikdey?"
shipai ata shahana zaalela asto, to mhanto "hukum maharaj?"
maharaj mhantaat "Ispik"

If you are a marathi speaker and are not laughing as hard as me, go see a doctor.

Satyen uses the word 'wakar' a billion times, and Sonal types have no idea what it means. In fact, most of the world's population has no idea what it means. Here is a bit about that word,

wakar(pronouned wakaar): (noun, verb, at times adjective) puke, to puke, that disgusting liquid that emanates from a person's mouth when they throw up, act of throwing up
(language of origin- marathi, original root being "okari" meaning the same)
(coined by an IIT-ian who currently resides in ISICAL and is headed to Princeton)

*not to be confused with waqar (pronounciation same), pakistani cricket captain.

noun- The green vegetable was responsible for the wakar in the bathroom

verb- After he downed 4 pegs of rum, a bottle of beer and 2 tequilla shots, he wakarred all over the balcony

adjective- Raja Hindustani was a very wakar movie

Wednesday, July 10, 2002

"The mysterious case of the concoction of 10th July".

Hey, does my vast base of daily readers include the IIML mess cooks? Because they seem to have noticed the praises I have been showering on the food, and it seems like their philosophy in life is "Appreciation leads to depreciation". The reason I say this is the grub we have been getting for the past 3 meals. It's pretty much "take-one-serving-eat-some-dump-rest-in-vast-blue-barrel-forget-second-helping-head-to-canteen" type. The vast blue barrel is what we are supposed to dump any remains in. Today, the 'sabji' they had made, they might have just emptied the whole thing into the blue barrel and saved us an effort.

Let me elaborate a bit on the cirumstances in which it came into our life. There were 5 hours of extremely tedious classes, followed by the usual trudge in the 'lovely' sunlight, to the mess. And as one piles up the rice on the plate, one comes across a greenish creation(colour sorta like Nikita's blog background) of dubious origins. There are also forks and knives, which are usually absent from the cutlery table. So some of us helped oursleves to this breakthrough food item. Why? Because what is life without death-defying adventures? I stuck a fork into one oblong piece and put it in my mouth. It gave me an idea of what a dog would feel if he bit into my canvas shoes. Around me, were seated people, who had wisely stuck only to daal-rice and they observed my endeavours with keen interest. A full scale discussion erupted on what inorganic industrial matter was used in making it, or possibly which exhibit of the natural history museum chopped to pieces. The spices used in the concoction were also deliberated on at length. In the end, we came to the conclusion that it was organic after all, and was either a doodhi or a banana, and the batch used was the last one the Britishers had ordered before they left the Lucknow residency after 1947. I threw in my lot with the 'banana' lobby.

Remind me to ask the mess-wallahs what the damned vegetable exactly was.

I shall now head to the canteen to satiate my hunger. Do conspiracy theorists see the hand of the canteen-wallah behind this episode to boost his sales?

By the way, I did swallow the one piece I had put in my mouth. So if this is my last ever blog, you know what killed me.

Tuesday, July 09, 2002

My tummy is aching. No, it is not the result of indigestion incurred as a result of pigging out on the IIML food, but it is thanks to reading Satyen's blog. The only thing funnier than Satyen's writing is a conversation with Satyen in real life (on related issues of course, though his views on economics have been pretty rib tickling as well). I hope you are never too busy to blog Satyen. Keep churning 'em out.

The only thing I ever appear to mention about Lucknow life is the heat, right? Okay, let me branch out a little. We have the finest hostels in India, but since our hostel, Number 11 is the newest, some i's need to be dotted and some t's need to be slashed. Among these, was the issue of our bathrooms without doors. There are 6 bathrooms and 6 toilets on our floor for 15 people, quite a comfortable ratio, but the catch was that only 2 of each had doors. So yesterday I saw our U.P. brethren sweating it out and installing those doors. As a result, 4 bathrooms suddenly came into circulation. Today, I decided to use one of the new ones, and make a departure from the 14 day rut of the 'bathroom on the left'. It was around 6 in the evening, as I hummed a hindi tune ( Aja aja main hoon pyar tera... if you must know) and turned the shower knob, hot water came gushing out, not scalding hot, but definitely hot, causing me to stop the singing and turn it off. It appeared as if the genial handymen had got the red and blue (i.e hot and cold) stickers mixed up. Never mind, I thought, and turned the other knob and resumed saying "Main hoon pyaar terAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA " . Why this aalaap you ask? Because it turns out the stickers were right. What descended upon me was 'real' scalding hot water, and the water before had been heating naturally thanks to the lovely weather here in Lucknow. So for all those complaining about my one-track 'heat' record, that was a diversion.

In these chronicles, in the past, probably in May, I mentioned that my very good friends, Jitesh and Shree (who is a girl, regardless of the name)got married and how they were the cutest couple I ever saw. Check their pics and tell me if I am wrong.

Power failure here, so will post right now, before UPS runs out.

Monday, July 08, 2002

I need to buy headphones!!!!

'Blondie', the community server here has a huge variety of songs, both english and hindi (and around 100 marathi classic as well) numbering in thousands. But no headphones. Making a mental note- BUY HEADPHONES.

Yesterday I appeared for the interview of the only speacial interest group/committee I applied to. People knowing me would be surprised as to why I applied to only 1 committee, whereas there are around 15 and most people apply at least to five. The reason is that all my student life, I have been involved in some extra-curric or the other and my grades have inadvertantly, suffered to some degree. Quizzing, debating, gathering committee, magazines, and also the big commitment of Rotaract Presidentship. I want to, for once, find out how I will do if I just concentrate on studies. Most of the people apply to these committees because they want 'bullet points' in their resumes. I have enough bullet points to last a small Al Qaida unit. Hence this policy decision to apply for only one committee- PRISM- the Marketing special interest group. That too I applied because in their application process you had to write 100 words about your favourite ad, and I wanted to do that. By the way, for someone who blogs a lot, 100 words turned out to be too less. 100 words is hardly anything!!!

So anyway, I sat down to think of my favourite ad, and the first one that came to mind was "Beta Sweater Pehno.." thanks to Suku's constant use of that dialogue. But as I was thinking up stuff to justify that choice, I realised that I had no idea what the product was. It took me a few hours to recall that it was some mint, probably Polo. That again got me thinking on what an ad should really do? If it is too good, the ad becomes a brand in itself. Marketing can prove to be too attractive. Like in 1974, Gillette withdrew from sponsorship of the English Domestic Cricket Ch'ship because their name was becoming associated more with cricket than razors. It was a similar problem Rohan was going through. His favourite ad was the Kavita Kapoor ad "One Black coffee please" in which a lady starts flirting with a man(it appears) in a restaurant but when he gets up and goes near her, he sees that she was talking to someone else using a mobile so small that her hand completely hid it. To top off embarrassment with insult, she thinks he is a waiter and says "one black coffee please". Amazing ad, but it took Rohan and a few of us a lot of time to recall that Ericsson was the brand in that case.

Taking all these factors into consideration, I chose "Amul The Taste Of India" ad which was frequently shown a couple of years ago. It shows various Indian food products from different parts of India and how Amul is used in all of these. The music, choreography and the editing was very vibrant, and it had a very real feel to it. In the end, I wrote about an ad which may not be the most popular ad, but certainly is one of the most effective ones.

Since I have applied to only that one committee, and I am one of 80 vying for 5 spots, I don't think I'll be selected. So, as I was saying, it's studies without extra-currics this time. Dekhein...

Saturday, July 06, 2002

A lazy Sunday morning unfolds. Started off on a rather expectant note when I woke up at 7(went to sleep at 3) but then reached a bit of an anticlimactic plateau. Spend a large part of the morning searching about Chinese economy and reading Nikita's blog, the Puneri Nikita, not to be confused with the one who lives in Walkeshwar ( Suku assures me that's pretty upmarket). This Puneri Nikita walks to MIT, again, not to be confused with the one in US, but Maharashtra Institute of Technology. Since she walks to MIT, she too must be a Paud Road wasi like me.

The party last night was amazing. It was dry, thanks to the drunken shenanigans I wrote about yesterday, but it was still happening. Hostel 9 and Hostel 10 are joined by this terrace which is called "Titanic" in IIML lingo, since it is shaped a bit like the deck of Titanic. Loud music, flashing lights, huge screen displaying videos, and what have you. First real 'let your hair down' party at Lko. Went to sleep at 3 a.m. after shaking many a leg for hours.

Dhirubhai Ambani is dead. Rest in Peace Dhirubhai, you have touched more lives than you could ever have imagined. Taught India the true meaning of the word 'reliance'.

By the way, yeh Indian team ko kya ho gaya hai? We are actually winning matches from difficult positions!! Is this a new beginning? Rahul Dravid in smashing form, sachin settled in the middle order, Sehwag going great guns, and the tail looks string too, what with Agarkar there!! Hope this is not just a flash in the pan.

Yesterday, our economics proffy for some reason was talking about 'killer instinct', and being a bong, he was pronouncing it 'keeler instinct'. I thought then that the Indian team does have a 'keeler instinct), the slightest hint of pressure and we keel over. Haha, but it doesn't hold true currently. Fingers crossed.

Oh yes, Schumacher and Tendulkar to meet at Silverstone today where Sachin will be given a Ferrari. What I'd give to be a fly on the wall there!!

May go and watch Humraaz today, since Rohan and Prashant find Amisha Patel the hottest thing since Vesuvius cooled down.

Just met Chaitanya and Chinmay online. I seem to have too much time on my hands, since this is the first week and the hectic schedule hasn't really been implemented. Until then I'll keep boring you people. Here is something I came up with, assisted a little by Chaitanya.

You all must have seen the movie Deewana Mastana, and enjoyed the character Pappu Pager played by Satish Kaushik. He used a lot of hilarious invectives which have now achieved cult status. We decided to term them pappupagerisms. here are a few of the original ones in the movie, and my additions (pappuplagiarisms???)-


Abey marey huey kauvve ke pankh

Matar ke aakhri daney

Keley ke chilkey ke nichley hissey

Shamshan ke bujhe huey koyle

Some of My own Pappupagerisms

Abey mazdoor ke paseeney ke boond

Bembi(bellybutton) ke andar ke lint

Keyboard ke buttons ke beech ki gandagi

Jali hui roti ke parat

Baingan ke bhartey ke daney

Forwarded email ke nichley hissey (this one by Chaitanya)

Lecture ke aakhiri minute

TurboC++ code ke error message window

Baasi machli ki poonch

Mumbai ki local key andar ke advertisement poster

Dilli ke golgappey waley ki stove (shto?) ki pin

Lucknow ke tempodriver ke paan ki thoonk

That's all I could come up with. You fellas(and fillies) are welcome to add your own. Looking forward to valuable inputs.

Friday, July 05, 2002

I have been reading this extremely arbit book called "Cybergypsies" by Indra Sinha. Makes for an interesting reading. Read 100 pages yet, and something radical better happen or I'll quit reading it. So far it's only been a female sleeping with 3 men(at different times) on a roadtrip. It's mainly set in the pre-2000 internet world, when the phenomenon hadn't exactly exploded.

The internet just engulfed us so quickly!! Remember life 4 years ago. Communication was so different. Internet, email, etc were just some concepts you read in technical journals or science project exhibitions, and never thought about too much. And in just four years, the scene has changed so much. The net is now an essential component of life. Like electricity or plumbing. You take it for granted, as if it was always there. I don't remember the last time I wrote an inland or a postcard.

There is something about google I read a few days back. It does not give you the best sources for information, but it gives you the sources that the maximum number of people think are the best for information. How true. I realise the true import of this as I search for something on google, and on one of our library's online databases. Google may be OK for some trivial pursuits, but when it comes to hardcore researching, nothing like the database.

What follows is what happened a week ago, but am posting details about it now.

Our batch has been getting into trouble since we got here. The events have only worked to keep me away from the bottle for 20 more months. A guy got drunk at a saturday party before we got here and got lost in the huge campus. So he knocked on the first door he saw, which unfortunately turned out to be that of a Prof. He made a demand, punctuated with swear words of the North indian origin, to take him to the hostel he lived in. The proffy wasn't amused at all. He complained to the Diro, and fellow booted out!!

The PGP Chairman informed us about this and warned us not to repeat something like that. But lo and behold, next day, the Chairman walks in and says "there has been one more incident." My curiosity was piqued. Then he said-

"who went to Hazratganj...on...what was that date.."

I kept praying he wouldn't say 26th, since, as I posted on the blog before, we went to the Ganj on 26th.

"yes, today is 28th.,, yes, who went to Hazratganj on 26th??"

My heart sank. I kept wondering what wrong we committed. Maybe it was the blog about the bad coffee at Barista. Maybe it was because we went to the cathedral in spite of being hindus. Sunil and I looked at each other fearing the worst.

Suddenly, sunlight shone through the dark clouds as the Chairman continued.

"to have dinner at a hotel called Shanghai Surprise in the night??"

Ahh, big relief. We never went there. Twasn't me, twas someone else.

Anyway, some guys apparently went there, got drunk, and created a scene (there are rumours that someone threw chicken at the waiter) and were almost kicked out.

I am not a drinker. I intend not to drink, at least for the next two years. I don't want one night's silliness to waste all the hard work.

In fact, I was so surprised at our fresher's party in the hostel. The seniors asked who all don't drink, and almost 75% of the freshers raised hands.

Hence, the freshers party was quite enjoyable. Pizza in one hand and orange juice in another, watching the drunks make a fool of themselves. I may not drink, but I like watching drunks entertain the crowd.

Why don't I drink? I guess, one reason is, I don't like the taste of booze. Another is that I don't feel the need to 'get high' as some describe it. There is nothing missing, no craving, for which I should drink. Thirdly, I have seen the worst happen due to alcoholism, I have seen people lose control and lose respect in the eyes of others. I don't want to be carried home by taxi-drivers, I don't want to sit mumbling incoherently on a park bench. I want to remain in control 24 hours.

If that makes me a square, so be it. But it is my choice.

Welcome to blogdom, Satyen. It'll definitely be one of the wittiest blogs around although, I am not sure how the demanding life of Princeton will affect the frequency of your posts.

Thursday, July 04, 2002

A mediocre poet living at the junction of the 20th and 21st centuries once said-

Different people
Different eyes
Different places
Different skies

I truly believe in this. Like every person has his/her eyes as a very striking characteristics, so do all places have different skies. Lucknow's sky seems divine, especially during the evenings. I don't know if it has something to do with the fact that the pollution around IIML is sparse enough to be non-existent.

I think, it has something to do, also with the fact that all my life, I have rarely lived in a place where you have a view of the entire sky, from horizon to horizon. In and around Pune, when there are no buildings, you have like a hundred crore hills, and in other places like Bombay, there are too many buildings. Ditto with Indore. So in IIM, Lucknow, about 20 km from the city, one has a view of the entire sky. And it's like watching a kaleidoscope. Remember those mirrored tubes with pieces of bangles kids used to make as science projects in primary school? You just move one muscle and a different and more intricate design would be formed. It's something similar with the Lucknow sky, or rather the IIML sky. You move your eye just ever so slightly and you get to see a different game of intimacy taking place between the light and the clouds. Various hues of pink, orange and red, various formations of milky white clouds, all on the background of a crystal blue colour. Breathtaking. if it weren't for the heat(ouch, the weather again!), I'd keep staring at the sky at all times.

I have heard of bird watchers, but I am a pioneering skywatcher. Anyone want to join the Skywatchers club?

Let's uncork the champagne and have a huge round of drinks. Aniruddha Nagaraj, long time bumchum from school days got an admit from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Yay and woohoo and other things.

He is an extremely brilliant guy who somehow wasn't favoured by the roll of the dice during his apps to US univs. He has 70 plus in all sems and a GRE score of 2240, yet he got a few rejects and was accepted by only Steven's school, somehwere in New Jersey. We all thought that he deserved something much better. The better has finally arrived. Congrats Walya. Way to go!!!

Just read an article on Suku's blog about marriage. Pretty neat, I think (like everything else she writes). Read it if you haven't.

I have to write an essay on "Who am I?" for the Comm101 class. I think the blog might help. So better get working on it. I also have to interview someone about his/her experiences with a boss in the workplace. I got my candidate (wink wink) and am working on the questions.

So people,who am I? Give me some inputs...........

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

I may seem like an Englishman speaking about the weather all the time, but Lucknow has cooled down now. It rained yesterday and it felt grrrrrrrrrrreat. The mercury is dropping, and all's fine with the world. =-).

I have to make a presentation on "Intellectual Property Rights" and "TRIPS" next month. It has to be accompanied by a 5000 word report. What to do? It's post graduation na.

Something very funny I noticed in the past few days. About FDI in print media. For the uninitiated, there has been a big debate on about whether we should allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in the world of print media. There already is foreign control over TV, hence why not papers too, goes the logic.

Last week the government announced it raised the FDI limit to 26% and hence paved way for foreigners to own Indian newspapers. Right or wrong, we'll go into that later, but the funny thing is the attitude of the two big media groups in India- the Times group and the Express group. All Times editorials have been opposing the policy tooth and nail while all Express editorials have been welcoming it. Such diametrically opposite viewpoints are because of their basic composition. The Times group doesn't want competition, while the Express group, already in a tie up with the Wall Street Journal, sees it as an opportunity to get more foreign investment. Wonder where the days of objective reporting have gone?

My personal view is that let them in. We are not so frail a nation mentally that our collective psyches and consciences can be hijacked by foreign control papers. Even if they are the owners, remember who the readers are? If a paper starts saying "Let us give Kashmir to Pakistan", no one will listen. So let us be mature, and accept that globalisation is here to stay. After all, look at Star News. They aren't as right wing as AajTak but their reporting in quite India-supportive. Remember the part Star News played in the Kargil war of making the nation aware?

So let the firangs in. This is not the 1800s. Hail the arrival of a new age in reporting....

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

Had the most unexpected first lecture today. The subject is called "IT in Management" and it is suppossed to cover VB6 and all the Office applications, especially excel and access. I was expecting an essentially techie kinda guy giving us fundas on the softwares. hoever what we got was an extremely warm and fun teacher called Prof Vivek Gupta who started off with a small story. He then asked each one of us to identify ourselves and tell the class what was unique about ourselves. It was a fun session with people giving the most hackneyed replies like "I can meet challenges" and "I am a modest guy" types, as also some really unique answers like "I read faces" and other unqiue answers that I temporarily forget (they were unique, not memorable).

The lecture schedule is quite OK, but the millions of assignments accompanying them can be real killers. Well, you gotta do what you gotta do.

We all showed the hallmarks of being a class of MBA students by not agreeing on anything. we were supposed to elect a CR who will do some minor work for the class. There were 3 candidates and normally, one would've expected a show of hands. Nahh, that wouldn't be management style, would it? First each person had to give a sort of a 'campaign speech', then answer the questions from the 'voters', and then, finally there was a secret ballot voting. Why? Because "show of hands may cause grudges". Don't laugh, don't laugh. Finally a guy named Tony was elected the CR and he has enthusiastically set about making project groups.

The World Cup is finally over. Now we can all go back to being a cricket crazy nation that is satisfied with one bronze per billion per olympic. India has started off its campaign in England in style, with winning the first two matched comfortably, and that too while chasing. Rahul Dravid is getting accolades for his wicket-keeping!! Let's see how long that lasts.

Thought for the day- Khuda Meherban to Gadha Pehelwan

Monday, July 01, 2002

There's a quiz in the insti in a few minutes, hence a short post. Hey colour experts like Madhura and Suku, what is your opinion on this one?

Jaswant got Finance Ministry, yay!!!

More later

Wish me luck