Vantage point

Monday, September 30, 2002

A long overdue update to the blogger's list

The greatest compliment a blogger pays to another is to include him on the bloglist on his own page. Here are 5 good ones I have been reading recently, but been too busy (read l-a-z-y) to include in my template.

Almas Shah a.k.a Khushee has a peppy blog called Serenity. She lives in Australia, attends uni everyday, and loves her cat. I can imagine her to be the sort of person in real life who laughs, smiles and giggles a lot, but still manages to maintain an air of intellectual superiority, and justifiably so.

Shuchita recounts A Faineant's Tale . This witty lady lives in the greatest city in the world, Pune and works in the Software Development arm of HSBC. Loves Tolkien, Wodehouse, Douglas Adams, and is waiting for an unknown wealthy relative in Australia (actually she says any country will do, as long as the money is enough) to die and make her the sole beneficiary.

Radha Desai writes on the Radzone. Christened Radzee during the hype surrounding the movie AntZ, she swears she does not resemble Woody Allen. Studies molecular biology at TIFR in Mumbai, and that makes her one of the most intelligent people I know. Besides reading such a fascinating and complex subject, she likes spending weekends back in Pune, her hometown, and has recently discovered the magical world of Harry Potter.

Rushi Desai runs Rushi's Journal ( previously Hyporg's Home). Seems to have a good knowledge of Comp Sci inspite of doing his engineering from the Maharashtra Institute of Technology. Currently working at IIT Bombay. The sort of guy who will wear bermudas and slippers to his cubicle one day, spend twice as much time on debugging than on writing code, dream of getting paid thrice as much as an efficient management guy, and will have to be pestered infinitely to get a simple module finished in time.

The last but not the least, is the brilliant Codelust. Works for the Indian Express and has one of the best blogs around. Has the wittiest repartees and often the most thoughtful and thought-provoking posts. Words fail to describe his blog properly. He's one cool blogger.

How is "Apocalypse Now"?

I am back to IIM Lucknow. It means back to assignments, projects, lectures, but more importantly, back to free 24 hour internet access.

I should not have mentioned it in my 25th September post. The two attempts at playing the ICC Champions Trophy final got rained off, and India had to share the trophy with Sri Lanka, an obviously inferior team. I love the way the tourney ended though, with Sehwag hitting Vaas over thirdman for a six, before the rains stopped play.

Last week was a meet-the-bloggers week for me. After the famous Sukanya-Gaurav summit, plans were afoot for a Shuchita-Nikita-Gaurav conference in Pune on thursday. However, we had to postpone that, since thursday was the day of the bandh (general strike) called by the VHP-SS. The following day, there were some problem with contacting Nikita, and it finally ended up being a Shuchita-Gaurav meet. We met at Southwinds, the first coffee shop in Pune, and generally talked XIX to the XII about varied topics like Wodehouse, Engineering Colleges, Imaginary rich relatives, post graduation, inarticulate bloggers, the bodily dangers of playing golf, the proximity of the "i" key to the "o" key and the obscene typos it causes......I think that is confusing enough as far as lists of conversation topics goes.

Let's just say I had a great time, and it was fun meeting Shuchita. I think there should be more real-life interaction between bloggers. The two experiences I had were great.

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Been super busy killing time. A long post when I get back to IIML on monday.

I can't access sites with underscores from IIM, so haven't been able to access this blog and finally did so from Pune. It is hilarious. I was laughing so hard.


Wednesday, September 25, 2002

I am not superstitious, but I feel tempted to be in this case.

It was so unbelievable! Should I write about it? Or should I wait till Sunday?

I think I'll wait till Sunday.

Fingers crossed!!

Monday, September 23, 2002

It was dark at night in Bandra as I alighted from the local train. Walked to a ticket window on the west. She had said she would wait by the "new" ticket window. This does not look very new.

Maybe there is one on the east side. Walked over the bridge, balancing the two bags. A dude tells me there is no ticket window on the east side. Walked back to the old ticket window. Put my bags down and waited. A few doubts came buzzing by like pesky bees. What if she fell ill and can't make it? What if she decided she didn't want to meet at all? What if....

When suddenly, a dimunitive 'angel' (that's what the t-shirt said) flitted into view. The historic moment had arrived. The great Sukanya-Gaurav summit meet. We exchanged the customary pleasantaries, spoke a bit about this and that.

Then we did a little bit of the "vultures from Jungle Book" routine.

'So where do you wanna go?'

' I dunno, where do you wanna go?'

' I dunno...'

Finally we decided that we'd go to Dosa Diner since we both weren't too hungry (speaks volumes about the volume of the portions in Dosa Diner). The rickshaw-wallah had no idea where DD was, and Suku was not sure. So we got down at some arbit place and went to a place called 'Open Sesame'. It was a new establishment so it took us a while to get noticed by the waiter. The place was jam packed with 3 more tables occupied (!!). Suited us, we kept yakking about this or that. After we had managed to place our orders ( Patata Salad, Open sesame Chicken Salad, French Fries and Fresh Lime Soda, in case you really want all the details), we indulged in a bit of yule-tide spirit, exchanging gifts. Suku gave me "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, and I gave her a Buddha's head. The food came, the food went, we yapped and yapped and yapped. The owner of the place came to ask if we liked the food. He told us it was a new establishment. I did my best to feign surprise.

Then we bought a flower for Suku (she'll tell you the exact botanical name for it), and headed back.

We travelled to Goregaon in a local train and took a rick back to suku's place. She showed me her school which is right next to a fish market. Convenient for the teachers to make those cliched comparisons eh? When we reached her home, it was discovered that we could not open the gate, since the bolt was jammed. I was thinking about what we could do when suddenly, up jumps Suku over the gate, like a superhero chasing a supervillain. She had the gate open, but also got a "boo boo" on her thumb in the process. No blood, but a small reddish bruise.

As we walked up the stairs, she realised she had left the flower outside, and I was treated to her expostulaing "budthameez" as she so often does online. The flower was retrieved, and we reached her home.

Spoke to her very very sweet Mom about how Bombay and Pune are so much better than Lucknow, and also spoke a bit about marriages. Is marriage a zaroorat(necessity) or a majboori(compulsion)? Met her cool bro Suparn too.

Then I got into a Cinderella like mode as midnight approached. My clothes would turn to tatters!! Besides I had to catch a bus back to Pune too. Took a rick, and went back, savouring the great 4 hours that i had had.

So how is Sukanya in real life? She is witty, charming, bubbly, cute, ..... to sum it up best, she is just the way she is online.

The book Suku gave me, "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, is a special book for us Tolkien fans, as most of you would know. What makes it even more special is the first page on which she has written - "May the fellowship never break".

Amen to that!

Sunday, September 22, 2002

Had a pleasant journey from Lko to Pune, beggars and eunuchs notwithstanding. Met fellow-blogger Suku. Am now one book and 4 great hours richer. Met her mom (very very sweet) and her bro (very very cool). Came home in a State Transport bus.


Details later.


Saturday, September 21, 2002

You know those people who plan ahead? I don't mean 10 years down the line, but just 2 or 3 days. i usually find this kind very irritating. There is one exception though. Me. I am usually a live-every-moment-as-it-comes kinda guy, but over the past few days I went into the planning mode. We had to fill like 25 CV's and forms for our summer placements in 2 days. I was going to put it off till after the exams, but I planned. I finished filling all CV's so that after the exam, I could go out with my friends and maybe catch a movie or two, before catching the train.

It turns out I was the only visionary. All my friends are battling away at their CV's and will then go and pack. I sit here, my bag packed for 2 days, my CV's submitted, posting on my blog. I am the only lukkha and as a result am being told many minor chores, since all the guys are too busy ducking deadlines.

That's why I never plan ahead.


Wednesday, September 18, 2002

The Beatles have a song for almost every emotion.

Woh Beetey Din....

Remember the television of the 80s? Before Murdoch noticed India?

Remember waking up early on Sunday to watch "The Disney Show"? Remember streets emptying on sunday mornings because of Ramayan and later Mahabharat?

Remember Mungerilal, Kakaji Kahin, Guniram, Flop Show and my favourite Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi? There were many more sitcoms which i don't quite remember.

Remember Khopdi and Guru in Nukkad? And 8:40 at night was the time there would be NEWS.

The World This Week friday nights.

Then the ads -

"Phenk do yeh kadhai!!", "Jeevdaya Netraprabha netraprabha", "Vicco Vajradanti..Ayurvedic Vicco Vajradanti.."

People would go visiting friends and relatives and the spoilt seven year olds of the house would be goaded to sing "advertisments". they would then mouth all the jingles and generally win applause.

Then there were the fillers

"Ek chidiya, anek chidiya", being my favourite.

Who can forget "Miley sur mera tumhara..."

I can go on and on listing those memories.

There is also "Rukawat ke liye khed hai"
I know that technically DD was inferior and there was no 24 hour programming. But the stuff then was so much better than the K-tastrophies of today.

I miss the DD of the 80s. It's a part of my childhood.

We all used to crib so much about DD in those days. I would read about Cable TV and wonder when it would come to India. And see what it has brought us?

I guess there are somethings in life we value only after we've lost them.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

For the past few days, my friends and I have been saying "Imagine, Right this moment next week, we'll be home" or "At this exact moment a week later, I'll be watching TV and eating my mom's trademark parathas" or "Next week, we'll be able to watch all the TV we want".

There is a guy who keeps responding to these statements saying "Yeah, but the week after that??? We'll be right back here, in a flood of assignments, no time to watch TV and the added tension of Summer Placements"

Some people can take all the fun out of looking ahead at the times to come.

I was having my dinner in the mess tonight, menu being rice and rajma (the local laws in Uttar Pradesh probably make it compulsory to serve rajma thrice a week), and gulabjamuns, when a senior walks up with a jar in his hand.

"Anyone here eats fish?" he asks. I am stumped, unable to believe my ears and manage to just blurt out a "WHAT??".

"Fish yaar, I just came from home and have this fish pickle with me. You want it?"

My reaction was similar to what popeye's reaction will be if someone offers him spinach after three months of spinach-less existence. I grabbed the jar, thinking about how much pickle I could take without seeming unpolitely greedy. I took a few spoonfulls and thanked him profusely for the favour.

Fish in dinner!!! My fish-daata was a Bengali and was a bit surprised to learn that there are subcastes among Maharashtrians who are just as crazy for fish. I thanked him a billion times more and told him he can have upto 60% of my kingdom (Mads, are you gonna talk about the way in which i choose percentages again?).

As Satyen would say - "Joi Bongla"!

Monday, September 16, 2002

Another night out on the cards today to prepare for tomorrow's exam. Why don't I switch my watch to EST?

I don't know what is more irritating, the noise that fingernails make when they scratch a blackboard, or an extremely slow internet connection when you are in a hurry to go offline and study.

How to take all the beauty out of a sunrise?

Stay up all night studying Quantitative Analysis for Management 101, get sums wrong then kick yourself thrice, forget to drink coffee before night mess closes. After this, when the head starts throbbing, go out and watch the sunrise. It does nothing to you, leaves you cold. Like Wodehouse said, "It looks like a piece of undercooked beef".

Poetry be damned.

By the way, nice new blog totally dedicated to haikus

Saturday, September 14, 2002

Memo to the 'body' and 'mind'

Subject: Lessons learnt during the midterms

I hope we can learn from the mistakes made during midterms, now that the endterms are here. There were many, but the biggest one was going to sleep as early as midnight with the Mr. Mind telling Mr. Body " Don't worry, the exam is at 9:30, and 4 hours of sleep is enough. So we'll set the alarm for 4:30 and then study for 4 more hours till the exam. Let us sleep now." Hate to break it to you, guys, but that does not happen. When we go to sleep at midnight, we invariably wake up a nice full 8 hours later and have time only to shower and breakfast. The alarm for some reason has been shut off by a magical hand. So let it be on the record that no 'sleeping at midnight' business until the entire course has been revised (yeah right, like that's gonna happen before midnight!)! Sleep after the course is revised, and rely on friendly neighbourhood hostelmates to bang on your door an hour before the exam to wake you up, if alarm clock does not do the trick.

Looking forward to your cooperation in this regard,

I remain,
Yours Sincerely,

Friday, September 13, 2002

Deadlines are like those elusive peaks you try to reach during a particularly challenging trek or hike. It will take you effort, time and determination, but you will probably get there in the nick of time, just before the sun sets.

I use sunset as a metaphor here, because right now it is 3:15, just 2 hours away from sunrise in Lucknow, and I am struggling to get a Factory Layout right for the OperationsManagement101 assignment.

Endterms from Sunday, that's tomorrow.

One day at a time they tore my heart out sliver by sliver...

Man, that's morbid!! I better get back to that dumb MS-DOS based software.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

After Shivaji's death Aurangzeb came to the South with his armies. At that time, there were two Maratha warriors Santaji and Dhanaji who wreaked havoc in the Moghul Army. The Moghul army was so scared of these two that it is said that they used to hallucinate about them. This fear was so intense that they were scared of drinking water because they would see images of Santaji and Dhanaji in them.

Why am I telling you this? Just preparing ground for my next story, let us say. By the way, you people stretched your luck a bit too much. I am posting one more story. I had thought of this as a story idea for a Hindi movie and am even thinking of writing a script. Then i'll make it into a movie when I earn 70 million dollars at the age of 30.

A Tale Of Fear

Shafeeq sat smoking in an easy chair. Every drag seemed to soothe his nerves a bit. He could not remember the last time he had been so nervous, so scared, so petrified. There had been times in his life before when fear played heavily on his mind, but that stage was long past him. Or so he thought. The last month had been hell. He felt totally powerless.

When he was in his room, he usually opened the window and smoked, air conditioner be damned. Looking at the Dubai traffic on the streets below, he usually felt like god. Sitting on the top floor of the skyscraper, he would think of his childhood in the dingy streets of Faridabad and revel in his success.

But he could not do that now. He had been advised not to go near any windows. It was just too risky. So he sat 20 feet from the window staring at it wistfully, and smoking away into the night.

As Shafeeq said to Afsal earlier that day, he was not sure what hurt him more, the fear or the humiliation at being afraid. Surely a man in his position was not expected to be in this situation. In fact a man in his position would be the last person to be in this situation. Yet it happened, and he felt helpless, powerless, and impotent.

He still remembered the day a month back when it happened. It almost seemed like a joke, a harmless prank one of his friends had pulled on him.

#### A month back

Shafeeq had just returned after having dinner with his family.

The blue mobile phone rang. Shafeeq was a bit surprised when it rang. It was his �special� phone on which no one ever called. He used it only to speak to a handful of very important persons. It was him usually initiating the calls. The number seemed to be based in India.

�Hello� he said.

�Is that Shafeeq?� a very polite voice at the other end asked.

�Yes, who is this?� he cautiously asked.

�My name is Santaji. I don�t think you know me.�

�Why are you calling me?� Shafeeq was perplexed.

�I need some money. I am sure you have enough of it, so I thought you would be the best person to ask.� Santaji said. Shafeeq was annoyed now. What was he, a loan shark?

�Hey listen, I am not a money lender. I don�t know who the hell you are but��

�Oh, I don�t want to borrow money from you.� Santaji laughed �You seem to have misunderstood me. I want you to give me money. 25 million US Dollars. I have no intention of repaying them.�

Shafeeq�s anger subsided. This was obviously a prank by one of his friends. He thought it would be best to play along.

�Oh, I see. And what would I get in exchange?� he asked sweetly.

�In exchange, we will not kill you or any of your men.� Santaji said sincerely. At the mention of killing, Shafeeq�s anger exploded.

�LISTEN, WHOEVER YOU ARE! A JOKE�S A JOKE ONLY UNTIL IT STAYS WITHIN LIMITS! DON�T MESS WITH ME OR YOUR COMING GENERATIONS WILL LIVE TO REGRET IT!� he yelled into the phone and disconnected the call. �I see the number the call was made from, I will find out who that was and make him pay.�

The phone tinkled again. The same number. Shafeeq put the phone to his ear. The same voice, but sounding a bit more serious said

�Shafeeq, I would advise you not to shout at me again. I am not some April fool prankster. I am serious. Now listen to me�.�

�Are you one of Ranjan�s men?� Shafeeq asked with seething rage. Only his arch nemesis sitting in Thailand could do something like this. Santaji however started laughing.

�No, I am not Ranjan�s man. Funny you should ask. My partner Dhanaji just called up Ranjan with the same demand and he asked him if he was one of your men. All you underworld Dons have remarkable predictable thought processes.�

�I don�t care whose man you are, you won�t live long, take it from me. I have seen your telephone number and very soon�..�

�Shafeeq, as my mother used to tell me, anger makes a man�s brains go numb. Do you think I am so stupid? Trace the number if you want to. But listen to me, I want USD 50 million transferred to a bank account in the Cayman islands. You will be paying 25 million and Ranjan will pay 25 million. In exchange, I and Santaji grant you your lives.�

Shafeeq disconnected the phone and shut it off. He had had enough of this nonsense. He called Manzoor from the next room. Manzoor was Shafeeq�s right hand man. He told Manzoor about the calls he got.

�Bhai, I am sure it is Ranjan. Only he can pull a trick like this. Don�t worry, we will take care of it. He has been seeking revenge ever since we injured him in the hospital attack. Just give me the number, I will take care of the rest.�


It had been a month since. Manzoor and his other lieutenants were convinced that this was Ranjan�s game. However what puzzled them was that the number that showed on the mobile did not seem to exist. The STD code was of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, but the phone number did not exist. Manzoor told Shafeeq that there was a way to do this, and it made the caller difficult to trace. But it was Ranjan anyway, so there was no need to worry.

Two days later, Shafeeq got a short voicemail on his regular mobile.

�Shafeeq, it seems like you and Ranjan both need to be taught a lesson.�

Next day�s Indian newspapers and news channels were full of the news.

� �. It is indeed a very surprising coincidence that this should happen. Salim Surti, who is the top man of the Shafeeq gang in India, and Ganesh Patil, who is the top man of the Ranjan gang in India have both died in separate accidents in Mumbai today. Surti�s car crashed into a flyover, while a helicopter carrying Patil crashed in Navi Mumbai. The Mumbai police think of this as some kind of a godsend��.�

Shafeeq was convinced this was Santaji�s doing and thought of contacting Ranjan, but Manzoor refused to agree. Manzoor said he had been hearing of differences between Patil and Ranjan since a long time. This was Ranjan�s plan to kill two birds with one stone.

What followed was a week of bloody killing all over India. The Shafeeq gang and the Ranjan gang clashed in numerous battles. Both gangs were boiling with anger at their regional bosses being killed. Each side suspected the other and lengthy retribution resulted. 10 of the top �local heads� of Ranjan�s gang and 8 of Shafeeq�s gang were killed, besides over a hundred men from each side. The city of Mumbai lived in fear as the Mumbai police seemed helpless to stop the madness.


Then seven days ago another call came.

It was 3 weeks since the first phone-call.

�See, Shafeeq, Dhanaji and I are tired of this. We don�t care if you are killing each other�s henchmen. All we want is our money. Now unless I get a positive response from you both, we are going to have to strike very close to your heart.�
Shafeeq answered him in a not so polite tone and hung up.

Manzoor came to Shafeeq�s room with a smile on his face

�I guess they are running scared, Boss. We have killed a lot more of their men and I think Ranjan is feeling yellow. I just got a call from his right-hand man Joseph. He wanted a truce, but I told him to go to hell. We will fight till the finish. Very soon we will be the sole rulers of the Mumbai underworld.� Manzoor laughed with joy. He was standing close to the window. Suddenly there was a sound of glass breaking. Manzoor made a croaking sound and collapsed dead. Shafeeq stood transfixed.

As his men came rushing to Manzoor�s assistance, Shafeeq�s mind kept replaying the words in his mind �

���.we are going to have to strike very close to your heart.�


Shafeeq did not go to Manzoor�s funeral. Afsal, now in a way �promoted� to being Shafeeq�s right hand man advised him not to. Afsal said he had given orders to the team in Thailand to go for the kill. Shafeeq�s cigarette smoking increased to an all time high.

A voicemail came the next day.

�The choice is entirely up to you and Ranjan, Shafeeq. Pay 25 million or else. I am faxing you the details of my account in the Cayman Islands.�


Next day it was on all news channels, even on BBC

��.Indian underworld Don, Ranjan was killed in a bomb blast in Bangkok early morning today. He was with 2 men, including one Joseph, supposed to be his right hand man. Police suspect the gang of Dubai based don Shafeeq to be responsible for the bombing. The two gangs have a long and bitter history of rivalry�..�

Afsal was elated at the �success�. He dialled the Bangkok number to congratulate his team.

�Hello Babloobhai? Great work, Shafeeqbhai wants to congratulate�.� Afsal stopped and listened carefully for sometime �Okay, Okay, fine. Yes, I�ll tell Bhai�. Yes, you take care.�

�Bhai� said Afsal with bewilderment on his face � Babloo says they didn�t kill him. In fact they have no idea who did it, because it is very difficult to get those types of explosives in Thailand.�

Shafeeq gestured Afsal to leave.


Shafeeq finished his cigarette. He picked up his mobile phone and dialled a number.

�Yes, Rasoolbhai, I have to deposit some money in US dollars in a bank account in Cayman Islands.�


Location: RAW HQ, New Delhi

The Director of RAW, India�s premier intelligence agency, was speaking on the phone to one of his associates. He hung up and took out his diary. It was still 15 minutes before he went home to his grandchildren. He thought he should write some thoughts in his diary like he everyday did.

Emotions wield greater power than men. Fear is one of the most powerful emotions. A gangster builds up his empire on the basis of fear. A terrorist achieves his goals through fear. The death and destruction in the process are just superficial means, but the real motive is to strike fear in your opponent�s heart. That is why a single man can hold a mob of thousands to ransom with just one gun. There is fear in every person�s mind that he will be the one to catch the bullet. Fear can build empire but fear can also destroy empires. For the very man who uses his gun to hold a mob to ransom, himself would most likely be petrified if he were at the receiving end. One who conquers fear is really the brave one, not the one who just strikes fear in others� hearts.

The Director�s phone rang.

�Sir, this is Mr. Kohli from the Finance Department. Someone has deposited 25 million dollars in one of our accounts in the Cayman Islands. Should I approve the receipt of payment?�

�Yes Mr. Sharma, go ahead� the Director said and proceeded to underline the statement he had just written in his diary.

One who conquers fear is really the brave one, and not the one who just strikes fear in others� hearts.

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

This is a short story I wrote sometime last year. One of my few attempts at seriously converting a 4 line idea into a story. If people like it, I'll post the others too.

A Tale Of Hate

I cleaned the table even more carefully. Business is usually brisk on Tuesday mornings. Satnam sat in his chair near the door, like he always does, watching the streets, gazing at the joggers, the people going to work and the odd cop. It's a wonder how Satnam never fails to annoy the shit out of me. He sat there like a king. Sardar Satnam Singh, king of the most irritating restaurant I have ever seen in my life. Located bang in the centre of the business district of Philadelphia. A bundle of dollars worth in real estate. But Satnam is content sitting like the old fogy that he is, perhaps imagining that Philadelphia is what it is today, because of him and his crummy restaurant. Just the way he takes a condescending view of me and thinks he owns me, just because of some crumbs of assistance he threw my way.

Ok, so I got in trouble with the immigration people. Big deal, I would have figured some way to squeeze out of it. And if I wouldn't have, they would have deported me to India. Big deal, as if Philly is any better. But then along comes the self styled messiah of the Indian youth in America. He gives me a job, paying me peanuts. I am to double up as his caretaker, cook, toilet cleaner, laundry boy and help him with his restaurant. What do I get in return? The regal sum of 30,000 bucks a year and his house to stay in. Oh and of course, he would keep the immigration people off my back.

"Karan puttar, don't worry. Hard work always pays. Work hard and I'll see to it you don't fall in trouble" he would patronizingly blurt out this line every few days.

For the first few days I had those misplaced emotions of gratitude and pity. The man's whole family had been killed in a marine disaster a decade ago. He never told me anything in detail about it. All I knew was that he had stayed back to tend to the restaurant while his whole family went on a cruise. The ship sank and Satnam was the only bastard in the whole bloody family to survive. Why god made such a wrong choice is beyond me.

The pity and gratitude disappeared as soon as I came to know he was just using me. I was a glorified male servant. He did say the occasional "puttar" and assure me that I was like a son to him, but I knew better. He reminded me of Shylock from that Shakespeare play that was enacted in our school or one of those stingy guys from old Hindi movies. He didn't trust banks for some reason and kept all his money and gold in a stupid safe in the attic. What stopped me from taking all his money and disappearing you ask? Well, He had my passport, my other papers, and besides I wasn't interested in living the life of a fugitive in America. The cops here may be dumb, but they are not as corrupt as Indian cops are.

Well, that Tuesday however I was at the end of my patience. Satnam had insulted me in front of many customers and called me "son of stray dog". He had reminded me as he usually did that I was at his mercy in this big bad land. And I took my pent up anger out on the table, in the process, cleaning it better than it had ever been. Satnam, the scourge of my happiness sat in an easy chair, peering at the street.

"Beta, TV laga dena." he said. It was about quarter to nine, almost rush hour. I turned on the TV and went into the kitchen. Satnam yelled at me to come out at once. Anticipating another public rebuke for some trumped up reason, I took my time answering his yells. He however had instead called me to watch what was happening on TV. I stood transfixed. The next few hours were like a movie. First the tower of the WTC burning, then the second plane crashing into it as we all watched. Then rumours flying thick and fast about the White House, Air Force One, State Department, Capitol Hill. I don't have to tell you what happened. You probably have your own account of where you were and what you were doing when it happened.

What caught my attention, as well as Satnam's were the reports that Sikhs were being targeted. It didn't seem to worry him much though. "Oye, this is not Delhi where people will get emotional and murder Sikhs for no fault of theirs." he proclaimed. For the first time in my life I felt lucky about being a Hindu. The day passed among discussions about the attack. Business, naturally suffered, and I got some time to relax.

A few days later came the report from Arizona of a Sikh being gunned down. Satnam's bravado however never flagged. He did not take any extra precautions, nor did he buy a gun or anything. I have always found Philadelphia a dangerous place. So I had bought a gun without a permit from one of the bootleggers in West Philly last year. I kept it in my pocket while working in the restaurant. You never know, what the twists of time churn out.

It was a couple of days after the Arizona incident. It was almost midnight and we were preparing to close the restaurant. The waitresses and the cleaners had left. It was just me and Satnam. He was, as is his habit, sitting behind the cash register at the end of the day, just to pretend that he had worked hard all day. Suddenly I heard the sound of glass breaking. Two guys, one white, other Hispanic had broken into the restaurant. The white guy was holding a knife at Satnam's neck. I could see my dream coming true.

"Please, please don't kill me, I am not a Muslim, I am not an Arab. I am an Indian. Please don't kill me." He pleaded, without any sign of the bravado he was displaying moments ago.

"Hell man, I don't care if you are Arab or Chinese or Russian, I just want the money from the cash register. You gimme the money man, and I won't hurt your Indian ass."

I had never been a slow thinker and that was my finest moment. I knew Satnam would just hand over the money. I looked around. The breaking glass had not attracted any policemen. Most of the Philly force was in New York helping with the clean up. I looked back at Satnam. As expected he started opening the cash register. The thief lowered his knife and I seized my opportunity.

"That's enough. Put your hands up" I said drawing the unused but functional gun from my pocket. The thugs were small timers, probably on their first heist. They stood transfixed instead of running.

"Get out, go away, or I'll call the police" I shouted and the two kids bolted.

Satnam looked as relieved as a murderer declared "Not Guilty" by the jury.

"Good thinking Puttar, great job. But why did you let them run away?" he said as he picked up the phone to call the police.

"Wait, don't call the police" I said as I walked towards the counter. I stood exactly where the white guy stood, and I still don't believe how easily I did it. I shot Satnam right in the head. He just dropped dead then and there. Next I took a hanky from my pocket, wiped my fingerprints off it, then with the hanky around its trigger, pointed the gun towards my leg and shot myself in the thigh in a portion where there would be no bone. Though the bullet just grazed my thigh, the pain was searing. I threw the gun towards the door, put the hanky in my pocket and called the police.

The next few days were hectic. The police bought my story of two white men who came and abused Satnam calling him a "bloody Arab terrorist" and shot him, then as I rushed to help him, shot me in the leg, but ran away as they thought they heard some sirens. The news was there all over the news channels. The President expressed sorrow. Vajpayee condemned the killing.

My wound healed enough in two weeks for me to go home. Satnam's lawyer came to take me home and in the car on the way back told me that Satnam didn't own much but had verbally told him in the presence of witnesses that he wanted me to have everything in case anything happened to him. He said it was permissible under the local law and there would be no litigations since there was no relative of Satnam to contest and there was no life insurance policy either. I got the restaurant, the house and the little money he had in his bank account. More importantly, unknown to the lawyer, I could get my hands on the safe in the attic.

He however told me that the head office of his firm was in Florida and I would have to go there and complete the formalities.

Today is 11th October, exactly a month from the day that changed my life. Once I complete the formalities in Florida, I think I'll stay back a day or two and enjoy the weather. Who said there ain't such a thing like perfect murder? I think its time to confirm my room with the hotel in Florida.


2 days later on CNN....

"Good Morning, Welcome to CNN's continuing coverage of the strike against terror. 4 cases of Anthrax were discovered in a hotel in Florida yesterday night. The police suspect that the bacteria came through a letter the hotel got. The 4 persons infected were at the reception desk when the letter was supposedly opened...We have received latest reports that one of the 4 persons, a Mr. Karan Mehta from Philadelphia has died in the hospital. Let us go live to the Sunville Hotel with our correspondent......."

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

You know sometimes you hear names which you feel you know but can't quite place? I was experiencing something similar for the past two weeks. Our "Operations Management" Professor, R.K "Rocky" Srivastava kept taking the name of the Gilbreth couple as the pioneers of "method design" and "method study". That is basically the science of optimising your output and saving time by efficient design of the flow of work and processes. Frank Gilbreth was a brick-layer at the beginning of his career who eventually rose very high in the field mentioned. Lillian Gilbreth was his wife. For the world of me I could not figure out where I had heard those names before.

Prof Srivastava has this habit of showing us comic strips which are relevant to the topic he is teaching on that day (some are Glasbergen and Dilbert too). Today he showed us the strip of Frank Gilbreth shaving with two razors and his kids watching. Gilbreth tried to save time by shaving with two razors, and it seemed to save 30 seconds. He was happy with this procedure until one day he cut himself and started bleeding. What made him abandon the method was not the fact that he suffered a wound, but the fact that it took up 120 seconds for first aid, and thus increased the net time. Rocky told us that Gilbreth's kids wrote a book about him which was full of such examples.

"Eureka! Eurka!", cried my brain as I finally got it. I placed the names! The book was "Cheaper By The Dozen" by Frank Gilbreth Jr. which I had read ages ago when I was in primary school. In fact it is one of the first proper books I ever read and I had absolutely loved it. I remember it only as a funny book with a couple that has 12 kids. Yeah, that's right, 12 kids!! As Rocky said, the Gilbreths were very productive and efficient in this regard too.

I need to read the book once again now, and not necessarily with an "Operations Management" point of view. Just got it from the library and have saved it up to read when I go home later this month. Also got "1984" by George Orwell and "Rising Sun", one of the few Crichton books I haven't read.

Can't wait to finish my projects and endterms so that I can polish off these books.

After that? i'll probably buy "Return of the King", the third part of "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy by Tolkien.

Ahh, I am already mentally salivating at the mention of all these books. But I had better get back to textbooks now.

Read an interesting and funny article in a Pakistani newspaper - Were they laughing at Gen. Musharraf?

This dude has an identity crisis - is he a dictator or is he a democrat? I think he is neither, just a nincompoop who got lucky when he got fired, and got a readymade coup conducted for him which he had no idea about. He got lucky again when 366 days ago, some planes were hijacked.

Some people have all the luck.

Monday, September 09, 2002

Some words come back to haunt you.

A senior told me some weeks back.

Right now you may feel that the MBA course is hectic, but if you want to learn the real meaning of the word "hectic", wait till the last week before endterms. There are multiple project deadlines everyday, and as if that is not enough, there are the huge company forms to fill for "Summer Placements". Professors keep thinking of newer assignments and quizzes. The sleep you get progressively decreases, and you are confronted by vital choices like "Do I brush my teeth or do I take a bath? (can't do both cos the class is in 10 minutes)". People never get time for breakfast, and lunch and dinner is had in a mad rush.

At times like these you wonder "Why the hell did I come here?" and want to write mails to all CAT aspirants pleading with them to give it up.

But just remember, once you get through the last two weeks of a term, you emerge much more durable mentally and physically.

So just think of what a great time you will have at home during the term break, put your head down and slog.

By the way, in case you did not know, a person can get by on 3 hours of sleep a day.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

I have been meaning to post this for a couple of weeks now. There was an advertising workshop in our insti, and as an exercise, we were told to pair up. Then one guy was supposed to tell the other guy stuff about himself for two minutes, and the other guy was to talk about him in a flattering manner.

The guy who was with me didn't tell me much about himself but strangely talked about his lovelife (or rather the lack of it). Good thing that I wasn't invited to make my 'pitch' because of time constraints. But what he said was great.

"When i was in junior college, I read Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" and I was inspired by Howard Roark. I wanted to be like him, wanted to live for myself, wanted to take myself to a higher level so that a girl would love me for what I am. I fell in love with a girl, but she told me she liked me as a very good friend, but did not love me. She eventually fell in love with some other guy, I got over it, and we are still friends to date. However I always wondered where I went wrong and why i didn't win her love.

Then in the final year of college I read Dilbert in which I read "You have to pretend to be someone else till the other person loves you for what you are".
Now I wish i had read Dilbert before I read The Fountainhead"

Funny and yet so startlingly accurate.

I showered with hot water today. Yep! Hot water! And I intended to do so, and it was not like what happened on this occasion a few weeks backs.

With incessant rains, the mercury in Lucknow has finally contracted vertigo, and it is actually quite chilly during the day.

I had forgotten what a luxurious pleasure it is to have a hot shower. Great feeling!

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Raindrops keep giving in to gravity��

Rain is inconsiderate, especially about us city folk. I have just walked to the Comp Centre braving a torrid shower, with heavy gusts of wind that tried to take my umbrella apart. The umbrella, however is made of sterner stuff, and retained its structural integrity come hell or high water ( pardon the pun).

Are you aware of the Sabnisian Classification of Rainshowers? If you are not, let me share it with you. Rain is basically divided into three broad categories-

The Plant Waterer

This is a very weak, powerless sort of a rainshower, one which never drank milk while it was growing up, and never ate leafy vegetables, and hence grew up to be scrawny. Its puniness is apparent by the mildness of the drizzle. The only purpose it solves is watering the plants. It has its own advantages. Lazy people can do without watering their plants. Active people can devote their plant-watering time to some other obsessive-compulsive-disorder type activity. And it saves the lives of those plants whose owners never care to water them. So you see, the utility of this type of rain pretty much centers around watering of plants, hence the name. It has a few spin offs for us humans too. The rain is too light to really soak you, and you can defiantly walk in it for a long time without feeling uncomfortable. Personally, I prefer this type of rain.

The Sadist

The word describes its attitude towards its job. It is not interested in any particular deed. It had its share of vitamins while growing up, but would not be caught dead putting them to good use. Suppose you are the sort who religiously carries a raincoat or an umbrella to work or school during Monsoons, just to be on the safer side. The Sadist frowns on it. It will wait in the wings, storing up moisture till that one Thursday when you forget your raingear on the table. Then it will make sure that you are at a location where there is no shelter available, and even if there is, you are in too much of a hurry to take refuge under it. Then, it will let loose all the H2O in its armoury. It comes down in torrents and soaks you right down to your bone marrow. When you enter your school, however, voila! It stops, as if someone turned the tap off. This is real sadism, not those harmless pranks the Marquis De Sade engaged in.

The Dam Filler Rain

No, it is not a swear word with a typo error. I don�t intend to use the word �damn� on my blog (I just did, didn�t I? Damn!!!). It means �dam�, as in those huge things that pretend to store water and piss many Medha Patkars and Arundhati Roys off. This rain works zealously with only one goal in mind. To fill all the dams in its locality. It is as if that is its only purpose in life. Its intentions however are noble. It will never catch you off guard. It will do some groundwork ( skywork?? first. It�ll send some light grey clouds in the morning that give an indication that something�s afoot. Sort of like war clouds, only, these are not metaphorical.. Then in the afternoon, it will send these slightly senior and more forceful dark grey clouds to show that it means business, and this is not just a drill to educate the young trainee clouds. People realize they are in for really wet weather. They rush home, start chopping potatoes and onions for French fries and bhajiyas. Then after the Dam Filler is convinced that all people are in a convenient place, it sends the big black ones. It starts raining. There are variations in the intensity, but it is by and large a pretty forceful rainshower. It starts in the evening and continues for anything from 2 days to 2 weeks depending on the capacity of your friendly neighbourhood dam. So if those people in the Sahara Desert want rain, they better build dams first (aren�t you glad I am not the Secretary General of the UN?). At the end of it, all dams are filled.

The rain happening right now is of the last category. One sees no use of it raining in a place like IIM Lucknow, but well, in the greater interests of humanity, endure it. And the best way to endure something is to enjoy it.

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

One of my classmates who displays sporadic bursts of wit today came up with this-

"Do you know what my core competence is?"



Funny, I think. =-)

Tuesday, September 03, 2002

Some people!

Our seniors are having their endterms right now. There is one who is very very helpful, let's call him A. Our summer placement process has started in a way, since we have to submit the first CV today, and about 4 everyday from tomorrow onwards. Now there is this girl in our batch, let's call her B.

A is sitting, studying for an extremely tough exam tomorrow. B obviously is intellectually challenged and needs help filling up her CV of all the things. She first tries her luck with a few seniors who are smart enough to just shoo her away with "Exam tomorrow, no time". She sights A, pounces on him, figuratively speaking of course.

"Pleeeeeeeeeeeeease, help me with this CV, I feel so helpless, I am afraid I won't get placed" she pouts. Girl not very (or rather at all) good looking, but A, being so kind and helpful, relents. B wastes the next 2 hours of his. She keeps going on about how she has no achievements to fill her CV with and how he should help her. Imagine, a day before his end term exam! I really feel a bit bugged by this. I mean come on, it's just a crummy CV for a little summer job!

I don't know who is more wrong in this scenario?
B for being so pampered, spoilt, childish and insensitive ?
or A for being so submissive and over-altruistic?
B for not having the brains or the heart to realise that it was a wrong time to ask A?
or A for not being able to say No?

We live in a world where almost everyone looks to exploit everyone and everything else. To survive we do need the ability to say No. But then there are some who are really selfless. Where would the world be without them?

Maybe both were a bit wrong, maybe no one was wrong.

I am all for helping people. However not at the cost of one's own time or well being.

I have seen situations, heck even experienced situations where the other person does not give a thought to whether I am busy or anything, and just wants my "help" ( read spoon-feeding")

At times I can say "No", at times I help, at times I make false excuses.

So what about A and B? What's your opinion?

There may be a golden ship
There may be a diamond ship
But there is no ship
Like your friendship

At 15, kids will write the corniest things and yet mean them so sincerely. This "poem" is from the "autograph book" I owned when I was in 10th.
It may not be soulful enough to be nominated for a Pullitzer or ( an even bigger honour) to be put in the 10th Std English syllabus, but I know that the friend who wrote it, did so with a clear heart.

Friendship, a wonderful concept. So easy, so gentle, so pleasant, and yet so common. Not like that elusive elf called True love.

Monday, September 02, 2002

It's been two years. Two good years. We were always together. The only time you weren't with me was at night in bed. I know that this separation at night was in the best interests of both of us. If we had spent a night together, I am sure our relationship would have ended in just one night. But even in these two years, we both knew that we weren't meant to be together till eternity. And so now, I seriously think of discarding you.

You have given me pleasure, comfort, shown me the world in a clearer way. But you have also given me occasional pain and have been a source of irritation and annoyance. Lately the irritation and annoyance has increased a great deal. You are the sole cause of whatever tears I shed. And a man is not supposed to shed tears. Everything else I may pardon, but tears I can't. It is time we parted ways. I need to move on and you too, need to find out newer uses in life. I have used you for two years in my own way. Now I think someone else can think up of newer ways to use you. I have no regrets about our relationship. I got the worth of whatever money I spent on you, nurturing you.

I have decided that the coming three weeks will be our last. When I go back to Pune, I will get your replacement. In a better shape than you. I hope you realise that you have lost a bit of shape, and I needed you to be in perfect shape. New, fresh, and unused, who will be wet whenever I want, and not dry up suddenly.

I may sound callous and heartless, but it's for the best.

Let us make most of the three weeks we have to spend together.

Goodbye...Contact Lenses!

Went for a survey to the city the other day. Lucknow and its people never cease to amaze me. They go about life at their own leisurely pace. Totally unflappable. This was evident when I had to get my questionnaire photocopied. The guy took so long to xerox 30 copies, I almost felt the need to shave again.

I am reading "The Two Towers" by Tolkien. The Ents in it reminded me of the people of Lucknow. Never in a haste, in fact slow enough to be motionless. Their life seems to be governed by the motto "Slow and steady wins the race", and you will find that the tortoise in Aesop's fable (the dude who raced the hare) was originally from Lucknow. If a Puneite like me finds this so irritating, the Bombayites would be developing High BP.

Give a big hand to Shantanu who has joined the blogging community with much gusto. First me, then Satyen, and now Shantya. Looks like very soon, our whole "group of eight" will be blogging.

I finally saw Casablanca the other day, and have become an instant fan. Intend to watch it at least 10 times more over the next 10 years or so.

Please sign this petition and forward it to all like-minded people.


The Director,
Solar System Bench (Milky Way),
Department for Deciding Day Duration,
Big Bureaucratic Office at Centre of the Universe

Sub: A petition

Respected Sir,

I would request you to kindly alter the duration of a day on earth from the present 24 hours to 32 hours. I have no idea who decided on the present length of 24 hours, but let me assure you it was a horrible idea. Maybe till 3 centuries ago when all that humans did was farm, eat, sleep and know...., 24 hours would have been considered a leisurely duration in which all activities could be fit. However I request you to wake up to the realities of the 21st century and extend the duration as requested.

There are a lot of postive uses to which one can put this extra time, the primary one being sleep. Secondly, the great art of blogging. Any time if remains can be used for watching television.

The productivity of the Earth would greatly improve due to this. I hope you will give this petition due thought and not reject it outright like my previous petition about making the whole Solar System Air Conditioned (that was a darn neat solution, I still maintain).

As the accompanying signatures will prove, this petition too is supported by millions.

Hoping for some positive action
Yours Sincerely,
Gaurav Sabnis