Vantage point

Friday, November 29, 2002

I have a few projects I had decided to undertake some months ago. They were as follows -

1. Translating into English and Hindi, those works of Pu La Deshpande which retain a majority of their humour even after translation
2. Writing a modern day version of the Mahabharat
3. Writing an Indian equivalent of Billy Joel's "We didn't start the fire".

Some progress has been made on each front, but it is hardly anything. I hope to complete these 3 projects soon. If anyone reading this wishes to offer me any monetary incentive for them, I am open to the idea. :-)

By the way, here's the first stanza of my version of "We didn't start the fire".

Pandit Nehru Satyajit Ray Junagarh Independence Day
Gandhi's murder K L Saigal Partition Bloodbath
Kashmir in United Nations, Ambedkar and Constitution
Ashok Kumar Noorjehan Lala Amarnath

When you are at home, you take the surroundings for granted. I don't mean you parents friends, etc, but the more general surroundings. The language spoken around you, the slang, the specific references of history, the likes and dislikes, the festivals which hold special importance, norm etc etc. In Pune (or Maharashtra in general) things are so much different than in U.P. The most glaring difference when you get out of the Railway Station is the difference in the number of females on the street, especially on the two wheelers. In Lucknow, this species is very very rare, not surprising the dubious record men here have of respecting women.

The first few days these differences strike you even more. Everyone is speaking in hindi/urdu (well, whaddya expect?), eats different, and in general their way of behaviour is different. It is not "home". There are some jokes which if you make here seem totally irrelevant. For instance, you know how there is an idiom, "He met his Waterloo there" in English? It is named after the famous battle. In Maharashtra we talk about the battle of Panipat (near Delhi) in a similar way because that was the bloodiest and most significant battle in Maratha History according to most people. So if I say "It as a total Panipat for me", back home, even when i say it in English, it conveys the meaning. However i said something like that in Lucknow and was naturally met with raised eyebrows. Nobody got what Panipat had to do with anything, least of all a guy who actually came from near Panipat. he later came to me and asked what I meant when I referrred to his beloved Panipat.

However, as you adjust, these differences seem to subside to the back of your mind. They are brought to the fore only on rare occasions like when you make a trip back home.

Today was another occasion when i was reminded of the general culture back home. One of my friends got a Video CD of Pu La Deshpande's monologues, 'Sakharam Gathe' and 'Mee va Majha Shatrupaksha'. Pu La is the Wodehouse of Marathi literature and though I have read these two works and even heard the audio tapes, the viedo was an entirely new experience. The facial expressions and gestures that Pu La made, priceless.

So right now, am watching the two videos, guffawing, and feeling very happy at having gotten this rare whiff of Maharashtrian culture.

Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Tere aasuon se kisko kya hua haasil
Maana kehna hai aasan nibhana hai mushkil
Fir bhi aye yaar mere sun le meri inteja
Bhool ja, jo hua use bhool ja, hai kasam tujhe muskara
Khud ko yu na de tu saza, un yaadon ko tu bhool ja

Shaan does sing some good songs. very underrated, in my opinion.

I am so full of myself!!!

Just reminded of something funny that happened during my first few weeks at IIM. There is this girl who I found particularly funny to look at.

Most people who know me will tell you that my brain comes up with the weirdest metaphors and similes to describe people, and somehow this girl brought out the nastiest ones. Add to the fact that she walked and behaved as if Aishwarya Rai won the Miss World crown solely because this girl refused to participate in it.

While talking to a couple of close friends, here is a sample of the comments I made about her -

"Her face is like the top slice of a loaf of bread which is 7 days stale"

"If Marie Antoinette said 'let them eat cake' in response to the fact that the people don't have bread to eat, this girl is liable to say 'why don't they order pizza?'"

" If they paid her a paisa for every time she ran her hand through her hair, she would pay off the IIM tuition fees loan in 4 days flat."

"When she is 3 weeks pregnant, the number of brain cells in her body will be double the usual"

Well, the world is a weird place. Since most of the times while I made these comments my friends would laugh and presumably look at her while I avoided doing so, somehow her friends reached the conclusion that I have a crush on her, and a rumour to that effect started doing rounds.


To correct this impression, I stopped making those cracks forthwith. The 'rumours' stopped in a few days, and people moved on to a new guy to associate her with (I was not the first anyway). When there are 220 guys and 13 girls, it's easy to do that.

But my question is....

Is there no place in this world for pure unadulterated mean malicious wit anymore?

Sometimes we do things that seem like a great idea. Then we do them and we end up realising that they were stupid ideas after all.

Today I was browsing the institute network and chanced upon the setup of 'zone alarm' the personal firewall software I used to have back home. Enthusiastically I downloaded and installed it, only to discover later that -

1. It was unnecessary in the first place. Our entire hostel network has a great firewall of its own. (who would believe I am an Electronics and Telecommunications engineer? :( )
2. The only people accessing my computer were people from inside the insti wanting to download all the stuff I shared and I had to keep giving permission to access like a billion times in one hour.

Ergo, poof goes ZoneAlarm.

Monday, November 25, 2002


Does it sometime strike you as odd that the world seems to function well inspite of all the quirks it is full of?

Have you ever thought of what the world will be like, let's say in 3000 A.D?

If I could kill one person, whom would it be?

What sort of a woman will I eventually spend my life with?

Why do i find some people so irritating without rhyme or reason?

Why do I find some people interesting without rhyme or reason?

Will aditi blog again?

If I suddenly stop blogging tomorrow without reason, what will the reactions be like?

How long do I intend to keep blogging?

If tomorrow blogger becomes a paid service, will I shell out the money?

Can I order some pizza right now? Will Pizza Port deliver just one pizza all the way here?

Where is that book I was reading? The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

When will the computer store fella come with my new speakers? It's been a month now.

What are my long term goals?

Why am I asking so many questions?

Should I "Post & Publish" now?

Laziness, thy name is Gaurav! :(

I think every Indian needs to read this and think about it. Who knows, tomorrow one of our close relatives could be held hostage! How would we react then?

Friday, November 22, 2002


I have been in Lucknow for almost 4 months now. I have been to the city barely a dozen times though. Mostly we live our life esconsced in an oasis called IIM, where we are cut off from the rest of the world. So the contact with Lucknowi folks is pretty much limited to the shopkeepers and the restaurant owenrs, other than the six-seater wallahs.

Today and tomorrow we meet the real Lucknow. As I mentioned on my blog earlier, we have a Market Research Fair in Lucknow each year called INDEX (Information through Disguised Experimentation). Here we have thousands of people thronging the fair to play the games we set up and win prizes. Through this games we conduct market survey, unknown to the consumers. there are big names like Coke, ITC, Cavin Care etc who give us assignments to find out data for them.

So these two days we will interact with the common Lucknowi and try to find out how he thinks.

Looking forward to it. :)


Yesterday i finished reading "The Making of Classic - Sholay" by Anupama Chopra. The book describes the making of a movie that is the greatest Hindi movie ever made, something like what Casablanca is to Hollywood. People know its dialogues and sequences by heart.

The book is a must read to any Sholay fan (and by that I mean most normal Indians). Chopra writes very well and weaves the whole story beautifully. What is sad though is that the Censor Board made Ramesh Sippy change the ending of the movie. The original ending shows Thakur killing Gabbar with his boots. The censors did not like the idea of an ex-police officer killing so brutally. Those were the days of the Emergency. What they said was law. So the ending had to be changed. Retrospectively, I think it takes away a lot from the movie since Sholay was one film that had NO cliches. The way the Jay-Veeru friendship is handled, the way dacoits are portrayed, the way the villain is shown....I could go on and on.

However it ends with the cliche of the police coming late as usual. Sippy tried to convince the censors that this would be more insulting to the police since they were nowhere to be seen when Gabbar was killing people throughout the movie. But if they had brains, would they be on the Censor Board?

The book is a must read, in fact a must have.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Another one jumps aboard the blogwagon.

Visit my schoolmate and later collegemate Sumeet, who is currently working for Texas Instruments in Bangalore. The guy has an amazing sense of humour and a flair for writing. Make sure to bookmark his blog.

Hey, I am plugging so many blogs these days, maybe I should start charging an amount like I charged Ramanand ;)

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Hey, it is time to uncork another bottle of champagne. A bit more expensive than the one we uncorked last time, but not THE most expensive one. Why?

Because good friend, quizzer par excellence and fellow blogger Ramanand has met with another success. Those of you who watch BBC Mastermind India would know the prestige it holds. Ramanand had won the first round some months back. Last week he won the semi final too, with a thumping margin. Can't wait for the episode to be telecast. Now he is in the finals! Here's wishing him congratulations and all the luck for that. Visit his blog to wish him.

And yes, the most expensive champagne will be uncorked when he is finally crowned Mastermind India after that episode.


I have never seen a Bombay sunset. Today Suku was gushing over it so much, I asked her to describe it to me as it was happening. For all those missing her because of her temporary hiatus, here is what she said -

The sky is turning peachy yellow slowly. Man, i love these ashoka trees. They are beautiful. The birds are flying back to their nests. There is this chirpy hustle bustle. The local mogra seller is luring a group of enthusiastic south indian women folk. The veggie sellers and women folk are bargaining as usual. Ok, now one half of the sky is baby blue with white clouds drawing a unicorn like structure. The tallest coconut tree in my locality declares untouchable supremacy as if it were kissing the sky. The air smells good---cool, gentle, fragrant with a mixture of life, spirit and nature. Such surroundings are healing u know

Great isn't it? Makes me wanna go to Mumbai at once.

Sunday, November 17, 2002

You know what's irritating? When you come up with a brilliantly witty one-liner to insult somebody, but that somebody is just too dumb to realise the profundity of that insult. As Holden would say, that kills me.

Reminds me of a line from the movie 'Snatch' I saw sometime back - "Never underestimate the predictability of stupidity"

Guy Ritchie's "Snatch", amazing movie. So slick, funny and innovative. I like these kinda action movies, not the blood and gore predictable ones like XXX and Bourne Identity. Going to IMDB to check on more of Ritchie's work.


This post of Satyen's had me in splits. It also reminded me of the fact that had I been living on my own, instead of in a hostel, I'd be eating food of a much more superior quality. That's cos I have had interests in cooking since I was a kid and over the years I have added a lot of tasty concoctions to my repertoire along with the seemingly-mundane-but-not-easy-to-make chappatis. A lot of these additions are due to the fact that whenever my parents were out of town, or visiting relatives whom I found too boring to visit, I was too lazy to go out and get some stuff. Add to it, my keen interest in the art of cooking. So I ended up cooking a lot of stuff at home. Then there were those occassional evenings when my mom would be feeling too bored to cook. On these occasions, me and my da would whip up something scrumptious.

However what I perfected at home was the everyday stuff. I was able to try cooking newer gourmet stuff thanks to my childhood pal Aniruddha Kane, who, like me also loved cooking. Together we have had innumerable sessions of cooking where we have whipped up numerous items, out of which the following stand out in my mind- Chicken curry, fried chicken, keema paav, fried fish, pav bhaji, shahi
paneer, ice creams, veg biryani, cakes, China grass, bhindi fry, aloo parathas, blah blah blah and the most famous two items - Onion Pakodas and Egg Burjee (a spicier version of scrambled eggs).

Now we are both by and large pretty accurate with our sense of proportion. When a recipe says something as vague as "salt to taste", it has masters like Ani and me in mind. But even Sachin tendulkar has first ball ducks. Similarly, we have had our share of follies. Just remember that most of these follies were due to either negligence on my part or a typical Kane-like over-enthusiasm on Ani's part (Satyen and Shantanu would know what i mean).

As you all know I am a very humble man who does not like to gloat over his achievements.....................OK, who am i kidding? Humility is not a word in my dictionary. I just want to narrate our gaffes because they are funnier. So here are some of our most memorable gaffes (note that this is my version and so I will blame Kane for most of them. Kane, get your own blog if you want to tell your side of the story) -

* Ameya, one of our friends was home alone, and we decided to cook some chicken curry at his place. Now after most of the ingredients had been added, Kane felt that the curry would be too plain. He said "spicy curry would taste great" and emptied half of India's red pepper into the curry. "Best laagel rey (it will be the best)" he assured me. Ameya meanwhile did not like the look of things and warned us that the food better be good because if it was not edible we would have to finish it off. Well, as I had feared, the curry turned out to be too hot to handle. We were all making sssssssssssssssss noises with our tongues. Finally, what we were all seen doing was, pull a piece of chicken out of the curry, then shake it well so that the curry falls off, and then eat it wil lots of bread. Some even thought of washing the pieces of chicken. We did finish all the chicken, but we had almost a gallon of the curry left. Some suggested that Ani and I be made to drink it, but the suggestion was not acted upon. It was still the 20th century, when boys were boys and did not make each other drink ultra hot curry. In today's day and age, I am not sure we would have gotten away quite so lightly.

* This is not the only time Ani's propensity to add too much spice fouled up things. Once we had all gathered at his place for a Night-out a few days before the exams. Some guys were very very hungry and we decided to make some egg burjee. Now this was the first time we tried it. Aniruddha said adding garam masala makes a burjee taste great. Sounded reasonable enough to me, so I said nothing as we added heaps of it to the burjee. No, it wasn't the excess of masala that was the problem this time, it was the wrong masala. We had added goda masala instead, a difference which might not seem that big to a non-maharashtrian or a cooking dunce. It was the worst thing to do, cos we ended up making what was the foulest thing to ever come out of eggs since John Hammond genetically created dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park in Costa Rica.

* Then there's the other end of the spectrum for you. Once we decided to have this huge party where we decided to invent a new kind of a chicken dish and also cook keema (minced meat) pav. Now there were also a few vegetarians who had to be taken care of so we decided to make some Vegetable Biryani for them. Now we were so enamoured with the idea of the keema and the chicken that we gave scant attention to biryani. We just chopped some vegetables, cooked a lot of rice, and decided to tackle it later. halfway into the keema and the chicken, we realised that neither of us had any idea about how a biryani is made. The vegetables were in the pan, and we were dumbstruck. Then I had a brainwave - "The internet!!!", (this time, the fact that it was the 21st century helped us). I went online, and did a google search for "vegetable biryani". Read whatever was written, and tried to half heartedly implement it as I saw that the Chicken was turning out real great. Finally people sat down to eat. First up, keema. Verdict - "Wow, delicious. This is so great". Next up, Chicken a la Gaurav and Aniruddha. Verdict - "Amazing, you guys are real pros. Your wives are going to be so lucky" (ignore the innuendos here). And finally - vegetable Biryani. Verdict - stoic silence, followed by an obviously overpolite "It's nice". I tasted it and patooooooey it was so bland and tasteless, it could almost be called Continental Biryani. The veggies couldn't eat this! Ani and I tried to figure out where we went wrong as Vallari ran into the kitchen to salvage the big evil pile of rice. "How is it so tasteless even after the masala you added?" I asked him. "Me? I didn't add any masala. You always accuse me of adding too much of it. I though you will add the masala."
Oooops! So after some instances of too much spice, we balanced our record with a SNAFU featuring no spices at all.

There are more, but these are the richest ones. Oh yes, I have to mention one that is exclusively Ani. he made a green cake!! No, it was a normal cake with no icing or any flavour other than vanilla, but it was green, as if he was celebrating Eid, or St. Patrick's Day. Where ugliness of bakery products is concerned, that one has to take the cake (couldn't resist the pun).

But when all is said and done, all the smoke has cleared, and all the spices have settled down, it will be acknowledged that what Wasim-Waqar are to bowling, Shaq-Bryant are to Basketball, Shankar-Jaikishen were to music and Pete and Bob Farreily are to below-the-belt comedy movies, Ani and I are to the world of amateur cooking.

I miss those days.

Had some problems with the images on my blog. So if at some point you saw this blog in white without the letters appearing, don't rush to the opthalmologist. Sonal's hosting the images for me and they're back now. Direct all your compassion and gratitude Boulderwards.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

I don't know why but I am feeling very very low right now. I usually don't feel depressed without a reason, but I am right now. It feels as if everything in my life is wrong. I can't get anything I want and I am a total waster. I feel unhappy with each and every aspect of my life and I feel so frustrated that I feel like taking a huge hammer and knocking a wall down. I feel that the world is an unfair place and that if I could just lay my hands on one teeny tiny Hydrogen Bomb, I would blow the whole planet apart.

I know all this is stupid, and I have a good life, with almost everything I want. But I don't know, I can't help feeling this way. I need a punching bag to take out my frustration on.

Maybe watching a good movie will make me feel better.

Would "Goodwill Hunting" work?

Karups, the guy who did his summers with HSBC was made a pre-placement offer by them. A job in London, paying 50 thousand pounds and a lot of other goodies. This is how his summers interview had gone last year.

Q: So what do you know about banking?
Karups: I have no idea about banking.
Q: So why do you want to work in a bank? And why I-banking in HSBC?
Karups: I haven't decided yet. Maybe I will, maybe I won't. Can you people tell me something about I-nking?
The HSBC people explain to him what I-banking is all about
Q: So you want to work?
Karups: yeah, OK, I guess.

These people gave him the summers job and sent him to London. He worked there for 2 months, came back, did not take a single Finance elective in the 2nd year, and he gets a pre-placement offer.

It's as if HSBC is in love with him.

Friday, November 15, 2002

This is how Forrest Gump would speak about the Indian team's victory today

So they chased 325....AGAIN!!!

This is so unbelievable. India was at one time notorious for being unable to chase even the simplest target. Anything above 220 from a half decent team was considered impossible. Now I have to strain my memory to remember the last time we were chasing and we lost a onedayer. And I gotta admit, I simple can not recall.

Way to go India!

Just saw the first episode of FRIENDS Season 9. The next 4 are available on the network as well. Yay!!

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Another Desai joins the blogging world. Radha and Rushi, make way for Tania. However reading her latest hilarious post, you can see that her family is all for de-desai-ing Tania very soon (i.e. getting her married).

So the Midterms are over, and Index 2002, the Marketing Fair that IIM Lucknow organises is just around the corner. A two day affair, it has 10 teams of 20 students each competing in a market survey competition. They are doing projects for different companies, and the prizes run into hundreds of thousand rupees.

The whole concept of this event is to get a Market Survey Questionnaire filled from the people of Lucknow. Last year 35,000 attended the event. However if you think 35,000 stood and filled our boring survey forms, you are wrong. Our job is to come up with innovative games that the people will play to have fun, and through these games, answer our question. For example, last year the Levers team had a 'Space Travel' game in which he had to pack his bag in a few minutes. They kept different toothpastes there to see which one he chooses.

My team is working on "Hindustan Times", and we have to do a comparitive survey of that paper with the others. We have a great theme going, but I can't post it on the blog, cos everything has to be hush-hush till the last moment. All I can tell you is, I contributed the pun-ny name of the theme.

Winter has set it. Okay, it is not as bad as Colorado, but it is pretty bad. We had misty fog at 1 in the afternoon, and my teeth were chattering. So I've bought a nice cotton razai (a sort fo a blanket) and sleep cosily at night.

Something funny happened 2 days ago. Before the Quant paper, my friend Vivek was studying at about 4 in the morning. He got bored and decided that the world was not being fair on him, amking him study so much, and some of the misery had to be shared with the guys who were sleeping, having peacefully completed their preparation. So he went to the door of Chinmay's room. Chinmay is one of the sincere guys. Early-to-bed-early-to-rise types. Now Vivek started baning on the door shouting "CHINMAY CHINMAY GET UP, THERE'S AN EARTHQUAKE, GET UP, EARTHQUAKE".

Needless to say, it had the desired effect and Chinmay was giving Maurice Greene a major complex as he raced out of his room in his night-gear (which was not ample, cos this was before the winetr set in) and reaced terra firma huffing and puffing only to realise that he had been had.

Poor Chinmay.

Monday, November 11, 2002

Mumbai, Bambai and Bombay

Me: (speaking to a friend) When I go to Bombay for my summers....
Friend From Bombay (different from the one I was speaking to) : Mumbai!!
Me: Huh?
FFB: Call it Mumbai.
Me: (already irritated due to insufficient sleep) What the $%#@ did you interrupt me for? I wasn't even talking to you.
FFB: It's name is Mumbai, don't call it Bombay. You are Marathi, you should call it Mumbai.
Me: Listen dude, I think you people have made it a bigger deal than it should be. I call it Mumbai when I am talking in Marathi and I call it Bombay when I am speaking in English, like I was right now.
FFB: Call it Mumbai.
Me: (really pissed) Okay, what is your objection to "Bombay"?
FFB: (resembling a trained parrot) It's a name the Britishers gave. The original name was Mumbai. By calling it by it's English name, you display a slave mentality.
Me: (in a placid tone which means I am max pissed off) What is the capital of India?
FFB: New Delhi
Me: Why call it Delhi, its English name? Call it Dilli as they say in Hindi.
FFB: (silent)
Me: OK, forget Delhi, let's come back to Bombay. Let's check your knowledge. Where does Shahrukh Khan live?
FFB: Bandra.
Me: Now why call it Bandra? Is that not an English name? Call it Vaandrey, its Marathi name. Now tell me, ever been to Sion?
FFB: (puzzled) Yeah.
Me: Why don't you call it Shiv, it's Marathi name? Sion is English isn't it?
FFB: Now you are just being pedantic.
Me: Oh, and interrupting me mid-sentence when I am speaking to someone else just to say "Call it Mumbai" is not pedantic?

Okay, I know its name is Mumbai now, and that's what I should call it all the time, but I also have freedom of speech, right? I am a Maharashtrian too, and I know Pu La Deshpande wrote "The real Mumbaikar never calls it Bombay, he calls it Mumbai". But if once in a while I call it Bombay, I'll be goddamned if I am going to let people interrupt me and "correct" me.

I don't go jumping on people if they call Pune as Poona. I call it Pune myself, but if someone wants to call it Poona, that's his right isn't it?

Anyway, FFB apologised for interrupting me, but insists that I call it Mumbai in the future. Seems to have some earth-shattering importance.

One of the most hackneyed sayings in hindi is

"Sabra ka fal meeTha hota hai"
(Sweet are the fruits of patience)

On careful introspection, I realise that I actually believe in this clich´┐Ż and I actually find a deep hidden meaning in it.
There are times, when I impetuously ask myself if I am right in believing in the saying. And I can hear me telling myself - "Patience, Gaurav patience, Sabra ka fal...."

Saturday, November 09, 2002


Breaking this self-imposed sabbatical for a small post.

Met Rahul online today and he said it's just 15 days before CAT, the Entrance Exam for the best business schools in the country.

Last year, hardly anyone I knew was taking the exam, everyone was going for GRE. This year though, so many of my friends are giving it a shot. Besides I have also noticed that there are many bloggers who are in the race as well.

So here's wishing a confident and successful "Build-up to CAT" to Shantanu, Neeraj, Rahul, Vallari, Mihir, Chinmay, Tushar and all the bloggers in the hunt.

Here's some unsolicited advice, a quote from Sunil Gavaskar, which can be applied to CAT as well.

"To be a successful batsman in test cricket, what matters is not your ability to hit the difficult balls, but your ability to leave them alone"

I guess that is what these 15 days must be utilised for. Working on which questions to leave.

All the best!

Tuesday, November 05, 2002


My midterms start tomorrow and so you probably may not see to much of me on the blogsphere for the coming week. There are so many blogs I love that if I start reading one, I slowly branch off to others and before I know it, BAM, 2 hours gone. So this is a self enforced week long sabbatical from this wonderful world.

Before I go though, here are some very interesting lines from "Almost Famous" which I saw yesterday. Mull over them.

LESTER BANGS: Aw, man. You made friends with them! See, friendship is the booze they feed you. They want you to get drunk on feeling like you belong.
WILLIAM: (ruefully) Well, it was fun.
LESTER BANGS: They make you feel cool. And hey. I met you. You are not "cool."
WILLIAM: I know. Even when I though I was, I knew I wasn't.
LESTER BANGS: That's because we are uncool! And while women will always be a problem for guys like us, most of the great art in the world is about that very problem. Good-looking people have no spine! Their art never lasts! They get the girls, but we're smarter.
WILLIAM: I can really see that now.
LESTER BANGS: Yeah, great art is about conflict and pain and guilt and longing and love disguised as sex, and sex disguised as love... and let's face it, you got a big head start.
WILLIAM: I'm glad you were home.
LESTER BANGS: I'm always home! I'm uncool!
WILLIAM: Me too!
LESTER BANGS: (leveling) The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we're uncool.
WILLIAM: (distraught) I feel better.

Back to Management Accounting 102 then. Adios.

Monday, November 04, 2002

I know I am again posting something Kabir from wrote, but it is so profound, I have to share it with you people.

That is the biggest strength of Hinduism. The Right To Be Right--more importantly The Right To Be Wrong--so long as it doesn't hurt another person.One day RSS would want to take away that Right.They would want to take away my 5000 years old Bhartiyata & give me their brand of 75 years old Hindutva.They shall not succeed. Should not. Even God can not take away the God given Right of a Man to say there is No God.

I generally do not hold prejudices or personal dislikes. However I am prejudiced against one type of people - bigots. Be they Hindu, Muslim or Christian bigots, I absolutely despise them, and find them an anachronism in today's day and age.

Diwali/Deepawali translates as "Festival of Lights", but of late, with the over-emphasis on crackers it seems more like a "Dhwanawali", the festival of sounds. The deafening sounds of crackers bursting all around are what one seems to associate Diwali more with, rather than the numerous kaleidoscopic lamps and diyas.

IIM, however is on the outskirts of Lucknow city and the incessant buildup for Diwali using crackers has not made itself felt here. All the 12 hostels were looking amazing. We had decorated our's (Hostel 11) with small diyas on every balcony and ledge, and the natural geometry of the hostel building made the entire effect dazzling. There were also the customary rolling lights at the entrance. Finally, when the results were announced, our efforts were rewarded with a 2nd place, and a 3,000 rupees cash prize. This was celebrated with sweets and fireworks in the hostel.

There are numerous reasons(like sound pollution, air pollution and child labour) why I dislike crackers. I remember I used to love them till I was 13. Then that year, a devastating earthquake shook parts of Maharashtra (epicentre Killari), and all my friends decided not to burst crackers but to donate the money to the earthquake relief fund. That year, my Diwali was so much more serene, without the noxious fumes playing around my nostrils. Ever since then, I never felt the need to buy any crackers. I enjoy the light displays and the playful dance of the diya flame.

This year, inspite of the late night sound-revelry by the guys in the hostel, Diwali was, by and large a festival of lights for me.

Looking forward to it next year.

The first cracker every year does bring out the most noticeable reactions. I don't mean the first cracker that you burst, but the first one that is burst in front of you every diwali. This year, being in IIM, there were no 'warm up' fireworks during the preceding week like there used to be at home, so the first cracker burst in front of me was as late as the night of Laxmipoojan. Here is how the whole thing unfolds.

Someone places the 'bomb' on the ground and lights it. The string lights up, fizzes a little, and instinctively, the muscles in the jaw area tend to clench, to shield the eardrums. Then as the spark seems to reach the end, the hand slowly moves towards the ears and a grimace manifests itself on your face. As the cracker bursts with a loud bang, there emanates a jerky shrug from your shoulder. Wisps of smoke rise skywards, and lo, your cracker virginity for this year has been lost.

For all the other crackers, there is hardly any reaction, as the body and the mind adapts to that noise.....until next year same time, when you stand watching the first cracker of that year being fired.

Sunday, November 03, 2002

Added a new right bar to the blog.

There is a Hostel Decoration contest today for Diwali and all the hostels are really competetive about it. Let's see how my limited artistic talents can help.

So today is Diwali, or to be precise Laxmipoojan. It literally translates as "Prayers to the Goddess of Wealth (Laxmi)". Among other things that Diwali signifies, the main purpose is paying respects to wealth. I think we must be the only culture in the world that actually recognises the value and virtue of money and has deified it in this form.

In the evening, people will perform a pooja for all the gold, silver and jewellery that they may have in their homes. It is basically the day when you invite Laxmi (used interchangeably with wealth) into your house. People keep their doors open this one day so that laxmi won't face any trouble coming in. Along with open doors, some people also make footmarks using rangoli, as if to show laxmi the way in. One funny thing I have noticed is some people draw these footmarks one next to another, that is the right foot and left foot adjacent. Now isnt that how comeone jumping might form footmarks? It gives the impression that laxmi is jumping towards the house, not walking.

After the pooja, at least in Maharashtrian households, there is the tradition of a haldi kunku where women from the neighbourhood are invited to come and pay respects to the laxmi in your house. After this the hostess of the house applies haldi(turmeric) and kunku(vermillion) on every woman's forehead and they leave only after that. It is sacrilege for women to leave from a haldi kunku without the hostess applying haldi-kunku.

Writing about this whole thing reminds me of a Marathi movie they used to show during Diwali all the time. I don't remember the exact name, I think it was either "Laxmipoojan" or "Thaamb Laxmi Kunku Lawate". I found the movie a bit silly when I was a kid but now as I look the back, it had a very poignant storyline. This is how it goes-

There is a family which is a very prosperous business family, but it falls into bad days. They start losing money and troubles befall them right, left and center. Now the climax of the movie shows that this family, fallen into bad times, organises a Diwali pooja and the wife invites women from all over for a haldi kunku. In the crowd, she suddenly notices one woman whom she has never seen before. The woman is wearing expensive jewels and expensive clothes. The hostess sees her and talks to her for sometime, and somehow (I don't exactly remember how) finds out that the woman is none other than Goddess Laxmi herself. The goddess tells her the reasons why she left their house (a metaphor for why they became poor) and I think they have something to do with disrespecting wealth and wasting it or something. So after telling her this, Laxmi starts to leave when the hostess says "Thaamb Laxmi Kunku Lawate", i.e 'Wait, Laxmi, Let me put some kunku on your forehead'. Now as I mentioned, if a hostess offers to apply kunku , you can't refuse and leave. You have to wait until she does so. So Laxmi waits.

Now what the woman does is, she says she is going to another room to get the kunku, but actually goes to the backyard of the house where there is a well, jumps in it and commits suicide. Now Laxmi can't leave their house since the hostess didn't apply kunku to her forehead, and she is forced to stay in the house forever. Thus wealth and prosperity return to the family again, because of the woman's sacrifice.

What the film tries to teach us is that we should always respect wealth and never take it for granted or it will leave us, and then we will have to pay too large a price to get it back.

Happy Laxmipoojan everyone. Hope you recognise the value of wealth.

Saturday, November 02, 2002

Here's something a friend of mine called Kabir posted on a forum I am a member of. I feel like sharing it with you all.

It takes a lifetime to understand Indian Ethos.I am exaggerating.One lifetime is not enough.EVERYDAY is a learning experience.Yesterday's story.On street opposite to mine is my regular Kirana Merchant's shop.I know him for 18 years now. Funnily neither I knew his name nor did he know mine till yesterday.He knows me as so & so ( my daughter)'s father.He is a Muslim.We meet daily.I buy my ciggarates or pipe tobbacco, and he keeps telling me AFTER ringing the sale to give up smoking!!Wonderful man.Yesterday he asked me for a Donation that he is collecting for poor feeding in the mosque during Ramzan.I gladly contributed.And then made fun of him.Miyan, I asked him, there are hardly 10 or 12 Muslim households here, how will you finish your target?.He whipped out the receipt book.Told me not more than 4 muslims had contributed but his book was bulging with donations from Hindu & Christian customers of his.I know his clientele.There are hundreds of VERY ARROGANT Brahmins in my area.I tickled him up more.You dumb Mossey you go about taking money from Bamman buggers do you ever do anything in return.He was silent for a while.

Finally with great reluctance he showed me a receipt in his name ( after 18 years first time we got to know each other's name due to these receipts)issued by a nearby Ayyappa (a Deity popular among Southern Hindus) Temple for a VERY large sum he had donated. Come December the Temple will have a big festival; they will need money and none other than YESUDAAS- a SYRIAN CHRISTIAN- will be singing devotional songs in praise of a Hindu Deity, during a Temple festival partly financed by a non-idolator Muslim who has gratefully received donations from Brahmins for commitments to his Mosque.

For a cynic like me all this means is that two dumb jackasses who have shared many a Biriyani together, found out each other's names after knowing each other for two decades.That's all.

I mean to hurt or insult none.I only request you, humbly, look at me and my people or don't look.But don't judge,blindly.I will lend you my failing sight if you need it.I know a swallow doesn't make a summer.I know one should look at LARGER picture.I know for one good thing you can quote me a thousand bad things about my country.I know small men discuss events; the Savants must dicuss ISSUES..........I know.

Diwali has started. I miss home, especially the special snacks (called faraaL) that my mom makes every year. And in this mood when I was missing home food, I went to the mess.

Had some extremely tasteless grub for lunch today. Today is one of those days I feel extra pissed off at the mess. The way we trudge in to eat and then trudge out, I am reminded of Tennyson's words (albeit a bit twisted) from "The Charge of the Light Brigade"

"Forward, the Bite Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to eat and sigh
Into the mess of Tastelessness
Walked the five hundred.

This makes me feel even more homesick.
Thankfully, there are alternate sources of nourishment and so thither I head, when I feel particularly dismayed about the mess food, and that is what I did today. As I stood with the cup of capuccino and some good grub from the canteen, I thought of Tennyson some more, (again twisted), but this time "The Eagle"

He clasps the coffee-cup with crooked hands;
Close to the sun in lonely lands

Happy Diwali, all.

Eden Gardens in Kolkatta (formerly Calcutta) is the biggest stadium in the cricketing world, accomodating a little upward of 100,000 spectators. Getting a century there is considered a big deal, and Australia's Steve Waugh was happy when he got one there last year.

Strangely, Sachin Tendulkar did not have a single test century at the venue. Today he's corrected that. As I write, he is batting on 107, but his job is not over yet. He will have to get about 200 if India has to save this test.

Was reading a blog today. Suku came online. Sent her the link too. We both agreed on reading it how lucky we were for the lives we lead. All those who think of "Independence Day" as 'just another day' have to read this blog, cos the person does not know the meaning of the word freedom!

Mail me personally if you want the link, cos I don't feel like unnecessarily badmouthing someone's life on my blog.

I feel lucky living in a country where I can dissent. I can get up and say "I think this BJP government is a stupid government, the Babri Masjid demolition was one of the most stupid acts ever, Modi should be hanged for what he did in Gujarat, and oh yes, I DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOD OR ORGANISED RELIGION!".

I can say all this with my head straight and no one will come to arrest me, neither will I be ostracised or castigated. Because it's my mind and my opinion. And my country gives me the freedom to think away from the set norms. And I hope the wannabe-Fascists like the RSS/VHP don't come to power, EVER!

I love you, India.


This whole issue of "TALKS" with reference to India, Pakistan and Hurriyat is so ridiculous, it has ceased to be funny now. It has been happening for almost a decade now and it seems as if its all well orchestrated so that all three parties benefit from keeping the issue burning.

First Pakistanis said we won't talk unless Kashmir is the main issue. Then they said they will talk but the Kashmir issue is the key to peace. Then Nawaz Sharif says Kashmir should not keep other issues hostage and Vajpayee ambles over to Lahore, where they decide to talk about business forst and Kashmir later. Then Mush gets rid of Nawaz and the stances harden. Then again Mush says he is willing to talk unconditionally. Sometimes he says that there is no terrorism in Kashmir. Then he says whatever is happening is a freedom stuggle managed totally internally. Then he says that he can't seal the whole Line of Control since it is porous. Then he says one should think about the core causes of terrorism. Similarly, first the Pakistanis said there are no outsiders in Kargil, but now, 3 years down the line, everyone is saying that Nawaz was bumped off because he made the Pakistani army withdraw from Kargil and something similar will happen to Musharraf if he turns off the terror tap. The Pakistani stand is full of ambiguity and contradictions.

India says it will talk to everyone but peace is necessary. Then Gujral meets Nawaz somewhere and chats him up. Vajpayee says we have to think of the issue in the framework of humanity, not just Indian constitution. Then he says Pak-occupied-Kashmir is legally ours and we should take it back (utterly impractical imho). Then he keeps saying that terrorists will be dealt with severely. There is word that talks are possible, but talks will be held with elected representatives. At the same time, government reps are sent to talk with Shabbir Shah and the Hurriyat. There are the usual bimonthly pronouncements of "India's patience has a limit" which prove exactly the opposite of what is stated. Then Jaswant says we won't talk to Pakistan unless cross border terrorism ends. This is funnily followed by a unilateral ceasefire against terrorists in Kashmir for 6 months, during which time the terror mongers keep stockpiling weapons and other destructive stuff. Jassu and Vajpayee keep repeating that "No talks until bloodshed ends", and suddenly one day, when Mush unconstitutionally elevates himself to the rank of President, India rushes to be the first country to officially recognise him as that. The Vajpayee personally calls him to "congratulate" him for becoming President, as if it was some tough contest Mush won. Then without any discernible decrease in terrorism, suddenly India says it is willing to talk to pakistan. Pakistan also makes conciliatory noises and Mush and his Begum come to get themselves photographed in front of the Taj Mahal (the Taj is polished cos Mush is-a-comin') and visit an old house in Delhi ( 2 children are thrown out of their homes so that an approach road could be built for the 'Villain of Kargil'). Then the talks were deadlocked because of some semantics where both sides realise they don't want to compromise at all. India blames Paki hawks, Pakis blame Indian hawks. After this the 6 month breathing period given to terrorists takes effect and attacks start with full earnest, assembly, then Indian aprliament, then kaluchak. As of now the stance is again "No talks until terror ends", but knowing the rank novices that determine the BJP foreign policy, it could all change in a week. The Indian stand is full of ambiguity and contradictions.

Then there are the buffoons from Hurriyat and Shabbir Shah who were terrorists at one time, but when they found out that the Indian army was too strong for them, outsourced the terror business to Pakistan, and started yakking. Their position keeps wavering too. One day they will say "We won't talk unless all three parties sit together". Then they will make overtures to the government about talks, but now the government is in a denial mode. Then when the government send someone like K C Pant, these people act haughty. The Hurriyat suddenly wants permission to go to pakistan to "talk" with people there. Then again the three-party thing comes in. All the while, someone like the Mirwaiz will say "We want independance, neither India nor Pakistan", while Gillani will say "Yes, I am pro-Pakistani. If you can be pro-India, why can't I be pro-Pakistani?", all the while forgetting that the bodyguards who protect his life are paid for by the Indian state. The Hurriyat itself is undecided whether it wants to join Pakistan or get 'azaadi'. When Abdul Ghani Lone was killed, his son Sajjad came on all channels of Indian TV and shouted "I am saying this to you people, Pakistan and ISI have killed my father", but next day he just kept saying "If Farooq had provided my father with more security, the killers wouldn't have gotten to him, so indirectly Farooq and hence India are responsible for the murder", cleverly sidestepping the issue of his statements that killers were Pakistani. Hurriyat talks to India's "Kashmir Committee" and agrees not to oppose the elections very vociferously. Then some elements from Hurriyat break away to contest elections. All the while, Hurriyat keeps saying "These are sham elections, and it's bogus voting" (In fact something funny, Pakistani newspaper 'The Frontier Post' reported that Ballot Boxes were stuffed with sheets stamped with NC candidate names, blissfully unaware of the fact that electronic voting machines were used at all centres, similarly PTV reported that in "Lolab", the army forced people to come out and vote, whereas, the elections in Lolab had been 'countermanded' a week before. The Pakistani media needs to be explained the meaning of EVM and ' to countermand').
However, as soon as the election results were announced and NC lost, the Hurriyat said "This shows that the people of Kashmir have voted against the NC and so against India". Now that is so funny. Because if you were saying that the elections were sham then how can you say that the results reflect anything? And while NC lost, the winner was the Indian National Congress which is even more anti-autonomy and pro-India in its stance than the NC. Now the Hurriyat says it is unwilling to talk with the government, while it requests Mush to give greater power to the Pakistani Kashmir committee. The Hurriyat stand is full of ambiguity and contradictions.

All three parties are just playing passing-the-parcel with the blame game in Kashmir. It is in the interests of everyone to keep the issue unresolved. And who are the ultimate losers in the whole issue?

- The Indian people who suffer the cost of maintaining a huge force in J&K and the brunt of terrorist attacks
- The Pakistani people who suffer the cost of keeping the terror tap flowing with all the Kalashnikovs and Uzis
- The Kashmiri people whose lives are being ruined.

It's a pity that such a small region is holding 1.2 billion people of India and Pakistan hostage and keeping them from the prosperity they both have the potential to usher in.

Friday, November 01, 2002

Today we had an extra class of Marketing Management about Product Differentiation in the afternoon. Everyone was present since rumour had it that the teacher would be taking a test/quiz today.

He ambled in at 2 p.m. sharp and without saying anything, wrote on the board - "How many of you would kill me if I said there would be no class today?". No one was feeling homicidal and people said "No Sir, we will love you if you say that", as they started gathering their stuff to leave.

Then he wrote on the board "Today there will be no class due to exigencies arising from the MDP lectures ( that's the program for corporates that the insti carries out)".

Before letting us go, he took attendance, and at the end of it noted, "This is the highest attendance so far. Were you people expecting a quiz?". A few people nodded.

"OK then" he said "I wouldn't want to disappoint you all. Take out a page and write a short notes on "Perceptual maps" in fifteen minutes".

Talk about "asking for it".