Vantage point

Monday, December 30, 2002

Gotta go and pack now. By the way, one look at the temperature charts on a news channel and I understood why Pune seems to warm to me while other here dress for a blizzard. Pune- max 30 celsius, min 13 celsius. Lucknow max 12 celsius min 5 celsius!!!!

OK then, Happy New Year to you all.

There was a drought this year. Agricultural production was expected to plummet...and it did. However when you read this you do feel optimistic about the future. Look at the Manufacturing growth, maybe the recession is on its way out...and fast.

This post is not of any significance. I just noticed that I have made 9 posts so far today, and wanted to make that number a nice round 10.

I am not one to extend free publicity to anyone but I must put in a good word for this new restaurant called "Horn OK Please" near Sagar Arcade on Fergusson College Road. It is a theme restaurant fashioned on a trucker's dhaba. You can sit on cots if you want, or tables. Each table has a license plate, and the walls are adorned with those "bumper sayings" that truckers use ("Buri nazar waley tera moonh kaala" etc). The prices are very reasonable and the food is good. So if you want a good veggie meal, Horn OK Please.

Advantage of having lived in the extreme cold weather of Lucknow -

- I wear a tshirt when riding a bike at 2 a.m. in the night in Pune where it is "only" 15 celsius, while all my friends sit wrapped in jackets and sweaters.

Disadvantage of spending a week in the pleasantly light winter weather of Pune -

- I am gonna freeze to death when i go back to Lucknow in 3 days

There's a special on Star News right now about the Indian team's selection for the World Cup in SouthAfrica. I don't know, but lately I have started feeling that one-day cricket is a tad predictable (yeah, go chomp my head off) when compared to test cricket. Ok, it is much faster and the dudes wear pajamas and use a white ball, but gimme the longer version anyday.

About the World Cup, yeah, I'll watch it, but I am waiting for the elusive series win abroad rather than the cup. Whenever anyone talks about the World Cup, I say either India or New Zealand is going to win it, and then with a sagely sigh, quote apna John Maynard Keynes and say "They'll all be dead in the long run anyway".

Hey, all you Hotmail user out there who send me panicky email forwards, don't ask me how I know it, but Hotmail is NOT going to be shut down. And even if it is, believe me, sending needless emails and putting extra load on their servers is NOT the best strategy to prevent it.

1940s - Undivided India

The mullahs, Mulim fundamentalists et al rabidly oppose partition, want an undivided India.
The RSS, Hindu fundamentalists et al rabidly oppose partition, want an undivided India.

2002 - Pakistan

The mullahs et al want sweeping changes in the already Islamic constitution, tighten the Hudood ordinance, bring in a quasi-Taliban regime.

2002 - India

The VHP wants changes in the constitution that will put an end to secularism and make India a "Hindu nation". They want the preamble to the Constituion changed!!!

Notice how the two groups that opposed partition most vehemently make one think in hindsight (though only momentarily) that it was perhaps a good decision after all?
As a friend of mine said, fundamentalists feed off each other. There can not be one kind in India, without the other to train its guns on.

I have had to meet so many people, and have enountered such weird power cuts that I have not been able to watch the Seinfeld episodes over the weekend!!!!!


Is it totally inappropriate to have a crush on this lovely newsreader on Star News with a cute stubby nose?


Reliance has come out with its supposedly revolutionary 'limited mobility' phone services. Initially, Anil and wife Tina used to hog all the media limelight on the Ambani family's behalf, but recently, all you see is the toothy Mukesh ranting and raving about their offering, and the late Dhirubhai's mugshot plastered on all channels.

Well, I know that the Ambanis are brilliant at business, and know how to make a fast buck efficiently, but the ads make it seem as if Dhirubhai was some philanthropist who only had the nation's well-being at heart and money was not of any importance. Mahatma Dhirubhai is what they fall short of calling him.

Come on, Ambu's, we know you've poured a lot into Infocomm, but don't vie for the Nobel Prize here. And before I forget, one phone for me. ;-)

Went to The Holiday Inn's disc 'Boomerang' last night. If the DJ there was cheesy, the crowd there was even cheesier. The songs that got the maximum cheers and had the maximum people dancing (or pretending to dance) were -

Dil Le gai Kudi Gujarat di
Don't turn off the lights
Hotel California (yeah, goodish song, but DANCE??)

Ehhh!! It makes the music we play during our famous Saturday nights insti parties in IIM, seem divine.

Oh, and what was even more irritating was when the DJ put on a half-decent song, GnR's version of Knockin' on Heaven's.... (I really prefer Dylan's version), most of the crowd was like "Ahh, time to rest"

Elbow Room had better music, but then we were there for hardly 20 minutes.

Thursday, December 26, 2002

By the way, watched Seinfeld after months today. i really really really really miss that show in Lucknow, cos we don't get Zee English there, and even if I did, ah well!
This episode was about George's father trying to sell computers, Kramer making his room "Anytown USA", Jerry getting all sentimotional (it's a word!!) because of that saucy girl, Becky from Full House, Jews of various ages kissing and hitting on Elaine ( 13 year old Lippman, big Lippman, a rabbi and finally Jerry who asks her to marry him, only to withdraw the proposal in the end).

Seinfeld, man I miss it!!!

By the way, as Suku's post reminds me, a report on all the books I am reading this break.

I finished reading Upamanyu Chatterjee's "The Last Burden" during my train journey. Not as good as his 'English August', but written in the same frank-naughty-prep-school-boy vein.

Right now, I am reading "Geoffrey Boycott on Cricket" which starts off with him bitchign about lotsa people in general.

In the waiting list, we have

"India - A Million Mutinies Now" by V.S.Naipaul
"A Farewell to Arms" by Hemingway

and one more book I can't quite recall......I need sleep!!

Errrrrrrrrr I was gonna write a long blog about something, but have totally forgotten what it was.

Being on a dial-up modem connection does not really afford me too much time to think.

By the way, hope you all saw Ramanand's Mastermind semifinal telecast on BBC tonite. I missed all but the last 5 minutes because of a power cut!!! =-(

I will try to watch it at 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Sunday. If you haven't, do so too.

Back in Pune, feels great.

I am home =-)

Sunday, December 22, 2002

This struck me when I was playing table tennis after yesterday's paper. Another proof of how much I need a break-

Q- If Julius Caesar was playing table tennis before he died, what was the score?
A- 8-2, cos he said "8-2 Brutus"


This is something I came up with while studying economics, after having watched a few select "best of" scenes from 'Sholay'.

Gabbar: Kitni goli hai bandook mein?
Dacoit: Chheh sardaar
Gabbar: Goli chheh, aur aadmi teen. Bahut naainsaafi hai!! Yeh to demand-supply mismatch hai. Arre O Sambha, supply jab demand ko exceed karta hai to kya hota hai?
Sambha: Sardar, supply curve right ko shift hoti hai
Gabbar: Haan, matlab goli sasti ho gayi. Chalo sab ke sab ammunition shopping. Teeno ke teeno bach gaye.

Ye gads!!! I do need a break!!! =-(


"3 women beheaded for disobeying burkha diktat in Kashmir"

"Naxals behind Andhra train mishap"

"German chopper crashes in Kabul, 6 dead"

If you too are sick and tired of reading just negative stuff in all the newspapers, here's a site you can visit.

In the words of Chandler Bing, "I need to buy a snake".

I am back, though there are 2 papers still to go. Slept at 6 in the evening, woke up at 2:30 in the morning. Marketing paper in 6 hours, and so browsing through Kotler. It is one of the globe subjects (for those unaware about what globe means, click here).

I am wondering how one could position a book about positioning in the market.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002


It's that season again. No, not festive season, but exam season. My endterms start on 19th and will continue till the 24th. So due to all that studying nonsense that usually accompanies every exam, I will not be updating for a week.

We will be having exams on Saturday and Sunday as well, so I hope your weekends are better than mine.

Toodle oo then.

Blog, main jaa raha hoon, endterm, main aa raha hoon!!!

I am a history buff, as most of you must be knowing. I think that if we can learn from our history and not repeat our mistakes, we would be so much better off.

Other than this sermonic reason, I like history simply because I read it as a mosaic of different stories. As the age old cliche goes, truth is stranger than fiction, and more often than not, history is all truth. So reading "well written" history is sometimes more enchanting than reading fiction. But the words "well written" are crucial enough in the scheme of things to desrve the quotes I put them in. Being "well written" does not mean that it should be written by a master storyteller, for more often than not, the facts are fascinating enough to hold their own sway. But "well written" means that the history should be told just with the intention of letting the others know it, and not with the intention of indoctrinating or brainwashing. When this ulterior motive of fashioning someone's beliefs and ideas comes into play, history becomes nothing more than the press releases in George Orwell's '1984'. Reading it becomes as cumbersome as carrying lead slabs across a desert in June.

Now some might say that truly objective and purely narrative history is never possible. The writer will always give the writings a subconscious spin according to what he was taught and believes. That is true. That is why the history we are taught in school seems so drab and unpopular. Whenever I tell people that my secret wish was to do a PhD in History, I hear a groan. This didactic approach towards teaching history has made people look at it as a pain rather than a joy. I myself started liking history only when I started reading stuff outside the school textbooks.

I am no zealous messiah of history who will go around urging people to take to reading history. But there is this amazing link I came across. See, basically, for some reason we Indians grow up with this mentality to associate everything Muslim in history with the Mughals. The expletive sometimes used to refer to Muslims contemptuously is "Babur ki aulaad"(son of Babur). There is also this impression that Islam was spread in India mainly by force. Now while all this is not completely false, it is not completely true either. There are various aspects of it which we are not taught about in greater detail. Then there are Hindu kings whom we know little about. Who among you had heard of King Chach? He was Brahmin king who lived in the 7th century, and was the first king to successfully repel a Muslim invasion. Who has heard of the intriguing story of the Princess Suryadevi who took revenge on her father's killers by using just her brain and tongue ( in fact it inspires me to weave up a short story based on what she did)? How many of you knew that Brahmins were exempted from the jaziya tax that the Koran prescribes for non-Muslims from 700 A.D to about 1400 A.D? How many of you knew that a Hindu eunuch (yes, an eunuch) opportunistically converted to Islam and actually won a lot of territory all over India?

I bet not many. It's because we are taught this extremely limited version of History that gives a little too much focus on our struggle for independence from the British. If I had a rupee for every time I wrote a short note in some exam on 'Lal-Bal-Pal', I'd be holidaying in the Bahamas right now. So anyway, here's an account of the portion of Indian history that we are never really taught about very well, except for "Mehmud of Gazni attacked us 16 times". Will make good reading.

Read this

Monday, December 16, 2002

Kaante as we know is allegedly financed by the underworld dons. So the Shivsena is threatening demonstrations(obviously violent, that's a given) unless it is banned. This means they will burn stuff and create controversy when it releases. But did you know that the producer of Kaantey is Pritish Nandy, Shivsena's man in the Rajyasabha(Upper House)? So when the film is a hit cos of the controversy, a la Gadar, guess who benefits in the end?

*donning the Nostradamus hat*
Friday will the white curtain burn
And people know about the film more
Everyone goes and watches the movie
Bald man gives Bal man fat cheque

*removing Nostradamus hat*
That's my prediction for the whole imbroglio waiting to unfold.

Jogging in the evenings is fun. Firstly, it feels great to run the ring road that runs along the perimeter of the insti campus, all 2.8 kms of it, at one go. I am happy because I've re-started jogging just a week back or so, and already my lungs are back to their mid-season form. Now my target is two rounds around the insti without a break.

But here's a fringe benefit one gets from jogging. It injects so much heat into my body that I sit sweating in my room, wearing just a t shirt after I come back, while the other guys on my floor are shivering as they sit wrapped in the annual wool production of New Zealand's Central Districts between them. They give me nasty looks as I wipe my sweat and smile as I say "Warm isn't it?".

When the heat starts wearing off, I head to the bathroom and take a nice hot shower for about 45 minutes, soaking in all the heat from the water, and am feeling positively warm as I step out of the shower. As a result, I remain lightly dressed for the rest of the evening

The dirty looks my floormates give me get dirtier by the minute until about midnight when the heat finally takes my leave and I summon the production of the rest of New Zealand to keep me warm.

All said and done, I agree with Sarika. I prefer Lucknow winters to Lucknow summers anyday.

2 new blogs.

I was pleasantly surprised to find another blog from Lucknow. Sarika's blog is candid and absorbing.

Then there's Urmila from Bangalore. Her writing is...well...different...and I mean good different.

Ik ajnabi jhonke ne jab pooncha mere ghum ka sabak
Sehra ki bheegi ret par, maine likha awargi

Good ole Ghulam Ali. I knew there had to be something good about Pakistan. ;-)

There's thick fog outside my window, but I am told it will get much thicker. Visibility is down to about 100 feet. By Pune standards, that is a lot, but by Lucknow standards, that's just December. Wait till January they say.

I wonder if I am sane!

I just listened to some Nirvana songs and was scouting the insti network for any more songs by them, when I saw this Sufi Sindhi song. I downloaded it and actually listened to it.

...and I found it hummable!!!!!

Send for the mental asylum van. Will someone make sure that the walls of my cell are padded and that the food they give me there won't have any vermins in it?

Sunday, December 15, 2002

Betcha don't know the exact reasons why the nominal money supply rate in India is so different from the inflation rate. =-)

continued from yesterday

I decided that I would talk about this with Vimal first. As he saw me approaching him, he started explaining the situation to me

�You see, my father thinks I am being stupid throwing my career away like this. He was pleading with me to come back home. I think he will realise that this is the life I have chosen�, he said.

�Vimal, I know who your father is�, I said knowingly.

�You do? What do you mean by saying it in that tone? He is not some celebrity or something. How do you know him?� he asked, going on the defensive.

�I haven�t always worked in Kashmir. I used to work in Delhi until a year ago. And I have seen your father many times during that one week in December 1999. In fact the whole country has seen him on television prostrating himself in front of the Prime Minister�s residence, but public memory is short and as you said, he is no celebrity, so no one else at the camp recognised him.� I said.

Vimal went silent and a panicky look came to his face.

�Please don�t tell the Colonel this, you know I don�t mean any harm. I am just trying to atone for my father�s sins. Because of me he was a part of the great betrayal of the country and our army. �

I could not make out if this was indeed the case. Was this man really so principled that he would leave a career for a small part he inadvertently played in something wrong. Or was it a case of the Stockholm syndrome? How could his father give birth to such a patriotic child? It seemed straight out of a 60�s hindi movie.

My mind went back to the last week of 1999. Pakistani terrorists had hijacked the Indian Airlines flight and taken it to Kandhar in Afghanistan. They wanted terrorists released in exchange of the 178 passengers on board. The list they had was full of deadly names who could wreak newer havoc in Kashmir which had till then been relatively peaceful. At that time, the relatives and parents of all the hostages had staged noisy demonstrations all over the capital demanding that the terrorists be released. Vimal�s father had been one of the most active among these and had on one occasion prostrated himself in front of the Prime Minister�s gate as his car was about to come out. The pressure all the relatives applied had worked and the Government, interested more about short term gains than national interest, had released three dangerous terrorists � Masood Azhar, Sheikh Omar and Mushtaq Zargar. The passengers all returned safely, except for one.

What followed was a renewed phase of terrorism in Kashmir that still continued. Goaded by Masood Azhar�s captivating hateful speeches, hoards of Pakistanis started launching suicide attacks in Kashmir. It was the biggest blow to India�s image and efforts to bring terrorism under control.

So Vimal had been in that plane for a week. Was he really ashamed of his father�s action? Or was he in cahoots with the terrorists and had managed to gain access to this camp in Kashmir?

�Tell me why did you come here so late then, last year? � I asked him.

�I was aghast when I came home and learnt that my father had begged to the government that the terrorists be released. He is the one who had told me all about the virtues of Indian army. How could he disregard the hundreds of soldiers who have lost their lives to these terrorists in the past? I was disappointed. I felt repulsed that my life had come at such a huge cost.�

�Initially, though angry at my father, I got back to my life, my job, my friends. What happened during that week was just a bad memory in the past. But somehow I always felt guilty for what had happened. And this guilt kept growing every time I read about a terrorist attack or a suicide attack on the army or civilians in Kashmir. Whenever the Jaish-e-Mohammad, started by Masood Azhar, made a strike, somewhere I felt as if I was as much the reason behind it as those who were doing it. This guilt started affecting my work, my peace of mind. I felt like I was living a life which did not quite belong to me, but was given to me like alms.�

�I had been contemplating the move for a few days, but I finally made the decision On December 13 last year, when the terrorists attacked the parliament in Delhi. Had Masood Azhar been in prison, this would never have happened. I was in part guilty for the attack on our parliament. I, with the other 177 passengers of IC 814, was partly responsible. But I did not have a right to tell them to do anything. So I took the decision on my own. I was living a life that did not belong to me. I had to quit it and start a new one. I quite my job and decided to come to Kashmir and spend the rest of the life helping the armed forces here in whatever way I could. Initially I tried to get enrolled, but I could not. All my efforts to do it officially came undone. So this is what I did. I just came here, begged the Colonel to let me help out. My father feels horrible. He keeps apologising to me, as if I am the one he has wronged. I keep telling him to imagine that I have died in an accident. But he tries to convince me. He does not realise that this is my life now. It belongs to all those who have died for me.�

Vimal finished this long narrative and stood looking at me expectantly. I could not believe my ears. This sounded too idealistic to be true. And yet, it was. Or so I felt in my heart. I could not doubt Vimal�s earnestness, but nevertheless, it was my duty to tell the Colonel. I was sure that he too would see the truth in things and it would not make any difference. I thought I would explain this to Vimal so that he himself could tell everything to the Colonel.

�Vimal, I admire what you are doing, but I have to��..�

I could not complete the sentence. That is when the gunfire started. We both instinctively jumped behind a wall and started moving towards a tent. There were a couple of grenade explosions some distance away. It was obviously a fidayeen (suicide) attack on the camp. From behind the wall I could see two terrorists with their assault rifles running towards the back of the camp. By this time, our jawans had started firing in reply. What followed was a fierce gun battle. I must admit that I was petrified at what was happening. But Vimal was calm. He kept telling me to stay calm and that nothing would happen. We both remained silent as sporadic bursts of bullets were heard.

I think you must have guessed by now what happened next. So I�ll just give you the details of what happened.

Now from where we were hiding, we could see that 5 jawans were taking shelter behind another wall a few feet away from us and were firing at the terrorists. All the gunfire was coming from in front of them. As a result they had ignored the area behind them. It all happened in a matter of seconds as a terrorist crept up from behind us. He could not see us because of the wall, but we could see that he was holding 2 grenades in his hand. He could just throw them at the wall behind which the 5 jawans were standing and kill them all.

But before I could shout and warn the jawans, Vimal was off like a shot. He hid behind the wall till the last moment and jumped the terrorist. The terrorist was surprised at this unexpected assailant and tried to fight free of him. What he did not expect was that Vimal would reach for the grenades in his pouch. I watched aghast as Vimal took a grenade out, stepped away a few feet away, removed the pin and threw it towards the ground. It exploded making a huge noise. The terrorist was killed, and so was Vimal.

So that is how the whole attack ended. The last surviving suicide bomber to attack the camp was killed by a civilian who himself became a suicide bomber. The whole thing had happened too fast to anticipate or analyse.

I was shaken by the grenade blast too, and my ear drums were torn apart. But what I remember about that day is not what I heard, but what I saw. As Vimal�s body lay there, covered in blood and gore, his face wore the most satisfied smile I had ever seen in my life.

The End

p.s- it might seem a little tacky and hurried, since I don't have too much time right now. This is a rough draft I wrote between project meetings and assignment sessions. I wrote it mainly to make sure that the basic idea is recorded somewhere so that later when I sit to rewrite it at leisure, I will have a little more than just the basic idea in mind. Okay then, Economics presentation tomorrow and my team members will be here any minute, so I'd better go. Thanks for your encouraging comments.

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Here, read this -

I don�t know why I am writing all this today. It will probably never be published in the newspaper anyway. This is not the cold-fact type copy that they like us to file. This deals with emotions. And we reporters are supposed to be above emotions. The objectivity is further enhanced by the belief that we pretty much know all there is to know about human nature and nothing could truly shock us. However sometimes we experience things in our life that radically alter such beliefs. These are the times when we meet people with such remarkable personalities that it leaves one wondering if God broke the mould when he created this mind. This is the story of one such personality.

I met Vimal as I was on a routine visit to Camp X in March this year to collect some information about a recent attack in the region. Now Camp X is not its real name, but that is how I will refer to this Indian Army camp somewhere in Jammu and Kashmir. I had been waiting outside the Colonel�s office tent waiting for him to come and brief me about the terrorist activities. Now, the Colonel and I had a kind of a rapport and we discussed many things other than the work-related stuff. During one such conversation, he had told me about his obsession with roses. He had a beautiful rose garden just outside his office which always sported a very fresh look. What surprised me was that tending to the roses in the garden was a young man who obviously was not a Kashmiri, and who was not dressed in a way that some might associate with a gardener in India. I thought of calling out to him and asking him something about himself, when I saw the Colonel hurrying towards the office.

�Sorry to keep you waiting, Fazal� said the Colonel as he led me into the tent. Tea was sent for and he started telling me about the latest attack. A jeep carrying 4 soldiers had been attacked by 2 men with assault rifles. Both men were killed, but a jawaan lost his life in the process. The two men looked Kashmiri but apparently were not from any of the surrounding villages. They were probably Pakistanis in search of shahadat (martyrdom) in the Colonel�s opinion.

�Colonel, what makes these boys embrace shahadat so eagerly? Why do they want to waste their lives like this?� I asked.

�They are either driven by the cause or extremely religious, Fazal� the Colonel tried to explain.

�Yes, I guess that is the difference between us and the normal Pakistani today. There, youngsters can still be brainwashed into laying their lives down for a cause which is futile and meaningless. We Indians are not na�ve enough to die for somebody else�s idea of justice.� I said.

�That is true. I don�t think any civilian in India would do this. We are not insecure, nor are we stupid.�

This discussion was interrupted by a phone call, following which the Colonel started talking about some other details of the attack. He had to then rush out again and he shook my hand warmly as he was leaving, inviting me to visit them soon. Suddenly I remembered something else I wanted to ask him.

�Colonel, who is that well dressed man taking care of your roses?� I asked.

�Oh him, he is Vimal. Well, he is the biggest pain I�ve had in the wrong place in ages. One of the most difficult situations I have faced.�

I was puzzled. The Colonel elaborated about Vimal and I was amazed as I heard what he was telling me. Vimal was a 28-year old software engineer. When he was younger, he had tried to get into the army, but had been rejected due to his myopia. Vimal had always wanted to be in the defence forces and had worked very hard for it. However when he could not get through, he forgot about it and became a software engineer. However after working in the industry for 6 years, he realised that something was amiss. He wanted to experience army life.

That is what brought Vimal to Camp X. He had shown up on a chilly afternoon in the last week of December last year.

He told an officer at the gate �I am here because I think I was born to serve the country�s army. If you think I am not good enough to lead or fight, consider me an odd jobs boy, a cook, anything. Just let me be a part of this.�

The officer had brusquely laughed him off. But Vimal refused to leave. He waited outside the camp for days in the biting cold, praying that he be let to meet the Colonel. Finally someone took pity on him as they took a shivering Vimal to a confused Colonel.

�Who are you? What exactly do you want?� the Colonel quizzed him.

Vimal said he just wanted to help, in whatever way possible. He had worked in software and earned a decent amount of money during the dotcom boom, so he did not need any money in exchange for his work. He just wanted to be a part of the Camp for some time. It could be a period as short as a month or a year. Vimal told the Colonel about his failed efforts to get into the army as a soldier or an officer in his early days. He begged the Colonel to let him stay since without this, his life would be incomplete.

Now having some new person work on the camp without any background check is a big security hazard, but the Colonel trusted his judgement. He said he would let Vimal do small odd jobs in the Camp under the condition that Vimal stayed outside the camp during the night. Vimal agreed. Since then Vimal had been sincerely working for the Indian army in Camp X. He was rarely told any strategically important work. He usually helped the cook in the mess, cleaned vehicles or worked in the Colonel�s rose garden. He was of course thoroughly frisked before he entered and left the camp.

Vimal was on oddity in the camp, dressed in imported jeans and shiny shoes. He used to stay with an old man in the village and paid him quite a hefty amount as rent. Initially the soldiers were taken aback by the Colonel�s decision to give a civilian free access to the Camp. But sooner or later everyone become convinced of how earnest and truthful Vimal was. I was convinced too.

I spoke to him for a long time about his education, his job, and his decision to leave it all, like some modern day Gautam Buddha. He seemed to hail from an affluent family in Bangalore and he said his family was not really happy with his decision. However they believed it was a temporary thing and he would be back soon. Vimal however smiled and told me that they were going to be disappointed. It was not temporary, and this was his life now.

At this point, I felt like something was missing from the Vimal story. No, I did not think he was a terrorist working under cover or a spy for some other country. He seemed like an honest patriotic fellow. But I still couldn�t help wondering what was missing. The jigsaw was not complete.

I left that day and didn�t return to Camp X for a few weeks. I had been sent to Chandigarh for a while and was also doing lesser field work. The next time I met Vimal was in the summer, just after the Kaluchak attack in which the families of many army-men were slain by terrorists. I walked into the camp after being frisked at the gate, and I saw Vimal talking to someone near the Colonel�s tent. There was a great deal of discussion going on between that man and Vimal, from what I could see. The man�s back was towards me and I could not see his face. All I saw was Vimal�s animated face trying to make a point. Now wanting to intrude, I did not go closer to them.

However when the man turned to go, I recognized him instantly. I knew him! I had met him in Delhi 3 years ago under very different circumstances. What did this man have to do with Vimal? The man was hurrying towards the back entrance and was out of the camp before I could realise it. Vimal stood transfixed. I went near him and asked him.

�Are you OK?� I asked.

�Yeah I am fine� he replied rubbing his forehead with his hands.

�Who was that man?� my next query..

�That�s my father.�

And suddenly the last piece of the jigsaw became visible to me. I realised what was the reason behind Vimals� strange resolution. If the man was who I thought it was, and if he was Vimal�s father, then things became a lot easier. I wondered if I should tell the Colonel what I had discovered by accident.

to be continued

Friday, December 13, 2002

You learn of newer things everyday. Recently I have come to know that there is a device called "blower" which people in Lucknow buy in wholesome quantities. This electrical device apparently keeps your room warm. People are actually making special trips to the city to buy it.

I myself don't feel the need for it yet. Remember I used to crib during the summer about how the location of my room (it is the topmost room on the most extreme corner of our hostel which is the last hostel in the insti) causes the sunlight to beat down on it the whole day and makes my room unbearably hot, and how Sunil's room being opposite mine, but not directly exposed to sunlight is much cooler.

Ahhha, you see where I am going! Now it's winter and the sunlight, feeble though it is, keeps my room a lot warmer(maybe un-colder would be a better word) than most others. So now his room is the unhabitable one and mine is the hot one. There is justice in the world after all. =-)

By the way this cold weather which keeps growing day by day is the second most irritating thing in my life right now. Holding the top rank on the irritants list, for the third consecutive week are those people who notice you bundled up and shivering, blowing hot air on your fingers and say "Arre kya tum log bhi abhi se itne pakced ho, abhi toh Thhand shuru hi kaha hui hai?" ( Why are you people so warmly dressed. Winter hasn't even started yet). I would sock such people in the face, but my fingers are too cold even for that.

Anyway, I think I am gonna postpone the blower-purchase until January, because right now, I think the warmest place other than the air conditioned library, classrooms and Comp Centre, is my room.

Thursday, December 12, 2002

So what will happen in the Gujarat elections? Me says the BJP will not be able to form the next government there.

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

We got our Marketing Management midterm marks yesterday. The checking was so brutal that the average was 12 out of 50. I got 15.5. The reason I mention this here is the conversation i had with a friend later.

Friend: How did you do?
Me: 15.5
Friend: That's quite good. I got bad marks, only 11.
Me: Well, if you see the papers of the toppers (around 22), you will see that the marks were given mainly for diagrams, graphs and underlining...and of course the jargon.
Friend: yes, the jargon. What obsession do Profs here have about jargon? As long as the meaning is conveyed, why is jargon so important?
Me: You are right, jargon is a pain. We should not lose marks because of jargon, in fact we should discourage jargon.
Friend: Yeah, almost everyone hates jargon.
Me: Hey, we should form a club of people against jargon. Everyone who is against jargon will join us.
Friend: Yeah, let's do that.
Me: (PJ-wave strikes me when I am not looking) And you know what we will call this club? (smiling like someone does when he is about to unleash a corny pun on humanity)
Friend: Anti-Jargon Club?
Me: No, we'll call it Jargon Mukti Morcha.

He started laughing, so did I. In fact all the people around us who heard it started laughing. Seems like Jargon Mukti Morcha is gonna be a big success. Want to join?

Sunday, December 08, 2002


For all those doubting thomases who think Indian business is not strong enough to compete with Western products, read this.

It shows how a few peasants from a remote corner of India can make even the EU and USA to indulge in the economics of subsidies to sell their products (on an aside, the more I get convinced day by day that globalization is the path for India to travel on, the more I am convinced that WTO is not truly globalizing the world but just promoting Western interests).

I have always been fascinated by the great progress Amul has made and keeps making. According to me, it represents the Indian free market enterprise spirit.

As someone looking at marketing for a career, it fascinates me even more. I am gonna stick my neck out and say that Amul is my dream 'company'. That's where I wanna work when I pass out of IIM. I want to be a part of the big battle which leads to Nestle leaving India. And we don't need to George Fernandes to wield the boot.

Place: Hazratganj(Lucknow's busiest commercial street)
Time: 6:30 p.m, yesterday

Friend: Wanna visit the most violent place in India?
Me: Sure.
Friend: Go straight, take a right and then take a left, and you'll be there.
Me:(puzzled) But that's where the Uttar Pradesh State Assembly is.
Friend: Exactly


The sun sets at 5:30 p.m. and it's pitch dark by quarter to six. As I sit writing this at 6:15 p.m, I wonder if it would not be sensible for India to adopt the concept of daylight saving time during winter, and divide the country into at least 2 timezones. Imagine how it would be for someone in Nagaland? Dark at 4 p.m, I am sure.

Now if only we could convey this to the Members of Parliament. Hahh, fat chance, considering how they love to adjourn the LS for some reason or other. These folks keep spending so much taxpayers' money for meeting every few months and rush to the well for some adjournment motion or the others, its almost like stealing

So is India a democratic country or a kleptocratic country?

Saturday, December 07, 2002

It is so very obvious from her face that Janet Leigh is the mother of Jamie Lee Curtis.

This post is meant only for public that understands Marathi.

My pal Pushkar and I have been thinking of dubbing Sholay into marathi, and the dialogues we have thought up are hilarious. Read these -

- Tujha naav kaay ga Shevanti?

- Aamche her turungachya chahu dishanna pasarlele aahet

- He haath mala deun taak, Patil

- Shimga kevha aahe? Kevha aahe shimga? (for the uninitiated, shimga means holi)

- Jo ghabarla, to vaarla

- He Ramgarh budruk waley aaplya porinna kuthlya girnicha peeth khau ghaaltat rey Sambhaji?

- Saapala thechayla fakta paayach pure astaat, Gabbar

- Ekekala nivadun nivadun maaren, nivadun nivadun maaren....

I know, the dubbed version will be a big flop, but gave me great kicks to translate the lines.

Friday, December 06, 2002

In other news, I finished reading Chuck Palahniuk's "The Fight Club" and liked it. Now that I have read the book, I am ready for the movie (starring Brad Pitt and the talented Edward Norton).

Most of the people I know have seen the movie and so whenever I said I was reading the book, they would threaten me in a playful way "Should I tell you the end?".

Serendipity made an appearance in my life after a while, because the suspense of the book turned out quite similar to what I guessed it would be. Blame it on the fact that people kept making a big deal out of how it would end, making me search for a twist in the story. The search was largely successful. Therefore, it perhaps did not impress me too much. But still a good book.

Leaving aside all the philosophical fundas woven in "The Fight Club" and treating it as just a story, it was good, but not as good as 'Memento' which I saw some weeks back. That was a truly mindblowing concept, both conceptually and cinematically. It shows how important the job of an editor must be in the world of films I am looking for the book Memento now.


With Harish too enlisting for blogdom (also called Bhamidipati Venkata Harish Kumar), almost the entire COEP Quiz Club is here. He is doing his MBA in Gurgaon.

I had gone to the city (my friend Pushkar insists we refer to it as 'town') for dinner tonight. On the way I heard two women discussing the lyrics in today's Hindi movies

Woman 1: The lyrics nowadays are complete nonsense
Woman 2: Absolutely. One line has nothing to do with another
W1: In fact one word rarely has anything to do with another
W2: They just want to rhyme that's all

Now until this point I was in complete agreement with the two ladies. However what they said next did not go down too well.

W1: All this has started recently. In our days, the lyrics were so meaningful.
W2: Yes, this generation has spoilt hindi film songs.

Considering that the women in question were about 40-ish, I would imagine that 'their days' would mean the 60s, 70s and the 80s. So off the top of my head, I thought of these songs, but could not muster enough brashness to go and mention these songs to them. So I inflict these lyrics upon you. Pray tell me if these are meaningful lyrics.

Dukki pe dukki ho ya satte pe satta
Gaur se dekha jaaye to buss hai patte pe patta
Koi faraq nahi albatta, koi faraq nahi albatta

M-A-D MAD, Mad maane paagal, B-O-Y BOY boy maane ladka
arre matlab iska tum kaho to kya hua

and who can forget these 'beautifully connected' lines from that monolith of Hindi film industry, Sholay

Koi haseena jab ruth jaati hai to aur bhi haseen ho jaati hai (so far so good)
Station se gaadi jab chhoot jaati hai to ek do teen ho jaati hai

In the words of Billy Joel,

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning since the world's been turning

Gaurav has been affected by the contagious virus that emanated from Satyen. He has started talking in third person. This virus travels through blog posts and comments and thrives on laughter. When you first read someone writing in third person and start laughing, the virus strikes.

Gaurav urges you all to exercise restraint while reading any such blogs or comments.

Happy Birthday to Aditi

Thursday, December 05, 2002


Remember my blogs around the time I was new to IIM. The first semester I mean. That was a semester when the insti was using a huge fire of assignments and projects to baptize us. As the Dean Dr. Chakraborty said at the address "People say that the twenty months you spend at IIM are ultra hectic. That is not true at all. Only the first month is ultra hectic. After that, you just get used to it.".

Well, in the last term when our first lecture used to be at 8:30 in the morning, and the aforementioned baptism process required us to work until as late as 4 or 5 a.m, sleep was at a premium. So it was standard practice to wake up at 8:15, brush your teeth while in the shower, and then run to class. Now any Fields Medal winner (or even a friendly neighbourhood Intl Maths Olympiad medal winner from NJ) will be able to testify to the fact that this leaves one only 15 minutes to go from bed to class. So what about breakfast, one wonders. Well, the standard practice was to sprint to the mess, pick up 2 slices of bread, shove an omelette or half-fry between them, and continue sprinting while injesting the resultant sandwich. It was always a sandwich...on the go, that provided the body enough nutrition to sustain itself till lunchtime 5 hours later.

Lately however, owing to being taught a lot of management related stuff, I have perhaps learnt to manage my time better. Now I am not left with just 15 minutes to get from B2C. Thanks to astute handling of the workload and the masterfully acquired will power to wake up well in time ( Well, I'll make this frank admission to the faithful blog readers - the assignments this term are a lot less and the first lecture is at 9:40 a.m.) for class, I don't have to rush anymore. I can enjoy a leisurely breakfast almost everyday.

However the first term has left me with a weird habit. Now I feel very awkward if I am walking from the mess to the class with just my books in hand. So even if there is a lot of time left before class starts, you would notice that I always eat my last sandwich (oh yes, there is enough time now to eat more than one) while walking to class. Yeah, now that I have time, I chew every bite 32 times as my mother used to tell me (why 32 I have always wondered) and generally observe nature's bounties as I walk to class.

So even now, it's always a sandwich, to go. We are but creatures of habit.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Conversation with a female friend (FF) over MSN. Background for this chat is that her parents are suggesting that she should get married, if not immediately, then in a couple of years tops. She too thinks that 2 years is the max she should stay unmarried.

Me: So if you get married...there is no one in sight right now, so it will be an arranged marriage right?
FF: Yes, 99.9% it will be arranged.
Me: Wow, thats weird....imagine, if the guy u marry turns out to be similar to the ones u've rejected in the past.
FF: How do you mean?
Me: When you go in for arranged marriage, what will be the criteria you will judge a man by?
FF: Obviously good family, educated, earning well, looks also will matter a bit, culture, etc.
Me: Yeah, now remember those two guys XX and ZZ?
FF: Yeah?
Me: They would fit into all these criteria. Each and every one.
FF: Yes, but there has to be a spark.
Me: Come on, what spark can there be in an arranged marriage setting? Arranged marriage is like shopping during a Sale. If you like it, you take it at once or someone else will pounce on it. All these concepts like "spark" definitely don't come into play.
FF: Yes, but still, when it's the right guy, you just know.
Me: Maybe, but you haven't found Mr. Right in all these years. But you HAVE to get married in two years. So you will go for the next best thing, right?
FF: Right.
Me: See, think of it this way. Suppose there is a girl whom say I fall in love with right now, and she'll say no..for whatever reasons girls
say no 'cant think of you that way' or something, but in all probability, 5 years later or so, a similar girl, if i approach by the arranged marriage method
FF: Yes?
Me: She will say yes without even thinking of the reasons that she might have used to reject me otherwise
FF: Yes, but by then you will be well settled in life, with a good job and all.
Me: Yeah, but is there anything about me right now that suggests I might not have a good job in the near future? For instance, those two guys you rejected. Both were from a good college, with good marks and will definitely end up with great careers and well settled in life.
FF: That is true.
Me: So you might just end up spending your life with someone like them.
FF: Yes
Me: Then why say no before and waste so many years?
FF: See, you have to be practical. You can't stay alone all your life.
Me: Yeah, I agree. So, generally thinking...what the hell is 'love' anyway in marriages during the beginning? Isn't it just compromise in most cases?
FF: I suppose so.
Me: Except for the lucky few for whom teenage or collegetime love ends up as marriage, the reason girls say yes to guys..or vice versa during arranged marriage is "compromise".
FF: There is no other option.
Me: I know. If it works, who are we to complain?. but you know, that's the main reason 95% arranged marriages work.
FF: What?
Me: Compromise. Both parties enter with a willingness to compromise and without any major emotional expectations. Since there are no major emotional expectations(there are the materialistic and existential ones of course) there is no question of any isappointment.
FF: Hmm, maybe.
Me: Heehee, realise something?
FF: What?
Me: You have wasted so much time by rejecting those two guys.
FF: Shut up, that was different.
Me: How?
FF: I could not blindly say yes, just looking at the factual realities and lose the chance to find love, could I?
Me: What do you mean?
FF: I mean you said there are a lucky few who have their teenage or collegetime loves as their life partners. If I had staidly accepted one of those two guys, I would have forfeited the opportunity of being among those lucky ones. Okay, right now, I may be without that love, but at least I did not give up hope.
Me: You are right, that makes perfect sense.
FF: Yes, and who knows, in two years time, I could still find that love, anywhere, in my neighbourhood, my office, among my friends, anywhere.
Me: You are right. So with arranged marriage as a reliable high success ratio backup, let us go and search for our respective loves.
FF: :) Yes, all the best. May you find that love soon
Me: You too.

I have always been fascinated by the Himalayas. I have no recollection of my first memory of this greatest of Mountain ranges. It must have been through some picture postcard or poster when I was a kid. But as I grew up, I would pause whenever i saw a picture of the Himalayas and reiterate the promise I had made to myself- I will visit the Himalayas a.s.a.p and eventually retire there. Ruskin Bond's lifestyle always fascinated me. Living in the peaceful and green valleys of the Himalayas, writing books for a living. THAT is life! Maybe I'll have that one day.

I finally made the visit to my dream destination when I was 18 years old after I finished with my Class 12 exams. There were 35 of us who had gone on a High Altitude Trekking Expedition ( ironically abbreviated as H.A.T.E since I loved those 15 days) to the Baspa Valley in Himachal Pradesh. I still remember when it finally sank in that I was in the place which i thought of as my eventual home. We had gone for an orientation trek in Narkhanda, and after having scaled a decent height, we all sat down to rest. In fron of me, lay the most breathtaking view I have ever seen in my life. I don't know if it was that special to everyone else, but for me, it was as if I had died and gone to heaven.

It is difficult to describe it, simply because it was like one of the many "green-mountains-capped-withsnow-and-blue-sky-above" pictures you see. But for me it was special because it was the first time I was actually sitting and looking at such a view. It was like being the part of a picture postcard.

The whole expedition was memorable, and I made myself a promise, that I would return to these verdant valleys soon again. However the Pune University Engineering Schedule used to be such that we never had vacations during a period conducive to go to the Himalayas.

Now I live just at the foothills of the great range. Monsoon is over. However, exam approacheth.

I'll be back soon, O snow capped peaks, wait for me.

Niranjan Pednekar takes to blogging. He is a busy guy, but if he gets time to post regularly, mark my words, his will be THE best blog around.

Sunday, December 01, 2002

You know what is most gratifying?

When you feel like munching on something and you accidentally discover some peanuts you had stashed away at the back of the drawer some days ago because you couldn't finish them all.

You know what is most annoying?

When you also discover that ants discovered the peanuts before you discovered them.

Just watched 'Red Dragon' starring Edward Norton and Anthony Hopkins. Great movie. The pace doesn't slacken at all and the movie does not seem to suffer from a "Silence of the Lambs Shadow Syndrome" like Hannibal. In fact, blame it on the fact that I just saw the movie and am highly impressed by it, but I liked 'Red Dragon' more than 'Silence of the Lambs'.