Vantage point

Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Had this bright idea a month ago of keeping my shoes in my balcony. I forgot that I live in Lucknow where the weather is more confused about itself than the politicians here.

It rained 3 days ago, and all my shoes and wet and soggy. The leather ones want a stamp paper and two witnesses so that they can write their will.

Am thinking of starting another blog, where I will just post any stuff I come across that I think is very readable(jokes, anecdotes, news items), so that this blog can be a completely personal thing. Maybe rediffblog, wot say?

Have you ever jumped out of your skin? Happened to me a few minutes back. I stepped out of my room to get some water from the cooler downstairs and as I turned, a dog suddenly materialised out of thin air. Now I don't know who was more surprised, me or the dog. Both of us jumped out of our respective skins and took a step back each. Then as the skins were busy re-wrapping themselves around our respective bodies, we spent the next 5 seconds staring at each other with deep mistrust, reminiscent of the way Clint Eastwood and some other morose dude would stare at each other before they drew their guns out in those old Westerns.

I was wondering what a dog was doing on the third floor of my hostel at 2 a.m. in the morning. The dog (I can merely conjecture) was wondering what a human being was doing on the third floor of its hostel (these dogs are delusional I tell you, no respect for property rights).

Then as the initial shock of spotting each other subsided, my thought process moved on to the next logical step. Now I used to be a big dog-lover until a harrowing experience (maybe I'll write about it later) about 5 years back made me take a diametrically opposite view regarding the matter. So the next logical step was not that of petting the dog and making polite inquiries about its current dietary habits, but of getting him out of the hallowed corridors of Top floor, Hostel 11. I am not given in to violence against animals, and so I stamped my foot a couple of times in the hope that the dog would get scared and run. Fat chance. Then I stamped my foot harder and emitted some loud noises from my throat which were better suited to be included in the background music of an Eminem song. This seemed to jar the canine a bit and I could see consternation on its brow (does a dog even have a brow?). I am sure he feared that the background music was to be followed by the actual song and I am sure this filled his heart with dread. Assuming that he was a frequent visitor to our floor, judging by the familiarity with which he moved around the premisis, he was sure to have heard me sing, either when I was in the shower or when I was alone in my room(and everyone else on the floor was away at lectures or lunch thus rendering them incapable of inflicting any bodily harm on me as retribution for having inflicted my singing on them).

I decided to test this hypothesis of mine regarding his fear. I let out a high pitched-yet-guttural sound at about a zillion decibels which went something like "O HUMDUM SUNIYO RI". As I suspected, my rendition of the first line of the song from Saathiya had the desired impact, and the dog's front paws were distinctly behind his hind paws as he made good his escape.

I don't know why he was in a hurry, but I can imagine only two reasons. One to save his sensitive ears the trouble of enduring the whole song in my "rugged" voice. The second, to locate A.R. Rahman and take a nice juicy bite out of his leg for being the root cause of that song. I vote for the first one being more likely.

Anyway, moral of the story - If you are surprised by sudden appearances of dogs (or other quasi-domesticated creatures) outside your room at 2 a.m., the best way to convince them to leg it is to holler the first song that comes to your mind in an unbearable pitch and tone.
Always remember this!

Sometimes I think profundity is the simplest thing one can ever imagine. And yet people keep looking for it like it is some hidden treasure. Most of the times it is right there in front of you. All you have to do is see through the cloak of simplicity. Then once you see through it, you realise that the cloak is as vital as the core.

.....and by the way, to add to the verse I sent earlier, here's another good one.

Still round the corner there may wait
A new road or a secret gate;
And though I oft have passed them by,
A day will come at last when I
Shall take the hidden paths that run
West of the Moon, East of the Sun

- written by that famous language Professor from Cambridge

Tuesday, January 28, 2003


Satyen and Shantanu were in my class since class 4, and my memory is not really strong enough to recall what my first impressions of them were. In fact do we even consciously record first impressions at the age of 10?

Rushi I have met but we have hardly ever interacted. I mean if I see him, I will know he is Rushi Desai, but he was always a friend's friend. So he does not qualify for the first impression thing either.

Sumeet is someone I have known since mini KG, i.e when I was 4 years old. We were in the same class in mini KG before I left Pune. Then when I came back to Pune in class 4 and joined Abhinav Vidyalay, he was in the afternoon shift and I was in the morning shift and we never really met much. I just knew that there is a dude called Sumeet Kulkarni who is one of the toppers in his division.
The first time I really interacted with him a great deal was during a coaching class in class 10. A big group of my friends, including me, Satyen, Aniruddha etc used to sit in a big group at the back of the class and generally create a lot of noice, crack jokes and make life difficult for the teacher. Sumeet used to be the sole exception and would seriously take down the notes and not participate in our tomfoolery at all. So the first impression I had of him was of this overly studious bookworm who does not know how to have fun. I thought he was a guy obsessed with studies, studies and only studies and was grumpy enough to make Scrooge look like Santa.

He seemed focussed on doing well in studies and nothing else. In fact I remember saying to someone that I bet he has never smiled except when being photographed.

How wrong this first impression was. It is an excellent example of how horribly wrong you judge a person when you look at them with a limited perspective, and jump to conlusions. Later when I was to know Sumeet better over the 4 years that we were classmates in COEP, I found out that I was wrong in almost every department in judging him. He has one of the best senses of humour I know and he is quite a punster(as can be gauged from his blog). In fact there were times later when people used to beg him to shut his trap, since his jokes were getting too much ;-). He is a very helpful chap who can be counted upon to rush to your assistance even at midnight. His interests are very diverse and he is a great conversationalist. The one thing where I did gauge him partially right was his commitment to his academics. He is not a bookworm, but is very focussed on his acads, and makes full use of his sharp intelligence with his efficient efforts.

No wonder he works in Texas Instruments, which is THE most sought after company for engineers of our stream. He is a guy who is destined to make it big. And have a fun life while doing so.

Anik and Sonal recently posted their first impressions about each other on their respective blogs. I feel inspired now to post the first impressions I had about my friends who have since started blogging.


I met George and Ramanand in my first year at our college quiz club.

George was already a celebrity of sorts since he had topped the HSC and had been very successful on the quizzing scene, being regarded as some kind of a God in that field. At the quiz club, while everyone sat on the wide stairs of the BC (Boat Club), he was sitting behind everyone on a chair, like a King surveying his subjects. One of the freshers had brought questions that Saturday and he announced before starting "All these questions are from the Ultimate Trivia book, so I guess you must all be familiar with them". No sooner had he said this, than I heard a resounding TCHHHHAH sound which was uttered by none other than George. He clearly disapproved of the Ultimate Trivia book. During the ensuing quiz session, he kept making loud comments about the questions and cracking acerbic jokes. I found the whole deal hilarious since I could not bring myself to appreciate the questions either. I had come expecting a very different George Thomas. Someone who was very serious, quiet and scholar-like, conforming to whatever stereotype I carried in my mind of HSC toppers. The stereotype lay shattered as I saw him doing what he did best - being himself. He came back for a vacation last year, and though he was several kilos lighter, the essential Georgeness remained. Rapier caustic wit, love for Hindi cinema, an endearing arrogance and a childlike earnestness. The first impression he made on me persists till today.

Ramanand was this quiet boy wearing a sweater in the not-so-cold August weather. He had a chandan/angara tikka on his forehead and sat on the stairs silent most of the times, except when he calmly gave the answer. I don't recall much in detail about the first impression he made that day, but in general as I got to know him over the next year, he came across as someone who clearly knew A LOT and was definitely one of the best quizzers in the college even if not fancied that much (not fancied at that time, of course. Now he is Mr. Mastermind India). The team of Ramu and Sujay was a quality team which in their final year won all the major quizzes in Pune, yes ALL, in fact we called it their Quizzing Grandslam. Neeraj and I often spoke in first year about how we should first aim at doing better than Sujay and Ramanand and then think of bigger triumphs. Of course, this talk was confined to the first year only, because it became apparent to us soon that we weren't even in the same league. Us beating them would be like Zimbabwe thinking of an away series win against Australia. Perhaps that is why the quizzing victory I treasure the most is the 2000 Fergusson College Inquizzitions win where we were 1st and S&R were 3rd.
Anyway, coming back to Ramanand, he was always this brilliant "good boy" with a subdued but effective sense of humour. He has often brought the house down with a quiet comment or two. It was clear to me in the first few months of his acquaintance that he was this gifted guy who would remain in the background and suddenly burst into the centre of attention on sheer merit. That was proved true and am sure will continue to be proven true in the future, in fields other than quizzing.

By the way, there shall be a Lucknow bloggers meet very soon.

By that I mean that Sarika and I plan to meet up in the next few days, since she and I seem to be the only bloggers in this city. If however, there is anyone else whom we are unaware of, do leave a comment on this post with contact info.

Sunday, January 26, 2003

Celebration time for IIM, Lucknow. Our Director, Dr. Pritam Singh has been awarded the Padmashri.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

Today is Republic Day.
This day is in many ways more important that Independence Day, for on this day, we became a well defined nation with a constitution, whose sanctity has been upheld for most of the ensuing period.
This day defines what we are and binds all of us together, irrespective of our caste, religion or race, as Indians first and Indians last.
This day is essential for completing our identities and personalities.
This day, I salute the nation and its people.
Here's looking at a great future for India.

Friday, January 24, 2003

ting ting ting ting tinga ting
ting ting ting ting tinga ting
tititingtingting tingaating tititingting tingting....


Hope you have a great time today. Also have a fantastic weekend in Boston.

Seems like people with nicknames ending in 'ya' are taking to blogging with a vengeance. After Anya, Shantya, Sumtya, Nirya, please welcome Hemya (Hemant). He is a friend of mine from Pune now living in Ohio.

Had not updated the right-bar of my blog in ages.

Factor X is difficult to comprehend. I am not good at Factor X. I used to feel I understand it and that it is necessary for my life. But Factor X has somehow always been elusive in its complete form in my life. Everyone seems to believe that they will get Factor X. I was one of them. But now, I am kinda sick and tired. I am not swearing off it completely, but I do believe that it needs to be put in its place.

So I say to hell with Factor X. I can live without it. If it wants to manifest itself in my life in its entirety, it will have to do it by itself this time. I am not taking any steps for it.

By the way, the cold wave is gone. After being with us for a month and claiming more than 200 lives all over Uttar Pradesh, it has finally receded.

The sun has been shining smartly for the past two days and I am back to wearing just one sweater.

I don't really need to keep the heater/blower/convector on all the time now, but I have gotten used to it now. =-)

I am scared of our library. Scared because it is simply the best library I have ever seen in my life. It has an excellent layout, comfy sofas, nice cubicles, great books, fast computers...almost everything but a sizzler restaurant.

So why am I scared of it? I am scared because the library has an amazing capacity to just gobble up a huge chunk of my time. There are times when I go there with the intention of just reading Hindustan Times and Business Standard. But after that, I go towards the fiction section to see if there have been any additions. Then I meander towards the history section and spend some time browsing through stuff there. A small stroll takes me to the spirituality section where Vivekananda and Max Mueller's stuff is stacked up in piles (or piled up in stacks, if you prefer).

Then again there is the wall full of books on advertising which I just have to read portions of.

The end result is that I had entered the library at 1 p.m. with the intention of leaving at 1:30 after reading the newspapers, and then having lunch, but by the time I leave, the sun has already set and dinner will be served 15 minutes later. If there is some project meeting I have missed, I will find incendiary emails in my inbox when I return to my room.

So as I said, I am scared of our library.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

What is music? What makes us like a particular song, or a tune or even a genre?

I am not trained it music at all. I have absolutely no idea about the nitty-gritties of classical music be it, Indian or Western. And I represent at least 98% of the world's population. We have no idea about music in the scientific sense. Yet is is this 98% that makes the music industry run.

So I have often wondered how exactly the music industry works, ever since I have learnt the basics of marketing. Listening to music is a need. The music companies, artistes and bands fulfil this need. But when they make their "product", do they make it with the market in mind? Is saleability the only criteria rather than how good it is or how good it can be? To give an analogy, companies that manufacture potato chips use monosodium glutamate to add that extra tang to it. Now if they stop using it, the chips won't taste as good, so they keep using it. But if they stop using it, not only will they probably reduce the carcinogens we ingest, but we will also get the real flavour of what a potato chip was supposed to be like, whenever it was first made. Ditto with fried chicken and the pseudo-Chinese food we get here.

Think that way about music. For centuries there were no record companies, and so there was no major market for music. Music was truly art, patronised by kings, and pursued by some people who have that special knack for it. Thus for centuries the art of music flourished, with richer additions to it and it kept growing.

And then suddenly you have the industrial revolution and it intriduces into this whole melodious equation of art and music, an unpredictable variable called "market". Now the tastes of the people or what they hear is not governed by the growth of the art of music. Rather the growth of the art of music is stunted because of the demands of the market.

Is this truly music, or is it just another superficial device of pleasure to keep the 21st century human being from boring himself to death? Is true music dying a slow death under the huge and rapid wheels of the market forces?

Well, even if it is, at least everyone's making a lot of money out of it.

What is true music anyway? Whatever you read about in the Samveda?

What is true music?

Tuesday, January 21, 2003


First of all, let me tell you what CP is, in case you aren't aware already. CP stands for Class Participation, and it is a sophisticated euphemism for students asking too many questions in the class, responding to the teacher's rhetorical questions, generally being a pain and disturbing the other students who want to utilise the lectures by dozing off. Many professors give a 5-10% weightage to CP in their overall scheme of marking, necessitating everyone to pitch in with his/her own CP from time to time.

Some professors value CP a lot more than others. In such lectures, there is even more of an onus on the students to speak and ask questions or make comments. This is when CP gets a real pain. But if something gets a real pain, leave it to the IIML students to devise ways to derive pleasure out of it.

One such pleasure-seeking legacy handed down to us by our seniors is the "Movie CP". Here the rule is that no one can 'do CP' (i.e ask a question or make a comment to the teacher) unless what you say contains the name of a movie in it. We had just heard about this before, but finally it was implemented in class today.

It was a Communications for Management 102 (COMM2) class and the subject for discussion was how to conduct effective meetings. Pushkar started the Movie CP game with a double whammy. The prof was talking about the importance of consensus building in meetings. So Pushkar goes

"But sir, if too much emphasis is placed on consensus, won't a decision which will normally be taken in nine and a half weeks end up taking nine months?"

There were stifled giggles all over as the professor was answering the question. After that the movie CP kept coming.

"Sir, it will be very difficult to go the whole nine yards if a consensus is to be built up." - Anshuman

"If there is any executive decision to be taken, won't disagreements hamper the whole process?" - Rajat

"And in case there are any major disagreements, the Chairman will end up being the negotiator to get the warring parties to agree" - Moi

"Sir, in case of any deadlocks, how to identify a few good men who are genuinely interested in moving ahead with a positive decision instead of just stalling?" - Balark

"Whenever any meeting gets to a point where it becomes unproductive, there are the usual suspects who are responsible for making it so. How to tackle them?" - Narendra

"How exactly do we snatch the initiative to get our point across in the meeting?" - Paras

"Is it necessary for the participants in a meeting to be die hard supporters of the chairman?" - Vikash

...... and so it went on. All questions and comments were very pertinent to the discussion happening in the class so the prof did not suspect foul play. If anything, he looked pleased at the higher than usual level of class participation. But what was challenging was keeping a straight face during this whole thing. As more and more people got involved, the giggles across the class seemed to go up. If we have to keep this going, we will have to control the tendency to burst out laughing.

We are also thinking of refining this game by introducing rules and a scoring system. It will add to the challenge. For example, single word movie titles or those which are in common usage will not get as many points, as someone who, say uses movie titles like "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" or "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and gets away with them. He should not cite those movies as examples but weave them into the CP somehow.

Maybe at some point, we will be able to introduce Hindi movies in it as well. Who thought CP could be so much fun?

Sunday, January 19, 2003

MANFEST 2003 was good. Not the best fest you will ever see, but hey, 200 management students from all over the country coming to Lucknow in this weather, is a great achievement. IIML won the maximum events (sheers numbers, baby!), but because of the policy that the hometeam can't win the overall trophy, it went to IIM Calcutta. These guys were amazing. The contingent was all of 4 people strong, and yet they won about 6 events or so, mainly in the Finance section. Watch out for these guys, they will either multiply your money or pull an Enron-Xerox-Worldcom on you, cos they are brilliant.

FMS, Delhi did well too, coming from behind to be joint first in the ITC Business Quiz.

I conducted the General Quiz, in which MDI Gurgaon cantered home with a vast lead, and 2 IIML teams were breathless trying to catch up with them, but in vain.

Overall the three day fest was fun, and was capped off with a concert by Parikrama (seems as if that's how all inter-college fests in India are supposed to end). There were parties on all three nights where booze, and more importantly for me, juice flowed.

So back to the grind of lectures, assignments, projects, placement dry runs, etc etc.

By the way, the barbs about the meterological department reminded me of something Pu La Deshpande wrote. It was a parody of the "letters to editor" that appear in 'Sakal', which is Pune's oldest and stuffiest Marathi daily, which assumes itself to have some great social standing and prestige in the mind of the normal Punekar. I translate it in english for the benefit of my diverse reader base (there might be some errors as I am reproducing this from memory).


The monsoons have been late in arriving this year. The crops are in a dire condition and we may be looking at a drought. The weather is getting worse by the day, and yet there is no sign of clouds in the skies at all. I would like to ask the officials of the Meteorological Department who are getting fatter by the day with their fat paychecks, what do they propose to do about this? What if the monsoon fails? Should they not be taking any steps to ensure the speedy arrival of the monsoons?

So it is official! The winter this year is the worst winter that Uttar Pradesh has seen in some three decades or so. The people at the meteorological department, having nothing better to do, but shiver in their thermals wondering if anyone could teach them about weather, dug out some old records and decided that instead of comparing the minimmum temperatues for each day, why not just compare the maximum temperatures? You know, for the sake of variety. You know, the old jungle saying, "Give a meteorologist a computer and time series data, and he'll come up with the most fantastic results".

The old jungle saying was proved true. The mets concluded that though in terms of the minimum temperature, the weather was not too different from other years (they are used to having mind hovering near the subzero marks!), in terms of the maximum, this was the worst year in three decades. For something close to three weeks now the maximum had not crossed 12 or something, and that according some definition (maybe derived from another old jungle saying!) was a 'cold wave' (brilliant!! I couldn't have guessed I was in a cold wave). Not only was it a cold wave, but, as I can not tire myself repeating, was the worst in three decades, because the max's had always been in the late teens or the early twenties (somewhat like first time criminals).

This dip in the maximums (maxima??) has ensured that there is no respite from the cold throughout the day.

Now as I have said before I don't believe in god. Assuming I am wrong, and there is God, I can imagine him doubling up in laughter right now. This is what he must be saying -
"So you don't believe in me, eh? First I put you an an IIM in Uttar Pradesh, instead of Gujarat, Bengal or Karnataka. Then I make sure the monsoon fails in U.P. making it the worst summer in six decades, with the max's close to 50 and the min's near 35 or so. After that I give you the worst winter in three decades. All this when you have stayed most of your life in Pune, a city known for its moderate temperature throughout the year. Go on, be an atheist. See what I do next year."


Friday, January 17, 2003


Been meaning to write about this for a long time. Now I am an opponent of America's imperialist policies and ham-handed approach when it comes to other countries. By that, I mean that I dislike the fact that they send their bombers to destroy Iraq and Afghanistan without no real reason.

But hey, I don't see the logic behind lambasting them (as outsiders) about their internal laws. If we say America should not meddle with us because it is our business, then we should not pass judgement on their internal legislation, because it's their business. They got bombed with their own commercial airliners, for god's sake. Their country has many hidden terror mongers willing to damage America in the name of Allah. There are many wanting to enter America for the same purpose. The 9-11 hijackers were sent all the money they used from Pakistan. It is believed to have originated in Saudi Arabia. Some stringent actions are obvious, anybody would've carried them out. What do you expect them to do? Give every incoming Arab and Pakistani a detailed map of NYC and say "WTC is no longer with us, but we have highlighted the location of the Empire State Building, in case you would like to bomb it. Printed below are the timings when there are maximum people in the building. Have a nice visit!". First there were major protests for months in Pakistan where perhaps more American flags were burnt than were hoisted in USA. The regional and national parties like the MMA had "Anti-America Rhetoric" as their poll plank, and they won resoundingly in 2 provinces and share power at the centre. You still expect America to think every Pakistani is benign? I am not saying each one is Sheikh Omar Sayeed, but hey, can't really blame them, can you? These protests sound funny coming from a country which is not allowing the "Bihari Muslim" population of Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan) return to a country that was apparently the "homeland for muslims of the subcontinent".

That ain't done. It's their country, leave it to them to guard. You can always leave it, right?

I mean come on, no one is forcing you to go to America, are they? You can just stay in your own country and do your own thing if you want. Why do you regard America as this common land where everyone can live, mint money, bring up your children, and have a say even if you are NOT an American citizen? Even if you do, you should be thankful that USA allows that (no altruism there, it benefits equally) and not try to impose your own views on it.

So who is complaining about 'discriminatory' policies? Ohh, Pakistan! If a Hindu goes there, he will suffer no hassles from them. He won't be photographed. No spies will follow him around. He will be treated like any other guy, like Americans would treat him. Right? WRONG! Pakistanis are discriminatory towards Hindu visitors, and they have reason to be. National security! So why should America be different? Who else will complain? Ohh, Saudi Arabia!! The paramount of liberty itself. If an American woman wants to walk around in shorts reading a bible in Riyadh, she can do it right? NO!! This is a country which does not allow jews to set foot on their soil. They do not permit any religious books other than Islamic ones. There are numerous restrictions on your lifestyle and your worshipping. Saudis are going to complain about discriminatory behaviour??? Gimme a break!

Basically, my question is that what right do these people have to criticise what America decides for its own interest? How hypocritical is that? Almost akin to living in a Muslim's house as a paying guest, bringing pork chops in the house as a snack, and when the owner of the house gets upset, saying "Hey, why this discriminatory behaviour towards only pig meat? You don't mind mutton or beef! You better change your ways". Nope, if your diet includes pork and your landlord is Muslim, you don't live there, you live somewhere else. Similarly, you got a problem being fingerprinted by the American INS, maybe you just don't go to that country!

But these people want to have their cake and eat it too.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

"mangalyam tantunanena mama jeevan he tuna kantthe bhagnani shubhakevam jeeva sharadam shatam"

OK, My Sanskrit ain't very good. What does this mean? It's from a song in Saathiya.


The air here is so full of moisture! No, no, I am not talking about the Bombay style humidity where you sweat your blood supply off by noon! This is so humid that it's like living in a cloud. There's perpetually dense fog. You can feel that the air is so full of moisture that you could stick a tap in the air and get yourself a drink of water.

The humidity is good news, really. Every winter in Pune, my skin would go dry and I would have to apply vaseline or some cold cream to my lips and face. But here it is not needed at all. Not a hint of dryness (or is it spelt 'driness'?)!

Of course it has its share of curses too. It was Makarsankranti 2 days ago, but here, there does not seem to be a system of exchanging til-gur(sesame and jaggery) sweets like there is in Maharashtra. No "tilgul ghya god god bola"! So Sunil had got a big box of 'gajak' which is the closest North Indian mithai gets to 'tilgul'. It is dry stuff made of the two components, and is quite yummy. So I had taken some slices to my room, and was munching on them. But I could not finish the last piece and so wrapped it up in a paper and kept it on the shelf for the next day. When I opened the wrapping(so grandiose!!) paper the next day, the gajak was all soggy and sticky. It was different, but still yummy! =-)

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

The mind just went berserk

I charted my future till my death. Dunno if it will follow this path. It was a thought process that Brown of the Brownian motion fame would have heartily approved of.

I am moving to Hrishikesh, becoming a sadhu and writing crappy romance novels. I will make a fortune! I'll smoke a cheelum, grow my beard and waylay female tourists for recreation.
Every Kumbhmela and Sinhamela, I will go to mecca and every ramzan I will take a dip in the ganges. I will have 4 wives, one of them a hongkongese film star, the other a CA, the third and engineer and the fourth a singer. I will give my money away to the rich and rob from the poor. Then i will win a rajya sabha seat at the age of 53 and be declared caretaker Prime Minister after a terrorist attack wipes out half the MP's. I will usurp power, suspend the constitution, declare a war on estonia and occupy. I will legalise all vices. Since every decadent man who pretends to have a plan and philosophy attracts followers, I will have my share too. They will be the Sabnisites who will wear grey gaberdines and t shirts with obscene gestures on them, and cry "Up with the Grand Sabnis".

But then my CA wife will get a chocolate souffle addiction, gain weight and get jealous since I won't spend nights with her. She will empty the country's treasury and fund the Estonian fightback, and become the Queen there. She will also get a control over the IMF and World Bank. I will join all the rivers of the country , only to find that the water is still not enough, and the country's gone totally bankrupt due to my CA wife and the river project.

So the World Bank and IMF will bail me out on the condition that I declare chocolate souffle as the national staple diet. The big souffle tycoon from Malta, who is my Engineer wife's secret lover will gain control over a monopolistic market and eventually depose me. I will be assassinated by a crazed parent whose daughter committed suicide after being inspired by my crappy romance novels.

I will be cremated and as an honour to me, my ashes will be mixed in the souffle that day. So if a guy's ashes are gonna turn to souffle anyway, why should he move to the Himalayas? That's a pertinent question!


Isn't America chicken?They won't "discipline" North Korea, even if they have fissile material coming out of their ears, they won't do anything to Iran cos it can unleash a reign of terror against them. They don't go after Osama in Pakistan, cos if he outsmarts them (the way Veerappan's been playing with us for ages), they will have another egg on their face smelling like Vietnam.

But hey, gotta flex our muscles, cos someone's gotta pay for 9/11, if we can't catch the real culprits! Afghanistan wasn't enough. How about Iraq? The puny little country with the malnutritioned people? With the stupid arrogant dictator we conned into attacking his neighbours before stomping in like "big heroes"? With an army that we massacred, even when they were retreating, flouting a million International treaties and Convention? Yeah, that sounds easy bait. Plus, it has always been a secular-ish country with moderate people whom the Islamic fundamentalists hate. No danger of any motivated suicide bombers either. Yayy, a bombing we will go!

It's like when a playground bully can't quite subdue some young upstarts cos they kick him in the groin. So he slaps around a kid who is disabled, just to show "I am the bully"!

Bush is making a mistake though. This campaign could lead to some such attack on USA in the future, that it will make 9-11 look like a regular street mugging.

One thing I've always wondered about is why is everyone supposed to be extra sad for 9-11? Yeah, it was a horrid incident carried out by evil people and needs to be condemned. But isn't America getting paid back in its own coin? It has killed thousands of innocent people (right from Hiroshima to Kunduz) in its military action, and dismissed them with a fancy term - 'collateral damage'. Osama has declared war on USA. Why can't we call the victims of 9-11 collateral damage? I feel for them, but not more than I feel for the girl who got bombed in kandahar, or maimed in Basra, or evaporated in Nagasaki. Just because the Afghans did not wear fancy suits to work, did not have cellphones to make any touching last minute calls or the Iraqis don't have wives who will sit with layers of make-up on CNN telling 'What a great father he was'!

The victims of 9-11(may they rest in peace) were just 3,000 more in a vast list of lives lost because of violent, rigid, selfish, imperialist, or uncompromising attitudes. Those responsible for this vast list also form a vast list and the top places are shared by Osama, Saddam, and many others including a large number of American Presidents and Secys of State.

It is a dirty dog-eat-dog world, so one can not expect any justice or fairplay. It is like the laws of a suburban playground where might is right. So using one of the lines of the playground parlance, one could say


Statuatory Warning: All that follows may seem like rich horse-refuse two months down the line. Your own views, are most welcome


Satyen wanted me to express my views about the cup. Which cup? The ICC 2003 World Cup slated to start in a little over 3 weeks in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya. If the controversies preceding a tournament are any parameter, this one is way ahead of most tournaments ever held, and not just cricket. Firstly, you have the whole contracts imbroglio, with the ICC slugging it out against the BCCI, in what is an anti-replay of the period before the 2002 ICC Knockout Cup. Anti-replay because this time the BCCI is standing up for the players. They realise that India is too important for the sponsors to muck around with. It's almost like America taking advantage of its superpower status. Without the top Indian players, the main sponsors LG, Pepsi and Hero Honda will gain nothing from the world cup. So I expect this controversy to be sorted out in India's favour like the last time.

Then there is the whole 'Mugabe is a bad guy' thing that Australia started. I think John Howard is very whimsical. He does not mind that Musharraf was not the legit ruler of Pakistan when they were gonna tour. But sudenly the Zimbabweans have to cop it. Anyway, that matter is ending too with England agreeing to play in Zimbabwe.

So on to cricket. India is again being touted as a 'favourite' like everytime by the Indian press. In 1999, that was ridiculous, but this time, it is just about realistic. We are not THE favourites, but one of the. This may seem ridiculous coming a day after we were whipped 5-2 in New Zealand. But consider the conditions! Ganguly has been THE prime force behind almost every major Indian one-day win the past half a decade. And he failed miserably in Kiwiland, with a single digit average. But the pitches were atrocious as even Fleming said, and Ganguly is not an all-wicket-bat like Dravid. He does well on flat pitches where 275 plus scores are a given. And recently, South African pitches have been very flat. Remember India's last tour to SA. Ganguly got 2 hundreds, a ninety and hit the maximum sixes in the tourney, mainly off the fancied Pollock. So he can handle the best bowlers in South African conditions. With him, we have Sehwag. Now this dude is weird! He does well everywhere! He goes all guns blazing, without looking at the pitch or the bowler. He did it in India, Lanka, England and New Zealand, all different sort of pitches. He is in great nick, and assuming and hoping that his form lasts through the World Cup, things are great. Throw in Tendulkar and Dravid to score during the 20-40 phase, and Yuvraj and Kaif to save the day and you have a pretty reliable batting order.

Now the bowling. That's gonna have me baaaaaaaaawling. That is the Achilles' heel. We can't bowl for nuts. Zaheers gets in his 10 quite well, and Srinath shows flashes of brilliance and Harbhajan can keep thing tidy, but that is not enough. Somehow we tend to give our opposition 20 easy overs and that's where we lose it. Our fielding needs to improve too.

In our group, there are Australia, England, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Namibia and Holland. The other group is South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, West Indies, Canada, Kenya and Bangladesh. Historically, the team from a tougher group has won the cup. Survival of the fittest I guess. This time, you can't call any group tougher. Unless there are any major upsets (which there always are), the super six round-up should be Australia, Pakistan, India, South Africa, New Zealand and Sri lanka. We need to win 4 matches out of 6. We should win against the two minnows, Zimbabwe and England (unless Vaughan gets stuck in bigtime). Our first big match is against Australia on Feb 15th. Now if we manage to somehow win this one, that will help us in the super six too, cos Aussies are sure to be there and points against those teams are carried forward into the next round. We square off against our friend the Pakis on 1st March. History is with us since we've never lost to them in a World Cup, but history is just the past. I think if we win at least one of the matches against Australia or Pakistan, we have a good chance of making it to the semis. Of course what we could do (following our reputation) is lose some easy match Zimbabwe and end up in a must-win situation somewhere. Champs are made of gritty stuff so they gotta get out of this hole if they wanna win the big one.

I stick my neck out to say this, but NZ in South Africa will be a piece of cake. I can see Sehwag carting Shane Bond all over the park. Sri Lanka should be an even fight, and I don't think the chances are very bright against SA unless Harbhajan(or some bowler) works up some magic.

Once a team reaches semis you take your predictor hat off and watch the match, cos anything can happen in big matches. Remember South Africa's quick surrender last time? Or Pakistan's collapse in the finals?

So if India reaches the semis, it's like the menu-card of an Irani restaurant (all guts, brains and heart).

I'd give India a 50.00002% chance of winning the Cup at this moment. Other contenders are Pakistan (never know what they can pull off), Australia and.......the dark horses (pardon the pun) Sri Lanka.

The last cup was Klusener's cup, the one before was Jaysuriya's. I am reasonably sure this one will be Sehwag's cup, whether we win or lose.

So those are my views on the cup. We will find out how accurate I was, come the Ides of March.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

I don't remember the last time I laughed this hard. Must have been during a post on Satyen's blog. But this post by Sumeet is as funny as I have ever read. Describes his trip to Coorg.

Sunday, January 12, 2003

The poem produced below is purely non-fictional. Resemblance to any dead(!!) or living people is not at all coincidential.


I reach the door braving the inclement weather
Swearing to buy two pairs of glove, wool and leather
My hand extracts the key with a painful whirl
The lock as frigid as a disinterested girl
I step in to be hit by a blizzard (albeit sedentary)
The sinking cold persists, turns out ain't momentary
Brain beeps to ask 'why still holding the icecube of a lock?'
Obedient hand bungs it like a slime covered rock
I sit on the old chair with slight spasmic jump
Cursing "Wood ain't a conductor, they taught me at that dump"
And the chill slowly turns to a seismic shiver
Should i have a quart of rum (to hell with the liver)?
I bend down to switch on the little convector/heater/blower
Press the 'warm' and 'hot' both, no point in keeping it lower
Keep my hands on my feet and place em in front of the gauze
'Wow, that feels nice, it's not yet a lost cause'!!
Now why is the right foot a weird blue and left foot a queer red?
Cover them with some blankets and place them on the cold bed
Too sleepy to check the mail, I shift under the warm cover
And go to sleep hugging myself like a long lost lover
4 a.m. I am jolted awake by the dream of a volcano shouting
Body covered in wholesome sweat, every pore spouting
The room is so hot, have I woken up in May?
Confounded by puzzlement, in the darkness I lay
Then suspiciously I peered at the culprit below the table
The heat it was spewing made the atmo unbearable
As invectives gathered in a queue on my tongue for the guy who made it
Brain beeped again with a thought and in my front laid it
'Who was the dude that pressed both 'warm' and 'hot' switches?
It's like no hole in the fabric but more than nine stitches'
Sagely I nodded and corrected my own error
Told the pores to stop sweating, no cause for terror
But I could not doze off as the sweat made me itchy
And I couldn't stand old brain being any more bitchy
So I took a Hemingway, and put on my glasses
And was reading in my bed till it was time for classes
As I stepped outside my room, it was January that hit me not May
This goddamn Lucknow cold acts like it's here to stay!!

Read this article by Swaminathan Aiyar. Good one!

Friday, January 10, 2003

The day before I fell ill, I went for a moviethon with my floormates. 3-6 Saathiya and 6-9 Bollywood/Hollywood.

I liked Saathiya. I won't go gaga over it, because I must say that I expected a little more since it was written by Mani Ratnam. But then, it probably lost a lot in the translation. Here let me declare that I dislike Rani Mukerji (maybe even more than Kareena Kapoor). Always have, ever since 'Aati kya Khandala'. Her sister in Saathiya, Sandhya Mridul has been given a de-glam look, but still looks hotter than Rani. Vivek Oberoi was good, but I must say that intense roles with a stubble suit him more. Clean-shaven he looks like a grinny kid.

Bollywood/Hollywood was tamepaaaas as expected/ Loosely based on the old Hindi film 'Dulhan wahi jo piya man bhaye', it takes cheeky potshots at the Hindi film industry time and again. The dhinchak song 'Dil Kabutarkhana hai, har kisika aanajaana hai' was hilarious. Unfortunately we saw the movie in its dubbed (Hindi) version. In English it would have been a lot funnier. Lisa Ray looks HOT HOT HOT! Rahul Khanna is way better than his brother. In fact Akshaye makes a guest appearance as himself in the movie. Oh yeah, this reminds me of the guy sitting next to me. He was watching the movie with total concentration and was apparently loving every moment of it. So in the scene where Akshyae Khanna has a guest appearance, he says "Rahul to mere bhai ki tarah hai" (Rahul is like my brother). And this dude next to me, gets pleased as punch, lets out a big guffaw. grabs my hand and says "Hahaha, bhai hi toh hai!!!". I didn't know how to react, so I just smiled back while trying to free my hand from his grip.

Some of the guys came back to the hostel and watched Kaante on VCD, but I was all movied out. Besides I don't really wanna watch Kaante anyway.

The 8 day long hiatus was caused by some deep rooted foreign conspiracy, I am sure. First the institute network goes poof for 2 days, and then I get viral fever (touched 103 F, my personal best since 1996). Then when I recover enough to sit in front of my comp, some dude in the hostel blows up some fuse and the network cable connecting our hostel to the www is burned out!! The weather is too cold for me to go trudging half a km to the comp centre, in my vulnerable health.

So finally today, as I regained the famed Sabnis strength, I attended a couple of classes and now am sitting in the heated cosy environs of the comp centre writing this.

Lucknow in January is NOT the best place to fall sick in.

Friday, January 03, 2003

My friend Pushkar has done mankind a great service.......or at least done something great for us Maharashtrians at IIM. He has got a CD full of Marathi MP3's and man, is it an amazing collection. It has been months since I listened to quality marathi music of good audio quality, and it feels grrrrrreat. So right now, my playlist features -

Ramya hi swargahun Lanka
Tumhavar keli mee marji bahaal
Gomu sangtina majhya tu yeshil ka
Aali thumkat naar lachkat
Maajhe maher pandhari
Konas thauk kasa (my favourite song when I was a kid)
Ha ruswa sod sakhe (an amazing lovesong by Mohammad Rafi)
Shukratara mandavaara
Bhatuklichya khelamadhali

And these are just some of the 200 odd songs on the CD. Now I am off to search for 'Jait re jait' MP3's on the net. If any of you know where I can get them, send me the URL or the IP address.

Just saw "The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers", and while I was impressed with the depiction of the battle for Helm's Deep, I was not too blown away by the ents. I am also far from thrilled with the liberties Jackson has taken with the story at some points.

But overall, he has done a satisfactory job. Gollum is a-may-zing.

Thursday, January 02, 2003

As my pal Mihir pointed out, is it not ironic that in 2002, Amitabh Bachchan robbed two banks in 'Aankhein' and 'Kaante', and also became the brand ambassador for ICICI Bank?

Microseconds turned into milliseconds, and milliseconds turned into centiseconds, and centiseconds turned into deciseconds, and deciseconds turned into seconds, as I sat down in front of my computer to write a blog about the experience, about the time spent, about the visuals, about the sound, about the dialogues, about the songs, about the movie, but above all a blog about WHAT A HIDEOUS LOAD OF CRAP I HAVE JUST SEEN!!!!!! A load of crap whose stink would outlast the stink of any bad Hindi movie ever made!

Those of you who are blessed with a good memory must have astutely deduced that the above paragraph is a spoof of the last few lines of that >shudder< film called "Moulin Rouge". I remember that moment 2 hours ago. My friend and I were debating which movie to watch. We had already postponed "The Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers" because another friend of ours had requested that we defer its viewing till tomorrow when he would join us for the same purpose. I wanted to watch 'Analyse That' but my friend had already seen it. Finally we rejected "The Cell" and decided on "Moulin Rouge" since the latter had been nominated for the Oscars and all.

And man, do I rue that decision. Take the tritest (most trite??) hindi movie plot you can imagine, translate it into English, and filter out
any traces of originality from the dialogue. Put in more cliches than in a Shobha De article. Then take some hit songs from a variety of
genres and countries and get them sung a couple of chords higher than usual. Take some atrocious sets, preferably rejects from the ubiquitous Ganapati or Ramlila decorations all over India. Mix everything and add thigh and cleavage to taste. What you get is "Moulin Rouge".

I read Baz Luhrmann's interview once in which he said that he got the idea for making the movie when he was watching an Indian movie called "Yodha" in Rajasthan. That ought to have been enough to warn me. But I guess all the media hype has its effect. I could not (lucky me!) watch the movie for some reason or the other when it was released in theatres. I guess that was the work of my guardian angel exercising his/her better judgement about cinema.

What makes me sick is the utter lack of originality. Just because it is presented in a slick way does not make it original. The end is so contrived that Yash Chopra and Manmohan Desai (RIP) would grin and nod in approval. All the songs have been distastefully medley-ed. And the gads!!

However, I believe there is a learning in life from everything. This Luhrmann dude for instance. Now I may not rush to him for lessons in
movie-making, but man, is he a marketing genius!!! I mean if he could get this tripe nominated for the Oscars, he could easily sell barrels of ice to the stingiest of eskimos! The success of Moulin Rouge, not just in terms of the money it made, but also in terms of the effect it had on people, and drew them into devotion is astounding. It is a triumph of astute marketing. I think if one does a proper study of their marketing techniques and writes a term paper on it, one could learn a lot about how to sell mediocre stuff.

Of course there is a remote possibility that the movie was actually very good, but I being a phillistine, could not appreciate its true beauty. Errrrrr, I dunno!

Back in Lucknow. All the fears I had about the cold weather here being too much to handle were grossly underestimated. I think I am going to have to take the inevitable decision with a heavy heart. =-(