Vantage point

Thursday, July 31, 2003


Walter opened the door of his office and ran in, coughing and panting. Then he stood there for a few moments, with his hands on his chair as he looked out of the window. A couple of minutes later he regained his breath and the familiar smile returned to his face. He reached for his cellphone and speed-dialled �Home�. Again, it was the machine.

�Hi Jan, it�s me. I know you will be sleeping right now. I just came back from Boston early morning and headed straight to the office to drop off a few files. You had told me that you would have a busy day on Monday and so take the Tuesday off and sleep late. So I guess you are still in happy slumberland. I wish you were awake but then I guess it is best that I leave whatever I have to say as a recorded message.�

He strolled to the window and looked outside.

�I have always led a happy life, Jan, you know that. I got great parents, great friends and lived in a good neighbourhood. I was blessed with enough intelligence to get me through school and college with good grades. My life has been one big happy dream.�

Walter reached for the photo frame on his table and picked it up.

�But right now I am looking at what has made my happy life even more complete. I know you hate clich�s, darling, but since it is from your favourite film � Jerry Maguire, I hope you won�t mind. You have no idea how much you mean to me.�

He kissed Jan�s photograph gently.

�You will remember the first time we met, at the swimming pool. You were facing away from me, and I was admiring your�.well you know me�.and saying something to Phil about you, when you turned. I won�t say it was love at first sight, honey, but it was at least lust at first sight.�

He pressed the photo against his chest as if hugging her and walked towards the window again.

�However I vividly remember the day when I realised that I had fallen in love with you. 3 months after we started dating, I was waiting for you in the mall. I was standing outside a furniture shop and I saw that some kids were jumping about on a waterbed inside. They were having so much fun that I decided that when I have kids, I would buy them a waterbed to play on. I also said to myself, �Only if Jan is OK with it�. It was at this point that I realised that I was already thinking of you as the mother of my kids, someone whom I would have to check with before I splurged on an unnecessary item.�

�A few minutes later you turned up looking ravishing as usual, and were puzzled when I asked you �Do you think it is appropriate for parents to buy waterbeds for their children?� Now you know why I asked that inane question.�

�I cherish every moment I spent with you, Jan� Walter said as he started fidgeting with the lock on the window. �My parents, friends and my career had already made me a happy man. You made that happiness complete. I will love you forever Jan, and I want to tell you that right now I am the happiest man alive with absolutely no regrets. I don�t think I would have been this happy had I not met you. I just could not have had a better life than this.�

He finally managed to get the window open and looked down. He took a deep breath and said

�And yes, you were right about not putting any time limit on the messages that our answering machine records. I am really glad you did it. Love you, bye.�

Walter disconnected the phone and put it on his table. He pulled a chair, climbed on to it and opened the window. With a jerk he hitched himself up and straddled the windowpane for a moment. Then he put his other leg over the pane and stood there with his back to the wall of the building.

�If there is one thing I never got around to doing, it was bungee jumping.� He chuckled at his own joke and flung himself down.


The next day, Jan sat listening to Walter�s message over and over again. She had not cried at all. Her mother was worried about her since crying was the natural thing to do at such an occasion. But she just kept listening to the tape, with the hint of a smile on her face.

Her brother entered the room with a newspaper in his hand. He headed straight for his mother�s room. Jan went to the room a few minutes later as she realised something was on. Her brother and mother were looking at the newspaper and crying.

�What happened? What is it?� Jan asked.

Her mother just simpered loudly and turned away. Her brother put his fingers over his eyes and stood there. Jan picked up the newspaper and glanced at it. There it was, Walter�s photograph. His legs seemed flailing wildly and he had stretched his right fist forward, like superman. Janet could see his face and though the photograph wasn�t clear, she was sure he had been smiling. She read the line below the photograph.


Janet read the words �better death� and started crying.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003


Shows how much America really cares about peace in the middle east.

US stock market to bet on terror !

The Pentagon officials have the audacity to say that it is for gathering intelligence!!! They really are devoid of any intelligence whatsoever. If gathering intelligence is the prime motive, why can't we bet on terror attacks on America? Why only West Asia?

It is simply the Neo-Cons' version of modern day cock-fighting.

Ah, Sunny says it like it is - Gavaskar slams Aussies for sledging

The best line from his speech-

''Lest I sound pessimistic, let me say that, out of a possible 150 Test cricketers from 10 Test-playing countries, there are perhaps not even 15 who indulge in this verbal abuse and intimidation. But unfortunately most of these belong to a champion side and it makes others believe it's the only way to play winning cricket.'

BVHK, are you reading this? ;-)

India and Australia will play 8 tests in the coming 9 months. They really want to beat us on our own land, so they will be even more motivated (that means even more verbal abuse, references to opponents' mothers and sisters, maybe even insulting the umpires, as is the Aussie way). However India is no longer under a pansy captain. We love giving it back nowadays. In the last series in India, Ganguly managed to get under Steve Waugh's skin by using the same "mental disintegration" tactics. They can dish it out, but can't take it as seen by the unruly behaviour of McGrath in West Indies recently. They will happily sledge the meek guy, but bring on an equally verbose Lara and they lose it.

India too will try going the sledging way (I hope with more success than Zaheer Khan in the World Cup Finals :-P). And like Gavaskar said, it will be because since the sledgers are champs, everyone feels that is the way to win. In the 70s and 80s when the Aussies weren't this good, their dirty behaviour wasn't emulated. It was the gentlemanly behaviour of the Windies that was. Now however cricket is becoming more and more like McMahon's WWE.

Imaginary conversation between bomber and his friend. Bomber is the a**$#^% who put the bombs in the BEST bus 2 days back.

Bomber: Yes!!! I have done it again. Dealt another blow to India, a country I hate.
Friend: Your operation was successful no doubt. But how does killing 4 innocent bystanders help us harm India? They are a billion, surely 4 won't make a difference to them.
Bomber: We also want to bleed them economically, yaar. That is where they have an advantage over us, their stronger economy.
Friend: What economic bleed? You destroyed the bus, a few lakh rupees. Maybe a rickshaw, that's a few thousand rupees. How is it going to bleed them economically?
Bomber: Oh no, you misunderstand me. You obviously haven't seen this news article. This is how we achieve that objective. As if our bombing them is not enough, they have these bandhs. It costs their economy crores of rupees. Imagine, the commercial capital of India just shutting down for one day!! That is of great value to us. We just keep bombing buses every couple of months, and the Shivsena will act like a bunch of emotional fools. They feel they are expressing solidarity with the victims and showing their anger to us. Little do they know that they are merely helping us achieve our objective.
Friend: Yes, you are right, and if we are lucky they might even burn down a few cars, shops, vehicles, break up BEST buses.
Bomber: Exactly! I tell you, this Indian obsession with "bandhs" is very helpful for us. 2 months later, another blast, and again a loss worth crores of rupees to the Indian economy. Such an easy game. Easier than inciting riots in Gujrat.

I know this is oversimplifying things, but I hope you get my point.

Monday, July 28, 2003


The English cricket board, for some reason, dislikes good batsmen. I think they feel insecure that if a batsman plays very well consistently, he will start gaining in popularity and become so admired that he may start drawing back the crowds from soccer towards cricket. The ECB which has worked so diligently to drive them away will have none of this. So how does it tackle a good batsman?

Simple, make him the captain of the team. Firstly, the pressures of captaincy are bound to have some effect on superlative form. There is also the fact that the Englishmen can't play cricket for nuts, so they keep losing. The skipper is the obvious proverbial scapegoat. Of course the predatory English media will always be wanting to go all hammer and tongs at their captain. Ever since Princess Di died, they have a lot of free time on their hands. The batsman will lose form, lose popularity, and the same guy who was being hailed as the "possible cornerstone of an English resurgence"........oh yes, they also love to keep talking about the "resurgence" everytime England avoids a whitewash or an innings defeat, just like they go "Henman's gonna win Wimbledon this time!!" as soo n as he wins the first round match.....but I digress. So the same batsman, who was the cat's whiskers and the bee's knees will be universally reviled. People will call for his head and he shall be disgracefully dumped.

By then another promising batsman will have started making waves. No sweat, make him the captain! And so it goes on.....

A few days back we were discussing batsmen who have been in amazing form in test cricket recently. Lara, Vaughan, Dravid and Hayden were the names that obviously came up. We wondered if Hayden will be able to maintain this level of excellence for a few more seasons. Then one guy said "Yes, let's see if Vaughan can do that too". At that time I said to him (very prophetically might I add), "Don't worry about Vaughan, they'll make him captain and he'll lose form".

Sure enough, Hussain resigns and Vaughan put in charge of the test team.

I like Vaughan. I hope he breaks the mould and actually does even better as a captain. Then what will the ECB do in their ever growing zest to kill cricket in England?

In the words of a wise and fat well covered Gaulish thinker from the first century B.C,

"These Britons are crazy!!!"

The joy that a news item like this brings to the heart is pushed out by the grief felt due to a news item like this.


Amazing short story from Ramanand. Kinda "Rathnam meets Kubrick".

July 22nd post, in case permalinks don't work.


Every place has a distinct taste of its own. I can feel it on my tongue, and savour it. No, I am not talking about the air, water or mud. I am talking about food. Even in food, I am not referring to delicacies that every place is famous for. If you have to get down to comparing the tastes of cities, you use a common food item as the parameter.

I have zeroed in on the item that people of Maharashtra call panipuri. It has various names throughout the country, the ones I know are golgappa, puchka and panipattasa. Any additions to this vocabulary are welcome.

The panipuri is one of the best things to have ever touched a human tongue. So simple, and yet so endearing. Each one of us seems to have a memory associated with it. The Pune panipuri means a an evening spent with my friends economising. The Delhi golgappa means either the fun my engineering class had during our "study" tour or the times I waited for those rickety buses during my summer internship. The Lucknow panipattasa means a stopover at a Ganj thela just to appreciate the abundance of pulchritude on a saturday evening, or the 10 minutes that we have to spare at Puraniya crossing before the insti bus comes to pick us up.

The panipuri from each city has its extra flavour. And as much as you hygienic people would cringe at this, an essential element is the sweat/dust off the right hand of the panipuriwallah. The entire act of making that panipuri has such rhythmic precision everywhere. The guy will pick up the puri, make a hole in it with his thumb, swish it through the "ragda"(made of chana in most places) so that it has a dollop. Then, holding the puri in his thumb, index and middle finger, he dips it in the "pani", a spicy liquid. In some places, they also put tamarind water in it. After the puri is thus overflowing with a mixture of flavour and crispiness, he places it in your plate/katori.

You pick up the puri and place it in your mouth entirely. Then as your teeth bite into the puri, it disintegrates, and the pani, the ragda and the puri crumbs all dance over your taste buds, giving you one of the most enjoyable feelings you will get. As you are savouring its flavour, the guy is making another puri, and so you hurriedly gobble down whatever is in your mouth and get ready for the next.

Though the taste that each city gives its panipuri (I am quite sure the differentiating factor is the sweat :-P) is unique, a panipuri plate is an offering of blissful satisfaction everywhere.

There are some people who value "hygiene" more than taste. They will hate eating panipuri from a streetside(gassp!!) vendor, citing health reasons. It is their choice, no skin off our noses, what? But they can see the immense pleasure that a pani puri eater derives and so they can't resist it. However hygiene still looms large.

This segment of hygienic panipuri eaters has given rise to something served in many restaurants that is "almost, but not quite, entirely unlike panipuri". It consists of 6 puris in a place (unpierced!!!), a small bowl of pani and a helping of the ragda. A "do it yourself" kit of panipuris, if you will. How appalingly pseud can one get? These are sinners of the highest degree.

Sinners of a lower degree are those who do one or both of the following things -

a. Fill ragda and pani in the puri using spoons or taps
b. Put up signboards saying "Our pani has been made using mineral water".

There was one such shop in Hiranandani Gardens (where else you ask?) in Mumbai. Now though the taste of his individual ingredients was good, the overall effect was missing. I observed him as he was making the panipuris to see if he had even a vestige of the stylish action of our usual panipuriwallah. Nah!! He had as much panache as a booting Intel 286.

The real panipuri/golgappa/puchka/panipattasa will not be served within four walls. It will not cost more than 5 rupees a plate. It will not be in the cleanest of places. But it will make your tongue feel as if it is in heaven.

OK, I am off. Where? To have some panipuri....or as we call it here in Lucknow, panipattasey.

Friday, July 25, 2003

Saw Saaya yesterday. I haven't seen the original "Dragonfly" from which it has been copied, and so found the movie to be quite decent. John Abraham was not the block of wood I expected him to be. Tara Sharma looks delicious, but can't act for nuts. This is the first time that I saw Mahima Chaudhary in a movie and did not feel like bashing her head in with a blunt instrument.

Decent story, decent performances, decent music. All in all, very VFM....especially since I just copied it from the insti network and watched it. :-P.

Read Suku's review for more.


I asked for the finger bowl. We were having a great time. After a week of eating the bland food in our mess, meals like these really hit the spot. The waiter came with the finger bowl. He was wearing a crisp starched white shirt. He also got the bill in a brown folder. It wasn't a party this time, but TTMM (which is Puneri slang for "going dutch").

"How much should we tip?" One guy asked.

"20 rupees should be fine" another said.

"I am totally opposed to the concept of tipping" said a guy who does not resemble Steve Buscemi from Reservoir Dogs.

"You know, they offer us a service...." said magnanimous guy.

"Wearing starched white shirts!!" I interrupted. Magnanimous guy looked irritated at this interruption.

"What do shirts have anything to do with it? They provide us good service and they deserve to get paid for it. Simple!"

"Yes, but they do get salaries!" said non-Buscemi.

And so the conversation went till we got around to pulling somebody's leg about what sort of girls he likes. It was 10:20 at night. Walking back to Puraniya crossing would have made us miss the last bus to the campus.

"Rickshaw!!!", we hailed two cycle rickshaws, three of us in each rick. This is how cycle rickshaws look like, by the way. My rick was pulled by a youngish guy of about 15, wearing shorts and a vest.

"Jaldi chalo bhaiyya, humey bus pakadni hai(please go fast we have to catch a bus)" one of us said. He got into action. I noticed how his calf muscles would flex as he pedalled. He was very efficient and though there were 3 of us in the rickshaw instead of the usual 2, he got us to Puraniya crossing well before time.

Magnanimous guy got down and gave the rickwallah 7 rupees.

"Bhaiyya, duss rupaye huey (it is 10 rupees)" the fella protested.

"Duss rupaye?" he said incredulously "nahi nahi, humesha to paanch hotey hai. Hum teen thhe isliye 7 de raha hoon" (Why 10? usually it takes 5 rupees. I am giving you 7 because there were 3 of us).

The haggling went on for a while, which involved discussion with the guys in the other rickshaw. Their fella was asking for 8, so our fella was also forced to take 8 bucks. He pocketed the money with an expressionless face.

"Ten bucks, he had the nerve to ask for ten bucks!!" magnanimous guy said.

"I know, and he wasn't even wearing a starched white shirt" I said looking at the 15 year old's bulging calf muscles as he pedalled away.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

I think my ability to write well(assuming it was there in the first place) is eroding rapidly. Maybe a brief sabbatical would set things right?

Finally saw The Pianist. I don't know about you, but I felt very let down. It was such a predictable run of the mill holocaust movie. It has its Polanski-ish moments, but the whole theme has been exploited so much that I am bored of it. If you have to make a movie on the plight of the jews, at least use an innovative concept like Life Is Beautiful.

Brody's Oscar is fully deserved. Can't say the same about Polanski, not for this movie at least. Maybe they gave it to him to compensate for past mistakes.


I walked out of the courtroom with my client. There was no real case against Hari. My services were hardly required, at least during the trial. However I could not help wondering if I was indirectly responsible for what happened. Hari might have done it even without my help, but there was no doubting the fact that I had played a part in it.

Hari was in the same school as me. He was never good at studies, but did dabble in some local club football. My parents always considered him a bad influence, but I had enough sense to not get too friendly with him. However he thought highly of me. When I got admission into the best law college around, he landed up at my house with a big box of sweets.

I never exactly knew what Hari actually did for a living. He had started a hardware store but I never saw many customers there. There were murmurs that Hari was involved with the underworld and was actually into extortions, but I never paid much attention. After school, I didn�t keep any contact with him. He would drop in occasionally though. He was not good at studies but was extremely intelligent. His grasp about most topics, from sports to politics to classical music was amazing. I enjoyed our conversations.

What kept coming back to me was the conversation we had in June. It was raining cats and dogs, and my bike had died on me. As I kept trying to cajole it back to life with my kicks, Hari�s Maruti pulled over. I got into the car and we started talking. Just as he was about to tell me something about the last movie he saw, a bike came and almost banged into his car. It was the biker�s fault really, he was coming from the opposite direction on a one way street.

Hari and I spat a few expletives in his general direction as he sped away.

�Nobody follows rules nowadays. Such people should be punished.�, I said, letting out the usual traffic rant.

�The police can�t be everywhere, yaar� Hari said. �And anyway, this street used to be a two way street, so many people still go by the wrong side.�

�Yes, but it is wrong. I feel like donning the vigilante mantle and doing something about these wrong siders.�

�What will you do? Sue them?� said Hari laughing �Most of these guys, you will never see in your life.�

�There is one way�, I said �by which I could punish them. I would get an old four-wheeler and whenever I saw anyone coming from the wrong side, I would ram into them. Legally they are wrong and I would not have to do anything. That would teach such people.�

�Spoken like a true lawyer.�, Hari said. �But wouldn�t you be arrested?�
�No, as long as it was accidental, it was his fault.� I explained.

Hari fell silent. A few minutes later, we reached my home.

The next I heard from him was 5 months later. He called me up.

�I want you to represent me.�, he said.

�Sure, what is the case?� I asked.

�I was involved in an accident. My truck banged into this guy�s car and he died on the spot. However he was driving on the wrong side��..�

I represented Hari and he won. It was a simple case. The guy who was killed was a famous jeweller. There had been murmurs about jewellers being targeted for extortion in recent months. It all seemed too convenient.

�Thanks yaar� Hari said to me �I knew the court would see it was his negligence and disregard for traffic rules that caused the accident. I was driving the truck so fast only because it was a deserted one way street, and it was night. You know, that jeweller�s servants told me he took that street everyday and�..�

�When did the servants tell you this, Hari? You have been told not to contact anyone from the victim�s side after the accident.�

�Err, no, I mean they didn�t exactly tell me, but��I heard that from somewhere��

His voice trailed off. We reached the parking lot and got into his car. There was silence until we reached my home. After I got out of the car and took my bag, I opened my mouth to ask him something to put my doubts to rest. But he spoke first.

�Ask no questions and you will hear no lies.�

Hari drove off. The next day I got a cheque from Hari that was worth more than my total earnings from the last year.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Corny joke, dedicated to Ravikiran, of PGP12 IIML, the pun-dit who is always an inspiration.

Q - How did Shivaji Maharaj manage to capture so many forts?
A - Cos he had killa instinct

Note - A marketing project submission will make your creativity work in every way other than the useful one.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

The Friday Times is one of my favourite magazines. I like the honest, no-nonsense and relatively unbiased approach it takes towards issues. Among the writers in TFT, my favourite is Khaled Ahmed the Consulting Editor. He writes in an unemotional and clinical manner, not worrying about stepping on anyone's toes. I am sure most of the Pakistanis think of him as an Indian agent, but they probably forget the articles he has written criticising India. Anyway, his recent "Analysis" is a gem. Am posting the entire story here instead of the link because TFT articles go offline after a week. I've made the important points of the article bold, for the sake of people who don't wanna read it all.

Here is a link of an interview of Ahmed conducted at Berkeley in case you want to know more about his views.

The cost of opposing General Musharraf

General Musharraf has become instrumental in highlighting the clash between ideology and pragmatism in Pakistan. The �mission statement� embodied in Pakistani nationalism clearly runs counter to what he has done in the realm of foreign policy since 9/11. The internal �liberal� reforms he has carried out under an �enabling� judgement from the Supreme Court should have been supported by the liberal constituency, but the liberals hate him no less than the Islamists for postponing pure democracy under his LFO. The Islamists don�t like him for giving up the Taliban and banning the mujahideen. The MMA wants to get rid of him so that it can pressure the ideologically soft politicians of Pakistan into letting them create a religious state where only the clergy would rule. The PPP and the PML(N) have both proved unable to stem the tide of Islamic extremism in the country in the past and have seriously discredited themselves in the eyes of the people with their performance in government. By accepting the MMA as a battering ram that will bring down General Musharraf�s three-year-old edifice they are risking their political future even further.

Pragmatism is not the way of life Pakistanis like. They look at the world emotionally and take their state ideology seriously. For Pakistan - a state with restricted resources - sticking to the dictates of nationalism is ever more difficult. Seeking any realistic solution to the Kashmir problem throws the country into disorder. Normalising relations with India, or starting trade with it under the SAARC agreements, pleases no one. The country�s foreign policy has been moulded by its early confrontational posture with India. There are many demons here that emerge at the most unlikely junctures. If the anti-India policy is a pillar, so is the membership of a mythical Muslim umma. There are times when Pakistan judges the world on how the world behaves towards India. There are also times when it applies the yardstick of the Muslim umma. In both cases it sacrifices practicalities to emotion. As a result, Pakistan cannot have a strategy of survival. In a world where no morality exists in international relations, guiding Pakistan along inflexible lines is pure suicide. Much emphasis is laid on how Pakistan looks at the world, but no attention is paid to how the world, including the mythical umma, looks at Pakistan. The latter issue is often dismissed as �image problem� and self-righteousness is relied on to judge the foreign policies of other nations.

Let�s all hate Musharraf: Such are the popular compulsions in Pakistan that General Musharraf emerges as the only figure of enlightenment in society. The emergence of the religious parties in the MMA as the only vent for the offended collective emotion has introduced a new element in politics. Everybody seems to be favouring a clerical takeover of the country. The leftists want to revenge themselves on General Musharraf for once again enslaving the country to the United States and throwing the national economy into the maelstrom of neo-liberal globalisation. The liberals speak in unison with the mullahs when they subject General Musharraf to their purist critique: he promised democracy but he rigged his referendum and pre-rigged the 2002 elections and has forfeited his right to be president of Pakistan while still remaining in uniform. The economist dismisses the economic recovery of the past three years as a one-time windfall that will not last and calls in question the macro-indicators boasted by General Musharraf. Many economists shift to the micro level and join in the layman�s plaint about the common man getting nothing out of the $10 billion accumulated by the State Bank as its foreign exchange reserve. If Afghanistan did not infuriate all of us, the war in Iraq did. General Musharraf as an ally of Washington became despised by all, the detractors equally divided between the mosque and the air-conditioned drawing room. Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussain were given new halos and General Musharraf was anathematised along with George Bush.

Senior Pakistani journalist Irshad Haqqani writing in Jang (4 July 2003) said that it looked likely that General Musharraf had decided to provide support to America�s strategic objectives in the Middle East and Afghanistan. He has announced that Pakistan would send troops to Iraq �after clearing up some issues� of detail. Pakistan could not go along with this decision on a number of counts: Pakistan�s worldview, its ideology, its responsibilities as a part of the Muslim umma, and the directly affected self-interest of the state. Was General Musharraf going the way of General Yahya and General Zia by doing America�s bidding merely to get his military uniform validated? General Zia served the Americans and could have got 25 to 50 billion dollars in return, but he preferred being recognised by America as Pakistan�s military ruler. Now what was General Musharraf asking of the US for sending Pakistani troops to Iraq? He was sacrificing Pakistan�s self-interest which was in collision with the United States policy: its status as nuclear Islamic power, it status as an important member of the Muslim umma, its adherence to a worldview that was opposed to that of the United States.

Getting short-changed by America? If America�s strategic objectives coincide with Pakistan�s, what is Pakistan to do? Change its objectives? General Zia told us that they coincided and went ahead with his great �deniable� jihad. What he did internally was not dictated by America. It is difficult to credit Haqqani�s claim that he could have got up to $50 billion out of the US. He had earlier written in Jang (22 May 2003) that an American website had stated that thousands of air attacks were carried out in Afghanistan from Pakistani bases. The website was later censored. He said that Pakistan had given too much to America in return for very little. The truth of the matter is that have we always overrated our strategic value, but it is this strategic position which has allowed us to manage a country for the running of which we have insufficient talent. This time we have got more than we deserved after being caught red-handed doing terrorism. The record shows that first we get what we demand, then we complain about not getting what we deserved. In his book The White House and Pakistan (OUP), F.S. Aijazuddin quotes a 1966 memorandum to President Johnson on the same theme: �Thus, while we can�t blame the Paks for being unhappy with us, it isn�t because we betrayed them; it is because their own policy of using us against India has failed. They know full well we didn�t give them $800 million in arms to use against India (but they did). Even so we built up Pakistan�s own independent position and sinews � to the tune of almost $5 billion in support. We�ve protected Pakistan against India; we had more to do with stopping the war Ayub had started than anyone else (just in time to save Paks).�

Pakistan took on India and survived by siding with America. Pakistan and the US were incompatible as foreign policy bedfellows but the cold war allowed this inconvenient cohabitation. The beneficiary was Pakistan (Total air superiority in the 1965 war; offensive edge in the 1980s with F16s.), but an unhappy one. The fact that India�s patron-state the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 proved that �Liaquat Ali Khan�s Blunder� was right after all. We were consistently told about �the five contradictions� but we chose to steadily interpret our relations with the US in emotional terms. If there was an option of delinking from America it was never seriously exercised or was overtaken by events. Now, according to Haqqani, Pakistan has a worldview that clashes with the United States� worldview. He mentions Pakistan�s status of an Islamic nuclear power as one factor. This goes against the official version: our nuclear status is completely tied to India and is not �Islamic�. It would be folly to oppose our nuclear status to that of the United States or anyone else. By removing America�s non-proliferation focus from the CTBT, President Bush has actually legitimised Pakistan�s nuclear programme, to say nothing of the other hanky-panky Pakistan has been guilty of in the nuclear field. He thinks sending Pakistani troops to Iraq would be unacceptable to the nation. Pragmatism might dictate that it be tied to a UN, OIC or GCC initiative, as General Musharraf explained. Leveraged with Saudi �advise� (backed with half a billion dollars worth of free oil every year) Pakistan will retain its tradition of going out with the UN troops, next in numbers only to Bangladesh.

The great umma myth: The responsibility of Pakistan as an important member of the Muslim umma is a vague idea. Because it is mythical, it is a strong component of the Pakistani psyche. But even as we mouth umma slogans to beat each other down, we have allowed �popular� policies to offend Iran, the Central Asian States and Turkey to gain our strategic ends. Looked at closely, the idea of the umma is a subversive one. Pakistani writers usually survey the Islamic umma like this: the umma exists but is being ruled all wrong; hence the present order should be overthrown and replaced with an ideal system close to the dictates of Islam. Once we get into the umma mode we say subversive things about our best friends. The Saudi kingship must be overthrown, so must the secular constitution of Turkey; if possible, all the governments of the Islamic umma should be replaced with new regimes. Some of us recommend a khilafat of the umma (Tanzim-e-Islami of Dr Israr Ahmad and Hizb al-Tahrir), which is an intellectually bastardised version of Stalin�s socialism-in-one-country theory. The idea is that there should first be a �central� Islamic state with an ideal system. It should then conquer or bring into its orbit of power by unspecified means all the other Islamic states. Given the ruinous experiments with the ideal Islamic state in Iran, Afghanistan and now (in chrysalis) in the NWFP, one can safely predict that the idea will bring further misfortune to the brainwashed Pakistani nation.

Pakistan cannot have a worldview except in the shape of a strategy of survival. There is risk in talking of a worldview because of our fondness for international isolation. Our disenchantment with America has become a long never-ending collective moan. It is the wages of a superpower with a global vision trying to couple with a state whose vision is restricted to a region. Who has betrayed whom? If General Musharraf�s pragmatism is accepted, then no one. But if an ideological gloss is imposed on the issue, then the US; and Pakistan was right in doing terrorism through its various jihadi clients. By the same token, the US would be right in punishing Pakistan for 9/11. But Musharraf was adroit in positioning Pakistan right, first, to avoid punishment and, second, to benefit from the post-9/11 situation in competition with India. No one likes it. Pakistanis don�t like it. Many Americans don�t like Pakistan being rewarded. If you want to see more (perhaps terminal) pain, get rid of Musharraf and get Qazi Hussain Ahmad to rule Pakistan. Defeat is another name for total isolation. Like Imam Khomeini and Mulla Umar, we all see honour only in isolationism.

Friday, July 18, 2003

Throughout history, men have been driven by zeal, an incomparable zeal, a fierce zeal (is there any other kind I hear you ask..), a zeal which is more harmful than any other. This is the zeal to fix things or improve things that are not already broken. Numerous studies have been carried out to understand why humans do this. Wasn't it Aristotle who said "If it ain't broken, don't fix it".....or was it Demosthenes? It can be Kant (snickering at myself for that feeble pun), but what matters is the undeniable absolute truth in the statement. The statement is so true that Boole would give it a glance and express his opinion merely as "1". Men should not dabble in things which are perfectly fine.

Now this age old sliver of wisdom, first recorded by the Nubeans and the Mayas simultaneously, cocks a snook in the face of modern strategic management theory which exhorts you to "make your own advantage obsolete", as Michael Porter reminded us few posts back. Maybe it was after reading Michael Porter that Evan Williams came up with the idea of revamping blogger. A classic case of misplaced zeal if there ever was one. If Demosthenes was around he would have reached into his mouth, taken out some rocks and bunged them at Williams.

Ever since the new blogger has made its presence felt, life hasn't been very easy. New born babies announce their arrival by letting out a shrill cry. This new design of blogger announced itself by flashing one of those lucid error messages. Some object had some error or something else.....there was mention of a "null" too. As usual it asked me if I wanted to debug. This is something I have to take up with William (gates yaar...the third) one day. Why are there both "yes" and a "no" after the 'would you like to debug?' question? Which person in a sane state of mind would contemplate debugging?

Debugging is de most bugging thing in the world.....thank god I entered the field of management studies. Those messages keep reminding me of those harrowing times spent in front of the computer debugging. I am done debugging. If there is ever a debugging event introduced in the Olympics, I will not be a contender. Anyway, we have digressed.

So after teasing you about your lack of programming skills by asking you questions like 'would you like to debug?', you would feel this blogger design has had its fill. But no. Once you hit publish, it does not show "Publish successful" at once. No sirree!!It will make a few hundred "tries", during which 2 parallel arrows keep dancing at the spot where you should see "publish successful". Damn irritating! You will not understand why this happened. After all it got published fine the last time and I haven't done anything to the template ever since.

Then it is time for revision. Revision of all the expletives that you pretend in front of your parents that you never learnt. All these are directed at young Williams. You save the post in notepad, and follow the classic approach of a techie. Sign out and sign in again. VOILA!!!

It works now. Why did it not work before when I had not even come near the template? Why does it give these weird numbers with errors? Who knows? But one thing is for sure, it all started after the old design of blogger was discarded.

As they say in Lucknow with a mixture of exasperation and amusement, Bataiiye!!

This is one of the funniest posts I have read. Not only is it funny, it also carries a "social" message. :-P Way to go, Pushkar. In the future keep writing stuff which you think is stupid.

Go the Pushkar's blog and read the article posted on Wednesday 16th July.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

Finixed the Phoenix

Yup, finally finished reading the 5th book in the Harry Potter series, thanks to a virus that made me take to the bed for a while. Everybody and his mother have reviewed the book, so I will write just a few points about what I felt. On the whole, kinda like the 2003 Cricket World Cup....good, but not as good as expected. Rowling seems to have forgotten that people now know Harry and his friends almost as well as their own families, so she cant build up too much intrigue in this book like she did in say, Chamber of Secrets or Prisoner of Azkaban. Whatever keeps happening is something you expected. The whole "prophecy" bit is anti-climactic to say the least. In fact some things in the book are downright irritating.

Anyway, enough about the book per se. I want to talk about my favourite character of the lot. When I say favourite, I don't mean that I wish to emulate that character in real life or anything, but the character that is the most interesting. My vote would go to Professor Snape. In fact my complaint from every book is that we don't see enough of Snape. I wish they would explore his character in more detail, like they partly did in this book. But since the first book, I have been ultra-curious about him. Add to it the fact that in the movie, he is played by an absolutely brilliant actor, Alan Rickman. I first saw Rickman playing the terrorist in Die Hard and the sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood, and have been a fan of his acting ever since.

Anyway, coming back to Snape, what I like about him is the greyness in him. I do hope he has a larger part to play in subsequent books.

Welcome to the 21st edition.

George Thomas, the film guru reviews Khwahish and Finding Nemo.

JK takes apart Praful Bidwai's article in this post. Ravi does the same here. Sameer adds his voice too.

VS Babu does not think much of the American media as you can see from this post.

Suman Palit talks about the game which is being played in Iraq as well as Washington.

Vikas Kamat has an amazing post on the MLT technology.

Kingsley reviews a hot new browser in the market, iRider

Shanti talks about the academic freedom in Pakistan. Spot the oxymoron there. ;-)

Ravikiran asks some thought-provoking questions in his post on Ends and Means.

Ananthnarayan makes a very emotional post about the parallels he saw between the movie American History X and the current situation in India.

Silent Melodies carries a poem about the various faces of rain.

Hirak seeks to reduce disorder by enlightening about the The Second Law of Thermodynamics.

The aimless wanderer re-relives his trip to Joshimath.

And to round up the mela, check out Alok Kumar's "Nau Do Gyarah", the first Hindi blog I have seen. Since the script(Devnagri) is same as Marathi and so many Maharashtrians seem to be blogging, maybe some of us should take the lead and start a Marathi blog.......and email the link to T Balu ;-).

Wow!!! Will you look at the length of this list? It is more of a Bharateeya Blog Kumbhmela if you ask me. For the uninitiated, this is what a Kumbhmela looks like.

The next Bharateeya Blog Mela will be hosted by Shamit Bagchi.

Until next tuesday then, Alvida!

Friday, July 11, 2003

If any record company fellas are reading this blog, here's an excellent idea for a prank. Tell your R&D fellas to include include a special kinda virus in the CD soundtracks. So if someone tries to rip the songs into MP3's, the sound of a phone ringing in the background will automatically get superimposed on to it.

So whenever you play the mp3, you will feel that the phone is ringing, but since the sound isnt that loud, you will pause the song.

Silence, no phone! Weird !!

You play the song again and again the sound of a phone ringing in the distance somewhere. pause again...silence!!!! Arrrrrrrrrg!

There could be variations of the sound. You could put in a ringing doorbell, or an airplane...etc etc.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

An amazing interview of the late Douglas Adams which conveys views very similar to my own on atheism and "belief"

DNA about atheism

I must say that the situation in India regarding atheists is similar to what he describes in England. No one here tries to "rescue" anyone from atheism and while the staunchest believers may not agree with my lack of faith, I have never faced too much resentment. The attitude here seems to be "To each his own". While a lot of people border on either agnosticism or belief without rituals, a large population of India continues to be very religious. But still atheists have no problem wearing their atheism on their sleeve if they want.

Like I read somewhere, it is not that we are "tolerant", it is just that we are "indifferent". Saying that Indians are 'tolerant' is like putting the attitude on a very high pedestal, which is partly responsible for the rise of Hindu fundamentalism. Just because the rest of the world is intolerant, these fundos feel we do some favour on religious minorities by treating them equally. The norm in India has been and should be "indifference" about your fellow beings' faith. Let's hope that does not change.

The 21st Bharateeya Blogmela will be hosted here next Tuesday. So if you come across a blog post till then that you think would qualify, mail me the link at sabnis(attherate)iiml(dot)ac(dot)in. Of course if you feel some of your own blogposts were outstanding, don't wait for someone else to nominate them. Modesty is for the mediocre. ;-)

Usually my blogs are very opinion based. Here is a journal-type post for a change. :-)

It has been very monsoony in Lucknow for the past couple of days. This means that it is very cloudy and it keeps raining, just like back home in Pune. So far the rainy season in Lucknow has been characterised by "guest appearance" type rainshowers. That is why this incessant rain reminds me of home all the more.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time on the phone. I am convinced that the phones in IIML are minions of the darkside. I had to try three different instruments befoe the conversation could get going. However the conversation was worth all the trouble. *wide grin*

In the evening the rain stopped and the clouds cleared up a bit. After the longest day a couple of weeks back, the sun has started its journey southwards and yesterday I realised that I could again watch the sunset keeping my door open. For the past few months of "uttaraayan", the flank of Hostel 12 always eclipsed it. So for the first time in months I sat in my own room watching the sun set. I must have mentioned it here before that I am a big fan of sunsets. Especially here in the plains of Lucknow. When clouds of varying density are at the horizon, the interplay of colours gets even more fascinating than usual. This time, the clouds were streaked across the horizon in thickish plumes. The sun lurked behind them, giving a partial glimpse of its majesty, sporting a lightish orange hue because of the clouds. I took my chair to the open corridor and sat there with my book, gazing at the sunset.

At moments like this, it seems to me as if time has slowed to a leisurely pace, and the sun and clouds are putting on this show for my sole benefit. And as is inevitable my mind drifts to the topic that has been on my mind for the past two months or so. A visual symphony unfolding itself in front of my eyes and those thoughts....bliss. The book in my hand, "Order of the Phoenix" was deprived of my attention for about half an hour as I just sat there, gazing at the Western horizon and thinking, the usual happy smile plastered on my face.

The sun finally set, and I reiterated to myself the promise that as soon as I get my digital camera I am going to shoot the sunset everyday. I am so obsessed with the it, I could write a book on the various types of sunsets and the effect they have on me.

Once the sun had set I got back to reading how Harry was pissed off with the world in general. After I reached page 200, I decided to go for a jog. Darkness had still not descended, and a jog around the prettiest campus in the world (objectivity be damned) was as invigorating as it could get. Little wonder then that I clocked my lowest time around the campus this year - 14 mins 32 sec. The lowest ever was 13:58 last year. I should get there within a fortnight. After that I spent 45 mins in the gym and was back in my room.

As if on perfect cue, it started raining as soon as I entered my room. I kept both the doors open and continued reading Harry Potter. Read it until I fell asleep.

Woke up this morning with a start and saw that it was 9:00 a.m. WHAT!!! I had slept for almost 10 hours. And my PromStrat class was at 9:10. Panicky, I rushed to Sunil's room, who with his typically sagely countenance told me to relax. "We'll go for the 4 p.m. lecture of Section B". That sounded like a plan. We went to the mess, had a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast and pohey. After that some of us sat in Sunil's room till noon, talking about all topics raning from politics to films. I was particularly disturbed by the possibility of reservations in the private sector but Pushkar is confident that it will never happen since private cos fund political parties. Pushkar and I played 2 games of table tennis, in which he beat me usual. :-(

Now I sit here with 90 minutes till my next lecture. I am listening to some Hindi songs. By the way, I have a language mood for songs. You will rarely find songs of different languages in my playlist. It is either fully english or fully hindi or fully marathi. OK, since I am in a very journal-ish mood, here is the playlist currently on -

1. Mera Kuch Saaman - Ijazat
2. Rang Barse - Silsila
3. Hothon se gulfishan hai woh - Talat Mahmood
4. Satrangi re - Dil se
5. Chhod na chhod na - Kaante
6. Rama re - Kaante
7. Hum thhe woh thhi - Chalti Ka Naam GaaDi
8. Ek chatur naar - Padosan
9. Madhuban mein radhika naache re - Mohd Rafi (Kohinoor??? dunno)

I think after I make this post I'll get back to Harry Potter. Frankly though, it is not as engaging as the earlier books. I did not like Goblet of Fire as much as the earlier 3 and this one I am liking even less. After Prisoner of Azkaban, it seems to be all downhill. I think she is pushing this whole "Poor victimised Harry" bit a little too far. It is getting annoying, as if she is not letting him grow up, and keeping him in that image for too long. Anyway, the book is still a decent read and I better get back to it.

Moses is conducting a cricket quiz tonight and I am really looking forward to it. Hopefully the turnout from facchas will be decent. Quizzing is such a great thing to do......I miss the Boat Club.

Anyway, that was my journal-ish post. Ciao then.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003


Javed Miandad, one of the greatest batsmen the game of cricket has seen, has recently come out with this autobiography - "Javed Miandad's Cutting Edge - My Autobiography". Following is an excerpt from the book -

India has had a rich tradition of producing quality batsmen. Top of the list is Sunil Gavaskar who, along with Viv Richards, became a legend in his own time. After Gavaskar, the Indian batsman everyone talks about is Sachin Tendulkar. Tendulkar is certainly one of the genuine greats, but in my view Gavaskar was superior.

There was something else about Sunil Gavaskar. A short fellow with a refined bearing, Gavaskar consistently got hundreds and double-hundreds against top-class bowling. Compared with Tendulkar, he made his runs against a better quality of opposition. Gavaskar's supremacy was clear from very early on. In his debut Test series, on a tour to West Indies in 1970-71, he made 65, 67, 116, 64, 1, 117, 124 and 220. He had the rare gift of making runs when they were most needed. The highest fourth innings total ever made to win a Test is 406-4 by India against West Indies at Port-of-Spain in 1975-76, a score that was set up by a pivotal 102 from Gavaskar.

On another occasion, India once got to 429-8 needing 438 to win in the fourth innings of a Test against England at the Oval in 1979; Gavaskar led the charge with an unblemished 221.

In fact, if I were to pick one person who to my mind personified cricket greatness, I would-without hesitation-point to Sunil Gavaskar. A man of character, a gentleman, a cricketer with incredible skill and tenacity, and yet a humble man, down-to-earth, honest, sincere and utterly fair.

All hail the original little master, Sunil Gavaskar. Though I am a Tendulkar fanatic, he has many mountains to climb before he can be thought of as having done as much for Indian test cricket as Gavaskar.


The other day i read on some blog about a research that showed that staring at women's breasts may be good for a man's health and help him live longer. Now while this may or may not be true, what I wonder is who comes up with these research hypothesis in the first place. It is not a serendipitous finding where in course of another research you discover that boob-watching is good for health. Someone actually set out to prove this.

The person who initiated the research as well as the one who funded it were definitely people who like to observe a woman's bosom in great detail. This research is probably their ticket to do so in face of intense disapproval from their wives/girlfriends. So research is rarely objective. People who carry out research to prove that alcohol, coffee or sugar is good for health are addicted to these things. You know, by a smart selection of the sample or by using ambiguous research variables, anything can be proved.

So if you were allowed to fund or initiate one fraud research, what would it be?

I won't mind throwing in my lot with the boobs research. ;-)


Goodbye - Onkar, Sumeet and Niranjan.

Welcome - Shanti and Silent Melodies

Monday, July 07, 2003


Indian magic at Wimbledon again. Congratulations to Leander Paes for winning the Mixed Doubled title and young Sania Mirza for winning the Girls doubles title.

Mark my words. By 2020 we will have won a Singles title at Wimbledon.

Sunday, July 06, 2003


this post is one day late

Friday, July 04, 2003

I am not one to paste the results of quizzes on my blog, but I was just amazed at the accuracy of this one. Not only is the country right, but it also says I like cows a lot. Mmmmmmmm, reminds me of the beef roll at Shivaji Market. :-)

You're India!

A great thinker and leader, you have a great deal of power despite
being really poor.  You like movies, cows, and you probably are a vegetarian and may
even be a pacifist.  You've probably been moving away from pacifism lately, though,
as you get more and more defensive that everyone around you is trying to hurt you.
 How about a nice game of chess?

Take the Country Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid

I finally managed to borrow OOTP from a guy downstairs. It is BIG!! And yes, i do know who dies in the end. The day the book was released, i went to a shop in ganj, and read the last few pages of a copy. :-P

After reading who dies, I felt the whole deal about Rowling crying was pretty stupid. Imagine if Salim Javed had killed off A K Hangal in Sholay instead of Amitabh, and then cried about it!

Both the doors are open. A solitary bird chirps outside, looking at the sky. Pleasant winds engulf everything around me in a comforting embrace. Clouds have crowded the sky, but don't look too menacing. Every leaf on every tree around me is dancing a joyous dance.

There, a few more birds have joined in, and it sounds like a happy quartet now. The wind seems to have picked up a little more. I stand in the balcony, and as I give the clouds a questioning smile, they oblige me with a tiny drizzle. The slanting arrows of water hit everything in sight, and a moisture of satisfaction covers starts covering everything.

Those two porous musicians are playing Mozart at the moment, The Marriage of Figaro is it not? Next in line is Beethoven's Fifth. You would think the air was saturated with a lyrical perfection, but Wolfgang just adds to it in his own way. I walk in, add a few more pieces to the playlist, then walk out of the front door. A naughty pall of mist has descended on the countryside, but it is far from sombre. Its magical touch carries a tingly mirth with it.

Ah, just as I typed "magical", the 'Fifth' started rolling out, like a statuesque carpet.

It is one of those mornings when every element of nature is bursting with happiness. That is because everyone is happy celebrating......freedom.....for someone.


Wednesday, July 02, 2003


Is it true that sadness is the most potent source for poetry? Or is it just that since human beings imagine themselves to be sad most of the times, sadness is the link they identify with most? Many poems have been written without an iota of sadness or any negative emotion and are still considered works of art. I have pretensions to being a poet as you all know, and speaking about my own experience while composing them, I must say that though sadness can move mountains in the world of poetry, any other emotion which engulfs you completely is capable of producing a good poem as well. Many times it is love. I once said to a friend that I write poetry only when I am in love. Of course that is not exactly true. I could write poetry at the drop of a hat, but what will make it more than just a collection of rhyming lines will be the prime mover, i.e emotion. Being in love is a time when you feel a myraid range of emotions, and in compelling magnitudes.

Now what is it that makes a poem good or bad? It is purely subjective. How many people react to the lines in a poem and how many people react to the name at the end of the poem? Many times we make the mistake of falling prey to the "Halo Effect" and tell ourselves that the poem is good just because a renowned poet wrote it. This is cheating with the poem, for the poem communicates with you, not through its creator, but the other way round. The poet has the poem as a communication channel with the rest of the world.

Some people seek to define poetry in their esoteric terms and decide on behalf of the rest of the world whether a poem is good or bad. That is like deciding which mother is more loving. Every poem has a character of its own and an audience of its own. If you didn't like it, it wasn't written for you. It does not mean a poem is "good" or "bad". As I said it is purely subjective.

I also find this thing called "Poetry Appreciation" as downright blasphemic. I have argued with my english teacher about this at great detail. I dislike people reading a poem and then deconstructing it in prose. When I read a poem, I am making a connection with this unknown person, the poet. It is a strictly one-to-one mode of communication for the duration of the poem. The words in a poem come together to form a unique melody with a rich taste that you can just sit back and savour. When I read "Line 3 depicts the intense longing the poet felt, while in line 7 the poet again draws back from his childhood......", I feel as outraged as anything.

Imagine if you were served vintage wine. Now instead of just sipping it, savouring its taste and letting it roll down your throat in a rhythmic flow, if you rush to the lab, conduct tests and announce to the world its chemical composition. "Poetry Appreciation" is an equivalent of that.

Yesterday a friend forwarded me some emails which had poems and a paragraph which spoke about the poem. I read the poems, enjoyed them, but did not read the paras at all. What can the paras tell me that I won't "see" by myself? And even if the para details something that I failed to notice, it probably wasn't meant for me anyway. If I missed a nuance, then I missed it. Someone pointing it out to me will not have the same charm. It is like pointing out the hidden faces inside a Salavdor Dali painting to another person.

Reading poetry is an experience that should be kept distinct from the world of prose. The moment the daunting world of prose tries to capture the spirit of a poem through clinical paragraphs, a little part of the poem dies.

"The Day is Done"

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me
That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time,

For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
And tonight I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have a power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And comes like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music,
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.

-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

"Sooner or later, the factor that gives you your competitive advantage will become obsolete. The best way to remain competitive is to make it obsolete yourself, before anyone else does"

- Michael E. Porter


It sits there on my window ledge. Keeping it there even after what has happened is like burying a murderer inside the chamber after he is gassed. It was this very ledge that turned out to be its death-knell. The wind would blow inwards all the time, and the curtain would move to its tunes, like a dancer held in a seductive vice by a musician. Most of the times, the curtain would slip over the mirror and billow up, forming an inverse parachute. A parachute is supposed to help people fall more gracefully.

So it was ironic when this inverse parachute actually caused the mirror's fall from grace. I was a mute spectator to it as it happened. Not just at the moment when the glass broke, but the days before it, when every gust of wind would make the curtain push the mirror a fraction closer to the edge. My inertia in not pushing it backwards into a safe zone is as guilty for the shattered glass as the treacherous wind. I was subconsciously aware of the mirror inching closer to a collapse, but I just sat there.

Maybe the fact that the mirror was a free acquisition had something to do with it. It was given to me by a senior while he was clearing out his room before he left the insti. I did not pay anything for the mirror, did not make a trip to the shop, in fact did nothing but just place it on the ledge. Was this the reason I was so lethargic? Do we value only that which comes at a price?

Anyway, the mirror came crashing down. A few glass crumbs fell away. There were a couple of cracks, but the mirror still held on to the frame. It did not disintegrate like an automobile window does after an accident. It made an effort to maintain its identity. However the cracks are a constant reminder of the fact that it is not the same anymore.

It still sits on the ledge as i said. I can see my face in it, but the discontinuities in its form limit its utility. It shows my face a bit disfigured and adds extra imperfections that do not exist. However it is better than a thousand shattered pieces lying on the road. These 3 pieces of glass sticking to each other, while not as good as what i had earlier, are still something tangible.

Or did I have nothing earlier? I still keep the mirror on the ledge, I repeat again. Is it lethargy or an unwillingness to look for another place? Or is it just the fact that it is a free mirror? The face that I see in the mirror now, is it really a disfigured image? Or am I now one step closer to the actual reality, ahving cut through the first layer of visual illusions?