Friday, May 19, 2006

Till Then

I think (and I seem to be doing a lot of it these days) this blog needs to be abandoned. That really is quite a harsh word- "Abandoned". The associated feelings are definitely not quite as deep.

Its been a little under a year since I began blogging, and while Juley has been my best till date, I really enjoyed the time I had at Feeling Monsoon. But going over my recent posts on Smokerings, I realize that I am not really the kind of person this blog depicts. Fifty five posts later, I think increasingly my blog reads like that of an armchair activist (which I am not), a hardcore cribber (which again negative) and finally, at times, a lonely, lost, heartbroken individual (which is so not true). Writing the way I do lately doesn't make me happy as I did at Feeling Monsoon. And why else would I write if not to feel happy? I think I would be happier writing things that I feel good writing about. Being the person I think I am- genuinely.

So I am moving on; and my last post on this page is along those thoughts and similarly slightly dark.

Yesterday at the end of a cab ride, the driver, a boy of about 18 (funny how I refer to people that age as boys and girls now) pulled out the fare chart and pointed to a number, mumbling something incoherently. While we seemed to agree upon the amount payable I couldn’t quite agree to what he seemed to be saying. I offered what I felt was right, and he happily pocketed it. I was in a hurry and slightly irritable since I had to give him directions for a short and regular ride from my office to Bombay Central. I stepped out, but in spite of the immense hurry that I had been in, I couldn’t resist the temptation to ask him in Hindi where he was from:

T.O.: Kahan se ho bhaiyya?
C.D. (Cab Driver): Chembur
T.O.: Hindi nahin ataa? Kyun?
C.D.(giving a very sad look): Marathi…
(Drives away)

Life makes people move for a livelihood or marriage, or just change. I have moved all over the country- in search of work and an education. My sister has done so too. RV moved to Dubai for work and then to Jersey City, marriage. People move all the time, willingly unwillingly. Such is life. Thus far I have moved at will, and enjoyed each move, but each move comes at a certain personal loss. Loss of friends, of family, but for the likes of me for whom most change is welcome I think the benefits of the experience far outweighs the inconveniences.

However, even for me, every time I move into a new city, a new house or in the past a cubby-hole hostel room, and shut the door to the world outside, and as the reality sinks in I do feel a certain hollow, a churning of my insides, and let out a deep sigh, which is often where, thankfully, the emotional trouble ends and the activity of settling down takes over. I often wonder what is it that happens when people move against their will. How do they reconcile to it? The loss, the anguish, the physical effort, and sometimes, the guilt of it.

For instance this cabbie, who has clearly been driven to this city from his village, not speaking the language, with little money to buy things which can ease the pain of relocation. Without love or loved ones. I guess for them it is only hope, only the promise of a better tomorrow, or the feeling of having their back against the wall in a place they called home, a feeling of there being no other choice, which is there to distract from the pain of moving. In his case the general bewilderment would be stronger still, knowing that he is in a city inhabited by movers-on, and a city which was supposed to speak his mother tongue and yet:

The boy who brings him his tea in the morning calls him “Anna”
The people who sit in his cab call him “Boss”
Those who honk past irritably when he snakes his cab through the streets learning the routes call him “Oye Hero”
The women from the dance bars he picks in the early hours of dawn call him “Bhaiyya”
The room he rests his bones in at night is inhabited by people, like him, who don’t speak at all
The only people who speak his language are the cops looking for their bribe, and they call him “Shyane”- not quite the people you’d like to call your own

But then Bombay still welcomes all and sundry, gives them the wherewithal, for each in their own right. Where dog and cat eat in the same litter. Where the city almost always provides for your need, but never quite enough for greed. And where sometimes one person’s needs are forsaken for another’s greed. Yes, that happens too.

But that’s it… I am the happy sort and I don’t want to write about this stuff anymore. And I think to change the script of this page is just too much of an effort. It is unlikely that I will stop blogging altogether. So, full of hope I am starting afresh at the following address:
Woody Allen (Annie Hal Opening Lines):
"There's an old joke. Uhm, two elderly women are at a Catskill Mountain resort. And one of 'em says: 'Boy, the food in this place is really terrible.' The other one says: 'Yeah, I know. And such small portions.' Well, that's essentially how I feel about life. Full of loneliness and misery and suffering and unhappiness, and it's all over much too quickly..."

Monday, May 15, 2006

A Debate on Democracy

This post is in reference to the recent move by the Parliament overruling the Supreme Court and deciding to stop demolition of illegal structures in Delhi for a period of one year.

I was appalled to hear the Cabinet Minister for Urban Development declare on national TV that when a majority of people is found breaking the law then we must question the basis of that law itself- or something to that effect.

I found this statement particularly disconcerting for three reasons. First, who decides majority and in which reference set? What is the purpose of having elected representatives and a judiciary, if everything is to be decided on the basis of numbers? And finally what sort of a precedent is the Parliament setting by this step?

First who decides majority. I don’t think the traders in Delhi who have unscrupulously gone about defacing the city for decades are in any form of majority in the city- perhaps in certain pockets of Chandni Chowk (and I know what a nightmare it used to be), Moti Nagar and Punjabi Bagh. Just that the trading community in Delhi is all-powerful and have mega clout when it comes to all things important. Whoever has lived in the city (and I have for the first 17 odd years of my life) is witness to the rampant mockery and the scant respect that this particular community has shown for the law of the land in order to pursue their economic greed. Needless to say they have been helped along by an unbelievably corrupt state administration. However, at this point of this essay I am not going to debate the rights and the wrongs of the case. Simply put, to say that they are a majority and their interests cannot be compromised, even if they have been on the wrong side of the law for decades, is such a travesty of justice and of any sense of right and wrong. I mean if you want to determine majority, rely on census statistics. If you want to establish a vote bank, do as you please. Do not challenge our sensibilities.

Next, the issue of having an elected body of representatives. I feel that while every democracy functions through a body of elected representatives, and they are expected to legislate according to the will of the majority, it is a tacit understanding that such a body will possess a vision which will steer the country towards development and progress by exercising its powers even if it is against perceived short –term majority interests. It seems that’s no longer the case in the world’s most populous democracy. And if the majority argument is to be applied uniformly, then first you should pass a legislation overruling reservations, because as a principle, reservation is for minorities and if the subject is put to a national consensus a majority of the population would oppose it. On the other hand, if the reserved categories form a majority in this land, then they have no right to demand the same.

Finally, what sort of a precedent are the Executive and the Parliament setting by passing such a bill. Can we assume that going forward if a section of the population which considers themselves to be a majority can take to the streets and just demand whatever they want- right or wrong? Can numbers justify any wrong doing? Just because a wrong has been prevalent for long enough, it doesn’t make it right. And it gives no government any authority legitimize decades of wrong doing. If yes, why have the police, why the judiciary and why at all the Parliament? Just let people muster a majority, take to the streets, come and cry on national TV, and do as they please, and just be a bully. How different is it from the days in our schools when a big fat “lala” fucker would flex his muscles and come and warn the rest to stay away from that new hot chick on campus? And just because something wrong is going on for decades, why should the Parliament just legitimize it by a ruling? I mean if your justification is loss of livelihood for thousands, then for the same reason shouldn’t we just exist alongside slums, no road widening projects, no environmental laws etc. etc. Just do the wrong, but make sure you do it for long enough, and that you get enough people in the boat, and then make sure that when the law comes calling you have a sickly looking wife, mother and kids to put in front of a TV camera to make a livelihood case out of it. And oh yes, all this assumes that you are Mr. Moneybags to begin with.

I think I should add here that I am not against public demonstrations, and taking to the streets. Hey, I am a Bengali- its in my blood (Inquilab Zindabad!). But I do possess a deep sense of right and wrong. And this time I think the people are wrong in trying to arm-twist the government into passing such legislation.

Other disturbing things… Docs got bashed up on the streets of Bombay. What a pity. Sometimes I feel bad for these people. They have a thankless job- and they cannot even protest. But the way they have held fort in this entire campaign is worthy of praise. All the roads that lead to the lane on which I live have been blocked off indefinitely for repairs. All except one. And that is a one way in the wrong direction. I think our state administration sucks big time. And I think we should not be paying taxes, rather be paid by the government to live in this country. But to quote GNR- “Who gives a fuck about your problem anyway, T.O.?”

And among other things this weekend I had plenty of time to think about what’s happening and what’s not in my life. Basically, I realized that there is too little to ponder and 48 hours is too long a time for it. Most people my age have wives, a few children. Housing problems, fights with spouses, hospital bills, weekend shopping lists, cars to fix. I have no wife to appease, no known kids, been living in the same house for 4 years and don’t intend to move unless thrown out, a recently attested near perfect health (Thank God for that!). I do no shopping though I did try this time around, my car just rots downstairs- just a calm peaceful quiet existence- a slient bubble floating 0n a sea of noise. That’s it.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Alive and Kicking

we spoke.
i was inebriated
you were well...
the usual pleasantries
the mindless banter
the usual cribs
about not writing
not calling. Not whatever
(Friday Night Nothings)

Your interview was
The beginning of a meaning
In your new life- and of
Utmost Importance

and another revelation
however, mild
that you now read
the word was just "Yep"
but I am sure I felt
your moist fingertips caress
my face, and stoke
smokerings of my mind

And now when I post anything which has even an oblique reference to you, I am reminded of a song from my childhood-

“Bhalo Achhi, Bhalo Theko; Aaakasher Thikanaye Chhiti lekho”

Translated from Bengali-

(No, I know what happened when I tried being babelfish last time around.)


For you:

But be, as you have been, my happiness... Randall Jarell (1914-1965)


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Those Were the Days my Friend…

I was at dinner with a client last evening when I spotted Bush. She was in the middle of an animated discussion, which she seemed to carry on single-handedly, leaving little room for other to participate in. Her hands seemed to have a will of their own, and regularly moved up to push her unruly hair back. Some things never change. Not even over a period of 15 years.

I walked across, the hug, the warmth, that smile, that look in her eyes. It was a giveaway. I walked back. There were no promises of meeting soon, no exchange of numbers. We always had those. In fact we hardly spoke. “Bush…”, I said softly. “T.O (or my real name)”, she exclaimed. Not even the civil exchange of introductions. It attaches a certain importance to a person, when you display such feelings, but refuse to share his identity with others on your table. For the rest of the evening, I kept looking at her from time to time, catching her glance and a warm smile, every now and then.

Circa 1991- New Delhi. Bush, PG, Dingo, Sing Sing, Poorvi and me- used to hang out together in school and outside. I was dating PG, but (as I sat listening to inane quasi-business chat) I realized that surprisingly, it seemed to be the least significant memory I have of those years. That year the six of us had landed in the same section in our school, and somehow drifted towards each other. Around the same time, most of us had, to the annoyance of the nerd herd, emerged from relative academic obscurity. And we weren’t even academically inclined. While every toher one in the top ten in the class knew exactly what they wanted to study after school (in those days it was either engineering or medicine) and where they wanted to do it, our foresight extended only to plans for the next weekend. And what weekends we had. Once she took it PG didn’t budge from her rank, Dingo not far behind, Bush and me, emerged every now and then as and when we felt like. Poorvi could make boys pee with her looks, while Sing Sing had half the school’s pubescent women lusting after him. We did all the school things together, and then some out of it too.
We shared:
Homework, class notes
The Backbenches; lunch-boxes
(Which were never eaten during the lunch break)
Running away from school, bunking classes
Front row movies at Priya
Five shows of JJWS at Uphaar
(before it went up in flames)
Cracking tests- even cogging
Excursions, long cycling trips
Diwali Melas, Holi Colours
Window-shopping at CP, Def Col, South Ex
Limited pocket money
Pizzas and Hot Chocolate Fudge at Nirula’s
Lazing by the pool at DSOI
(Choking over) The first puff of a cigarette
(Actually PG and Bush didn't -
all they did was shake their heads in disbelief)
The first Beer. Over Biryani at Dingo's
And other teen things that were in vogue those year

Cut to the present. Sports Bar, Lower Parel, Bombay. 2006.

Smoke rings form and dissolve. Much like the memories from those days. I know that Bush and I have lived in the same city for the last three years or so. So does she. We have each others’ numbers, but never get in touch. We always meet by chance, in bars, shopping malls and theatres. I guess there is a tacit attempt to keep them just that. Chance encounters. I guess our current lives are so irreversibly altered, that there is little point in doing things otherwise. That is one thing about childhood memories- they seem so rare and precious that you want to remember them just that way and not let the complications of your adult life distort them in any fashion.

But every time we bump into each other, I realize what a wonderful person she is and how little she has changed over the years. Part of it is because we meet like Thirteen-year olds and part as Seventeen.

And ah, she almost never fails to mention, that when we first knew each other, I was shorter than her. And wore knickers to school.
Lalala lah lala, lalala lah lala
Those were the days, oh yes, those were the days.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

In "D" Company

I think my parents are the only people I know who:

- Chastise their 29 and 31 year wards olds in public
- Travel by train as a rule
- Don’t use an air-conditioner (Eeeesh!!!)
- Don’t drop their kid (note the use of the word) to the airport
- Don’t pack three bags of goodies for their little boy when he leaves home
- Whose deep understanding of the English language excludes the expression “Generation Gap”

The consequence of the above is that when at that home I just sulk in silence.

Needless to say, I had been home to Delhi this Sunday. It was green, sunless and sweaty. My niece, all of 5 months (62cms and 4.95 kgs) had to be fed her first morsel of solid food. And as per regulations, the act had to be performed by yours truly. Delhi was hot beyond words, and I was made wear too many clothes (Maa: No shorts!!! Get out of that immediately. Me: Hey… I am 29- can’t drop my shorts in front of women. Maa: Yes, but you can still be spanked in public). In spite of whatever my parents think, I’ve executed my share of family duties for the fiscal year 2006-07.

The mere thought of having to act responsibly through all of Sunday was enough to make Friday and Saturday three pub nights. Unfortunately, everything seemed to shut early on Saturday, and so we hit upon my wonderfully stocked cellar. We sat up all night (I figured long back that at home, I am a bottomless pit when it comes to drinking). I spent most of the night waking up the neighbors, dancing, "singing and cursing– loudly and badly", lusting and then much, much later, marriage counseling! Once high, I am The Authority on almost anything. At some point of time, I even recall lecturing a certain lady on the virtues of paid sex vis-à-vis loveless sex. Wow!

Nu and Viper moved back to HK this weekend. M moves to US of A on the next. That is a disturbing sign. Everyone I know seems to be running away from this place. The Shack also seems all run down and out of sorts. I am really peeved.

But on the brighter side I now have “D” Company

What can I write about a person who dozes off every time I speak to her?

Most of our conversations are carried out late at night (post 11PM). The reason for that is not because she is the only one awake at that hour (ironically, I am told so is Ms. P, but not another word about her today), but because till recently our chats would be quite enjoyable, ending with the customary “Good Night”. Now they end with “zzzz.” Anyway!

D has been a real find. I had heard of her through a common friend couple of years back, and then met a her a few of months ago, over a lunch or something, to discover that all this while she had been tucked away in a cubicle, a floor below mine. Last few weeks or so, somehow (one never knows how) encounters became frequent, and I realized that I find her nice to great at most times. She has her moods, but then who doesn’t?

But it seems she doesn’t speak to single Bengali men when her Mom is around. Wonder why.

I am so tempted to write about the latest Mandal –related events. The scenes of students protesting at India Gate bring back memories (from my own “youth”, and not from Rang De Basanti). But I shall only say this:

Heard on TV some female Bong sociologist, wearing this condescending smile and a nine-yard sari and heavy lipstick, support the move citing that OBCs need reservation as most entrance exams are held in English. China and Russia (we are down to comparing ourselves with a defaulting nation) can manage in their mother tongue, why can’t we. Yes, sure Madam. Lets have CAT, JEE and the many PMTs in the 15 national languages and budget 1-year for the process. Next lets have the curriculum in those institutes in 15 languages, and since these people, by now, have no incentive to learn English anyway, why not have all companies where they are employed work in those multiple languages. Needless to say that there will be a backlash from those proficient in the dialects only, but they that later. One needs something to keep politicians busy. But before we do that, can you please name all the bones of the vertebral column in Bengali? If people cannot be taught English in 12 years of schooling, they can hardly grasp Anatomy, Biochemistry and Physiology in the first 18 months of MBBS. Like I have always maintained – reservation is a bad excuse for poor governance.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Lost in Translation


Friday, April 21, 2006

An Uncorrelated Regression

Read in the papers today that courier companies are likely to be barred from carrying letters which weigh less than 300gms. This is in order to promote the postal service, which is reeling from the loss of corporate and personal business. Incidentally, the Speed Post has for some time been advertised as the “Government’s own courier service”. Perhaps, they will pull back those ads, just in order to avoid confusion.

Some time back I wrote a rather verbose and laborious post on reservations in the IIM. (And then Anonym shatterred my random illusions of "writing well", by asking me to clarify certain things- I mean I wrote 2000 words and still left room for explanations!) Meanwhile, CII is urging the government not to go ahead with a certain social reform move, which includes job reservations in the private sector. Makes me wonder what next.

Are we regressing as a society and a country? Of course these two issues are uncorrelated, and it would be pointless to read between the lines. Which is precisely why I am doing it.

Consider, the Narmada Bachao Andolan- I really feel very strongly for the people who’ve had to be relocated- and think the issue should be handled sensitively and efficiently, but I am very clear that economic development almost always comes at a social price. Politics has had a field day. Courts have washed their hands off the matter saying that the one person who can resolve the imbroglio is the Prime Minister, who now seems like a politician who once attended a basic course called Economics 101. In my humble opinion, if the world had waited to ensure that each and everyone in Panama had been amicably relocated before starting work on the Canal, ships would still have been going around the Magellan Straits. I mean there will be broken hearts and homes. But the system just has to go on, while making things smooth for the ones affected.

I can only conclude that as a People, we are just pulling the country apart- and not just the politicians. Workers, Intelligentsia, Literati, Page 3, Media- everyone. Highlighting issues is one things, standing in the way of progress is quite another and trivializing it, is the worst. Of course, I am not prophesizing Doomsday. Nothing that bad- and if such things do happen, it will definitely take longer than my lifetime. We will continue to develop, at worst a little slowly.

I can go on but, Sadly…
Someone I was remotely interested in recently, today tells me that these days whatever I write seems rather “dry and tired”. After reading that now, I am in desparate need of some LOVE and AFFECTION! Wonder why? How does one end up needing the TWO? So rest of this post is quite something else. I shall begin by quoting Woody Allen (someone I resort to regularly when faced with such ponderous issues):

Alvy Singer: It was great seeing Annie again and I realized what a terrific person she was and how much fun it was just knowing her and I thought of that old joke, you know, the, this, this guy goes to a psychiatrist and says, 'Doc, uh, my brother's crazy, he thinks he's a chicken,' and uh, the doctor says, 'well why don't you turn him in?' And the guy says, 'I would, but I need the eggs.' Well, I guess that's pretty much now how I feel about relationships. You know, they're totally irrational and crazy and absurd and, but uh, I guess we keep going through it...because...most of us need the eggs.
- Woody Allen. Annie Hall.

In a fairly inebriated state, I was asked last night whether I’d ever been in love. My interrogator was a friend (he is the category I find really difficult to handle- overly helpful, good at heart, thick in head, and a really bad sense of humour, but more about that later) who’s my age- or nearly, and has been married for five years to the first woman he proposed to. Now, that’s a really difficult question to answer. You obviously know what to say, but the problem lies in addressing the flurry of questions it leads to. A few days back his wife had asked me the same question. I looked away for a bit, then looked at him and said “Yes”. To be consistent between husband and wife. And then it started.

To be honest I have not been in a “full-fledged” relationship lately. I have been mildly interested in some people, but not quite as much to really take it forward. Sometimes I have been snubbed early. Sometimes I have just lost interest. Even in the prime of my youth, it was mostly “In and Out”. Actually, its almost like I have forgotten how it used to be like to be in one. All that I recall is the slightly warm fuzzy feeling. I don’t remember the terrible fights. Nor the incredible highs. Not the frequent walk in the clouds. Not the occasional plunges into the cold vat of sorrow. I guess at the end of it all that remains is the fuzz. After the crests and troughs have been ridden.

And then I began to wonder why is it that we seek relationships? And then I found my answer in the incredible Mr. Allen. Like he says, we NEED the eggs. Sometimes I have wondered about the futility of it all. The irrationality. The craziness. All of it. And then sometimes concluded that being in one makes one a little more human. I mean, what is a lifetime?

I guess a lifetime is about experiences. It’s a compilation of the good and the bad, the high and the low, and what you are left as at the end of each of those. It is a summary of the events in your life and the people who you shared them with. Of course, being in a relationship is an experience in itself, but having said that, it does amplify the effect of any other experience. I alternate between chasing relationships and running away from them, but I have enjoyed every single one I've been in. And then the other memories, good or bad, that I have are more vivid when they have been experienced with someone else. Someone else.
Actually, I think I am going to contradict myself a bit. Every relationship is unique in its own way. It a set of individual experiences, laid out beautifully, like snapshots on the mantelpiece. And they just cannot be compared, cannot ever be replaced. I guess its because of the way people are. I see, and remember, in them little details so specific to each of them that move me and that I miss, and... will always miss. You can never replace anyone, because every person is made of such exquisite specific details.

Too much to think on a Friday night- Tank Up Man!!!
(Sree calls, Hollers, T.O. scampers, shamelessly late)
Just enough time for a bit of Ghalib-
“Ishq se tabiyat ne zist ka maza paya
dard ki dava payi, dard-be-dava paya"

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Response to the M Question

From an old friend - lost and found after seven years:

"Not married. Still romantically in love with the ex-girlfirend. Tried forgetting. Tried redating. Tried alcohol (lots!) but I'll just wait for her. Of course, there is a chance that the hot place underground might freeze over but...aaahh...such is love, or stupidity. One can never be too sure between the two."

To which my reply was: "Did you try drugs?"

To which there has been no response, yet.

May be I should have written:

" Nothing puts the colour back in seasons and the taste back in food, quite like a new found love" ~ John Green

Thanks to Anonym for this one.

A Reservation to the Policy

In a minor deviation from the domains of fantasy and the going-ons of my life that occupy my blog space, today I write about the recent developments on reservation. It is fairly serious stuff so I can only offer my apologies to those looking forward to a bit of fun. Also it is going to be very, very long.

My initial reaction on hearing of the move to reserve 27 per cent of seats in institutes of higher education for “Other Backward Classes” was one of disbelief. I was instantly reminded of the year when I for the first and only time in m life taken to the streets to protest against Mandal v 1.00. The year was 1991. I was 13, outraged, affected and endangered by the “developments”. Of course since then things have changed. I am a lot more inert, lackadaisical. My second thought was even if they get through how will they ever manage to clear Quantitative Techniques-1. Nothing matters much, nothing much matters.

This time around however, I realized that my initial reaction had been stupid, and out of place of a man turning thirty later this year. But that later. I am not here to write about the (de)merits of the issue. Enough is going to be said, and some very compelling arguments are likely to be put forth by both sides. First, I shall just write a couple of personal experiences.

I personally know only three persons who availed of the reserved seats and managed to complete their education in a single attempt. And that speaks a lot for a man of 29. None of them were deprived by any means. The first, son of a senior Delhi bureaucrat, joined IIT, D in Computer Engineering. While the temptation must have been great, he realized that he by no means could compete with the demi-gods who populated the benches of that class and within a month quit to join the same course in DCE. Nevertheless, he was smart and broadly intelligent and now works for a top US firm and lives happily with an American wife in Northern California. The second was the son of my Dad’s tribal colleague, who had lived in Delhi all his life. Joined Chemical Engineering in IIT D, went on to work on a Schlumberger oil rig somewhere in the Persian Gulf. The third was an exceptionally bright classmate of mine from my crème-d-la crème public school, who refused to take any chances, produced a fake certificate from her native village collector in Assam, went to IIT D again, and then IIM A and now sells soap in a top-tier FMCG firm. I neither went to IIT D or IIM A and I have nothing against the three. They did well for themselves, and so did I in my own meager ways. I wish them well.

There are those who argue that the reason why most quota students don’t do well in higher education is because the curriculum is in English- a language of the elite in our country, and thus a natural advantage to the general category. For such arguments I shall offer another personal experience. I went to an engineering college in a village in Gujarat with an extremely vernacular set of students. The curriculum was in English and hugely technical at that. I got straight As in all courses that year as the rest of the class spent their time translating class notes to Gujarati. However, the tables were turned very soon, as the rest of the diligent Gujarati class picked up the language through the dint of their hard work. My advantage disappeared and so did my rank. Somehow, I finished second at the end of four years, way behind a guy who had never studied English before he came here, and marginally ahead of another such girl. But I should mention that not one of the guitar swinging, Floyd chanting tribal students managed to get past their first semester courses. Soon they joined the ranks of academic outlaws for the rest of the years I spent there.

But today when I see this subject being discussed on TV in talk shows, I see certain things that I didn’t back then in 199- probably only because my stakes in the matter are much lower. At least, till the same applies to jobs in the private sector. I see the reactions of a predominantly “upper caste” audience to their minority counterparts and am filled with solid self-doubt. We as a generation were taught about India’s glorious history for years at a stretch. We were fed with the greatness of our kings, emperors and freedom fighters. They were stories of valour, greatness, of sacrifice and filled us with pride. The caste system appeared only as a footnote in a boring Civics textbook, and at a time by when we were already heady with our bubbly past. In the college years we were fed with pipe dreams of the Wild West, of a student visa, a Scholarship, and of GRE and GMAT, and dollar salaries after all that.

More recently, we’ve had everyone and their mother telling us the India Shining story. With well-padded pockets, fast cars and air-conditioned homes, who in their right minds has the time to ponder upon issues such as social inequality and injustice- about that footnote from the yesteryears? We were too busy digging our fingers in the sacks of gold, and to spend the money on things we didn’t need fuelled by ads we didn’t really see. About three years back, I cancelled my subscription to the Economic and Political Weekly – my only link to the grass root social reality of the country and with it vanished whatever little remained of my social conscience.

Given this context it is understandable that today’s urban youth considers a move such as this merely divisive and regressive (I don’t entirely disagree with). Unfortunately, its not quite as simple. It is really something else. A decade of arguably superficial prosperity cannot wipe away a millennium of old social framework. Today’s urban and to an extent rural opulence to a great extent serves to distract from India’s dismal political performance. At some point of time, we have to stop looking the other way (yes, yes) and pay up for the actions of generations gone by. The social deprivation, which has been consolidated for a thousand years, cannot be wished away just that like that. Yes, we have established great institutions of learning and industry. Yes, we have at least on paper enforced land reform- actually the implementation bit is true only of West Bengal. Yes, we have great socio-economic reform projects sanctioned. But there remains the implementation dilemma- the problem of access. Reservation is often argued with meritocracy but when 99 per cent of the people who clear the JEE have been to coaching classes to reach there, one must spare a thought for those who have no wherewithal to pay up school fees. One wonders whether they’ll ever be able to cough up the dough for FIITJEE and IMS. Will Dr. Bansal of Kota make an exception for even his own gardener’s son? Which brings me to my next point. That of who are really Backward Class and the entire economic aspect of the issue.

My Mum teaches in a state-run school in New Delhi. Most of her students are extremely poor, not being able to afford even the token two rupees a month school fees. Children of Dhobis, gardeners, rickshaw pullers, vegetable vendors, sweepers and scavengers- the lot. Most of whom are sent to school for the free meals and the wool for the sweaters given once a year. I have never attended any of her classes but given that she was the one responsible our tutelage at home (public school unlike public health is a fun experience); and since me and my sister (a gold medallist onco-surgeon) turned out quite nicely; and since my parents come from the compassionate, hard-working, honest stock I can only assume that she spares no effort at that school. But recently all sixty students in one of her classes failed, among other subjects in mathematics- something my Mum ensured that we took seriously and were good at.

In the witch-hunt that ensued, my very stressed and upset mother insisted that she had no hope in hell to fight the system which sends a child from a school to the nearest scavenging dump or to a far away subzi-mandi. The kind, which misses school for a month to do the housework as their malnourished mother, recovers slowly from her seventh childbirth in a dysfunctional public hospital. Who only gets one meal a day, the one given for free at school. Who has no electricity, and whose father comes home drunk and ensures that there is absolutely no environment or motivation for homework. If this is the situation in the capital of the country, I dread to think about what things must be like elsewhere.

The limited point that I am trying to make in this overtly verbose post is that reservation is hardly the panacea to entangle the mess of our social fabric that any way predates the Dark Ages. However, it definitely is the one that creates maximum electoral impact. It is at best a sexy headline, with no content to back it up. Which is probably why even after close to sixty years of having intensive reservation the poor and the backward remain just where they were- in the dumps. And of course while all other social reform measures are expensive, there need not be any additional budgetary allocation towards reservation. So while such a move serves the purpose of grabbing headlines and votes, the entire political and bureaucratic system can continue lining their pockets from the lavish spend on other irrational social schemes that are supposed to serve to eliminate this inequality. Of course I do have this debatable notion that a long-term solution to India’s caste system fuelled social inequality does not augur well for the future of Indian polity. It basically takes the piss out of the whole thing. Really, I see little future of a resolution if it is left to politicians to sort out this mess. Small question- why doesn’t someone shoot all our politicians in the gut? Social reform is long overdue in our country and will probably remain that way in my lifetime. Especially, because more than anything else caste and inequality have assumed in our country huge political contours.

Nearly fifteen years back I had taken the streets on this matter. I am not sure I would do it again. Today a large OBC section of the audience in an NDTV talk show walked out threatening to settle matters in the streets. Even more worrisome is that one prominent caste leader called Whatsizname, speaks of doing the same thing on national TV- and I see a divide coming up, in our schools, in our colleges and in our workplaces. Perhaps a civil war. But I guess in the end everyone will just get over it and the unreserved category will just work twice as hard, or leave the country and seek fortunes abroad. I will also soon switch channels to watch the Man United and Arsenal game. Man U will go on to win that 2-0. I will forget and so will NDTV and resume their near 24-hour coverage of the Lakme Fashion Week instead. Who cares? After all “Yahan pe toh sab chalta hai- char ke seat mein chhai log baith jayenge. Yeh toh apne khoon mein hain. Thoda aur adjust kar lenge!”

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Soul Purpose

Last night- we spoke. A sleepy me, in bed, (un)dressed to retire. You had just woken up. And for some reason had thought of calling me- perhaps because your reason to be in Jersey City was in Atlanta. My 30 bucks a month caller ID service does not extend to International calls. So I had no choice but to take the call. Could’ve been Buch. Or anyone else.

You spoke: in short sleepy sentences. I responded mostly in grunts: while flipping through inane TV channels; lest words betray more than is intended. But what’s there to hide? You had bared it all- so many years back. In black and white: on a train between Lucerne and Interlaken. And I …

I don’t think you remember the effect your sleepy voice had on me- the slow, sexy drag of syllables; the soft truncation of verbs. Perhaps, you do. 9AM was always early for you- whether in Nepeansea Road or in Jersey City. 11PM was always late for me.

Sooner or later, you will, for sure, get over me. Terminally. So will I. And then, we shall look back and laugh.

Or perhaps I should ask, why does love linger? Why is it that for some people the term “separation” doesn’t apply? Only existence. Or for that matter “the Significant Other”? Just an extension of the Self.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Random Walk Theory

These days it is not often that I get the time to visit Bandstand at mid-night. It used to be a regular activity a few years back, when AK and CDC used to live close by

First coffee at Reclamation Barista
The stunning shimmer of the moon
The crisp noise of the creased sea surface
The slight breeze making ruffling sounds as it makes its way through the shrubs
The mindless banter of us three,
The useless search for a dustbin - to throw disposable coffee mugs
And some sepia-tinted memories, wafting in and out
Mindlessly, taking turns, at wise-cracks and making smoke rings
All lost with a shrill cop whistle
A long walk back to their house
Winding through Mt. Mary- up hill, down hill
AK on some international call
CDC taking my trip,
Me lusting after her sister.

All that and so much more


I had forgotten how beautiful it could be.

Last night again- the familiar steps. Thinking alternatively about Sree and the some movie I saw- one making me curiously happy, the other drowning me into a cold vat of sorrow. The joy of belonging, the anguish of loss. It was a long, long walk. There was time for memories, for pondering, for exhilaration, and hope. Everything at once. The breeze was soft, balmy; and my thoughts were painted a hue of the silvery moon. Purple-pink blossoms everywhere. The lazy pre-summer sea, characteristically quiet.

Some random thoughts-
Will I manage to wake up on time tomorrow? RSP has to be the biggest JERK on this planet. Do clones have souls? Bombay is unusually flowery this spring. Why isn’t it always this pleasant? I am definitely not going to class this Sunday. Is it time to head back, yet? Where are all the cops? Perhaps no one comes here any more at this time. Not even jilted lovers. Do I like Sree? Or even Ms. P? Is liking a person, and liking their company the same thing? Will Dollar Yen trade at 115.80 tomorrow?

Nothing takes the taste out of peanut butter quite like unrequited love.- Charlie Brown

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Thinking About the "M" Word

It Happened One Night

Dedicated bachelor and more "scoundrel" than your average Han Solo, Peter Warne (Clark Gable) talks about his philosophy on love.

Thinking About the "M" Word

Peter Warne: Sure, I've thought about it. Who hasn't? If I could ever meet the right sort of girl. Ahh, where you gonna find her? Somebody that's real, somebody that's alive! They don't come like that way anymore. Have I ever thought about it? Boy, I've even been sucker enough to make plans. You know, I saw an island in the Pacific once, never been able to forget it. That's where I'd like to take her. She'd have to be the sort of a girl who'd ... ohh ... jump in the surf with me, and love it as much as I did. You know, the nights when you and the moon and the water all become one? And you feel you're part of something big and marvelous. That's the only place to live -- where the stars are so close over your head, you feel you could reach up and stir them around. Certainly, I've been thinking about it.
written by Samuel Hopkins Adams & Robert Riskin

Friday, March 24, 2006

I'm a RAINBOW too; I'm a RAINBOW too

I’ve been humming that line all week. For five days a week, though I might appear to be a boring pinstripe banker- Yes, I do have my colours.

Sometime this week a colleague noticed my apparently receding hairline. While I had been contemplating therapeutic action, those comments just drove me to the nearest drugstore and procure a recent treatment for the same. A man of action!

I finally went for a mandatory medical test and came out with flying colours. Some findings-

  • I still have a functional liver and a pair of lungs.
  • Cholesterol- something I had been particularly worried about post my chat with Thumps is ok.
  • My ECG, though it scared me at first sight, it seems is quite OK.
  • I remain A-ve. No surprises there.
  • Weight- I have gained 1 KG. Wow! 51 , and growing (bouncy baby of 29?)

I have decided to add certain other activities to my weekend routine. Current activities are restricted to going out, getting drunk like fucks, fighting, recovering and probably playing cricket or a movie. The latest development is that I have joined a six-Sunday course on film script writing. I was feeling quite tentative about it, and so I told the lady. “I am a banker and that’s what I have been for the last five years or so. I can write and I watch movies. I am not a critic, but can be critical. And of course, I don’t handle criticism too well.” She said, “No problem. Do you have a DVD player at home?” So that was that.

Feeling very Friday… and so I am off for the week.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

What a waste…

…of taxpayers’ (read MY) money. Sonia Gandhi will resign from The Parliament, then resign from some super-powered advisory committee, and then contest elections again. Wow…

Of course, thankfully in a country such as ours, things will never come to such a pass. Some men wearing unhygenic, white hand-towels on their scalp will sit on Dharna (a Indian community squatting festival) outside her residence. Fasts will begin wherein some fat ladies will go on an unplanned and much needed crash diet. Those with higher levels of zeal and political aspirations with try to immolate themselves. Of course, one mustn’t take these creatures loosely, they are the future of Indian politics- that is, if Indian politics has a future. Finally, in the wake of this unprecented and very public display of adulation, The Lady will relent.

Of course, the biggest beneficiary of all this will be The Great Indian Media. Hopefully, NDTV will recycle its news and features every two hours instead of the usual 45 minutes. Or perhaps we can look forward to a few days of this and nothing else on TV.

Truly… It happens only in India.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Sulk

My attempts at organising a weekend get-away to a nearby beach have failed miserably because my co-conspirator Nu, after getting me all excited, has invented some excuses. This was the last weekend that we could have done some beaching before the summer sets in. So now, I shall sulk the rest of the evening.

I am really good at organising holidays (takes me about half and hour on the Net and a few phone calls), but feel quite bad when things don't work out.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Some Findings of Note...

... over lunch with my boss this Saturday afternoon.

1. I might be off to London for a month on "work" sometime later this summer. I'd like that.
2. He knows I blog- but he doesn't quite know what a blog is. I told him its my equivalent of a parallel universe.
3. He thinks I blog on Saturday afternoons only. Now, may be I should change the time zone on the settings tab.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Might as well live

"Razors pain you
Rivers are damp
Acid stains you
Drugs cause cramps
Guns aren't lawful
Nooses give,
Gas smells awful!
Ya' might as well live!"
- Dorothy Parker

Thursday, March 16, 2006

La Dolce Vita

Relatively quiet Holi this time around. As has been for the last 5 years or so. I distinctly remember the last time I played. It was five years back in school. And what a time we had! Beautiful memories.

Memories… That brings me to the subject of this post. Somewhere along the way, I have come to the conclusion that the way we remember things is the way we want to think of them as. (For instance, in case anyone noticed, my recollections of Ms. P always assume a positive and optimistic shades with scant regard to reality.) The reason I mention it now is because I spent Tuesday night reading A Pale View of Hills. This is the second book by Kazuo Ishiguro that I have read and it has had the very similar effect on me as Never Let Me Go. And of course Remains of the Day, but then I haven’t read the book. The story simmers along, and then hits you like a bucketful of boiling water at the end. It is a very short and stylish book, set in post-war Nagasaki. The description of the city is limited, probably to indicate how little those who survived, wish to remember of the years that followed.

Now, I won’t do a spoiler. It has taken me most of yesterday to interpret the meaning of the book and I have relished every minute of it. There are these absolutely minute details, which are only there at the back of your mind when you read the book, but then fall in place as you sit down to piece it all together. Of course, as was the case with the other book, this one also invokes certain questions, which scream for an answer. The beauty of the language, the surreal symbolism (I thought the crossing of the river sequence was devastatingly brilliant), and the use of the “unreliable narrator” technique … Oops! No more.

What else… I got humped again by Thumps again for not acting fast enough on the “M” thing. I got stared but spared as I stepped out of home in a white T-Shirt on Holi. I must say that kids these days are remarkably well-behaved in this respect. In my days I do not remember offering such mercy. Spoke to Blue Athena- she called after about a six- eight months. I guess it’s the festival spirit. We signed off with the usual promises to meet. Bee called, in the middle of her workday, which of course filled me with insane hopes for a while. Then I saw Ray (literally forced into watching it by TinMan. His exact words were- “I suggest you stop lusting after women for two hours and watch this movie”)- which was brilliant- but only because of the soundtrack. I am not a great fan of biographies- books or films. Other peoples’ lives hold very little interest for me. The only biographies I remember- Gandhi (with DD showing it at least thrice every year, I don’t think my generation had a choice), Iacocca (because I used to assemble cars then) and A Beautiful Mind- which I consider Russell Crowe’s best work till date. Sri has returned from Colombo with a mysterious tropical rash- which I have been curious to find out about, but she won’t tell. Oh, I was also audience to IK’s pecking order theory of women, but I don’t think any of it deserves a mention here.

I have been meaning to write about this spring for a while. The yellow-green treetops are absolutely alluring, but I can’t seem to find the words. Now, how many times have I said that before…

I have been afflicted with a particularly disabling ailment of the alimentary canal, with the result that my diet now is strictly mineral and fluid. This line I read somewhere applies equally to me- I love eating, but food doesn’t love me back.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Waltzing with the Willow

How many times have you been witness to history being made, and felt pleased about it?
In my 20-odd years of watching the game of cricket, nothing compares, or even comes close to the feast on offer yesterday. In a trail-blazing performance, definitely the best in the history of the game, South Africa romped home to a phenomenal win, with a wicket and a ball to spare, beating Australia’s world-record score of 434. It is an event like this which makes a lifetime of watching the game worthwhile. Those who missed it- you have no idea what you’ve missed. That’s the way- I like it!!!

I saw the Australian innings for a bit, then again revisited to see the Aussies close off in style with 434. At that point of time, I was in no doubt of the outcome of the match. I concluded either SA will vanish under 100 or make in the region of 350 and fail with dignity. Not the type who watches every telecast game of cricket, I flipped channels, sneaked in a short movie, and other regular Sunday chores. I also watched a bit of the SA innings at the start to conclude that the latter was likely. Finally, at the fall of Smith’s wicket I went out for the regulation Sunday walk on Carter Road. When I came back and switched on the TV, Gibbs was belting away mercilessly. Lewis was hapless. And it was match-on in the Bullring. What followed is history.

The day was dotted with records- most number of runs scored in a match, most number of extras in one innings, most number of 4s and 6s … and so on. Surprisingly, the only individual record was the inglorious maximum number of runs off a single bowler. It really shows the true team character of the game. The grounds men were as unforgiving as their countrymen on the pitch. The glow-board flashed Lewis’ achievement and the crowd erupted in glee.

I think the most notable performances were by Ponting, Smith, Gibbs and Boucher. Boucher was amazing- made it look like a piece of cake. His calm I guess saved the day for SA. Ntini’s all-important single off what was otherwise a very good delivery. I had thought that Lee was going to york the fuck out of him- which he did, but our man played late, and chose just the one spot on the field where a single was possible. Spare a thought for Lee- at the end of the Australian innings he left the field unbeaten, definitely feeling the pleasure a job well-done. And found himself in the death again, this time entrusted with the unenviable task of preventing a team on a roll from scoring 7 runs in 6 balls. And then again coming this close to taking the wicket of Ntini and doing the impossible… and giving it all up. And I wonder what would have gone on in the team meeting during the break in the SA dressing room. Probably, something like the speech at the bottom of this post (which incidentally I consider one of the best inspirational rhetorics).

In the end it was the story of a team which decided not to choke, and go the whole hog. A team which put in 200% with their backs against the wall. I can go on, but I think the look on Ponting’s face as he gave away the joint man of the match to Gibbs said it all- no excuses, none of the usual cribs about missed chances and unfortunate umpiring decisions- just the look of a finished man.

I can’t end this post without a mention of the most disgusting piece of news I’ve heard in months. A 52-year old woman is raped in Mumbai. I mean what’s the world coming to? There’s always room for perverts everywhere in the world, but somehow I always hoped that our city was out of all that. Of course, there’s no telling when, if at all justice will be served again. This really, really upset me.

Any Given Sunday
screenplay by John Logan and Oliver Stone

Tony D'Amato: I don't know what to say really. Three minutes to the biggest battle of our professional lives, all comes down to today. Now either we heal as a team, or we're gonna crumble. Inch by inch, play by play -- till we're finished. We're in hell right now gentleman. Believe me. And we can stay here, get the shit kicked out of us, or we can fight our way back, into the light. We can climb out of hell, one inch at a time.Now I can't do it for you, I'm too old. I look around I see these young faces and I think, I mean, I made every wrong choice a middle aged man can make. I, uh, I pissed away all my money, believe it or not, I chased off anyone who's ever loved me, and lately I can't even stand the face I see in the mirror.

Y'know when you get old in life things get taken from you, I mean that's that's that's part of life. But you only learn that when you start losin' stuff. You find out life's this game of inches, and so is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small, I mean, one half a step too late or too early and you don't quite make it, one half second to slow or to fast, you don't quite catch it. The inches we need are everywhere around us. They're in every break in the game, every minute, every second. On this team we fight for that inch. On this team we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch. Because we know when we add up all those inches that's going to make the fucking difference between winning and losing. Between livin' and dying. I'll tell you this in any fight it's the guy whose willing to die who's gonna win that inch , and I know that if I'm going to have any life anymore it's because I'm still willin to fight and die for that inch. Because that's what livin is. The six inches in front of your face. Now I can't make you do it. You gotta look at the guy next to you, look into his eyes. Now, I think you're gonna see a guy who will go that inch with you. You're gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team because he knows when it comes down to it, you're going to do the same for him.That's a team gentlemen and either we heal now as a team or we will die as individuals. That's football guys. That's all it is. Now, What are you going to do?


Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Company of Ms. P…

… is desirable and desired, but a rare and much awaited event. Of all the women I have known post-pubescence, she is the one who has intrigued me the most. It is in part due to the circumstances under which we met, but largely due to the way she is. In about the six-eight months I have known her, I might have spoken to her some ten times, met about five, and wondered about a few thousand times. Every time I am anywhere around her, I am sure she figures the obvious awe I am in of her- I almost feel like a school boy in shorts. I think only once have I managed to conduct myself respectably in her presence. On that occasion, I think I was not given a chance to open my mouth as others at the table clamored for her attention. Such is her effect on men… I think Shakespeare said it best:

Age cannot wither, nor
Custom stale. Her infinite variety
Other women cloy.
The appetites they whet
While she makes hungry, where
she satisfies the most

Life can only be good when such meetings with Ms. P occur- like last night. Of course, I think I messed it up again.

I am really happy to get back home early these days. Have burnt about 8 GB of music in the last few days. That’s about 2000 songs. But current favourite – well, TinMan gifted me Shamur. Quite like it. And then I have bought a lot of books too. So go back home, put in a disc, pick up a book and chill... La dolce vita. Till recently, every time I splurged on books I resolved not to buy any more till such time I had read everything that's there in my house. But now I have changed that stance- I tell myself that I shall buy now and read them once I retire. Anyway, with inflation and everything- I should be in the money by the time I get around to reading. The excuses that I think of to justify my weaknesses. Makes one wonder. Currently reading A Pale View of Hills.

Other news- I have been inflicted with a particularly severe attack of Ariboflavinosis. As the name suggests it is caused due to lack of vitamin B but is easily cured. Its most common ailment is an uncomfortable pain that one experiences at the corner of the lips when one yawns. Waiting for it to pass away.

Till then…
We met, and passed, like shadows. - William Wordsworth(The Excursion)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Crash- Why Detroit is so Important to America

I saw Crash yesterday. I had heard a lot about it, and then the Oscars were announced morning our time and I made up my mind to go and watch it that very evening. I even garnered the company of Sreefor the same. Everyone else had already seen it, and I in my laziness have missed the luxury of hugely familiar company. First, I had to put up with the customary resistance that women always put up the mono-minute they figure out that they’re your last resort. Otherwise it was quite cool.

The movie began well, but ended up looking so affected and contrived that I almost sniggered in contempt. The entire movie had Ocsar written on it. It looked like this director chose the most sensitive topic in the US of A, picked the city which had the largest number of voters in the Academy in the whole world, and went about it. Of course, there was this completely All-American automobile touch to it. "Why do people Crash into each other?" Ridiculous. Then he decided to make the weaklings in the audience soft with emotion, and went for the jugular.

The audience was even better- some of the really dark moments were heartily laughed at. For instance, when the cop’s dad can’t sleep or pee because of his infection, people around me were actually laughing. What nonsense. I read on Uma’s blog this post on Maxim. I can now understand what kind of an audience caters to that. People have such a misplaced sense of humour. Quite morbid. Then on the way out, everyone had been inflicted with the disease of being nice, and well looked all thoughtful and moved. You could see people shaking their heads in disbelief and nodding at the same time appreciation. Wow!
I am not against "feel-good, do-good" movies, but don't push it down my throat puhleeeseee...

Thankfully, Sree had exactly the same thoughts on the movie as me. It was quite easy afterwards…

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Found this while browsing:

My colleague (and friend) Chitkoo has quit a "relatively lucrative" career in investment banking to start an adventure tourism company. Some food for thought.

In the meantime just...


aye saala
abhi abhi huaa yaqeen
ki aag hai mujh mein kahi
hui subaah main chal gaya
suraj ko main nigal gaya
ruu-ba-ruu roshni heyy - 2

jo gumshuda-sa khwaab tha
voh mil gaya voh khil gaya
uulon hathaa pighal gaya
kichhaa kichhaa machal gaya
sitaar mein badal gaya
ruu-ba-ruu roshni heyy - 2

(dhuaan chhataa khula gagan mera
nayi dagar naya safar mera
jo ban sake tu hamsafar mera
nazar mila zara) - 2

aandhiyon se jaghad rahi hai lau meri
ab mashaalon si bhad rahi hai lau meri
naamo nishaan rahe na rahe
ye kaaravaan rahe na rahe
ujaale mein pee gaya
roshan huaa jee gaya
kyon sehte rahe
ruu-ba-ruu roshni heyy - 2

dhuaan chhataa khula gagan mera
nayi dagar naya safar mera
jo ban sake tu hamsafar mera
nazar mila zara
ruu-ba-ruu roshni heyy - 2

aye saala - 4

Sree is house-hunting, but I don't think she'll ever find anything. She PGs on Marine Drive, but is looking for a better house , or rather a house in Bandra. While I don't think that living in a PG is quite it, I don't think she'll ever get around to living in Bandra after Marine Drive. The commute wuill kill her, and so will the place in egenral. Of course, I try to keep her hopeful, coz, as long as she is looking I will frequently find good company for otherwise dull Sunday lunches. Though she can be irritating at times, her company overall is quite a pleasure.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Weekend Findings

The World Is Not Against You- It Is Indifferent.

The above sentence was intended at unpublished authors. Some people use it more loosely. As did someone this weekend. I don’t know whether I like indifference in people. Unfortunately, I have limited chances to find out. People tend to react strongly to me. Too strongly. And my reactions to them are most often quite mild.

Hence, T.O is not against you, he’s indifferent.

This is what someone told a friend, loud enough so I could hear, on Friday night- in a slightly inebriated state. At that time, I was Outside the Shack. Smashed. And NASTY. Even by my standards.

Things of note this weekend. Bought a kilo of mutton biryani – that’s one-kilo mutton in rice. For AD’s party. Attendance was thin. So ended up eating quite a bit. It was heavenly and I just couldn’t stop eating for a while. There was little else to do. I was outnumbered eight (media/ entertainment) to one (investment banker). For some time I tried to follow the conversation. Soon the only parts which could distract me from my Old Monk and Mutton Biryani were the references to whose doing who. I have always been a great believer of vicarious pleasure. Or jealousy.

Was made to talk to a "prospect" on Saturday morning. Somehow managed to have a sensible chat- after a heavy dose of Alka-Seltzers. Three-fourths of the talk-time was spent cribbing about a certain common client. She in an agency, me in the Bank. Wasn’t too bad. Actually, been in sales too long- can have a half hour chat with almost anyone. As long as we speak a common language. Was asked, again, whether I could speak Bengali. Said:“Bolte, podte, likhte paadi- kintu podte anek shomoy lage, jaa likhi taa keo podte pade naa aar onno karo hathe lekha podte paadi na”. Delivered this sentence in chaste Bengali. Without halting.

Later, Hemu and I went shopping. Discovered to our respective dismay that Levis no longer made 501s in sizes 38 and 28.

Spent Sunday morning walking around in Bandra. No cricket this time. Walking, thinking and talking to myself, I came to the conclusion. That the Bandra I live in is a shadow of the Bandra I loved when I moved here five years back. When the traffic from work was not so bad. When fewer roads were dug up- lesser one-ways. There were fewer options, and also were fewer new faces. And strangers who were there were just as likely to be sitting (please note) next to me in Toto’s or in the morning local train to Churchgate. When Lotus House Books was a regular haunt- after RV and I spent about six months trying to find it. Danai was typically with Moods. To be followed by Canara Bar. Precious Sunday afternoons spent bitching about the Bank. Softened to submission by Old Monk and/ or weed, pondering what it was that went into the Bandra water that made the women so desirable- behenchod, paani mein kuchh hai. Of course, when I was younger and more tolerant, less judgmental blah, blah, blah!!! (Moods- in the seven-sigma event that you’re reading this, I miss you too.) I think I should move to town. Some building near the sea. So does Debbie. With a swimming pool.

The evening was particularly hopeless. First, had an argument with Debbie on gay flicks in general and Brokeback Mountain in particular. To make things worse, I tried to explain my stand in these matters. Spent the next few hours in Viper’s place, where I burnt music while his Mom tried matchmaking for me (bio-data hain kya?). I laughed through the discussions knowing that both her sons have arranged their own marriages. About 8GB of music - which later didn’t play on my systems at home. Hell!!! In spite of a university rank in engineering, I have neither luck nor knack for gadgets and technology. Wandered off to watch a play near Kala Ghoda- Nu, Viper and me. No tickets. Went to sit and browse at Cha Bar. Again, no luck. Ended up buying books I didn’t really want- the power of the following combination of letters- SALE. FYI, the count of unread books at home is 31. Tried Inox, to watch a movie- nothing worthwhile at that moment (Mixed Doubles?). In sheer desperation went to Ruby Tuesday- the worst decision of the day. All evening the mono-minute a decision had been made- Nu seemed to have an alternative. So when she began to moan and groan that Pizzeria would’ve been a better alternative, I just snapped at her- something I haven’t done in a while- for no apparent reason. Kept drinking beer through the day and felt really weird over dinner with Angie and Co. Somewhat sick. They tried to talk me into a cholesterol test. Insisting that since my consumption didn’t show up around my waist (I have not grown out of a trouser in ten years), it must definitely be piling up in my nicotine constricted arteries. Tall ask. Thumps disclosed he has Triglycerides. Whatever that is. Seriously.

Slept. Fitfully.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The English Patients

I am not a student of history, albeit I tend to be slightly fascinated by it at times. Whatever little I read in school is now almost subterranean for me. Consequently, I am unable to really figure out why India was colonized by Brits and we left with such a Victorian hangover.

The reason why I mention it now is that over the last year or so, I have stumbled over a treasure trove of European (or Latin American, Iranian etc etc.) cinema. And I have fallen in love many times over, with the brilliance on display. Only if I could understand the languages in which they were made. Being a veteran of DVD movies, I do realize that the sub-titles are never as accurate as the original screenplay. Since my involvement with Hollywood predates any other by at least a couple of decades, I do notice at times that the movies I stumble upon in French, Spanish or Italian have sometimes been re-made in Hollywood and the two are just worlds apart. For instance, whoever has seen Wicker Park and L’ Apartment would know what I am talking about (of course in this instance it helps that Monica Belucci was so much better looking).

Of course not to say that good films are not made in Hollywood. I even don’t think that my all-time favorites will ever be in a language other than English. There are many memorable films which have come out of their studios, I just think that others are a lot more experimental in their approach towards film-making. In many cases they have made me think longer than any Holly production. They don’t have to be wonderful movies, or even hugely memorable. Just interesting and fresh. Amelie, Maria Full of Grace Motorcyle Diaires, Cinema Paradiso, Three Colours, Decalogue, Jeux d’enfants, Two Women and so many others. The best part is that most of these movies don’t even come recommended. I just find them lying around in a neglected corner of my suppliers shop. It is like you just put in a disc, not knowing what to expect and two hours later, you’re a slightly changed person. Even the women are so much better looking. There definately is a culture thing as well- I mean a society in which menage-a-trois is a part of the regular vocabulary has to be more interesting than others. Of course I am sure such unbridled experimentation also leads to some disasters (IK- are you reading???)- and I have been subject to some of them, but on an average I have been lucky.

The same of course is true also of English independent cinema (Before Sunrise/ Sunset), but well that’s the way it is supposed be.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Avoid VD

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mindwritten by Charlie Kaufman

Joel: Random Thoughts, for Valentines day, 2004. The day's a holiday invented by greeting card companies, to make people feel like crap. I ditched work today. Took a train out to Montauk. I don't know why. I'm not an impulsive person. I guess I just woke up in a funk this morning. I have to get my car fixed. "Hi Sydney? It's Joel. Listen, I don't feel very well today. No. Food poisoning I think." It's goddamned freezing on this beach! Montauk in February. Brilliant, Joel. (referring to his sketchbook/journal) Pages are ripped out, don't remember doing that. It appears this is my first entry in two years. Sand is overrated. It's just tiny little rocks. If only I could meet someone new. I guess my chances of that are somewhat diminished, seeing as I'm incapable of making eye contact with a woman I don't know. Maybe I should get back together with Naomi. She was nice, nice is good. She loved me. Why do I fall in love with every woman I see who shows me the least bit of attention?

Monday, January 30, 2006

More Movies...

I saw Under the Tuscan Sun yesterday. It came recommended... And I can imagine why women would like it so much. The idea that no man is indispensible in the life of a woman must have its charms. Love is fungible. Frankly, I was not too impressed by the plot/ storyline/ characters etc- except for the fact that it happened to someone in real life. Of course, the cinmatography is so cool. Lovely Italian countryside- I had forgotten how beautiful it was. Just wondering- do women handle divorce/ infidelity better than men?

I had a movie heavy weekend. Most of my regular drinking buddies were out of town, so I just clung to various groups of people who were around. Saw Narnia, Rang De Basanti, and then Tuscan late last night.

I thought Rang De was really good. And not just for the reasons that people seem to like it for. Of course, the first half is really really cool. It brings back beautiful memories of Delhi - especially since it is mostly shot right next to my school of 12 years . The production quality is awesome, locations brilliant, the switches from the sepia to colour I think are smartly handled, the use of foreshadowing is also quite cool- albeit a bit overdone. The end was desparately concocted, but I frankly don't see any other manner which could have satisfied the audience. And then of course, at the end I left the hall thinking What the hell I am doing with my life... And that's something I haven't felt in a long time after a movie (may be Hazaaron...).

Narnia was ok. It felt like watching LOTR which came in a white box reading for under 11 year olds. I think I need to do NZ sooner rather than later. Saw it with a friend whose been there once and wants to go again.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Movie Recommendation of the Week

Saw Closer. Strongly recommend it. A bold and different perspective on relationships. A sensitive treatment to love and sex- and the singularity of the two. Of course, you have to be in a certain frame of mind to decipher it. And don't miss the track which plays while the credits roll-

Artist: Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan Lyrics
Song: The Blower's Daughter Lyrics

And so it is
Just like you said it would be
Life goes easy on me
Most of the time
And so it is
The shorter story
No love, no glory
No hero in her sky

I can't take my eyes off of you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off of you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes...

And so it is
Just like you said it should be
We'll both forget the breeze
Most of the time
And so it is
The colder water
The blower's daughter
The pupil in denial

I can't take my eyes off of you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off of you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes off you
I can't take my eyes...

Did I say that I loathe you?
Did I say that I want to
Leave it all behind?

I can't take my mind off of you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind off of you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind off you
I can't take my mind...
My mind...
'Til I find somebody new

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Message in a Bottle

Don’t smoke.

If I had to offer one piece of advice of any consequence or reliability to the young, it would be don’t smoke. Or smoke, but do it with the knowledge that chances are that you will be doing it for a long, long time to come. A cigarette is not an easy companion to get rid of, and many have kicked the bucket before kicking the habit. And yes, it is not about mental fiber.

Find new ways to feel good about yourself. Take up a hobby, join acting classes, read Dilbert. Do the daily Crossword- whatever. As you grow older you’ll realize that it is increasingly difficult to hit a high with the old tricks. Buy presents for yourself.

At work and life otherwise, remember that it is important to snatch small wins. Big deals will happen, but don’t ignore the small ones. At the end of the year you will realize that in summary, the small things that have made you happy, stack-up quite nicely.

It is perfectly ok if you don’t plan in advance. It is even ok not to know your next move most of the time. But try not to procrastinate. Of all the characteristics of the human race, procrastination is the most innocuous evil.

Dream. Dream of a house, a family, of owning all the music you could ever want. Dream of driving along the Old Silk Route. But do something about at least some of your dreams while you still can. The worst thing you can do to yourself is to have all these dreams, and rush through life, end up at 70, with all the time in the world and no wherewithal to do anything about it.

Do well at work, or do whatever you need to, to have the money. Money is important. It is the sixth sense without which the other five are incomplete. Without money no one is ever going to be around you for long enough. They might like you, even love, but at the end of the day, there has to be bread on the kitchen shelves and milk in the fridge.

Don't hesitate to change professions to make sure that you continue doing what you like. But never ever settle for a pay cut.

Dress well. It is especially important to dress well if you do not possess the looks. A good suit can open doors. A smart tie can get you a date.

Write. Even if no one is reading, write. Write your thoughts, your dreams. Write about the girl next door, the crack in your bedroom wall. Write whatever you feel like, but write. And after you’ve written, keep a copy. At leisure, read what you wrote six months back.

Find ways to be at peace with yourself, by yourself. It is the best thing you can gift yourself. Sooner or later, your friends will get married, have kids, and may be so will you. But unless you’re comfortable being with yourself, no one else is going to be happy being around you. Be your own inspiration.

Give marriage a chance, or at least long-term companionship. Like speech, commitment is a gift given only to human kind.

Respect age, respect experience. The most efficient model to success is to learn from others’ experiences. Be around people with experience. Keep good company.

Don’t resist change. Don’t resist temptation either. People bring experiences- don’t shy away from them. Don’t be afraid of making new friends, even if they’re not of your age. And yes, have a special place for friends from the opposite sex- they lend you a perspective that not any number of people of your own sex can ever substitute. Whatever you do, try and be nice to people.

Enjoy your vices for the occasions that caused you into them, and not for the vice itself. For instance, drinking with clients is business, drinking with friends is fun. Drinking alone is a disaster.

Procreate if you must, but do it before you’re 32. This will ensure that before you’re into your fifties, your kids will be out of their teens and are packed off to university. Remember, kids are a negative carry trade. Life is all downhill after you have one. If you don’t want them, always use protection. It has other benefits, but avoiding accidental conception is the most vital one. Be responsible in this respect.

Don’t be afraid of saying the three magic words. Most people like the sound of it. If it works, you’re in a for a cracker, if it doesn’t, its just some wasted breath. Relish and respect the precious few connections.

Hold on to people you love, but don’t be clingy. People like being loved, so do you. People hate being cornered in a relationship, and so do you. Learn to forgive in a relationship, but learn not to forget. When you’re 23 you think you’ll always meet people you’ll connect with. But when you’re 32, you’ll find it is not so.

While everything in this world happens for a reason, try not to find one every time. Realize that some reasons are best left to themselves: enjoy the moment. Live for it.

At the end of it all, don’t smoke.


I think I am going through a Mary Schmich phase. Wonder why- I can’t even pronounce her last name. So I decided to try out some of the things she suggests that every one should try doing. Consider this:

“Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people who'd rather be Rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but there's no reason we can't entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.

I encourage anyone over 26 to try this and thank you for indulging my attempt.”


Ah yes, I smoke.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Thanks Mary Schmich!

After the Sunscreen episode I have begun reading more of Mary Schmich. Her page in The Chicago Tribune is a good place to hang out for her writings. There are articles with interesting titles such as "Everything that comes in pairs is destined to become single"- a story on the cold weather in Chicago and her ordeal with gloves. Apart from her regular columns over the years, the page also has a collection of her stories- I don't know why is it that they are called stories in any case, because they don't really tell a tale. I liked most of what she has to write, but this one story I read recently has caught my fancy, and has made me think on busy as hell Thursday.
The story is titled- Vivid memories light way home for Christmas ghosts. The basic theme is summed up in the following paragraph-
"The spirits of the absent guests always remind me that Christmas is never just one Christmas. It is the sum of all the Christmases you've known and all the people who have inhabited them.
Perhaps more than any other day, Christmas is the measure of passing time, the collective clock by which we count out our lives. It's a mutating event anchored in unchanging rituals. New characters join any family's cast--new spouses, babies, lovers--but the old cast is still clattering around in the wings."
On reading this story, I felt strangely nostalgic, about that one annual ritual that we Bengalis, even those in exile , celebrate quite fervently. It is called Durga Puja- and for us it the most prominent festival of the year.
I have very vivid recollections of Puja- spent with family, friends, neighbours, and other close ones. Puja has very different memories for me, at various ages.
At the age of 5, holding my dad's hand, and being taken from one festival ground to the other, sometimes in awe, some times in fear, being scolded at for various offences, mostly lack of attention and obedience. The euphoria then was with the new clothes, of not having to go to school. The fear, was in the crowds.
At the age of 12, when I was first handed over responsibilities, at the local festival ground to distribute fruits for each of the three days. New clothes became less important- the new found recognition was more than enough. There were women to impress, but not with appearances- 12 year olds can rarely impress girls of their age with their looks- such is the rule of nature. The euphoria was in the responsibility, the fear was of anonymity.
At 15, responsibilities multiplied, and so did the hormone levels. A wild stubble dominated my face, and of those around me. All the guys I knew were ugly, all the girls enormously pretty. I remember doing the first stage appearance, bringing the goddess home, and then taking it away for immersion. The joy was in the completion of a job well-done, the fear was a failure in front of the girls.
At 17, the joy was at finding a Puja close to your engineering college hostel, the fear was of not being at home for it, and knowing probably for ever. Maa calling, in tears, to say that this is your first Puja away from home.
At 29, the joy is finding the rare few Bengalis to round up to do the rounds of festival grounds in Bombay, the fear, is of knowing that your worst fears at 19 were probably true. Maa calling to say that that ... that yes, it is your 12th one away straight, and not bothering to shed tears.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The Sunscreen Song

The Sun Screen Song
One of my favorite songs, is commonly referred to as "The Sunscreen Song". It is what sounds like a commencement speech, set to music. In fact it is not a real commencement speech (though it should be!), but rather a column that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on June 1, 1997 entitled "ADVICE, LIKE YOUTH, PROBABLY JUST WASTED ON THE YOUNG" by staff writer Mary Schmich.

Sometime around Thursday, July 31, 1997, Mary's article found it's way onto the internet in the form of an email hoax, claiming to be the 1997 commencement address of Kurt Vonnegut to MIT grads. The real address that year was actually delivered by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan on June 5. You can find it posted on MIT's website.

A year later, the email re-circulated claiming to be Kurt's commencement address to the Class of 1998!

The email caught the attention of Australian film director Baz Luhrmann, who is best known for two films — "Strictly Ballroom," about competitive dancing, and a 1996 remake of "Romeo and Juliet," starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes.

Luhrmann eventually tracked the source of the speech to Schmich, and contacted Chicago Tribune management to buy the rights to the words to turn it into a song. He took Quindon Tarver's "Everybody's Free (to Feel Good)" song, remixed it, and hired Sydney actor Lee Perry to read Schmich's "speech". The end result became the seven-minute long "Sunscreen Song".

The song received heavy airplay from American radio stations nationwide after KNRK in Portland aired an edited (about 4 1/2 minute) version in the spring of 1999 -- about the time of graduation that year. According to Luhrmann's label, Capitol Records, it became the most requested song on radio morning shows in Atlanta and Philadelphia

Happy 2006!!!

Car radio is a wonderful thing- discovered this yesterday while driving on the Pune Expressway, returning from the PARTY! So it becomes, the theme for 2006.
The lyrics to Everybody's Free to Wear Sunscreen, by Mary Schmich:

Wear sunscreen.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair for by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Saturday, December 24, 2005



I'd dare to make more mistakes next time.
I'd relax, I would limber up.
I would be sillier than
I have been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances.
I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers.
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but
I'd have fewer imaginary ones.
You see, I'm one of those people who live sensibly
and sanely hour after hour, day after day.
Oh, I've had my moments,
And if I had it to do over again,
I'd have more of them.
In fact, I'd try to have nothing else.
Just moments, one after another,
instead of living so many years ahead of each day.
I've been one of those people who never goes anywhere
without a thermometer, a hot water bottle,
a raincoatand a parachute.
If I had to do it again,

I would travel lighter than I have.
If I had my life to live over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring

and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances.
I would ride more merry-go-rounds.
I would pick more daisies.

Nadine Stair,85 years old =============================================================

It is said that this poem was written by Nadine Stair at the age of 85. Looking back on her life, she came to realize that the times she enjoyed the most were spent in the simplest ways. And so she wrote what she would do if she had her life to live over. It opened my eyes. It's so easy to get caught up in the rush of everyday life in the race for position and possessions that we quickly forget what really makes us content.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Missed Connections

Heard this song on car radio yesterday... Been humming ever since.

Sabse peeche hum khade - Silk Route O.S.T.- Let's Enjoy

Zara nazar utha ke deeeekho
Baitthe hain hum yahin
bekhabar mujhse kyun ho
Itne bure bhi hum nahi ....

zamane ki baaton mein uljho na
Hai yeh aasan jan-na
khud se jo agar tum poochho
Hai hum tumhare key nahin

Teri aankhon ka jaadu
poori duniya pe hai
duniya ki is bheed mein
sabse peechhe hum khade

Mehfilain aayi aur gayi
log aaye or gaye
tum jo aaj aaye ho
dil mein ho bas gaye

Muskura ke baat taalo na
miloge fir jo tum kahin
dekhna yahi kahoge
itne bure they hum nahin

Teri aankhon ka jaadu
poori duniya pe hai
duniya ki is bheed mein
sabse peechhe hum khade


One of the more interesting web pages that I have come across in recent times, is Craig’s List ( While there are links to New York, Penn and LA, the default page that opens is the Frisco Bay Area. Apart from being a regular regional site for listings, personals etc, the section that caught my fancy is the one called Missed Connections.

Missed Connections… is all about chance sightings in trains, bars and hotels, with a delayed reaction; some writings read on random blogs and comments thereon. Only faces, with no names, names with no faces.

For instance:
Walmart check out lane, 10 years ago
Reply to: Date: 2005-12-18, 10:52PM PST
I still rememver you had a rose tinted eye-glasses with a mole on your beautiful left knee cap. If you read this please please hit me let me know it's you.
Its crazy, but at time the posts are quite something... and so are the responses. I guess that's because the best things in life are circumstantial.