Thursday, December 28, 2006


Good company always makes me happy and when that company is made up of some of your closest pals from college, there’s nothing like it. Last weekend was special. There was a PhD student from the US, a future entrepreneur, the bade sahab, a would be investment banker and of course the totally confused software engineer. And yes, there was some Fosters, Signature and Smirnoff for company at times.

Almost nothing had changed. The stud from the US could still describe certain things with the sort of detail that would make you see them, the would be business tycoon had retained his prowess to crack the silliest of jokes and then justify them, the bade sahab had not lost one bit of his paunch or compromised on his defining principle in life – “is edible, will eat” and the future investment banker was hyper enthusiastic as ever though he had started talking more about the Indian retail scene and the risks in the life of a trader. We didn’t party as such. Most of the weekend was spent sitting in my home and gossiping, reminiscing about hostel days, watching snaps, singing a few songs, listening to more and just lazing around. The usual anecdotes were told and retold. The ever green topic of ‘life ke funde’ was brought up when we got high. The trek to Neuli was relived through the photographs. Some more close buddies were called up to make up for their absence. The usual policy of ‘more laughter less words’ was followed at the other end of the phone by one of my friends. Everything was right with the world.

Then there was the trip to the malls for our friend to get some cheap clothes for himself. The usual dinner and lunch outings followed and the exploits of the bade sahab and yours truly were remembered amidst peals of laughter. As usual the four of us ended up ordering food for about six people.

Like the morning earlier, Sunday morning started with us having ‘maddu khana’ for breakfast on the insistence of our guest of honor. We then went to Barista where we sat for about an hour drinking coffee and just relaxing. Suffering from the effects of the super spicy noodles of last night we decided to have a light lunch and ended up having ‘Chicken & Turkey Ham Sub’, a bit of ‘Gobhi Paratha’ and ‘Dahi Vada’. As they say, when bade sahab is around, the food simply flows!

Soon it was evening as we were joined by the timely arrival of one of my flat mates and a fellow software engineer. A few snaps were taken as my flat mate and friend brought up his favorite topic of discussion – “To do a PhD or not to” and found ample advice flowing from the mouth of the stud from the US. To say that it left him more confused would be an understatement!!

It was a strange and nice feeling at the same time. I was very happy for the moment that we could spend together, doing nothing, all our worldly worries put to someplace else for the time being (although the bade sahab did have to answer to the call of duty on Saturday afternoon) but at the same time I was thinking of a few years down the line when most of us would hopefully have ‘settled’ into the life of our choices. How would we be then? Would we manage to stay as close as we have been till now? Most importantly would we find time to meet again for a reunion? I would like to believe we would. Till then though, courtesy my entrepreneur friend’s awesome Digital Camera the 40 odd snaps would be a nice reminder for the weekend we spent together.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


It was a bright sunny morning today in Bangalore. I was all alone in the house as my flatmates had either left for work or had gone home for new year. I followed my usual ritual of getting up, doing my daily chores, turning on the geyser, carefully arranging an assortment of songs to be played for the next half an hour on my computer which included aashayein, Lucky Ali and music from "Scrubs" (the most awesome soundtrack a TV series could ever have. Zach Braff rules!). Then I made myself a cup of coffee and stood in the balcony with the sun rays on my back and the music floating out of the hall. I felt wonderful.

My grandparents lived in a place called Silchar, Assam. And every summer vacation, we used to go there for about a month and a half. I remember it as being the best part of the year for me, especially the day the journey was made. The journey had three legs to it. The first leg was covered by a taxi from Bokaro to Dhanbad. The second leg was the train journey from Dhanbad to Howrah. Thereafter an interval followed, spent either at a relative's house or some guest house or (this was my best choice) the DumDum airport. I loved putting up at the airport dormitory. The evenings were spent watching flights take off and land and roaming around the lounge. What more could a kid ask for. It was easily the best day of the year for me. From evening to morning next day when the flight would finally land on Silchar airport I was on a high. I loved every bit of it. The excitement of travelling, the anticipation, the security check, the bus ride to the plane, the climb up the stairs, the airhostesses, the take off, the clouds, the landing, the smiling face of my Nana as we descended the steps from the flight. Boy, it almost felt like heaven.

It was huge two storied house that my Nana lived in. It also had a big garden and a pond or pukur. I remember how I used to sit with my Nana as he explained to me the principles of Profit Loss and Simple Interest. Yes, those were the days of holiday homework! He also had a plethora of bengali story books which I used to read. From Satyajit Ray's legendary Feluda to the more intellectually stimulating Byomkesh Bakshi to folk tales and hunting stories. My mashi also used to live there along with mesho and my cousin brother who was five years younger to me. Teasing him and giving him fundas was a favourite passtime. Evenings used to be spent either playing cricket in the nearby ground with the local boys and my brother's friends or taking a walk by the river Barak. There was no internet and even cable TV was a new concept, two things without which life today would be unimaginable. I used to spend days loitering around the house, watching people do their daily jobs: Nani doing her cooking, Nana tending to the garden along with a servant and playing games with my little brother and just lazing around at times. Oh and there was also a VCP in which we used to watch movies. Haathi Mera Saathi, Tridev, Ghayal... just to name a few!

We also used to have these fishing sessions in the pukur with the most enthusiastic members being my Nana, my mother and I. So I would quietly sit with my Nana at vantage positions patiently waiting for the fishes to take the bait as he went on puffing cigarettes. It was an awesome experience. The tug, the dip, the pull and finally the catch.
Once during my stay a fisherman would also be called with his fishing net. That day was special. Everybody would gather round the pukur (even people from other houses!) as the jele (bengali for fisherman) would cast his net and then slowly pull it out inch by inch. My brother and I went crazy as we saw the fishes sparkling in the sun and jumping about. My brother being more a localite than I, was more adept at handling all this stuff and often I ended up following his lead on how to catch a fish and prevent it from jumping back into the water.

My granparents and others even tried to get me to learn swimming in the pukur. So my Nana and Mashi (both being good swimmers) would jump into the pond along with me holding on to a banana tree log. I was very afraid of water and could barely let go of one of the helping hands even though I had two or three people close to me who would never let me drown. This carried on for a few years and though my braver brother learnt swimming, I didn't. Much later before joining college when I finally did learn how to do it, it seemed surprisingly unscary! (is that a word)

Then there was the ritual of gathering the coconuts from the half a dozen trees in the house (I told you it was a BIG house!). One of the servants would climb up the tree and drop the coconuts into the pond which would later be collected by someone. My Nani used to make delicious sweets out of these coconuts.

Coming back was tough, very tough. I remember my mother, my grandparents, in fact everybody crying. I didnt. The flight from Silchar to Calcutta would be so very different, though I was happy at the prospect of meeting with my Dad after a month or so. He would be waiting at the arrival lounge waving to us. I would run to him and give him a hug. We would soon be headed towards Howrah to catch the train to Dhanbad as he narrated the latest stories from our Steel City, like so and so got Rank 21 in IIT. Yeah, guess that's where my fate was decided to an extent.

My Nana died in '98. Even then I didnt cry. I dont know why, considering how close to him I was. He was the best story teller I ever had. I remember one particular night when he kept on telling me stories till we could see the first rays of the sun. I noticed that in the later years he became so much quieter and indifferent to happenings around him. He would even listen less. It's strange that even as I write all these I can feel my eyes becoming moist. I last went to Silchar in '99 for his annual ritual.

My Nani visited us this October and I met her after six years. She said that the house has changed a lot. The pond has been filled up, the garden is no more there. She also gave me the diamond ring my Nana had. She said that he would have wanted the same. It was such a different time, a different world.

And about the first paragraph, I had set out to write something else but then this came up.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Dust In The Wind

Its been exactly a year since my first post on this blog. Back then I saw blogging just as a very cool concept; techy and literary at the same time. Letting the world know what you feel, creating your own space amongst millions. My inspiration was the blog of a friend who happened to be the only one I knew who had one. He wrote quite beautifully, about things which I could at once relate to. To add to it I was nearing the end of my stay in my college and felt like chronicling some experiences, some observations about life as an undergrad. Also I had loads of time to kill. I was done with CAT and I didn't have to go to classes. It's not that I bunked them. It's just that I didn't have any. So the time seemed pretty ripe to get into blogging.

The switch from the personal hand written diary, which I had been maintaining from the second semester in college, was slow and uncomfortable at times. I didn't have the guts to lay open every feeling I had and every thought that went through my mind, yet I wanted to write about my life and things that mattered to me. Not social or political issues, not movie reviews, (there were better people to do that) but things which concerned my existence, my take on life. Interestingly, someone once asked me if I wrote for myself or for others, was I honest enough when I wrote, why did I think that someone would be interested in reading about my life. I think I still blog for more or less the same reasons for which I started. Primarily it was and still is a means of holding on to all that has gone by, a collection of memories and events which I feel like expressing. I do not care whether people would read it or not but at the same time it makes my day when someone does take the time out to post a comment. I am honest. I write only about things which I have the guts to lay out in the open. So there's still a part of me that's mine.

I am generally very happy when I write. I take my own sweet time to compose my posts which on occasions have taken entire afternoons and nights. I do tend to write and rewrite stuff, do some editing and change phrases. Is it to make it a better read for others. To quite an extent yes but also to some extent, make it a better read for myself. A year and about 23 posts later, I feel though that I keep harping about the same things. I have become very monotonous, writing about the same dilemmas, changes and stuff. But the problem is I don't know what else to write about. I am not good at commenting or politics or social issues. I have lost interest in the state of Indian cricket, although if Ganguly manages to hit a ton in SA (OK, its very remotely possible but please don't laugh), you bet there will be a post; and I have not been doing too much traveling (about which I love to write and used to in my pre-blog days). So if anyone has some interesting suggestions, please let me know.

One major difference from my starting days as a blogger is that earlier I used to wait for things to happen. Now I manufacture them on my own. Take this post for example!!

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Monday, December 11, 2006

Salpa Leftu, Salpa Rightu!!

Auto Rickshaws. How I hate them since I came to Bangalore and particularly after I bought my Apache. I didn't particularly hate them in Delhi. In spite of their demanding Rs 40 from the hostel gate to Chanakya and ultimately coming down to 20, I was OK with them. After all I didn't have much of a choice. Bangalore, though is totally different. Here's why.....

1) If you are in Koramangala, (quite a posh locality if you know Bangalore) they wont go to MG Road (the heart of Bangalore) and vice versa. Why? Hmm... my best bet so far is they don't like my face. On an average it took about six or seven attempts to get one to go from MG Road to my home in Koramangala after office and the way they refused was awesome. Some didn't even bother to reply and simply went ahead as if nothing had happened. Some stopped, looked at you and said nothing and only when you asked them the second time did they make the slightest to and fro horizontal motion of the head. Others said no with an expression in their face that would almost make you feel ashamed of wanting to go there. And the best one (this happened while house hunting); one slowed down almost to a stop, we ran after it, it picked up speed and went away. Attitude personified.

2)They start demanding night rates about an hour or more before they are supposed to and often do not come down beyond Rs 10 extra. Ask them the reason and they will say.."Sir, 10 ruphiya extra dene me kya jaatha hai ... "

3)There's no pollution control here, no CNG. Instead, all autos run on LPG emitting a lot of smoke and making a lot of noise. To add to it nobody turns off their engines at signals even when the signal has a timer attached. So for a biker (or worse a cyclist, which I was for a few days), these signals become hell.

4)And the most interesting part is their extreme unpredictability and unmatched maneuverability. On the road the only vehicle more dangerous than an Auto is an empty Auto. You never know how or when or why he is going to stop or change his speed. He may be ambling along at 30 kmph in front of you and suddenly decide to stop for no reason in particular. He may be at the extreme left of the road on a traffic signal and yet decide to take a U-Turn. He may suddenly decide to change lanes in order to get ahead by 5 meters. And if you are on a cycle or bike he pays scant regard to the fact that he may hit you while overtaking.

By the way, in case you didn't get the title, Salpa is Kannada for a little, "thoda" , and thats the way these vehicles run on the roads of Bangalore. But why bother, "Salpa adjhust madi!" (this phrase is not mine, but I liked it very much upon seeing it in an article yesterday)

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Friday, December 08, 2006


Something's not right today. It's mainly got to do with the fact that the feeling of being stuck in the wrong job has managed to push its head up through the myriad of others that keep wandering in my mind. I have been given the unenviable task of understanding and writing code for some application of which I have absolutely no idea. I have been thrown tons of industry jargons which I am finding very tough to digest. In short I am desperately waiting for the clock to strike 8 after which I head to a pub with a group of friends to listen to Metallica, Doors and Pink Floyd and have some beer too. It's nothing new to me though. I have these phases. Phases of restlessness characterised by an extreme eagerness to break free of this tepid existence and do something crazy which I can't do, or rather wouldn't do. There's this sudden rush of adrenaline. An urge to go out to someplace remote, isolated, attend music concerts, perform on stage and what not. I feel so restless during these times that I feel like taking the plunge. It feels as if I am holding myself back. Living a life that's not meant to be mine, saying to myself what can I do that will change all this overnight. Why does life need to be so predictable. Why cant I let myself loose. Ok, financial stability is one factor. I mean I cant possible leave everything and go on a world tour right now!! But within the realms of my existence there ought to be several avenues which I haven't ever explored. Possibilities which seem distant but are not. It is during these moments of madness that I look at myself, the kind of person I am and feel that something's gone terribly wrong somewhere. And the worst part of it is I don't know how to set it right.

Most probably when I get up tomorrow morning and start practicing "Sound Of Silence" on my guitar, all would seem right with the world. But someday, I think I will break free.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Just felt like listing down some songs/bands which have grown on me tremendously over the years, especially the last few months....

1) Simon & Garfunkel - of course for the harmony and the seconds.
Sounds Of Silence
The Boxer
Scarborough Fair
El Condor Pasa
Mrs Robinson

2) Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) - undoubtedly for his guitar. Its so clean and distinct.
Romeo Juliet
Sultans Of Swing
Boom Like That
What It Is
Walk Of Life

3) Bob Dylan - for the thoughtful lyrics and the unique folk feel.
Like a Rolling Stone
Tambourine Man
Blowing In The Wind

4) U2 - Especially like their 2001 Slane Castle Concert in Dublin and the way Bono introduces his band.
Stuck In A Moment
Out Of Control - it's so much full of energy
With Or Without You
Where The Streets Have No Name

Will add more soon.

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