Monday, December 29, 2008

A Day & A Half In New York

New York, in one word, was seductive. It was like tasting a drink. Just taking a sip and imagining how the full glass would taste.

The mist that engulfed the city added to the charm. Walking through the fog which would suddenly break down into rain, the smoke from the roadside stalls, the little potholes which were beginning to get filled by the sporadic rain, the skyscrapers which would disappear into the smog, the people - fashionably dressed, the transient nature of my stay; all of it combined to give an almost ethereal feeling. You hear so much about a city and you know that a day and a half is never going to satiate you. Especially when it's NY. And then you actually go there and feel its pull. And I don't mean the tourist spots. What got to me were the possibilities that even a first time visitor like me could see. The life that could be felt everywhere. In the subways and on the streets. Inside the tall buildings and the yellow cabs.

I spent the night of 26th December with my friends. Roaming around Times Square. Like a first timer, I kept looking around the lights around me and clicked photographs. We then got drunk on Bourbon. So much so that my friend was in no state to walk up to the PATH station that would take us to our hotel in Newark. We therefore called up our friend who had stayed back in the hotel. He came and picked us up at 4 in the morning.

We got up at 11 the next day, checked out of the hotel, had poha at another friend's place in Jersey City and went sightseeing. The other 3 guys with me had been to NY at least a dozen times and understandably were not much enthused by the sight of the Wall Street or the Brooklyn Bridge. Nevertheless I forced them to tag along with me!

We had a 6 o' clock movie to catch. Ghajini. And apart from Asin (who I thought looked gorgeous) and the comic/romantic part, I didnt like the movie. Anyway, we got out of the hall at around 9 and drove to Mithaas at Edison where we had Gujarati Thali, Chole Bhature, Raj Kachauri and lots of sweets. Our initial plans to head back to DC after dropping our friend at Horsham were put to rest once we reached there at 12 and realised that it might not be the best idea to drive through the dense fog at night.

For 2 days I kept imagining what it would be like to live in NY and experience all that it has to offer. I wanted to walk the streets with the camera in my hand for a few more days and get a feel of the city. To visit its cafes, listen to its music, eat its food and talk to the people who live there and then write about them.

I won't say that I loved NY. But it sure made me want to come back. Not for a day or two. But to stay and experience it. NY left a feeling of yearning in me.

On The Road

For someone like me who's traveling by road in the US for the first time, the experience couldn't have been any more different from what it is in India. Automatic gear, lane driving, wide roads, no cattle, no villages or small towns in between. It becomes boring after some time. I was sitting next to my friend who was driving and was continuously falling asleep. But in the stretch between Horsham and Baltimore, there was a bit of traffic. And it was the better part of the 4 hour drive.

The dog in the front would keep poking its head out now and then. And the one in the back would disappear behind the tire. Thankfully the traffic was slow and I didn't have anything more interesting to do. So I waited and finally managed to get the shot I wanted.

This one was more interesting. The first time I spotted it, I was in the middle of my half awake half asleep phases. By the time I had my camera ready, it had overtaken us (our lane was slower). 15 minutes later though, courtesy some very innovative driving from my friend, we were again close to the small truck. I couldn't get the angle I wanted but nevertheless, this is what I clicked.

Snapshots From Horsham

It's a small town near Philadelphia. Stayed there at a friend's place for a day. It's one of the most picturesque places I have seen. The sun was out and the temperature was a pleasant 15 degrees or so. A welcome change from Minneapolis!

There was still some time before we left for NY and so I went around the place with my camera. And the squirrel obliged.

It was the day after X-Mas. So the decorations outside the houses were still there.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Friday Night @ Hard Rock Cafe

'All of us have our day jobs but we're trying to get this going full time. Let's see.'

I was having a conversation with Matt, the bassist of the band, The Phoenix Philosophy. He told me about a few guitar stores in Minneapolis which have a good collection of acoustic-electric guitars. My friend managed to talk to Ketan, their drummer - the desi guy who had first caught our attention!

Yesterday was a live band night at the Hard Rock Cafe. We had just gone there to spend the evening. So it was a pleasant surprise to find the bands playing. The first band, Major Fifth, didn't sound good to me and even though Matt and his band was a bit too heavy for my taste, with Grey Goose, they sounded good.

At around 12 o' clock the three of us were standing outside, contemplating whether to catch the last bus home or stay another hour and take a cab ride. Bensonwells, the last band for the night, had just started playing. I was beginning to enjoy their sound. And the vodka and Margarita had also started taking effect. A minute later, we were back in the bar with another drink.

It was a great evening. We ended up buying the CD from the vocalist of Bensonwells and today when I heard it, they sounded quite amazing. Just the kind of indie, alternative music I've come to like over the last year and more. And yes, I asked the name of the cute waitress who has been serving us for the last 3 times. 'Karen', she said. I told her that she is beautiful and she smiled and went away.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Wednesday evening. Driving to downtown.

Wish You Were Here. Witchy Woman. With A Little Help From My Friends. With Or Without You. KQRS92 is playing 'W' in its Classic Rock A-Z which has been running since the 1st of the month. Three out of the five of us are humming along with the songs, trying to remember the lyrics when we can. An NBA game awaits us upon reaching Target Center. And even though I just about know the rules of the game, it's something new and I'm excited as usual.

Thursday afternoon.

"The coffee's on me. Don't worry about it", Dave, the restaurant's owner, tells me. We've been going to Zakia Deli for more than 2 weeks now and I really like the food. I have the day's special: Kafta and Rice, and it tastes delicious as ever. I grab the coffee, take a copy of the local City Pages because the title says 'Year in Music 2008' and step out into the bright afternoon with my jacket unzipped. It's a pleasant -8 deg outside.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Not this. Maybe something else...

This is going to be a long one. So you might want to do something else.

There's a kind of satisfaction which comes with giving your best shot. Something often bordering on a sense of arrogance. When I decided to apply for a US MBA this earlier this year, I knew it was going to be a very uphill climb. Last year, I had closely seen someone go through it and even if I knew I would do things differently, I knew that I had a lot on my plate.

I had this feeling that this was going to be intense. And in a good way. I wanted to do it. I thought I was good at it. It would be something I hadn't done ever in my life. And it had the power to change many things.

Today I got a reject from my top school. A school I would have really wanted to attend. But wait. This is neither going to be a i-hate-this-flawed-process post nor a oh-im-ruined one.

I had done everything I had the power to do. I couldn't change my past. My weaknesses. But in effort and intent, I think I would have done better than a few who would get into the school. Blogs, emails, phone calls, forums, websites, brochures and info sessions. I did all the usual things. I made excel sheets too! But what I enjoyed doing most was asking myself questions. Asking myself what I wanted out of the two years at the school. And beyond. So by the time I submitted the application, I had clear answers to all of them. And most importantly, they were my answers. I wrote about them passionately. I poured my heart into them. It was quite liberating. I stringed together each sentence carefully. My transitions were good. The flow was there. I distilled out what my experiences and memories had taught me and I wrote honestly. Yes, I embellished my achievements. But they were small, personal ones. I feared they would get lost amongst the larger, earth shattering ones that others would have. Oh, you should have seen my essays. Each ending was unique. Each beginning had a bite. I know its like being boastful about myself. But they were. I don't always like what I write. But the essays... I really did a good job of them. The few who read my first drafts would agree.

Anyway, the fact that I have a major release to take care of tomorrow has sort of helped. And of course the new life. I am sad. I mean I had dreamed about getting the admit email so many times. I had played over in my head what I would do. What I would put on this blog. But now that it has actually not happened, I don't feel all that depressed or down. Somebody told be not long ago that I can make it a habit to cry about how things aren't going my way. But this email hasn't had a similar effect. At least no so far.

I am generally very critical of myself. So much so that I often hesitate to disagree or argue if I am absolutely not sure about my own knowledge or information. I hate seeing the faults in others till the point I am certain that I'm not misunderstanding them and that I have the facts right. So I wont hold a grudge for this. Disheartened? Definitely. Felt let down? No. Wished it had been different? Yes. Feel that the world around me has shattered? Naah.

This process has given me a lot of clarity. Loads of confidence about my ability to think and come to conclusions. I know it's not the right time to talk about confidence when you have just got a rejection. But it's after all the judgement 2 people made about my abilities and potential. And it's different from what I think of myself. There are still a couple of schools which might have different opinions about me. And even if they dont there's always a next time. But just having done this so thoroughly has given me immense satisfaction. I still think that I put in a great application.

I'm beginning to believe that what matters really is what you think of yourself. And then, what the people around you - those who know you closely, think about you. Because whenever I 've let strangers judge me, they've dissapointed me.

Anyway. Guess I am done rambling about nothing in particular. And yes, there are still new things happening everyday. Take temperatures of -32 degree for example.

A dream got shattered today. A huge one. It's perhaps time to start creating a new one.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Something New

The last three weeks have seen me experiencing a new way of life, doing a few firsts, and planning for more. I thought I would die to put them down in this blog. Strangely, I haven't. A time when new things are happening to me everyday has also been characterized by a lethargy, even reluctance, to write about them. Or maybe, I love writing the most when I have nothing else on my mind. But there are a few who still like what I write. Or what I used to. Some who remember that this blog turned three a few days back; who would still be happy to read one of my random ramblings about balance in life and such. About change and nostalgia and memories. This post, is for one such person.

I love it when it's snowing here. I love the sense of romance it carries with it. The way snow flakes settle on my black jacket and reveal their fractals if you care enough to look closely before they melt into tiny droplets of water. The day after a night of heavy snowfall is one of the most gorgeous sights I have seen. Especially when the sun comes out and the pure white snow dazzles all around me. The wooden houses of suburban Minneapolis which line the road that takes me to office, the snow covered parking lots, the lone biker who has perhaps been born and brought up here and is no stranger to the weather, the bearded, homeless man who stands with a sign asking you to help him - each day brings with it a new way to look at the world.
Mundane things like grocery shopping take on daunting proportions as I walk the kilometer long stretch to the mall braving the cold winds which make the temperature fall to -20.

For a long time now, I have wanted my life to spring up surprises. Mostly pleasant ones, I would say! At heart I love uncertainties. Yes, I do crave for the assurance that comes with knowing exactly what to expect from your surroundings and the people you interact with. But maybe because I have led a pretty predictable life, or maybe because I have a tendency to believe in miracles - I keep imagining that I would have moments which would be anything but predictable and mundane. Somebody told me long back that I am a romantic at heart. And to quite an extent, I think I am.

Today I find myself in that kind of situation. A new country, new faces on the streets, new places to visit. The working hours are different as is the way people work. They greet strangers here but at times ask too many questions. I mean do I really care if you put the receipt in the bag or give it to me? There are too many varieties of milk and I give a damn if it contains 2% less fat or has Vitamin X. But there are also so many shoes that I have already bought 3 for myself! At one level there's a lot to feel and absorb. It overwhelms me. I feel I would be able to assimilate only a small bit of it. Particularly because it's a temporary change. On the other hand, knowing for sure that I will go back to Bangalore which by all standards has given me a very comfortable, hassle free life for the last two years and more - makes me enjoy this 'break' more than I might have done, had it been permanent. And of course, the time of the year helps. I have enough breaks to go around a bit, grab all those deals and generally not work too hard at office!

I think I'm really enjoying my stay here because it's a huge shift from my regular life but at the same time comes with an expiry tag. It's like being given space and time to experience something and go all out.

Blogging will most probably be slow paced. As it has been for most of this year. It's contradictory I know, since there would be so much to write about. But I think it's only when I separate myself from events which happen in my life, that I am able to write about them. I take time to assimilate and feel the experiences. The spontaneous reaction is also something, I know. And I wish I had the drive to keep writing as and when things happen. On the fly. In real time. It would have offered a different perspective, I'm sure. But that's the way I am. And moreover, I don't just want to report events.

By the way, the Oasis concert was mind blowing. Matt Costa's opening act with his acoustic guitar was a treat. Ryan Adams disappointed big time. Oasis was out of the world. The stage with the 4 big screens. The lights. The sound. It was indeed magical. And yes, you could buy beer too. We came out with amazement and delight writ large on our faces. Went to HRC for another round of beer. The cute waitress looked way more hot. Or maybe I was too high on alcohol and music.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Updates From Minneapolis

"It's sad what happened in your country man..... So any of you guys from Mumbai?"

"No..but we have friends there."

"So where do you wanna go?"

"mmm.. Downtown.. we dont know exactly where though..."

"Ok. I'll take you where all the bars, restaurants and the discs are. Ok? You guys can then just walk around and have fun.."

"Sounds cool!"

Abdul, our Somalian driver, gave us a fantastic ride to downtown. He gave us tips on driving in the US, his opinion about the 'lazy Americans', the Minnesota winter and such things. He dropped us at the heart of downtown Minneapolis with the Target Center to the right and Hard Rock Cafe to the left. The near zero temperatures were definitely a first for us and after going around the 1st Avenue for half an hour or so, we decided to head to HRC.

The waitress there was the cutest ever. So much so that my friend and I made sure that we 'timed' our drinks so that we finished it just when she was around and not the other dude! Needless to say, our conversation was limited to something on the lines of 'So you guys doing fine' and '..whichever sauce u suggest ..' (That was the starters though. And she suggested Hot Sauce which was just fine)
A few drinks later, we went to the store and bought some HRC merchandise - sweat shirts and T-Shirts, and then decided to go out and do some more exploring.

Just as we had stepped out of HRC, we heard drum beats. Really loud ones. We followed it to find two guys sitting in front of the Target Center working up a rhythm with empty buckets and cans. A small crowd had gathered. I cursed myself for not having brought my camera along even as I watched them with amazement. They also did an improvised version of 'Eye of the Tiger' which really got the crowd clapping.
Unfortunately though, we had found them towards the end of their performance and about 15 minutes later, they started to wind up. The people went away but the two of us stayed back to chat with them. Soon we were talking about India, vegetarian food, tabla and basketball. They were locals and were planning a trip to India sometime in 2009. My tall friend talked about basketball and how he wouldn't have the height advantage that he has back home! A few 'Amazing show guys' and 'See ya again dudes' later, we were off, smiling cheek to cheek.

It has been good so far. Very different. It hasn't snowed yet but the cold will take some getting used to. There are very few people on the streets, the trees are naked, cars come from the opposite direction and then stop for you to cross the road and strangers invariably greet you with a smile or a 'How you doing today'.
From Abdul to Qasim - a Pakistani from Peshawar who enjoyed Bollywood songs but didnt speak Punjabi; the cab drivers have been varied too. Then there was Aaron, the salesman at the shoestore who spoke passionately about Bush and 'Change' and how it amazes him that so many people from India want to get into the same profession. He gave us a crash course on shoes as we looked to buy a pair which would see us through the notorious Minnesota winter. He said how, a common American doesn't want too many people coming from outside into his country and even though the Bangaldesh - India analogy didn't strike a chord with him, he is one salesman I won't forget in hurry.

I also did loads of shopping (I dont think I have shopped so much in my entire life) on Friday. We got up at 5:30 in the morning and by 6:30 had hit the stores, after walking for some 20 minutes in the cold. There was no rush as we had been told but from 7 to 11 I bought everything from jackets to full length T-Shirts to shoes to jeans.

And yes, on Thursday, a friend came over from Greenbay, Wisconsin. We got the shock of our lives as we found out the hard way that everything is closed on Thanksgiving. Fortunately, his friend knew of an Indian restaurant which was open and so at 3 in the afternoon, after having wandered through downtown with an empty stomach and a cold wind shaking our bones, we finally managed to dig our fingers at naan and palak paneer and some chicken biriyani. It was heavenly.

Lots more to say but for the time being, this would do.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Durga Puja Revisited

It's ashthami today and I spent the whole day at home, alone, working on my Tuck and Kellogg applications. It's the first time I'm not with my parents during Durga Puja. No, I don't feel sad. Just that it's a first. And firsts always get my attention.

Initially I thought that I would ramble about DP in Bokaro but then realized that I have already done it a year back! I have always associated Durga Puja with a sense of fondness mixed with loss. It brings with it memories of Bokaro, the pandals in Sector 4-D and 1-C, friends, family and the general sense of bonhomie. It reminds me of the time when everything felt right and worth waiting for, the time when my dad's 16 hour shifts ceased to matter to him and he would be at his cheerful best, the time when my parents suddenly forgot to fight, the time when my mother's exemplary cooking skills found new ways to delight. It reminds me of the assurance, of the belief, that I had as a kid, that no matter what, there was Goddess Durga to take care of everything. I think it's probably the one thing that still remains.

It was probably in 1997 when we visited Silchar during the Durga Puja. My grandfather had insisted that we spend it there since each year, we only went during my summer vacation. I don't know if this is what you call foresight, or if it was just sheer coincidence, but by the time the next Durga Puja came, he wasn't there anymore.

Today, amidst all this madness of getting an admit, a better job, a better life - I miss the simplicity of spending 4 days of Durga Puja as a child. I miss the joy of trying to land a 25 paise coin inside the bangle placed at the bottom of a bucket full of water. The 50 paise which it would earn brought with it, a thrill which is now hard to find. Yes, I know my essays say that 'coming up with technical solutions to complex business problems is thrilling' - or something to that effect, but you know the truth.

At around 8:00 in the evening I had got tired of my essays and staying alone in the house. I submitted the Kellogg application after looking at the preview for the tenth time (the extra care because I had sort of screwed up the earlier one I had submitted to Ross). I think I got it perfect this time. Almost 15,000 words and 7 months after I started this process, Phase 1 is about to get over. The end however, is nowhere near. Anyway, I put on the new shirt which my mother had bought for me in July, insisting that I wear it during Puja, and decided to visit the nearby pandal. A 20 minute walk through the evening traffic in the heart of Koramangala took me there. I walked in till I reached the place where the idols were kept. Like always, I closed my eyes, folded my hands and prepared to list down my demands in front of the Goddess. Like always, I could say nothing and just kept quiet for a few seconds. I then grabbed a chicken roll and a glass of masala lemonade and a few minutes later left the place.

There should always be something to go back to when you feel being burdened by the weight of carrying on. For the longest time, DP was one of those things. It's another story that when it was most enjoyable, there was hardly any thing which burdened or troubled me. Life wasn't nearly as complex. I wasn't nearly as demanding.

Pamuk says in Istanbul - Life can't be all that bad....whatever happens, I can always take a walk along the Bosphorus.
I hope all of us have our Bosphorus to take a walk along.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


It's the most incredible film I've seen in quite some time. The actors, the story, the spontaneity with which things unfold, the realism in the way the 'Guy' and the 'Girl' start feeling the nuances of the melody as they sing Falling Slowly; it's sheer brilliance. It's a film which gave me goosebumps and I don't even know why. It's a film which I knew I would love from the very first shot. It's a film which just keeps getting better and better with every scene till it ends and you are left with the scenes and the songs buzzing in your head. As musicals go, this one beats the few I have seen with its uniqueness in weaving the songs into the narrative of the story in a way which you have to see to know.

Right now, I'm just in a different place. Yes, this movie is that good. At least that's what I felt. So I'll leave you with two of its most beautiful songs. Get hold of the soundtrack. I could do a separate post on it. Each song, even the 'Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy', is a gem. But watch the movie before that. It's magical.

I don't know you
But I want you
All the more for that
Words fall through me
And always fool me
And I can't react
And games that never amount
To more than they're meant
Will play themselves out

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice
You've made it now

Falling slowly, eyes that know me
And I can't go back
Moods that take me and erase me
And I'm painted black
You have suffered enough
And warred with yourself
It's time that you won

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you had a choice
You've made it now

Take this sinking boat and point it home
We've still got time
Raise your hopeful voice you had a choice
You've made it now
Falling slowly sing your melody
I'll sing along

If You Want Me
Are you really here or am I dreaming
I can’t tell dreams from truth
For it’s been so long since I have seen you
I can hardly remember your face anymore
When I get really lonely and the distance calls its only silence
I think of you smiling with pride in your eyes a lover that sighs

If you want me satisfy me
If you want me satisfy me

Are you really sure that you believe me
When others say I lie
I wonder if you could ever despise me
You know I really try
To be a better one to satisfy you for you’re everything to me
And I do what you ask me
If you let me be free

If you want me satisfy me
If you want me satisfy me

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Why can't we start with a clean slate.
How can you know a person by reading 2000 words he has managed to write about his life.
Why does every action that you do and every passion that you have, need to translate to something tangible.
Why doesn't the world like nice guys who are underachievers.
Why do we hope for something which has very little chance of happening. Or is that why we hope.
Why are there so many Indian techie males who want to get an MBA
Why don't miracles happen in my life. Why doesn't anything even surprise me. Why doesn't anyone surprise me for a change.
Why do I sometimes absolutely love my life even though there is nothing great about it.
Why do I, on days, feel that there were somethings I did differently.
And why do I feel that there are so many things I want to write about but am waiting for a right time to actually do so.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Getting Edgy

What if your best is not good enough. Not that you can define best in this case. I mean theoretically, I could have always done better. Started earlier. Thought more clearly. Done things differently. Right? But you know what I mean. What if even after all this effort I end up where I started from.
The essays are coming okay and nothing unusual happened today. I'm still the optimistic applicant I was a few days ago but for some reason, this thought came to me today. Really, till now I have not even thought about what happens if all this comes to a big nought. 
Ignorance or otherwise, most of my friends think that I have already put much more effort than they have heard people putting. And I have enjoyed it actually. If for nothing then for having a different answer to 'aur, kya chal raha hai be aaj kal..' . And also because it makes sure that I haven't had to worry about how to spend my weekends and evenings. In short, it has kept me occupied. And if you are thinking what's so great about that, well, ask some of my friends. They will tell you about the virtue of being occupied. By anything
Coming back, I really wish that there was someone who knows me, who knows about this process and what it takes, and who would take a look at the drafts I have and say something like 'Not bad.....kaafi achche hain drafts.' The few to whom I have randomly thrown questions like 'Give me 3 things you would like to improve upon professionally' or 'Has growing up in Bokaro had any impact on the person you are today' or more demanding ones like 'Tell me what according to you was a very challenging time for me'; have been quite helpful in their replies. But sometimes the enormity of this process just makes me go numb. Content, structure, theme, tone, dazzle-out-factor, personal touch, anecdotes, coherence, transitions, uniqueness..... How do I take care of all this! And even if I think I have it in place, how do I know I'm right! Then I visit people's LinkedIn profiles and wonder why on earth would someone give me an admit! Ya, it can be a very very very humbling experience.
Anyway, enough of it. Bottom line is that this process can get to your nerves. Even when the going is good. It has this ability to take over you life. And sometimes you feel like having some sort of an assurance. That things will work out. That there will be that push from somewhere which will make the difference between a 'there' and 'not quite there'. So till then, it's back to how my 'unique background, values, activities and leadership experiences' will make an earth shattering difference to whichever school admits me. It's funny actually!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Cinema From Iran

There's a palpable sense of conflict throughout the film. The visuals are breathtakingly beautiful and shots of Mohammad feeling his hands through the garden only accentuate the sense of contrast between the natural scenery and the impending misery in the lives of the characters.
Rang-e Khoda is the story of Mohammed, a blind boy who comes home from his school to spend his vacations with his widowed father, two sisters and granny. From the scene where a blind boy is beating his chest and letting out whistles to imitate a steam engine to the one in which Mohammed picks up a baby bird from the ground and climbs up the tree to put it back in its nest, director Majid Majidi's attention to detail stands out. The acting is inspiring and I have never seen an actor play the role of a blind with so much reality and restraint as the boy who plays Mohammed. From his twisted smile as he recognizes the chirping of a bird to the way he moves his hand over his sister's face to know how much she has changed, every action of his gives you a peep into the world of a blind but inquisitive boy.
On one hand, Mohammed's granny is the quintessential grandmother as she treats him with the kind of love and care only a grandparent can give. She's tender and delicate. She cant see Mohammed cry and tells him that she will die for him.
His father, on the other hand, is someone we don't like from the onset because he is keen to find out a way to let go of his blind son. Its only when he manages to send Mohammed to the blind carpenter and comes back to lament to his mother about how life has been hard on him and he has no one to look after him in his old age, that we get to feel his pain and his conflict.
Rang-e Khoda is a movie replete with very touching but very real portrayl of human emotions. The camera work is jaw dropping and will leave you with a dozen images long after you have watched the movie. It's the final image, however, which is heartrending in its simplicity and yet manages to say so much in but a few seconds, that will keep haunting you.

Have you ever wished that you finished third in a race you won. Well, Ali, the central character in this film does!
Bacheha-Ye aseman or Children Of Heaven has one of the most simplistic story lines that you will ever come across. A brother loses his siter's shoes and tries to find a way to get them back. How Majid Majidi managed to weave a story around this which kept me rivetted to the screen will remain a mystery to me.
Zahra and Ali are adorable as a brother and a sister. The sense of guilt which keeps eating into Ali because he has lost his sister's shoes and the small things he does like gifting a pen or a pencil, to sort of compensate for it, makes for an engrossing watch. Zahra's role is characterised by a sense of understanding beyond her years as she manages to keep the story of the missing shoe to herself. Empathising with each other and showing tremendous maturity in comprehending the situation they are in, Ali and Zahra's actions in the film are simple and real. And yet, seen through the artistic eyes of the director as Zahra goes chasing her brother's shoe which has fallen into the gutter; these very scenes turn into magical moments.
With the same eye for detail, the director takes us through the everyday life of an Iranian family and the bond which exists between the members. And even though not as astounding as in the other movie, with the last scene, director Majid Majidi yet again shows his panache for brilliant endings.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Rock On

Cut out the part that Arjun Rampal has no idea of a guitar fret board and that 'brain tumor' is too cliched a concept to make an emotional impact with today's audience and Rock On is a very good movie. No, I don't like Farhan Akhtar's voice when he's not singing but otherwise he does a decent job of playing the role of a filthy rich I Banker living a 'half life'. Although he sings most of the songs in the movie and does a very good job at that, yet, for me it's this song which brings out all the singing talent this guy has. Absolutely loved his false voice in this one. The music is spot on and sounds even better when seen in the movie. The long hair and the costumes are cool without being over the board. Purab Kohli either knows to play the drums or does a super impersonation of a drummer. True, there are cues taken from Almost Famous and School Of Rock like when Farhan Akhtar does a Jack Black and jumps into the crowd during their last gig and even the stage is very Pink Floyd-ish but its all quite neatly done. A nice, feel good movie especially if you ever harboured a dream of having a band and are passionate about music.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Saturday Morning

Classic Rock and Hit Factory are showing on VH1. And they are playing some pretty amazing music. I'm sitting on one chair with my feet on another, writing the first draft of an essay. The smell of aaloo parathe coming from our kitchen makes me more hungry than I actually am. Plans are on to go to Purple Haze in the evening. It's been a while, so let's see. First day of my 'time out ' and already this Saturday feels better.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Just Another Post

Thoughts keep swirling in my head these days. Mostly when I'm on my bike. More so when I'm coming back home late and the roads are empty. For the last week or so, everyday, I have composed a post in my mind only to come back home and not at all feel like writing or even thinking about it anymore. Don' t really know what it is. Maybe it's the night. I have come to dislike them. They tend to make me very inactive and gloomy. Days seem so much better now.
Reminds me of these lines from a song.

The days are better, the nights are still so lonely

I've begun to find things in my job which I like. Strange, right. Because it has happened because of this whole process I'm going through to get me out of it and start a new journey. Even for the introspective guy that I am, this has been quite a revelation. I won't bore you again by repeating what this process has come to mean to me but I think it has given me a very very different perspective on most things. I am more comfortable with my self. I am not satisfied though. Far from it. And I remember the conversation I had with a friend over the weekend. About what our friends and families expect from us. What we, expect from ourselves. About batchmates and juniors getting 'ahead'. About 'wasting' quite a few years of our lives in chasing something which doesn't seem so real now. About winning and achieving. About things evening out in the long run.

In some ways, I'm not happy with myself. I have not achieved the targets I had set . And I have no illusions about it. I do not like to talk about those topics. They make me uncomfortable. But I don't want to jump from one uncertainty to another. And right now, I think I know a lot more about what I want to do and why this entire thing of not living up to expectations was in a way necessary.

I know a lot of this talk comes from the belief that things will go the way I expect them to. And right now, I would want to keep it that way.

Things have started to happen actually. Little ones. A push here and a nudge there. A friend giving an idea, a colleague coming up with an impressive point for an essay. Like I have said earlier, I'm quite liking this part of my life. I don't know how it will end. And even though I'm not quite the quotation fan as this guy, yet this one's too close to my beliefs.

Stupidity consists in wanting to reach conclusions. We are a thread, and we want to know the whole design. - Gustave Flaubert

P.S. I just read this again and it sounds nothing like the way I used to write. Anyway..

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

These Days

Suddenly there is lot to write. I no longer feel so frustrated with my life. There's much to think about. Write about. There's so much which can change. Isn't this the best part? Hoping, wishing. Struggling to find your way. Little victories which come after every few days. Small periods of setbacks. Stupid tricks that your mind plays to keep your spirits up.
Suddenly I feel more aware of myself and the world around. It's like I can look at things more clearly. It's a mix of confidence, dreams and fears. It's like being alone in a zone where no one else really matters. I like this shell of mine and I would rather be in it than have conversations with my friends. Doesn't mean I have stopped talking to people or I don't need them. The problem is that I would end up talking about a particular club in some B School and why I would totally love to be there. Don't think my friends would be too interested in that! But I need this shell more than anything or anyone right now.
Suddenly the setbacks and failures of the past which left me broken don't matter anymore. Because I'm sick of remembering them. Because I think I deserve a fresh start. Yes, I hate that word but I really think I do.
And suddenly this feels like such a huge emotional journey. Not only because it could set you on course for your entire life but also because, it's like looking at your life again, more closely, in a different light.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

This Part Of My Life Is...

About giving it all without the fear of losing.

After downing 300ml of Absolut Vodka in a Friday night drinking binge, sleeping for 2 hours, watching a totally atrocious but insanely funny Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay at 6 in the morning in the widest computer screen that I have ever seen, having Idli Vada and filter coffee to get rid of the hangover; I came back home riding my bike in an cold, overcast Bangalore morning. A cup of tea, half an hour of sleep like trance, the house owner's appearance after a hiatus of 4 months and a signature on a Rs 21,000 cheque; I was up and running in no time. Well, not exactly running. More like typing sentences for 'para 5' of my Goals Essay version 1.2. Had to get the crisper, clearer, better sounding version 2.0 ready by the end of the day.

I must have worked for a good 6-7 hours on my application stuff today. A running nose and the gloomy weather didn't offer many better options though. And I had made good progress on the recommendation front on Friday, so decided to keep the tempo going.
I have the basic structure to the all important 'Why MBA' essay more or less ready. More than the basic actually! I would say 60-70% is done. Sentences would have to be edited and transformed. Word repetitions removed and all that 'good writing' skills brought to the table. But I'm not too disappointed with what I have. And I've also sort of done the customization (why this school) part for Kellogg. And yes, I have a killer last line for the Kellogg version of this essay! At least I think so, anyway. I hope the middle - the lead up from my current work to my short term goal and MBA gets more seamless in the days to come. That's one part which still bugs me.

So this makes it the 3rd essay, after the professional and non-professional leadership/significant achievement one that I have sort of taken care of. The background/values/what will you bring to the class essay is still in the random scribbles state but I have a nice 'impact' beginning to it in mind. And it will be a totally unique one. No doubt about that.

By late evening, I had grown tired of thinking about the essays. So I thought I would get down to creating the logins for Tuck, Kellogg and Ross and set the ball rolling for the application process. That took a good 2 hours or so but there was a sense of urgency in doing it which I liked. I hate filling up these data forms by the way. Especially the GPA part.

Exactly 2 months to go before the first of my deadlines. I'm not feeling too bad about this. There's a hell lot to be done actually and I'm planning to take a week off around the end of this month. And for all those who have been issued a warning of getting bombarded with my essay drafts for review, just hold on for a little longer. You'll soon get your chance to comment on, critique and bash my essays.

So far, so good. Hope it gets even better.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Number One Hundred

The ones which remained as 'drafts' ....

26 Jan '08
[a conversation with my friendly neighborhood uncle. felt like dad talking to me. i was touched]

Hello Uncle

Atish, I heard the sound of Guitar and was wondering how come you're home so early.

Didn't go to office today. Wasn't feeling well. So akele hoon to socha guitar baja loon thoda...

Oh! I was wondering ye ladke log itni jaldi kaise aa gae... So I decided to call you up. Such a nice way to connect.... music. Come over for a cup of tea. I just had mine but wouldn't mind having another cup. Come.

Ok uncle, I'll be there in 5 minutes.
Do cup chai aur kuch toast vagaira le aana....

Nahi uncle, bas chai... kaafi late lunch kara tha

Ok. So, how have you been. I'm sorry yaar I couldn't talk to you guys properly that day. I was so busy with all the guests.......

Arre it was absolutely fine uncle. The Biryani was so awesome, we didnt have anything else on our minds! The weather was fabulous, the music was just right and you couldnt have chosen a better place for the reception. So your son left.......

......achcha ye sab choro, you tell me how have you been. What happened to your plans for MBA?

Applying this year....

You know Atish, it's very easy to lose sight. I mean you remind me of my days back in the 70s when I had just joined Phillips and stayed with friends just like you do. Of course Bombay in those days was not like what it is today and with a princely salary of Rs 700 we couldn't lead the kind of life you guys are living. What I mean, Atish, is that, it's the 'good life' that you guys are leading. Weekends spent with friends, eating out. Then you have your music. You have a great degree... you can let things drift and then by the time you wake up, it might be a little too late..

27 Nov '07
[the few minutes in the mild Bangalore winter morning, sipping tea...meant a lot those days]

I stand on the balcony, the sun on my face. The music comes floating from the hall. It's a bright morning in Bangalore and there's a slight chill in the air. I have a cup of tea in my hand. It's the start of another day. At times I'm joined by my flatmate. If it's his playlist then it's on shuffle and anything from Kishore to Atif to Hootie & The Blowfish is equally likely to come up next. If it's mine, then it's following some pattern. Third Eye Blind one day, Scorpions the other, Scrubs soundtrack or Simon & Garfunkel. I like the way my day starts. Earlier I used to make tea for both of us. Now our cook does that. I think he's slightly better than me!

I had my first cup of tea when I was four. On the train while going to Puri. Kullhad vali chai. I never had milk in the morning after that. Cha, it was. In the evening when dad came back from work, I used to have my second cup. And did I tell u. I finished entire packets of biscuits in one go! Mom and dad talked about office and other 'grown up' stuff. I chipped in with anything remotely interesting at school. I always associated this evening tea with a very relaxed atmosphere.

In college, milk replaced the morning tea (whenever I had breakfast, that is) on most days. The 5 o' clock extra messing tea was more frequent though. The best, by a long distance was the one we drank at Sassi. Especially during the winters. Especially after bread omelet. I can't remember any occasion when somebody would refuse to go to Sassi for a cup of tea. It was almost a part of the curriculum.
Then there was the 'Dip Tea' near the Library, to be taken in between classes or during Music events at the Convo. On the rare occasion when I found myself in the institute at night doing something relate to academics, yet again this was the place to have tea and take a break.

21 Jul '07
[when i felt like writing about independence. especially financial]

Its been just over a year since I entered a new phase in my life. One typically characterized by more independence at all levels, particularly financial. And going with my ideology of 'kal ka kal dekhenge' I have made sure that my bank balance is never able to shoot up beyond a certain level. I also managed to convince my dad that all serious investments and future planning would only start a year or so later. So all of it basically meant I went ahead and bought whatever I felt like and I could. A bike, a laptop, a guitar. I'm absolutely loving it. Savoring this free existence along with the knowledge that I'm not doing anything wrong.

29 Mar '07
[my first and only attempt at fiction. i was downright pathetic and somehow always felt that i was copying both the form and content from somewhere.. old man and the sea? dont know. the idea, however came from this picture my dad had taken in Puri. of a man and his son, standing by the boat with the day's catch.]

He was about fourteen. Standing there with his back to the sea, his dark, wet skin glistening in the last rays of the sun, he was a picture of satisfaction. In front of him lay the day's catch, enough to ensure a week's supplies. His father tended to the boat looking for any cracks or damages while he played with the sand. Soon, both headed towards the wholesale market as the setting sun marked the end of yet another day. A day spent on a small boat in the middle of the sea. At the wholesale market, they would sell their catch to the local dealer who would in turn head to the man responsible for packaging, cold storage and transportation and a few days later, some Bengali in New Delhi's C R Park would eat the same fish for dinner, cooked deliciously in mustard oil by his wife, knowing little about the fourteen year old who formed the first link, in a series of many, between him and the fish on his plate.

Life was tough but not unfair in the little village in coastal Andhra. Most of the population earned their livelihood from the bounties of the sea. The sea which gave them their life. Shrinivas, or Shrini as he was called had gone along with his father in his fishing boat for as long as he could remember. He loved the sea and its sights and sounds. The sunrise which would see them push their tiny boat over the waves and head for calmer waters in the middle of the sea never failed to amaze him. The lazy afternoons which saw them taking a rest in the shadow of the boat's mast after having cast the net, waiting for the fish to come, soothed him. Wherever the eyes went, there was water, dotted with a few boats here and there, of fellow villagers and fishermen. There was no sound except that of the waves lapping the sides of the boat and the birds flying by. Shrini chatted with his father, learning new tricks everyday, hearing stories of the sea when his father was his age. That's the way it had always been. They were a generation of fisherman, each following the same method to learn the tricks of the trade. To them it was the only way to grow up, to lead a life.

25 Jan '07
[about friendship..]

They are the people you spend your entire day with. Once out of home, they are the ones that make you feel at home, become your family. Sure they were there even when you were a kid and had your ma and baba besides you. You had the "best friends" and the other friends, the ones you grew up playing cricket, badminton and a whole lot of on-the-road games. Then college happens and more importantly you get to know about a certain place called Hostel. Friendship takes on a completely different hue as you start to live day in day out with the same set of people who start exerting their influences on your life involuntarily. You pick up some of their styles. Be it the manner of speaking or their posture....

Monday, August 04, 2008

Never Let Me Go

I don't know how you pick your books. I read the title and the blurb. So when I found this book - Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro among the others my father had recently bought, I thought it might be a good time to get back to reading again.

The story is about Kathy, Tommy and Ruth as they spend their lives in Hailsham, a boarding school in the English countryside. As a thirty-something Kathy starts reminiscing about her childhood days, we are drawn to a world where everyone is brought up to become 'carers' and 'donors'. Ishiguro conjures up a world which is difficult to comprehend. We dont even fully know what these terms mean. Yet, he manages to put in the same ethos, the same doubts, the same little joys that we all must have felt while growing up. From the sense of pride in collecting items, to the fear of asking an elder about something we know is forbidden, from the love-hate relationships we had with our friends to the games we played; the process of growing up, getting to know the world around us but at the same time having one of our own is vividly portrayed throughout the narrative.

Reading the book is almost like walking through mist. There's a sense of apprehension which never leaves you. You are not quite sure of what to expect though you have some idea of what's coming. A delicate thread binds all the three principal characters. You can almost feel that it could snap anytime and change the course of the novel. It is this sense of fragility which makes the novel a pageturner. It's hard to 'let go'. Because even though as you read on and begin to feel that the end would leave you unsatisfied and sad, yet you want to get to it. To know for sure.

Never Let Me Go is a novel about a special bunch of kids. Their visions of adulthood, their struggle to come to terms with who they are and their hopes of achieving something which isn't meant for them. It's a story of friendship and love and the complex dynamics that rule most human relations. It hits you and would stay with you long after you have closed the book. It doesn't leave a good feeling even. It leaves you with more questions than answers. But it's a unique story. So removed from reality yet so close to it. And the most striking thing was the fact that at so many levels, I was able to identify with it. The english countryside description with its hillocks and ponds reminded me of similar ones I have read or listened to. And so many emotions which Kathy, Tommy and Ruth go through have been ones that I have felt in the near past.

It's an odd world that this novel is set in. Even after having read it only recently and now writing about it, I don't really know how to talk about it. Except that it's very human. And it has got an amazing pace to it. Not too fast. Not too slow. I didn't quite like his other book, 'When We Were Orphans'. But this one definitely makes me want to read more from Ishiguro.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Of Home and Conversations With Mom & Dad

Home has been good so far. The 'goals' essays hasn't yet come up though there has been slight progress. What's been particularly relieving and almost a surprise has been the conversations I've had with my parents. It's not that I didnt talk to my parents. But of late I had run out of topics. I didn't know if I should be troubling them with my worries and fears. And since there were so many of them, I mostly kept quiet, chatting about inconsequential things and getting my mother to complain that I had become a big bore. This time around though, I had a heart to heart talk with her. About things which I hadnt told her before. Things which are very close to me. It was nice. It eased me. No, she didn't come up with any miraculous solution to my problems, but I trust you to know what I mean. And of course we talked about Bangalore and my friends.

With dad, it was more professional. We talked about the schools I am applying to and the merits of an US MBA. My dreams. This over a few pegs of Absolut Vodka. I made him give me some points on the background/values essays (I mean who better than my dad to do it, right!) and we did come up with some pretty good points. And themes. This was over a glass of Red Wine. And of course, there was the usual talk of values, money, dreams, hopes, failures, friends, relatives. And I did my this-time-next-year thing to which he went ahead and did something like this-time-3-years-hence and what not.

I'm not the kind who is particularly fond of quotes. I like them. They even get stuck at times. And I've tried to maintain a list at different times in my life. But I came across this diary my dad showed to me. He's written down some stuff. A few incidents. Some thoughts. And there were some quotes at the end of it. Some, as I said, stuck.

Words are, of course the most powerful drug used by mankind - Kipling

Never apologize for showing feelings. When you do so, you apologize for the truth - Benjamin Disraeli

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


I hardly dream. Not just the flying over mountains kinds, you know. I dont think much about the future. What would I be doing same time next year. What will happen 5 years hence. I think it scares me. Thinking about it might ruin its chances of it actually happening. Superstition? Dont know. Come to think of it, every time I have, nothing like it has actually happened. Strengthening my belief that it's best just to keep doing whatever you are supposed to, without thinking that it will eventually yield the results you want it to.

But I've started dreaming again. The same-time-next-year, same-time-6-months-later kind of dreams. Maybe I'm so used to seeing them get shattered that I no longer care if they are. Maybe constantly losing can lend you a certain degree of fearlessness. A confidence even. Maybe the law of averages will finally catch up. May be I've changed.
There's a feeling that things are actually falling into place. A feeling that this is right.

I've started to look at things in a different light. Have been forced to in a way. But its hugely rewarding at times. The vaguest of things are slowly starting to take shape. Sitting in my room and thinking about what I want from my life and why, seemed the most impossible thing to do a few months ago. But almost every day I can find myself scribbling away at the text documents titled "Notes" or "Goals Essay" or "Why MBA". I love talking about it and thinking about it. I keep waiting for those rare moments when something suddenly becomes that bit more clear. They are few and far in between but I'm willing to wait. I'm generally an under confident guy. Those who know me might put it as humility. I guess they are nice people. But I know that at times I find it hard to believe in myself. This time around though, it's different. It's almost like all this while nothing happened because this was in store. And no, its not just about gut feel. It's about doing almost everything that is there to be done. It's about deriving strength from the self. It's about having the knowledge of having seen someone go through it.

I wish I could write about this phase of my life. It's very different from the last ones. But I'm still scared. I would rather have it all in my mind and just do what I'm supposed to do right now.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Taking A Walk

A guard talking to his relatives. I know the dialect he's using. A baby crying as his father tries to quieten him. A guy standing on the balcony and talking to his parents at home. Explaining why he wasn't able to call earlier. Too much work, he says. I wonder if thats the real reason. A car goes screaming past me. A couple taking a walk. The TV is on in a house. Some stock market stuff. I think about my stocks for a moment and realize there's no point. The weather is gorgeous. Even by the city's standards.

Long time since I took one of these walks. This one's short though. Hardly 20 minutes. I want to think about my essays but nothing really comes to my mind. Instead I just let it wander. Think about same time, last year. I do a little chain of thoughts thing. But come back after a minute or so. I fast forward to 2009. A thought makes me smile. I head back home.

Monday, June 16, 2008

On Track

I woke up at 6:00 today. That's like a good 3-4 hours before I usually do. I glanced through the text document which had the questions I wanted to ask him. I didnt want to miss anything.
To my frustration, I found his answering machine at the other end of the line. I shut down the computer lid and went back to sleep. Another great beginning to a week, I thought.

We talked for a little over 40 minutes. Yes, I woke up again at 10, checked my mail and found that he would be free. It was awesome. He spoke passionately about his school. Patiently answered my questions (there were quite a few "That's a great question, Atish" in between too!). He made so much sense and more importantly for me, he said that I made sense.

"All the best with the application process, Atish. Call me up or shoot me a mail whenever you have any questions regarding anything."

The B school students I have been talking to have been very helpful. But this morning's conversation was the best so far. It helped me come out of yesterday night's gloom. I think I'm back on track.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Looking Forward

Life can be overwhelming at times. So many things happening around you. And others that are not. Your life is intertwined with the lives of others. And all of it affects you. Even the smallest ones. Butterfly Effect, I guess.

It seems quite a struggle right now. So much to think about. Introspect. The Whys and the Hows. Every action, every wish has to be backed by logic. There's a lot to be done in the coming months and even thinking about all of it makes me uneasy. Your past tends to have control on your future. And it can be scary thought. The fact that people can and in most cases will, judge you by your past seems right and wrong at the same time. Funnily enough, it keeps me going. At least there is something to look forward to. Something really big.

If I don't make any sense, maybe it would help to inform you that I have to start on my essays soon and can see myself being completely taken over by this "apping" process. I would have to cite instances from my life and work. Leadership experiences at that. Sound coherent and logical with my goals. Be realistic yet stand out from the crowd. I would have to dazzle (maybe not in the same way the hero does in 21 but still!)
And on top of all this, there's me. Playing tricks with myself. One day, I would be beaming with confidence. The next day I would be doubting everything and even convince myself that there's little hope. Thankfully, I come out of the gloom sooner than later.

The enormity of it, the various pieces which would make the jigsaw, that's what gets to me on the worst of days. I don't have a plan B in place. In fact, I'm gambling by not changing what I can because it would not fit into the scheme of things. Then again, just because the stakes are so high, it makes it worthwhile. I feel very alone at times. Having to do everything by myself. Sure there's help around. Sometimes from unexpected quarters too. But it becomes difficult because apart from this whole B School thing, there's nothing else to look forward to. Life, seems to have come to a standstill.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

My Mornings

I love my mornings. It's a different thing that they start at around 9:30-10:00! Getting up early has been and remains one of my greatest weaknesses. In school, before exams, I used to forgo that last chapter for an extra hour of sleep telling myself that there wouldn't be any questions from it. Statistically, I could say it worked. In college, things weren't any different. Morning classes were meant to be bunked. Here and now, my current employers have made sure that I don't have to change.

Mornings, to me, should be unhurried. And that's what they are in Bangalore. These days, quite often, it begins with an email which sets the tone for the day. A song from a friend, a longish reply to a question asked or one from a US B School student. Yes I am a sucker for long emails.

Having a cup of tea, glancing through the Bangalore Times and the sports page of ToI, changing channels from CNN IBN to Vh1 and MTV, putting on some music (these days its John Mayer) and just standing in the balcony for a minute, I let the day begin slowly. I think a little about what the day holds for me, if I have work at office or not, which match is on in the evening (Thank God for the Euro after the IPL!)

There's a certain freshness, a promise that I have come to associate with these mornings. Nothing out of the ordinary happens. But there's this feel good thing, an expectation even. Also it's one part of the day when my emotions have been constant. In the last couple of months or so, I have oscillated between feeling at ease and good about myself to feeling terribly low and doubting every step I have taken. I know everyone has them but I've had them too often for my own comfort. But almost every morning, I've felt like looking up to something. Its felt like a new beginning.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Last Week

There's so much to write about. But I don't seem to have the patience nowadays. So here goes another of my incoherent posts.
Last weekend, particularly Sunday, was great. Two friends came over from Delhi. Another couple arrived from Hyderabad. One in Bangalore shifted base to our house for three days. No we didnt go out of town on a trip or something. There was a lot of alcohol, insane amounts of hostel/college/life-ke-funde talks over mugs of beer or cups of tea. We had a blast doing nothing.

Sunday started with a breakfast of idli vada and filter coffee. Back home we took turns playing fastest fingers with the TV remote and then finally decide to go for a 4 o'clock show of Jannat.
With eight people giving a running commentary, Jannat turned out to be fun. A typical Bangalore evening greeted us as we got out of the hall. We decided to give our non-Bangalorean friends a taste of Purple Haze.
7 people downed 11 pitchers of beer as we drank from 7:30 to 11. To say that the Residency Road PH is so much better than the Koramangala one would be an understatement. Neil Young, Nirvana, Doors, Floyd, Maiden, Clapton... they played pretty much every thing and the others that I couldn't recognize; even they seemed terrific as we got high. The three smokers in our group finished around twenty cigarettes in the meantime. Next day one of my friends from Delhi said that the music Did get to him even though he hardly listens to Rock. Purple Haze, had lived up to its reputation.

The guys started leaving by Monday evening and from Tuesday it was back to work. Four days of no office, no MBA stuff. Yes, there were periods when I talked about the more important stuff going on in our lives with my friends. Catching up, sharing details. But it was more of a let out than anything else. We were happy to have made this little reunion.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Emily Gould - Blogging At Its Extreme

I've been reading this : (it's Long, by the way!)
...they like the idea that there’s a place where a record of their existence is kept — a house with an always-open door where people who are looking for you can check on you, compare notes with you and tell you what they think of you. Sometimes that house is messy, sometimes horrifyingly so. In real life, we wouldn’t invite any passing stranger into these situations, but the remove of the Internet makes it seem O.K.

..The will to blog is a complicated thing, somewhere between inspiration and compulsion. It can feel almost like a biological impulse. You see something, or an idea occurs to you, and you have to share it with the Internet as soon as possible. What I didn’t realize was that those ideas and that urgency — and the sense of self-importance that made me think anyone would be interested in hearing what went on in my head — could just disappear.
And this is from another one of her blogs
When you write about things as they’re happening — which is what most people do on blogs — you lose perspective, or rather, your perspective shrinks, so that only a tiny slice of your reality gets recorded. The cumulative impact of several months’ worth of posts can lead to an entirely different conclusion than a few snippets taken out of context. This is the danger of blogging and also its seductive charm. It’s so easy and fun to report on your current state of mind and your opinions, especially when you have strong feelings, and strong feelings are also fun to read about.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Sound Of "Strings"

I've always liked their sound. Faisal's got a very manly voice. I like his tone too. And Bilal's short, melodic guitar licks have always made me smile. It's never anything complicated but he invariably gets the rock-ish distortion right.

Like everybody else, my introduction to Strings was through Duur. I remember the cassette that I owned. It had Lucky Ali, Strings, Euphoria and some other 'Indi-Pop' bands. It was a treasured possession.
Then there was the other song. Anjaane. It was the song which made me realize the power of Barre Chords. Suhas and I used to sing that song, taken especially by the damping rhythm we could generate. It didnt sound anything like the original. But on his Signature acoustic, we did our own version. And we loved it.

Titliyan - It's easily the most melodic song from their latest album 'Koi Aane Vala Hai'. The guitar and the flute combine to create an amazing bittersweet effect. It's a very 'Indian' tune packaged with a persistent bass, distorted guitar riffs and strong drum beats. Sounds great to me.

dil tha khilauna
chalo toot gaya
kya kahein

koi saathi tha
jisse chaha tha
vohi loot gaya
kya kahein

titliyan yadoon ki
udti jae
lamhon me mujhse kuch
kehti jayein .....

Humsafar is another track which I like more than the rest. But I will leave it to you to find it out if you really want to.

The album's nothing great but it shouldn't do very badly either. It's definitely got that 'Strings' touch to it. For the next few days, it should keep me entertained.

P.S. And yes, I know they are a Pakistani Band and these are not the only songs by them that I enjoy listening to.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I'm just out to find...

I can't stand to fly
I'm not that naive
I'm just out to find
The better part of me

I'm more than a bird:I'm more than a plane
More than some pretty face beside a train
It's not easy to be me

Wish that I could cry
Fall upon my knees
Find a way to lie
About a home I'll never see

It may sound absurd:but don't be naive
Even Heroes have the right to bleed
I may be disturbed:but won't you concede
Even Heroes have the right to dream
It's not easy to be me

Up, up and away:away from me
It's all right:You can all sleep sound tonight
I'm not crazy:or anything:

I can't stand to fly
I'm not that naive
Men weren't meant to ride
With clouds between their knees

I'm only a man in a silly red sheet
Digging for kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me

It's not easy to be me.

I'm no superman. And I don't know of anybody who is. But some of the lines still ring true.
At times, its nice to go back to a song you listened to long ago and like it all over again.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Day After Day

A little something gained. A little something lost.
A little pain remembering what could have been. A smile thinking about what can be.
An incident from the past which makes you smile. A sudden flash of the future which makes you doubt.
Fear of the unknown. Comfort in ignorance.
A small window to dream about the next year. One to feel the restlessness of the present.
A moment when everything feels alright. The more prolonged feeling of 'I'm not meant to be doing this'
A new song loved. An old one hated.
A step closer. A step farther.

Evey day brings countless possibilities. A chance to dream. A moment to ponder.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Taking a Break

Yes, I know that of late I have come to dislike the 'soft-acoustic guitar-sentimental lyrics' kind of songs (and Rohan would vouch for that more than anybody else) but this one just cant be Not liked.
So taking a break from my Blues/Classic Rock playlist, here's James Taylor for you.

Never Die Young
Love what he says at the beginning.

Fire And Rain
The minute long applause at the end is totally deserved. I wish I was there.

As with most such songs that I like, listen when there's no noise, preferably with your headphones. And have a look at the lyrics too.
And I wont even bother to do my usual 'sublime guitar blah blah blah' thing. Just listen to the songs. You will know.

Maddu thanks for the intro!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

The Rear View Mirror

A casual glance over the shoulder was all that was required. My dad's Bajaj Super didn't have any rear view mirrors. In Bokaro, you didn't need one. I, didn't need one.

As I looked at the right rear view mirror to make sure that the Tata Indica wasn't going to hit me, I noticed a tiny grasshopper sitting on it. Traffic was heavy and we were approaching a signal. I wondered how long it would be able to hold on. The light turned to green and I quickly changed gears to move ahead of the menacing trucks which were slowing down the traffic. My speedometer read a little less than 80. The insect was clinging on to the mirror with all its might. A couple of minutes later, I was at the basement of my office building, parking my bike. It was still there. Not holding on as tight as it had been a few minutes earlier, but still there.

I can't imagine riding without one. Its too scary. Each second brings so many decisions to be made. Each glance, each little swerve has to be carefully done. It wasn't always like this. On my dad's Bajaj Super, it was simpler. Often there wasn't even the need to look back.

What if life came with a rear view mirror. To see how far is somebody whom you left behind. To see who's coming up to you. To maybe slow down a little at times. To have a different perspective, if not anything else.

I half expected the tiny grasshopper to be still there when I came back in the evening. It wasn't. But I wondered about the view it must have got from there.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Back. Just For A Day

Its not that my life had become any less interesting than it already was! And it certainly wasnt because I didnt have time. It was more of a conscious, deliberate break. Like when you start having too much of something. Something which you really like. But you realise that the fun has gone out of it and you are doing it more out of habit than anything else.

Come to think of it, its been the dominant theme in my life for the last few weeks. Well, I guess I can extend it to the last couple of months too. Taking a break from some of the regular stuff and trying to start afresh on some other things. And you know what, the change has been invigorating. It's not that I have changed. It's really the little things. You wouldnt even notice perhaps. But to me they sum up to tell a story.

Music. It occurred to me that I had no interest whatsoever in listening to the 15 GB of songs in my laptop. And the Alternative / Indie Rock thing also wasnt like it used to be when it first started with the soundtrack of Scrubs. So I stopped searching for new music, stopped listening to the old stuff and decided to wait. It was good. I needed the break. A few weeks into that, Jango happened. I started off by creating my regular Alternative Rock station and soon got fed up. It was only after some random Eric Clapton (no, not the soft mushy ones!) started playing on my station that I though it might be a good idea to take up Rock History 101 for this summer under the guidance of one Professor Shravan! Thin Lizzy, The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Eric Clapton, The Who and the rest followed and I found myself listening to the best internet radio that I know, all day. The party's still on.

GTalk went. And now, no matter how bored I feel, or how jobless I am; I find stuff to do other than staring at my friends list trying to pick somebody to talk to. Orkut also made its way for B School web sites.

The enthusiasm for the Spanish class has waned but c'mon, how long did you think it would have lasted given the fact that there were no hot girls around! Anyway, the course is nearing the end and I think I've done a decent job of it.

What has been the most surprising and pleasing part is that I've started setting small targets for myself. Weekly. Monthly. Nothing very precise and nothing written down. But in my mind I have a schedule, a plan. Yes, I know it's all due to my 'apping' process. But dont we all need a trigger. It was only when our second geyser conked off that I realised that taking a bath in cold water was more fun! We do need triggers.

Quite a lot of my posts originate when I'm on my bike. And the last month or so hasnt been any different. There was my bike's 10,000 km post, the Raghu Dixit post, the normal ramblings and one on triggers too. There was one on how much of riding a bike or playing a guitar is involuntary rather than a conscious exercise. Then there was the change thing, again. Not a post, but just a few stray thoughts about family, friends, relationships and their dynamics. All from a very personal point of view though. But I didnt feel like writing anything down. And so, all of it stayed put.
And yes there was that amazing evening with Rohan and Francis. From 8 in the evening to 2 at night we sang and played everything from the 'Paaji' song to More Than Words; from One Last Breath to Talking 'bout a Revolution. That guy's such an amazing guitarist and singer. It was tough to figure out if I got high on the beer or on the music.

You know the feeling when after a long time, you meet a friend with whom you were very close. And there isnt any occasion as such. It takes time to get going, right. There are a few awkward moments, pauses in between. But slowly it begins to come together. The connection, returns.
It's kind of the same feeling now. But I think it's only a one off thing for the moment. An exception rather than the rule. You see, even today, there was nothing to write about. But another mindless post wudnt harm anybody.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The February Post

On most weekday mornings (barring the ones in which sleep gets the better of him) he's the teacher. Not in the strictest sense of the word though. More a guide. And the kids love the fact that they can officially bunk classes.
On all weekend mornings, he's the student. The 'keeps quiet', 'doesn't ask too many questions' type. The teacher seldom notices him except when he happens to do things better than what she though he would be capable of. He likes the feel of it.
On a weekday, from afternoon to late evening, he's the reluctant software engineer just going about his job and discovering new songs on the net. At times, he takes up the role of the amicable colleague who finalises the treats. He even stays up late for calls on some days and doesn't feel too bad about it.
On some nights he's the friend who's willing to listen to yet another heart break from someone he knows and give loads of 'funde'. Some of which he himself doesnt believe in.
At random times during the week (but mostly on weekend afternoons) he's the guitarist trying to explore the fretboard. His flatmates havent thrown him out yet and his next door neighbour has been pretty appreciative of his efforts, so he will continue.
On most weekday mornings, after being the guide, he's the investor trying to be intelligent. He wants to sound cool by saying something like "power and infra should see a surge post budget...". And he better be right because he's put his money there.
On late nights he's the dreamer who's dreaming big about the next year. And for a change, he has started taking baby steps towards it. Early days, ignorance; he can't really say, but he's feeling quite at ease with himself.
It's a period of his life which has more purpose than the previous few. He wants to change a few things about himself. Right now, he is content because he has started acting on the decisions he had made sometime back. And there's a feeling that they were the right ones.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

In Praise Of Melancholy

I usually do not put up links to articles on my blog. But over the last year or so, my bookmarks (not only on my computer but also on have bloated to such an extent that I think I need to put a few up here so that they stay with me.

In this Brilliant article, Eric G. Wilson, a professor of English at Wake Forest University argues that in our constant endeavor to be happy and alleviate depression or melancholy from our lives, by any means, we are losing out on a key part of a wholesome existence.

Read the excerpts. And if you have as much time as I seem to have nowadays, read the entire thing. Apart from being a very thought provoking argument, it's also one of the finest examples of prose writing I have come across of late.

What passes for bliss could well be a dystopia of flaccid grins. Our passion for felicity hints at an ominous hatred for all that grows and thrives and then dies. I'd hate for us to awaken one morning and regret what we've done in the name of untroubled enjoyment. I'd hate for us to crawl out of our beds and walk out into a country denuded of gorgeous lonely roads and the grandeur of desolate hotels, of half-cracked geniuses and their frantic poems. I'd hate for us to come to consciousness when it's too late to live.

When we, with apparent happiness, grab hard onto one ideology or another, this world suddenly seems to take on a static coherence, a rigid division between right and wrong. The world in this way becomes uninteresting, dead. But when we allow our melancholy mood to bloom in our hearts, this universe, formerly inanimate, comes suddenly to life. Finite rules dissolve before infinite possibilities. Happiness to us is no longer viable. We want something more: joy. Melancholia galvanizes us, shocks us to life.

Melancholia pushes against the easy "either/or" of the status quo. It thrives in unexplored middle ground between oppositions, in the "both/and." It fosters fresh insights into relationships between oppositions, especially that great polarity life and death. It encourages new ways of conceiving and naming the mysterious connections between antinomies. It returns us to innocence, to the ability to play in the potential without being constrained to the actual. Such respites from causality refresh our relationship to the world, grant us beautiful vistas, energize our hearts and our minds.

To be against happiness is to embrace ecstasy. Incompleteness is a call to life. Fragmentation is freedom. The exhilaration of never knowing anything fully is that you can perpetually imagine sublimities beyond reason. On the margins of the known is the agile edge of existence. This is the rapture, burning slow, of finishing a book that can never be completed, a flawed and conflicted text, vexed as twilight.

Monday, January 21, 2008

So Far So Good

How often is the anticipation more enjoyable than the actual event. How often is the beginning the best part of a journey.

It's been a good start to the year. I've started doing a few things I should have begun earlier. With me, the most difficult part has always been the beginning. I have a lot of inertia when it comes to starting something new. And although on most occasions I've found the exercise to be quite rewarding once I start on it, yet somehow, the mental block very much remains.

Planning out things and making a road map for the future has never been one of my traits. Dreaming about what's possibly coming without actually expecting it to necessarily happen, is. Somehow I feel quite fresh right now. Not particularly happy or sad. But fresh. And I think it's mostly to do with the fact that this new year, I had reasons to start from a clean slate. A few demons which had bothered me for the better part of last year have been tamed to quite some extent. And although there hasn't been much of a change in the circumstances which had caused all those worries in the first place, yet, the excuse of a new year, a fresh beginning, has been good enough for me. The 'feel good' factor, which had deserted me last year, seems to be coming back, albeit slowly. And the only fathomable reason is the fact that it's a new beginning. Or maybe I had just got tired of being bothered all the time.

You could call me stupid. But I think sometimes all you need is an excuse. An excuse to feel that things are coming around bit by bit. Doesn't matter even if it's just in the mind. Doesn't matter even if it's something as cliched as a 'Happy New Year'.

And yes, the cricket has been phenomenal and waking up at 7 in the morning has become more of a norm.

And this version of Waltzing Matilda by John Williamson has been on my mind since morning. Love his style of narration.