Monday, November 3, 2008

1920 and a trip down the horror lane

Here is a piece of news which I believe is "sansani khej" and "hairat angrez" enough to be flashed as breaking news on the ticker at the bottom of the screen on India TV with the following words "Breaking news: Polka ne kiya apni blog ka update". Yes I am back. With my finger exersises confined to writing codes and trying to pick up rice with chopsticks in Taiwan, blogging was relegated to second division in my priority of things.However 5 months is a long time and since I have made no terminator style announcement like " I will be back" ( or the more desi " ro mat pagli mein laut ke aaonga" ) , I thought it would be wise to assure my readership ( if there is any ) that I am still very much alive.
Talking about being alive , I don't understand the entire concept of fear of death when being dead could be so much fun. Being a dedicated fan of Hindi horror , the idea of being a ghost with a green rubber mask who attacks buxom young ladies in bathrooms has always seemed an exciting after-life career option.All the credit however goes to the Ramsay brothers. Ever since the Wright brothers made aviation history , rarely has history seen a more determined band of brothers. For decades India's first family of horror has dedicated themselves to cause of desi horror thus giving birth to the most original and avant-garde genre of Hindi filmdom. For an entire generation of Indians growing up in the age of video cassettes (VCRs) , childhood memories would be incomplete without the old deserted haveli , the sex-starved voluptuous heroines who takes showers at midnight , the lecherous thakurs ( mostly Raja Murad) , the ghost in rubber masks and gloves and the ancient-looking watchman with the lantern.For those with finer sensibilities who might twitch their noses at the very mention of Ramsay Brothers , let me produce the following exhibit as a testimony to the fact that the Ramsay Brother's were always ahead of their times.

Scene: The Thakur lies in bed with his mistress.The "Bhatakti Atma" signals his arrival with the mandatory swinging open of the Haveli gates and lightning in the sky. The Thakur looks at his mistress and then utters what could well be called one of the most unforgetable dialogues in horror history " Yeh to pehle se hi chudi hui hai..kahi bhoot aake meri gaand na maar de".Thus its the Ramsay Brother's who brings out from the coffins the the taboo topic of ghost homesexuality ( or was it bisexuality?), proving that inhabitant of the netherworld also have varied sexual preferences as opposed to the Hollywood conservative portayal of ghost being always straight.
However with the advent of sattelite television and Ram Gopal Verma , the popularity of the Ramsay Brothers saw a sharp decline. The Bhatakti Atmas embraced the age of globalisation. They started wearing designer labels and even started speaking in English.Unable to cope with such an assault on my senses , I decided to avoid the entire genre.However , a few weeks back I saw a movie poster which i belived could help me regain my faith in Hindi horror. The poster depicted a young couple staring at a pretty white castle from a distance with the movie title "1920" written below it.Although the castle was way too opulent to remind me of the old Ramsay havelis , yet I felt maybe I should give this movie a try.Morevoer the director happened to be Vikram Bhatt , who is one of India's most original directors. Here original refers to being faithful to the original. Unlike several other Bollywood directors who try to improve upon the original with their own aritstic flourishes, Vikram Bhatt follows the original storyline through its crest and troughs. In the process he creates what electronic engineers might called a hi-fidelity output waveform though an amplifier.
The story of 1920 revolves around a young couple who moves into a beautiful deserted castle somewhere in India although the castle seems to be straight out of a European picture postcard.The husband plans to pull down the castle to make way for a hotel.His plans however irks the resident evil spirit , who has been living peacefully in that castle for decades.However , with no Mamta Banerjee or Arundhati Roy to support his cause, he has no option but to resort to terror tactics to hold on to his property.He unleashes a series of nocturnal ghostly acts on the hapless wife.The wife , clearly unaccustomed to Ramsay movies fails to decipher the ulterior motives of the resident evil spirit who was now getting as determined as Mamta Banerjee to stop the evil forces of rampant "hotel-ization".Meanwhile , the wife befriends a father in the neighbourhood church who quite happily agrees to rescue the damsel in distress. Ofcourse the father has a French beard which is compulsory for all Christian characters in Hindi films.What follows can be called a cover version of "The Exorcist" ( Bollywood prefers calling it inspiration).As events unfold we discover that the ghost , once a rebel who looked an emaciated version of Mangal Pandey was hanged inside the castle for his rebellious behaviour.After that he joins the Bajrang Dal which was the only recourse left for rebels like him ( not mentioned in the film).Now faced with the imminent danger of losing his property , he does what any self-respecting ghost must do. He enters the body of our pretty young heroine ( i mean his soul does) .This act gives rise to bouts of hysterical behaviour in the otherwise sedate lady.( which is very obvious when the soul of a Bajrang Dal activist enters the body of a convent educated page-3 model).At this moment of crisis enters our priest from the neighbourhood church , armed with the Cross , Holy water, Holy Bible and all other paraphernelia needed for the exorcism.Meanwhile , our rebel makes it known to the father that he will not take things lying down by painstakingly painting a goathead on the church walls.For those who have not grown up on death metal , a goathead inscribed in a pentagon is the symbol of satan. However to my dissapointment , the ghost refrains from belting out " The number of the Beast" from the top of the church.
So the battleground is ready.The audience awaits with bated breath as the clash of the titans ensues- the "Bajrangi" Atma versus The Exorcist. The Father , who has probably watched a pirated version of the Exorcist , has the initial upperhand.However our Bajrangi fights back , clearly pissed off at the prospect of a Christian priest trying to tame a Hindu ghost and that too a former rebel.As the hapless husband watches his dear wife performing gravity-defying Matrix-style acrobatics , our exorcist finally concedes defeat after being stabbed with a knife.At this moment , with both me and my roomate collectively cheering on the husband with "come on man..get out your Hanuman can do it!!", the husband finally gets into the act. Holding on to his wife with all his might and by chanting the Hanuman Chalisa , he finally regains control of his wife and our Bajrangi soul decides to leave the body of the heroine and move on to greener pastures ( maybe a Lok Sabha BJP ticket from Orissa).

Altough I was a bit dissapointed that there was no lovemaking scene between the husband and his possesed wife ( can it be called a threesome?), i must admit "1920" hepled me regain my faith in the Hindi horror genre. Hindi horror is trully alive and kicking ( our brains)!!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Mission " Rescue Assam"

Scene: Drunkard 1 is sitting on the floor.Dressed in his bermudas and a light yellow vest ( which may have been white once upon a time ), he dutifully performs the task of mixing the drinks. He lives up to his reputation of being a good bartender.Years of practice have made him a master at the art of mixing the right quantity of water, soda and whiskey.A man revered in his college circle for his extraordinary ability to drink red rum in neat pegs , he now sits with his head resting on the bed and his eyes contemplating his own pot-belly.Drunkard 2 , dressed in a bermuda and an Iron Maiden T-shirt sits on the bed.He is the official DJ of the night.His eyes scans the entire hard disk of the laptop in front of him , as he searches for the next track.As the screaming guitar solos from ' Afraid to shoot strangers ' draws to an end , drunkard-2 quickly searches for the next track.His eyes fall on a folder titled " Bhupen Hazarika".A bottle of whiskey lies in the centre of the room..with just enough manna from heaven left to make three small pegs.
Meanwhile , Drunkard-3 makes frequent visits to the room to take small gulps from his glass.He has the toughest job in the party tonight.He is charge of the pork.As he sweats out in the kitchen , he curses the other two and thinks aloud as to why he made the blunder of publicising his cullinary skills.
Drunkard-1:"After long time , it feels good to drink man..nothing like college buddies.."
Drunkard-2:" Nothing like this man..sitting on the floor..dressed only in our chaddi-baniyan...absolutely nothing man...just like the good ol' times"
Drunkard-1: " Sometimes I feel i will leave all these stuff and go back to the hills...Oi change the am gettin all nostalgic today..something in Assamese"
Drunkard-2 in a rare moment of courage and inspiration puts on Bhupen Hazarika's "Aami axomiya nohou dukhiya" ( which translates to 'We Assamese will never be poor')

Drunkard-1: "Yes ! yes! Nohou dukhiya k*** ( yes! yes! we will never be poor)"
Drunkard-2: "Yes! You are right..we have everything..tea ,oil , Zubeen Garg..(motioning to the kitchen ) oi bring over the pork..when will we eat if we can't have it with the maal*?"
Drunkard-3 obliges and brings over a few pieces of pork on a steel plate.Taking a quick gulp from his glass , he motions to the others to pour out the remaining whiskey.Now finally relieved from his duties , he offers his inputs to this intellectualy stimulating discussion.
Drunkard-3 : 'what will you call people who have not experienced the heavenly taste of pork?"
Drunkard-1 : 'Backward k***..what do these people know what good cuisine is , huh? Nothin like north-east casteism..religious difference..see how everyone enjoys momos..wait and see..10 yrs from now I will return to Assam.."
Drunkard-3: "( with a sarcastic laugh) 10 years from now Assam will be a part of Bangladesh"
Drunkard-2 : " Yes..all for this fuckinn' central government and the terrorists..we got to do something man"
Drunkard-1: " we have to drive them out..each and every single one...soboke khedim k***."
Drunkark-3 ( sensing a change in the atmosphere )" Hey forget all these stuff man..what happened to the new HR chick you were eying at office?"
Drunkard-1 ( laughing) " Fuck that bitch..there is nothing like our own chicks"
Drunkard-2 " Yes man nothin like our chicks of Handique college* on the day of Saraswati Puja"
Drunkard-1 " So lets raise a toast for them..Joi Aai Axom"
Drunkard-2 & 3 (in unison) : " Joi Aai Axom!!`"

We reach the point where memories of drunken revelry blurs into the reality of a hot scorching sun shining thorugh your window pane on piles of unwashed dishes and a floor littered with cigarette packets and bottles.However one thing I can say with certaininty is that Assam was saved yet again due to the efforts of 3 brave and patriotic young men.

K*** - A popular 4 lettered Assamese slang which can be used alternatively as adjective , adverb and conjuction.
Maal* - Popular term for alcohol
Handique college* - A girls college in Guwahati.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Poems by a fan of Neruda and Mithunda-2


The kid in the box shaped apartment,
Stares at the sky through square windows.

The bored goldfish in the old aquarium,
Gazes at bored men in office cublicles.

The old lady in the empty room,
Seeks nirvana through her television set.

My soul dwells among boxes.
It floats in a world,
Where space is defined by walls,
And the heart is cursed to carry
The weight of emptiness.

I can feel my skin harden,
And form walls around my soul.
The smoothness giving way to sharp edges
that cuts through the air.

I have morphed into a box
Like the missing block in a jigsaw puzzle,
I finally fall into place.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Poems by a fan of Neruda and Mithunda-I

When creativity dries up , recycle.So ,from now onwards , everytime I have nothing to say , I would copy paste poems i have written in the past and hopefully pick up a few " waah waah"s ( only bouquets are welcome , no brickbats).Some Chinese philosopher said " let thy speech be better than silence , else remain silent".But since I am not Chinese I won't follow that advice and would continue with my self promotion.
P.S - " Confucious spoke too much " -recent Chinese proverb.


Pour me your darkness
Dense, deep and pure.

Let it seep through my skin,
Dissolve my bones
And devour my flesh
Till I return to nothingness.

Lead me to the dark,
Where the seeds sprouts
And the foetus sleeps,
Inside his mothers womb
And in that darkness,
Where all things begin,
Be my saviour from the gaudy light.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The brighter side of HR

It often causes me deep anguish to see how the HR department is always the butt of jokes for all IT professionals , how everyone likes to have a go at these poor souls who were responsible for hiring them at the first place.Although an engineer on bench might spend the entire day in the cafeteria , a HR guy ( HR is a very gender sensitive term ) doing the same will be called a parasite eating away into the company's resources. No drinking session between a group of IT professionals would be complete with everyone launching a diatribe against the HR department , with the most acerbic comments reserved for the most handsome HR guy.Infact I remember a comment made once by a friend " I am often confused which HR I hate most" ( the other HR being Himmesh Reshamiya) As I consider it my duty to support the underdog , I would like to highlight few of the rare talents that only the HR department can boast of.Although they are specific to my company, I am sure they are universal in nature :
1. You can blame the HR for lot of things , but you can never blame them of lacking ingenuity. The spirit of innovation runs in their blood. Once every year , all project managers in my organization gets an excel sheet with the names of all employees in the rows and their respective skills along the columns .The PMs , the team leaders and the entire clan called management spends precious hours rating all the employees in scales of 1 to 5.Once finished it is sent back to the HR department.Now if you think this is a trivial activity , you know nothing about HR practices.This yearly ritual is known as filling up the "Competency matrix"..who else but the HR department can come up with such a name for a humble excel sheet? Although most employees are currently clueless about the practicality of this elaborate ritual , speculation is rife that the values from all the competency matrices are combined and plotted in a graph to form the " competency parabola" ( the HR is extremely gifted in mathematics too).The area under the parabola is calculated using a secret formula taught in B-schools.The end result which is known as " competency surface area" is than compared and "benchmarked" against similiar figures from other organizations.After months of assiduous research , the HR department would come to the conclusion that we need to increase our " competency surface area " before we can even think of a pay hike.So here we arrive at the obvious truth , but with the HR department's effort this bitter pill is now sugarcoated with so much statistics that you very happily swallow it.

2.The other quality that makes the HR department so special is their literary prowess.Packed with a hectic schedule , they may not have the time to write novels ( or blogs as I do) , but their amazing knack of playing with words and coining new terms can often be observed in their daily communication. The way the HR officials can state the obvious in a roundabout fashion makes me feel that all HR officials are little Shiv Kheras and Robin Sharmas in the making who just need the right break to become bestselling authors.Add to that the older generation of HR officials also have a philosophical streak in them and hence can be future Paulo Coelhos.Imagine this situation: You want to go to the smoking zone to have a fag .After that you plan to spend some time loitering in the campus garden hoping to catch a glimpse of the new HR lady who has joined your company.So a member of the engineering species ( that horrible neanderthal tribe who embodies literary philistinism) would say something like this to his colleague " Kya re ... itna kaam karke kyun company ka culture kharab kar rahe ho..chal sutta marke aate hain". Loud , brash and uncouth.Same scenario imagine our young dashing HR manager..he would give a quick glance to his watch and tell his colleague in a serious professional tone "O.K I think we should now break for a NBS (nicotinatted brainstorming session) ..after that we shall meet in the garden for a OBS (outdoor bonding session)".It might sound like an exaggeration but trust me you will get to hear such lingo very soon in the corporate world.
3. Most importantly , those who are ambitious and want to climb up the corporate ladder ( ah! that terrible cliche) must follow the old maxim " Speak like the HR manager and thou shall rise".There is a very old saying in my mothertongue Assamese " kothat kota jai , kothat bota pai" which roughly translates to " words can get you beheaded , words can bring you laurels".So , speak as your HR manager does and very soon you will get only laurels and the heads of all your rivals will decorate your path to success ( my love for gore surfaces every now and then...more sensitive readers please ignore ).Here are a few examples of some killer words and expressions that will pave the way for success in the corporate world ( I bet Shiv Khera did'nt tell you this):
a) Always repeat words with same meaning to stress.It helps to show your sincerity.Eg -"We will most definetely look into the matter "
b) Always use sentences that leaves the listener confused and happy at the same time.Eg:" We are trying our best to streamline the process".
c) Use words that helps to momentarily boost the ego of your team members.Eg:" You are not just an employee , you are an asset to the company" ( however be careful while using the word asset with your female colleagues).
d) Most importantly , when you face a conflict situation that is beyond your ability to solve say " I am very sorry but these matters are decided at a higher level"
Remember these mantras and success will kiss your feet ( a translation of " kamyaabi aapki kadam chumegi")
So , to conclude , my dear friends , stop whining and learn to see the brighter side of everything .Remember what Paulo Coelho has said " In this infinite universe there are stars and there are black holes , but black holes are born by absorbing light.So get inside a black hole and you might find the soul of the universe" ( actually he has'nt written those lines till now but
I am sure he will write it very soon).

Friday, March 7, 2008

What's in a name?

Variety is the spice of life and no one knows it better than people in Meghalaya.While parents in rest of India might spend years doing arduous research on names for christening their new-borns , people in Meghalaya seems to throw all conventions to the winds and christen their offsprings with anything that catches their fancy.This gives me just one more reason to love this beautiful state with its perenial wet clouds hanging over its rich pine forests and hills. The rest of the country might raise their collective eyebrows in disbelief when I say I had collegemates and acquaitances with names like Charity , Patience, Goodmorning and Morningstar.So for their benefit I would copy paste this election report from the Sentinel , a daily newspaper published form Guwahati:
Staff Correspondent
SHILLONG, March 6: In the wait for the Meghalaya Assembly election results tomorrow, Friday Lyngdoh (Congress) will definitely hope to see that the day (Friday) goes along with his name, Adolf Lu Hitler Marak (NCP) will be wishing to get back his lost domain — Rangsangkhona constituency, his son Preaching Shylla’s (independent) will have a bit of anxiety to see the Nongkrem electorate living by his sermons, while Frankenstein W Momin (Congress) wishing that the horror of the last election defeat does not surface this time.
Hopingstone Marsharing (LJP) and Hopingstone Lyngdoh (HSPDP) are not against hope in their quest for a seat in the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly whereas Darling Wavel Lamare (HSPDP) definitely desires to be the darling of the Nongbah-Wahejer electorate tomorrow. Oral Syngkli (BJP) will favour that his speeches turn into votes from Jirang constituency, an Assembly segment where former Chief Minister J Dringwell Rymbai (UDP) aspires to gulp the maximum number of votes for the fourth time. Laborious Manik Syiem’s (NCP) painstaking campaign is also expected not to be in vain.
Bison Paslein (KHNAM), a candidate locking horns with two other candidates, is expected to give a tough fight to the Congress and UDP nominees from Sutnga Shanpung constituency, while Comingone Ymbon (INC) prepares himself to come out successfully all alone after the election results.
CPI candidate Fasterwell Marbaninag has tough contenders from Nongspung but he prefers to be fast enough to edge out his rivals in the electoral race to be decided today. So is Forward Lyngdoh Mawlong (NCP) from Sohiong who is having a formidable political foe in Rain Augstine Lyngdoh (UDP) who expects that luck will shower on him.
Zenith Sangma (INC) aims to touch another political peak from Rangsangkhona, while Admiral Sangma of the NCP (not a member of the Armed Forces) hopes to command the maximum votes that has already been sealed in the EVMS.
Romeo Phira Ranee (HSPDP) will definitely want the voters’ love turned into concrete votes by tomorrow, even as Moses Ch Marak (UDP) awaits the results of his efforts to clear the road from the rough political seas. Arjun Kumar Hajong (Independent) hopes that his aims does not land on the wrong target, while Hilarious T Lyngdoh (LJP) from Laitumkharah and Hilarious Pohchen (NCP) from Nongkrem will hope that the outcome will not be comical after months of hard work in the political field.
Founder Strong Cajee (INC) from Mawlai found new strength to give him a chance to be a winner, but Process T Sawkmie (UDP) has been using the right procedures in the last ten years to ensure that no one takes away the Mawlai seat from him.
Budshell Marabniang (HSPDP) knows his strength, but Boldness L Nongum (INC) hopes that luck will not shy away from him in his courage to clamour for a second term from Mairang. Trying to live by his name, Dr Adviser Pariong (HSPDP) is eager to know the public mandate from Pariong to enable him to give his piece of thoughts in the Assembly.
Billy Kid Sangma (Independent) had fired all guns during his election campaign in his attempt to get another chance as a legislator from Tura, but Clever N Marak’s (Independent) wisdom to rope the electorates will only be known by tomorrow.

Do I need to say anything more?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Orkut and the Digital Ageing Syndrome

Its been 2 years and I am still stuck to the same social networking site.Call it being digitally challenged or whatever I am still hooked on to Orkut and no other site including Facebook seems to catch my fancy in the same way as Orkut does.The pleasures of Orkut are not just discovering your kindergarten crush ( still as cute as ever but happily married) or some long -lost cousin whom you never knew existed . Orkut scores over others because it provides one of the greatest pleasures known to man..the joy of voyeurism.Its the only place where you can follow the entire evolution of a romance from the tender " can I make friendship with you" to the ripened " he is my bestest friend" phase.It is also the place where you unearth gems like " If you wanna know me check my testis" or " I think your English is very week".It also makes you realise that 98.7% of women in this country are " cool, fun-loving and loves music".Now just at this moment when you start believing Orkut is all pleasure and no pain , think again. The forces of yin and yang must balance itself in this unreal world.The happy family in a Jitendra movie must have an evil daughter-in-law mixing poison in the milk at some point of time.The Indian team needing 30 runs to win of 60 balls must make the game trully worth the money for the audience and must lose 3 wickets in the span of one over.In other words every good thing must have its pitfalls and Orkut is no exception.So when Orkut decides to inflict pain , it does so in the form a syndrome which I have christened as the " Digital ageing syndrome".Its a mental disorder which makes you realise that your existence is a total anachronism to the present day world and that you are a pre-historic cave dweller born before the onset of the last Ice-age who for some mercy of nature have managed to see the digital age. I shall now elaborate on the symptoms of this disease with the following two examples:

1. You clearly remember this baby in your neighbourhood.She was plump and cute.On some ocassions you used to even take her in your lap.As`she grew up you remember once buying her a lollipop.But time passes and like most things , you slowly forget about her existence.Then one fine day you recieve a friendship request on Orkut.The baby in your neighbourhood has grown up to a nubile and almost desirable young lady ( now please don't frame a quiz question like " connect the writer of this blog with Michael Jackson ").She is already 16 and by current standards its a very orkuttable age.She already desribes her relationship status as committed though she recieves countless " can we make friendship" request.You hang your head in shame .You realise few years down the line you would be standing on a long queue for buying admission forms for liitle one who would by that time be old enough to join school.Your mind recoils in shock and horror and you logout form orkut or you may permanently delete your account.

2.Its a lazy winter evening and you as usual decide to take a lazy stroll along the bluish orkuttian landscape , smelling roses here and there in general appreciating the great beauty of humankind.So suddenly you come across this slightly familiar rose and you get a feeling of deja-vu..... " where have I seen her before".Your mind swiftly goes back to your high-school when she was your classmate.For a while you are transported to the misty memories of your early teens when this girl used to be a crush, though you didnt publicize it enough for somebody to scribble "X+Y" on the blackboard ( the alphabets have been chosen deliberately to prevent sowing of seeds into the fertile imagination of some of my readers).Slowly fragments of your memory join together to form the outline of her face , the length of her skirt and several other details.Almost delirous with joy you click at her profile and without a second thought visit her album.You see her first picture and there is no doubt its the same girl..she has obviously grown up and put on some weight , but the twinkle in her eye and the roundness of her face is still very much intact.With excitement mounting every passing second , you enter the album.In the very next photo you see her dangling from the arms of a robust young man, with the backdrop of a quickly scroll down to read the caption and it reads "Me with hubby Nilesh in'nt he cute?".Then you mutter to yourself.." yes he is cute..cho cho cute that I feel like !#@$#@!$@##%." In one single stroke of fate you realise the fleeting nature of time and how youth with all its colours are slowly fading away.In a few years time you too would be part of a similiar photograph with your overweight wife trying to dangle from your not so robust arms and you would suffer in silence not having the heart to tell her that your back aches ( you may say I am being too negative but I consider it my talent to spread gloom and darkness)

This brings us to the conclusion that as you go older your choice for social networking sites must also change.Its time for me now to understand the intricacies of Facebook and prevent myself from future shocks.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Quarter-life crisis

Since childhood I have been a 'man' who has an explanation for almost everything he does.However it does not imply that I have not done anything impulsive or that I am always level headed.Its just that I am good at presenting my case. During my high school days I had the habit of constantly punching at the walls of our house with my fist.The purpose offcourse was to harden my knuckles , but i dont recollect whether it was an inspiration from Van Damme or I really had a tiff with the classroom bully.So when my mom , evidently worried about my health as well as the health of our dilapidated government quarter , asked for an explanation to this strange behaviour I was ready with it.I showed her articles on adolescent behaviour , culled from various sources ( sadly no internet at that time) and gave her a lengthy discourse on how such rebellious behaviour is commonplace among teenagers around the world and punching at the walls is an universal phenomenom arising out of our teenage existential angst. I doubt if she bought my theory , but it did manage to calm down the situation to a great extent.
However in recent times , having gone gone through frequent bouts of depression , i just could not find any neat and intellectual-sounding scientific or pop-psychology term which could explain
my behaviour. Whenever I am confronted with such question as " You have a secure job , you are young ( at times you have a girlfriend too) whatelse do you want , huh? look at the number of unemployed people around you and count your blessings" , I desperately feel the need to say " I am unhappy because i have so and so syndrome".How I wish I could say something like " I have midlife crisis" or " I have pre-menstrual stress", but since I could say neither I have to take resort to a lengthy monologue on how much I hated my job , the food at the office canteen and so on.So at times like i fall back to the only place which can explain everything - 'Wikipedia'.After some searching , i finally discovered the perfect term that could describe my situation. Its called the " Quarter-life crisis".I guess the term had existed since ages but somehow I have not stumbled across it..Wiki says that " Quarter-life crisis " can have any of the following characteristics:

1.Feeling "not good enough" because one can't find a job that is at one's academic/intellectual level
2.Frustration with relationships, the working world, and finding a suitable job or career
confusion of identity
3.Insecurity regarding the near future
4.Insecurity regarding present accomplishments
5.Re-evaluation of close interpersonal relationships
6.Disappointment with one's job
7.Nostalgia for university, college, high school or elementary school life
8.Tendency to hold stronger opinions
9.Boredom with social interactions
10.Financially-rooted stress
12.Desire to have children
13.A sense that everyone is, somehow, doing better than you

Thanks to the psychologists , I can claim to be a victim of a trully global phenemenom , something I believve is more dangerous than global warming.Except the desire to have children , I have traces of all the other symptoms in varying degrees.Now how to overcome it? So far I have just one solution to " Quarter-life crisis" - get a quarter of red rum , it will do the trick.
P.S - " Why do you drink so much , huh?? Do you ever think of people back home??"
Ans : " I have quarter-life crisis"

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The magician from Tokyo

Japan is one country which has captured my imagination since I was a child.I guess it started after watching the series "Oshin" on Doordarshan.That was a time when Ekta Kapoor was yet to unleash her Saans-Bahu never-ending sagas on the Indian households and people still believed that entertainment should also provide some food for thought.My japanese fixation grew with time , especially after watching Kurosawa and reading Kazuo Ishiguro and Haruki Murakami.
I have just started on my 3rd Haruki Murakami novel and its called " The wind up bird chronicle".Now ,I have this peculiar habit-if I like a book I become an unpaid publicity agent for that writer.I would not only recommend it to everyone but harrass the person non-stop till he reaches the last page.So now I would proceed to do the same.
For those not familiar with Mr.Murakami's works , I have decided to put together a definiton like those high and mighty literary critics do.It goes like this " Mr. Murakami's work can be defined as bizarre characters meeting other equally bizarre characters under extraordinarily bizarre circumstances".The one I am reading right now revolves around a man in search of his cat which is very dear to his wife.In the course of his seach and a span of just 40 pages he has already met a woman looking for telephone sex , a bored teenage girl who lives alone and watches cats in her neighbourhood and a lady who believes in controlling the elements.As this happens to be my 3rd Murakami novel after " Norwegian woods " and " Hard-boiled wonderland and end of the universe" I am finding myself in a slightly familar terrain.For beginners I must warn that this man can take your mind out , put it a mixer-grinder and churn the contents of your head till you feel that you have lost you mind forever.The problem I had at first with this Japanese gentleman was that for some reasons I was searching for reason in his plots and characters.On deeper introspection I know the problem is that I have grown up on a staple diet of Hindi movies.So the idea of loose ends in a story and unexplained characters is totally alien to me.In a hindi movie if the hero has a sister you can rest assured she would be raped by the villain in due course of time, else the hero won't have a sister.So with that frame of mind I started reading my first Murakami novel , only to realise that very soon that I am missing out on a joyride.Murakami takes you on a roller coaster ride , where characters would come and dissapear for no reason , where your protagonist will sleep with women you never expected to , where people for no reaon will start talking of Beatles and Bob Dylan , where cats will start talking and somehow even in this wild circus you will find a cleverly woven plot unfolding before your eyes in a manner that is both weird and entertaining at the same time.
Rich in symbolism and metaphors ,Murakami is among the writers whose books are to be chewed slowly rather than devoured as a whole.If you read one sentence too quickly , you might miss a piece of dark humour or an unusual oxymoron or just a bizarre similie that very few writers could even dream of.The second most important thing to remember is that don't expext anything and don't ask why.Go with the flow of his narrative.Strange things will happen to the characters.Moreover you will feel at times the narrator is a junkie who had an overdose of cocaine.For example , Murakami might devote 3 paragraphs for the colour of a particular character's lipstick or nail-polish.Dont expect it be of som great significance to the plot.He just mentioned it because he felt like it.

I have spend sometime wondering where Muarakami's appeal lie.I believe his cult status has something more to it than its bizarre plots and his high " coolness qoutient" for referring to rockstars and hollywood movies in every 3rd page.Its essentially lies in his abilty to split open and dissect the working of the urban mind , it's innate sense of alienation and its deepest fears and insecurities.His characters are universal , they might well belong to Mumbai instead of Tokyo. His appeal , I believe , lies in his knack of touching the mind of the reader at a very subliminal level .I remember one of his characters , who said she was a fan of Bob Dylan because its reminds her of a child gazing out of his window when its raining outside.Rain ,child and Bob Dylan..where is the connection? Apparently there is no connection, but if I ever have to think of Bob Dylan's music as an image nothing fits better than the one mentioned above.There exactly lies Murakami's genius ,his constantly ability to go hammer and tongs at your head and make you wonder " Oh fuck! that's so true but I never thought of it this way!".
Murakami himself has said that his work is taken more seriously than he would like them to do.Like Pink Floyd's songs, critics would endlessly dissect his work for hidden symbolisms.Such people are bound to be dissapointed.The way to read Murakami is simple.Just enjoy the ride, cause he will take you to places where you have never gone before.
Bon voyage!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai

A few weeks back,I read an article in TOI about China being a "soft" superpower capturing not just our markets with cheap electronic goods but also dictating how we think.. from Mumbai wanting to be the next Shanghai to martial arts movies , a number of examples were cited.Looking back , the writer missed the obvious ..the ubiquitous Chinese food centre.I returned a few hours back from my neighbourhood mobile restaurant..a little cart with a cook and a cooking gas somehow inserted into it with a big sign outside carrying the words" Vaibhav Chinese centre". I am sure after Panditji talked of Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai nobody took Indo-China brotherhood so seriously as the cook at this restaurant.With a name like " Vaibhav Chinese centre" the cook and staff at this mobile eating joint has left no stone unturned to ensure the customers that they trully believe in globalisation.Just an hour back I had a plate of Singapore triple-fried its a dish nobody in Singapore or whole of South-east Asia may have ever heard of..but here in India people will swear by it.From "Hong-Kong hakka noodles" to "Shaghai veg fried rice" they have ensured that all regions to the east of the country are well represented.Fried deep in oil with cheap sauces added on top , these dishes are bound to make a Chinese forget his Mandarin, but for the Indian palate they are just about perfect.My only worry is that they will soon run out of names of places to coin their new inventions of this Indo-Chinese fusion cuisine.Maybe " Bangkok noodle" and "Kualalampur egg rice" are next in the line.
My only request to the these Chinese food centres- Now that you have no dearth of afficanados for your hotch-potch cuisine , please return back to your roots and call the "Schezwan fried rice " as "Kolhapuri fried rice",else you are insulting two great civilizations at the same time.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Alternate career options

For the last three months , one routine that I have religiously followed is applying online to atleast 10 jobs every week. Not a person known for his diligence , I am surprised at my own level of persistence.Its the sort of dogged determination that is normally reserved for jail inmates who tirelessly chip away at their walls for years to dig out a trench leading to the jail's sewage disposal system.The very fact that my motivation level matches that of Tim Robins in Sawshank Redemption speaks volumes about my level of job satisfaction in my current job. So at desperate times like this my endlessly meandering thoughts moves towards some unexplored career options which I would love to pursue provided I get a little encouragement.I would discuss a few of them below:
1. A regular and avid reader of everything from page 3 onwards of my daily newspaper , I am absolutely in awe of most the of research findings that are reported in minute details by newspapers these days. Sample this “ staring at a women's breast for about 15 mins everyday brings down chances of heart disease by 30%”. This must be a milestone in the study of cardiovascular diseases..My mind goes into wild frenzied flights just to imagine how this research was carried out.Did they have a testing centre where a human subject was fitted with all sort of medical equipments fitted to his heart and made to stare at a picture of Pamela Anderson?Or was it a comparative study on heart conditions of the husbands of women who are not endowed in equal measure ( say between Tommy Lee Jones and Tom Cruise).I might sound like a sexist, but i would give up my left hand to be part of such pathbreaking research.
For a less scientific and more statistical one sample this one I read a few months ago “ while kissing , experts have found that the heads of 70% of humans tilt towards the right side.”Another breakthrough in social and behavioral sciences.Just for the sake of it , try kissing your dear ones with your head tilting left and you might end up spraining your neck.Now just think you are paid to study the kissing habits of couples..wonderful isn't it?If you are less scientifically inclined , there is still scope for lots of media-relevant research that is equally intellectually for example some 5-6 years ago a leading national news magazine conducted a survey and found that than on an average a lady in her 20s in a particular Indian metro sleeps with something like 3.47 men .I am still wondering how fortunate that .47 of a man must be. Bad news for Raymond suitings don't always need to be a complete man.
So all young men and women with an inclination towards research , here is your chance for your 15 minutes of fame.Rack your brains and come up with a topic of public interest like the ones mentioned above and start off your research in earnest.For ideas about such research , I am brimming with ideas and would be more than happy to help you ( for a minimal consultancy fee).
2.The Indian Institute of Television Experts:With the mushrooming growth of news channels,the day is not too far when we will have more controversies and less experts to comment about them on television.So before we see the doomsday for Indian television industry , I propose to set up this academy for training television experts.The term expert here is used in the generic sense. A television expert should be able to speak non-stop on any topic with conviction and be able to boost the TRP of the news channel , should be able to take any stand on an issue depending on requirements and most importantly should be able to blabber non-stop for any specified period of time.Now for example take this serious panel discussion I saw last year “ Has Richard Gere insulted Indian culture by kissing Shilpa Shetty on-stage?” Now as a television expert , you should be able to speak articulately both in support and against the view.If you are against the view you can start with “ In the land of Khajuraho and Kamasutra , where sex is a spiritual journey to the inner self.........” or if you are in support you can prove that the lip-lock is a symbol of western cultural invasion and Indians in general don't kiss on the lips though we have a particular filmstar who calls himself the “ serial kisser”.Going back to that panel discussion , a lady activist felt it was Shilpa Shetty who insulted Indian culture because she was smiling after being what should have been the ideal reaction “ nahiii.....mere izzat ke saath khilwad mat karo'? So the bottom line is you should be able to blabber anything no matter how inane your views are.
Although I am yet to deicide on the faculty members I plan to hire Nikhil Chopra and Atul Wassan as guest lecturers.While nobody remembers any of their cricketing exploits (when did they actually play for India?) they have carved a niche for themselves as cricket pundits who can give expert views on anything related to cricket and can occupy as much of screen time as Baba Ramdev does.
3.Living in a country where effigy-burning is a national obsession I am deeply distressed at the overall aesthetic levels of effigies that our concerned citizens choose to burn every time India loses a cricket series or LPG prices rises up or on any issue where they feel that putting things or themselves on fire is the solution.As i always believed i had the spirit of entrepreneurship I plan to set up a manufacturing plant which would produce eco-friendly effigies of any political leader or celebrity on demand which burns easily and moreover resembles the person you wish to immolate publicly.During Indias overseas tours we will have special editions of all the major players and the national coach which can be booked in advance.I also plan to introduce some special discounts for Mamta Banerjee and her supporters.I also have some ambitious plans for re-usable effigies which can burned over and over again.The first 2 re-usable models available for sale would be of George W Bush and Steve Bucknor for their consistency of blunders.
There are many more equally interesting ideas on the pipeline which i would would discuss in future blogs.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The monk for which i can sell my ferrari ( when I get one)

There are somethings which are a class of their own , they dont need to prove their class with a heavy price tag or by words of praise from connoisseurs.Old monx xxx rum would be among the few things in the world which falls in this category.Like all good things its value lies in its quality and not on the packaging.At Rs110 for half a bottle ( must be cheaper in other cities) , old monk is the cheapest and the surest route to nirvana.The poem below is a personal tribute to the "bura baba"

The Styx

In your dark waters,
I seek and find
Friends lost in time,
The friendly hills of childhood,
Laughter that echoes sometimes
In the labyrinths of my mind.
Grandma's silver hair,
Flying against the February wind
And fables of demons and kings
Buried deep inside.

I seek and find
A smile radiant like the sun
That shines through the mist
On a lazy winter morning
And the gentle touch of fingers,
Playing through my hair
Under a sky that was only mine.

Mix with my blood tonight,
You are my holy Styx,
Carry me to that distant land
Where dead memories are born again.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


More than a year after my first attempt at blogging , I have decided to give it another go.The whole and sole purpose of this blog would be to exercise my fingers during idle office hours .If any of my writings shows any hints of cerebral content I can assure its written under the influence of old monk XXX Rum and hence need not be taken seriously.Happy reading!