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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Take a Snap !

I just remembered this.

I had the chance of chatting with my nursery teacher back home. A quarter century and she ……is still not bored of A for apple and B for ball.

Her memory belies her age, she remembers with astonishing clarity me, and places my family at the first glance.

I am surprised, so I ask her" how can you still recognize me after 25 odd years”.

She smiles and says "Just like that".

I am not about to be satisfied with that, so I press on. She does not reply, immediately.

Staring into space she says something rather very thought provoking

She says , "I have been with kids for most of my life. I have observed that by the time a kid comes to nursery his future life has been decided. I can say at a glance who is going to be what; in life, success vs. failure, right vs. wrong. It is akin to an X- Ray that has already been taken, or a photo snapped, only the developing part remains. And there is not a frightful lot that can be done on developing a photo/X-Ray"

This is intriguing, so I also want to learn, and of course I want to know about my X-Ray/Photo too !

I ask madam,

She sidesteps deftly, and replies" You ask me how I could recognize you, tell me do you remember the name of your KG teacher, or for that matter even mine"

Of course I do!!

Then so do I……… Srikant …………Remember you………….Its mutual and causal.

Aree tell me more madams…. my photo, and ……my negative am I right/ wrong …….ding or dong?!!

She says , "Ever so impatient, but now I see something in your eyes"

What…is “something”??

Twinkling eyes…….. Peer at me……but no verbal response. I got it that that is the end of discussion.

Nearing 60, with wit as sharp as a razor and memory to give mine a run for its youth, I realized that she won’t say anything more. I shook her hands and in a rare gesture touched her feet too and recited my traditional introduction.

Her scaly hands touch my head lightly and she says, very softly “All the best beta …be happy”

Btw any of you remember your nursery school teacher’s name??

That piece of information could possibly explain your development (photos part) now, and if you figure a connection please let me know too.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Individual Excellence vs. Collective Brilliance

This is a piece of humor.

I am told I have a penchant for glamorizing the mundane, and being able to complicate simple things.

My dad, working as an auditor now, having tallied BS and ledgers all his, says that it is always the simple things that are potentially brilliant, at least in the world of accounting.

I cant take names, but it seems a leading apparel, company famed for giving mind boggling discounts, (70 to 80%) off, did a simple way of showing itself bankrupt, even though the auditors knew it had a bundle , they could do nothing about it.

My dad rounds off, wryly saying” They have a sale even now, its showroom is right next to my office, its always packed”, and they say there are no sales happening.

And on paper it’s true.

Anyways this is digressing; I got to do justice to the title.

Well, an acquaintance of mine, is into a bit of money, and he hasn’t seen much of it .So off he goes, shopping to get rid of his sons of soil image. In pops a ray ban, a shirt and jean which would get 4 of my types of shirt and jeans, and for shoes make it 5 of my types. No question about the quality of the cloth or material, it is excellent, in isolation, individually excellent.

Now I will painstakingly (and vividly too, I hope!) describe the collective part of it. The jean is a blue/green hue with some kind of washing on its front and side (the worn of part, which is what makes it smooth to touch).Now my limited sense of fashion does tell me that there are not a frightful lot of combinations you can pair this jean with. He, however pairs it with an electric green shirt (it is Zodiac Classic limited edition….. I think), with bright green and white stripes, the wide stripes. Now the belt, it is brown with some sequins or glitterati.

At least the shoes match with the belt, they are again brown, but can’t do much to salvage the fashion disaster which he has just become.

Hell, I forgot the Ray Ban, they are again, green with gold rims, the oversized variety.

Visualize this short, slightly plump guy,(the picture of good lving) with a blue/green hued jean, a full shirt with and electric green and white wide stripes. A brown belt which throws some flashes of light at you as he moves around and a brown pair of shoes.

The coup de grace is the gold rimmed oversized green hued Ray Bans.

Overall he looked like a cross between a giant leprechaun and a human. I guess the gold he had on him gave him the feel of a leprechaun (green and gold)., and mabe the picture of good living too.

“How do I look?!” this is the million dollar question, and very, very gender specific!!! You are trapped whatever you answer.

At this point I got the title of the post in my head, which I willingly shared with him……….and I take the liberty of sharing, with you all too!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Second Lieutenant !!

This is a piece of humor.

Short cropped hair, and weight just a kilo short of being classified as an overweight, and a rajput style moustache(Took lot of twirls to get it up !), i seemed to be looking as a picture of good living

A nice pair of goggles, (aviator style of course), and clad in jacket (uncharacteristic, but it is kind of chilly in Delhi, these days), I was waiting near Regal, to catch up with a school friend of mine.

Everybody has tied the knot that much I could understand, but she has a kid as well...! Suddenly I felt old, very old...but I was looking forward to meeting her, she was one of the few people who I bumped in BCL sporadically.

She walks in, and immediately recognizes me....for a mother she looks remarkably great...and I said" damm it you look great...very pretty...!!

Your attempt at diplomacy is not really great Srikant...but humor seems to be fine !

I do not need to diplomatic with you...I retorted, with a smile...!!

Chuck coffee (I was in no moods for a royal phatka !)...let’s take a walk around, the weather is good. We made it to the open grassy space on top of Palika, and started reminiscing.

In walks, a punter policeman, a new recruit(just guessing here!), and looks at the couple(us).Immediately adopting the moral policing standard he walks with a gruff and menacing expression on his face...and uses some .........let’s say Delhi words.

Not wanting to pick up a fight I just ignored...but he increased the decibel. Something snapped inside me, I stood up , jutted my chest out and said “Second Lt Srikant Rajan, 12 Rajputana Rifles, OTA Chennai...and that is my fiancée..., then for good measure in Hindi...your name, rank, commanding officer and taluka"

Balle Balle ho gayi...!!

Sorry sir, really sorry.....galti ho gayi...he almost made it to my feet...but I stepped back…… I wasn’t sure if I would be able could contain my laughter...I just said....Dharamveer... aise parehan mat karo ...

Hearing his name, he gave a startled response, but I continued staring at his chest...on his name plate. His eyes caught my gaze, then almost in tears, he said....Sir, strict orders against couples here...there have been some cases here...and hum to bas apna kaam kar rahe they...but you can sit here problem.

But I had..., if punter got bada officer… the roles of me and punter would be reversed.

Ok, we will leave in a few minutes....ab aap jao yahan se.

Ok sire, bilkul sir…

The lady stared, and thankfully had a neutral expression…… I said in low tones we leave in 5 minutes, she nodded….

30 minutes later …in a CCD… (Pretty far from Palika !), Lady ji remarks…” That was wild ….but it was fun too...!”

If the babu was around the punter….it would have been hilarious…madam…!! And someone else would be having the fun part, I added wryly.

Journey back home, I walked a bit and then took the metro from Barakhamba Road, and adopted a clean shaven look :):)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Fag Time...Not quite :)

It was a ding time, a very ding time indeed.

This happened during my time in Chennai, pretty recently. Most of my team mates, corrections rather the entire office seemed to be surviving on a diet of smokes and coffee. Every hour, damm it, every hour they needed a fix, for good living or for leisure or for habit(or all !!). I on the other hand had earned the nickname of Biscuit man (quite an improvement over banana, I think).

Anyways, I had never smoked ever. I had drunk like a fish and retched horribly, and snorted straight through the nose...but no smoke, ever.

Chalo yeh kasar bhi poori kar deten hain, as krishna would have told, try it once gurudev.

In enter a post lunch walkathon from Sangeeta to my room. I stopped by the Pan shop.

A Wills light I said the …….first thing that came to my mind.

The panwadi gave me a stick, I smelled it, and then reached for the matches, keeping a mask of good living on my face.

Darn my fingers started trembling; the guy gave me a curious look, but did not say anything.I balled my fingers into a fist to steady myself, and made to reach for a light ....then,I started shaking pretty bad, almost shivering.

Darn it Rajan Steady……. you can do it, and you can leave it too!!

But something told me that this time it won’t be that easy, I kept the cigarette down on the counter and stared into the open space for some time. Now the panwadi was staring at me intently, or rather for some curious reason my fingernails.

I returned his gaze and ……..

He shook his head, as I reached for the smoke again, he snatched it and said in Tamil, I won’t give it sir, please go from here"

That firmness……. That ignition…… That anger…… of that guy seemed to stir something in me. He has no stake in my welfare, none indeed.

The moment passed by..........the crack in the wall resealed itself; the demon is still in the cage,

Dong !!

But yeah the cookies remain ......anyone for cookies? Ding dong indeeed :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Intellectual Prostitutes - Aha

The connotations of morning, noon and night change, in a BPO( no surprises !! ) . Yesterday I bumped my boss in the office when we were both irrigating the non land masses.

Good evening, Sir! And he smiled back and replied " Shouldn’t it be morning Rajan?!!"

Oh yeah I am just a glorified pimp, I realized that.

Blue collared workers with a tie, jargon hooters, email forwarders, Google monkeys, or as a friend of mine told me, "Pal, it is actually powered by Ctrl + C and driven by ctrl + V” .All these are terms which were used to describe the IT/software field, and the new recruits who work there But the prize term came from the CEO of defense equipment manufacturing company who I recently met. (See you soon sir!)

Intellectual Prostitutes!! 

It is so true, for that’s what most of us are, in KPO/BPO or the new one which does a synthesis of both to BKPO (Business and Knowledge process outsourcing).

This new term seems to say,

1.    “You want a massage?” - We do it,
2.    “A blowjob?” -  But of course,
3.    “You want to rape”, no problem!

There really has been no change in the 60+ years of independent India. The only difference is in the level of our slavery, earlier we were physical slaves, now we are intellectual.

We take pride in being able to write code, and support processes that run main functions but we do not realize that we are undermine are own capability ,or own intellect.Millions of engineers pass out, every year in India.Civil, mechanical, chemical , and most of them run out to write lines of codes rather than build bridges, refineries, or cars.( I just got a mail from a civil engineer, who dreams to work in a bank , Oh corrections dear , investment bank )

We were happy as long as we got money.But then we did not factor in one fundamental characteristic of ours  "Jugaad", and of course intelligence has an innate ability to show itself despite being relegated to the domains of shit.

Smart Bob thought of asking Indians to sell credit cards, help people fix broken computers, to cut costs(labor cost arbitrage ! , cant help it 4 months of IT) .Now what slowly happened that we, went a step ahead and told them what were causing the breakdowns, and of course which people to call for selling( using advanced statistical techniques , but of course)

Smart Bob met smarter Indians.Then we started giving them recommendations of which routes to take for collections, which place to shortlist for storage( inventory optimization).Bob was now getting wary, at this rate, there would be no difference between them and me, for they know as much about the business as me, and sometimes much more.

The labor cost arbitrage, now went to intellectual arbitrage, with the favor of arbitrage on our side.Smart Bo got all panicky.In entered Obama,  and "Chop Shop", and now Ohio.

And now India screams protectionism when Obama slaps taxes on outsourcing companies.I am reminded of a classic Bihari saying here" पिछवाड़े तले पतलून खीचने चले....... पर पकडे गए तो बोले .....बहिया हम तो धोकर लौटाने ही वाले थे".(I think I made that up ! )

PS - I am not disparaging the work of sostware, or software engineers, some of them do great,really great work, but typically that is a tiny fraction.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Just How Messed Up Can Someone Be ?

A software guy called me today from the land of whites, a land with no morals. He is one of the smartest and intelligent guys I have ever known and one of the very level headed people.

The conversation lasted for close to an hour, he had a recent bad experience with a female, and unlike other people who have been jilted, he spoke very calmly but in rage.

I was scared, there is not telling how these people reacts, there is no outlet, tears, or anything. I asked him to write his experience and send it to me. It is a catharsis of pain, I told him. He seemed hesitant, being a software guy all he had was Google skills or rather he was a google monkey  and he was candid to admit it.

But, I was insistent, I told him to write a single word and send it to me.

 “A single word, how do I get that”, he asked kind of with attention.

 It seems to have got him hooked. I racked my brains for some tricks to convince him after this. I told him to take fragments of conversations with the female and write one word after each sentence, then build up all those words and make a story.

Being a cricket junkie, I gave him an analog, each ball bowled is long or short, fast or slow from the perfect delivery, and there is always a flaw. Just look at the bad part of the conversation which you had with her and assiduously build on that to wrest out a single emotion.

A long silence .

Sitting in some god forsaken state in the US, I had no contact with him.

I will mail you, and ……….click.

True to his word, there landed a mail, and it is …………..very intense.

I am taking the liberty of sharing it; there are no names, no places, no identifiers at all, only the emotion remains!! and darn it just seems like a nice piece of fiction straight from a M&B  

Just How Messed Up Can Someone Be

You cannot handle emotions, they scare you.

Your parents bore you so you ran away from home. You choose to sit at the campus hostel for a week all alone without any strings attached because you are selfish. You never know the joy of giving for you have always taken.

I always thought there was a child, a golden child, within you, the way you spoke, the way you laughed and way you lapsed into a rare silence. Alas, it was not the child, it was the mean devil, for every action of yours is for your own benefit.

When you have extracted your pound of flesh, you just throw it away. The lowliest level of existence is you. Even the hooker on the road gives her body for money, but you abuse mind ....and discard it when it seeks reciprocation.

You choose to hide behind the veil of modesty, but you ride cross country hugging a stranger on a bike. When I asked you to come and meet me for an instant, you throw the gauntlet of modesty, and morality, can anyone get hypocritical than this?

From the hole at the top to the two in your bottom; there is nothing, just a big zero Your existence does not deserve to be acknowledged................ and I gave you.......... respect 

And as is the case with got to your head.

I am going away from this place for ever. Your presence in life has bought only misery, and it will to all around you, good living and you are negatively correlated. I thought you were the best thing to happen in my life, Alas, how mistaken I was.

The creative visual of a dick sticking below a beer gut........on top of your face has become so sharp that I can even see the tear drop glistening on your eyes and the bald spot on your forehead meshed with your hair, wet with sweat and tears , and the crinkle on your nose which I loved so much , frozen in disgust.

A mind is a terrible thing to waste, to throw. If a hooker acts up you hit her physically...but you are one off case of abuse the mind so the hurt has to be at the level of the mind…… the soul.....

So I will resort to words…because they hurt...they do....and prayer helps...words and prayer... no man no machine can stop it.

The Testament says that every prayer is heard the Saints and the Sinners. There is no doubt in my mind who I what here, and I guess you know it too.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Who is there for you........ Oh Traveller ...??

 Now this one seems to be relating to me as I tried to snooze in the night!!

(Darn all things strike only while trying to snooze, except the snooze itself…)

This one is a very old song, from Guide, by SD Burman (vocals), music by brother RD.

Who is there for you…….. Oh traveler ……. Where will you go….
Have a fag and relax for a while …. Oh traveler……… When will you find this instant… ever again?

Gone are the days.... the days of love
The nights ………..are now the substance of only dreams
They have forsaken you…….. forgotten you…
All the memories of love... All the memories of hope......Are lost………
There is darkness all around….

Who is there for you…….. Oh traveler …….Where will you go….
Have a fag and relax for a while …. Oh traveler……… When will you find this instant… ever again?

Nobody awaits your return…No eyes search for you at all…
Nobody cringed at your hurt…no eyes shed any tears for you...
Who do you call as your own ..Who indeed?

Who is there for you…….. Oh traveler …….Where will you go….
Have a fag and relax for a while …. Oh traveler……… When will you find this instant… ever again?

All the learned say….the world is just flowing water
The water has it all written in itself…..about everything..
Everybody…….. Can see it…everybody can feel it…but nobody can hold it….
There is nothing for you…….. Or for me….

Who is there for you…….. Oh traveler …….Where will you go….
Have a fag and relax for a while …. Oh traveler……… When will you find this instant… ever again?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

If you are Happy and you Know it Clap your Hands

Kiddish , juvenile, nonsensical..................but its causality cannot be refuted, for I experienced it first hand, just some time back(about thirty minutes) .

The reasons for a big, colossal celebration popped up. My escape from this place has been under preparation for quite some time, but  all the routes it seemed were blocked, manned heavily by gatekeepers, or plain just not a route. God’s grace and my frantic praying coupled with involuntary fasting seem to have worked out, and I got an escape route, exactly the way I desired.(btw prayer works, it really does !! and isn't that a source for imminent misery to some !!)

After the final confirmation note, I decided to break the news of her son’s imminent escape from Alcatraz to Amma.

“ Tring ”, one ring down and  immediately I hear “Main Spiderman bol raha hoon”, the 3 year old niece of mine in India currently. She has big gender usage confusion, which is pretty evident!!

“Ok, Mr. Spiderman, you know I am very happy today”. The word happy seemed to be a cue, “If you are happy and you know it clap your hands…..clap clap, “singing merrily and on top of her voice, she dropped the phone and started dancing around, promptly forgetting about the me or the call. (I envy the short memories of kids; I really do, because there are a lot of things I would like to forget!!)

Hey why not I try it?! It helped that I had a hands free plugged in. So off I went, singing and clapping my hands prancing about my room in abandon. My son is mad, definitely mad, comes the chuckled response of my mother on the other end.” Madness is perceptual, madness is subjective, madness …… good” I reply back.

“You have a lot of brain, I know that, in classic Tamil came the reply, I guess you got it right?!

Hell, there are no secrets……….. None............. from your mothers or grandmothers……… Fathers and uncles maybe ……..but mothers have a tendency to read you like an open book with a highlighter run over it.

What plans for today then ? I dont know , I replied....

Just then Khan pops in heaving heavily laden bags and says, hey today is iftiar..... and I am making a feast don't have any plans for evening.

It couldn't get better it seems, even the gods seem to be conspiring to celebrate !!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Darn !! It is Just some Hair Sticking from your Upper Lip !!

“Sir, what would be like to do? “ Asked the barber rather sweetly and anticipated as I sat on the chair.

Snip it all out, leaves enough to be not called a Tiurpati Tripper.

Aha ....that seemed to light the devil in him.

Spray…… spray ………spray...he gets my hair wet... .Takes a comb and drags it with a vengeance imprisoning it, struggles a bit when he reaches the back of my head..Giving up he then takes out a broader comb and pulls it back, satisfied.

Once all the strands are slicked back...he begins.....

Snip ….. Snip…… snip…… snip.

In 2 minutes it was over, he then says..." sir might I make a suggestion?”


“Sir Keep a moustache”, and then he adds which loosely translated from Tamil, means “A man's respect is by his moustache"(a very specific saying in Tamil, I don’t know its meaning, and that’s a pity)\).Aha that possibly could explain why middle aged, mustached uncles dance with absolutely pretty damsels, half their age.


Now it takes thirty minutes, not two!! Thirty minutes of meticulous snipping of stray hairs on my face, after which, Anna takes an admiring look at his handiwork.

I thank him and walk out, it’s almost 1.30, not enough time to go and cook, so I head out to Udipi.

As I cut out a bill, the man kind of recognizes me, and says, "haircut??” I nodded, and he says "Which place, do you come from sir (referring to my native land,Again in Tamil).I wanted to say Noida but said Thanjavur.

Vadagali/Tengalai, he said dispensing off with obvious need to determine my lineage, the moustache had made things pretty obvious and also added a good five years (not that I needed any!!)

I don’t know what it means, but for good measure I said "Vadagali".

Nodding his head as though he was sure of my response, he hands my counterfoil and I sit down with a mound of rice to devour. Travelling around India, I could discern one thing that despite the decades that have passed by, the caste of a person seems to be a very interesting piece of information for locals everywhere. But in Chennai this tendency is very…very pronounced, much evident by our recent house searching, where I did all the talking, because my Tamil is weird!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Land , Land Everywhere but not an Inch to Till ....or lets say Build ?!!

Vedanta, Yamuna expressway,and about a little while ago, we had Nandigram.

Historically disptutes have arise over 3 Zs ......was told to me by a grand old daddy in a village off Meerut, (Shamli). These are Zar , Zameen and Zaan....loosely translated its gold , land and women.Step back and recapitulate the maniacal highs of gold ETFs and futures just about a couple of months ago....... it was a fight for gold.

Women , it always happens too many to recount !! And land it is the same............

But the three Zs are just the end results the fight is for something that the 3 Zs, are seen to provide, And that on .....

" Bloody famrers, they dont know that the upcoming features will rasie thier level of living "  growled a collegaue of mine over fags and coffee.There is a fundamental flaw in the argument, not everybody wants "development " the way we see it.

For some elegance is in simplicity.....or rather tradition.There are people I am aware of  who are still not comfortable using a toilet soap, the prefer their variant of raak(ash) and two trips to the fields."Arree baba, jab tak mitti jki sungand nahi aati tab tak saala pressure hi nahi banta", same grand old daddy opined.

Yuck is what I thought , and still do.

And these people wont give upo their land for a fancy new building to come up , where people stare at boxes all day long....or a swank metal plated road where huge cars whizz at rocket speed. And all they have at the end of it is a corner stool, and a life pushing files., which is insignificant,.

Hence it is a battle for significance, not of development.It is not about us vs them , it is rather of us vs me, and it is this desire for significance that they opt for a collective identity of poor farmers since it is easier to relate to rather than an individual identity.

Once they give up their land and take money, in return they loose their significance.

They are not price gouging opportunistic villagers, they are simple people who want to be significant.Viewed from this angle, money does not seem to be a barrier for them give the right transaction they would take it

What exactly would be the right transaction ?

Hell , I don't know, if I did , I wouldn't be dispensing of this free gyaan :)