Wednesday, November 02, 2011 - India's biggest online food & lifestyle guide">
DISCLAIMER: The following is a fictionalized account of a gory dark day of my life. Sarcasm and Laughter is expected, but beware, you could be the next Lucky one.

Some days, luck just decides to shine bright and sunny on you.

It’s like you woke up on the best side of the bed, with a silver spoon in your smelly mouth, and a proverbial horse shoe hanging down my neck.

So what do you do when such a day decides to grace you with its benign presence?

Just wait for the darned day to get over; praying the damage done is least.

Last week had one such marvelous day when I had the ultimate stroke of luck ever.

So the day started on a bright note. I wasn’t sleepy, woke up on time for my gym appointment. Got ready and out of the house in time. No traffic even at 6:00 AM (the first sign of something about to go wrong, I never saw what was in store) it was the perfect start to a seemingly perfect day.

I reach the gym on time, ably surpassing the strong primal urge to stop over that the idly shop for a plate of hot pongal. Only to find that my trainer is hurt, and hence no workout. Disaster One.

Heartbroken (yeah I do like the gym, contrary to what my figure suggests) I started back home. That was when the sky decided to burst open in a flash rain that oddly seemed to follow and drench only the area around me. Drenched to the last cell in my body, I trudged my way back home.

I choose to gloss over the mishaps while I got ready post that for office and take you to the ride to work now. So off I am on my ride to work, when the rain gods decide to fertilize the earth with some water all over again. Drenched for the second time, and late already by half an hour, I get back home, change, and resume my by now ill-fated journey. Disaster Two.

I reach work, escaping a traffic police confrontation by hair’s breadth. Take my laptop out for security check. The moment I place it before the all-knowing eyes of the bar code reader, it sets of a loud shriek and dies. That’s it. Last heard, they are still negotiating with a new vendor for a replacement. Disaster Three.

Embarrassed beyond redemption, I walk up the stairs (yes the lift had gone off too, I suspect on purpose, fearing its own life) and reach my work desk. Laptop on table, system boots, facebook login, and Bam! The laptop blanks out. Disaster Four.

I chug along running after the IT team and sundry other teams I was supposed to be meeting on the day, and it already is way past lunch time. A quick bite it is, and nothing is left for sale in the canteen (did I forget? My lunch box, which I cooked in the morning, was left behind at home). I set my eyes on the vending machine, little knowing that this would lead to the Disaster of the century,,,

I chose to have a fruit cake and a juice from the vending machine. I put in a ten rupees note. The machine vomits it out.

I put the note in again. The machine gives me a Rs.5 pack of boost and the change.

Undeterred I put another ten rupees note into the machine. This time I choose a pack of biscuits. The vending machine accepts it, and the coil in the corresponding rack moves. Moves. Moves. Moves,,,

Till the biscuit pack hangs in the air, neither in the coil, nor in the collection bin below, but actually in the air.

I take pride in my research and scientific background. Applying it in times of crisis though is not my forte, I realized this day.

The scientist in me decides to put in another note, order the same biscuit, so that two packets together fall down this time. The coil moves, moves, moves,,,, till the second pack too hangs mid air along with the first one.

Frustrated, I try manhandling the vending machine, hoping what science could not achieve, would be accomplished by raw brute force.

After about fifteen minutes of vigorous wrestling with the machine, amidst the piercing gaze of most of the office (there were tickets being sold for the spectacle: Man Vs Machine, the ultimate battle), there is a loud thud, followed by a red liquid flowing down the machine.

Did it die? Did the machine bleed? I let go of it, like I accidentally killed a girlfriend. The thud alarmed the now awake housekeeping service man. On closer inspection, it was revealed, much to my ignominy, that I had dropped in a bottle of strawberry squash and the biscuits were still hanging on the coil. Disaster Complete.

So by the end of the day, I was one laptop less, bereft of lunch, a suspected machinophile in official records, with my photo id and fingerprints being stored in the local criminal records.

So like I said, some days, luck just decides to shine bright and sunny on you. This was one such day.

Friday, July 29, 2011

It was a tiring, uneventful day. What else would one call a day whose only high point was the incessant rain that lashed my part of the city and flooded my street? To make things worse, I was feeling a little blue and lonely in a city i was new to, and had very few whom i could call friends. Little did I know, that somewhere not far away from me in the same city, there was a girl who was also lonely and feeling blue, looking for some company to ward away tears.

It was still drizzling as I left office. I decided to board the bus and take a ticket to the last stop. A blank mind, destination unknown purpose undecided, all I knew was that it wasn't the PG that I had wanted to go back to. I got down on the signal a few lanes away from home and started walking back. A few hundred steps later, as I puddled my way to glory on a wet Bangalore road, I heard a voice.

"Excuse me!" she said. I looked up from the road, startled in parts, and instantly happy to see a smiling angelic face. Did i know her? Was she some friend's friend I met but have not bothered to remember the name of? How idiotic of me to have not placed a name to THAT face?

"Excuse me, you don't know me, and neither do I know you. Am bored and with nothing to do this evening. Kinda low on spirits to boot. Would you mind having a cup of coffee with me now?"

WHAT??? Was i dreaming? Is this some Radio/Bindaas TV prank? MTV Bakra died a decent death ages ago right?

Oblivious to my train of thought on an overdrive, she continued, "look I know its odd, and understand if you don;t want to. Yet, let me be clear, am not some hooker, have an IT job and from a decent background. Am just looking for a NSA cup of coffee. Game?"

YES!! Not that loud, but yes is what i said.

We worked some ground rules, no phone numbers exchanged, no personal details asked, no hanky panky business from either side, and we were good to go.

We walked to the cafe near by. She was a stunner not in the usual sense. She loved Theater, she loved movies. Amir was not a pretentious attention grabber for her too. And yes, Strawberries sucked , we both conquered. Her silken brown hair flirted with her kohl lined eyes, even as her slender fingers adjusted the hem of her shirt. Was this a dream, I pinched myself. No awkward silences, no ice breakers needed. No conversation starters and yet we got chatty in a jiffy. This coffee rendezvous was destined to happen.

We chatted dime to a dozen, about 6 cups of coffee down and some four odd hours after, we parted ways.

"It was a lovely evening" she said. TELL ME ABOUT IT i said, in my mind. she started her scooty, and sped.

I stood there for a moment, gathering myself, as a faintly heard question escaped my lips, "would we meet again?"

Would we? Will my anonymous cup of coffee find a name to it?

Friday, July 08, 2011

It is easy to miss the point when watching a tv debate on a news channel. More often than not, it is a few old hags settling personal scores on national television. Something similar happened this week. I was watching Barkha Dutt hold Dayanidhi Maran to a media trial on her show in the name of analyzing news.

While the panel was deliberating if Maran should resign from the ministerial post in light of the 2G scam allegations (or otherwise), a curious point came out, which none seem to have found worth discussing. Should a public figure not remit office when faced with charges of misconduct of any nature? Is holding a post more important, almost the sole aim, of public life?

Two sitting cabinet ministers accused in the 2G scam, and both refrain to resign till push came to shove in an exemplary display of how our politicians cling to power come what may. There are two facets to this dilemma.

The Indian law sees every accused as innocent until proven guilty. So until a verdict is delivered, an accused is free under the law to continue with life, in every manner that does not affect the case’s outcome. Fair and just, as always. However, where does this leave moral propriety and ethics?

Imagine a bank cashier being accused of swindling depositor’s money. Do we let him continue his job at the teller counter till the case drags on in a court? Do we retain faith in the cashier’s neutrality and honesty while an allegation of theft is being thrown at him? Is the cashier not suspended only to be reinstated pending investigation and clearing his name?

So then how different is a politician? Ideally, the Prime Minister should suspend his minister, only to be brought back into the cabinet post clearing of his name. When this doesn’t happen, as is always the case with the current disposition at New Delhi, isn’t it the moral duty of the minister in question to resign?

What happens instead is, that a Prime Minister sits in silence, as ministers trade counter allegations of sabotaging their political careers, lunging on to their ministerial berths for dear life. We today have a polity comprising of power hungry morally bereft individuals who see nothing beyond the kursi and its strappings. Is an allegation enough to erase a lifetime of public service? Is a ministerial berth the only end for a politician? When did our leaders stop being public servants and start aspiring to be rulers?

Domnik Strauss Kahn resigned the moment allegations of sexual impropriety were raised against him. The charges dropped, he might not get back his post of IMF chief, but he has retained a moral high ground- the only thing that should ideally hold a public figure in good stead in his life. Can we expect this from an immeasurable amoral political class back home ever?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Last week India saw something unprecedented in more ways than one . A 72 year old man rode a TV-induced media frenzy to shake an already beleaguered government into a pretence of an action. A hunger strike, straight out of Gandhi's book, a set of demands as revolutionary as Bhagat Singh's and the power of social media, together they added a new twist to the India story. Is this a harbinger of fortune or an aberration? Or worse still, is this a continuation of the same old ennui in a more sinister guise?

It indeed is a change. A perceptible change from the usual apathy general public shows to what the government does. For the first time, there was palpable support and anger amongst the majority, especially the youth. It was not a handful of NGOs and few good old men doing the slogan shouting this time. They were there no doubt, but with them were a lot of others from the sections of society that were believed to have given up on the nation and its system.

Yet, Jan Lokpal Bill movement was not India's Tahir square. To hell with what the media is telling us.

For starters, people in Egypt went beyond the show of support on facebook and twitter. They stopped their routine to squat till the government budged. We,well most of us, on the contrary, were quite smug and proud of "supporting" Anna with a share here and a like there. Egypt came to a grinding halt as the people demanded a change in the way their nation was run. Agreed, we aren't under a dictatorship, but the corruption we are facing today is no less a danger. Will India stop going around its business till the government cleans up its act?Did the past few weeks rid us of the general apathy we seem to have for the state of the nation? Definitely not. Is the fast and a promise of a bill/law against corruption enough to stem this cancer?

Egypt rose tall, not behind an individual, but as a single entity. It was the entire citizenry that was fed up and chose to do something about it. Back home, on the other hand, we seem quite content with rallying behind a leader. At times, to the point of getting happy that one crusader is cleaning up the dirt for us while we get back to movies cricket IPL and other such "national" exigencies. Someone else is on a fast for us, just like our moms used to be when we were kids, so say a thank you on Fb post and move on!

On the other side of the spectrum are fringe drifters forever in search of a hook that would get them into the political space. Anna is their messiah, usurping his intention is their mission. Idolize him, he is the answer to all our ills. Appreciating Anna and his guts is one thing, putting him on a pedestal and making him one more in the long list of "celebs" we adore is another! A week into the protest and it already is a trivialized piece of page3 filler, on the highroad to ebcoming a politically motivated stunt.

Most importantly though, at Tahir square, people were hungry for democracy. While we here were rallying behind a proposed vigilante bill that subsumes and undermines the principles of democracy. We are seeking to replace a demon with another, least bothered about what consequences it can have on us as a citizenry.

Jantar Mantar, Anna Hazare and Jan Lokpal Bill, all have been a mere exaggerated tokenism. Not much has come out of any "notifications" by the government earlier. What would come out of this one now? My guess is as good as yours! Will this stop corruption? No. Not even in the slightest.

What this hunger strike has shown us, even if for a brief time, is that we still have the power to demand what is justly ours without bloodshed. I am an eternal optimist when it comes to India and her story. Hopefully, this new twist would lead us to a better tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Commuting is not exactly my forte. never has been. especially not a commute by public transport daily for an hour and a half two ways. And espcecially not for work ;)

But then this shift from 80 ft rd to the new office has added an entirely new dimension, an entirely new factor to life. Commute is the new buzz word. Bus is the new mantra. Travel is the latest in thing.

Aversion to change is not something ingrained in me. By all standards, I am fairly adaptable and mutable to change, well , not like an e.coli, yet not as stubborn as the dinosaur. Plus, i had somehow romanticized the idea of traveling in the bus.

the bright red bus, with AC spewing cool air on to me, whilst i sit back on the semi rigid plastic chairs looking thru the glass, onto the city go by its daily chores. AAh the optimism of an uninitiated mind!

A week into the dream, and its not just soured, but turned into a terrible nightmare.

Buses aren't all red ;) all don't have Ac. The ones that have, don't always use them. There definitely has been not a single day when i "sat" as much as for a second, leave alone the whole ride. And the city is pretty much inside the bus. Nothing else can explain the crowd inside every single bus. Add to that frustratingly somber and sullen looking, foul mouthed conductors, early morning ready to wipe off any little optimism one wud have for the day ahead.

Like the Tormentors and the Death Eaters from Azkabaan, the bus ride sucks out life form me, evey day as i start another gruelling rush to work and back home.

Still I do look forward to the ride, die hard romantic that I am.

The bus ride still is a window to immense possibilities. People have fallen in love in a bus, people have found new friends in a bus, people have struck deals in a bus, people have broken up shaky ties in a bus.

I aim to do more too, I plan to regain my dream of a bus ride from the clutches of a ruthless inorganic mass of crowd commuting with me daily. I am determined to not bow down to the rigors of a machanical lifestyle, I intend to stop and pause, ponder and wonder, find my way and sometimes wander, as i ride the bus to work each day.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Scourging through news items is what we media analysts do for a living. And in the process of looking through scores of links online, a seasoned news hound would definitely smell out news of his/her interest, simultaneously making a fairly accurate measure of the region/nation's media preferences.

Being one such mortal addicted to news and information in all shapes sizes and bytes, I am guilty as charged to the above crime. My ingression doesn't end with this though, for a daily exposure to publishing giants from the three worlds we are divided into, forces my yet un-dumbed-down mind to draw parallels,and worry over the consequences.

A cursory look at the media in the U.S. and India, would lead one to conclude that either could switch nationalities and the world still be the beautiful chaotic mess it is today. But look not too far under the gloss glam and front page gimmickry,and one would find the difference. The difference of assuredness at being a superpower, and the contrasting ignorance bordering on arrogance that our Indian media specializes in.

Why, i always wondered, that a nation like Ghana, be bothered with body scanners in New Jersey, or why Nepal's national daily splash Obama's Af-Pak policy on its front pages, with a thorough analysis inside. Of what interest would tumult in Latin American states be, for PlusNews of an already ailing Pakistan? And, more importantly, why Indian dailies have increasingly relegated international coverage to a single page flooded by classifieds adds, unless of course its our troublesome neighbours or their dragon friend? Africa, Middle East, Latin America, East Asia, the ASEAN,SAARC, regions that have traditionally been and will always be of India's strategic interest, scarcely find a mention in our public discourse. Compare this to how Britain and Washington hog the limelight, and it is clear something is wrong with our media's worldview.

Day in and day out, we are fed a concocted mixture of planted news, views and "analysis" with the preordained conclusion of us having "arrived" globally. In this maddening avalanche of self-glorification, we have lost a sense of purpose, a sense of direction as a society. In a never ending drumming of jingoistic cacophony, the media seems to have forgotten that a superpower can only stand tall on the support of an informed citizenry. In this blinding haze of proclaiming our importance, we seem to have falsified the truth that to grow in stature, we need a constant dialogue with the rest of the world.

We need a media that can bring the world to our door steps daily, that can break up world issues shedding light on how these would affect us, for we can not dream of a greater role in the legion of nations, unless we know how their world revolves.

News has always meant to be a looking glass for us to peep into the world. What we chose to look at reflects upon our standing as a people. It defines our intent, and our worldview. If being on the top is what we intend to do, shrinking our worldview is definitely not gonna help our intent!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Its eleven thirty in the night, and I am hungry and stimulated. Motivated, is more like it. For i just wrapped up watching Julie and Julia. Based on two true stories, the film can easily be anyone’s life story. It sure had glimpses of my own life in it.

No, I am not a girl about to enter her thirties, stuck in a mediocre life and lost. Lost, I am, aren’t we all? Each one of us is looking for something, some place, but is stuck with or at a totally different place in life. We all are looking for that hand, that one little thing to pull us out of this endless whirlpool that seems to be sucking us in, day in and day out.

So there it is, there is a Julie in all of us.

Do I have a Julia in me though? That, i aint so sure of it yet. Though I’d love to. Who wouldn’t? Being Julia is all about finding that one thing in life that gives me real joy, real happiness. That one thing, which, when I do, leaves behind a warmth in my heart and a smile on my lips. That one thing, which in the ideal world, I would be doing every single moment I am awake.

Do I have it in me to find that thing? And if I do find it, do I have the courage to grab the opportunity and take a shot at it? Will I be strong and brave enough to rough it out for a little time till things transition to the la la land where I am happy forever? Will I have the conviction Julie had to go through with recreating the recipies over one year?

The recipie to my perfect life is in sight. I have just about begun to start collecting the ingredients. All that sI now need is the will to pull through. Just like Julie and Julia had. I have the bread of my life ready, it’s time to spread the butter. The right amount, the right way!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

was standing at the bus stop a few weeks ago, when i came across this girl in a burkha. the black long burkha, was just long enuff for me to see a glimpse of the jeans that she wore under it. as i looked at her feet, she was in stilletos those really hip high heels tat i generally fear whilst roving my eye at a bus stop :P

amazing ! is all i cud think of. for burkha, the much malligned islamic attire, was more a symbol of subjugation, somehting i guessed was worn out of compulsion and not out of choice. and here she was, wearing the burkha with elan over her jeans, and what i assume wud have been a chic top too!

as i gazed further at her, ( helped tat my bus was nowhere to be seen ) i couldnt help marvel at how at oddity she was from the burkha-clad-stereotype woman we always like to parade when we speak of the other half of our religious history. she spoke fluent english, a rather upper crust elite education shone thru the way she carreid her self. she was definitely employed. her bag exemplified her clasy taste . the ruffled folds on her burkha testified to have been on the whole day and not just to avoid recognition by kith and kin on the road. she really was in total control of herself, and her surroundings, aware of guys looking at her, and in a very confident and healthy way, enjoying the attention.

so what was she? liberated indian woman, living on her own terms, covering her self up from head to toe ( well almost) out of choice, asserting her right to be a muslim in this world, and yet be progressive and liberated ?

or was she a sad girl , trying to be "in" with the crowd her age, forced to be under a burkha? hiding her hopes and ambitions under the dark all encompasing cloth that religion draped on her ?

even as i could think of an answer to these queries, zoom came her boyfreind, and vroom went she behind him on a bike, burkha still intact!

what was she? who was she? the liberated woman? or the chained muslim girl running away from herslef?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

I have put on some extra kilos of late, or so I have been told. Not by a concerned girl friend, unable to wrap her slender arms around my ever-increasing girth, but my well meaning friends who intend to keep me in shape till I land that girl ready to ,, u know, wrap herself around me :P

Now, I have wanted to get fat for long. No I am not poking fun at those who are a lil larger than most of us, I really mean it, when I say that after the desire to meet madz, the only ferverent desire of my life was to get fat. I am sick of being thin (no offence meant to all those who fight each day to stay grounded and not fly away with the next breeze), tired of being asked “arre beta khana theek nai milta wahaan?” by all and sundry, bored of being reminded that how healthy I “used” to be and how I have become now, makes me feel I’ve contracted some terminal sickness of sorts!

So, as is obvious, I’ve tried all in my strength to get those extra pounds. Gym, over eating, binging, stuffing, god knows gluttony has been my biggest sin for the past few years of my life! And yet, I never managed to grow even an inch in girth! All that I ate went where god knows! (I secretly believe my gluttony was being punished in this life itself, freeing me from the sin in the other world.) I’d stare longingly at obese people, checking out clothes in the XXXL sizes at malls, longing for that chance, imagining the joy of being able to fit into a t shirt that looks like a mini tent for a three year old’s camping trip! All my attempts, all my prayers went to a royal waste, as I started resigning to the fact that it just aint in my DNA to gain weight! But that was until now!

What has changed now? Nothing much, and yet a lot! I am pretty much the same guy, with the same lifestyle. Each day I park my royal saet for a stretch of 8 hours, doing pretty much nothing, other than shooting the air, eat ( am sure those who see the act, would prefer to call it hog ) the same, “baahar ka khaana” and infact have stopped gyming for quite a while now! And yet, I Am Fat now!

It’s like an unstoppable juggernaut, this weight gaining of mine! And its like the best thing to have happened to me since multiplexes and pani puri. I was happy, overjoyed, as each day I got up a few pounds heavier than the day before. My happiness knew no bounds, until now!

What happened again?? I went shopping for some pants! Now as every guy / gal who has gone through the rigors of gaining all rounded health (pun intended) would know, the weight u gain is inversely proportional to the number of clothes in your wardrobe that fit you. So unable to avoid the ignobility of bulging through my clothes (in reality being unable to squeeze myself into even my night pajamas) I headed to this store. Ecstatic at having finally graduated to the ALL size section of the malls, there was a new verve to my walk (whatever the weight could allow me of course) as I approached the clothes stack. And then I froze!

Now what happened?? I didn’t fit in any of the clothes there!! Nothing in the ALL size fit my slender waist; nothing in the stacks was a tent big enough to cover me! Heartbroken, crestfallen, hiding myself from the stares of the tohers around in the shop, as I walked back home despondent and sad, all I could think of was that I have put on some extra kilos of late, or so I have now seen for myself.