Wednesday, May 28, 2008


Normally I don't follow such non sense, and wouldn't care for one to reopen my old blog only to close it again. But this being sent by Abhi, who has had more than his share of nonsense dished out by me, I have decided to play along and humor him :)

Last movie seen in a theatre: Devani has finally managed to get the message into my head - movies aren't worth paying for in theatres; especially when PVR with it's 180+ tickets is such a tempting choice. Should be 'I am legend', if I am not wrong

What book are you reading? Interpreter of maladies, Prisoner of birth, Introduction to Economic analysis :)

Favourite board game: Cheating :)

Favourite magazine: Reader's Digest maybe. I am not very fond of reading magazines

Favourite smells: Smell of wet earth

Favourite sound: Sound of Mumbai's heavy rains hammering perpetually on the parapet outside my window

Worst feeling in the world: Being stared at

What is the first thing you think of when you wake up? What was my last dream?

Favourite fast food place: Kitchen

Future child’s name: Guess this would depend on future wife :P My choice would be Vikram if child turns out to be a boy, and Ananya if a girl

Finish this statement, “If I had a lot of money I’d…” : Not be writing blogs as a pastime

Do you drive fast? I don't drive at all

Do you sleep with a stuffed animal? Who doesn't?

Do you eat the stems on broccoli? In my country, Cauliflower comes closest to a broccoli. And no, I don't eat the stems

Storms - Cool or Scary? Scary

If you could dye your hair any colour, what would be your choice? Violet with yellow shadows

Name all the different cities/towns you have lived in: Bombay, New York, Hong Kong

Favourite sports to watch: Tennis, Basketball

One nice thing about the person who sent this to you: Abhi... never stops surprising me

What’s under your bed? A dream box, from which I pick up one or two for each night

Would you like to be born as yourself again? Perhaps

Morning person or night owl? Night person

Over easy or sunny side up?
No eggs, thank you

Favourite place to relax: Place no bar

Favourite ice cream flavour: Flavour no bar

You pass this tag to –I tag myself; I like running in loops

Among people you tag, who do you think is going to respond the fastest? I won't

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The End

It has been a wonderful experience writing this blog, and I hope I made at least a few people happy with some of the posts that I would've put up. But now I feel it's time to move on. Don't feel the passion for blogging that I used to uptil a while ago. Find a different hobby, something challenging or something. Perhaps I may return to blogging, but it would be on a different blog.

Thanks for reading. Good luck with everything!

Signing off.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mind my business

People ask me how I can manage living by myself in hostel, given the updates in my physical condition. I don't see a problem here, I tell them, as there are a few friends that I still have who care for me while I am here (I didn't lose them all after this little accident you see, just the ones who weren't good enough. I think most of them will try coming back into my life after I get well, but then I hope that I am wiser now to be careful in making friends). Besides, life back home was getting a bit boring, with people pouring in on and off and reminding me of that day. Life here isn't much better actually, but what with my laptop loaded with Family guy and Pocket tanks, I cannot (should not) really complain. Besides our hostel valedictory function is a couple of days away, and that is something to look forward to.

And there's always blogspot. Blogging is a passion for me, and I shall pursue it no matter how bad the consequences of a seemingly harmless leap turn out to be. The curious kind of people often ask me: 'Is there any hidden intention behind your blogging eh?' I say, no, it's just to put out my views and to satisfy that urge I always feel to write something. 'What something?', they ask me. I forward them the link to my blog, and they read it and more often than not, they'd shake their heads in mystification and say 'Pathetic... Do something worthwhile instead'.

Something worthwhile? What is that supposed to mean? I believe coming from my fellow-IIT-mates, most of who lead pathetic lives locked up to their fantasy land the world knows as IIT Bombay, it could mean one thing - study well and get a better CGPA. A better CGPA. Hmm. Why? Just because I have more time than what is demanded to lead a happy life in this place, satisfied with a good enough CGPA? Makes no sense to me. Or perhaps it means that I should find a girl, much against my wishes for the time being, waste some time and money on her, and act as if she is the sole reason for my happiness. That 'something worthwhile' could even mean that I should take up mentoring as a hobby and loiter by the freshmen wings in our hostel and pass on valuable fundaes, that no one asked for in the first place. I think now it's too late for this, but a couple of years back, something worthwhile could also have meant hanging around the coffee shack or the Kresit canteen and get involved in some butt-licking politics to bag a place in the organising committees of Asia's saddest fests. I really don't have a clue what they mean, do I?

As my stint here crawls to an end, I sit back and contemplate on how wonderful the last 4 years really have been - all those varied dimensions it has afforded my life have been fantastic. And all this has been without that extra effort that I used to put in into almost everything before I came here. I hope now that the world minds my business as IIT did these past few years. Because, owing to my new-found laziness, I am congenitally incapable of minding my own.

Sunday, April 6, 2008


He lay there wounded on the street. Today was supposed to be a good day for him. At least that's what the astrologer had said in today's breakfast show. He was said to be in for a good news today, and would make financial progress. He was also destined to find luck in matters of romance and marriage. A perfect day, he had thought it would be.

Now he lay there on the busy road. His first day at work. How happy he had been when the partner of this reputed firm had shook hands with him that day during his college placements and said, 'We wish to make you an offer. Will you accept it?' His joy had known no bounds. His parents were even happier. He felt a part of the reason for their joy was that he would be staying with them now. At home. No more hostel life. How his family loved him! And how proud he had felt to make them happy!

And how proud he was today as he set out to start his professional life. His mother had woken him up early. He performed the morning pooja at home today, something that he had never done before; at least he couldn't recall any. His parents were so happy to see their son starting out a new life. And how happy was his Shefali for him! He had promised her that today he would bring her home to meet his parents. This was supposed to be the perfect day. He was determined to make it even better.

His mind was preoccupied with these thoughts all the while as he traveled to his office. So engrossed was he in his dreams that he never noticed the dumper hurtling down the street. The next thing he knew, he was flying in the air, completely against his will. Crash! And he banged his head against the pavement. He had no idea what was going on for a moment or two from then on. He had a faint recollection of seeing his arm bend in a horribly unnatural angle, and he felt something wet near his ear. He tried touching it to examine it, but realised that he was unable to move his arms. And there was a searing pain in his legs. Unknown to him, a truck had passed over them after he had fallen, and whatever was left of his legs was a bloody pulp that was probably hurting him the most. He tried screaming out for help, he wanted to scream out of his pain. He opened his mouth, but no words came out. He was able to manage a grunt, that ended with a hiss, and was probably heard by none but him.

The accident took place in the busiest square in town, flanked on all sides by offices that belonged to some of the city's biggest MNCs. Perhaps the city's highest earning folks worked there, and were witness to the gruesome mishap that he just had. But no one ventured forward to help him. They were scared - it was an accident, a police case, and they might only invite trouble in trying to help him. Besides, he already looked dead. He hadn't moved at all; just made some noises now and then. So they ignored him. The traffic ignored him. There he was on the street where he had dreamed of walking, near the buildings where he longed to work, with the people that he aspired to know and work with. But not this way. Why wasn't anyone helping him? Why were they so indifferent?

A long time passed before someone who cared noticed him. He hailed down a taxi and asked the driver to help him rush the injured to the hospital. Understandably, the driver was reluctant as this was a police case. By then a crowd had gathered who wanted to help this poor fellow. They threatened and scolded the taxi driver into submission and hurried him to the nearest hospital. He was pronounced dead upon admission.

Some of the people cried for the young man who had died such a tragic death. Some were in a state of shock - they had never seen a death this horrible before. They got his family's phone number from his cellphone. His mother broke down on seeing his body. His father never said a word - he just wept silently. Shefali would come to know only after a week, from his office, where she had called up to ask about him.

The day was supposed to end on a good note for him. But he wasn't there to see it end.


Apathy - something that has got me thinking a lot for the last two weeks. Of course I have exaggerated a lot in this tale - our folks may not be so indifferent; not to say that they all care. From a personal experience, my little accident 15 days back that has resulted in a compound fracture of my right arm making it dysfunctional for another month now, took place near a crowded canteen in IIT. That too at a time when some of the well known folks in campus gather there for a cup of tea and some socialising and some butt-licking politics. And what disappointed me was that none of them came forward to help me then. Few cared to even look my way. I was lucky to have two of my best friends with me when it happened, and they took complete charge of the situation thence. I have always said that as a collective lot, IITians are socially challenged geniuses. Now I rest my case.

An appeal - Whenever you happen to see someone hurt, or an accident, or someone in need of your help; please help them. No work of your's could possibly be more important than helping that person.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Stare

Now that my right arm is showing signs of recovery, and that a new month has started, ushering in another 400Mbs of download limit for me, I felt I can finally resume my blogging habit.

There have been many new things that I have learnt as I am recuperating now, many new experiences, and hopefully the learning curve hasn't already peaked off or plateaued away yet. Challenges are aplenty, with even mundane activities now posing as tough problems. But as they say, accidents can only hurt the body, not the spirit, so well, my life goes on undaunted. Coming back to my blog, I was wondering which topic shall I first write about - from the many that I have in mind. But it isn't a difficult thing to decide - there is a thing that I happen to notice everywhere, something that ceaselessly reminds me that I don't look 'normal', that there is something different about me - and you guessed it - the ubiquitous Indian stare.

It all started on the last Sunday of March when I got my head tonsured to 'beat the heat', attracting thousands of stares in the bargain. The accident on Monday added to the attention and now I am a walking - talking showpiece - a sink for all stares, from young and old alike. The Indian stare is something that is very distinctive about us people - I had gone to USA with a clean shaven head, albeit without a plastered right arm, but no one chose to pass even a second's worth of glance at me. But back home, the situation's the exact opposite.

When a foreigner or a native like me, with something different to my physical appearance walks into their midst, our folks leave aside whatever task they are doing, no matter how important, and start staring. There are also those who choose to multitask - they go about with their activities as they continue to stare. Boys and girls, men and women, uncles and aunties, young and old, people from all strata and niches of the Indian social structure - they are right up there, united in their efforts to stare. They stare you down for a good couple of minutes, or perhaps five, until they have satisfied their visual needs with all there is to be seen. When their eyes meet mine, and as I smile, more so out of habit than any other reason, I get a few more stares in return.

There is nothing harmful about the stare, I have noticed. This isn't the kind of stare you get in western countries, that is mainly associated with ill feeling or an evil eye. The Indian stare has a compassionate touch to it, sometimes with a twist of pity and a pinch of good will. Our culture it seems has so developed that staring isn't a bad habit. Rather, not staring is looked upon as a sign of indifference. And it's something instinctive - no one is taught how or when to stare - we are all born masters in our own right.

But I love the stare. It gives me the sweet feeling that my people notice me, they care for me, even total strangers, as my first few days following the mishap taught me. But I hope I soon get away from the receiving end of it, and hope no one gets into the position I am in right now for me to stare at in return.

Happy staring!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Part of the ocean

This is an excerpt from 'Tuesdays with Morrie', by Mitch Albom. It's a book that I would recommend to all readers - a bit on the philosophical side, but not lecturesque; in fact it is a wonderful account of a brave man's fight against a dreaded disease. This is one story that really touched my heart, and hence it is reproduced here.

I heard a nice little story the other day," Morrie says. He closes his eyes for a moment and I wait.
"Okay. The story is about a little wave, bobbing along in the ocean, having a grand old time. He's enjoying the wind and the fresh air - until he notices the other waves in front of him, crashing against the shore.
' "My God, this is terrible," the wave says. "Look what's going to happen to me!"
"Then along comes another wave. It sees the first wave, looking grim, and it says to him, "Why do you look so sad?"
"The first wave says, "You don't understand We're all going to crash! All of us waves are going to be nothing! Isn't it terrible?"
"The second wave says, "No, you don't understand. You're not a wave, you're part of the ocean." '
I smile. Morrie closes his eyes again.
"Part of the ocean," he says, "part of the ocean." I watch him breathe, in and out, in and out.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Q Mania

There are several reasons why I love my country. And there are also reasons why I love my county more than other countries that I've been to. And I shall now talk about one of those.

Queues. I simply love queues. That's both - watching and waiting in them. And nowhere in the world do we find such a wide variety in the kinds and causes for queues than in India. We have queues for almost everything here - right from paying electricity bills to waiting for water at the village tap. We have the long orderly queues and also the chaotic heap queues. In no other way is our unity in diversity better reflected than in our zest for forming and waiting in queues, no matter what or who we are. We don't need a reason to form a queue, nor an incentive - we line up outside schools for admission forms at least a day before the counter opens; no passport is got without waiting in a line at the passport office at least an hour before the day commences. Railway reservations are lost if you join the queue after the counter opens. Another interesting thing to be noted about our queues are the excellent space optimisation that we pride ourselves in. Not willing to waste even a nanometer of space in our already overcrowded country, we uncomplainingly stand pressed against each other in queues. Besides, in some instances, we also aim at time optimisation - like when traveling by a long distance trains. We don't believe in waiting in our seats till the train halts at the station; we start lining up at the door a good couple of stations before our destination.

I for one, am one of those types who simply loves such queues. Whenever I am not waiting in a queue, I am eagerly looking for an opportunity to join one. And I love them in all their variations - waiting for buying movie tickets, waiting at the McD counter for an Aloo Tikki, waiting at the bus stop to catch bus no. 524, waiting for my token number to be called out at Canara bank, being made to wait by Vodafone when 'the user I am trying to reach is on another call'... the list goes on. There was a time when I despised waiting in lines and complained of the time wasted and the 'ooff ye garmi' and so on. But I've gradually learned to accept and eventually love these symbolic representations of our people's culture.

I am now almost a queue addict. I normally watch cricket matches on the TV, but when I do choose to go to the stadium - it's not for the match, but the long queue to enter the stadium, and the even longer one to come out early if the team puts up a dismal show. Besides, I don't need a reason to stand in a queue - it's a birth right that no one can take away from me. Whenever I see a long queue, I instinctively walk up to the last person in the queue and ask 'Bhai ye line kis liye hai?' No matter what the reason may be, I nevertheless spend at least 5 minutes waiting in that queue for the sheer joy it provides to my mind. In fact, given the selfless kind of person that I am, I never miss the chance to share this joy with other fellow human beings. If some errant fellow tries to skip the queue and walks straight to the counter, I call out to him (no matter where my position in the queue may be; my experiences teach me that I have a voice loud enough to be heard by that fellow for my farthest position being 103rd) - 'O hero, kahan beech mein ghus rahe ho? Line mein khade raho!' And I think to myself - how can these people even think of breaking lines - not all in this world are lucky enough to be blessed with such long queues.

My love for queues transcends terrestrial bounds. Whenever I choose to travel by flight, I just cannot wait until the 'Fasten your seatbelt' sign is turned off. As soon as the plane lands on the ground, and taxies towards the terminal, I get up from my seat, pick up my bag from the overhead compartment and driven by instinct, go and wait by the door. Many a times, my co passengers have taken cue and lined up behind me, painting worried looks on the flight attendants' faces in the process. Even at the airport lounge, I don't prefer sitting in the comfortable seats and enjoying a brief siesta - the real joy is in queuing up at the boarding desk. In the flight itself, I don't prefer waiting for the restroom to be vacant before proceeding towards it - half the relief is in waiting in a line at the door itself. Besides, if I were to be sent to the moon some day, I am sure I would be waiting in a queue by at the space shuttle's exit right from take off. And right after getting off, I would be queuing up to board for the return journey.

Thus is my unconditional love for queues. And remember, even when you see me standing alone, I am just initiating a wannabe queue.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ji Bilkul

"Chalo beta aaj ladki dekhne jaana hai! Tayaar ho jaao!"

As I had earlier mentioned on this blog, going home has become quite rare for me these days, and as a result I find myself facing huge backlogs when it comes to being up to date with familial matters. I came to know last week that one of my distant cousins, who happens to be almost the same age as me, was getting engaged to his childhood sweetheart the day before. 'What's the hurry yaar', I asked him as I called him up as soon as I reached home that day, 'Why do you want to spoil something that's going well for you!' The problem with all my cousins, elders included, is that they fail to appreciate my deep and well found insights into intriguing matters of human concern; my remarks are routinely taken jokingly at face value, and when I reiterate that I am serious, I inadvertently manage to cause some eyebrows to be raised. No wonder that my cousin chided me for this ground breaking suggestion of mine and said 'Bachhu, tujhe jab kisi se pyaar hoga tab tu samjhega! Teri shaadi ka time ab dur nahi hai! Tu bhi koi dhund le.'

I am sure he was joking about that 'teri shaadi' part, and more so, the 'dhund le' remark. I am confident that I will never be able to find the right life partner for myself, and hence I have never even tried to. But that brilliant sally my cousin used against me struck some hitherto hidden cord in my parents' minds, and I found myself hearing these lines yesterday -

"Beta, ab tumhari shaadi ke baare mein bhi sochna chahiye. Ye bache bhi kitni jaldi badhe ho jaate hain! Tumhare liye ek achaa rishta aaya hai, kal ladki waalon ke ghar jaana hai. Chalo tayaari mein lag jaao tum!"

I don't normally swear these days, and never would even dream of doing it in the presence of my parents. But this sudden shock managed to squeeze out a 'WTF' from my mouth, causing some more eyebrows to be raised. 'I have not even graduated from college yet!' was all that I managed to utter. What I really wanted to tell them was that I am in no mood to marry so early,that I haven't even met the right girl yet, that I won't marry before I settle down nicely into my consulting job, that I don't want an arranged marriage etc. But the best that I could come up with was that I haven't even graduated yet.

"Koi jaldi nahi hai, wo ladki bhi abhi student hai. Agar ab baat ban jaaye to tum donon aaram se apne man se shaadi kar lo. Koi jaldi nahi hai. Agle saal bhi chalega. Tab tak baaki tayari kar lenge hum," they replied.

Still a student! I was sure the poor girl would have no idea of the kind of activities our families were involved in. I then told my parents some of the points I just mentioned above in an attempt to make them see sense but to no avail. It seemed as if my cousin had just opened the floodgates for female bio-datas and horoscopes to rush into my (barren?) life.

After further attempts at trying to avoid the inevitable, I found myself getting ready for the 'ladki dekhne jaana hai' ceremony. I was told to wear the 'naya shirt liya tha na tumne abhi placements ke liye' and was forced to get a neat haircut and a decent shave. To tell you frankly, I hadn't personally cared as much for my appearance for my campus placements. But then I thought perhaps this ladki dekhna is some highly sacred ritual in the eyes of my family (and her too) so I went ahead with it just to make them happy. After an hour of enduring a painful and bumpy auto ride in a typical sweltering Mumbai-Sunday-afternoon, and another half of asking for directions we finally reached the 'ladki waalon ka ghar'.

A knock knock later I found myself facing this huge towering Aunty dressed in what looked an expensive, but sadly overdone saree and overloaded with (fake?) gold jewelery. 'Arey aaiye aaiye, hum aapki hi raah dekh rahe the. Ghar dhundne mein taklif to nahi hui na?' she demanded. Now the kind of guy that I am, who can just manage a 'but I haven't graduated yet' in front of my own parents, to no one's surprise, managed a humble 'bilkul nahi' in the all encompassing presence (laterally) of this Aunty. I could not even imagine how I could later call her 'Mummy' or 'Aai' or whatever name she was addressed by her daughter.

After a couple of minutes of was-and-whens and how-do-you-dos, we were served overly sweet tea and super oily samosas. The sight of this fat-saturated-meal gave me that 'Aha!' moment - the sort I get when I make such discoveries of the causes of some phenomena that I notice in nature (I didn't know what one calls such moments until Sagar pointed out this term to me yesterday; he tells me that there is a well defined term for this, but he doesn't remember the name now and chooses to call them 'Aha!' moments - well, this name works just fine for me). Anyway, getting back to the point, I partook of the diabetic tea and was nibbling at the 'samosa' (notice the quotes. They are there for a purpose) and then entered the 'girl' (No purpose here though). I am no good judge of girls, but from what I've seen and known, I could tell that she is a very good girl, beautiful, smart and with a good nature. Trust your parents on these issues. 'Hmm, not bad. Perhaps I should think of saying yes. I can then fearlessly date this damsel for a couple of years, all the while knowing that she shall be mine finally.'

My dreams were turning out to be just right when came in, umm, (to be kind) let me say an 'extended miniature version of the aforementioned Aunty'. This new entrant and the Aunty comfortably settled in into a couch (that I feel could have easily seated 4 my size). After the usual 'Aur beta tum kya kar rahe ho aaj kal?' and 'Bahut acha ladka hai humara', the Aunty said this - 'To aapko humaari Bindya pasand aayi?' with a huge grin that to me felt like a threatening smirk that screamed out - 'You better say yes or else...'

Wait! Bindya? I thought you introduced that damsel as Sapna. I was about to raise this basic doubt when I saw the new entrant blushing and smiling and shifting around in her place (took mighty efforts, that shifting I tell you - I pity the poor couch). Oh My God! This is Bindya?! I looked towards my parents. They looked equally shocked to me. My mom was almost telling me 'Ye kaise hua? Hume bhi nahi pata!' with her eyes. It so was that Bindya was the elder daughter, and the Aunty was hoping to dump her on my shoulders - she literally looked a burden to me. But thankfully my parents stood their ground and for once supported me in what looked like a lost cause to me. The Aunty was disappointed it didn't work out. I noticed that Sapna never even chose to throw a passing glance towards me in the midst of all this debate. And so too Bindya. 'Must have overdone my dressing style', I thought.

In the end, it turned out that the only person genuinely interested in me was the Aunty. I wouldn't have been surprised had she tried to elope with me in the same auto that we took to come there. 'Chinta mat karo beta' my Mom said as we were leaving, 'Aur bhi ache rishte aayenge.' 'Haan beta chinta mat karo, hum hai na', added my Dad. 'Oh please don't. Let me live my life. (Though I don't mind coming back here for Sapna). Next time let me handle this business, and please for heaven's sake don't choose a family obsessed with cooking oil and sugar!' - my mind was screaming out. But sadly, the only thing that I could tell them aloud was -

"Ji bilkul."

Friday, February 29, 2008

Had an affair once you know

(This again from my old blog. Happens to be my favourite piece among all those that I have written)

Ever since V-day, there has been much talk and speculation among my batchmates as to whether I have a girlfriend or not. So much so has been the debate, that I felt I should tell them all about an affair I once had (something for them to cheer about :D). And what better place to disclose the truth than this blog of mine... Well here goes...

Just a word of caution though - if you begin reading this post from the next line onwards, better read it till the end to avoid misunderstanding later :P. Whatever has been mentioned here is true to the best of my knowledge and belief :D

It was way back in my first year at IIT. Was a noob out here back then, confused (still am to some extent) and awestruck by this wonderful place. Never had the pleasure of having someone special in my life till then. It was sometime back then, on some cursed day that year, that I came to know of this wonderful creation of the Creator. The whole bunch of first yearites were praising her amazing looks and divine features. I must mention here that I wasn't the type of kid who cared about all this; but I thought 'What the heck! Let me check her out at least.... sure that won't hurt'. And that happened to be a huge mistake. I was spellbound by her beauty, her charm... Could never take my eyes off her. Spent many sleepless nights thinking about her, imagining what wonderful things we could do...

And so I took the chance. I approached her as a good seedha-saadha boy, and let out my feelings. Fortunately or unfortunately, she was amused and gave me the green signal. So foolish I was back then, that I was thrilled and glad to have this special someone in my life. We spent many wonderful days in each other's company. It was such a joy being with her; I gave up other good things in my life just to be with her always. We secretly used to meet at the Computer Center at IIT (CC as it was popularly known, still stands as a monument symbolising this love story I once had), sometimes late at night, on pretext of a C++ course project we had back then. (Left all the coding for the project to my groupmates, all for the rendezvous with my love). Even she didn't mind this and always would be there waiting for me. I now feel that I should have worked more on that project back then; at least would be somewhat conversant with C++ now if I had done that. But no use crying over spilt milk - I chose to be with her and that was it.

Our's wasn't a visit-smile-talk-leave relationship; was much more intimate than that. Everytime I entered her, I would find a whole new universe waiting for me inside her - to explore and appreciate. I was so blinded by her beauty that I never realised how she was using me to grow her network of acquaintances. When I was quite seriously involved in this relationship did I come to know of her other side. She was a hooker - trapping poor kids like me in her web of lust and using us all to get to know more people. The bitch was aware that we knew; but still continued with such activities. I was shattered - to see someone I so loved destroying so many lives. I immediately broke up with her, and warned all the others I knew about to do so too. But lo! many of them were so misled by her charming features - they never came out of it. Some poor souls I know still are involved with her, and are wasting their lives so.

So this was it - a failed relationship with a bitch who still hasn't improved. Now-a-days her activities have gathered much momentum, and I hear that many people are ever being attracted to her. Oh what a waste of life! would have been so good for me had she never entered my life at all... I have not lied a bit about the relation we once had. The truth is laid bare before you. You may choose to judge me on the basis of all this if you choose to; I can't stop you from doing that. But before I sign off, let me tell you her name; so that at least you may keep away from her. This bitch happens to be someone you all might know as


(This from my old blog)

What we have been told is a motivating gesture may be flak after all. A well put up disguise to mislead us poor souls into believing something unintuitive to be something implying a greater deeper meaning, that never seems to surface up and after trying a few times, you sort of accept the crowd's take on the issue. Here are some insights that may raise a few eyebrows:

1. Birds always prefer flying in a group. Its a fact that the draft of one bird's movement aids that of the other. But is that really so? To me, this is a perfect example of the fact that even in nature, teamwork leads to collective laziness.

2. Consistency is a virtue say wise men. Well, it only is so if you aren't a complete loser and to top it, amazingly consistent too.

3. We are always told to 'spread out our wings and dream of flying to reach greater heights'. True; coz if you try landing, that can only be in the real world.

4. Early bird gets the worm. Don't let the worms know about this.

5. We are told there always is room at the top. But it isn't a great feeling looking down from that lonely place. What's more fun is to look down upon others standing down here.

6. All know it takes 43 muscles to frown and 17 to smile. But no one tells you keeping that dumb look going needs nothing at all.

7. A small raindrop is instrumental in making up the ocean. But come floods and no drop wants to share the blame.

8. None of us is as dumb as all of us.

9. Every dark cloud has a silver lightning. Try to hunt that lightning and it strikes you dead.

10. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And it rocks as well too.

11. It hurts to admit your mistakes. When they are big, the pain usually is short lived.

12. We are told to try and try till we succeed. No one tells us that we should stop at a certain stage to avoid looking dumber.

13. Never interrupt someone working. It pays to stand away from a competitive jerk and his goals.

14. Team comes first. But there comes a stage where each member should make individual sacrifices.

15. We are told hardwork never killed anyone. Well, its just prolonging the inevitable.

16. If you feel you are lonely, then you are not alone. There are plenty of people just like you. But still, you are alone.

17. Hardwork pays in the future, laziness does in the present.

18. The road to perfection never ends. It's more like a death march.

Go ahead and share your views (only if they agree with mine that is).

Monday, February 25, 2008

Confusion galore

It's that time in my life when I reminisce about my life here at IIT, and keep boring my friends by always telling them how much I am going to miss them and this place. When each treat ends with me becoming senti and saying that no matter where I go or what I manage to achieve in life, now is the best time in my life ever. What's sad though, is that I feel I don't have many 'interesting' incidents and experiences to take away from here. Of course my life here has been quite interesting, but not the type with the apostrophes. However, there is one thing that not many know about.

It was the day I got my job here on campus - 3rd December. I had taken my friend out to PopTates for a Daaru treat (those were the days before I turned teetotaler). He insisted that I would be exhausted being interviewed the whole day, and we could perhaps do this some other time. However, I wanted him to be a part of my euphoria - a part of the day that I wished then would never end. And so we went to PopTates (after happy hours at my insistence, logic being that since I now have a job, I don't need to care about saving bucks on every damn thing - of course that phase is now behind me).

After a pitcher each and a couple of 60 ml pegs of rum and a tequilla shot (the customary signing off ritual), it was time for me to take a leak :) I claim(ed) I never (used to) get drunk, no matter how much I drink, but that day was another story. It is a wonder I even remember what I am about to tell you all here. The joy of getting my dream job and all the events that day had already lightened me up, and the alcohol only added to the ecstasy, leading me on to a state of pigheadedness hitherto unknown to me. Before telling you what happened next though, let me tell you what really bugs me about restrooms these days. I am really pissed off by the signs put up to indicate the restrooms. Not like the good old days when you had the old fashioned fool proof Gents and Ladies written outside (sometimes illuminated as well). Those guys should understand that when you are as drunk as I was, it becomes rather a tedious task on the part of our brains to make out the difference between the two drawings that we see on the doors these days. Why can't you have plain text signs indicating Gents and ladies as we earlier used to? Why all the fancy artforms? Anyway, coming back to my tale, I went into what I thought was the men's room.

Now that's odd, I thought. I do know that PopTates fancies itself in being an oddity, but this is insane - why do I see only stalls here? I wondered. Where are the urinals? This place almost looks like a girl's room! I was right about PopTates being the hangout zone for gays, I thought. Guys back at hostel need to see this; this just supports my theory. So I took out my cell (I was carrying a fancy one those placement days) and started clicking pics of what I felt was the funny loo. Then the door opened.

And in came this chick - wearing what I felt then and recall now as rags in different colours, with a whole lot of make up dumped on her face. The rags seemed to be the remnants of what would have once been a nice pair of a polo shirt and trousers, the kind I wear a lot. I was sure she wouldn't have come here with another guy, coz no guy in his right senses would want to be seen around with such a joker. She saw me with a cell in my hand taking pics and screamed. I wanted to go ahead and tell her, 'Hello behenji, even though I am sure you are gender confused, the men's room is not where you belong. Secondly, it is I who should be making a din out here seeing such a scary sight, and not you.' But before I could do that, she asked 'You loafer, you pervert - don't you feel ashamed sneaking into the girl's room this way? Security bulaaun kya? Get out!' The girl's room! I am indeed in the girl's room! So PopTates isn't gay; what's more, I have been caught inside a girl's room. And if that's not all, I have been seen taking pics with my cellphone here! (Why does it always have to be me?)

I had to think fast to save my butt here, and also to avoid embarrassment (Don't want such things to come up during my profile reading in our hostel valfi - IITianese for valedictory function). The thing I like about getting drunk is that my mind starts running faster and can come up with the most creative ideas that I cannot even imagine when I am sober. I figured out that this chick was pretty drunk and I could use this fact to my benefit. 'What do you mean get out, idiot? You enter the wrong restroom and then shout at me? The nerve of some people! Now get lost before I call in someone.' Perhaps she wasn't as drunk as I had imagined. She said, 'Wait I'll show you, you pervert,' and immediately started screaming out for help and called out loud for security. What the heck I thought; I don't want to be left behind and started screaming out equally loudly, all the while saying that there is a ghost in the loo.

After about a minute or so of screaming, a strong well built dude in an uniform labeled 'PopTates' turned up with a girl in a suit. They were shocked to see me with my cell phone and that ghost in rags in the same room. 'What is going on out here?' asked the suit. 'Well, you tell me what is going on,' said the ghost, 'What are such perverts allowed to do messing around out here? Is this what you call security?' Then she started screaming abuses, again that I cannot reproduce here, as I have now quit swearing as well :) The argument went on for a few minutes, with me and the dude also chipping in between often. Finally, the suit had enough of her, and said 'Madam I have to ask you to leave now.' 'Oh I should leave now should I? How much does this loafer pay you for all these perverted acts huh? You don't know who I am - I just have to make one phone call and this place will be closed down - shut. Do you get me? Leave my foot!' 'Okay that's it, Raghu please take this lady outside.' 'Don't you dare touch me! You are not allowed to touch me!' 'Oh the hell he is, Raghu baahar le jaao inko'.

After Raghu was done pulling that cartoon, who was not yet done bitching, outside the restroom, I turned to the suit and said, 'Thank you.' 'Please don't mention it sir, I am sorry for all the trouble you have had to face. It shall not be repeated I assure you. Have a good time.' As she was leaving, I asked 'Hey are you not going to do anything about the fact that I wrongly entered the girl's room? I am sorry I was too drunk to notice actually.' She laughed out loud, 'Oh no sir, this isn't the girl's room. What made you think that it was?' 'Well, I don't see the urinals here, so I sort of figured out that this should be it.' She again gave me a smile and said, 'Well, that's because it's under renovation; we had those removed last week and the new ones are not here yet! We have put up a notice outside apologizing for the inconvenience.' 'Oh I never noticed it!' 'Well, it happens. Sometimes our customers are too drunk to notice it. Good thing we use the symbols on the doors though. They never fail us! Imagine the confusion we would have if we stuck to the old Gents and Ladies signs!'


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

10:42 Churchgate Slow

This is one incident I remember from my good old Ruparel days (that is, my junior college days). I don't have many memories from that time - firstly because I wasted most of time in my JEE preparation, which I then considered more important than my social life, and secondly, because I hardly ever attended college, mainly due to the earlier reason. This incident that I am talking about was on one of those rare days when I broke both these rules.

10:42 Churchgate slow. The ever so faithful local that came directly to Borivli from Andheri, literally vacant (it reached Borivli skipping stops at Jogeshwari, Goregaon, Malad and Kandivli - hence the absence of the return journey travelers. Thing is, a fast train bound for Borivli from Churchgate doesn't halt at these stations. I always preferred taking this train whenever I chose to go to college. As I do now, I hated crowds then too. Nothing more disgusting than traveling in a crowded second class compartment during the early morning office hours I would say. I have always chosen to travel second class. College students do get discounts on first class season tickets for trains here in Mumbai, but I never chose that option. There is something about Mumbai's local trains - mainly the second class compartments, that makes them so very dear to me. The very essence of Mumbai's life can be seen in all its glory here. Nothing more satisfying than traveling during the early morning hours in a second class compartment (albeit not so crowded).

So as I was saying it was this one fateful day, that a slow train for Borivli was converted to the 10:42 Chuchgate slow. Which meant the train was full - packed to the last seat, with hardly any space within for a 'healthy' person like me to sneak into. Besides, skipping this train meant getting late for college - and when you turn up for classes just once a month or so, you don't want to be late. So I was sort of left with limited options. I barged in with the rest of the crowd.

As luck would have it, I got a place to stand exactly where a fan had died a recent death, and was yet to be repaired. Ah, what a perfect day I thought. Could it get any better? Just then a man, roughly in his late thirties, wearing a soiled smelling shirt stepped in and stood beside me. His unkempt hair was smeared with what smelled like kerosene, and due to the fan's death, this guy was standing sweating profusely beside me. Ah, it just got better!

Some 4 minutes after schedule, our train finally decided to proceed with its journey. The gentleman mentioned earlier was enjoying his train ride, happily humming some old hindi song tune and rocking gently with the train's motion, much to my chagrin. After some 3 stops or something it happened. I never saw him coming. Besides, I wasn't expecting him in such a crowded train. It wasn't even the first week of the month, nor the last. What on earth then is he doing here?

'Ticket please', he said, approaching me after checking the tickets of the other passengers. Thing is, I always kept my pass in my compass box, which I used to keep safely beside my water bottle in the innermost compartment of my backpack (Yes, those were the days when I was supercautious, much the opposite of what I am now after 4 years at IIT). Nothing more embarrassing than opening up one's backpack just for taking out a pass - could you look more stupid? Anyway, I had to, now that this ticket checker chap was standing nearby. So I went ahead with my routine - opened my bag, shifted my books, took out the calculator, opened the zip, took out the water bottle, and finally took out my pencil box. The TC was standing there, smirking at how stupid I was acting.

Until now, I was thinking my day couldn't have got any better. But now it just turned perfect. I took out my pass only to see that it had expired a week earlier! Aargh! At least I should've checked it even though I don't use it daily. Wow! A hell of a day, only to be made worse by shelling out a good 300 bucks in fine. I was thinking if there are any other worse ways to spend 300 bucks (btw, I just watched Jodha Akbar the other day in PVR cinemas, and now I am convinced that there is one way at least). How can I avoid this? What should i do?

'Oye baba, ticket please' groaned the TC. He was having a torrid time too in this crowd. Not to show that I was guilty, I confidently handed him my expired pass, even managed to pass him a polite, innocent smile. 'O mister, this pass has expired a week ago. Come on now, take out Rs. 300. You will have to pay the fine', he said and showed it to me. There was a commanding look in his eyes, and a strictness in his voice. Somewhere on his face though I spotted a smile, anticipating a quick 300 bucks. Ah the devil! Why should I pay 300 bucks when I travel only about 20 days or so to college each year, yet buy a second class quarterly pass thrice a year faithfully? I had to think fast.

There are times in life when things you learnt in your childhood strike you. Sometimes, you feel these are silly. But when you really need them, such things can be blessings in disguise. 'Ignorance is bliss' - somehow this thought came to my mind. Ah, an idea! How brilliant of me! I made a mental note to pat myself on my back as soon as I got down from this wretched train! For the time being, I have 300 bucks to save.

'Pardon me', I said, 'What do you mean 'expire'? This is ticket for train - not a medicine that will expire' I said, and all people around me burst out laughing, even that smelly dude who was standing beside me (lucky bastard got a seat somewhere along the journey!) The TC was not amused. He gave me a cold look and said, 'Okay smart guy. Enough of your jokes. Now pay the fine.' This drama went on for a few more minutes. Now I was getting well into the groove. I was arguing with the TC, showed him that the ticket was mine, showed him my name, the destination station name etc. (everything except the date) Then the TC showed me the date, and I tried my best at looking confused. I managed a frightened, innocent look, and quietly asked the TC, 'Now what should I do uncle? I didn't know it works like this.' I am not sure now, but I think I also managed to squeeze out a tear or two as well.

Now the TC looked confused. Perhaps my acting looked so genuine that he was convinced that I wasn't lying. He said that I'll have to buy another pass. Said it's called 'renewal' of the pass, and I should check the expiry date each time and make sure to buy a renewal when the date is nearing. I thanked him a lot, said I'll never repeat this mistake again. He smiled, then asked me - 'New to Mumbai?' Of course yes! I would be a fool to say no now. Guess what, I told him that ever since I've come here, I have not met as helpful a person as him - explaining everything about tickets to a poor village fellow like me. In the village in Bihar from where I come, people are not this helpful. 'But how did you realise I wasn't from Mumbai?' I asked him just for the sake of asking. 'Well, the way you hid your pass told me that', he said like a wise old chap. I wasn't sure if that was a compliment or not. But I was relieved that this stupid habit came to some use at least.

'Tickets please', and he was moving ahead. 'Uncle, what about the fine?' I asked again innocently. 'Never mind', he said, 'In Mumbai, we welcome Bihari baabus as guests - I cannot accept fines from our guest. Namashkar'.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Route number 524

Going home has become rare for me these days, now that I have finally convinced my parents that they should let me enjoy my last few months of IIT hostel life, and also that my being at home is not going to be so interesting once I come back in May, my job now being in Mumbai. As a consequence I was not surprised to learn today at the bus stop that the BEST route number 498 for Borivli, which used to be my favourite route (shortest and cheapest) has been discontinued for over a couple of months now. That meant that I had to wait for bus no. 524, which was something that I had always avoided (longest and most expensive).

Standing with me at this bus stop was this cute girl. I would say she would be about my age, give or take a few months. I have this strange habit where I always try guessing a girl's age whenever I spot one, and then try analysing what type she would be looking at her choice of footwear. Thing is, I have until now seen so many different types of such cases, that I am never bored of this routine of mine - there is always something new to be noticed. So anyway, coming back to this particular girl, I would say she was about my age, perhaps did some 3 year undergrad from somewhere, and is now happily settling into her first job. Her attractive black sandals and her smart dressing sense gave me the impression that she may be in the services sector - perhaps HR, or IT or consulting or something.

As is always the case, the bus that I wish to take never comes within the first 5 - 10 minutes of me reaching the bus stop. It seemed to me that this girl also shared a similar fate. Not one who wants to be caught staring, I was stealing little glances at her, trying to confirm my suspicions of her personality (it always is a good feeling to know that I can really analyse how other people think by inferring their personality from their social image). After about 2 minutes of waiting, she got a phone call. The ringtone was some familiar tune that I could not place, but the monophonic notes ensuing from her cellphone somehow shook my beliefs of her coming from a services background, as I have always felt people there should own some pretty good cellphones with some real smart ringtones (that being the reason why I have my eyes set upon the w960i that I'll buy as soon as I start my job, as I don't see my Nokia 2300 fitting into my consulting job profile). Anyway, I remember I saw a bright smile on her face when she checked her phone screen to see who was calling. Her first words 'Hi sweetie' told me that I better not listen to the rest of the conversation to avoid embarrassment for both of us, if she would notice me spying.

I think her call lasted a good part of 4 minutes or so. About 4 buses headed for Andheri station passed meanwhile, with no Borivli bound bus in sight. What started out as a happy call was not turning out to be so good with time passing by. I heard her shout a 'What' followed by an almost tearful 'How could you' and a question that started with a 'but', that was left unasked. I don't think she formally ended the call, as there was no goodbye said, nor any 'I don't want to hear from you ever again' either. Then she took out a neatly folded white handkerchief with some flowery pattern from her handbag (or purse or something that it was - I felt it was too big to be called a purse and too small to qualify for a handbag. But then I have seen many girls carrying those, so I guess it is pretty normal to own one) and silently wiped her eyes. That happy look that I had seen in them earlier was now lost somewhere.

I was almost tempted to approach her and ask if something was wrong and if I could be of any help. Or perhaps start a conversation by asking her if she needed some water, my faithful water bottle always being at my disposal. Or perhaps I could have said 'Not to pry, but are you okay? Do you want me to hail you an auto or something?' But I didn't. I always choose to stay away from girls - especially strangers. I saw her taking out a small little gift that was still unopened (I would never know if it was gifted to her or if she had bought it for someone). She gave it a long look and I had no idea what she would be thinking of then. Perhaps that gift meant a lot to her. Or perhaps it now bore no significance at all. She gave it one tearful kiss and then hurled it into the empty dustbin close by that until now seemed to serve no purpose at all. She then caught me looking at her. I tried giving her my best sympathetic look and was about to ask her 'Everything okay miss?' But then she smiled. It looked like a smile that says 'Yes don't worry. I am okay.' Then she called out to an auto, told him where she wanted to go, and got in. No goodbye. I wasn't expecting one either.

A minute later my 524 came by. I was lucky it wasn't crowded - it's a hell of an experience traveling standing in crowded buses on Bombay's unkempt roads; especially the highways. And when the conductor pulled on to the hanging cord twice and as I heard the familiar 'Ting ting' sound, I couldn't stop thinking what that gift now lying in the dustbin could contain.

Happy Valentine's day!

(I meant to write this post on that day itself, but I was quite busy doing other irrelevant and unimportant things, hence the delay).

Monday, February 4, 2008

Compelled to comment: 10 reasons why

Some reasons people give for explaining their urge to leave comments, even when not called for sometimes:

1. To show that you read such and such blog regularly.

2. So that the blogger would leave comments on your blog (and that you yourself value such comments highly).

3. To make a point to strike up a conversation with the blogger the next time you find him/her online.

4. To point out to the blogger that the post is incomplete and it is you who knows the missing parts.

5. To see if the blogger responds to comments or not.

6. You like logging in to, and commenting is thus only a natural consequence.

7. The blog is full of negative posts. The comments are means to introduce some positivism in there.

8. Those who comment on a particular blog like arguing a lot, and you don't want to be left behind.

9. (Similar to 8) Those who comment on a particular blog have something for the blogger, and you don't want to be left behind. :)

10. To show the blogger that you understand a seemingly complicated post.

If you choose to comment on this post, please number your comment accordingly. Have I missed out the reason why YOU leave comments here?

11. Because you know the blogger looks forward to reading comments since they assure him/her of regular or intermittent readership.

12. Because the blogger has not been recieving too many comments lately and reason #11 makes you pity her/him.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Hong Kong musing

Hong Kong is known for its sea food. A vegetarian sure has a tough time out there.

You do get vegetarian food if you know where to search. But for a south Indian chap like me, it seems a bit incomplete. I once ordered Spicy mushroom and exotic vegetables in noodle soup. What I got was broth with noodles floating in it and a luxurious serving of steamed vegetables and sauteed mushrooms to go with it. I also got a rice bowl with this. Now I am used to drinking soup, munching veggies and having my rice with gravy. But I had never had all of these served together as a whole ever before! (It tasted good though mind you, I had my rice with lots of sauce).

The other time I ordered a veggie burger and was given a hamburger with lots of veggies stuffed between the buns. Then there was this occasion where I ordered a veggie pasta with fettuccine only to find it served with pork. Some of my friends couldn't quite comprehend what that piece of beef was doing messing around with their veggie sandwiches. Coming to the non vegetarian options, you get anything from squids to Ox's tongue to Shark's fin to other what nots!

Then there are the chopsticks - some people fail to understand that not all of us are experts at handling that simple-looking-yet-tough-to-handle tool. Plus the fact that almost no Chinese guy uses a fork while eating made it really tough for me, when I once had to draw a fork on paper to tell the waiter what I needed (I tried writing F-O-R-K first, but that was of no use at all). And there seems to be severe water shortage in the country, as I didn't find a single wash basin in all of the restaurants and canteens that I visited there, and very few water fountains in the eateries. Seems you have to strictly drink your soup while eating your food. No water allowed.

But one thing that struck me - a whole week spent there, yet I didn't see one fat Chinese guy! And all those I met (I met a lot of them folks in their homeland) looked much younger than they actually are! Turns out that most of their food is either boiled or steamed, and with very little to no saturated fats - as healthy as it can get! I respect their food now, although I was never quite able to come to terms with actually eating it - squids, ox tongue, Shark's fin for God's sake!

Hong Kong is known for its sea food. On most occasions though, I had to be content with a see food diet.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


This post is meant for someone whom I lovingly call arbit. If you are not arbit, please do not read this.

Dear arbit,

1. All IITians, like yours truly, are what I call 'socially challenged geniuses'.

2. To understand true love, one should understand true surrender first.

3. We are not as gifted as our lives may suggest unto others - we just happen to be lucky bastards I guess.

4. We should go with the ones for whom we are special, and not the ones who are special to us. It is easy to learn to love someone who loves us, but very difficult to teach someone to love us.

5. Live life by your biases; but don't deride the opinions of others.

6. I like bitching about people - I know they all bitch about me; good to maintain a status quo.

7. Some people are born to be exploited. Use them lest they start manipulating you.

8. Acknowledge that there are people smarter than you - else you shouldn't expect any respect from those dumber than you.

9. Some people are good friends. Some are meant to be tolerated. The others should be ignored. Never make any enemies.

10. Never say I deserve such-and-such-a-thing, only to make a fool out of yourself when you lose it. Snatch it first, and then say I deserved it all along.

11. Let recognition not be a goal. Treat it as a signal.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Away for a week

Tonight I leave for Hong Kong. There's a conference on Information theory and Theoritical Computer Science being organised by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, from 21st Jan '08 to 26th Jan '08. As an effort towards furthering their collaboration with IIT Bombay, they are sponsoring the visit for 4 students for this event, including yours truly.

Frankly speaking, I have never quite appreciated the said topics throughout my brief stint in Electrical Engineering here in IIT (now that I am moving into management consulting, it's Bbye Engineering! for me) I hope this week long conference may help me look at these fields in a more appreciative and open minded manner. Although the main motivation for me still is all the sightseeing and the shopping that awaits me in the coming week, I hope I can somehow fit in some enthusiasm and have a good learning experience this time.

Only catch - a vegetarian usually has a tough time fooding in Hong Kong; and to top that, one of my molars died a strange death last week (read last post)! I hope I don't have a miserable time on the edible side of the trip; pray for me!

Adios for a week!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Fraction of a tooth

Today I lost half a tooth. Again. Well, I had lost that very half about four years ago, courtesy some tooth decay or something, and today I happened to lose the filling that was very well concealing this gateway into my oral cavity. It was a soft dismissal, considering that the said debacle happened over a measly banana, that I was munching on happily until my tongue noticed hitherto unexplored territory in my upper jaw. A few minutes later, the missing filling was found lodged in a tricky corner in my lower jaw, which I suppose should have been occupied by some tooth that never was. I called up my dentist, whence I came to know that he was just out of the white thing used for filling such holes, and said I could have been lucky had I called about an hour earlier. Perfect timing!

As such, I now have to live a day (night actually, as I shall get this fixed first thing tomorrow) with 31.5 teeth. Well, make that 29.5 actually; I never got all of my wisdom teeth. :P That would be those in the lower jaw. :|

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Senseless competition

I recently belled the CAT. Well, at least that's what my folks tell me. But did I actually do it? I don't recall a single minute spent towards preparing for this test, nor do I remember having solved a single question for practice. What then, should I attribute my 'roaring success' (as a friend puts it) to? Sheer luck? Inherent skills? High level of confidence?

I remember the 18th of November last year, the day of my CAT exam. I reached my centre quite early, and was chatting merrily with some old friends whom I met after quite a while. All the while though, I couldn't help noticing some students and their parents and other well wishers huddled together, discussing strategies to conquer the looming test. Most of these conquistadors came out weeping though, tears in their eyes, sad faces, some beautiful smiles lost amidst the 75 questions and the 2 and a half hours that make up the CAT. Some parents looked even more lost; as if the very ground they were standing on couldn't live up to the weight of their expectations. The results that came out 2 months later were no different. Some of these competitors of mine that I had seen there had done miserably, with no chance of getting into the IIMs this year.

As I have said before, neither do these scores matter to me, nor had I put in efforts to achieve this. There have been a few things that I have been thinking about for the last few days. One of them happens to be the competition that we see everywhere, well almost everywhere today. I have faced enough - during my school and college days, for getting into IIT, living through IIT, the recent placement season, the CAT and so on. Although I never faced serious setbacks, I have seen many deserving and enthusiastic aspirants lose out along the way. This May, I shall celebrate my 22nd birthday, and I cannot recall a single year in my life when I didn't have to compete with others. But does competition make sense?

Although I am not a big believer and fan of Darwin, one of his aphorisms is very dear to me - 'survival of the fittest'. This is something that has beaconed me towards success ever since I first came across this in my school days. Competition seems to be a natural order, quite logical actually, given the limited number of available resources, and the innumerable needs and desires of each one of us. Then what exactly do I mean when I address competition as senseless? Let me give you a scenario which would help me bring out my point better.

Consider 2 farmers, A and B, who have options of sowing either of crops C or D on their respective farmlands. Suppose seeds for C are in short supply, whereas those of D are available in plenty. Now let us suppose that C yields a high quality harvest, whereas the yield from D is pretty much average, similar to that obtained by other farmers. Now let us assume, that A and B, like most of us, have bloated egos, and only seek the best of the best. Naturally, both aim at crop C. This would drive the prices of C seeds even higher, and could result in A buying them, while B would have to be satisfied with D. Now, consider this - A had to pay a higher price for getting C seeds, whereas, although B would have got a good deal on D, he would nevertheless be unhappy at not having got C. Whom would you call the winner here?

Doesn't this hold true for the academic competition (I have not had much exposure to other competitions :P) that we see everywhere? Well, partly at least. Are all parties better off with the current scenario? I certainly believe that we can have a more fair and just system that would ensure that no one suffers as a result of competition. Competition is something that should motivate us to do better, to perform to our potential, to live up to our desires and expectations. It should egg us on to dream higher and think bigger and put in sustained and planned efforts to achieve all that. Only then can we call such competition as healthy. What we need is to educate people that certain exams/jobs/colleges/ranks/money/etc. isn't the end of the world. We need to be aware of all possible options on an average, and should try and co ordinate amongst ourselves to ensure betterment for all. I have seen some students here in the placement season who applied to every Tom, Dick and Harry company that came on campus, just for the sake of getting some senseless relief in what they call 'backup' or 'security'. What they fail to realise is that such decisions on their part can adversely affect the careers and dreams of many others, who may not be as privileged as themselves. Only with strong people awareness and mutual co operation and understanding, do I feel that we can make the world a better place (by exploiting our true strengths and bringing out our true potentials). Only then can competition make sense.

P.S. As Bryan Adams says in one of my favourite songs -

Don't lose yourself,
Your courage soon will follow.
So be strong tonight,
Remember who you are.

A friendly advice - Never lose your self confidence, come what may. Remember who you are.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A fine balance : continued

Coming back to the question of good friends, let me now focus on the type that I mentioned looks upon friendship as merely a business deal.

These are the people who believe in the following formula:

Friendship = treats + running errands + occasional sms/mail/call

For the time being, let me call such people as 'personalities'.

The last term on the right hand side of the above equation is not mandatory, according to most people belonging to this category. Not keeping in touch is attributed to many other causes - namely, carelessness, low balance on cellphone, too stretched for time to send a 2 line email etc. That they may not be interested in actually pursuing an active friendship is never mentioned. Running errands forms a major part of this pseudo friendship though. If you fail to help out such personalities, they follow up with the usual senti - can't you do this for a friend? and so on. Treats form a mandatory part of such a friendship - as though it is the foundation for the very existence of this relation.

What would you call such a friendship? I call this 'putting up with people who think they are your friends'.

A fine balance

I am sure you, like me, have been taking your family for granted all these years. I realised this a few days back, when the CAT results were announced. I was competing with my sister for a seat in one of the 6 IIMs for pursuing a management degree. This too, when I knew beforehand that I can easily nail the CAT whereas for her, it was not going to be a cakewalk. This, when I already knew that I will, under no circumstances, accept an admission offer, whereas for her, something like this would be living her dream. No wonder then that now that I have belled the CAT and she just missed out, I feel guilty as hell.

I have been thinking ever since if I was right in knowingly competing with her, whether this competition was justified. Competing with one's own makes no sense now, does it? There is no such thing as friendly competition, if you ask me. I find that to be as ridiculous as wars fought to uphold peace. Isn't a family supposed to be a tightly knit unit, linked together by blood ties, and sticking together come what may? But I can't help it now, can I? There are no provisions in our society for brothers and sisters competing together as a pair.

What about friends then? Are we justified in competing with our friends? There were also plenty of my friends who couldn't make it happen in the CAT this year. I feel bad for them too. But then, I was always aware that such a day will surely come. It wasn't unlikely according to me. Should I feel guilty about competing with them as well? Are they like family to me? Life in IIT teaches you that teamwork is the most important thing in your life. Companionship is the most essential element in any endeavour. Why this farce focus on individual excellence then? Let me hold on to that thought for another post. Here, I shall focus on the fine balance in my life between my family and my friends.

Who exactly are friends? My four years at IIT have brought out the difference between friends and mere acquaintances as never before. I have met people who are good to hang around with, but who suck at sharing my experience of this life, as a friend should. I have met people, for whom friendship translated to a 'business deal' - a mere give and take and 'i scratch your back, you scratch mine' relationship. I have come across those, who look upon friends as mere objects to vent their anger and frustration, who take delight in arguing with me, who I feel take pleasure in opposing all my points of view, and when I complain, those who claim that such behaviour is common between the best of friends, and that I am over reacting to all this and so on. And then I have met some wonderful people, who have gone on to become good, and some the best of my friends.

However close my friends be to me though, they shall never take the place in my life, that spot in my heart, which is reserved for my family. These are people who have loved me, endured me, accepted me for all my life. They never complained about my shortcomings, nor did they exploit my merits. They have truly respected and loved me as a person, as what I truly am. Although they have at times complained and hinted that certain aspects of my person are unacceptable to them, and that I should try and reconcile accordingly, they have never shown disapproval whenever I didn't comply. Sad though it may seem, none of the other people I have met in my life have been so understanding, not even the best of my friends. I have never met a single other person in my whole life, who even comes close.

For the last few days, I have been getting this feeling that perhaps it is something that I lack, that prevents me from making really good friends. I have never had best friends lasting for more than a couple of years, at best. Over time, it seems everyone that I meet fails to meet my expectations for whom I can call my best pal - perhaps my expectations may be too high, or perhaps I am yet to meet the right people. Till then, it remains up to me to maintain this fine balance in my life - this balance between family and friends.