Monday, 7 November 2011


I'll confess. Ever since I walked out of having what has been undoubtedly the single most exhilarating experience of my life so far, I've been attempting, in my head, to put it into words. And somehow, not surprisingly I'd say, I've failed miserably.

A dream, as I've come to realise, is only valid if it is first dreamt of. For me, watching the Indian GP was not a dream come true. You know how when you were young and thought, "One day, I'll go to Chepauk and watch Sachin bat" or "I'll go to the Eden Gardens and be one among the sea of cricket fans." With F1, for me, it was always the overtly ambitious dream of going to Malaysia and watching a race in Sepang on watching it in Melbourne. Not even in a highly delusional adrenaline filled state did I ever dream of watching a race right here in India. And when that came true recently, I was lost for words or expressions.

When I entered the stands and found a seat, I could hear the unmistakable rumble of a F1 car approaching me. That ear singeing cacophony at 19,000 rpm on top gear. That oh so famous moment as the cars go off throttle and exhaust gases bend inwards and outwards to produce that now familiar crackling. Every single part of that ultimate doff of the hat to all things related to physics worked in perfect harmony to bring towards me my first ever sighting of a F1 car. Fittingly for the occasion, I thought, it was the Lotus of Karun Chandhok. (I later learnt that Karun had overtaken Adrian Sutil sometime before my stands so that he could be the first one to put down an official time on the sheets for the Indian GP.)

The three days ended in a flash. The build up of the excitement was completely worth every single rupee I spent. Yes, there were a million things that weren't up to the mark. You would have read it in the papers or seen it online. But those things just don't matter.

After a few years, when I recall this unforgettable experience, (yes, despite my memory being famously attributed to that of a snail on morphine, this is permanently etched along with cycling and driving) the guard who didn't let us carry bags and cameras inside the circuit on the first day wouldn't figure in the story, the appalling sight of people buying Force India flags wouldn't be a part of the tale, the sight of tens of people mulling around the food counter when Vettel was blitzing the track on his pole lap would find no place in the recollection.

What would figure though, is that perfect symphony of that V8 engine revving at 19,000 rpm, that lucky picture I clicked of Michael Schumacher manoeuvring the exit of a chicane WITH ONE HAND OFF THE STEERING WHEEL, that image of Mark Webber carrying the Indian tricolour during the drivers parade, that idiotic marshall who decided against everything proper to sweep dust ONto the racing line, that moment when I froze when Michael Schumacher went past my stands during the drivers parade and I was completely sure that he looked directly at me. 

And finally, that single moment when all those years of unbridled depression seeing them taste defeat and the uncontrollable happiness of revelling in success, knowing that my screams of joy were in unison with the tifosi family spread far and wide, finally met reality - when I saw that scarlet Ferrari flow down the track, that was, in a way, salvation.

I guess some things that you experience won't ever be rubbed out of your memory.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Two men getting their pants in a knot

This is the tale of how two completely clueless men went about acquiring the skills to buy 'nighties' to be put to use by the mother of one of the aforementioned men.

It was late on a Saturday evening. One guy was a local in Madras, the other had come all the way from Pune for work to the dosai-city. Plans had been made around noon to go and get a pint or two sometime in the evening, after their work for the day was done and discuss the events of the past two days - the conference they had to attend had quite a few interesting things to talk about. But, as the omnipresent, omnipotent and omni(insert other such praises) Murphy would have it, the mother of the non-local called up and apparently, her sources told her that Chennai has good 'cotton nighties' and that the son needs to buy them asap.

Of course, any plans of inebriated work talk was immediately scrapped and the local made a call back home to ask his mother as to where one might procure the famed 'cotton nighties.' After certain assurances, a trip was made to one long-standing textile shop outside of the shopping centres of Madras. Once there, the two men deftly asked one of the shop's employees as to where one might get to choose these 'nighties'. After hurriedly looking behind the two men for any female unit(s) accompanying them, the female employee hid her mouth with her hand to hide the rampant giggling and signaled 'first floor.'

Grudgingly climbing the steps up to the first floor, the two men had already got past the giggling, they knew they should expect more. The row of 'nighties' were displayed not on any aisle, but at a corner of the first floor which was overlooking the ground floor and the entrance to the shop. "Perfect," the local thought, "this is exactly what people entering the shop would want to see, two men grappling with a tape measure to buy 'nighties'."

And that was precisely what the two men did. Slowly walking past the bewildered looks meted out by other females buying these 'nighties' (oddly, one burkha-clad woman was buying them too, they must be really popular, these 'nighties'.) "Tape measure irukkuma?" asked the local to the (obviously!) female attender. She had exceptional strength to hide her giggles and hand out a tape measure to the poker-faced chap from Pune. Immediately, the chap held out a certain 'nightie' for the local to measure. And measure, he did, from one seam of the shoulder to the other. "19 inches," he said to the other guy. "Too much, I think," said the Pune guy. The local, it would suffice to say, was quite convinced that he should not ask the other guy how he came to that particular conclusion.

Repeated and rather frantic calls were made back to the mother unit in Pune in order to avoid any mix-up. "What can the length be?" "Yes, mother, I am actually at the store." "Yes, the employee assures me that it's cotton." "What do you mean it has to be thick? How would I know what is thick and thin in a 'nightie'?" "Yes, I will attend that wedding with you. Who's wedding is it again?"

After a good 15 minutes of varying measurements and repeated assurances by the employee that the chosen 'nightie' was "pure cotton saar," the required number was bought and taken delivery of. Once the 'nighties' went into the cover though, the two men were overcome with both pride and a strange sense of achievement. Walking out of the store, they quietly sniggered at the men carrying covers and waiting outside the store, some with and some without a kid in their hand, for their better halves to complete their shopping.

If there is something called an old wives' tale, surely, there must be something called Tales of valiant men who spent a good part of their married life waiting outside a store for their wives.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Dear irrational person

Sometimes, it's just easy to write something scathing and hurtful about you. I could do it in a jiffy and it'd hurt you till your last breath. But what I want you to know is that there are times when I will control myself. Not for your sake mind you. You usually flatter yourself like that.

What I do is always dependent on what I want to do and never on you. Let's get that straight. I do not, and I am making this abundantly clear seeing how telling you in your face has no effect, give a flying fuck for your irrationality. I loathe it. I look down upon it. I pity you for being in such a deluded state. But I will never ask you to see things the way I see it. Not only would that go against everything I stand for, that'd only confuse the hell out of you and your puny little brain that is insanely blinded by all that you assume, irrationally of course.

Whilst just reading this, you're going to be fuming your top off, I know that much. But you should know, this is a very restrained attack - yes, this is an attack alright - and that there is a lot more from where this comes from. It is not that a fuller attack would affect you more, I am not a very hurtful person in general. I usually don't even make an attempt to know someone enough to let them get on my nerves. 

And I should thank you for reiterating my belief in the general prevalence of absolute cock and bull irrationality that made me shut myself down to people in the first place. You are everything that turned me into a cynic a few years ago. You are everything I detest in this world. And now, when people ask me why I am the way I am, I have a living example to quote. And warn about. I should thank you for that.

Friday, 15 July 2011

When I goofed up..

A couple of days ago, I got a call any journalist - budding or established - dreads. The Mr.Journo-your-story-is-factually-wrong call.

It was all a bit heady to be frank. I did the same old boring kind of a story that I've been doing for a while now. Only this time, I had a very very tight deadline. 2 days to fix up an appointment, research for the interview, conduct the interview, transcribe and then write the story. This is a process I do for every story, but my usual deadlines are more like 2-3 stories every 10 days, which is insanely relaxed. So when the moment I finished this particular story, I felt quite relieved to have managed to pull off the deadline.

The usual process then followed. Boss edits the story and makes a pdf out of it, sends it to me for final checking and I gave the go ahead. Issue came out and I mailed a copy of it to the interviewees. A full 10 days later, the interviewee makes the call. Long story short, he yelled at me for having misquoted him and claiming that his company manufactured the product that his competitors do. I told him I'll check into it while telling myself that it was too big a gaffe to be true.

I was wrong. When I went heard the recording again, it became quite obvious. He had said "We manufacture all lamps for the xyz car..". I assumed that when he said "all", he meant every single lamp that the car might have, while he had implied that they manufacture only all the lamps to the front of the car, head lamps, indicators and fog lamps.While one could argue that he must have been clearer, the onus really lies on the journo to quell any ambiguity in the interviewee's statement.

I told my boss that it was my mistake. He didn't seem to care. His only concern was that a retraction is now to be published and that is never a good thing.

TL;DR - I made a mistake, interviewee pointed it out to me and I apologise.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Life goes on...

Ever since I got my Sociology books, I've been wanting to sit for an entire day and let my brain be confused to the hilt. As I found out after a recent visit to the library, all it took was 2 hours and 23 pages of this book - Deconstructing Durkheim by Jennifer M Lehmann.

It's a relatively small book, just over 200 pages. But the weight of its content goes, at present, well and truly over my head. There are a few concepts that I have to invest myself in before I get back to that book. And here's where I miss being in a class. If I were in a class, doing the same course, I'd have other peoples' minds at my disposal. A few questions here or there and a few opinions then and now surely got the pot stirring in my Journalism class and I don't see how it'd have been different here.

I guess I could just wait for the optional lectures to begin.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Rationale singularity

I miss being a student. It's barely a year since I last was a student and I miss that feeling of having something to occupy the mind with. While it is true that I love to let my mind wander free, pick up something strange and follow a train of thought, it was easier to do this when I was a student. Intriguing things intrigued me and there just seemed to be a lot more things to be intrigued about back then.

Work is good for me. I know I can put in more effort and do a much better job of what I am currently doing, but I don't want to. It'd easily let my boss typify me into a role I've been forced to undertake due to circumstances in office. As all those management books seem to suggest, success in work is all about grabbing certain opportunities and letting go of some. I'm letting go of this because I've seen (in the form of my colleagues) where this will eventually lead me and I don't quite like that scenario. So as of now, I'm happy just ambling along, going with the flow, not paddling on my own and letting the current take me.

For the past 8 months or so, since I've started on this job, a typical Sunday evening for me is usually spent wondering about the frantic Sunday evenings I spent whilst in J school. It was either finishing assignments in a hurry or making pages or attempting to brainstorm with Rachit when originally watching Scrubs or going into one of our typically long drawn conversations. I miss those Sundays badly.

It's not that I was a bright student. I was the opposite of every fibre of that word. I was average while in school. A tad above average in college and for reasons still incomprehensible, a bit good even, when in J school. I don't know when my habit of looking things up happened, but it just did. I recently had quite a long discussion about Entropy with my brother (basically a geek on physics per se) and I could see how surprised and even marginally proud he was when he realised that I knew a bit about the concept.

My lack of math skills have left me in deep shit at times. That has in some way, acted as an impediment for me to learn Physics, which is, ironically, my favourite of sciences. As I'm sure everybody knows, math and physics speak a common language. Understanding one is necessary to fully understand the other. I could never wrap my head around even the simplest of math. But understanding some concepts of physics in a non-academic way doesn't need math, like the concepts of aerodynamics or waves or light or thermodynamics or entropy.

Anyway, I digress. I need something to keep my mind active. Student life and probably the people it brought along did that for me until a year ago. I want that back. Not a wishful time machine to rewind to that exact phase or a Groundhog Day scenario, but even a shade of that phase would do.

Something to keep my mind engaged on something, or someone on someone.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

For once, damn it!

Remove those damn masks. All of them. I will, if you will.

For once, lose yourself in the mystery of who you could be rather than hiding behind those self constructed masks and wilting away. Know yourself. Cherishing or self-deprecation comes later.

All this hiding and convenient excuses of 'I don't know myself' or 'Sometimes, I'm lost in unraveling myself' is as irritating as pigeon shit on a crisp white shirt. You're not a fuckin Egyptian Mummy to be unwrapped by someone else. Do it yourself you lazy bum. If you are so bloody afraid of coming to terms with what's underneath all those inane masks, your expecting that someone else would appear out of thin air and help you soften a potential blow is not only earth shatteringly daft, it is pathetic, idiotic, irresponsible and sadly for you, even worrisome.

Get over yourself, by knowing yourself. 

Monday, 21 March 2011


I am too shocked and appalled by the events this world has seen for the past week or two to talk about myself.

If the Egyptian uprising and eventual overturning of the dictator-esque government was a victory for the so-called human spirit, the neighbouring Libyan leader Gaddafi/Quaddaffi (someone do something about this spelling madness! argh) going voodoo on his own people is stuff straight out of hollywood movies.

 * I don't claim to know much about politics, mainly because I don't. It's a realistic warning rather than modesty. Please do correct me if I'm being wrong anywhere, factually or logically, I'd be glad to learn*

When does it become ok for someone who's been tolerated by a society for a good part of a century to go ballistic and issue statements like "you'll be shown no mercy"? Paint me psychotic, but when I read a bit of Gaddafi's speech to the UN last year, I was pleased. I felt that Gaddafi was playing out the typical David vs Goliath sequence when he decided to speak up against western hypocrisy. This hitherto unheard of leader from a comparatively small country was voicing out the concerns of a repressed society in possibly the world's biggest political stage. Little did I know that this madcap was the reason his society was repressed and that his three hour long speech was more of an idealist's bashing of the west rather than a rational, let alone a logical, repartee.

Quoting an episode of Boston Legal seems appropriate here. Alan Shore argues that America had created something called the Bystander effect in the world. The USA had, for vested interests in more cases than not, interfered in the happenings of other countries for reasons that are mostly blatant, be it Vietnam, Korea, Kuwait or more recently, Iraq and Afghanistan. This constant interference has led the people and the governments of the world to believe that if any incident or event spiraled out of one's borders or caused massive harm to its own civilians, the US would be there to attempt to set things right in ways only it knows right. The US has created an image of being this superhero who comes to rescue people in danger. Over the course of history, this has happened so many times that if any such event occurs, most countries just stay put telling everybody that the US would come and take care of it. As much pressure as this has put on America to show up in time, every single time, it also gives a certain callousness to other countries. Hence the name, bystander effect. Also, not to mention that America never shows up in countries it has no use or interest in, like Somalia or Sudan. Since America hasn't showed up, no other country would enter the scene purely for humanitarian reasons, or else Sudan's crisis would've been solved ages ago.

The Libyan situation however, has put that bystander effect theory under a microscope. The Arab league of nations called for the enforcement of the no-fly zone and it was the French (quelle surprise!) who first flew their jets over Libyan airspace to bomb Gaddafi's army.

But I digress. The scenario, or climate if you wish, in the entire Mediterranean belt has raised a lot of questions. How is anything that is/was happening in countries like Tunisia and Yemen different from what is happening in India? The Tunisians rose against the government because they were dissatisfied with governance, inflating prices and most of all, the rising corruption. The Yemenis have begun protesting for the very same reasons. Egypt, Libya and Syria are different cases. Egypt and Libya have each been suppressed by one individual for decades and the uprising was merely a voice against that, though in Libya, it has taken weird proportions. In Syria, the protesters are raising voices against a set of laws that have been in place for 50 years now, without any change along with the times. India on the other hand, has been seeing a spate of corruption charges pouring out, mainly thanks to a resurgent media and a government that seems to have resigned into not picking up another term at the next elections.

I'd be found wanting in humaneness if I didn't mention the earthquake and resultant tsunami which has pretty much razed vast portions of Japan to the ground. The eventual Nuclear disaster has again brought up the power debate. Though the effects of radiation have been contained to a certain extent, the death toll from the aforementioned double whammy has been rising constantly. I don't know about you, but for me, Japan's always been a country that has defied years and years of work by psychologists and lateral thinkers. Words like resurgence, phoenix, spirit, endurance, fighting and human spirit bear little meaning when put on the same scale as the sheer whatthefuckery displayed by the people of Japan over the ages. I know you not, dear punctual Japanese chap, but hear this, I salute you. 

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Life and the shit it throws

Standing directly behind my sister's left shoulder, with my mom to my right and brother to my left, looking at my brother-in-law approach Anu with the thaali, a sole thought rammed against my defenses, snucked in, stayed there and refused to get out of my head. I miss you Dad. 

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

It is what it is. Why it is, nobody knows.

After numerous start-stops, I finally filled my head with enough things to write about. My memory needs a huge overhaul, it's almost non-existent now. So bad, I don't remember the names of half the movies I've watched, it worries me. 

My sanity has been a rare commodity. It comes and goes in meek installments, teasing and harassing me with its speed of disappearance. Yet, I wouldn't quite complain about the insanity either. Middle ground has been found, anchors have been laid. 

As for work, shit happened, but I'm clawing my way out of it, or so I tell myself. I don't want to move to Pune now, can't and won't. Sorry. It's simply too much to leave behind and for what? My own good? They say selfishness is acceptable, but this isn't a question of selfishness or selflessness, it's a question of the sanity of a person I care about very deeply. 

Love and other drugs. Mini spates of the former and none of the latter. As for the curious noses, stay off. Those who question the claim, beware of retribution, for it will be swift.

In other news, my love for the wonderful subject of anthropology grew by Andre the Giant's size leaps mainly due to two reasons. The first is obvious, an issue had closed at office and I had a day to laze around before beginning work on the next bunch of stories. A few hours of random browsing and multiple tabs later, I came around to googling universities in UK that offer anthropology. Before windows could threaten me with another crash, I had browsed through all option credits, mandatory credits and even chosen the credits I would pick. 
As for reason no two. It's becoming more and more obvious to me that humans interest me beyond anything. Given my reclusive status, interaction isn't something I'm particularly keen on. How else to study humans you ask (may be you don't, but bear with me)? Sit in a corner and observe. Simple as that. Two individuals have struck me beyond anything I have ever witnessed before. The sheer simplicity of the first and the daunting complexity of the other has kept my mind active. Interactions with them have been fruitful and the conclusion from hours of rambling is that humans are ruddy interesting. 

Two other people I've chanced upon knowing of late have been quite amusing too. I've learnt so many things from the two of them in such a short span of time that it both worries me and infuses great enthusiasm and hope. I know a LP with scratches would've probably stopped by now, but I keep harping on about the same thing. It's a freaking small world and I hate that it is so. Probability is such a bitch. 

As far as general existence is concerned, I guess I must be jumping like a bunny that has ear fire. My work is brilliant. Office is just 15 mins away, even if a bus overturns and blocks two lanes of the road, I can reach office in under 45 minutes. I watch movies or TV shows at will. Listen to the most brilliant of music. And yet, as only I can explain it, I whine. I whine and I brood. Only because that's the only way I know. I abuse happiness if it finds me. I like myself less when I abuse happiness. Ergo, I try and keep my distance from it. 

Grass on neither side is greener, it's the neutral zone that's the greenest. 

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

..thought I'd something more to say..

I've been off writing for a while, mainly because I haven't had a reason to write. Granted, events of the new year's eve, the trip to Kerala to see a good friend getting married, going to Pondy amidst a bunch of old people reliving their wonder years were all reasons enough, but hey, I choose what I write on, thank you very much.

This is a freakishly small world and I hate that it is so. A Mallu guy I met two weeks ago, a friend now, is working as a production manager, in Chennai, for a Hollywood film made by a Taiwanese man based on a book authored by a Spanish-born Canadian writer. Yesterday, my brother comes into my room and tells me that his friend works as an assistant director for the exact same film.

Where are the rest of the famous one billion people of India? Where are the rest of the 70 lakh people of Chennai? What the hell is wrong with this world and something as random as a Hollywood film is connected to me through two wholly different means? I am sick and tired of meeting someone through someone I already know. This is precisely why I loved my time in Delhi, except for the obvious connect to Chennai. I went there thinking that it'd be a clean new city where I knew none of its how-many-ever inhabitants and nobody knew me. It gave me such a wonderful opportunity to be myself, to an extent at least. I was put into a cage where social contact was mandatory to get work done, alienation didn't work as much as it did whilst I was in Chennai. So sometimes, I had to go out of my way and ask people for favours. Of course, some characteristics are the same irrespective of whether people knew you before or not.

It gave me the opportunity to do something that we rarely get to do. Enter a room, the inhabitants of which are as clueless as you are, and build, maintain, spoil, enjoy and even cherish newly formed relationships. It wasn't like school when I was either too young or too naive to make my own decisions free of inhibitions and obligations. It wasn't like college when a troubled past followed me and emphasis lay on academics which I was least interested in. My year in Delhi made me realise things about myself that I couldn't have ever done had I remained in Chennai.

As Murphy was busy with other people for a change, I met some wonderful people. People who challenged me in ways I wasn't ever before. Finally, all those weird and fancy sounding movies that I spent watching, analysing and deconstructing became conversation starters. It was, to be meek, magical to see the directions a discussion beginning with a scene/dialogue from a movie took. I felt like a child in a candy store, being exposed to intellectual debates and being challenged to raise my game to even understand it, let alone be a part of it.

As luck would have it though, I had to come back home. I guess we know how that worked out.


My idiotic mind has finally wrapped its head around an idea for a film. I've always felt I would be able to make at least a semi-decent film if I was able to hit the mark on what sounds like a good idea. A film needs an idea, a ruddy good one. The knowledge of thought has made me throw some good ones out of the window in the past, but this one, the thought that I have zeroed in on, is what I believe is enough to create a film out of.

Control, is something that comes naturally to us. But what if there was no need to exercise that control? What if there arose a situation wherein some of the usual reasons why we exercise control become redundant? If you could, would you? Tons of things come into the picture. Morality, societal taboos, consequences (imaginary, thought and unprecedented), time etc play a huge role. How would the removal of one of those variables affect the equation? This is something I want to explore.

Meanwhile, it is extremely easy to get lost in these questions and there can never be a definitive answer. Ergo, I must exercise control to stop at one point and put that into visuals. It's a ruddy small world, and I hate that.