Monday, December 20, 2010

The Drinking Conundrum

You are at a party. There is this hot girl you want to talk to. Actually, there are many hot girls at the party, and you wish to talk to any of them - but this girl is the one who has especially caught your eye today. However, for all your strengths, you are rather shy when it comes to talking to girls. For, while you have full faith in your IQ and intellect, this is not the first things that girls notice about you. For, the thing that stands out about you is your pretty impressive paunch. You like to call it the family pack, but that is a joke no one else really appreciates - especially not the hot chicks, like the one you have your eyes on.

You are also not helped by the presence of a number of hunks in the party, the more than six feet tall monsters, and while there seem to be an almost equal ratio of the two sexes - a situation you are not really used to, having studied in institutes where the female-per-male ratio ranged from 0 to 0.1, and having gone to work in offices where while the overall ratio was much higher at 0.5, when it came to your team, it was back to the familiar levels of 0-0.1 range - you know no girl will even notice you while those hunks are there. And you cannot help but wonder about challenging these guys to a game of Scrabble or Chess, and humiliating them and their measly minds. Just like they humiliate your physicality by being there. Also, you cannot help wondering about how unfair life is. You know any time you approach any girl, you will get rejected, and its the fear of rejection which stops you from doing anything. Which is why, this being a free booze party - may God grant a long life to your DU-educated cousin, and may your relations remain ever cordial, and may he continue inviting you to these awesome birthday parties with hot chicks, you pray to the almighty - you turn towards the booze and start staring at the target of your affection, who is being wooed by one of these monsters. And all you can do is drown one drink after the other. Which is good in a way, because the booze is rather limited, and you want to make hay, while the sun shines. Not only do you have drink after drink, in anticipation of the party Armageddon, you have Patiala pegs after Patiala pegs.

Now these large Patiala pegs have two immediate effects : a) It increases your courage, and drowns your rejection fears, b) It makes you more capable of irregular rambling, and your talks becomes less and less intelligent. There is a third, long term effect - which you will notice only the other day - is the loss of memory.

So now, as you might have guessed, your courage and your perceived intelligence are functions of the amount of alcohol in the blood. While your courage is an increasing function, the intelligence of your talking is a decreasing function. This is depicted in the graph below.

The graph makes it clear that there is a very specific number of drinks (depends on person to person), when it is safe to approach the girl. The moment you get the courage is when you should approach her. That is the only time you might be able to impress her with your intelligent talk. The moment you overdo the drinking part though, you have the necessary courage but you lose out on the intelligent bit - and as a result, your only window of opportunity.

Now the drinking conundrum is this. What if you are never able to reach the requisite number of drinks. What if your graph looks like this?

Because you wasted your chance on other girl last night, after rambling to her something you don't even remember. You remember talking and talking, and generally not making sense. As always. This is the 30th girl you have talked to in the year.
The drinking conundrum is killing you. You need a way out, but is there an exit? Or is it all for the best, and should you give in to the fangs of arranged marriage, that have already engulfed so many of your friends?

Questions, to which you have no answers. Even with your super-high IQ.

Or maybe it is high time to hit the gym.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Ghost's Diary

(I don't normally write about movies and plays, and their reviews, and my technical understanding of theater is minimal, to say the least. I do not understand the finer technicalities of the music or lighting, for example, and am unable to appreciate them fully as well. However, I really loved the Ghost Diary for the story, and how it has been brought upon the stage, and this is what is mentioned here. That is not to take the appreciation away from the production, direction and the music and lighting effects of the play)

At the end of the play, while the actors are preparing to take the bow, Deepak Dhamija, the writer, producer, director of the Ghost's Diary, says, "We still have not figured out whether it was a comedy or a tragedy." An apt comment, for the Ghost's Diary makes you laugh, and is refreshingly witty at times, but when it all ends, you are left feeling with the kind of sad feeling that the end of Jaane bhi do Yaaron left you with. Like the aforementioned film, the play can be best termed as a satire - on human life, and the endless rat race that you and me are a part of.

The play is essentially a monologue of the main actor and his obsession with writing a tragedy. The days of the great tragedy are gone, and he wants to make people cry through his writing. The action unfolds as the protagonist takes us through the various events in his life, which he captures in his diary. Through it you know about his troubled relation with his parents and teachers, the failed first crush and his generally "tragic" life.

The three actors, who portray the protagonist in various phases of life, do a really commendable job. The naughty schoolboy has been portrayed rather brilliantly by Tushar Sharma, while the college going, angry Puneet Khokhar is pretty awesome too. However, it is the middle aged, Manpreet Vora who is the star of the show and has the best dialogues, including a two minute monologue where he portrays God. And yeah, there is a clown, portrayed by Ali, who represents the "comedy" part of the play, an anti-thesis to the "tragedy" of the antagonist.

The protagonist is obsessed with tragedy, and after reading Anne Franks' Diary of a Young Girl, becomes convinced that his whole life is like a concentration camp - with his parents and teachers being the Nazis. So like Anne Frank, he plans to live out the tragedy and write it all down. Over time, however, as he sees the love his parents have for him, he realizes his life is not so bad. And so, his initial attempts at publishing a tragic diary fails. His father wants him to become a doctor, and he has the potential to become one, but all he wants is to write a tragedy.

The story of Ghost's Diary could well be the story of you and I - a person trying to fit into the world, but being unable to do so. Not because he is handicapped or poor or mentally retarded, but just because he does not want to. He does not want to be the best, and his approach to life is made clear when he says, "I just want to live life". He believes he lives his life to the maximum and says, in order to live, "I will beg or borrow or steal". But he is averse to doing any work, because well, work is work. Work is not life. He just wants to write a tragedy.

And then he decides the way to write a play - a tragic play, one that will bring the essence of the Antigone and the Hamlet back. He is sure the play will make people cry and that people will love to cry, despite being told by his friend Poo - who calls him once in a while - that people nowadays do not care for tragedies as their own lives are tragic enough. The various theater groups also fail to appreciate a tragedy and

The play that he writes is almost his own story - about a talented guy who doesnt want to make use of his talents. He feels unfit to live in the new world, obsessed with money and success. He does not do it, not because he cannot, but because he does not care. His tragedy is not being able to fit into the world, and do a job that other people think normal. Is it normal doing something you do not like - for money? He compares work, all useless, corporate work to prostitution, and chides the world through it. It is a tragedy of our generation, which is so lost in money and success, that they have lost their own selves.

The play that he writes, however, only brings smile to the audiences. They fail to recognize the tragedy of the world. The play fails as a tragedy, and our protagonist fails in his attempt. Which prompts his first suicide attempt, which also fails. And his second play, about God and Satan, which shocks people so much that he is attacked and injured. And then his second suicide attempt, which as much as the rest of his life, also fails.

However, over time he is brought up by his relatives and friends to live a normal life. And he does, which is probably the biggest tragedy.

Ghost's Diary counters you with a lot of questions that have troubled me - What is the meaning of life? Is there a God, and if there is, what is he doing above? Is it really normal to easily become a slave of the evil corporate empire?

And perhaps, the biggest question of them all, what is a tragedy and a comedy? Is it not just a point of view? One man's meat is another man's poison, they say, and hence maybe there are no clear tragedies - or comedies. We root for the hero because the story is told through his perspective. Was Romeo and Juliet a tragedy or a stupid romantic comedy? Was Hamlet, for that matter, a tragedy, or just Shakespeare's comic satire on a feuding family? Will Mahabharat or Ramayana be different seen from the perspective of Duryodhana?

Ghost's Diary does not give you any answers - but the play will definitely force you to think and find your own answers. Not many works of art do that, and hence this play is highly recommended. And when you do, do let me also know, whether the play was a comedy or a tragedy. For like the much acclaimed writer-producer-director, I am also confused.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The filter theory of relationships

(The last post was officially the most commented one on this blog. It beat the previous comment total of 50, set by a controversial post condemning the newly set Training and Placement Department in IIT Delhi, back in 2005 by a whole 3 comments. This last post, on the other hand, condemned nothing. Except for the small matter of the presence of God. So the lesson is learned. Controversy does not always sell. Thanks everyone :D. I had prepared a speech to thank everyone for crossing the 50 comment mark barrier for the first time in the blog, but I have lost it somewhere during my many bus trips to Dharamshala, Shimla and Chandigarh. So well. A simple thank you will have to suffice for now.)

Which brings me to the main point of this particular post. The filter theory of relationships. (Suggested previous reading: The 2-d ZSV Matrix). Now, just about an year ago - in December last year in fact - I had written about the XYZ theory of love, relationship and commitment/ here.. Using this argument, I had proposed that arranged marriages are actually unnatural and hence more liable to fail, especially in today's modern world. A consultant, or an ex-consultant, must however challenge his own thoughts. Ten months older, and wiser, I challenge the widely appreciated theory - and present the filter theory to prove why arranged marriages are the way forward.

The filter theory is simple, and while it uses basic mathematics, the nitty gritty details are not too tough to understand. Moreover, the filter theory is also pretty consistent with my seminal work - the 2-d ZSV theory. Infact, the filter theory is like a prequel to the ZSV theory. The theory explains why there is attraction among guys and girls and how do the relations x=0, y=0 change ("Nahin doongi aur nahin loonga") to x=1, y=1 state. ("Degi to Le loonga").

You know, there are different filters which a guy is looking to meet in a prospective partner. And a gal too. These filters include (among others) external attributes like height, beauty, weight, figure, dressing style, dental hygiene, overall hotness and others. (For example, a guy might say my prospective partner should be 5'4" to 5'6" tall, should be good looking, be thin, not very hot, and is equally comfortable in Western and Oriental outfits.) Moreover, there are certain basic filters - which may or may not hold - like country, state, religion, caste etc. (Is she Punjabi?) Similarly, there are professional filters, like educational qualifications, comfort in languages etc, knowledge about the world etc. (Can she speak enough English to interact with my fairly numerous South Indian friends?) Then there is the important cultural capital filter, about book choices, movies, music etc. (Does she like Star Wars?) There might be individual filters like interests in sports and travel. (Does she play and watch sports?)There are filters of social behavior, like smoking/drinking, behavior with friends and family, sense of humor, piety and stuff. (Is she too religious?) Then there are internal characteristics, your character, thoughts on various things and general "compatibility". (Will she take good care of my parents?)

Now well, when you meet a girl, you see of her as a prospective partner if she passes your external attributes parameter - which is the first point of attraction. Over time, as she reveals more of herself to you (stop thinking dirty, you losers!), you pass her through your filters, and see if she matches on those levels. Ofcourse, you are always ready to make allowances in some minor filters = for example, the Star Wars might not be a big deal for some, and for others being Punjabi is not a criteria. But the girl must pass through the other important filters, such as the compatibility filter.

However, while you are judging the girl on these parameters, you yourself are being judged. The girl is also judging you on various parameters, such as smartness, hotness, intelligence, knowledge, money and blah blah blah. Am not really sure what all filters girls use, but the thing is they also use filters to evaluate you, which you might pass, but more often than not, you will fail.

This theory, then gives rise to two distinct problems. According to the filter theory, to choose a perspective partner, you need to meet girls, find out about them, and see if they pass the filter. The first problem, then, is meeting girls and having a suitable sample set to choose girls. Having studied in places of academic excellence (and consequently a low girls:boys ratio), and being pretty much a geek in school (which had some very hot girls, I will admit), the only place where people like you and I can meet girls now is at various parties. But most girls you meet at parties are committed, and even if they are single, it just does not come naturally to us. The talking to them part, and taking their phone number and going ahead on a date, thing, that is. It is tough. Really tough. Even after reading the Game, and watching all the televised episodes of HIMYM, I am sorry to say it, Barney, but I suck at it. And I am sure so do most of you. And this is just the smaller problem.

The second, and the major problem, then is for girls who pass your matrix, you should also pass their matrix for a relationship to start. For her to go from x=0 to x=1 ("Nahin doongi se doongi), you need to pass her filter. That, dear friends, in today's times and age, is not easy. Girls who are most likely to pass your filter require you to be smart, intelligent, rich, handsome, neat and tidy, socially acceptable, humorous, sporty and what not. Which, as my single status testifies, I am unable to match.

So, you have these two seemingly unsolvable problems and are confined to a lifelong single status, right? Thankfully the answer is no. Like Aishwarya Rai in the shampoo commercial, its one solution to two (oops: the Ash ad had five problems, but I will keep the line anyway) problems. And the solution is: arranged marriage.

Imagine meeting a good looking girl in a party/bar, who passes your external attributes filter. Now, the problem no.1 manifests itself. How do you approach her? The question is so difficult, that by the time you come up with an answer, either she has left, or you are drunk beyond any level of comprehensible conversation. Hence, most often than not you just wonder what if, and that is that. However, in arranged marriages, you can approach any number of girls through the right appropriate route. Arranged marriage then helps you increase your sample size. Problem No. 1 solved.

The other advantage of an arranged marriage is that because it is a traditional way, the male half still dominates. In an arranged marriage arrangement then, the girl's filter is superimposed by her parents'. The parents filter is simple, well educated, rich and socially adequate, and potential to earn money. Smartness, cleanliness, and external attributes are not something they pay much attention to. And voila! that is something you and I are easily able to clear - the parent's filter that is. You have finally been able to crack the filter, and are ready to be in a relationship. Problem No. 2 solved.

However, some ignorant people, like this friend I was chatting to last night, believes that there are no girls who can crack the filter available in arranged marriage - His belief is all good girls are taken. I strongly disagree. I have seen my friends get into both love marriage and arranged marriage, and by that sample space, and using only the external attributes filter, I will say arranged marriages rock!!

Epilogue: As always, the filter theory is a work in progress. I am working on a mathematical model to explain this as well for better quantification. Please leave your comments and counter-arguments.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Angelic Verses: My conversations with God - IV

So yeah there was no Angelina. I suppose everyone had got it by now. There was no other angel also, and I had no conversation with God. Because, quite simply, there is no God. The world runs as the world runs. I refuse to accept an idea of God that will try to test our belief in him as much as I refuse to accept an idea of God that allows various earthquakes and volcanoes and tsunamis and floods to create destruction on the earth.
God had to be invented in order to give people something to fear. It was basically a way to keep people from going awry, by scaring them about a higher power. The reason was, that the fear of God will prevent people from acting too selfish and stop them from sinning and a life of crime - and all religions seek to attain this.
The other reason for religion is that it gives people hope - which is the most important of things. The reason to live this stupid life, which always promises you a lot but always falls short of expectation. The hope that there is something else which awaits at the end, and which will give our life a meaning. Anything you do over a course of your lifetime - topping that exam, sitting in a limousine, partying like a wild party animal - often turns surreal over a period of time, and people desire change. But often in life, it is not that easy to change. You are stuck in your job way longer than the honeymoon period. This is where religion comes into place, and makes people believe that if they do a,b,c and d in life, as all normal people do, they will have something promised in the afterlife - either heaven or Moksha or Nirvana. Because otherwise people will just feel depressed, and maybe kill themselves or turn suicidal and stuff.
Which means religion is just an addiction - just like a drug or whisky. It makes people believe in stuff they do not see, and gives them a reason to feel happy about themselves, the same effects induced by alcohol, or more commonly, by drugs. Talking of which, yeah, Angelina was an hallucination.
I used her following the JK Lakshmi Cement Ad motto - catch attention, deliver message. The first 21/2 posts of this series were to catch the attention of the reader, and hence featured sex - as Neha Dhupia says, only SRK and sex sell in India, and I am not too sure about SRK - and the last half post was the actual message. But no one really got it, the message of life, universe and everything.
The message being there is no meaning to life. All those trying to find one are just fooling themselves. We are here because of a scientific pool and are like a simulation. There are infinite other universes in which our Earth does not contain life. We are here because we are, and we are not special. That might depress you, for a while, but it might also give you happiness. For you are no longer addicted. To any fucking religion and following it. No dhams or prayers can help you. For you need no help. Nothing really matters. So you might as well be happy than being sad about the truth.
The best we can do in such a scenario is to actually do what we want to do. Because when you think about it, religion stops you from having fun. That is the bottom line. So have as much fun as you like, for you are not going to be judged. Not in your afterlife anyway. But because you are going to be judged by other people around, you might as well do something for the benefit of others. For there is no greater satisfaction, and happiness than in making others happy. And that is the basis of my religion. Be happy, make others happy, and enjoy.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Angelic Verses: My Conversations with God - III

"It was the sex of the century. Definitely. Maybe the best sex ever. It was better than what Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone did in Basic Instinct." I said, exhausted from my first passionate love making session with Gabriella. The best thing was, I wanted more. Gabriella was all that I had imagined in my dreams and more. "I can do anything, anything at all, to do that again." I told her, kissing her on her lips. Oh, what perfect lips, I wondered. Everything about her was perfect. She kissed me back, and suddenly said, "Yes it was. The best ever....Anything! Are you sure."
I said, "Yes, anything." And she said, smiling, "you have to be the prophet. To tell the truth to the people."
And I said, "But, Gabriella, you do not understand, this truth does nothing. We are better off not knowing the truth. The truth will make our lives more miserable. There will remain no purpose to live. All faith on God will be lifted."
She suddenly made a sad face, got up from the bed, frowned at me and said, "If you want any more of this, you will have to do as I say, and I speak directly what God wants."
I went near her, and tried to kiss her, but she got back. I was falling badly in love with her, and I said, "okay, I will do anything you say. Anything. But tell me how do you go about becoming a prophet? I have no more money left, will it not be better off for your prophet to be someone rich, whom people will follow. "
Gabriella suddenly smiled at me, the same seductive smile she had flashed at me earlier, but she said, "First of all, you need to make the people know of what I have told you: The true answer to the mystery of the world. Publish it on the blog. And let people read."
But I said, "I will be swarmed with hate mails of people blaming me of blasphemy. And what not. And somehow this thing just does not make sense. Why would God want us to know the truth. I mean a lot of people will just stop caring about doing good. It will be anarchy"
Gabriella: "The really good people won't really mind. Even now we have a few sour grapes here, those who do bad deeds despite threats of retribution. God has made an organizational change based on the recommendations of the real Mckinsey and Company, which recommended an open door policy. Their report after a three month study of Earth showed that the people will work better towards God's ultimate will if they knew where really the Earth was headed. And if he used more female staff - but that is another story."
Me: "But, I don't think it is a good idea. And the way you want me to explain this concept is using Age of Empires analogy. Why is that?"
Gabriella: "Jesus and Mohammad were not the only prophets. There have been many such people who have worked behind the scenes. The creator of Microsoft Age of Empires was one such person who was visited by an angel and told to simulate a civilization making scenario so that people get used to the idea, and when the prophet arrives, it is not a huge cultural shock."
Me: "Did you go to him too? Did you?"
Gabriella: "Now, now are you jealous. No I did not. You are the first human who has seen me."
Me: "And Karl Marx, was he also a prophet?"
Gabriella: "I knew you were intelligent enough to figure it out. I mean, you will need a socialist society to achieve what God wants, right! Hence he was told to dream of a classless society, where everyone will work for the state."
Me: "But socialism as we have seen has been a failure. The people of Earth have stopped accepting socialism as a way of living."
Gabriella: "Exactly, but that was because it was told upon by a human. And it was not exactly interpreted rightly by Lenin and Stalin, who grew too ambitious for their own good. Hence, we need a prophet, to lead people to the right path."
Me: "I don't think a lifetime will be long enough to make people see the reason. I am sorry to say, but this is doomed to failure."
Gabriella: "You ignore the voice of God part. People accepted Christianity and Islam despite initial reservations. Why? Not because of Easter or the capture of Mecca, but because they spoke to God. And so will you. Remember you want these more than anything else", as she let the bed sheet slip off her body.
Me: "Yes, I do. Oh my god, you are so beautiful. Okay I will do it."
And I did. So fellow earthings, here is the truth I was told by Gabriella to popularise:
"Our Earth is a simulation. Created by God, in competition with other Gods, who retrospectively, are devils for us. The other Gods have also created their own earths in their own separate universes. Just like in Age of Empires, we are unable to see the other Earths before a certain point of time, and a certain advancement of the race. The aim of each being on this planet is to make Earth more progressive and better. Everyone needs to do their bit, or Earth will be like a weak civilization which is overrun by the enemy. There is no retribution, however, if you do not do your duty. Just like Age of Empires, God faces several constraints in the simulation, and he makes random decisions based on the available data. Which explains why some people live till 100, while others die very young. The dying act happens because when cells grow old they fail to contribute, and God wants more new cells to think in the positive direction for the objective. It is all random. God expects you to do your duty, but if you lie somewhere idle, there is nothing God can do. The final state that God wants you to reach is the creation of collective body, where there are no final divisions. No discrimination on any basis. One for all, and all for one. Hope it is not too difficult." (To be continued)...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Angelic Verses: My Conversations with God - II

As always, the cook came at 8 that day, and when he was about to leave after leaving the two bottles of water in the fridge, I asked him to cook food. For that is what Gabriella had told me. To eat normal food she had said. So I asked him to make three chapatis, a bowl of rice, mattar-paneer and scrambled eggs. The cook was surprised and a bit angry, for I suspect, the quick one minute job at my place (replacing my water bottles), had allowed him to take another cooking job. My new state, then, meant loss of revenue for him. He tried to reason with me, "But, bhaiya are you not only on water diet? Should you stop yet? There is definitely still scope for you to get thinner." This angered me, and rudely I told him to do what he was being told, which made me feel guilty. But he soon apologised, and so did I, and I ate the best dinner ever.
I was sure the Gabriella thing was a dream. There are no angels, I told myself, and that I, a prophet - the thought itself was laughable. I tried to imagine me living a life like Jesus lived, turning water to wine, or the one like Mohammad with 12 wives. I will manage with 4, and turning water to wine would be a great power to have, I thought, grinning wickedly. And then I went to sleep thinking of Gabriella. She did seem so real, though, I was sure.
But when I did not dream anything, or anything I could remember anyways, that night I just thought maybe the entire thing was real. And so I just started preparing for Gabriella to come, as she had said, at 6 the next day. So well I just decided to read through wikipedia of what prophet actually meant, and then started reading The Game. Devouring it actually. If I had to have any chance with Gabriella, I needed to know every trick in the book. And who had better tricks than The Game? I know, you guys might be thinking, "this guy is sick", but believe me, had you seen Gabriella, you would not have thought about anything else as well. Except the part about being the Prophet. I was sure the Gods had made a mistake, but I was not too keen to rectify it, as it meant I could meet Gabriella. And probably hit off with her.
The wait till 6 p.m. was tough, and by that time, I had already mastered a card trick to show Gabriella and impressing her.
And then suddenly I heard, from the kitchen, "How are we doing today?". Ah, the sweetest voice ever! And I said, with confidence, "Hi Gabriella! How are you doing?" in my best Joey Trabianni imitation. She didn't look too impressed with it though, and asked me, "Are you ready for the truth?"
Me: "Is there an absolute truth?"
She: "Well that is interesting - there is not. But this is a truth - and as absolute as any."
Me: "I already know the truth. The truth that Gabriel preached. Everyone knows it. About how there is heaven and hell, how if you are good, you go to heaven, and if you are evil, you go to hell. All religions more or less say the same. By the way, Gabriella, do you realise I am a Hindu? My religion does not believe in Angels. We believe in Karma, which come to think of it, is the same as what Christianity and Islam preach. Even Buddhism preaches similar things, about how through right meditation you can achieve Nirvana. I wonder then why do people fight over religion then, it is pretty useless, is it not?" (The Game believes that girls are impressed by your knowledge, and the compassion in the end is the clincher.).
She: "No no. I mean you are right about all religions being similar and stuff. But God screwed up. A bit. And hence we need a new prophet to rectify."
Me: "Screwed up? How? You mean there are no heaven and hell, and that all religions are wrong. Is there no judgment?"
She: "Well yes, sort of. You know, God thought a carrot and stick policy would be a good way to let people work according to his plan. So he first sent Krishna to India - he was an angel, too, who delivered the Bhagwat Gita, which introduced the concept of soul. And then there was Buddha, who was an angel who stayed here for a long time, delivering the concept of Nirvana. And then as you know, Gabriel came in. But God just let you know what he wanted you to know. And that is not the truth. Not the entire truth anyways. And you, Zubin, are going to tell them the real truth. It is not going to be what you want to hear, but it is going to be the truth. So tell me, are you ready?"
Me: "Geez! That is kind of scary. So you want me to go out and tell the world that whatever religion they have been following is based on a lie? And that there are no heaven and hell. This is going to be tough, Gabriella, and I am not too sure I am ready to do it. And why this sudden change of heart from God?"
She: "Well we had new HR policies introduced up above. One which says it is always good to be honest with your employees. So God has decided that He will be truthful with his people. And you have been chosen his agent for change, by a lucky draw. Moreover, the carrot and stick policy has gone so wrong. Noone wants to be good anymore. Everyone wants things in this life. And the only people who believe in God nowadays, and the kingdom of heaven, are the terrorists with their 72 virgins promised - which, as even you might have guessed, is a big hoax. God definitely does not want this. And do you not want to know the truth of life, the universe and everything. The truth is..."
And she told me. Which I had suspected, in a way, but hearing it from Gabriella, just gave it much more worth. But I still was not too sure it was such a good idea preaching the truth to people.
Me: "Gabriella! You know why people follow a religion? It is because it gives them hope? Religion gives hope to my parents, for example. I do not think it is a nice idea to tell them the truth whatever it is. I wont do this. I am sorry, I just do not think the world is ready for this."
She: "Well I have my orders to persuade you in whatever way. And will this help" and she came near me and kissed me.
Me: "I think you just persuaded me a bit." And as we kissed, her robe came off.
And I agreed to be a prophet. After some hours of persuasion.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Angelic Verses: My Conversations with God - I

It was the 40th day of my diet. Except that it was not actually diet. I had been drinking only water in an effort to control my weight, which had been out of control over the past few months. I had put on 40 kgs over the past six months, doing nothing but eating junk food and sitting on the couch devouring the sports, movies and music channels following my decision to take a sabbatical. And cut off all contact with the outside world except for my grocery shop and my ICICI bank account. I had changed houses immediately, got my phone number changed and got into a mega TV watching mode. And reading too. I had not seen any person over those months except my maid and the cook, who also delivered the grocery. The decision was taken in a particularly depressive mood after I had been dumped yet again - by the same girl for the sixth time - and while the depression had lasted only a month, the extra weight made me stay inside for fear of looking ridiculous. Which I am sure I did when I had those extra 40 kgs.
When my weighing machine broke while I stood on it, I finally woke to the state I was in. I knew I had to lose it all, if I had to go back to normal life. Hence, the crash measure. I drank only water all day, and nothing else. No fruits, no juices, no carbohydrates. And finally the results were beginning to show. I had lost the weight I had put on and more over the 40-day period, and was ready to take on the world. Looking thinner than ever before. And with a Jesus like beard.
Which is when I heard it. The voice seemed to come from the kitchen of my one bedroom flat where I had been hibernating for the past seven months. It was around 6 in the evening and I was alone, as I often was at that time. The maid and the cook were there for around 2 hours between them in the morning, and the cook didn't come back before 8 in the evening. Although now he was the water delivery guy.
"Hi Zubin. How are we doing?"
Those were the first words, of English anyways, I had heard spoken to me over the past seven months. I wondered who could it be. The funny thing was that the voice sounded feminine. And familiar. How many women did I know, I wondered? I could count only till 3, before I went to the kitchen, and saw her. The first word that came out of my mouth was WOW. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I mean if you were to combine the best attributes of Angelina Jolie, Megan Fox, Katrina Kaif, Jeniffer Lopez,Priyanka Chopra, Aishwarya Rai and Drew Barrymore, you had still not be anywhere near the beauty I saw. She was tall, had green eyes, black hair, and a skin and body that are indescribable. The voice sounded like Priyanka Chopra I decided. Only that it was better. And she was standing in my kitchen. Wearing a long white robe. The only sad thing, I thought, was that the robe was not transparent.
After gawking her for what seemed like a second, but must have been an hour, I finally asked, "Who are you? And what are you doing here? How did you come in". And I added, "But you are so beautiful" with a gasp.
Suddenly, I also noticed she had wings. Little wings on her back, but even these wings suited her to the hilt.
She giggled, "What do you guess? Me with wings and all? I am Gabriela, the angel. Or more specifically, the sister of Gabriel".
I said, "The Gabriel of the Bible fame?". And I gasped again looking at her. But she was beautiful.
She giggled again, "Yes, and of the Koran fame. And yeah, I am a 10000 miliHelen. And you are the first human who is seeing me, and I can see you are impressed." She looked at me seductively and eyed my pants. "But all that can wait. I have a message for you."
I looked at her, again, and gasped, "Wow, you are beautiful! And message, what message? Message from whom?"
At last she stopped giggling, and said, "Message from God. You have been chosen the new prophet. And I have been chosen over Gabriel finally to deliver this message. Wow, I am so excited."
I said, "Me, a prophet? But I don't even believe in a God. I am an atheist, or something. Except that I do not believe in atheism also. You must have made a mistake. But I am happy that you did. You are so beautiful, I can look at you all day and night"
Her eyes twitched, and she looked at me and asked, "Are you not Zubin? And are you not on the 40th day of your fast? Then it is definitely you."
"But why me", I asked her, and said, "You know I can't even argue with you. You are so beautiful. And what does a prophet have to do anyway?"
"To tell the truth to the people. And who have been chosen because you are among the 1000 people our computer had chosen as potential prophets. We needed people who could play Age of Empires but were not very good at it, knew about different religions but did not actively practice any of them, did drugs but did not overdo it, and were creative and had the potential to imagine things. And a certain charisma. And your masochism has swung the decision your way. The time is nigh too, you have to act fast"
"Drugs, religions, Age of Empires? My masochism? What are you talking about?" I gasped. She was perfect, even with the wings, and the fact that she was an angel.
"You are the only one of those 1000 to pass the 40-day fast test. Jesus did it, Mohammad did it, and now you have. So you are the new prophet. If you ask me, it does not really matter, but God wants someone who has the capacity to bear pain."
"Pain, I didnt feel any pain...and ..."
"So now stop arguing. I need to go, my time is finishing. The message I was supposed to deliver to you is this, get ready to become a prophet. Do not shave your beard. And you can start eating from tomorrow. I will come back tomorrow, and will tell you the truth of life which you will propagate. Wait for me, tomorrow same time."
And she disappeared in front of me, vanishing into thin air. And my conversations with God had started.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Indian Rupee, the Novel, and the pastimes.

So well the Indian rupee has become only the fifth currency to get its own symbol, or that is what is being reported. However, if you go through the list of "Insert Symbols" in Microsoft Word, you will find 23 currency symbols, and that excludes the dollar, yen, pound, euro and the Chinese RMB signs, which are part of Latin signs. And we Indians, as we do for everything ranging from Sunil Laxmi Mittal and Indra Nooyi to Sunita Williams and Kalpana Chawla, are gloating over the "achievement". Just like in the case of the four people above, I do not know why should every Indian be proud of it. How does this indicate that the Indian currency has landed on the international stage? Are countries like Iran willing to take payment in Indian rupees (an exemption they are making for the Chinese RMB) - no, they are not, and I am not sure even Bhutan would agree to payment in the new Devanagari symbol. This is just another symbol, and it is a decision taken by a cabinet. It is not that the Rupee has suddenly become stronger, and can buy you 0.03 USD instead of 0.025 USD. The decision could have been taken ages ago, and it would not have mattered. It doesn't matter now anyway.
And the symbol was something only an IITian could have come up with. Mr. Udaya Kumar apparently studied "typography, scripts and ancient printing methods" but for those who know how IITians work, it was innovation at its most obvious. He just decided that all currency symbols have a horizontal or vertical dash running through an alphabet, and voila, he improvised with the devanagari र. And now, it has come to represent Indian tradition and also the half- letter of the Roman R. And Mr. Kumar is part of Indian history, and an answer to another useless question that children have to answer in their GK tests.

So well, it is day 11 of my break, and I haven't done much writing yet. Except for some write-up on Indian politics. The good news, however, is that I have the broad storyline ready, and I will let the characters develop as they come. Moreover, I have the opening paragraph ready. And I am looking forward to your feedback on the same. Here are the opening lines:
"I am no good at opening lines. Because of which, in order to start this conversation, I will just assume I have been introduced to you by a Barney Stinson- like wingman, who has darted off saying “Hi! Have you met Karan?” leaving me face to face with you.
As you might have guessed, I am Karan, a big fan of “How I met your mother”. I am also a big fan of Friends, Scrubs, Seinfeld, the Big Bang Theory and South Park.
I love REM, the band. I also like Dire Straits, U2, Coldplay, Third Eye Blind, Doors, the Beatles, and Bruce Springsteen among others – well there are too many of them to mention. I like good music, period – and that does include some Hindi music as well, though not too much. "

It will be a tale of rivalry and revenge based on the Mahabharat, and Karan and Arjun will be the two central characters. I have twisted the plot a bit though - Karan will be the upper caste super achiever, while Arjun will be his lower caste peer entrusted with the responsibility of his four brothers and widowed mother. The story will take us through the struggles between the two, and there will be number of other characters like Duryodhana, Draupadi and Krishna.
The narrative will be in first person, and all characters will introduce themselves and lead towards the plot. So there will be chapters dedicated to a single character, and the entire story will play out according to his point of view. For we often forget, there is no absolute truth, and that truth only depends on how we see it.

Apart from this though, there is nothing much else going on. I haven't introspected much about what I wanna do, but on the flip side, I am finally learning driving and loving it, and there are plenty of good movies and sports events to fall upon to - on TV and on the big screen. And I have discovered the joy of Age of Empires again, and am actually playing better than I remember myself playing. The parties continue though, and I am looking forward to play tennis again. Soon. On the cards is also a trip to Chandigarh for the reissue of my expired passport, and a week-long trip home. And then back and getting done with some real work. Life goes easy on me, most of the time, as the song goes. Looking forward to the next three months, and life in general. For a change.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

The God of Loserness.

I haven't felt so low in a long time. I feel like a fucking loser, after watching Argentina crash out yet again. To Germany. In the quarter-finals. And it was kind of more difficult to take in because this time it was Maradona, the God himself, who was coaching the team. And it had the best player in the world, Lionel Messi, and a star strikeforce who had managed 170 goals in the past season for their respective clubs. Surely, nothing could have stopped the Argentine juggernaut from rolling, and the effortless way in which Argentina had managed to win its previous four matches convinced me, and many supporters like me, that this was the time to end 24 years of heartbreak. And our hopes came falling down like a pack of cards as the Argentine team was dismantled. The God, and the demi-god, could just watch. And do nothing about it. For maybe there was another God at work. The God of Loserness, and more often than not he strikes.

I have often wondered how I have influenced results of final/close-to-final matches I have managed to watch. All I need to do is to watch a match, and the team/player I was supporting was more likely to lose. When I say more likely, I mean like with a 99% probability. Lets go through the entire list:
1) Rome 1990: Me supporting Argentina, and Germany won.On a penalty that wasnt there, and two red cards shown to the Albeceleste. I watched the whole match, even though it was school the next day - a Monday.
2) Auckland, Sydney, Melbourne 1992: In the three successive matches, I supported New Zealand, South Africa and England respectively and watched every ball being bowled. As you might have guessed, all three lost and Pakistan ended up winning the Cricket World Cup.
3) Los Angeles 1994: Again I watched the entire match, supporting Paolo Maldini and Roberto Baggio against the arrogant Brazilians. Again my team lost.
4) Kolkata 1996: The most famous of the lot, if you are a cricket fan. I remember watching the entire match and crying later. How did India throw it away just when I was telling my dad that we have won it, when we were cruising at 90odd for 1, is a question that haunts me till this day. Sri Lanka, a side I absolutely hated, then went on to defeat the Australia of Glenn Mcgrath and Steve Waugh in the finals as well.
5) Paris 1998: An exception that proves the rule. I did not get to watch the final, being ragged in my first day in DAV College, and therefore, the team I was supporting, France, won 3-0 against the Brazilians. Only time in my memory that I have cheered the final result in the Football world Cup. But, mind you, only because I missed it.
The list goes on, including the finals of the 2005 Champions League at Istanbul. While I did follow club football, the 2005 finals were the first I had a chance to watch since 1995, when the ESPN boom took club football away from Doordarshan. I started watching it right after the half time break. Milan leading 3-0, me supporting Milan in a common room full of Liverpool supporters. And we all know what happened then. The God of Loserness led to the downfall of the club, and Milan fans only revenged the defeat two years later because I could not see that match, otherwise Liverpool and Milan both would have six trophies by now.
And the defeats of Argentina to Germany in the two successive World Cup quarterfinals have been probably the most difficult ones to take. Especially, having followed football all through this season, and watching all teams I supported in different leagues lose, I thought the World Cup was payback time. Milan, Arsenal, Schalke all lost. In the Champions League, Milan and Barcelona fell and of all teams, Inter Milan, with that arrogant bastard, Mourinho, won. I took it in my stride, because I thought that the one God above will compensate me for the whole year, by making Argentina, and Maradona, and Messi, win. But how wrong I was! And now I feel like such a loser.

Well, I am just being a sore loser you say. Why make such a big deal out of it? After all, it is just a game, and I have other things in life to look after. Except that, sadly, I dont.

Now, you can either live a life of meaning or a life of happiness, they say. I decided long ago - a life of meaning is no life at all. A life of happiness is what really it is. And these are the small things that bring true joy. And for me, at present, an overeducated, out-of-work, single man, there can be no bigger joy than watching sports. And cheering my team to win. Except that the life of happiness turns up into a life of sadness when all the above happens.

But I have no complaints, all these years. Losing makes you a better person. And I guess I am a better and a stronger person after 20 years of losing. For this is the beauty of sport, and of life. It gives you a chance to fight back, and you have never really lost till you think you have lost. So I will be back supporting Argentina in 2014. And the God of Loserness will bow to the spirit in me. Eventually, I hope. A hope that has been sustaining me for the past 20 years.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Updates. And a Love Story.

I have been terribly busy over the last month and a half, which partially explains the lack of any posts for a while. Having officially resigned, I have been put into a project which is taking its own sweet time to get over, and I am working late nights to be able to finish the project and get out of this company. Which, as you can tell, by the sense of frustration creeping into this post, has not happened as of yet. It might take another week, or another two weeks, but the flip side is that they cannot keep me after 3rd July. When I will be free. Free as a bird. Or at least something close to it. Till then, the World Cup, and Argentina's performance, will keep me sane.

I am in love. Been in love for the last 20 years, and the love surfaces every four years. While I have fallen in and out of love many times since, this love story stood the test of time. It is this story I am telling you about now.

I fell in love with Argentina during the build up to the Italia 1990. As a 7 year old, it was my first time watching and reading about football. I didn't remember anything of the 1986 World Cup, and there was not much club football to be viewed in those pre-ESPN days. So well, DD had a number of programs as built up to the Italia 1990, and it was in them that I saw clips of the 1986 World Cup. And it was that goal, I guess which hooked me to the legend of Maradona. I was sure he was someone special, and I knew which team to support in Italia 1990.

And what a tournament it was! History records it as the worst tournament ever, dominated by defenses and bad fouls. But if you were a 7 year old falling in love with football in general and the best team in general, it did not matter. All I knew was that Maradona and Argentina were my team and I was going to support them, no matter what. Which is why, the first match of Italia 1990, which was probably the first World Cup match I remember seeing, was such a shock. A team, from the unheard country of Cameroon, beat Argentina 1-0. I was crying after the result, and remember asking my relatives if Argentina had any chance to qualify. They did qualify. And a love affair started - along with a run to the final, during which they defeated Brazil and Italy among others - two teams I have never really ever liked. Only for the run to be ended by a ridiculous referee in the final. A false penalty given, and Argentina and Maradona were condemned to finish second. But I knew who were my number one.

The love story has endured over the past 20 years now, and it has been a source of more sorrow than joy. Second round in 1994, quarter final in 1998 and 2006, while failure to reach the second round in 2002 are not just the results you expect from the Argentines. Which is why I believe the time has come for payback. Messi and co., you owe me that much for supporting you through thick and thin. All you need to do is to win the World Cup. Beating Brazil and Italy again in the process would be just a bonus.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Confessions. And News.

It was the first semester of IIT. Actually the start of the second semester. I had gone to collect my first semester grade sheet from my course adviser. I had managed an average, not-too-flashy-but-not-too-bad SGPA/CGPA of 6.6. (This was to prove to be the highest SGPA I ever scored, a fact I did not know at that point of time, but that is another story). Which was kind of uplifting, and kind of depressing. Uplifting because I had not put in much effort during this first semester, and depressing because my pre-major totals (PMTs) had been among the top quarter of my class, and hence a GPA of 7.5-8 did not seem too much away. Before I blew the majors, that is.

The course adviser is the professor who is supposed to monitor your academic performance, and counsel you on your courses. My course adviser was the coolest professor in the campus. Imagine WG Grace shrinking to 5'6" and a 100 kilos. That was my course adviser. He had a long grey unkempt beard, a round belly, and teeth that had been spoiled from long years of smoking. He was not even 60, but he looked 80. He used to enjoy his smoke, and smelled of cigarette too. What really set him apart was his open buttoned shirt, which exposed his white vest more often than not. When he talked, words seemed to get caught in his WG Grace-ish beard, and you really had to pay close attention when he was speaking to understand him. But it was a treat to talk to him. For, he was one of the smartest persons I have met, and one-on-one discussions with him were like embarking on a river of philosophy and electrical engineering. Not like I did follow the second path much. Me being me. I totally respected him, and my respect for him only grew when an accidental browsing through the history of his office's computer took me and the other students to :D

So well, I was there with the professor. He had not really offered any radical advice to anyone else. He looked at my grade sheet, and said "6.6 - that is not really good enough." Then he smiled showing his crooked teeth, and said the words which have haunted me ever since, "You should quit IIT." I was stunned, and asked him why. To which his answer was something on the lines of I would not be able to do well here. And when enquired upon why he thought so, he told me, "Because you have to really work hard in IIT, and I do not think you will be able to do that." And I said, "Then what should I do". And he replied, almost nonchalantly, smiling at me, "You have cleared JEE, the toughest exam in the world. You can make money in anything you do. Join Politics, and you will make money there. Just quit IIT." And I said I would think about it, but in my heart I knew, I did not have the guts to give it all away, the future that an IIT degree promised.

And so I stayed. I flunked some courses, and did badly in others, but even my bad results could not motivate me to work harder on my studies. Having had it easy in my academic life beforehand, I believed just my ingrained academic ability will be able to carry me through. However, in academics, unlike arts/sports, pure talent is nothing unless corroborated by hard work. The fact that my talent for learning counted for nothing in my courses made me hate them even more. My CGPA feel from 6.6 to 5.75 within the course of the four years. On the other hand, I worked hard, really hard in other aspects of hostel life. But those required a right-brained talent, while I was more left-brained. So I ended up caught up somewhere in between. A low GPA, an above average but not dazzling co-curriculars. And just realised that I had made a mistake not leaving IIT when I could easily have. My life was going nowhere, and I thought of a bleak future.

And then I took CAT. The exam was easily crackable (to use a popular Joka term), and it inculcated a feeling in me that management degree, finally, would have courses that asked for more inborn talent than hard work. Either you are a born manager/leader or you are not, I thought. And I could not have been wrong. The realization that I had made a second successive mistake, depressed me. My grades again suffered, and the depression also made me quit pursuing other co-curricular activities. I had a low GPA, and I did not have anything else to show during my two year stay. I was also too much of a pussy to quit, even though I knew nothing was going my way. The future promised too much. I was royally screwed, and was actually wondering about what to do.

When this interview for my current job happened. It passed by a haze because I was drunk, but by the end of it, I was able to crack it because of my potential than anything else. And so I thought maybe consulting and my job would be where I might be able to pass through with my potential than an over reliance on hard working, something I have never been able to do, and now I am confirmed, I will never be able to do. I was getting some decent money and the future looked great. But I was wrong again, and after an initial honeymoon period, I realised I was going nowhere in my job, just like my IIT and IIM experiences, and it was because I could not really work hard.

But, this time I am not being a pussy for a change. I am quitting, and I am telling it to everyone. I will do something I like from now on, and which maximizes my potential. And which does not involve too much hard work. Dear Course Adviser Sir, may you be happy. It has come eight and a half years too late, but it has come as a result of your talk that day. Fuck the hopes of a better future. It is the present that matters. And I am happier now, than I have been in the past nine years. Quitting is a nice feeling.

K to consulting and to IITs and IIMs and their "easy, non-related to the courses" selection processes.

All I wanna do is analyse random data and analyse it to come up with arbit frameworks. Or maybe join politics, and aid parties with data analytics. Or maybe just write random articles on business. Please follow this space for more.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The SZ matrix of life

The Consulting Hypothesis: And then there is this thing called life. Science has not been able to define it yet, (or had not when I last studied biology, which arguably was 12 years ago), but being a consultant, there is nothing I cannot do, and hence I will undertake to define life.
Moreover, being a consultant, as I can never do anything really useful, except confusing my audiences and clients with complex "strategic frameworks" in 2-d graphs or 3-d matrices, I will describe a new framework.
The SZ Matrix of Life: Imagine, my dear readers, a 3-d space. (A 3-d space, for those of you mathematically naive, is a three dimensional space. It is what you see. The height, breadth and width - which can also be said to be the three axis of the space). Now imagine the three axis of this 3-d space to be professional life, personal life and the social life (the x,y and z axis respectively, represented as (x,y,z) from now on). We call this space, for want of a better name, the SZ matrix of life, in honour of the two men who came up with this matrix, one being yours truly and the other, my co-consultant in the latest "consulting" project I am doing. But more of the "consulting" project we are doing later.
For now, more gyaan on the three axis which make up this matrix:
Professional Life: Consists of your work life. You know, the quality of work, the amount of money you earn and other such things.
Personal Life:The so-called important part. Includes your family, relatives, and your significant others. Includes The people you are supposedly closest to, and your relationship with them.
Social Life: Your social life. Consists of your friendships, your social networks, and generally everything not covered in the first two axis. Such as your tennis club. Or the book reading group you are a part of.
The SISO method: Now that we are clear on what the axis are, here is a little exercise for you. In consulting, we call it the workshop method. I call it the SISO method. Which is short for Shit In Shit Out. So, its basically you giving me ideas, and I presenting it back to you with some shitty analysis thrown in. Sounds interesting, right? So lets get into the exercise head-on.
Ideation: Imagine your life on this framework, and give yourself a rating between (0,10) on the three axis. About how you think your life is heading in each direction. And how good you think is each aspect of your life turning out to be. A higher rating means a better quality of life parameter. So if you think you are doing great in your professional life, but your personal life is only half perfect, while your social life is non-existant, give yourself a rating of (10,5,0). Doing this, give yourself a rating of (x1,y1,z1) for the current state in your life. This is your SZ matrix coordinates. Keep them ready with you for the time being.
Weights (for stronger analysis) (SI): Now, just to make things more confusing (in consulting terms, to make the analysis more "holistic"), please assign your own weights to the three axis. Now assigning weights is a slightly tricky task, so please read carefully. Your weights should be indicative of the relative importance you give to the three axis, and the sum of the three weights should equal 1. Not less, not more, but absolutely 1. Moreover, none of the weights should be less than 0 (or more than 1). So if your three weights are w1,w2,w3 for the x,y and z axis respectively, then w1,w2,w3 should fulfil the following two conditions:
1>= w1,w2,w3 >= 0;
w1+w2+w3 = 1;
Examples: For example, Chatur will give weights of (0.8,0.2,0) or (0.9,0.1,0) or (1,0,0) while Rancho will give weights of (0,0.2,0.8)or (0,0,1) while Hari will give weights of (0.1,0.8,0.1) - depending on their preferences for glory in different fields. Please note in each case, the weights add up to one, and while weights can be 0 or 1, they cannot be negative or greater than 1. So please have the (w1,w2,w3) ready as well.
The calculations: Now comes the hard part. You need to calculate your SZ matrix of life score which is given by the following mathematical equation : SZ matrix of life score = {w1*(x1)^2+ w2*(x2)^2+ w3*(x3)^2}^(1/2) (For the mathematically inclined, this is the weighted distance formula. For the mathematically naive, well I don't believe anyone of you has actually cared to read till here anyways, so forget it). As a check, your SZ matrix of life score should be between 0 and 10. Both inclusive.
Special Analysis (SO): So now that you have a SZ matrix of life score between 0 and 10, our special consulting team (me) will tell you what to do with your life.
Score of 0: Are you even alive? The good news for you is that you are absolutely rock bottom, and you cannot go much deeper, even if you tried digging. The bad news is that you are rock bottom. You really don't have anything going for you, and I am just wondering what you are doing reading this. Get off my blog fast!!!
Score of (0-2.5): Is your life worth it, you often wonder? There is not much right going on with it, and you are often depressed. A failed love affair perhaps, or a really, really bad job can be key elements. Or maybe both. Add to that the fact that you have no real friends, right?
Score of [2.5-5): Not the most ideal place to be, but you could do worse, and probably will over time. You are not a very happy person inside, but you complain about most things, though nothing is really wrong with your life. You should also look at the analysis of the previous scoring bracket, because that is where you will fall in some years if you do not start getting happy with what you have.
Score of [5-7.5): Life could be better, but you are doing fine with what it is. Over time, your life will improve. Or so you hope. And that thought is what keeps you happy. Good going.
Score of [7.5-10): Life is great! And will continue being so. While not perfect, your life has all the elements of a well-paid and down to earth rockstar. What else can a person ask for?
Score of 10: Are you a living person? You are totally contented, and have nothing to look forward to in life. You are like the Indian hero at the end of a movie, who lives happily ever after. The only bad news for you is your life might seem useless from this time on, because you have already reached the top and there is no way to go but down. Get off my blog, before I become totally jealous of you. And your life.
Further Reading and Recommendations: The SZ matrix of life scale is time dependent, and you should always look to maximize your score on the SZ matrix of life. Whenever taking a decision which affects any of the three axis or more than one axis, compare your current score with your proposed score, and only go ahead if your SZ matrix of life score increases. Further research on the SZ matrix is being conducted, and results are not yet conducive.
For further queries, please respond on the comments section below, and the author will get back to you. Individual consultancy, based on your exact score, are also available.
Disclaimer: The author, like all consulting firms, is not responsible for any decision you take and any losses you suffer based on my recommendations. These are just guidelines, and finally you should only do what your mind tells you. Especially if it is a sick, demented mind. Because you do need to blame someone for your decisions, but consultants are always blemish free.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Mind Fuck and other stories

1. The Shock: "Help! Help! Help" he shouted, as the 440 V current flowed through his body. He was stuck to the overhead electrical cables above his house. On the roof. He did not remember how. But he knew he was fixed to the cables, and he knew it was not a nice position to be in. His entire life flashed between his eyes for what seemed like an eternity. He felt pain like he had never experienced. It was as if his entire body was forced to act under some huge pressure. He could see the people below, working in the field, oblivious to his state, and not responding to his loud cries of help. Over what seemed liked ages. His eyes went blank for an instant, and then,a thousand images and a thousand colours, colours he had never imagined before, and did not know existed, filled his eyes, as he felt pain he had never experienced before.But he could see other shapes around him, much nearer. He could almost hear them as well, calling out to him. And he wanted to reach out to those shapes around him but he could not, for he was fixed to the wires. And he soon found a strange He thought, "so this is what death feels like. Strange I don't feel anything, except pain".
He woke up in the hospital, and remembered. He remembered seeing himself hanging from the cables and shaking, the woman in the fields raising a shout for help, his neighbours coming up to the roof to remove him from the wire. His mom standing stunned seeing him hanging. The neighbours using the dry sticks to remove him. He remembered seeing it all. And then he rose from the bed. After what seemed like ages. But it was only an hour since he had "died". What had happened had not killed him, but it had him shaken. And stirred, if you like.

2. The Suicide: So life had to end like this, he thought. A large dose of some anti-depressants had to do the trick. He was tired of his lonesome and generally boring life. He had just decided he had made the worst of his life, and that there was no way out of this misery. Things had just gone from bad to worse. Or so he thought. He had been lonely during childhood too, but much happier, often inventing games out of nothing. He had innovated playing book cricket, for example. He also predicted results of the cricket and football world cups through playing random games. In school, however, he was an extrovert. And generally popular, through participation in whatever little activities his school organized. Despite his extroversion, there were times when he needed to be alone. And just play his self invented games. And then the shock happened. And the dark thoughts started appearing, as he left school to enter college.
And the participation, enthusiasm and the popularity continued in college. However, the need to be alone at times also stayed, and it was in college, that at first the dark thoughts came to him. Why did his parents, relatives and his friends loved him, he wondered, when he was such a good-for-nothing guy? Did they have some hidden agenda for loving him, or did they just showed they loved him? Such thoughts clouded his reasoning. His thoughts about people, about the world generally turned grey. They taunted him, and he started believing them. He knew he was a nice guy, but the thoughts told him he was not. He started feeling guilty for not being as good a guy as he claimed he was, and the more he thought about it, the worse it became. His thoughts when he was alone turned more and more evil, and the blacker his thoughts became, the worse it became for him. The persistently happy person then started turning sadder, and consequently his attitude towards people, which used to be very welcoming earlier, took a 180 degree turn. He started hating people, and people generally started avoiding him. Which made him feel worse. And depressed. His grades at college suffered, and he flunked many courses. This made him question the meaning of the life, universe and everything. And the more he thought about it, the more he became certain that life was not worth living.
And so he met a shrink, to give life a last chance. However, all he got from the shrink was a subscription. To different anti-depressants. He got a full month's supply, and had his first daily dose. It didn't seem to help. He had another. Long before, he had the entire month's supplies down his throat. And he was waiting to die. And laughing about it.
He closed his eyes, and saw himself lying on the bed. Eyes closed. And he saw the shapes again calling out to him. And he moved out, towards the shapes. He could pass through the door he realized. He could do whatever he wanted. He felt, so I am finally dead now. He could not remember anything after this. Except that he woke up one day later. After vomiting all over the bed. He had been unable to die, once again.

3. Mind Fuck: "And the funny thing is," he wondered, "is that 99% people will donate their right hand to be where I have been. A well paying job. Degrees in B.Tech and MBA from the best colleges in the country. A constant adoration from everyone in the family for being among the most educated. A large group of friends. Trips to China, US, and Western Europe. And still I am like this." He had managed to overcome his depression in the ensuing years mainly through his decision to be happy, and take things as they come. And have his share of fun, which included drinking binges every weekend. And sometimes get really high. Live life like a rock star - with lesser money and no girls that is - and generally not taking tension about anything. But this job had changed it all. Working till 2 am on most days had meant absolutely no time for other pursuits. And he started feeling that his work was useless, and he hated his job. And wondered, how life had come to this.
He was feeling absolutely useless about himself. His job gave him no satisfaction. His personal life gave him no instant satisfaction. Alcohol and ganja also seemed to lose their charm. And his mind again started playing games on him. The shock kept coming back to haunt him. He imagined walking through the world, vibrating and shaking and feeling the electrical current running through his body. He even imagined himself as Kalki out to save the world. His mind was twisted, as he failed to reason between reality and imagination. Once in office, he imagining himself as Kalki had hit a senior with a pen which acted as a sword, hurting his eye. He was given a sabbatical after that, to try and regroup himself, and cure himself, but the long hours at home alone, only made his condition worse.
He was shown to many doctors but none could cure him. He was sent to a mental asylum where he just managed to aggravate himself further. He was now acting like Kalki and moved around as if he was riding the white horse. And fought imaginary enemies, even hurting many people in the process. And one day, fighting the demons, he imagined he had been hit by a sword, and it was a fatal blow. He just would not get up after that. And as he closed his eyes, he could see the shapes, again. They had finally come to get him this time. And he moved out towards the shapes, but this time there was no going back. He had cheated death many times. It was death's turn to cheat him now.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Tonight is a special night. And pretty boring. For tonight is the first Friday night in a long long time that I am not in Howzzat/TC/Beer Island/HRC/Machan sipping alcohol. Make it guzzling alcohol. Moreover, I have been "clean" for this entire week (which must be another personal record), and hence can think more clearly that I have on other Friday nights. I can already feel the blood in my alcohol system reach new high levels. Which makes it a good time to introspect/retrospect, and to write this blog.
The past two years have passed like a daze, as did the Joka years. IITD, which at that time was a lot of fun, also seems to be full of hazy memories now. And I do not remember much from DAV college, or from school days. Which, simply put, means I have no memories. Or even if I do, I only have hazy memories. People recount incidents involving me which I just don't remember. I do remember some important events like the Fuchcha skit, the Flash Gordon Trophy, the Political Dharna in PU and the Aero Quiz, but I do not remember them entirely. How did it feel to perform on the Fachcha skit? How was it to judge the greatest final ever? It must have been great then, but now I am unable to remember those events with fondness, or feel good about them. I have lost a lot of my memories, and the one I do have, I have lost all feelings for them. After much coercion, I am able to remember, for example, the Ganguly shirt removing act that our entire Kara batch did after our juniors won the Fuchcha music event. I force myself to remember it was great, but it is not something I feel good about now all these years later. Or when we won all those trophies on House Day. It felt so good back then, but now those memories are unable to inspire me. All my happiness has been very momentarily and I have been unable to carry forward happy memories with me. On the flip side though, I also dont remember the really painful incidents as well.
Probably its the alcohol that has killed a part of the brain. Or maybe I have become completely detached from everything around, and hence feel no pleasure - or pain. Or maybe my feelings have just died, for the only feeling I get nowadays is one of frustration. Frustration at how I have made the worst of what I had. I have almost no social life, I suck at my work, and I have no prospects of growth - personally and professionally. And I have accepted it. Which brings me great calm. Except that the frustration comes out when I start thinking. Which is not much nowadays anyways. SO life is good. And happy. In a way.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Ballad of John and Mojo

And as another lonely Valentine's day goes past,
John is all alone, wishing this one alone would be the last.
He will find someone special, and all will be well,
by next year, and the year hence, we will hear the wedding bell

His mojo though is not so patient, and soon encounters John,
"What are you doing with me, Sir, and why am I a victim of your con?
You - and I - are already touching thirty, and all my friends make fun of me,
I havent had my fair share of women, and a worst thing for my confidence couldn't be"

John tries to console his mojo, as he has consoled his brain,
"There is a special one, somewhere, and let me make it plain,
I am going to find her this year, and the next Valentine's day,
I will not be alone then, and Mr. Mojo, you will then have your way"

"But, that is what you have been telling me for the last ten years,
and its been a long time coming, and now its too much to bear,
I want a woman and I want her soon - I don't understand why are you like that,
when most of your friends are making love, what makes you so alone and aghast?"

John ponders for a while, about an issue he has tried hard to skirt
"I don't really know, Mr. Mojo, but I think its because I cant flirt,
And even if I like a girl, I am unable to put up a decent propose,
for I have a strong inferiority complex, and think I will lose."

His mojo tries to give him hope, and make him see reason,
"Come on Mr. John, don't you be so pessimistic, for you are a man of all seasons,
You are intelligent, and caring, and can talk pretty well - and girls like that,
While you are also pretty rich and your only fault is that you are a bit fat"

John says, "Yes I guess that is true, but I am also maybe a little too proud
And if I love a girl, she should like me too, otherwise there is always some doubt,
I am not ready to fall in love, and then take the sack
because the pain is too much to take, and that is what keeps me back"

"But, Mr. John, this is no reason for me to suffer, and feel bad
there are places like Amsterdam and Bangkok for me to be glad,
So lets go there, and relive Amsterdam of two years back,
Enjoy with the girls there - without any fear of a sack."

And so John decided, on that fateful Valentines day,
that to every girl he is interested in, "I love you" would he say,
or if that would not work, and if girls would still keep him in the dark clouds,
he would like to take a trip to Amsterdam and Bangkok and make Mr. Mojo proud.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Of the left brain of the right brained people and vice versa

1) I am a right brained person, according to the test I took at a training at my company. It was a pretty useless test, if you ask me, because the test only checked what I liked to do, and not what I am good at. Those two are entirely different things although people often confuse them as similar. I like doing the right brained stuff but I am good at the left brained stuff. So what am I?
2) The 3 Idiots, which is entertainment mixed with a lot of gyaan - a LOT of gyaan, which killed it for me - gave fundaes about finding your true calling in life. Now what exactly does it mean by "the true calling in life?" Is it the thing you genuinely like doing the most or the thing you are the best at? The movie, while being good, is definitely not a masterpiece, and after a Hirani classic like Lagre Raho Munnabhai you are actually let down. Moreover, the way that it has looked down on achievers and praised the under-achievers is actually pretty naive. And ignorant of some basic facts about under-achievers. And the irony is, the movie is more appreciated by the achievers and those who were not meant to achieve :). But more rant about the movie later.
3) I owe a lot to the left part of my brain, and that is what actually made me graduate from the best colleges in the country. And everything I am today - which is not much, I have to admit - is because of the left part of my brain. Infact, the right part of my brain is responsible for my poor showing at both IIT and IIM. I could have probably topped there too if I really wanted to and allowed my left part of the brain to take over. But then again, it is the right part of the brain which really makes me happy- and there is nothing I can do about it. So while I do have the potential to be a Rancho or a Chatur, my right brain and my quest for following my dreams has made me a Farhan - or a Hari - or whatever the name of those two losers in 3Idiots was. But it has also made me happy, happy than I ever could be by being a topper or anything. And this is where 3 Idiots fails for me - a character representing me.
4) Remembered the venn diagram representation of the ideal job (Courtesy: Bud Cadell). Imagine three venn circles representing work you like to do, work you are good at and work that pays good money. See the diagram below. This is a great way to reflect on your work and are you doing what you are actually doing in your life. And what should you do to be really happy.

I tried putting my own perspective on the venn diagram and the results were not positive. These were the results
a) My current job was probably outside the Venn Diagram: I am not very good at it, I definitely don't like it much and it does not pay good money. Well, it pays okay but not good money.
b) The work I was good at was mostly left brained things like number crunching, quantitative analysis, qualitative analysis etc etc while the things I liked doing were creative writing, chattering aimlessly, playing sports, doing plays, and the like. Almost a certain mismatch between the two. Except probably for solving probability puzzles and cryptic crosswords. But the best was thinking about what are the jobs that actually pay money. These skills include cock sucking and ass licking of your boss across the different industries. Whatever you do and your other skills become totally useless. So my venn diagram became the following.

And now I am totally confused. My left brained skills and my right brained passions have left me little choice, about what to do. The venn diagram leaves me with only the following options then:
a) Open a Sports Analytics Company
b) Go Around Philosophising
c) Become a Creative Writer
However, being a left brained person, I am also try being a bit practical. And that practical aspect of me is afraid to take the next big step. Of quitting the current job, and doing something I like. A step towards being happier. At work. :)