Monday, November 07, 2011

Mahabharat 14: Krishna's Awesomeness

(The standard disclaimers apply. Do not read if below 18 years of age).

(A quick recap: Krishna and Balarama grew up in the village, herding cows for a living. They foiled many attempts of Kamsa to kill them, Krishna using his divine powers in most cases. Finally, Kamsa invited them both to Mathura in order to have them killed, but instead got killed by Krishna.)

Now, Krishna was much like Tiger Woods: he was black, he was a genius, and a real womanizer, much in the Tiger Woods mode. Back in the time when he was growing up in the village under cover, he had affairs with many village girls at the same time, a practice that's remembered in India as "Ras Lila". He used to seduce girls through a 3P strategy: a mix of philosophy, poems and perverseness. He also had a flute, which he used to sing these small songs he wrote himself. Here are a few examples (translated from Sanskrit):

Happiness is a state of mind,
And mine is pretty easy to find,
if only you will be very kind,
and show me your naked behind.

Radha, you are the only girl in my life,
and I want to make you my wife,
but before we settle down in our own cozy home,
lets have some fun, and involve Rita in a smashing threesome.

Needless to say, he had his way with women. He had managed to impress himself (pun intended) on every girl he knew in the village - which for a cowherd was unheard for. Which is why they had cried when he had left for Mathura and had not promised to return back.

He looked forward to greener pastures, in a manner of speaking. City girls were way hotter, he had heard, and wore clothes that left little to the imagination. They were often more experimental too, from what little he had read. He had often imagined different positions from the Kamasutra that he could try, but had been unable to get Radha or any of his other beloveds to try them, despite writing songs about them. He had heard that city girls would try anything, and he looked forward to it. But before that a lot of work had to be done - politically.

Krishna, as mentioned , having killed his maternal uncle, Kamsa, refused the throne of Mathura for himself - as was wanted by the people of Mathura - instead giving it back to his grandfather Ugrasen. This was a move that did not please many people who wanted Krishna to be the king - one person had even threatened to commit suicide if Krishna did not become the king. However, Krishna remained adamant, and slowly the people of Mathura accepted Krishna's decision as final, and agreed to Ugrasen as king. Now Ugrasen was an old, bearded, silent man - some recent excavations at Mathura reveal that he looked a lot like Mr. Manmohan Singh - and he did not have much of the power, which was concentrated between Krishna and Balarama, who were both named Princes. This suited both of them, for they had all the power without any responsibility. Krishna wanted to be able to enjoy the city girls in the same way he had the village girls and felt his indiscretions as king would be well-publicized. (Editor's Note: For all those people who claim Sonia Gandhi is not Indian enough, how could she have the brainwave of refusing the post of Prime Minister had she not read the Mahabharat and known this particular incident?)

Krishna was the brains, Balarama the brawn - and they formed a solid team.

The people of Mathura were overjoyed to have Krishna and Balarama instead of Kamsa. The reign of Kamsa saw high tax rates, and the public suffered as a result. Inflation was also rampant, and the common man reeled from effects of daily price rise and oil rate hike. Moreover, Kamsa was among other things, a sex maniac, and no girl was safe from his predations. His acts had spurred a number of parents in Mathura to kill the girl child as soon as she was born - the first recorded history of female infanticide in India. However, with Krishna and Balarama at the helm, people felt much safer, and one of the first popular decisions that the two princes took was to decrease the tax burden - bringing down taxes by as much as 90%. They also banned female infanticide. Bringing down inflation was the top priority of Krishna, who doubled as the Finance and External Affairs Minister, while Balarama looked after departments of Home and Defence. Mathura looked forward to times of peace and prosperity, while the two princes looked forward to enjoy their princely rights - having had a tough childhood in the village.

However, Mathura was immediately under threat. The powerful king of Magadha, Jarasandha, who was one of the most powerful kings in history, was the father-in-law of Kamsa, and by making his 2 daughters widows, Krishna had made himself a sworn enemy. Jarasandha, with an assortment of armies from his many vassal kings, launched an attack on Mathura. There were 100:1 odds offered by bookies against Mathura's survival against such onslaught (Yep, for those of you wondering, betting was prevalent even back then), but Balarama's valour and Krishna's strategy won the day.

However, Jarasandha was not finished, and he gave Krishna and Balarama no respite, attacking them 17 times in a short time, being dragged back each time, but barely giving the princes time to enjoy any of the princely rights they were hoping to enjoy. Jarasandha had a large army, and he was on the verge of attacking Matura for the 18th time. Moreover, war cost money, and soon tax was raised to a level higher than it was during Kamsa's time, which plummetted the ratings of the new princes to a new low level. Inflation ran rampant, and the conditions of the common man worsened. Moreover, a number of men died defending Mathura, and Mathura was soon running out of resources.

Something needed to be done: and so Krishna came up with a new strategy - the move of the capital away from Mathura. Using his divine powers, and the divine architecture, Vishwakarma, he built a new city in Dwarka, which was on the far west corner of India, and as far away from Magadha as possible, and overnight shifted the population from Mathura to Dwarka. (Editor's Note: This is where Indian history scores over Christian and Jewish history. Moses took 40 years of voyage to deliver Jews into the promised land. Krishna did the same distance, and moved more number of people overnight. India rocks!!).

The people of Mathura were kind of surprised when they woke up the next day, but soon they settled and finally looked to long periods of peace and prosperity. And no taxes, for Dwarka was built on an island which had large deposits of oil. Oil income drove the revenues and Dwarka became the ancient day Dubai. While Dwarka thrived and prospered, the two princes got down to pursue their princely pleasures.

Which for Krishna meant, a whole swinging party. He was tall, dark and handsome, and a prince on top of that. Girls threw themselves at him, and he was not the one complaining. He started enjoying life to the hilt, and would soon have 16108 wives, which would make him the most well satisfied men in the history of the world - leaving behind such well known names like Charlie Sheen, Wilt Chamberlain and N.D. Tiwari far behind.

To cut it short, Krishna had an awesome life. As this couplet, translated from Sanskrit, reveals.

I have made love to a sixteen thousand women,
and one hundred and eight more,
I have tried all positions in the Kamasutra,
either soft or hardcore.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A tribute to awesomeness

It has been a rather tragic last month. Steve Jobs, Jagjit Singh and Dennis Ritchie (no, not Denise Richards) all dead. A lot has been written and said about their deaths - and they were the numero uno in their respective fields. For me personally, however, none of these deaths has had a very specific impact. I have never used Apple except for the Ipod Nano - and I am pretty happy to own it, but I was as happy with the Creative MP3 player I had before. I do not quite understand the aesthetics which make Apple products in general, and Steve Jobs in particular, such a rage everywhere. I think the loss of Jagjit Singh is a pretty big loss to the Ghazal world, but my Ghazal period is well past me now, and I do not think I was going to try any of his newer ghazals were they to come out. About Dennis Ritchie, I had no idea who he was until he died. I recoiled in horror when I thought that Denise Richards had died though, for who can get bored of that amazing Wild Things scene. And the less said of my programming skills the better.
But what cannot be denied is that the world is three amazing men short, and in today's world, where amazing people are hard to come by, it is a tragedy of the highest order.
In spite of all these tragedies abounding the world, the most tragic event in the previous month for me has been the decision of REM to call it a day.

I am by no means a passionate fan, for passion, as long term readers of this blog will testify, is not something I associate myself with. Even though REM is my favourite band, or so I like telling people, there are some songs I absolutely hate. How can anyone get through Shiny Happy People, Lotus or Swan Swan is beyond me. On the other hand, I love all songs of Beatles, Rolling Stones, Who or Dire Straits, to name some of the other bands I like. But my favourite band, I hasten to add, is still REM.

Perhaps its for reasons more than the music. I do not understand music to be very honest. I listen to music a lot, but I am unable to rate music as good or bad. In other words, I am not really able to appreciate music. I have never been really to appreciate AR Rehman or the music of Dev D for example. The only instrumentals I have ever been able to like are the Fifth Symphony, Jessica and the Doors' Symphony. I also have problem making my Ipod listing, for what I like is a function of external factors, and my mood.

But I digress. Had I been able to appreciate music I might have said that Buck is the god of guitar or something. Or that Stipes' vocals are what make him one of the underrated singers of our generation. Or that the reason for REM's success is that the whole is much greater than the sum of four talented - but not genius- musicians from Athens, Georgia. But I can make none of those claims. I can only claim that I love REM, and because music is not the reason I do it for, I can only hypothesize about the why of it.

I appreciate REM for the kind of legacy they have made in the industry, being totally independent, and still managing to make it big. I also appreciate their strong anti-right wing views. But those are just add on features - not enough to make them my favourite.

I probably like REM because it is a sad band. Just like me. They do a lot of happy songs, but inherently their greatest hits have been songs about losing or trying to find - feelings I can so well connect with, about being lonely in the company of people, about finding and losing love. In short, most of REM songs, I feel, are about me. I am a lot like the protoganist in a lot of REM songs, confused, but trying to find a way. He is not perfect, and there is something he is seeking, and the songs are about the journey.

Why is the band not more popular, I hear the skeptics among you say. It is because people do not know much beyond Losing My Religion when it comes to REM. So here is a list, one that you must listen to - a song of my favourite REM songs in no particular order:

a) Nightswimming - My first REM song, and one that hooked me instantly. Its a song about longing, probably about going back to one's childhood. About how, after a long hard day, all you ever want is to be a child again, and enjoy nightswimming, like years ago. Its also, at the same time, a song about lost love, and being betrayed. Or atleast that is what I think.
b) Ignoreland - A pure vitriol filled, right wing bashing political song. And one, which should become the anthem for anti-right forces come the 2014 elections. The way it starts "These bastards stole power from the victims of the us v. them years" is a precursor to how the right wing might emerge back into power, creating issues that were never there.
c) Find the River - These lyrics do not make any sense when you look at it. However, once you start appreciating Stipe's writing genius, you will probably recognize this song to be about starting a search to find the meaning of your life. It is a tough quest, but the protagonist is about to make that journey.
d) Everybody Hurts - What more can I say? A song that helped me through the darkest time of my life, and which nursed me back to good things. If there was one song that a man committing suicide should listen to, it is this.
e) At my most beautiful - Another example of REM awesomeness. A sweet love song, about how love makes you feel so good about yourself.
f) Strange Currencies - A song about unrequited love, and its truly amazing. I have been in the unrequited love stage a few times, and have researched bits about songs, and this is top of the heap, so take my word for it.
g) My Crush with Eyeliner - About proposing. About how to get a girl to like you. Sweet.
h) I've been High - Sample lyrics: "I've been high, but life, it still washes over me." "All I want, all I really want, is to live my life on a high". Need I say anything more? If you have been high, and disappointed even at that high state, this is the song for you. Legendary.
i) Whats the Frequency Kenneth - A middle class refrain to the youth. I can agree, after visiting places like TC, and seeing these 20 year old acting as if they own the world.
j) Losing My Religion - The most famous REM song by a distance. A song, again of unrequited love.
k) Electrolite - Ever felt like being totally alone and on the top of the world? This song captures that feeling.
l) Don't go back to Rockville - Replace Rockville with the required city name, and this song shall become the kind of song you will sing for someone who is leaving you and you run to the airport to ask them to get back. The kind of thing Ross does for Rachel, or the kind of foolish thing I have done.
m) Be Mine - A stalker song. But pretty sweet and corny.

I could go on and on, but this list should do for now. And when you are done, could you be cool enough to comment on your opinions about the band and the songs you listened to?

And yeah, thanks REM. I owe you a big one.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Open Letter to Mr. Manmohan Singh

I am pretty sure that you, being the Prime Minister of India do not read random open letters that people write to you. Instead, I believe that you, sir, heading the government in the largest democracy, are often hard pressed for time. Your job is not an advertisement for work-life balance for sure, and I do not think that you get time to even stumble upon social media. Unlike the man who could never be the Prime Minister.

It is pretty well established, then, that you would not be reading this letter. However, writing this helps me vent my frustration out. Moreover, on a slightly more selfish note, writing an open letter to you also gets potential new visitors to this blog. Nothing really succeeds like an idea whose time has come – and the latest idea doing the rounds in social media is about abusing the government and everyone related to the ruling Congress Party.

Sir, it is a good thing you are not exactly social media savvy. For if you were, you would not like what you would see. (Hell, even I do not like what I see in my Facebook feeds). You see, my Facebook feed is full of inglorious stories about Congress Party in general, and Mrs. G in particular. A latest story going about in Facebook has even hinted at the possibility of Mrs. G using her body to earn money when she was in England. I assume it is part of a campaign to malign the Gandhi family, but the attempt has definitely become a hit in the social media. And everytime I log into Facebook (which is like, every 10 minutes), the story has been shared by one more friend. Even you are not spared sir, and people insist jokes like “My phone is in Manmohan mode, because I am in a meeting” are more a reflection of truth that humour.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen! I still remember the day when you had written a glorious chapter in the 5000 year old history of India on 24th July 1991 in your Budget speech, heralding in an era of globalization and liberalization in the Indian economy. And subconsciously, creating a whole new generation – a generation that till then had grown up on Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana and which then found solace in Nirvana and Pearl Jam videos on MTV. This was the confused generation, a generation brought up on traditional Indian values, but one which was strongly impacted by the cable TV and other symbols of globalization and liberalisation. While we marvel at the completely Westernized lifestyle the generation below us has adapted itself to, we are also caught up with traditional notions of morality and ethics. And so for all practical purposes, we as a generation are screwed.

But today, this generation has suddenly decided to remove the cloaks of confusion that has bound it, and risen almost as one: Against you and your government as it were. At least in social media, where it is easy to protest, and does not cost much. You have suddenly fallen from being the man who heralded the economic revolution in India to a puppet who is dancing to “Master of Puppets” by Mrs. G. The amount of hatred in social media against your government as expressed through the social media was manifested during the Anna Hazare campaign. The slogans that were raised, comparing Cabinet ministers to animals and Mrs. G to mother of a corrupt government, just spoke of the disillusionment of the people with the government.

Yes I know only 50000 entered the Ram Lila Grounds, but if the Facebook and twitter movements are anything to go by, it was a mass middle class movement -the same middle class, which saw unprecedented opportunities for growth after your 24th July speech. Along with a confused generation, you had also spawned a Frankenstein - a new middle class, which after years of tolerating the License Raj, now wanted everything at their own terms. When the Congress surprisingly – and let us admit it was surprising even to you – ended up as the single biggest party in 2004 general elections, and you were selected by Mrs. G as the Prime Minister, India saw a new ray of hope. Finally, an honest, clean and secular government was what most people thought. While your first five years did not really set the pulses rising, you blamed everything on the “constraints of coalition politics.” And people believed you, gauged you deserved a second chance and returned the Congress Party with its highest tally since 1991. The decision to return you to power has proved to be about as right as making Senator Palpatine the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic in Star Wars. Or so the social media sites would have one believe. Your government is being portrayed as a collection of evil Jedis, and you as the unwilling Darth Vader. Mrs G, as you might have guessed, is the emperor.

Honestly, people are fed up. There have been scams and more scams. It is not the first time that scams have occurred, but with the advent of Facebook and twitter, people who can express their frustrations at the prevalent corruption are doing it. Ironically, it is that generation that you helped create and the middle class whose dreams you fostered, who are at the forefront of the revolution. They want to see India as a superpower – a country with unlimited potential, which however is being brought down by the various corruption activities, of which the government has been unable to absolve itself. Corruption has become a big issue for everyone and will be the single biggest reason of the return to power of BJP. Unless you clean up the house that is, and take full responsibility for the actions of your cabinet colleagues. Become the master of puppets for once.

I personally do not care much about corruption, and there are good points to be made in favour of corruption as well. However, I believe that the inability of your government to check corruption is giving rise to a new kind of emotion among people – the portrayal of Narendra Modi as a prime ministerial candidate. The social media is enthused about Narendra Modi’s success in transforming Gujarat. How Gujarat has managed 11% growth, and how the state is virtually corruption free. (Though, from what I hear, there are many places where alcohol is available). And a lot of my facebook friends gush about how good a candidate Narendra Modi would make. In short, Narendra Modi has captured the fantasy of the social network. To use the Star Wars analogy, Narendra Modi is Luke Skywalker – atleast for the social media.

The more you remain silent about the whole issues that your government faces, the more Opposition claims that you are a weak PM seem true. And the more Narendra Modi gains credibility. Just like Hitler did back in the early 30s. The difference being that while Hitler’s campaign was aimed at German nationalism and the rallying point was the disarmament of the German army, Modi’s would be corruption plaguing the central government. And unless you set the house in order sir, just like in Germany, a wave will start here in India, which might be difficult to contain. Like Hitler, Modi is a brilliant orator and is able to control the public perception through careful propaganda, but I do not think the similarities end here. All I would like to say, Modi as PM could be the gravest challenge that India has ever in its long history.

If that were to happen, Mr. Manmohan Singh, India would never forgive you.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Irony of the filter scale theory

So you have met this new girl. She is someone, who on first looks, fulfils your ZSV matrix criteria ("Degi to le loonga", for the uninitiated). As you get to know her better, she fulfills most of your other filters too. All in all, she is a 80 on your 100 point filter score.

The filter score is a score combination of many filters which you might have for you perfect girl to have. Now,you being a frustrated engineer and later an MBA, the score has very high weights for external attributes. However, filters can also include professional characteristics, geographical attributes, cultural club and social behaviour filters. The girl needs to score highly on all of them to be eligible for future conversations.

Now, being an engineer and an MBA who has managed to achieve things pretty easily in life, you also have affinity for being the best. Which is why the girl you want to date also needs to rate pretty high up on your filters. This is why your filter pass marks are very high compared to the Board and graduation/post-graduation course pass marks. A girl needs to score at least a 75 in your filter score for you to actively pursue her.

However, this is where the irony creeps in. Being an engineer and a MBA, you also do not have much confidence in yourself, and so believe you do not deserve a 65 or above. The maximum, if things go well, you can do is a 65. This attitude has been brought on by years after years of rejections from girls of all shapes and sizes, and you have absolutely lost your self-confidence, especially when it comes to girls. Now because you think you deserve only a 65, but because you are not willing to fall below 75 when it comes to dating, you are still single. This 10 point gap is something that is insurmountable, and hence, you have accepted being single as a truth of life.

Now, what actually happens is, you are not as bad as that. In truth, you might deserve a 85 even, because you are pretty funny, and come to think of it, potentially rich. The theory has yet to be confirmed, but your friends think you can do better than 65, and this 85 theory is as valid as scientific claims made in the Vedas, or the Mathematical claims of Ramanujan - an invalidated truth.

Now what happens is that all girls, up until this point, who have managed to pass the filter score have been committed. Or married. Or engaged. (I am sure you get the point). However, this girl, who after you have interacted with her enough, has managed to score a 80, and voila - she is still single. It is a mystery as to why this is so, but you are a firm believer in destiny, and believe it is what was meant to be, and hence this girl is "THE ONE".

There is more to this though. Because you think you deserve only a 65 (at best that, mind you), this new girl, who has managed to score a 80 on your filter score, is a bit of anomaly. She has been talking to you regularly, which is kind of odd, and which makes you uncomfortable - you have never been remotely near a 80 before. Which is why, being an engineer and completely lacking all kinds of social skills, you can only mumble while she talks to you, and think about how could you get a 80 just like that. Which is where your entire value system kicks on, and the concept of Karma gets to you, and you think something that you do not deserve is a bad thing altogether. And then you start to find ways to get this 80 girl to lose you. You start acting like a sore loser, and then feel bad about yourself when she shakes you off and starts seeing someone else.

Then the entire cycle kicks off again. You lower your standards further, and nowadays your new standard of what you deserve has fallen to 60. What you want, though, has also fallen to 70. The irreversible 10 point gap remains the same, though.

Ahh, the story of your life. Probably being single is the truth of life, you say.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A Ballad of Love. Or some other shit.

Kiss me, the Sixpence song, playing in the background;
Reminding Kate of the time she had spent with Ronan around;
And how she was so happy, life was so good, her Wonder Years;
That she still can't understand how did it all end in tears.
That was the one true love of her life, the one she held so dear,
Its been a long while, but he was the only one who came near.
Kate has had boyfriends and lovers and a husband since Ronan left
Although none of them has been able to fill her heart's cleft.

Kate is a memory forever entrenched in his brain,
Ronan sighs as he hears Kate's favourite song playing on the Train;
And memories long suppressed, suddenly find a voice,
There are no second chances, else Ronan would've made the right choice;
The fault was his, of this there is little doubt in his mind,
It was a mistake to let Kate go, she was so sweet and so kind;
Knight in shining armour was what he wanted to be for Kate,
All he could do was be an asshole, and realising it a bit too late;

Kate, the first time he saw her, looked so beautiful and simple,
Ronan still remembers, the train ride and the noisy German couple;
And it was bitching about them that the two of them began to chat,
Thats when they discovered their shared passion for tennis, arts and cats;
They discussed Politics,love and single parents, and passed away the night;
It was like two sides of a coin, it was love at first sight.
Knowing they had found their soulmates, they decided to see each other;
And soon they were living together, having informed her father and his mother.

Kismet, though, had other things in store for them, made them cry,
Right after six months or so, the passion had run dry;
And Ronan had decided he was being constrained, and needed a way out,
That led to increased arguments with Kate, who had her own doubts;
The thing was not going to work, that much was clear to all,
It was always a building that was going to fall.
Kate shifted out, and started seeing other guys, soon marrying,
And Ronan restarted his bachelor lifestyle, partying hard and travelling.

Kate, for all her lovers, never could find anyone to confide with,
Ronan, on the other hand, never found anyone else to spend his life with
And today, the day they first met is ten years in history
That train ride though is still a vivid memory.
There are probably many like the two mentioned here,
It was meant to be true love, but could never quite reach there,
Kate and Ronan is not an isolated case, they were made for each other,
And maybe the made for each other concept is as faulty as any other.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Anna and the King

(Disclaimer: The article involves a lot of stereotyping. For someone marking me out as a Congress puppy, here is a small background.I have never been a huge fan of democracy, and I spent my early childhood dreaming of the day when I will become dictator of the country and set this country alright. As a young boy, I was convinced that democracy is a failed notion, and the sad state of the country can be attributed by a great deal to the electoral pleasing politics played by leaders. I was probably agitated by the Rajiv Goswami incident, despite being only seven years old, and seeing pictures of protests all over the country over the Mandal recommendations. My fertile imaginative mind worked in full swing back then - I wanted to take seize power from the useless leaders, who had sent the country to dogs, and create a new India, which would be corrupt-free and meritorious. There would be no place for reservations or minority appeasment. I would rule the country with an iron-hand, giving full chance to the deserving and rooting out the non-meritorious. Anyone disputing my calls would be severely punished. In short, I would wield absolute power, and use that power to make India what it historically was - the bird of Gold (sone ki chidiya). To put it otherwise, I was a right winger. However then I grew up and was able to argue things on my own, and come to the conclusion that democracy, while being the far-from-perfect model, is probably the best one given India’s position as a socially, culturally and religiously diversified society.)

The movie was fabulous. Or I have heard it was. The spoof, being currently played out in the aptly named Ramlila Grounds, is anything but. A 74 year old apparently senile man who plays the major part in the new spoof, playing both the title parts. On the one hand, he is a tender voice against the corruption and the evil government (Anna), and on the other, he is the king who is holding the government, and the people of India to ransom through what can at the very modest, be termed blackmail.

A lot of people not supporting Anna Hazare's movement have been doing so because they take exceptions to the method that he is taking. A lot has been written about it, and I will therefore bypass that point and discuss something else, which is probably much more far reaching with effect to India as a country and a heterogeneous society.

I have basically two objections to the Anna Hazare demand for corruption - other than the one about the method. Both of them are fairly controversial and I am ready for a debate on both: One has to do with the need for corruption, and how people are being entirely hypocritical while ganging up with Anna, while the second objection, which I am going to discuss first, is the impact of the agitation.

Issue 1 : Context: India is a truly remarkable country. Growing up,our books described India as "unity among diversity." I was not very sure about what the expression meant, and while the unity part might still be up for discussion, there is no doubting the diversity of the country. It is perhaps amazing that India is one country. There is no other country with the kind of diversity that India has, and at such different levels. Most of the states are separated on linguistic lines, and often have their own culture. No other country has the kind of linguistic and cultural diversity that India has. Spain is the only other country that comes to mind, but it has had its history of civil wars, and the peace existing in the country is very fragile, as the occasional brawls between Barcelona and Real Madrid in football often proves. The Catalans hate Madridistas, and the less said about the autonomous Basque county, the better. And in Spain, there is no divide across religious and racial lines, unlike in India. Belgium is on the verge of breaking up only because of the linguistic issue. India, moreover, also has a number of significant minority religions in different states, and within Hinduism, there is further subdivision across castes and sub-castes. All in all, the heterogeneous structure of India is a very thin fabric, and the fact that the fabric is holding up fine so far is a testimony to the strength of the country.

In every political system, there are two extremes across the political spectrum : the far right and the far left. The right wing is generally more conservative, more business-friendly, less individual freedom and more nationalistic, while the left wing is more radical, more socialist, and more individual freedom. The right wing is also more polar, and tends to create economic and social classes, while the left wing seeks to abolish them. While there are many differentiating factors that separate the two extreme positions, they can be summed up thus: The far right believe only what they do is right, while the far left is of the view that what everyone else does is wrong. Arundhiti Roy and her paranoia about everything is an example of far-left activism, while those of the temple and cocksureness about the location of the Ram Mandir is far-right. As a consequence, an extreme right government will probably do or seek to do a lot of work in its own way, but at the cost of freedom and probably subversion of certain elements, while a far left government will probably regress, unless the far left itself takes the far right position, for the two positions are not as different as they seem. Animal Farm or the USSR government would probably be good examples.

In the Indian context, far right would probably mean pushing reforms and promoting Indian nationalism and Hinduism, probably at the cost of the minority religions and/or the "lower" castes. The Gujarat government, which has ensured a Vibrant Gujarat, but is also charged with abetting the Gujarat riots and failing to ensure inclusive growth, is an example of far-right, while the erstwhile West Bengal government, which changed the face of Kolkata from that of Hema Malini to that of Jyoti Basu, is an example of far-left. The West Bengal growth, or the stagnation, has been pretty much inclusive. Everyone has come to the same level of poverty. In between, you have the different left-of-centre to right-of-centre combinations and different governments in India can possibly be mapped on the axis. In the Indian context, BJP is the right wing party, Congress is the centre party, while the Left Parties are well, left parties.

Similarly, most voters fall on either side of the centre: the far-right to far-left depending on your political ideals, and your moral and religious values. The right winged voters, who had been identifying themselves with the BJP for so long, are suddenly lost, for the BJP has regressed remarkably as a party since its 2004 loss. The loss was totally unexpected, but even its most adherent critics would not have predicted the rudderless ship it now resembles. The name of the party has been planned to be officially changed to Bhartiya Joker Party, if reports are to be believed. But I digress.

Issue 1: Impact: The failure of BJP as a party, has alienated the right wing electorate of the country. The right wing electorate generally belong to the Hindu, upper and middle classes and the non-Schedule Castes. They are generally well educated, and are active on social media. They are generally against reservations and pro-meritocracy. A large number of these right wing electorate who feel let down by the BJP do not really care about the temple, but about ensuring a transparent society, where everything works well. Most of them also support Narendra Modi, despite him being implicated in the riots, for the reason that their only concern is development, and they feel that no price is enough to achieve it. They are pro-reforms, and believe that corruption is the biggest threat to India. They do not want to understand the viewpoint of the other side, and are adamant that their demands, and wants are entirely justified. However, despite being sizable in number, the right wing voters are particularly known to skip election day as the size and heat of May sun gets to them, which probably explains why BJP lost the two elections in May.

On the other hand, the Congress government at the centre has made no overtures to them. In fact, the government has taken a decisive left-turn, and Congress has changed from a centralist party to a left-of-centre party. The Congress public motto of inclusive growth does not hold much weight with the right wing voters. Moreover, the reservation issue is another key thorn. This, and other policies of the government, has led this electorate to believe that Congress is not for them, which is probably true.

And so we come to the issue of corruption. The right wing needs an outlet to the rage at the inability of BJP to launch a proper attack on the Congress. Baba Ramdev tried to capture that space, but his pro-religious antics were never going to cut much meat with the mainly secular right wing, middle class electorate. Enter Anna Hazare, and the right wing electorate has finally found a messiah to deliver them from evil. They finally feel they have an option to partake in the decision making process, which had been taken away from them by the left and centralist leaning Congress governments. And the issue of corruption has managed to unite every right-wing voter into one under Anna Hazare, and makes them feel empowered. So this right wing electorate, in true right wing style, has made a draft believing only they can do a great job of it, and are trying to impose it on the government. Why is their version better than the government? Who says seven years imprisonment is not enough punishment? Why should ministers suffer more punishment as compared to the common man? Why shouldnot bribing be made legal? There can be many questions that can be asked from them. However, being the burning issue of corruption, which most people believe to be an illness, the movement has also found support with some of the traditional central and left-wing supporters. That it is basically a right wing movement can be made out by the fact that masses of Scheduled Castes, Muslims and many other societies have stayed away, fearing backlash.

Issue 1: Why is it bad?: Historically, whenever the right wing has emerged enmasse, it has often resulted in historical tragedies. The frenzy that is generated by such movements often prevail everything else, and creates absolute power. Moreover, right wing also means giving more power to the majority, and hence can totally alienate minority. A left wing uprising, while theoretically equally potentially damaging, has atleast equality as its basic tenet. A right wing uprising on the other hand, increases the diversity.In a country like India, this can lead to dangerous consequences. The Gujarat riots united the Hindus to vote for Modi, just like German nationalism united Germans under Hitler, and we all know how that went. I am not saying that Hazare is comparable to either of the two, but going forward, if the present movement is a success, the rejuvenated right wing can plan further uprisings, to impose their will on the government - through democratic or undemocratic means - and we never know how that will impact India. Why should a few people who are up there, and have conjured up a draft of the bill, be allowed to hold the government hostage? Who gives them the right? It is not a matter of them thinking what they are thinking is right, it has to come from the people. And the people choose the Parliament. If people like Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal really want to do anything, they should take the right path and fight elections. However, they know they will lose if they stand in elections, and hence have taken unconstitutional ways to hijack the government into accepting their demands. It does not matter if their demands are right or wrong? The thing is, who are they to decide that their demands are right? This right wing tendency of always being right needs to be stopped as soon as possible, else it can have grave consequences. As mentioned earlier, India is a great country because the social fabric is holding up. With a rejuvenated right wing, if the revolution now starts, I see the fabric stopping. Hence the revolution must fail.

Issue 2: I am not against corruption. I get my Gas connection illegally, I used to drive a car when I did not have a driving licence and I drove when drunk. I save as much tax as I can, some of it unethically. I give bribe to the ticket checker when travelling on a WL ticket in train so that I can reach home earlier. I dont like standing in lines for filling up government forms and hence bribe the government official to allow me my permits. I love corruption as it makes my life easier. I am not sure we Indians are ready for a honest government as this will mean making ourselves honest. So Mr. Hazare enjoy the limelight while people forget about lying on their CVs and putting kids through schools via bribes. In short, the Indian right winger is a hypocrite, who is always ready to blame the system for his vows. And it is exactly these people who should not be at the forefront, for it will make India another Animal Farm. Hence the revolution must fail.

Long live the revolution!

Monday, June 06, 2011


You feel caught between Scylla and Charybdis,
deciding your next course of action.
It is the usual matter of head-versus-heart,
should you follow the money or your passion?

Do you want to go back into the corporate world, your heart asks you,
and the answer to the question is no, you still remember the pain.
But your book's also not going anywhere, your head reminds you,
and your financial solvency is fast approaching that of Spain.

Your head says: to be honest, you havent done much the past 13 months,
except eat, drink and enjoy life to the brink.
But it does feel so right, and you are so happy, your heart responds
There is nothing better than having free time, and a couple of drinks.

People always argue that you are whiling your time away,
that passion is overrated, and they are right.
Moreover, the couple of drinks and other good things cost money, your head says,
so this offer might seem godsend in hindsight.

But if passion does not count, what does, your heart tells you,
and you have already written some 30000 words of some crap;
You believe that you have a bestseller in the making,
and hence this offer is just a Corporate World trap.

Think about your parents, the head reminds you,
and how bad they feel about you being jobless.
You owe them a lot for the support they have given you,
Passing this offer would be a decision most useless.

But then your heart responds,
its your happiness that matters to them, as they always say.
So make your decision based on what you want to do,
and act like you want to and throw this offer away.

The head and the heart argue all night,
and still no compromise can be reached.
Do you take the offer, or tear it?
be a hypocrite, or practice as you preach?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Plateau of Life

At which point do we stop growing up? And which point do we start aging? Which point in our life are we the most alive? Is life linear, or does it follow a "life" cycle? Is there an inflection point in life? Is there an uphill point of life at which we can say, "Its all downhill from here"?

Of course, to answer these questions, we will have to answer a much more basic question and unravel one of the greatest mysteries, namely "what is life?" If we have an answer to this question, and more importantly, if we can quantify this thing called life in some way, then the problem becomes a simple mathematical problem of plotting this quantitative value of life versus time, and try and see where the graph leads us.

But how exactly do we quantify life? For that, it will be important to consider the various facets of life: namely health, wealth, personal life, social life and level of achievement - in no particular order. (Some research on this topic has been done here. However, this time we will make it much simpler, and try solving the problem qualitatively - and also add two new parameters in order to make it more comprehensive.) To make our life simple, we will just add the combined effect of these five factors and come up with a final "value" for life - In Utopian settings, the addition will be through weighted factors, but we are building a base model here.

Lets imagine a "life" versus time 2-D space. We are looking at time at different major instances in your life - and not looking at daily variations. So while a minor bad day will actually lessen your sense of achievement momentarily, or make you wonder about life in general, we are talking about extended periods of time. The time t=0 indicates the time when you are born, and it is safe to assume that at that point of time you are at the origin of the graph. As you grow up, your health and personal life parameters are the first ones to show an immediate increase. As you starts going to school, the other attributes, such as social parameters and levels of achievement (the school debate, making it into the school team) increase as well. So far, so good. Going through college, on a normal day, the social interaction, health and levels of achievement more or less keep on increasing, while there is a substantial hike in personal life if you manage to find love. Otherwise, there is a slight drop, as invariably your relations with your parents starts floundering, as you become the angry rebel, and try to make it up through an even more enhanced social life - and generally a heightened sense of achievement. After college, going for a job, you add a new attribute - wealth and it starts increasing. During the initial honeymoon period, you have a great sense of achievement - actually believing you are making a difference. The table 1 shows these effects in detail (The values given are arbitary - and are just there for understanding of the theoretical aspect).. So far, life is an increasing function with time, and hence all is well.

The Quarter-Life crisis: Now, the quarter-life crisis is such a point in the curve, where life for a small point becomes a decreasing function. After the honeymoon period in your new job is over, you need something more to have a strong sense of achievement. The small increase in wealth is often unable to compensate for the lack of sense of achievement - while there are not much changes in your personal and social life. Hence, the quarter life crisis is the first time in your life that you start questioning, "Where am I headed?"

The Way Out: Marriage or MBA. The former raises the personal life coefficient, while the latter ensures an increase in sense of achievement, and also social life coefficients. Both these factors increase your "life" value and life goes on well - you come out of the crisis. Table 2 illustrates this. Both of these solutions, however, are actually two-edged swords, as a bad marriage can totally ruin your personal life, while a bad MBA can actually remove whatever sense of achievement in life you feel.

Prime of your life: So then, everything starts moving smoothly again. You have children, your personal life is great, you earn good money, and you rediscover a sense of achievement. Your health nowhere close to what it was when you were 30, but you have the gym, and you try hard to rediscover your health. Your social life is going great as well, as you love being the centre of attraction at the various house parties that you now attend, with friends really loving your jokes. Life couldn't be better, and that is exactly when the midlife crisis hits you.

Midlife Crisis: It is not exactly a "mid"life crisis, as you are almost 40 by the time you hit this road, but it is probably the admission that the best part of your life is behind you. The midlife crisis probably starts off by a bad review at work, which makes you question your sense of achievement. Over time, as you start reviewing your life, your personal life also doesnt seem to be too good - the last time you had sex was two years ago. Your social life is also in tatters as you are too busy with your kids to think about your friends. The health is deteriorating fast, and as you pant after doing only 2 kilometers of your daily walks around your apartments, you suddenly realize you are not a teenager anymore. Your graph suddenly takes a sharp dive.

The Way Forward: Is there a way forward? Not really. Yes you are going to make more money over time, but your sense of achievement is most likely going to tumble, and your health is surely going to take you down. Your personal life will depend on your children, who will become the only source of your happiness going forward, and your social life will also decrease over a period of time, as religion starts taking over. You are basically reaching a plateau of life, and life for you has become backward looking rather than forward looking. Your dreams have been replaced by your stories. In other words, you have already lived. And are just waiting for death now. Table 3 illustrates.

The aim of life then, is to postpone the plateau of life and the mid life crisis to as late as possible - and live your life to the fullest. Which path you take to achieve this - however, is upto you. You can be a tennis player, maximising wealth and sense of achievement earlier, and then paying attention to the social and personal life attributes. In other words, live the maximum you can.

(As always, suggestions are always welcome about how to decode life.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

An Old Poem - 2004 - Just came upon it.

Oh I finally got a chance to see the New York City
My brother, living there, was funding my trip with his money
But first there were the Visa hassles and the long queue
"The Photograph should be on a white background", I never knew
So when I reached the end of the line, so long
It was found that my photograph was wrong
The man at the window pushed me out as if I was a dog, and that too mad
And that man was an Indian too, and the fact made me both angry and sad

So well I decided to get a new photograph there and then and out of the embassy I go
and got an auto, whose driver told me he would solve my photogenic woe
He took me far away to a dirty Sarojini Nagar household
which served as a special studio only for people in Visa mold.
I got happy, for my photograph now was okay, the people in the embassy wanted this
but the happiness was temporary, for the photographer charged me Rs. 200 for the effort of his
I got angry, now at the auto driver for bringing me to this place
but then I realised he also must have had his commision to take from my face

He took me back to the embassy and stood in another long queue
Black, white, green and red, my skin assumed different hues
Rage, and anxiety and excitement were just some of the emotions I had
And when I reached the end of the line now, it was not so bad
The woman(another Indian) was not too polite, but atleast she wasnt so rude,
and standing there, getting permission to go inside, I felt like a real cool dude.
The "Interview" was scheduled for 9:00 a.m, and because of the troubled I had faced,
I was two hours late, and feared that I might be rejected, and so fast I paced.

Soon I was down to the final hurdle, a smart American handling my documents,
He was checking my papers, and I waited anxiously for his comments.
My papers were in order, and he asked as I remember his exact words to me,
"When do u graduate?" and as I later realised, the question was the only one he asked me
I replied May 2005,The Interview was over then, and he soon told me
"your visa shall be soon at your door, and happy may your stay in USA be"
Then started the wait for the Visa to come and a long wait it was,
but then it came after some sixty hours, and how happy I was;

Now I came to the question of which airline to fly in
And decided that whichever was the cheapest shall win
The right to take me to the "promised Land"
And finally, to decide, I took a travel agent's hand
He gave me many cheap options but all of them were already full, I was late
I again felt I had faced the terrible hand of fate,
But then an inspiration dawned upon my travel agent Saurabh Bhatia
and soon I had the return tickets to New York of AlItalia.

AlItalia is an Italian airlines, as the name might indicate
There was a stopover at Milan, and there the flight I had to vacate
The flight was late night, and I had to reach the Delhi airport hours in advance
By 11 p.m. I was there at the airport, and there read a book of romance
In some time I had finished ten pages,
waiting for the check in call, seemed like ages
Soon however I heard the check in call
and there my visa was checked thoroughly, and soon I was ushered into the waiting hall

The flight was good, I was on the window seat
Soon over Delhi I was, away from the blitsering heat
Sleeping was my favourite activity there in flight
I read some magazines and had food and alcohol, light
And as the flight progressed further ahead
we were above the clouds, a Cirrus-Columbus blend
Stopped me from seeing the sprawling cities and the vast country side
Even then it was quiet an enjoyable air ride

"Fasten your seat belts" call was later announced
And the tension and excitement on my face was pronounced
Seeing Milan from above the fashion capital of the world
I cursed myself for not having more time on hold
As soon as I stepped out of the airplane and stepped in the airbus
The first rain drops fell as if welcoming us
The rains soon changed into a cyclonic din
And there was another queue for me to stand in

After getting checked in, I found what I least expected
The airplane would be late by an hour I was very dejected
Waiting was hard, besided me was a b'ful girl; on me she beamed
So the hour passed away in a minute, this is how it seemed
I had never expected foreign flights to be late
But now that I had myself encountered this wait
I knew that even alien lands are not Utopias
And what was to follow made me think very low of Altalia.

The flight from Milan to New York was very nice,
and even though, the ticket was of the same price,
This flight offered Hand TV's for an indivivual to see
And I was happy watching movies and drinking tea.
The movies made this flight really very good
And Duplex and First Fifty Dates,improved my mood
So when I saw the New York city approaching
I was in a great mood and I was singing

But when I came to the check out counter waiting for my bag
I found out that the Alitalia administration had a lag
I found out my bag didnt come out from the Customs
The delay at Milan had upset the airlines' system
It was not only me who faced the trouble
I had lost only a single bag, others had lost double
They told us that the bags were left in Milan in the security way
"If you could give the address, we would deliver it at your door the next day."

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mahabharat 13: Lucky Arjun

(Statuatory Disclaimer: Censor Rating:A).

The news of Bhima's strength made the Kauravas even more likely to avoid him. All except Duryodhana, who took it upon himself to beat him in combat. Drona was a good but biased teacher, preferring Pandavas over the Kauravas, with Arjuna being his favourite. Drona's love for Arjuna was superseded only by his adulation for his own son, Ashwathama, who also joined these classes, and himself became a good friend of the Kauravas.

Many theories abound as to why exactly Drona preferred the Pandavas over the Kauravas. The most obvious one, but one which has been crushed prominently over time, was one of sexual favours. Drona, like other men of those days, was not exactly a one-woman man, and he really liked his women. Kunti, as we have all seen, was sex-starved. It was a win-win situation for both, and Kunti further used it to her advantage by asking for a better treatment of her sons. Kripi probably knew about this relationship but kept quite about it, as those days there was no National Commission for Women to turn to. Ashwathama remained her only hope, and she secretly incited him against the Pandavas. This also explains why Ashwathama grew closer to the Kauravas, and why Kripa, the erstwhile teacher of the princes and Drona's brother in law, favoured the Kauravas a bit more. Kripa had to pay for it by a reduced role in the Mahabharat, and despite being an ex-teacher, his only other major contribution came on the last day of the Mahabharat war many years hence.

Kripa: Drona, there are certain rumours I have heard, and I want you to say that those are false.
Drona: Rumours, what rumours? Ohh, the one about Kunti and I. Yeah, even I read it in the tabloid today. I dont know where they come up with this stuff. I am planning to sue them. Will you become my lawyer and file the case? It is about time your experience with Hastinapur and its law comes to my aid.
Kripa: So you are saying there is absolutely nothing between you and Kunti? What about the tabloid claims that you have been seen coming out of her part of the palace late at night for the past whole month? And Kripi also tells me that you come home later than usual, and dont tell her where you have been.
Drona: Ohh, about that. Those are just regular Parent - Teachers meeting, and Kunti is regularly busy with all the palace stuff during the day, and I need to monitor the students during the day, so get time only in the night. As for Kripi leaving, I hope she comes back. I miss her.
Kripa: Then why dont U go and meet King Dhritrashtra for these Parent-Teachers meeting? Are not the Kauravas also your students?
Drona (angrily): Kripa, you are asking a lot of questions. I am not bound to answer you. You have made you angry, and I curse you that people will forget you and you will get only a small part to play in this story.

The start of the relationship, or the events that lead to it atleast, are mentioned in the Ved Vyas version. The princes had just started their training under Drona, and he decided to test the princes by having an archery contest. All princes were expected to shoot the eye of a bird sitting on a branch of a tree. The boys were lined aged wise, which meant that Yudhistra led them, followed by Bhima, Duryodhana,Yuyutsu,Dushasana and the other 98 Kauravas, Arjuna, Nukul and Sahadeva.

Turn by turn, all of them readied to take aim, and Drona asked them: "What do you see?" And all of them stupidly replied, "I see the tree, the leaves, the bird and the bird's eye", hearing which Drona would prohibit them from taking aim.

By the time Arjuna's turn came, 104 princes had already given the exact same answer and prohibited from taking aim. It does not say much for Kauravas intelligence that they did not figure it out, but they had learnt just one thing all their lives: to follow Duryodhana, and so they just repeated what he had said. Arjuna, however was smart enough to understand there was something wrong with the standard reply, and so when Drona asked him the same, oft-repeated question, Arjuna smartly replied, "I see only the bird's eye." Drona was very happy to hear it, and told him to shoot, and Arjuna shot the bird's eye, making him an instant favourite of Drona.
Poor Nakula and Sahadeva did not get a chance, as the bird was already killed. Just one of the many cases of the exploitation of the sons of Madri by the sons of Kunti.

Arjuna became Drona's favourite, and this love was only increased further when Drona was rescued by Arjuna shooting and killing a crocodile who was carrying Drona away, while the students and teachers were playing in the Ganga.

And then came that day, when it all started.

One night, Arjuna was having supper with his brothers when the electricity went. It was a condition not often seen in the palace, which was immune to power cuts, but the main power plant had to be suddenly shut down because of a fire threat, and the lights were shut off. Even in the dark, the Pandavas continued eating, which gave Arjuna an idea. (Well, actually only Bhima continued eating, the others, as it turned out, were busy slapping each other, and trying to blame the rest. It was a game that Arjuna himself started by slapping Yudishtra, and blaming it on the poor Nakula. Noone ever dared involve Bhima, and seeing the dedication of Bhima eating, Arjuna got his idea. An idea that was to change his life).

Now this is nowhere as revolutionary a thought as the one Newton got when the apple fell from the tree, but you can argue as to why others did not get the idea? As it happened, Arjuna thought that if he could eat supper in darkness, why could he not practice archery in the dark too. And so he left his food, and picking up his bow and arrow, started practicing on the archery range.

Kunti saw him get away and went after him, for he had not yet finished his food. You know how mothers are! So she went after her and kept shouting Arjuna, Arjuna, who, fuelled by his infinite desire to learn, did not heed her.

The reader might be interested in learning what Kunti was wearing at that time. It being almost bedtime, and the public appearance being over, Kunti had removed her white saree, which was a symbol of her being a widow, and had slipped into a comfortable white, a bit transparent nighty. She was an exhibitionist, Kunti was in her heart, and her figure was fully exposed in it. This being the middle of the Indian Summer season, her top two buttons were open to expose a pretty huge cleavage. Despite years of acting like a widow, Kunti had taken good care of her figure, and it was in full show in the nighty. Her mounds good give a good run to Pamela Anderson during her Baywatch days. No man had ever seen her in this figure hugging dress so far except her young sons, but now she ran off after Arjuna, hardly caring about her clothes - or lack of them.

Drona was just finishing off his desk work - he was writing a progress report on each student when the lights went off, and he was just closing up and was readying to go home, when he heard the twinge of an arrow. Curious as to who it might be, he made it to the archery ground, and saw Arjuna practicing in the dark. He was avowed by his dedication, and was about to go to him, when he heard Kunti shouting for Arjuna, and suddenly realized what many men had realized about Kunti: "She is so hot." She looked ravishing, Kunti did, and when she turned to face him, Drona suddenly realized something.

He realized that he was only in his dhoti, and he could feel the blood circulation to his crotch increase, and that his erection was evidently visible. He looked towards Kunti, who had stopped watching Arjuna, and was eyeing him with seductive eyes, and both knew what they wanted.

An hour later, Drona was coming out of the palace with an afterglow. Kunti had sex after a really long time, Drona had managed to get the best lay in town, while Kunti had made Drona promise that Arjuna would become the greatest archer ever, Bhima the best mace wielder, Yudhistra the best spear fighter, while Nukula and Sahadeva would excel in sword fight.

However, the promise to Kunti was never really fulfilled by Drona. For over the next years, two better archers were to appear and rattle Arjuna - Karna and Eklavya, the greatest warriors of the Mahabharat.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The pursuit of happiness

It has been seven months. Seven months and five days, to be exact. July 9th to February 14th. Yeah, today is St. Valentine's day - the Lover's day or the loser's day, depending on whose side you are on. It has been seven months and five days since I quit the corporate world.

"Why did you quit?" and "What would you do next" were questions to which I had no definite answers at that particular point of time. I have produced a lot of flak over the first questions, such as "I hated the work-life imbalance", "I did not like the work" or "The company was shifting to operational consulting, something I was not very comfortable with." The truth, while encompassing each of the above three elements has been that despite putting in much more effort than I am accustomed to, I was not getting the results on a personal level. Here is a sample of what I mean:

(Characters: I, and two senior consultants (S1 and S2). Time: Saturday 10 am, in one of the small meeting rooms in our office, even though it is supposedly a 5 day week.).

I: Why are we even here today? (whisper, I have a bad hangover).
S1: To DISCUSS the recommendations we will make to client.
S2: It is very important to DISCUSS these.
I: Did you go through the recommendations pack I made and sent you. I was in the office till 10 last night, making the pack, and all the recommendations are listed there. You can now see which ones to incorporate. Why am I needed? I need to catch up with an old friend, who has just landed in Delhi from Switzerland, and will be here only till 1p.m. It has been six years since I have met him.
S2: We all need to DISCUSS. It is very important for all of us to DISCUSS. All of us need to be present. Without DISCUSSING, we will not be in the same wavelength.
S1: I think we need to go step by step in our recommendations. Zubin, you project the recommendations presentation on the screen, and let us go through it.
I: Yes, S1,S2, our first recommendation is .....
(And I make them go through the recommendations I had made the previous night. I take 10 minutes explaining the entire set of recommendations after which the discussions begin, usually between S1 and S2, while I am generally quiet and angry. The discussions include an half an hour of discussion on whether the designations be written in capital or small letters. It goes on till 10 p.m., and it is a Saturday).
The end result is a "revised" version of the document I made the previous night, with only a few cosmetic changes. No recommendations are dropped, while no new recommendations are added. And this took 12 hours. At the end of which, I showed my irritation by whispering something like " Fuck!! You wasted an entire Saturday", which I guess someone of those two heard.)

Now, the following conversation is something that I only suspected happened. I am pretty sure this is how it went based on the feedback I got - about being insincere and non-hardworking. This, when for the past two years and two months, I had spent, on an average, 60 hours a week in that fucking office.

Characters: S1 and S2, Manager (M) and Partner (P).

S1: Sir, we have come up with a list of recommendations.
S2: Yes, sir the DISCUSSIONS helped us to come to a consensus on the results.
P: Wow, great recommendations! This is impressive. Who did this?
S2 and S1: Sir, we discussed it among ourselves, working all through Saturday.
M: These two work very hard, sir.
P: Cool, I will make the two of you managers. And you, M, will become a senior manager. Was there anyone else on the project.
M: I think there was a consultant, but I forget his name.
S1, S2: Ohh, it was Zubin, but he has a horrible attitude. He shirks away from work. He has plenty of potential, but he doesnt use it. If we were not there to guide him, this work would never have been done.
P: So its decided, promotion to S1, S2 and M. Give Zubin the lowest rating possible, but call it the average rating. And we will loan him to another team and make them send him to some plant. I dont think I like his face.

And I lived a two years and two months with that shit. For someone used to high Return on Investment philosophy, the no returns after investment was not something I was ready to live with.
So, ladies and gentlemen, was why I quit.

"What will you do next?" was a question I had no answer to. So I just told people, "I will write." And so started writing, but it certainly has not been a smooth sailing so far. Most times I think about what to write, and even when I have it all figured out, I cut the script a number of times, and hence, after seven months, I have just 30000 odd words to show. And a story that is not going anywhere.

I have not traveled much these past seven months, and the month long trip to China and Singapore discounted, the only trips I have made are the three trips to home. It has not even been a dazed seven months, and I have cut down a bit on alcohol too. Have played a bit of tennis, and made some new people.

However, this time has been, both literally and figuratively, a blast. I have had a great time doing nothing, and I feel I have become a much happier person. Moreover, my hair has blackened and I have had the time of my life. I dont have to suck up to someone, I can do my own thing, and my finances are hanging up pretty fine so far. All in all, its been a good life so far, and I would not trade it for a corporate slave anytime.

That being said, my finances are going bad slowly, and I recently did interview for a position with a company known for its good work-life balance. However, the first question I had to answer was, "What was your GPA in IIT and IIM?" And that kind of sort of set the tone for the rest of the interview, and it re-emphasised what I had known all the time - that the corporate world sucks. You are being pulled down for your weakest points than being appreciated for your strengths. And which is why, not being in the job with someone to suck to, has made me so much happy.

And you might say that this is the sour grapes fuck up, as people will probably do, but I am actually happy. HAPPY and more importantly, satisfied. And the interview fuckup probably happened to prove a point to me - Never trade happiness for anything else. :).

To quote Will Smith from a Pursuit of Happiness, "This period of my life, this little period, is what I call happiness."