Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hungry Kya?

This Christmas, it is very likely that I’ll be going off to sleep early. I would not like to stay up late and party for a very simple reason.

~big grin~

India takes on Australia at the MCG for the Boxing Day Test Match. Just the idea of listening to Richie Benaud and Bill Lawry commentate on what promises to be an exciting series is enough to make me get up early on the 26th of this month.

And I’m seriously hoping (and praying) that the 16 man Indian team is hungry enough. If they show enough intent, I’m sure that India can put up a very good fight and come close to winning their first series on Australian soil.

Let us have a look at who in the Indian team should have the hunger to succeed and why.

The Openers:

Wasim Jaffer has had a good run of late and the second double hundred of his career against Pakistan at Eden Gardens (his first double century was against West Indies in their back-yard) should give him all the confidence required to dig in his heels at the outset of the innings.

Sehwag is the guy who should look at this opportunity as a God-send. Not many were expecting him to be selected for the tour. Now that his name has come up, he should make the most of it and prove a point to his critics. Who could ever forget that Sehwag sixer at Multan to become the first Indian to score a triple century? If Sehwag shows even a glimpse of that triple hundred or even the 195 that he scored at the MCG, it will be worth all the effort to wake up early.

Personally, I will be disappointed if Dinesh Karthik isn’t given a look-in in this series. Except for his poor form in the home series against Pakistan, he has done very little wrong this year at the openers’ slot. I really liked the way he batted in England. Even if he gets a single Test to showcase his talent, he should grab it with both hands.

The Middle-Order:

How many times does Rahul Dravid need to prove to the Indian public and cricket-gurus that he is worth his place in the side? He was not nicknamed ‘The Wall’ for no reason. Dumped from the one-day series against Pakistan, he scored a brilliant double century in the Ranji Trophy. That prompted the selectors to give him a berth in the Test side and I don’t care what others say, he looked majestic when he played the cover drives at Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla stadium. Australia is just the kind of place where he could prove to the world and, more importantly, to the detractors in his own country that he is still a couple of years away from retiring.

To talk of why Sachin Tendulkar should have the hunger to do well is to ask why the sun should continue shining. Only extremely well disciplined cricketers would have the same passion and commitment towards the game after spending almost two decades at the highest level.

Saurav Ganguly, apart from being known as ‘Dada’ and ‘The Prince of Calcutta’ (a lot of credit due to a certain Mr. Boycott for the latter nick-name) is also known as ‘Maharaja’. He certainly has been batting as one recently. To march back into a team from which he was so unceremoniously kicked out shows the mettle that he’s made of. Now, he needs to continue the brilliance, starting with his 100th test match which will be the first of the Australian series.

It was Tony Greig (I think) who said that the VVS in Laxman’s name stood for Very Very Special and not Vangipurappu Vekata Sai (I doubt whether Tony Greig could pronounce that properly even once). I was reading Mukul Kesavan’s blog during the Delhi Test against Pakistan and he mentioned how the fans at the stadium thought that Laxman had unjustly been kept in the side and India should have played Yuvraj instead. Fact remains that there is much more to VVS Laxman’s career than the fantastic 281 against Australia at Eden Gardens. He brings even more solidity to the middle and is as stylish as they make them. A pure treat to watch.

Yuvraj Singh very, very desperately wanted to play in Tests for India. This was apparent when he was being interviewed by Rameez Raja. This was when Yuvi had just been awarded the Man of the Series award for the ODIs against Pakistan. Even in the midst of all the celebration, he mentioned that there was nothing he would like more than to represent India in the Tests. And boy, did he prove his point by the way he batted in the final Test !! If he maintains the same hunger and performs against what seems to be one of his favourite oppositions in the world, there’s no reason why the Brett Lees and Shaun Taits should have a couple of sleepless nights.

During India’s tour of England, Harsha Bhogle had pointed out something unique about Dhoni. He would walk in to the middle with a swagger and irrespective of how many runs he scored, on being dismissed he would still walk back to the dressing room with the same swagger. That was important, because that shows he has a calculated cricketing brain which doesn’t get rankled too easily. He just enjoys his cricket and focuses on making lots of runs…quickly. Also, he can stay put at the crease. This was of course apparent in the manner in which he dropped anchor on the last day of the first Test in England at Lord’s.

The Spin Masters:

Anil Kumble is by far one of the most respected cricketers in Test cricket right now. Like Ian Chappell once remarked, one rarely sees ‘Jumbo’ having a verbal go at the batsmen (I can remember only two such instances – one where he got into a dialogue with Inzamam-ul-Haq and the other one during the last Test at England…I think that one was with Kevin Pieterson). Yet, he remains one of the most aggressive spin bowlers in today’s day and age. Whoever doubt that he can be aggressive should be reminded of the Kumble who marched out to bowl against the West Indies with his head covered in plaster.

Harbhajan Singh needs to once again prove his worth and Sydney could well be the place where he could do it.

The Speed Department:

Zaheer Khan has been fantastic this season, and all that the Indian team needs to do in order to get him hungry is perhaps throw a couple of jellybeans on the pitch when Zaheer Khan goes out to bat.

RP Singh has perhaps been the find of the year in the bowling department for India. If he maintains his fitness, he’ll prove to be quite a handful to attack the Australians with Zaheer at the other end.

Irfan Pathan, in my opinion, has been doing well since his comeback. Of course he hasn’t had the pace with which he rocked the Test-playing nation when he first burst on to the scene, but good ol’ line & length bowling and he should do well.

Ishant Sharma impressed one and all with his second spell of the last Test match against Pakistan. That’s what got him his place in the touring party. Let’s hope the lanky youngster continues to improve and do justice to his raw talent.

On debut, Pankaj Singh should have all the motivation and hunger required to make a point to the cricketing bosses in India and the cricket loving public across the world. All the best, dude. ~thumbs up~


I logged on to the Net after I’d written this post to realise that Australia too have announced their 12 man Test team. Here it is: Matthew Hayden, Phil Jaques, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait.

P.S. Arpz, I know that you can’t even think of supporting India when Australia is playing. Good for you. As far as I’m concerned….

Everybody in the house shout… “JEETEGA BHAI JEETEGA…INDIA JEETEGA !!” :D

Now playing: A. R. Rehman - Dil Se
via FoxyTunes

Monday, December 17, 2007

The case against watch-collection

I recently came across two watch-crazy individuals. While one was extremely proud of his collection of watches, the other claimed that the first thing she observed about any person was the brand that he/she was sporting on their wrist. “An Omega is like so up there and a Swatch is like so down-market,” she observed.

Now, I don’t have anything against any watch collector. Hell, a couple of years ago, I too liked watches which were more showpieces than mere indicators of time.

But now, I’ve changed.

I feel buying watches of different priceless brands is a waste of money. A Swatch here, an Omega there or a Rolex thrown in is fine…but actually going out of your way to get a collection… nah, not my cup of tea.

Here’s my reasoning.

Essentially, you buy a watch to tell the time. Two solid hands with a third needle-like hand to tell the seconds and you pretty much have the whole house going for you. Watches from different companies are still going to tell you what o’ clock it is according to the local meridian.

It is fine by me if you’re buying an extremely expensive watch and know in detail the technical detail of the fancy styling; for example, the exactness of the time that the watch shows you (but in any case, how wrong could you go with 1/500th of a second…you’re still going to be late for that early morning meeting with your boss if you left your house late) or the intricate design on a piece of metal. However, more often than not, people pay too much for the brand that they are sporting rather than for the effectiveness of the features of the watch.

Do not get me wrong; I might be writing this post in Left-dominated Kolkata, but I certainly don’t have anything against brands (hell, even as I write this, I’m wearing a Louis Philippe jacket over a Lacoste t-shirt and a pair of Lee jeans), but there is an extent to which I’ll pay for the brand and the features.

For me, the essence of the watch remains the time that it is showing, and of course, the emotion which it carries with it. For example, I’ve been wearing a Timex for two and a half years now, and I don’t think I’ll be deserting it soon because it means a whole lot more than any Rolex could…it is the watch that Dad bought me as a gift a couple of days before I left for Ahmedabad to do my MBA. Call me a romantic at heart, but whenever I look at the watch when I have a minute to spare, I remember Dad’s arm around my shoulder when I selected the watch. In fact, he didn’t approve of the watch and wanted me to go in for a more classic looking model. But when I said that I wanted a slightly sporty looking watch and this was it, he just gave in with the resigned sigh and the smile of a knowing father who realises that his son has grown up and has his own set of likes and dislikes.

That to me, ladies and gentlemen, is the essence of the watch.

Mr. Mukesh Ambani might as well walk up to me tomorrow morning and promise me half his business empire, but I ain’t trading this watch for anything.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Joy 'Bloody' Joy

I haven't exactly been the early bird in the last few months. Week-nights and you'll most probably find me watching episodes of 'F.R.I.E.N.D.S'/Coupling/Chanakya/Yes Minister. This usually goes on till late at night, leading to late mornings of around 8:30.

Today morning was an exception.

I had to take Mom for a blood test to Park Street. The test had to be taken empty-stomach, so had to leave at 7:30 in the morning. The sacrifice of sleep, though, paid rich dividends.

It is a different kind of joy to be there to help your parents. In a couple of days, I'll be moving out of Calcutta, and with it will go away the opportunity to be there for Mom n Dad at times of such need. Not that this was an earth-shattering moment when I just had to be there, but the smile of satisfaction that Mom gave me when I drove her back home was worth every minute of eye-blinking waking up today morning.

Now playing: Atif Aslam - Hum Kis Galli Ja Rahen Hain
via FoxyTunes

Friday, November 30, 2007

The kid on the street

I saw him for no more than two seconds. He was sitting on the front steps of a shop whose shutters were down. He must not have been more than five years old. And it was this presence of his in the big, bustling business district that caught my eye.

He was dressed in rags. His face was covered in dirt. His hair was tangled and dirty, unwashed and brimming with sand and dirt. He was not wearing any shoes or chappal; I know because I took a step aside since I was scared I might stamp his foot by mistake.

The most intriguing thing about him was his stare. He was staring at his hands. And his hands held what appeared to be a very valuable possession for him – a shining one rupee coin.

Here I was, on this cold November evening, wearing my expensive jacket which was keeping me admirably warm and then there was this child, with perhaps no family to speak to, no education to support him and dressed in rags which did nothing to help him against the cold.

If I could go back and speak to him, I would tell him:

“Work hard. Your destiny lies in your hands. Shape your own future. No matter what anybody tells you, you can come out of any situation that you find yourself in. And no matter how hopeless the condition seems, never give up…kyunki picture abhi baaki hai mere dost!!” ~big smile~

Now playing: Bryan Adams - Summer Of 69
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How Indian Railways got their toilets

I have just finished reading a book titled ‘Entry from Backside Only – Hazaar Fundas of Indian-English’ by Binoo K. John. The book is about how we Indians have gone ahead and made the Queen’s language our language by inserting Hindi words into long-drawn English sentences and by making some English words (such as public, party, because etc.) very much a part of every day Hindi vocabulary.

And then, of course, there’s the undeniable manner in which we Indians can alter the rules of spoken English to suit our needs and yet, the person at the receiving end of such a speech is able to perfectly comprehend what the crux of the matter is. There are quite a few hilarious examples quoted, such as the professor in a college who admonished the boys throwing paper balls at girls from a gallery with the words ‘Why you do that? Under standing people will get hurt!’

The book also cites examples of popular scenes from Hindi cinema, like the Amitabh scene which I had blogged about a few weeks ago.

The book does tend to get pedantic at times and hence is fun only in parts.

Book rating: 3 out of 5

Here are a few fun excerpts from the book.

Excerpt 1:

One of the classics of writing in Indian-English is the letter by a train traveller to the authorities of the Indian Railways pleading for the introduction of toilets. Many newsletters and other journals brought out by the Railways contain this masterpiece.

Okhil Chandra Sen wrote this letter to the Sahibganj divisional railway office in 1909:

“I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefore went to privy. Just I doing the nuisance that guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running with lotah in one hand and dhoti in the next when I am fall over and expose all my shocking to man and female women on platform. This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that dam guard not wait train five minutes for him. I am therefore pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big report to the papers.”

It is said that it was this letter that resulted in the railway authorities introducing toilets in Indian trains.

Excerpt 2:

Jug Suraiya, in his long career in the Times of India, caricatured Indian-English with rib-tickling effect…On 2 May 2005, Jug wrote this bylined article in his favourite epistolary style, from an Indian-English user of the Oxford dictionary. The occasion for such pieces, which comes when a revised OUP edition is published with new Indian usages and words, is a cause for celebration and opinions are expressed about how Indians are now rightly striking back at the empire.

“My head is eating circles and circles over all this golmal about new Oxford University Press (OUP) Advanced Learner’s Dictionary having Indlish (i.e. Indian-English) wording-From A for ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) to Z for zulm (cruel treatment i.e. Police doing zulm by giving danda to publics committing nuisances in frontside of mantrijis dwelling abode in capital) – we are using in our daily to daily gup-shup. One auntyji, whose good name and hailing from what native place I am not knowing but putting up at my backside itself, is telling that it is a very shame-shame business which will make us laughing joke of whole world as because of our khichri way of speaking. Just I am saying her, please not to take it otherwise but what it goes of your worthy father if all outside people learning our bhasha which even if I am telling myself is too good only.

We are not needing OUP dictionary to be knowing that all such talks are not bogus lafra but simply way we are speaking from Kapurthala to Kanyakumari, ay-ay-yo. Loin in Punjab is not private part which decent gentry not mentioning in front of convent educated ladies and small baba-log but big animal first putting up in jungle and now in cage in joo where people paying money to come and see it. Any gujarati snake is not king cobra, not even on Narendra Modi, but just it is time-pass like ghatia.

And suchlike that all Patelbhais are having between morning tiffin and nightly dal-bhat. Outside gentry not having inside khabar on loins and ‘snakes’ and joos was getting too much shocked and ghabrooed and telling that India is most third class and hopeless place full of rascal people that is best avoid karo.

As first to first attempt to show outside world how we are speaking, OUP dictionary deserves shabashi. Tourist people and foreign sethijis and moneybags will now be knowing that India is number one locality for making holiday or doing dhanda-baazi without any khit-pit or gich-mich. But while OUP is giving many good dialoges of local people like ‘Don’t take your grandfather’s time to do your homework’ – no doubt very fine dialogue which with my own ears I am hearing first time only – it is not telling anything about grandfather’s better half i.e. nani as in ‘I will make you remember your nani’ most famous dialogue popularized by late Rajiv Gandhi who another one time also told ‘Hum losenge ya jeetenge’. Also OUP is mentioning chargesheet but not CBI, hawala scam etc which are leading dialogues of India today.

OUP editor, kindly to ensure correction of all such omissions, commissions and kickbacks. And how it is that OUP is telling that is dictionary of ‘Current English’ when whole brother-in-law world, i.e. puri Sali duniya, is knowing that current English is same to same as current Hindustani except letterings are in Roman script, not Devnagri? Please to be doing needful. Bahut shukriya aur hazar thanks.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

These shopkeepers I tell you !!

So my parents and I had called an uneasy truce. We were not going to talk about my marriage. (This, of course, doesn’t stop my Mom looking hopefully at me each time some cartoon character decides to drive his ‘baraat’ past the lane which I live in.)

Anyway, this being the season of weddings, I had to go to a gift shop to buy a suicidal nut a gift for his reception. Mom and Dad decided to come along as well.

Shopkeeper: Aiye, aiye. What can I do for you?

Dad: We need to buy a gift…

Shopkeeper: Anything specific… any particular occasion?

Me: Umm…Yep. I need to buy a wedding gift.

Shopkeeper (looks at me and smiles understandingly): Oh sure, sure. So, what kind of gift would your fiancé like?

Me: GRRRRRRR !!!!!!!!

Now playing: Kailash Kher - CHAK DE PHATTE
via FoxyTunes

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Mid-November night's tale

It was a cold November night. The air had a strange stillness about it. The streets were deserted. A gloomy fog hung over the city of Kolkata, lit only by the pale, yellow street lights. Far away, a clock tower struck eleven. A beggar lying on the pavement adjusted his tattered blanket and mumbled in his sleep.

A car screeched to a halt. The two men inside looked at each other. A quick glance at the building and they both knew what to do. The man at the steering wheel looked again to his left, as if looking for a confirmation. The other man, the sinister looking guy with rimless glasses and a clean shaven face, nodded his assent. “Make the call,” he said.

The driver flipped out his cell phone and dialled the number.

The phone kept on my bedside table rang with the customary Sholay ring-tone. I groped around in the dark for the phone and my fingers somehow found the answer button.

“Hello,” I said in my half sleepy voice.

“KAMEENE !! So raha tha ? Get up, we’ve to go for Rajat’s bachelor party,” Pramod screamed into my ears.


This was how my true and trusted friends Pramod and Varun dragged me out of bed last night to go to Shisha – The Hookah Bar on Camac Street. Our friend Rajat, a nice guy who has a wonderful knack of inventing embarrassing situations for himself, is getting married this Sunday and yesterday was the bachelor party.

Now before the young studs of Kolkata, who reached this page by entering the search words “Kolkata bachelor’s party” in the hope of finding leads to strippers, get their hopes high, let me warn you that I’m a very decent sorta fellow who comes from a conventional Gujju family: my idea of a nice evening is sipping hot tea and eating spicy ‘theplas’ which Mom prepares. In other words, our night-out yesterday was all about drinking Bacardi Breezer (“lime flavour please”) and a couple of glasses of vodka with Coke, nothing more.

Oh yes of course, the girls were there. And very pretty too. And they looked extremely graceful when they danced away to dance tracks from Rihanna, Nelly Furtado and the Hindi film hits. Problem is I’m someone with two left feet; the best dance move that I’ve ever managed is when I copied Chandler’s dance style when he found out that he was the best sex Monica ever had.

All in all, it was a nice, fun evening. What was even better was that after the party got over, I went over to a pal’s place and just sat and had a long chat with him. It was nice to finally catch up with him; he’s a childhood friend from school and we’d not been getting to meet up at all in the last couple of months.

And oh yes, before I complete the post, let me ask you to comment on whether you think I could ever write a suspense novel, basing your judgement on the first couple of paragraphs of this post. ;)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Position Vacant - Interested Candidates May Apply

What Kind of Girl Will You Fall For?

You will fall part for the cutie. You like girls with a personality. She's got to have a nice smile and a sense of humor. Although she doesn't have to be a model, she has to be that girl-next-door.
You will fall part for the independent woman. You like girls that'll put up a fight with their words and their fists. Her conversation must be stimulating and controversial. She's got to have her own friends, her own car, and her own place. Most importantly, she can't be a "barnacle-on-a-whale" type.
Find Your Character @ BrainFall.com

Monday, November 19, 2007

What A Wonderful World

It’s been a long day and I’m dead tired to say the least. Things got really complicated (as they tend to become around me, don’t ask me how I manage it ~grins~) over the weekend and I am absolutely sleep-deprived right now. Somehow, though, I can’t seem to find it in me to drop off to sleep.

And although I would just love to write a really long post, I’m just too weary. Pleasantly weary though. Nothing like a day when you’ve worked hard and know that it’s been worth every minute of it.

And so, I’m going to calm my nerves by jotting down the lyrics of a song that I’ve been hearing repeatedly on my iPod. It’s one of those songs which always makes me smile and brightens my day up, no matter how it might have been up till that point.

What A Wonderful World – Louis Armstrong

I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom
For me and you

And I think to myself,
‘What a wonderful world’

I see skies of blue
And clouds of white
The bright blessed days
Dark sacred nights

And I think to myself,
‘What a wonderful world’

The colours of the rainbow
So pretty in sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying ‘How do you do’
They’re really saying ‘I love you’.

I hear babies cry
I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know

And I think to myself
‘What a wonderful world’

P.S. I VERY VERY seriously advise you to view this video and listen to the song. There's very little chance that you won't like it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

How you doin' ?

Which Friends Character Are You?

You are Joey. You may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but you're unrivalled when it comes to the opposite sex. You're a great friend, going great lengths when needed. Remember: your friends are your lifeline and you'd better not leave them behind. Success will be hard to find without them around.
Find Your Character @ BrainFall.com

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


I finally decided to join Facebook albeit with a bit of scepticism. After all, I already am on Orkut and a man can get tired of social networking sites. But, I must admit, I’m already hooked to Facebook.

I guess the reason is because it bundles quite a few things together. First, there’s unlimited photo storage, unlike Orkut, which I think has currently put a limit of 50. Next, there’s the cool Flixster application where you can keep track of the movies that you and your friends have seen. Also, there’s the Books application whereby you can keep track of books that you’ve read, edit reviews and rate the books. And of course, there’s Scrabulous. I haven’t played much, but I have a feeling I’m gonna get hooked.

All in all, much cooler than Orkut. However, it’ll take some time to build my friends network there, most of my pals are on Orkut.

P.S. – I know the column on the right shows that I’m currently reading ‘The Toyota Way’, but I’m also reading ‘The Story Of My Life’ by Helen Keller. I wasn’t really sure I would like the book, but then this bit on the first page itself caught my attention and I knew that I just had to read the book:

‘One of my Swiss ancestors was the first teacher of the deaf in Zurich and wrote a book on the subject of their education – rather a singular coincidence; though it is true that there is no king who has not had a slave among his ancestors, and no slave who has not had a king among his.’

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Losing My Virginity - Richard Branson

Richard Branson recounts how he went along the idea of having fun and as a by-product created the Virgin group. An extremely inspirational book, it documents how he started off with a vision of creating a national student magazine, stumbled into the music business, ventured into the music retail industry only because of a postal strike and then, one fine morning, thought of starting Virgin airways because, in his words, “it sounded like a lot of fun.”

The book gives a detailed insight into the fight that Virgin Atlantic got into with British Airways and the libel suit that Virgin ultimately won. It also shows how although Branson has this extremely colourful and playboy like image, the man has a smart business brain ticking all the time. His confession that he almost always carries a note-book with him in which he scribbles down ideas and to-do lists at a frightening pace shows how he always likes to be ‘in the game’.

All in all, a delightful read. I would give this book a rating of 4 out of 5.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


One Lifetime...

One Opportunity...


Thursday, October 25, 2007

The day we became World Champions

Much water has flowed under the Howrah Bridge since the events that I’m about to narrate. Yet, it is a story which must be told. It is the story of how India overcame Pakistan in the finals of the ICC Twenty20 cup to become World Champions.

Let that sink in… India - World Champions. I had to keep pinching myself when India recently played a Twenty20 international against Australia at Mumbai and the commentator very proudly announced, “Australia are playing against the world champions!” Now that is something you don’t hear very often and I felt particularly proud to be an Indian at that point in time.

But let me get back to where I originally started this post. Let me recount the events as they happened on that fateful day.


24th September 2007

It is a dark and wet Monday evening in Calcutta as India takes on Pakistan in the finals of the Twenty20 World Cup at the Bull Ring at Johannesburg. Ravi, Harsh and I make our way to The Ordnance Club to enjoy the game on their flat screen TV. We are in a noisy dining room at the club and the table in front of us is filled with all the food that we have ordered: two pots of tea, cheese grilled sandwiches, a plate of paneer tikka, masala chips and Coke.

Harsh and I keep munching at a regular pace even though we are hypnotized by the match. Ravi, being his usual self, sips his tea in a manner which would’ve fooled you into believing that he was a MCC member having his cuppa on a bright Sunday morning at Lord’s where Somerset was playing Kent.

By the time the 19th over of the Pakistan innings gets over, Harsh and I can barely keep sitting. We are at the end of this long dining hall and thankfully so, because we both just keep pacing in tension. If there had been guests seated behind us they would certainly have been up in arms.

Last over and 13 runs required. Dhoni hands over the ball to Joginder Sharma who, let’s accept it, at his pace doesn’t really put the fear of the Lord into you. I look up at Harsh and he has this very nervous smile on his face, as if telling me, ‘Oh Dear!’ With a deep breath, I turn to look at the TV.


Darn!! What the hell was Joginder doing??!! You already have a Misbah-ul-Haq at the crease who in the previous India-Pakistan encounter had almost pulled off an incredible win for his team. In any case, he’s also one of the biggest six hitters of the tournament with that massive 111m hit (only to be outdone by Yuvraj Singh’s monstrous 119m six). And then you bowl a wide to make it only 12 runs required to win the match and the trophy?!!

Dhoni runs up to Joginder and it seems whatever he’s told him has worked since the next ball is a dot ball, although it was outside the off stump and very lucky not to be called a wide.

I breathe easy for a moment…only just.

Joginder bowls the next ball and Misbah shuffles across his stumps and hits the ball high in the air. For a moment I’m hopeful that some Indian fielder at long on will get under it and take the catch. But all my prayers seem to have come undone when Ravi Shastri screams, “This is six! It’s a magnificent strike!”

Gosh! How could this have happened? We had almost won it…how could Misbah do this to us…again? Will he make amends for his mistake at Durban? Will he really pull it off this time? My mind is buzzing with possible scenarios, not all of them positive for India.

The dining hall has gone very silent…the only sound that can be heard is of the cutlery striking against each other. Even the waiters and stewards have been struck by horror as they stare at the TV screen and forget to take orders. What orders? Even the diners are staring dumb-struck.

Disappointed, I look at Harsh. The story is written all over his face: only one big hit and Pakistan could win this. Harsh shakes his head as he looks at me, his nonchalant smile vanished. I don’t know what to do and look at the floor. I turn to Ravi, but the idiot is happily sipping his tea and looking as if somebody has just paused reading ‘Alice In Wonderland’ to him. Nut!! How can someone NOT be affected by a tension situation like this? How can someone be so cool-headed? I shake my head in wonder.

Pakistan need 6 runs to win and have 4 balls of the last over to do it in. The only worrying factor, if there is any in the Pakistani camp at the moment, is that this is their last pair at the wicket.

Joginder runs up to deliver his next ball. Misbah tries to get cheeky by walking across the stumps and loops the ball up in the air behind the wicket.

OH MY GOD!! Is this the moment which will haunt our nightmares forever? Has Misbah just become the Javed Miandad for this new generation of Indian cricketers and Indian cricket lovers?

But wait a minute! There’s a man underneath it…and it is Sreesanth. Sreesanth, the man who can reduce to mockery his tremendous talent by letting his emotions take control of him. ‘Oh God, please, please let Sreesanth take the catch!’

Sreesanth fumbles slightly…but finally manages to hold on to the ball!!

THAT’S IT!! India has won!!!!! INDIA HAS WON THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP!!! We are the CHAMPIONS… We have been crowned kings!!

The hall at Ordnance Club erupts with middle-aged pot bellied uncles jumping in joy and banging their beer glasses. High-society aunties scream and clap their hands in glee, all the while making sure their silk sarees are not out of place.

I jump and shout with joy!! I look at Harsh, whose reaction has been much the same as mine. I rush up to him and we hug each other and continue jumping while screaming ‘Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!’ My heart hasn’t beaten this hard in quite a while. We just can’t stop the momentum and keep jumping and shouting.

We pause to look at Ravi. He is still sitting in his stupid chair, grinning at us and clapping. ‘This is not the moment to sit and applaud like a Lord, you idiot. Be an Indian….SCREAM!!!’ Both Harsh and I run up to him, pull him up, and embrace him as well and then start jumping around in a huddle, much like the huddle that the Indian team is now getting into.


I write this down because this is one moment of unimaginable joy for me as an Indian cricket fan. This moment will be one which we will remember the rest of our lives, much like our fathers remember the exact moment when Kapil Dev lifted the Prudential Cup at Lords.

---------------- Now playing: Amit Kumar & Chorus - Dekha Jo Tujhe Yaar via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Durga Puja

This is how we celebrated Durga Puja in Kolkata over the last weekend.

Ray Street pandal

The Ray Street Puja Pandal.

Chakraberia Pandal

The Chakraberia (Trikoniya Park) Puja Pandal.

Nicknames - II

So when I said 'I hope I haven't overlooked any nicknames'...see what I missed out !!!!

i) Pran-nath: Motee !!! I’ll never forgive you for this one.

ii) Shark: Tushar (my room-mate during my 2nd year of college), myself and Mini are great friends. And one of the many things that binds us together are the nick-names that we gifted each other…Mini gifted me the title of ‘Shark’, I gifted her the title of ‘Dolphin’ and we both together gifted Tushar the title of ‘Whale’. A few more friends like us, and the world would resemble an aquarium.

iii) Philip Pirrip / Pip : Those of you who have experienced the beautiful agony of studying Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ during your school-life would know what this is all about. But for the benefit of those who haven’t suffered the slings and arrows of time when you had to memorise the description of Miss Havisham’s unkempt room, I shall explain.

Philip Pirrip (better known as Pip) is the central character of Charles’ Dickens fabulous piece of literature titled ‘Great Expectations’. He has a great friend named Herbert Pocket, who, like Pip, has the habit of falling into debts with alarming regularity. What is most lovable about both of them is that well knowing that they shall repeat their mistakes the next time they have cleared off their previous dues, they keep looking at their accounts at the end of each month and consoling each other with the words, “We must do something about this.” Obviously, come the next month and they’re again knee-deep in debt.

Prashant Chaturvedi and I have had a similar brush of experiences when it came to preparing for our college examinations. Both of us knew that the other fellow was moderately intelligent and is deserving of much better marks than the report card ever cared to show. However, before each exam, Prashant and I used to wonder how we, as a rule, always managed to postpone our studies for the last minute before examinations only to realise too late that it was hopeless to even try to begin studying barely 48 hours before an examination. And, oh yes, we also told each other the famous words… “We must do something about this.” That fateful day onwards, I’ve referred to him as Herbert and he has called me Pip.

P.S. Recently, I had to make a call to Prashant. I was desperately searching my mobile phone address book for his name but couldn’t find it. Only after about ten minutes did it strike me that I was looking for the wrong name; I had saved his number under the name Herbert.

Now playing: Ganpat
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


The other day, I was wondering by how many different names people have called me in the two and a half decades of my existence on this planet.

The Usual

1. Shekhar-aa - Considering that this is perhaps the simplest 'Indian' way to contort my name, I'm surprised (and relieved) that very few people have used this one. The only person that comes to mind is one school buddy called Thyagarajan Krishnamurthy (called TK throughout his school-life, more for simplicity's sake than anything else).

2. Shekhar-va - Again, not many takers for what one would have thought to be a popular take on my name. The most recent culprit? A female named Avanti.

3. Shekhu - Used by numerous people over the years. Most recently, and frequently, used by Shubhra.

The Not-So-Usual

1. Smarty - Perhaps the first nick-name that I ever got!! ~grins~ I was in class 1, and by far the most outspoken character in a class full of 30 yelling children. The Hindi teacher realised that someone who, at such a young age, had the ability to be heard in the midst of a din like that deserved to be called no less than 'Smarty'.

2. Jai - During my first year of MBA, as I sincerely (ahem) strained to listen to every word spoken by the prof.,
the non-stop chatter originating from the lady on my right convinced me that I should call her 'Basanti'. Amitabh Bachchan (may his tribe increase) must've hiccuped a million-times the day our lady retorted by calling my 'Jai'.

3. Mr. 3 pointer - What can I say?? I'm just brilliant when it comes to bungling up studies...and then recovering brilliantly (I remember failing a history test in the first term of class 4... determined to show my worth, I remember topping the history exams for the rest of the year). MBA was a bit like taking an old Padmini Fiat out of the garage and going cross-country driving... till such time I decided that I wanted to be on the F1 circuit racing alongside Schumacher in a McLaren. Come the last term of MBA and I decided to put the cynics to rest. I studied like crazy and ended up becoming what every geek in b-school dreams of becoming: a 3-pointer! Mini couldn't believe I'd pulled off such a miraculous feat...she's called me Mr. 3 Pointer since...

4. Hindustan Ki Awaaz - The juniors at my b-school were doing a parody of 'Mughal-e-Azam'. Somebody was needed for the voice-over of 'Hindustan Ki Awaaz'; the fella who in the original talks about how Akbar was one of the best kings that India ever had. The juniors asked me if I would do the honours in the parody, and I willingly agreed. When my name came up at the end, most people in the audience (faculty included) were surprised to know that 'Hindustan Ki Awaaz' was courtesy Second Year, Section B, Roll No. 50.

5. Rambo - For further details, please contact Arpz, the conferrer of the honour.

6. Mommy - ~sighs~ Motee insists I always had a motherly aura around me.

7. Goo-Gaa Smile - Not exactly a nick-name, as much as a caption for a pic of me as a baby. I'll never be able to thank Rose enough for this. :D

I hope I haven't overlooked any... Let's see what other nick-names are bestowed upon me in the future.

Now playing: R.D.Burman - Sholay Intro Theme
via FoxyTunes

Friday, October 12, 2007

Reverse Motivation

Sometimes, the best thing that can happen to you is getting pi**ed off.


You've been trying hard to get something done for a while now. And it has been irritating you no end that you haven't been able to achieve your goal. You know that all you need to do is step up your game one last bit... Push yourself to the limit... Stretch your hands that one inch further.

But you just can't do it. No matter what you try, no matter how much you try to psych yourself up... YOU JUST CAN'T DO IT.

In such circumstances, perhaps the best thing that could happen to you is getting pi**ed off. And when I say pi**ed off.. I mean REALLY, REALLY PI**ED OFF !!

Let that nagging feeling get under your skin and take your sleep away from you. Let your sleep be filled up with nightmares of failures...

and see what happens the next day!!

Sometimes, it is best to shed the "good boy" image...

Sometimes, it is best to get pi**ed off!

Now playing: Fatboy Slim - Because We Can
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, October 04, 2007


“I need more money,” he said. “I need to work harder and make more money. There are lots of things I need to buy, that I need to enjoy; and in order to fulfil my dreams,” he paused, and looked up at her, “I need money,” he ended, exhaling deeply.

She quietly looked at him for a few seconds before asking, “Will you ever be satisfied? Will you ever have enough?” The tinge of irritation was all too apparent.

“NEVER!!” he barked back. “I shall never have enough. The sole reason why humans were placed on earth was so that they are never satisfied. It is foolish to think of being satisfied. Look around you. The world today is what it is because man over centuries has remained unsatisfied. The moment we become satisfied with our surroundings, with whatever we have achieved, all progress will come to a screeching halt. Don’t be greedy, but stay unsatisfied.”

She was overcome by the force of his argument, and his fiery gaze. She lowered her eyes and quietly walked away.

Now playing: Pink Floyd - Money
via FoxyTunes

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Serenity Prayer

In my post "A Change in Attitude...and Fortunes", I had presented a slightly belligerent, albeit restrained and respectful, attitude of the speaker.

However, what put things in perspective was Ravi's comment. "It's not just one way traffic." Although he seemed to be more in agreement with me, I was somehow reminded of The Serenity Prayer. And I do not know why but I prefer only the shorter version of the prayer, which goes thus...


God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

If we were to remind ourselves of this simple prayer before every major decision, I'm sure we would bring about a whole lot of maturity into our decision making.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Amitabh speaks Angreji

Namak Halaal (1982) is one of my favorite Amitabh Bachchan movies. In many way, this is a typical '80s Hindi film. This Prakash Mehra film had all the elements of a blockbuster then (and even now, perhaps). Comedy, drama, love, songs, murder, good-wins-over-evil...

And a stellar star-cast to boost. Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Waheeda Rehman, Parveen Babi, Smita Patil, Om Puri and Ranjeet.

The following scene from the film is brilliant because Amitabh, the superstar, decides he will make himself a buffoon. He isn’t scared to make the paying audience laugh at his expense. (In fact, he's already done so earlier in the film, when he does the 'Pag ghunghroo baandh Meera naachi thi' number).

The scene unfolds thus. Amitabh, the country bumpkin, has come to the city to get a job. His friend has put in a word to the manager of the hotel (Ranjeet). But in order to impress him further, the friend advises Amitabh to speak like a champion and thereby impress the manager. Amitabh, the village simpleton, takes this advise most seriously and proceeds to try and impress Ranjeet.

The following is a transcript of the scene. I tried searching for the transcript on the Net, but couldn’t find a single site where the transcript was correct to the letter. So, I downloaded the scene and played it over and over again to write down the dialogues bit-by-bit. The result is well worth the effort, I feel.

Here we go…

[Amitabh and his friend enter the hotel manager’s (Ranjeet’s) chamber]

Ranjeet (to Amitabh’s friend): Oye, tumhara dimaag kharaab ho gaya hai, yeh kis cheez (points at Amitabh) ko le aaye ho tum?

Amitabh: Lo kallo baat. Babuji, hum cheej nahin hain. Maara naam Arjun Singh vald Bhim Singh vald Dasrath Singh hai. Lakhanpur gaav ke rehne waale hain, Inter pass hain, gaav mein sabse avval number aaye the. Maare gaav mein, maare daddu aur main hi sabse zyada padhe hain, baaki koi chauthi pass nahin hai. Shaher main aane se pehle maare daddu ne humko teen baatein sikhayi…pehli baat, paraayi aurat aur paraayi daulat pe haath nahin rakhna, haan. Doosri baat, jiska namak khao uski namak halaali karna. Teesri baat, anyay ke saamne sar nahi jhukaana. Bolo, maare daddu ne theek kaha ki nahi kaha??

Ranjeet: Tumhaare daddu ne bilkul sahi kaha. Ab tum sheher mein aaye ho, aise hi baatein karoge ya tumhe English vagera bhi aati hai?

Amitabh: Lo kallo baat ! Arre babuji aisi English aave that I can leave Angrej behind!! You see sir, I can talk English, I can walk English, I can laugh English because English is a very funny language.

Bhairon becomes Baron and Baron becomes Bhairon because their minds are very narrow. In the year nineteen hundred and twenty nine sir, when India was playing against Australia in Melbourne city, Vijay Merchant and Vijay Hazare they were at the crease and Vijay Merchant told Vijay Hazare, “Look Vijay Hazare, this is a very prestigious match and you must consider this match very carefully.” So, considering the consideration that Vijay Hazare gave Vijay Merchant, Vijay Merchant told Vijay Hazare that, “Ultimately we must take a run.” And when they were striking the ball on the leg side, sir, the consideration became into an ultimatum and ultimately Vijay Hazare went to Vijay Merchant and…”

An exasperated Ranjeet, who has been drowned into silence by this volley of English from Amitabh, shouts: OH SHUT UP !!!

Amitabh continues: …similarly, sir, in the year nineteen hundred and seventy nine when India was playing against Pakistan in Wankhede stadium, Bombay, Wasim Raja and Wasim Bari they were at the crease, and Wasim Bari gave the same consideration to Wasim Raja and Wasim Raja told Wasim Bari, “Look, sir, this ultimately has to end in a consideration which I cannot consider. Therefore, the consideration that you’re giving me must be considered very ultimately.” Therefore the run that they were taking, Wasim Raja told Wasim Bari, “Wasim Bari, you take a run.” And ultimately both of them ran and considerately they got OUT !!!

Thanks to shrenik3 for the video clip.
Now playing: Deewaar Intro
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cricket and Hollywood

Is it just me or does Kepler Wessels actually look a bit like Charlton Heston?

Kepler Wessels

Charlton Heston

A Change in Attitude…and Fortunes

She: Why did you have to do that? You must learn to adjust to the circumstances and accept things as they are.

He: Sorry, I disagree with you. If we continue to accept things – to adjust to the circumstances, then circumstances are only going to stay as harmful as they already are, if not get worse.

Moreover, what’s the use of a brain if we are to only ‘accept things as they are’…we might as well be brute animals. It is up to you to decide whether you want to be a product of your environment or you want the environment around you to be a product of you.

Now playing: Roobaroo
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Twenty20: A Bowler’s Game

Anybody who saw Chris Gayle and Herschelle Gibbs plonk the white ball to all parts of The Wanderers stadium at Johannesburg on Tuesday night might want to disagree with the title of this post. Let me explain why I respectfully disagree.

The thought struck me when I heard Ian Chappell mention a basic fact of the game, viz. a good batsman is a good batsman, period. Likewise, I thought, a good bowler is a good bowler, period.

It doesn’t matter if he (the bowler) is hit for many more runs in a particular over as compared to what he would have been hit for in a ODI or a Test match. What has changed is the definition of a good over. Whereas in a 50 overs game, a good over was one where the batsman could not score more than 4 or a maximum of 5 runs, in the 20 overs version of the game, this will become 7 to 8 runs.

This is where the bowler’s skill comes in to play. He now has to be more cunning than ever and use the sleight of hand in order to ensure variations in line, length and the pace at which he bowls. And that can get him great results, like it happened for Daren Powell who had figures of 4 overs, no maidens, 3 wickets for 4 runs in a warm-up game.

I disagree with those who say it is purely a batsman’s game. If the game has become uni-dimensional for anybody, it is for the batsman. All he has to do is think about tonking the next ball out of the park.

Yesterday, of course, it was great fun watching Zimbabwe beat Australia in a nail-biting finish. I couldn’t get to see the Australian innings, but the highlights package showed what a good fielding side the Zimbabweans were. They had thrown themselves at everything and had taken some good catches in the outfield, an area where, I am sad to note, India hasn’t done well of late.

Pros of Twenty20:

- Weaker-looking teams can do well in matches against ‘stronger’ opposition, since there is very little time for the ‘stronger’ team to recover if they fumble even once.

Cons of Twenty20:

- Watching the inaugural match (South Africa vs. West Indies) gave me a headache, what with so many sixes being hit, so much noise and very little time, as a viewer, to grasp the nuances of the game. [I know some might argue that this is a sure sign of ageing, but then…]

- Too many girls wearing bright-red sports bras (I don’t care what they’re said to be, they look like sports bras) and bum-hugging short chaddis while shaking their things on TV. Watching Twenty20 at home might be a problem.

Now playing: Sukhvinder Singh - Chak de India
via FoxyTunes

Monday, September 10, 2007

'SHARK' tag

If Houdini were alive, methinks he would have hopped on to the next flight to Calcutta, driven down to my house and have personally congratulated me for having done my disappearing act over the last few days. I haven’t been online of late and have been careful / silly enough to have neglected the phone to miss calls from friends. Just as well that I haven’t been shaving over the last couple of days - my beard *might* help me to escape unharmed. I say this since a couple of weeks ago, I met a school-friend after a gap of 6 years, and he recognised me without any trouble at all as he said my “face is just like it was back in class 12”.

In other words, I might be closing in on 25, but I still have the face of a 18 year old. Hmm…

Well, I have been busy reading books (I have already completed two in the last two days and am on the verge of finishing a third), watching movies (almost 6 in the last 4 days) and the CDs of the old TV program ‘Chanakya’ (remember Chandraprakash Dwivedi as the wily and astute professor of politics at Takshila University who single-handedly brings down the Nanda empire?).

Anyway, just as I find out that Motee has tagged me, it turns out she has also tagged Arpz who, in turn, has also tagged me!! Talk about being in favour with the ladies. ~proudly pats himself on the back~

Enough of wayside talk, on with the tag.


- Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of their middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.
- When you are tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.
- At the end of your blog-post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag.
- Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged.


Here’s the tag, as filled in by Shekhar ‘Shark’.

S – STORIES. As a child growing up in a building full of grown-ups, Mom introduced me to the world of books, and thereby, to the world of stories. Life has never been the same since then. Whether it is in the form of books, films or conversations over a cup of steaming hot tea, I love listening to (and sometimes, narrating) stories.

H – HERO. This might seem like an extended lecture on Vedanta, but ever since I read Swami Vivekananda’s works, I’m convinced that within each one of us there exists a hero and that it is our karmic duty to unleash this hero to the world.

A – AMBITIOUS. I am as ambitious as the guy living next door to you. I too make up lists of things to be achieved and deadlines by when they should be achieved. Achieving them is where, as the bard would remind us, lies the rub.

R – RAIN. There was a time I absolutely loved rains. I enjoyed going up to the window and watching droplets from heaven rushing down to kiss a planet that God so obviously loves. Even better would be taking a drive in the rains; I enjoyed the soft hum of the car AC as the rains washed the world which I passed by.

K – KOLKATA. (Before anyone raises their eyebrows, ‘Kolkata’ is in fact the official name now.) A city with which I have a love-hate relationship. There is much about the city that I adore, much that I miss when I’m away. At the same time, there are many memories, images, emotions which cause nothing else but pain.

~hat-tip to Mini~ If it weren’t for you, I would’ve never figured out that there lived a SHARK within. :)

And no, I don’t tag any one.

Now playing: Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine When She's Gone - Original
via FoxyTunes

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Last week, when this blog suddenly saw a flurry of posts, I missed out on another milestone that this blog went past.

Ladies and Gentlemen: This blog has now crossed 200 posts.

And this is post no. 202. :)

And since this blog, like any other diary/log book, is like a record for memories, both sweet and sour, I thought I would share a beautiful song with my readers.

Film: Yaadein
Director: Subhash Ghai
Lyrics: Anand Bakshi

Nagme hain, shikwe hain
Kisse hain, baatein hain

Baatein bhool jaati hain
Yaadein yaad aati hain

Yeh yaadein kisi dil-o-jaanam ke
Chal jaane ke baad aati hain

Yeh jeevan dil jaani, dariya ka hai paani
Paani to beh jaaye, baaqi kya reh jaaye

Yaadein, yaadein, yaadein

Duniya mein yun aana, duniya se yun jaana
Aao to le aana, jaao to de jaana

Yaadein, yaadein, yaadein


There are melodies and there are complaints,
There are stories and then there are words.

Words are forgotten,
What remain are… MEMORIES.

Memories are all that remain
After a beloved person has left us.

This life, dear people, is like the waters of the river
The water flows on, what stays behind are…


You come to this world and after some time, leave it.
When you come into this world, what you bring along with you...
And when you leave it, what you leave behind are…


Saturday, September 01, 2007

What a row

My good friend and I decided to go for a movie today. As we entered the semi-darkened hall, popcorn in hand, the usher guided us to our seats. “To the left, sixth row, first two seats from the aisle.”

As my friend and I walked down the stairs, I noticed that the row of seats to our left had just four seats in each row, as these were close to the left wall of the auditorium. My friend, who was a step ahead of me (Obviously! She wasn’t the one having to do a balancing trick with the popcorn paper bag which is always one size too small) walked to where our seats were and promptly seated herself in the seat next to the aisle.

“Hey, why don’t you occupy the next seat and I’ll take the aisle seat so that you won’t get disturbed every time someone walks by,” I said. Who said chivalry is a forgotten concept?

“No,” she replied promptly. “I’d much rather sit here, for you don’t know what kind of fellow occupies the seat next to us.”

“Suit yourself,” I shrugged and occupied the second seat from the aisle.

A minute later, two pretty looking young girls walk down to our row and gingerly walk past us to occupy the seats to my left.

“Thank YOU,” I whisper to my friend in glee. “You’re like my BEST FRIEND EVER..!” I promise her. My friend just chuckles at the stupid grin I have on my face.

~sigh~ Just too good to last, wasn’t it??

Not a minute has passed since I had showered praises on my friend when the sweet lady to my left turns around and asks me, “Err…what row is this? In fact, can I have a look at your ticket?”

Now, even before yours truly had an opportunity to enquire further into the nature of trouble that the pretty woman was having, and perhaps follow that concern with a friendly question of whether she and her friend would like to join me and my friend for lunch (which obviously would have ended in us having a great time together and realizing that we two shared the same interests and also that we thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company, et al…you get the picture, don’t you?), my friend decided to proceed and display to the world at large how well her kindergarten teacher had taught her the alphabets of the English language.

“Row F,” she said. “This is row F.”

“OH!” says pretty-lady-to-the-left and motions to her friend. They both get up and walk right past us and seat themselves in the row behind us.

"Brilliant," I muttered to myself. "Just brilliant!!"

My friend couldn’t control her laughter for two minutes running even as I sat fuming.

How rude is that???

Friday, August 31, 2007

Cataloguing my personal library

It was not without a great deal of sadness that I told Motee about my Mom's latest declaration - "Thou shalt not buy any more books". And the reason is very simple, there ain't no more space in my room to keep books !!

It isn't as if my room resembles the grand hall of the National Library. It's just that the sweet and charming book-shelf above my erstwhile study table ("erstwhile", since there's very little studying happening nowadays and of course, there's the PC on top of the desk as well, leaving very little space for desk jobs) has absolutely no space to accommodate any more books. And because of this, of late, most of my books were being piled one on top of another.

This obviously led to a very frustrating time as a bibliophile. It is extremely irritating when one cannot keep track of all the books that one has at his disposal.

So today evening, I set out to at least iron out my troubles as far as cataloguing my books was concerned. I did the most obvious thing any b-schooler would've done...I Googled. And although the scientific methods of Dewey and the Library of Congress mentioned in the comments space of this page proved to be much more than what I needed for the handful of books that I have, the range of comments and the various manners of cataloguing books (both scientific and the not so scientific) did help me in coming up with a strategy, keeping in mind the limited space resource that I have.

I proceeded to lay out all my books on the bed and as I separated the fiction from the non-fiction ones, I entered the names of the books and the respective authors into a spreadsheet on my laptop. Once this was done, I arranged my non-fiction books into categories such as 'business', 'philosophy', 'religion', 'cinema' etc. As for the fiction books, I decided I didn't want to get into anything fancy right now and just arrange them in alphabetical order, first by the name of the author and then by the name of the books.

Two and a half hours after I started this labour of love, I had achieved quite a few things.

1) Most of my books have been neatly arranged in the same book-shelf that I, not so long ago, thought incapable of holding as many books.

2) I have been able to separate the "books" from the old text-books (reminders of my school life) and the various editions of the Readers' Digest.

3) A 'database' of books has now been created which shall help me in keeping me informed of all the books that I have and those which I have lent out to friends.

4) The greatest reward for cataloguing my books has been that now I have a fair idea of the next few books that I want to buy. For instance, I realized that I have very few books on cinema and cricket. Also, there are a lot many more classics that I want to read.

All in all, the back-breaking exercise seems to have paid off. At the end of the day, I'm a happy bibliophile.

Now, if only I could figure out a way to convince Mum that I should buy more books. Hmm...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Tata Crucible Quiz 2007 at Kolkata

On a day when I’m dead tired, I don’t know what it is that is keeping me awake. Perhaps it is because I am just so excited going over and over the gifts and merchandise that I won at the Kolkata edition of the Annual Tata Crucible Quiz.

Yes, you heard that right. An individual like me who must’ve set some sort of a record for not having browsed through a pink paper or a business magazine in the last few months actually managed to intelligently *ahem* guess my way through a couple of rounds of a tough quizzing contest.

It all began a few weeks ago when Rahul, a colleague at work, brought to my notice that the Tata Crucible Quiz was about to be held in the city. The plan was very simple. We two would put on our best Sunday clothes and answer as many questions as we knew (or, as we thought we knew).

Come today afternoon, our team managed to answer quite a few questions (11 or 12 out of the 25 asked) in the preliminary round and were pleasantly surprised to find that we had qualified as one of the 6 top teams for the regional finals.

Once on stage, however, the nerves set in. We let a couple of questions go past us, only to find out later that our guesses would’ve been correct. Darn!!!

Yet, the indomitable spirit of the heroes within refused to give in without a fight. We punched our way right back into the quiz with a couple of rapid answers in the last round, only to stop an agonizing 5 points behind the runners-up.

Nevertheless, at the end of the day, we got our share of the booty, and I was mighty pleased I didn’t sleep this Sunday afternoon away. What’s more, the compilation of speeches and letters of JRD Tata is a wonderful gift and I’m going to cherish the leather-bound books for a long, long time (not to mention the other cool stuff that I got, including a 1GB pen-drive and a travel bag. I initially didn't plan on mentioning the spoils of the day, but hey, it's not everyday that you get to do well in a quiz, do you?)

(Me and Rahul Srigyan cherishing the moments of The Tata Crucible Quiz 2007)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Subtraction by carry-over method

On Wednesday, I met up with my sister for a cup of coffee at the Barista outlet on Camac Street. The last time I met her, she still looked like a kid. Somehow, this time she seemed more mature. On my saying so, she just smiled and told me that it wasn’t maturity that was showing on her face, it was just that she had aged considerably since the last time we met.

Well documented references to emotional outbursts of the female species on uncomplimentary remarks about beauty and ageing started shooting around my head. In a classic reference to the movie 300, I told myself “Choose your next words carefully, for they may well be your last.”

Fortunately, the crisis was past even as I gulped and thankfully noted the absence of ancient wells which looked more like holes in the ground. My sister just looked at me and said, “This is because of the job that I’ve taken up.”

“Hey,” I said. “How tough could it be to teach mathematics to children of classes 1, 2 and 3?”

Turns out, its quite a handful. Apparently, the laws of subtraction by carry-over method are confusing to the simplified world of kids. My sister proceeded to fill me in on how she managed to break down the task and first involve the kids in practicing the subtraction by carry-over method for 2-digit numbers and then gently progress to the demonic 3-digit numbers.

And it is not as if the kids are without their share of naughtiness. “I get eve-teased by 8 year olds,” my sis giggled. On the recently conducted Independence Day festivities, 5 or 6 of these Lilliputians surrounded my sis and started going around in circles, shouting their young throats dry while singing “Nanna munna raahi hoon…”; a song my sister had taught them only a couple of days ago.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sleeping Woes

I’ve often wondered what the correct method of sleeping is. It might seem to be the simplest thing to do, but then again, there can be so many complications.

First of all, there is the whole issue of which position to lie down in. There is the famous Baba Ramdev promoted manner of lying down on the left side of the body, with your knees slightly bent. Others say that at the time of sleeping, there should be no pressure applied on the stomach, and hence the best position to sleep in is on your back. Then there are others, like me, who don’t give a care to what the world says and just collapse on the bed when going off to sleep and hence, spend the night lying on the stomach. In fact, most of the times, when I wake up in the morning, I’m usually in the classic ‘dead man’s pose’, my hand and legs spread out, as if waiting for a detective to come and draw a chalk-line around the outline of my body.

Then there is the issue of the duration of sleep. Some say that 6 hours of sleep is the ideal amount. The latest issue of a leading national magazine says experts recommend 8 hours of sleep, failing which the body tends to accumulate ‘lost sleeping hours’, thereby having an irritated nervous system. Tell that to Chanakya, who advised that a king should sleep only for 4 hours each night.

A related issue is the hour at which one should go off to sleep. You see, if one wishes to wake up each morning at 6 (given that the individual is a normal working guy who wishes to reach office by 9), then in order to have completed 8 hours of sleep, he needs to go off to sleep each night at 10. Now, given the lifestyle led by most people that I know, not to mention myself, going off to sleep at 10 is an extremely optimistic notion. But, according to the coaching manual of Charles Atlas, the famous bodybuilder, there ain’t nothing better than going off to sleep at 10. In fact, he goes so far as to say that every hour of sleep before midnight is worth twice as much as every hour slept after midnight. Hmm…

And now, the most important issue to be tackled; the last thoughts before you go off to sleep.

It is surprising how few people I know who actually make it a point to say their prayers in bed before turning in for the night. The most famous image that comes to mind is, of course, that of Dennis ‘The Menace’ Mitchell saying his innocent and full of boyish-mischief prayers.

Another interesting idea came to be a few nights ago when I received a SMS from a friend. We had met up earlier in the day and the meeting had been full of the usual childish efforts of getting one-up on the other, as is the norm when you meet up with childhood friends. Anyway, she messaged me to say that she wanted to apologize for any harsh words she might have said to me during our banter. After mildly scolding her for even thinking she might have offended me, I asked her what made her think about the incident at that unearthly hour. She said she was about to go off to sleep and was just recalling the day’s events before nodding off. “Now that’s a healthy habit,” I said to myself.

And finally, something that I discovered about sleep just yesterday. For some time now, there has been an unpleasant eventuality that I have been avoiding. Yet, in a very strange way, I want the eventuality to occur. I know the incident, the eventuality, if it were to happen would definitely cause me a lot of heartburn and pain. But, being the illogical person that I am (at times), I want the eventuality to happen as I have a nagging feeling that it might just be best for me to get over it.

So, last night, just as I lay down in my bed to go off to sleep, I began to wonder how it would be if the eventuality were to actually happen. Call it a ‘dry run’ if you will, but I could feel the emotions, the pain and the reactions that I would feel if I were to go through the happening. What the most curious part about this is that I don’t recall when I drifted off to sleep. And when I did wake up today morning, I felt that I’d slept the most sound and deep sleep that I’ve slept in over a year now.

Treacherous thoughts, I know. But then, hey, that’s me.

Chak de, yaar. Too much of this post. India has posted 664 at the Oval and is in a commanding position. I’d better head back to the television to see England’s response. Heck, they’re already four wickets down…

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

2nd Anniversary: HAPPY BIRTHDAY BLOG

Two years ago, on this very date, late at night, I had set out to finish an Organisational Behavior (OB) project that had been set by the faculty at my b-school. As it happened, earlier in the day, the marketing faculty had introduced us to the world of blogs. Curious, I logged on to the Net and registered myself on Blogger.

What has resulted since then have been 2 years and nearly 200 posts (this one is post number 196) of an outpouring of outright honesty from yours truly.

A very B-I-G thank you to all the readers of this blog and those who leave a comment back here. Each comment is special, since each comment tells me that my words have had some impact somewhere and some individual has thought it worthwhile to interact and share their own ideas.


And of course, HAPPY BIRTHDAY dear blog. You've been a wonderful friend.