In 2008, when I was working for Siemens, a friend from college asked me why my blogposts had become so irregular, if I was overworked and that stopped me from blogging? The truth was I wasn’t overworked. In fact I was one of those lucky people who would always take the office bus back home. Everyday. For 8 months that I worked here. So what had changed?


I write only when something bothers me, or I get a chance to think about something which I think is path breaking or something. Yes, go through my past posts, most of them are life altering :P. No, seriously, I would rather not write at all than write substandard stuff. There is something about a 9 to 5 job that I sincerely believe, kills creativity.


I wonder if I should get a job that pays me to only think. I wonder if there are any jobs like that. I wonder if they are even called jobs. Also, would I want to be paid a monthly salary for thinking? I mean, I understand the pressures of a job that needs me to come up with ideas on a regular basis. And I hate deadlines. I like freedom. I would suck at blogging if I had to write a column in a newspaper or something.


But thankfully I don’t get paid for writing this, you don’t get paid to read, but this system works, and beautifully so! :)


When I was young, a couple of times my father took me to buy shirts for me, he usually ended up buying really sober shirts. I am talking shades of grey, navy blue, bottle green and other such pastels. I hated not having a chance to wear sky blues, bright reds, yellows, light greens and other such attractive colours. I wasn’t a fair kid. I was dark and such colours didn’t suit me. Or so I was told. Yes, back then, dark didn’t signify sexy as it does today. I think it was around the 9th standard when I realised how attractive some women found tall, dark boys. I haven’t looked back since. Yes Yes.


Anyway, the point being, somewhere down the line, I became my father. My taste in things became defined by subtle. I remember when a friend of mine took us Sweater shopping (He had a car and he was tired hearing us non-Delhities complain about Delhi ki Sardi… Btw, it’s a serious issue and should not be used to write songs and such). While my friends tried on different sweaters, stylish ones, the ones with brand names on them, the ones with weird punch lines on them, I bought the simplest one available in the store. My friends exclaimed – Dude this is something your father would buy! They didn’t know my father’s taste. What they meant was, my taste in clothes wasn’t in line with a 24 year olds… It was more in line with a 55 year olds’
First I thought it was only clothes, only later I learnt, slowly but surely I was turning into my Dad. It wasn’t such a bad thing. Initially it was the clothes, then came the kind of car I wanted, the kind of friends I wanted to hang out with, then the kind of woman I wanted in my life…


Then I saw it – I had started appreciating CLASS.
CLASS. What is class? And what makes something classy?


I have spent hours thinking on this topic and this is what I have come up with – Class – If you don’t get excited by it the first time you see it, but are interested the right amount, if you don’t get bored by it the thousandth time you see it, but are still interested the right amount, it, my friend, has CLASS…


Yes, there. I know. Genius. You can sit down now. Yes, all of you. Please stop clapping. I don’t deserve it. Okay. Seriously.


I can extend it to anything and everything.


Let’s start with cricketers. Ladies, don’t stop reading you might like the guy I am talking about. The first time we saw Dravid back in 1996-97, we were interested. I was only 10 back then and since we had no cable TV at our place, had no idea of any series played outside India. There was this series being played in England if I remember correctly and Dravid had hit a century. I saw that match late in the night at my cousins’ place. Dravid had become my cousin’s favourite overnight. His exact words were – “dravid ki place pakki ho gayi next 10 saal ke liye.” Yeah, big words coming from a 10 year old. I couldn’t see it. He was good, but good wasn’t enough. My favourite was Mohd. Azaruddin. He was the captain. I figured the best player became the captain.


I am still not a Dravid fan. I think he gets too much attention from the fairer sex which I think is completely unwarranted for the quality of his looks. That makes me like him even less. Yeah, I am jealous like that. Cant help it. The point being even after playing for 15 years and after numerous jokes being written about his slow strike rate (I ll share the jokes below) I still find it interesting to watch him bat. There is something about his demeanour, the calmness, the strength… His strokeplay is flawless. He has CLASS.


Now the jokes –
How to kill a Lion?
Ans. Make him bowl to Rahul Dravid. He will make 1 run in 120 balls, the Lion will die of boredom.


Next one,
Who has the strongest teeth in the Indian team?
Ans. Rahul dravid. Kyonki who bahut ball khata hai.
Hah ha ha…. Lol.. I can go on and on but it doesn’t seem right making fun of someone who I just described as having class.








Movies have class. Just how many times have you guys seen Andaz Apna Apna and not gotten bored. Can you believe it wasn’t successful at the box office? I am sure people might had been interested, just not enough. But today, it’s a cult classic. Chupke Chupke is another favourite. Dharam paaji’s best performance I feel. Paaji toh aise bol raha hoon jaise mere behen unhe rakhi bandhti hai.






Even cars have class. I have always loved Mercedes in all its models, except the estate version. I think the Germans don’t do it justice when they buy the estate version – I mean seriously, it’s like a girl has beautiful legs but chooses to wear long skirts to hide them. (Many more objectifications coming up, feminists, don’t sue me) I cant think of a car that’s more subtle still makes as powerful a statement. I thought my fascination with Mercedes would end after I spend some time in Germany. Almost every third car in Germany was a Mercedes. Even Taxis were Mercedes for crying out loud. That should have ruined the image in my head right? That is what we were taught in our Branding class at MDI, gurgaon.


But it didn’t.


Even at the end of one and a half years, I still found cranking my neck to see a Mercedes drive by. This, after I have ridden in almost all models that Mercedes has to offer. I have been driven around in a C class, an E class, heck, I have also been driven around in a S class. Yeah, most of the last statement is to brag.


The point being, class just holds your imagination. It does something to the brain cells responsible for love and respect. Most advertisers will tell you, that is an awesome combination. So will most politicians and Kings of the yesteryears. (There is no practical way to ask the kings of the yesteryears. Most of them are dead and even if they aren’t they wouldn’t be interested to talk to us common people.)






Class can be attributed to cities too. Delhi enthrals anyone who lands at the T3 at Indira Gandhi Airport. The T3 is probably prettier than Paris Airport. You then take the escalator to the Airport express. The Airport express service in Berlin, London and Paris cant match the beauty of the Delhi Airport express combined (I know because I have used the service in all three cities). Then you take a taxi on the wide roads of Delhi continuously being amazed by the stop signs and the cycle tracks. Only to be disappointed by it’s public bus transport, lack of rules, cycle rickshaws, old Delhi, litter and lack of civic sense among people. Don’t get me wrong. I am one of those few native Mumbaities who really likes delhi. I love it for the freedom it gives me. But you will get bored of it. Very soon.


Mumbai on the other hand will piss off a tourist. What is so great about this city? It’s more than crowded, also dirty because of the exact same reason. The roads are patchy, the trains crowded, don’t get me started on traffic jams, it’s humid all the time and I don’t even get to see Shah Rukh Khan in spite of spending an entire afternoon at Bandstand. But once you spend time in the city, they city grows on you. And you fall in love with it. Very soon. That’s class.







Actresses have class. Well, some of them do.


How many times, exactly how many times must you have seen that black and white Madhubala poster. I remember a girl in our building had that poster in her living room and you could see it if the main door was open. I always sneaked a peek. I used to get a few glares from her father. If only I could tell him that it was the poster and not her daughter who caught my eye. I didn’t. Didn’t wanna hurt his ego.

Sonali Bendre. She has always been a favourite. Even pre-sarfarosh when her movies didn’t work much. Look at her now, she is still beautiful. A little plump, but beautiful. Class.







My boss in my German company was rather flamboyant, high flying executive. He was roughly my father’s age and had quite a few of his qualities. To be honest, I saw a bit of myself in him and I am sure he did too. I was amazed when I first met his wife. I don’t know why, but I had assumed that she would be, well, at least half as flamboyant as he was. She was as plain as they come. Then I thought what if I didn’t know my father, what if I worked in his firm and one day had a chance to meet his wife, my mother. Wouldn’t I be amazed to see how simple she was? I would!


What was going on? How did these flamboyant men end up with such simple wives?

My boss’ wife was lovely. She was simple, her clothes, jewellery, expensive, but only to the trained eye. She was warm and in a room full of people made me feel special. She was warm and welcoming. I could see why my boss, an Australian, fell for her, a German. I could see the similarities in my mother and her. What exactly was happening here?




I was talking to a fan the other day who is now a friend. She asked me if I have a list of qualities I would want in a girl. I do! I think all men like me do. I am sure if my dad, my boss and I had to make a list of qualities, we would end up with almost the same lists. The reason why I didn’t include any of my male friends is that I don’t think any of them has reached the same level of maturity as I have. Burn! No?


There was this German colleague of mine. She was one of the very few women I have certified hot in the first 5 minutes of meeting her. She wore spects and the fact that she was blonde and light eyed and everything helped matters. But once I got to know her, she got boring. The more I got to know her, the more boring she got. I had no idea what had changed. She was complicated, troubled, shallow and demanding. She probably lacked class.


She was the complete opposite of the kinda girl I wanted. I wanted a girl who you would easily miss in a crowd, but remember forever, if you were lucky enough that she would talk to you. She would be selfless, her happiness derived from giving. She would be beautiful, the kind that it makes your day just by looking at her. She would be calm, in the stormiest of storms. She would be caring, when the world doesn’t care. She would be the kind who makes the world a better place and makes this life worth living. She would… she would have class.


And I know there are boys reading this on their computers and wondering if there are any such girls out there and I say, maybe one on each continent. That seems about fair. The definition of class : A study of cars, movies and girlsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
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Such a good girl...





He sat on the first bench. It was a special day. He wore a white shirt with big flowers on them. He hated that shirt. It made him look girlie. He wanted to buy a black shirt, but his mother thought he looked cute in white. To salvage his manliness, he wore black jeans. He thought it made him look grown up.

It was that age when guys want to look grown up. Girls can remain girls all their lives. Boys, they want to be men, the first chance they get.

The students looked at him in anticipation, for they knew, any moment now, he would be called in front of the class, the customary song will be sung and then, will come the best part of celebrating a friend's birthday.

"What chocolate will you give?" asked a bespectacled kid sitting behind him, clearly salivating at the idea.
"Melody." He said.

The bespectacled kid sniffed his nose. Karan Mehta, his father had a paper mill in south Mumbai. His birthday was last week. He gave one 5 star to everyone. In comparison, melody seemed, well, pedestrian. But he didnt care. He knew melody was her favourite. She had told him once. He looked at her. Was she looking? Did she think he looked handsome? She wasnt looking.

"Happy birthday," she said as he gave her the chocolate and shook her hand. "How old are you now?"

"Ten." He lied. He was only 9. He wanted to grow up soon, do grownup things. She looked so pretty. Her pink lips seemed so soft. People think boys are innocent when they are young. The truth is, boys are never really innocent. They always know their thoughts are dirty for their age. As they grow older, the thoughts keep getting dirtier.

He looked at her soft cheeks. He wanted to kiss her on her cheeks, like they show in old movies. But will she get pregnant if he kissed her? That's what happened in those movies. He checked his thoughts.

Such dirty thoughts. She was such a good girl.






Then they were 14. Boys wanted to go to Water Kingdom. They opposed the idea of Essel World. They went there as kids, they said. Water Kingdom was unseen, exciting. What was exciting was the opportunity to see their respective girlfriends in wet shirts. Those were simpler times. Being boyfriend-girlfriend meant you asked the girl if she wanted to be your girlfriend, and then spend the next year getting teased by your friends and avoiding each other.

She wouldnt go. She didnt like water much, or the idea of hormonal 14 year old boys staring at her body. What followed was the first lesson in bribery. He convinced her best friend to go. It wasnt easy. She wanted a SRK poster she had set her eyes on. It was overpriced considering SRK's looks and his acting prowess. She was in. And then he waited for the day.

She came out of the water in a black shirt and grey slacks. Those were simpler times, girls hadnt graduated to wearing anything that showed more than 35% of their skin. It gave passing percentage a whole new meaning. The shirt stuck to her newly developed bosom. The strap of her bra showed. It left a huge impression on his mind and somewhere else. Dirty thoughts.

"You look very pretty." He said. Thank God for testosterone. It does great things to a guy's confidence.

She smiled. She looked away. She hunched her back, trying to hide her assets. But the shirt hugged on to her wet boy. Thankfully.

Such dirty thoughts. She was such a good girl.








Then they were 19. The sea lashed on to the rocks. The sea mirrored what he felt for her. The unrest.

He wanted her. How much longer could he wait. He put his arm across her. Gently, pulled her to him. Her body was soft, soft but stiff. Her body wasnt in sync with her mind. They wanted different things. His grip firmed, and he pulled her gently towards him. She gave in. She placed her head on his shoulder. There was a nip in the air. She wore the green sweater he had gifted her. Green was her favourite colour.

She was so pure. So uncorrupt of all the things wrong in this world. She was so right.

He whispered in her ear-
"I will do bad things to you."

She smiled, only to realise it was wrong. It sounded wrong, bad, dangerous. But for some reason, it left her with a tingling feeling somewhere inside her. She looked away. If only she could fly away from him. If only he wasnt able to make her blush like that. If only he would kiss her.

He looked at her, then at the sea, lashing out on the rocks.

Such dirty thoughts. She was such a good girl.






Then it was that day after what seemed like ages. Where did she start and where did he end as they lay next to each other, sharing dreams, bodies and sweat. He played with her curls. She closed her eyes. He kissed her, playfully biting her.

"I told you I was going to do bad things to you."

"Yes. You did. You are a bad boy."

"And you are such a good girl"

"I love you."

This was the first time she had said it. Not that he had waited for her to say it. He had said it months ago, because thats how he felt about her. How did it matter if she was there yet or not?But it did. If it didnt, why would he feel richer today?

"You love me?" He asked. He wanted her say it again.

"Ever since the first time I saw you in that white floral shirt of yours. You were such a cute kid. And a liar, by the way."

"Liar?"

"Yeah. You werent 10. You were born in the same year as me."

"Why didnt you tell me all these years that you liked me?"

"And miss all the wooing you have done for me?"

"Excuse me! According to my records, it was you who was head over heels in love with me."

"Yeah. Right. That is why I had to distribute melody, bribe my friend with a SRK poster and gift me a green sweater."

"You knew?"

She nodded. Her eyes twinkling with mischief.

And he wanted to do bad things to her again.

Such dirty thoughts. She was such a good girl.





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A city called Mysore

I had the good fortune of living in Mysore for sometime. After a year and a half in Berlin, I was homesick, and in spite of Mysore not being my home, I felt like home here.

The first thing that I think about when I think Mysore, is pleasant weather.

I have a system to rank cities' worth living index. Let's call it the Arshatian City Life Index (I know, I can be more creative, but I am happy as long it has my name in it.)

After living in Berlin, 'living' in this context, means more than just going to college in the morning and parties in the night, 'living' here means being on the street with your packed bags, not knowing where to go. (For some reason, nobody would take us as tenants in Deutschland, wonder why! ). 'Living' means having half an Euro in your pocket and finding that everything on the menu, even coca cola, costs more than 1 Euro! After 'living' in Berlin and quick visits to London and Paris, coupled with hitch hiking through Eastern Europe (I know a post is due about my Euro trip, it's gonna be awesome), I have come up with a city life index to rank cities where I want to live most of my life.

So here goes :
Arshatian City Life Index Parameters (Weightage given in the brackets)

1. Weather (35%) : Weather is one thing that God or nature as you atheist pricks call it, gave you. No amount of GDP growth, centralised AC bathrooms or centrally heated garages are going to make it better. This is where Mysore scores all its points.

2. 24x7 ness (25%): By now, you must have realised I am making up these words, but really, if you know how cool 24x7ness is, you would know why this parameter is so important. I remember going out at 2 in the morning for a glass of milkshake when I was young. Yeah, that's Mumbai for you my dearies. Mysore scores very low on this parameter, though. Everything shuts down at 9 pm. It still does better than Berlin though. Except Falafel shops and clubs which are open all night long till the afternoon next day, everything else shuts down at 8!

3. Public transport (25%) : I am spoilt. I like to be taken from one place to another in a chauffeur driven rickshaw. I dont mind the bus either. I like trains too. This is one of the reasons why most American cities don't match up to the awesomeness that are European city. I don't get it. If Europeans built the US, how come they did such a bad job?
Mysore, like most Indian cities performs dismally. But it is still better than Gurgaon and Pune.

4. Exclusivity (15%) : In Berlin, you the firang! In India, you know how fascinating firangs are to the local folk? Indians are equally fascinating, if not more in Berlin. You have pretty girls come up to you and strike up a conversation...(Or maybe it's just me who's super handsome or something... yeah, we will go with that...) In London, there are more Indians on the roads than the English. I kid you not, there was a British soldier or whatever they are, you know the ones with red uniforms and that absurdly long hat? Yeah, that one was an Indian!
With my south actor looks (and weight) and a mustache to match, I was an insider in Mysore. Clearly it lost all it's 15% here.

There's nothing to see in Mysore or Bangalore for that matter. After you visit European cities, where everything is turned into a tourist spot by the Tourist authorities, you wonder how come such a thing never happens in India.

Anyway, given below are a few observations about Mysore:

* Sweater is all season wear. You will find people wearing sweaters in mid-May! Really, it made me ask one lady why she was wearing a sweater. She said - it's coldaaa.

The extra a's I gather were because of the extra cold, but later I found out that's how people here speak. And yes it does get incredibly cold in the morning. Even in Mid-may! (Europeans reading this blog, incredibly cold means 17 degrees in this country.)

* When people speak in a language you don't know, you talk to them in a language, you yourself arent too fluent in!

No seriously, whenever people started talking to me in Kannada (can't blame them, I had a mustache and south Indian actor looks) I shift to German. Not English, Hindi or Marathi, but German. This is how the conversation went when I once wanted to hire a rickshaw.

"Jayalakshmi puram?"
"Wokay"
"How much?"
"50."
"No. 30." (I can be quite a cheapstake.)
"Jayalakshmi Puram... far madi... naan orkunnai petrol badhai ho badhai... Pranab Mukherjee... nee papa parapo"

I bet he was talking gibberish, but I was bent upon saving 20 rupees. That's 1/3rd of a Euro, my european friends. Yes, I know you guys give away 3 Euros as a tip, but then that is why your GDP is falling and ours is rising. (Did I stoop too low?)

I shifted to German, as an instinct. I didnt do it on purpose. I swear -
"Aber, du musst petrol haben. Kanst du mir lift geben? Volkswagen. Das Auto. Audi. Vorsprung durch Tecknik."

He caught my bluff. He understood I was randomly naming car companies and their tag lines.
"No. 50 mean 50." He did a little twirl with his index finger in the air. I immidiately realised this was not a guy to be messed with. I gave him 50.

* Finding a place in Mysore can be tough. First you have to find a rickshaw driver who you think can speak broken hindi. Second you have to pronounce the name of the place you want to go right.

As an examples, all you north Indians reading this post, say "Kukrahalli Lake" 3 times. Do it in front of your south indian friends so that they can derive some pleasure out of it.

One you have pronounced the tounge twisiting name right, you are in for a treat as the driver tells you where it is.

"Sir, aap seedha jaana... Seedha matlab, straight-aaa. Fir dead end aana, dead end se left-aaa. Wahan pe ek bada building bolna toh, aapka building."

Go interpret.

* If you ask the locals for a place, they can be really vague.
"Anna, Gayathri Tiffin (an eatery in Mysore) kahan hai?"
"Gayathri Tiffin-aaa? Go straight-aaa, right mein ek bada tree hona. Wahan pe Gayathri Tiffin hona."

I went straight and found a big tree every 100 meters.

* The dasherra celebrations in Mysore are the best in the country. The streets are lit up, the palaces are lit up too. Due to this overspending by the Karnataga Govt. for a day, the rest of the year, the street lights are turned off to compensate.

* The filter coffee or "kapi" as they call it here, is the awesomest drink ever. Nothing pulls you up like a good cup of filter kapi. If only the Mysore govt decided to market it right, it would kick Nescafe's butt. Mysore makes Italy small. That is also because Karnataka is bigger in size.


At the end of my stay , I had begun to fall in love with the place. It was quiet, the weather was good, the food was good and the coffee, oh yeah.... It is a lovely place to retire. One part of me wants to buy a house there, the one with a front yard and a back yard. You know, some place where I could have a small garden, grow tomatoes and cauliflowers and chillies. A place where my grandkids could come visit. A place where I could spoil them rotten. Sound like I am getting old. And you know what, it's not that bad...


P.S. - I have been working on my second novel, that explains my absence... I will post an excerpt soon.. :)

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I know I have been missing from the blogosphere and guys who read me, all 3 of you, have been wondering where I am and when I will be back. Well, worry no more, your prayers have been answered.

While you have been praying for my heroic return, I had been writing my second novel. It is ready and kicking in my belly (Pregnancy metaphor!) waiting to conquer the world. So now that I am done with that, I return to what I liked doing the most. Blogging. so here goes ...

A friend's friend who just returned from the US to settle in India wrote about the top 10 things she misses about the US. That got me thinking, what do I miss about Germany. But the Indian that I am, what do I not miss about Germany too. So given below are the two lists.




What I miss about Germany:


1. German Bakery, which they call just "Bakery" in Germany.

"Bread has it's own taste, it has a special texture which depends on the grain used, the temperature of the oven, the time of the year," said a German friend of mine when I said "Bread is just Bread." She scolded me for being such a jerk and made me apologise to a loaf of bread.

Well, for Germans, bread is not just bread, it is a way of life. And I miss it more than anything else. Ah, those Mozzarella sandwiches, the Mozzarella warm from the warm bread just out of the oven, the cold lettuce, the tomato, the cucumber.... sigh....


2. Buses

So, how do you identify a over-developed country? Good roads? No homeless people? Good public transport? Right? Wrong!
All these things define only a developed country - a US, a Qatar or a Italy. An over-developed country is the one where the buses bend towards the sidewalk as you get down. Yes. They have so much money that they can make a bus BEND!


3. Extra Virgin olive oil

So what is Extra Virgin really? What are other olive oils? Just Virgin? And what about olive oils who have had sex? And what about the ones who have babies? What are they called? Mommy and Poppy Olive oil? And what if they have many babies? Extra Mommy and Poppy olive oil?
The point being, I love olive oil. In India, regardless of how much you pay to get that oil shipped, it just doesnt remain the same.


4. Red Wine.

"You-have-a-to-a-try-a-this," said my Italian friend pouring me a glass of red.
To be honest, I didnt think I would like it. I was hoping I wouldnt, considering the cost of these things. I had the first sniff, sipped it, made it cure for sometime in my oral cavity and yessss.... the thrill of strong Italian wine!!!
"How-do-you-like-a-this?" He asked.
"I-like-a-this-very-much-thank-you" I said. I had become Italian!! With just one sip!

I dont dig alcohol, and I dont understand why people go so crazy over it. Blessed with some phenomenal alcohol breaking genes, I have never gotten really drunk, I have never had a hangover and have always repented spending on booze the other day.

I have had some really exquisite wines in my life. Some of the bottles have cost more than 70 Euros, and all of them have changed me as a person. Okay, maybe not. But you get the point.

Whatever you do, dont spend money on French wine. I told a French friend of mine that french women might be pretty, but your wine is nothing to write home about. She got terribly angry with me. Don't say anything about french wine to a french person. They get mad.

If you are Indian your taste buds are used to a certain amount of tingling which the mild french wine just doesnt offer. There. I said it.

The smell of that Italian wine stayed with me forever. I have forgotten the taste, but I swear I can sometimes smell it when I think about it.


5. Blonde babies

God, they are cute. They are good enough to eat. I should know. Burp.


6. Berlin Summer

If you need any evidence that there is a God, and he is a man, you have to visit Berlin in the summer. The country has a winter that lasts 6 months and there are days when you look out of the window and it's like the end of the world. So any presence of Sun is an invitation for the women to show their legs. I have never seen so many near perfect legs together.


7. Wissen Bier

It is wheat beer. It is made out of wheat grain. It is smoooooooth. Beer is an acquired taste. I still havent fully acquired it and I dont think I ever will but Wissen Beer my friend, that is something different.


8. Falafel

If I had a Euro for every time I said - "Ein falafel bitte"
I had so many falafels in Berlin that I became 22% Falafel. I knew the names of the Falafel joints in the city and they knew my name. The Falafel servers were the best German teachers ever. Maybe that is why I speak with a turkish accent! Ah!


9. On-time travel

Okay, so I might be an Indian, but I am more of a Mumbaikar. India is nothing like Mumbai. In fact nothing is quiet like Mumbai. Trains run on time, buses are almost always on time, people dont turn up late for meetings... It is a special place. So, it's not that I am not used to on-time travel. But really, Germany's on time travel is something you could write a book on - for eg-

We were waiting for a bus.
Me: It is 3:43 and the bus is not here yet
Friend: Yeah, it is 3:46 in my watch. Kahan hai yeh bus?
Me: Teri ghadi fast hai?
Friend: No idea. Teri on time hai kya?

Just then the bus arrived and we got in. We quickly checked the timing in our watches. Mine said 3.44 and my friend's said 3.47. The bus was supposed to arrive at 3.41. So according to my watch, it was 3 mins late.

We came home and checked the time online. Turns out my watch was 3 mins fast and friend's watch was 6 mins fast. The bus was on time, our watches werent. We could have adjusted the time according to the bus! No how cruelly awesome is tht?


10. Smooth roads and Mercedes Taxis

Ah, the roads. I have written a very patriotic and moving post about a pothole in Berlin. Enough written.

The 3 pointed star... ah beauty. If I was a car, I would be a Mercedes SLR and I would marry a Mercedes C class and then we would have small Volkswagen mini kids (Dont ask me how two Mercedes give birth to a Volkswagen,it's complicated...)

***



What I missed about India in Germany:


1. Cheap food

The money I used to spend on eating out in Germany could have been used for nobler causes like feeding Rishi, Shammi and Raj Kapoor uncle ke families. Food is so cheap here. I convert everything into euros when I go out and I have a huge smile on my face when I pay the bill.


2. Cheap domestic help

Yeah, go ahead. Call me lazy. Call me a slave driver. (You shouldnt if you are white, because really, you were the slave driver!) But the truth is, doing household chores is no fun!

Now I have met women whose hobbies included cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom (thts one more thing I miss about Germany, meet interesting women!) but it's not my style. I have a simple funda - Life is about doing what u want when u want. *applause people*

I once calculated how much time I spent in a week cleaning my room. It came up to 4 hours in a week! Do you know how productive I could have been in those 4 hours? Okay, not much, but, I dont wanna do it! And I shouldnt have to spend half my salary on getting domestic help!


3. The weather (Mumbai)

This is true only for Mumbai. Okay, if you talk about the muggy weather, I ask you to name one city where you can land without checking weather.com and carrying extra sweaters! I cite, Delhi's +45 degrees of heat and Berlin's -15 degrees of cold and ask you to compare it with 25 degrees all the time in Mumbai land :)


4. Good veg food

The first week that I spent in Germany, I used to look at all foods with an eye of suspicion that comes after years of travelling in crowded trains with a full wallet (What? I have a rich dad?). Everything seemed to contain meat or fish or some other animal. And they dont even consider Fish as meat. Fish is considered vegetarian! How?

I went to a posh hotel in Paris once, ordered wine, over priced of course and French, of course, they bite if u ask for any other wine. They bit off a friend's small finger, it adorns the walls of that hotel now with a tag saying -'Attention sil vous plait, hand will be bite, if ask for other wine. French wine, best wine. C'est la vie.' So coming back to the point, the restaurant had a menu that ran into pages, but they had no vegetarian dish. Zero Veg dishes. I had to finally order odd tasting noodles with vegetables, for which i was overcharged because - "Monsieur, thees ees Chef's speciaaale noodles.."


5. Hindi movies

Downloading is illegal in Germany, okay I know it's illegal in most parts of the developed world, but there they actually enter ur apartment put you and your laptop in jail, which if u ask me, defeats the entire purpose. For all they know, i might be watching sitcoms on my laptop in jail

Now in India, I can watch Zindagi Milega Na Dobara on the big screen and feel bad about paying money for what I could have seen in Germany for free. Any movie that Farhan Akhtar acts in, should be declared tax free, and that money should be taken from Mr. Javed Akhar for giving birth to a boy who has no acting skills whatsoever and thinks he can act. (Arre, yeh toh review ban gaya!)


6. Rickshaw and taxi tht dont cost a bomb

You know how much a richshaw ride costs me in Mumbai? Rs. 11. That is 20 cents. And I reach my destination in one piece (Well, most of the times)

In Berlin, I had to think if I should take the taxi or not. Okay, agreed that all Taxis are Mercedes, but really, sometimes i just want to get from place A to place B without spending my month's salary on the travel.


7. Air conditioners

In the birth place of Mechanical engg, how come they dont have Air conditioners installed anywhere. In berlin, you can sometimes sweat to death. Fyi, Summer Max temp in Berlin is more than that in Mumbai. There are gang wars in Berlin on which gang will get to use the table fan. Many die every summer.

The thing I love about India is, every big shop has an air conditioner and they do not cost a bomb so most of your engg friends can also afford it, making it logical to remain frds with them.


8. 24x7 transport

Mumbai again. See, how this post became what I miss about Mumbai from what I miss about India? That's how cool that city is. Well, not cool as in cold, it's quite humid that way.

You can get from point A to point B in Mumbai at 3 in the morning. You dont have to book cabs on phone or anything. just walk out on to the street and hail a taxi. Trains work round the clock. They say they shut down for 1 hour sometime, I am yet to find what hour. Note: There is a fair chance you wont get a place to sit in the train, unless you board it during non-rush hours, which again I have told is for 1 hour sometime, I am yet to find what hour.


9. Sunday open

This is only for the troubled souls who have spent time in one the better European country like Germany or France, you know, countries who place a lot of importance on silly and useless things like quality of life.

Sunday, everything is closed that includes malls, departmental stores, drug stores, after all the cashiers at the counter need their rest. It can get very tiring - counting money, opening drawers, returning change, closing the drawer.

Here, in mumbai, (I have quit talking bout India, I have a awesomer place to talk about.) everything is open 24x7x364 (15th August is a holdiday)


10. Friends and Family

Yeah, the sensitive guy that I am, I had to include this. It was either this or "Desh ki mitti ki khusboo" (Which is a real thing, btw).

I missed my friends and family when I was in Germany. I remember thinking about my friends and saying to myself - 'They werent all that bad, eh?'. And I missed my sister the most. I have realised there are so many inside jokes that we share. Some of our jokes are single syllable which only we can understand among ourselves... And I am sure my friends miss me, I mean, seriously, how many awesome mes are there in India? And my sister definitely missed me - she said so once every 3 months, which going by her fake pride means she missed me every 3 days. And why not, my parents dont understand any of her jokes! They give her pity laughs! Pity laughs, my friends!


So that is that. Now that I have showed my sensitive side to you, your heart must be full and your eyes must be watery. I know you must want to pour your heart out to me, to tell me how much u missed me while I was gone. To that I say, wipe your tears, and let it pour in the comments...


Till then... Ich sagt, Gesundheit!

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10 real dumb things to do in Mumbai


I was wondering what dumb things can one do in Mumbai. I dont know why I was wondering about it. I guess, I have too much free time. So here is a list of 10 really dumb things to do in Mumbai. If you have done dumber things, please mention it in the comments.

1. Take S.V road near Andheri or Tulsi pipe road on a weekday between 8.30 am to 10.30 pm. One summer afternoon, I took an autorickshaw from andheri Station to my college at SP via S.V. Road. It took me 30 minutes to cover 200 meters on S.V. road. I got down from the rickshaw after 30 minutes, walked 600 more meters and reached my college.
There will be a day when people will meet on S.V. Road, get married, have children and die all on S.V. Road.

2. Take the Virar fast from Dadar when you have to get down at Andheri.
I once took it, and repented it for the rest of my life. When I wanted to get out at Andheri, I asked a bhaiyya standing in front of me -
"Bhaiyya, Andheri utarna hai kya?"
"Arre yeh Virar train hai, ismein Andheri mein utarna mana hai..."
When girls in germany would ask me if I ever got in a fight, I would think about that day and say - yes.
And yes, I did get down at Andheri.

3. Call any marathi guy a "bhaiyya". All around India, "bhaiyya" stands for big brother. It is respectful way of addressing someone. But not in Mumbai. Not in Mumbai.

4. Riding a bike without a helmet. YOU.WILL.GET.CAUGHT.

5. Not stopping at a red signal. While all over India, it's accepted to break traffic rules, they are taken very seriously here in Mumbai. Dont do it.

6. Going to see Lalbaug's Raja on the 10th day of Ganpati. The line outside is so long it goes on for miles. It is crazy. Children get lost, some get interchanged, it's all good.

7. Say bad things about Sachin Tendulkar while travelling in a local train. You will get BASHED, thrown out of the train etc.

8. Asking a cabbie or a rickshaw - "Bandra jaaneka hai.. kitna lega?" He wont charge you more but you might get a curt reply - "Mumbai mein naya aayela hai kya?"
This is the only city in India in which the cabs run on the meter. THE ONLY CITY.

9. Asking - "What is that smell?"
Well, every area here smells of something. The air here is composed of 50% Nitrogen, 15% Oxygen and rest 25% is the smell. It can be anything from rock salt, burning tyres, decaying vegetables, or just good old body odour. Mostly it is a mixture of it all. So dont ask "What is that smell?" There is no right answer to it.

10. Not bargaining with the guys at hill road and fashion street. You HAVE to bargain. If you dont want to bargain, go to a mall to buy stuff. Or, get ready to pay 900 Rupees (15 Euros) for a pair of boxer shorts.

So that's my list. What is your list?
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That piece of brick...


Short Story




It was a cold November afternoon. The year 1989. I was 19 years old. My friends and I were walking down the streets of Berlin with sledgehammers. Walking alongside of us were so many others like us.

I am German. No, I am not 6 feet 4 inches tall and I am not blonde with blue eyes. It is just an image that the Americans have propagated of the Germans. I look like any other European or American, for that matter. I am 6 feet tall and I have dark brown hair and light brown eyes.

I was born in East Berlin. I grew up here. And there was a time when I thought I would die here. I never thought a day would come when I would be able to cross the wall and step onto the western side of Berlin. I had heard it was sparsely populated. I had heard that there were rich people who lived in those parts. They had enough to eat. I had heard.

Who would have thought the communist model would fail so miserably? Everything seemed so right about communism. After we lost the war and were divided into pieces, I dont think any of us were particularly worried about being on the communist side of Berlin. I mean, even if things got worse, we could easily walk over to the other side and start a new life. It was afterall the same country. We, on this side were Germans, as were the folks on the other side.

My father was a staunch communist. It wasnt a derogatory term then as it is now. Actually, if you were 20 and werent a communist, you didnt have a heart. I say, if you are 30 and are still a communist, you dont have a brain. Communism is good, only if you arent human and are untouched by greed. Capitalism is the naked truth. It accepts us for what we are. Greedy little swines. We dont have to put up an act. Capitalism serves us right. Not that it's a permanent solution, as you will see.

My father was such a strong supporter of the communist government that he offered help to build up the Berlin wall. He was 19 years old then. The same age as I was on that cold November afternoon of 1989. Youth back then was so confused. I wonder, if we were any better and I bet our kids at 19 would be more messed up that we are. My father helped build a section of the wall near Checkpoint Charlie. My mother used to tell me that he was mighty proud of it. He really wanted East Germany to flourish. "Communism is the right way" he used to say. But then you cant be that stupid all your life. In the summer of 1971, only weeks after I was born, he tried jumping the Berlin wall, right over the section of the wall that he had helped build.

He was shot by a Russian sniper.

And that was that. If you ask me, I rather be dead that stupid all my life. My father died a smart man's death.

My mother, a qualified German teacher would get paid only as much as the Janitor in the school. It frustrated her. In those days, German as a language was losing its sheen. The Russian Govt. wanted the kids to learn Russian. The lack of importance to her mother language made her bitter. She had never been a Communist. If you ask me, she has never been anything. She doesnt feel the need to join a group to be recognized. She doesnt really love anything, except a green sweater that her mother made for her. She doesnt hate anyone. Not even the communist government. The only thing she hated from the bottom of her heart was the Berlin wall. It took away her husband. The Wall first flirted with their hopes and then crushed them.

I didnt see the wall till I was 15 years old. My mother had forbidden me from seeing it. She said it was evil. It was tainted with the blood of millions of Germans and of my father. It was only when I was in the marching band in our school that we had to pass through Checkpoint Charlie and I got to see the wall. It was all bricks and stone. It had graffiti all over it with words like - Freiheit (freedom).

And now we were walking towards the Wall, sledgehammers in hand - to claim exactly that - Our Freiheit.


***

I came back home that night. I opened the door and entered the living room. My mother was sitting in her chair knitting a woolen cap for me.

"I am sorry," I said. She looked up at me. "I am sorry, I went to see the wall when I was 15. And I went there today."

She kept looking at her once obedient son, finding reasons for the disobedience.

I kept a piece of brick on the table next to her.

"The Wall is no more, mother."

Tears swelled up in her eyes. All the pain, the hate, found their way out.

The End.

Dedicated to Antonia Kaul, Hillena Einfeld, Matt Gottwald, Thomas Pallien and all my German friends.

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Those 5 minutes...






She stood alone on the crowded Mohammad Ali road... Where did he go? Maybe he was thirsty and went to get a drink... But he could have stayed put in one place at least till she got back... Now she was angry... She didnt spend much time adoring that kurti at display in the window... Pretty things catch her eye. That was probably her only handicap... She could not resist pretty... And now he was gone.


1 minute.

She kept looking for him.. doing 360 degree turns all over... all she saw were people... There are so many of them in this country, she thought... And still her heart goes out to one boy... And he cant even stay put in one place.... What was he - a 5 year old?



Why does she miss him so much? How did she fall so much in love with him, that his absence would make her feel so alone... Or was she worrying... Worrying about him? But he is not a 5 year old - in spite of the way he behaves around her... She knew he was known to the city as much the city was known to him... He could not get lost, or could he?


She saw a constable dressed in khakhi buying a glass of chai outside a tea stall... Should she ask him if he could find him? Would he laugh at her?


He wouldnt get lost now, would he? He will find his way back home... But was it him she was worried about? Or was it herself... She was left alone in the middle of a crowded street... She knew the way back home... She knew should would reach home safely.. then why the worry?

The noisy street started to turn quiet... No noise could reach her eardrums or maybe the eardrums failed to send the vibrations to her brain which was now heavy with worry...

What should she do?


2 minutes.

Some maulvis passed by her after their evening prayer...What could she do? Go ask the maulvis? What would them holy people know! Who could she ask? There was a boy selling mango juice... He must have seen him... but he seemed so busy mixing the juice with his ladle!

Ah... he is so stupid... If he is hiding behind one of these shops, she will punch him in his stomach, she thought...


3 minutes.


The first drop made its appearance in her eye... She was helplessness.

He tapped on her right shoulder and stood next to her left side, while she turned right expectedly, only to find him standing on her left....


Anger... Hate... Relief... Love... All this for him. Stupid boy.


"I am sorry," he said.


He had an apologetic smile stuck on his face. She looked at his smile. She so wanted to punch him , but God, she loved his smile.


4 minutes.


It was a joke! Why did she have to be so worried about it! Silly girl. Worries so much. He shouldnt joke around with this sweet girl. How much he hated seeing her cry... Why would she cry? Did she think he left without taking her with him? Of course not... She knew it was joke... didnt she?

"I was worried," she said with a stream of tears flowing down her cheeks.


She was worried. When was the last time someone had been so worried about him. She cared for him. She was scared of losing him. She wanted him too. Her stream of tears brought a wave of satisfaction with them for him. He meant something to someone.


"I just left for 4 minutes," he said using reason to justify.


That is it? 4 minutes? It seemed so much longer. She looked at her watch. Yes. Only 4 minutues.


She worries so much. Why is that attractive? How he wanted to take her in his arms, console her... Should he, in a crowded street like this? Would she be comfortable? Was he thinking about someone else's comfort? Since when did he start doing that... Should he hold her hand? Maybe he should... He liked her... He could hold her close to him... It is okay... So many people brushed past him... On a crowded street, where unknown people come too close for comfort, it was considered wrong to hold your girl close to you... This whole country is an oxymoron of sorts...


When he looks at her, why does it become so uncomfortable for her. He made her so concious of herself. His look could pierce everything.


He held her hand... She was the only one on the street that probably had around 6000 people about 10 seconds ago. The shops disappeared.. The shopkeepers were gone... The street transformed... Now it was just an empty street... Her big brown eyes... Her dark long hair... Her soft hand...Did HE who made her fall in love with her too? An empty street... It got quiet...


He held her hand... Why is he holding her hand... There are so many people around them... They all seem to be watching... What if someone sees them... Is it wrong? But this is a street... The way he looks at her... He seems to be calm... Doesnt he get scared? What would she give to get him scared like he did to her just 5 minutes ago... His smile can make him get away with murder, cant it? An empty street... It got quiet...


"I love you," he said, "I guess, I always have... always wanted to tell you..."


"I love you too," she said,"what took you so long?"

It stayed quiet in the empty street, when slowly, the 6000 people started to return... starting from the end of the street... Soon their noise filled the street... The shops re-appeared...


5 minutes


Those 5 minutes...






















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What really is PGPIM at MDI, Gurgaon?

Everywhere I go, I have been asked this question - What the hell is PGPIM at MDI, Gurgaon?

How do you end up in ESCP after enrolling this course?
How do you get to work in HeadQuarters of Fortune 500 companies?
Why do you have so many pretty girls in your FB friend list?
Why are you so awesome?
How are you so awesome?

Well, this post will answer all the above questions, well, most of them anyway...



I have juniors, to-be juniors, their cousins, peers from other colleges ask me how does PGPIM work exactly? (IM stands for International Management, PGP stands for.. umm.. I dont remember :P). Well let me tell you how to get into this amazing program, the pros of getting in, the cons, the foreign trips etc.

I would like to mention that I am doing a great service to that zealous junior who handles all the posts on pagalguy.com (there is a humongous thread on PGPIM on PagalGuy, I dont think any other prog has been discussed in so much detail). I am also doing a great service to the Corp Communications cell in MDI, who have absolutely no idea on how to market this gem of a product.

So now coming to the main business of this post - What is PGPIM?

PGPIM is the International Management prog of MDI which is by miles, the toughest course in the country. Yeah, IIMs can take a hike... Compared to what we do, they are Alice in Wonderland.. (students are referred to as Alice, IIM being the wonderland)

The course is divided in two stages. The first stage is here in India at MDI's as-beautiful-as-a-French-girl campus. It lasts for 8 months. These 8 months will be the toughest in your life. These 8 months wont let you sleep for more than 5 hours per night, and that is NOT after watching 4 seasons of How I met your mother and 2 hours of gupshup with friends, this is after attending 9 hours of lectures, 4 hours of assignments and 3 hours of studying for surprise tests etc. There were days when I had to think if I should take a bath or sleep for 20 minutes. Invariably, sleep won. I apologize to all my classmates for the smell.

The course starts in June, along with the normal management PGPM (I make them sound so lowly, but if you spend some time in an IM class, you ll know what I am talking about) and the girly HR batch.

The firangs from the five ESCP campuses join us in July. The course in India, or stage 1 as I have called it ends in February with the firangs swearing that they wont take any course in India again just coz the competition is so damn fierce, but at the same time marveling at the amazing quality of the MDI professors. Indian students on the other hand look 5 years older than what they used to because of the strenous programme. IM students probably dont love MDI as much at PGPM or HR guys, and if you think about it, IM guys spend only 1/10th of the time other batches spend loitering in the mess or Nescafe or the dome, they fall in love with their batch-mates and not the college campus (in spite of its beauty and everything). I can tell you stories of when the Indian students stood up for the foreign kids and vice-versa and it will make you feel amazing, in spite of the fact that it had nothing to do with you. Thats how awesome the class unity was during our time.

After 8 months of learning in MDI, team work, stretching oneself to the limit, comes the easy part - Foreign study. For the lucky ones among you, you will get Paris or some other girly campus. For the unlucky ones, you will be thrown into the berlin campus - the only campus in ESCP which can talk of being tough.

ESCP has 5 campuses - Berlin, Paris, London, Madrid and Turin. London has been closed to Indian students due to visa issues and also coz their Government is freaking stupid! (How can you not allow Indians from among the best B schools in India!) In their defense, top Indians have taken away their jobs!

The degree you get from MDI is called PGPIM and the one from ESCP is called MEB. Yes, it is a dual degree course! MEB stands for Master of European Business. Berlin also offers MSc which is a govt. recognized degree. It was free during our time but now I guess they charge for it. So, you gotta check out whats the current stat on that.

You are done with your MEB by the end of July. If you choose to do the Msc then you are done by September. But after you have accumulated the degrees comes the best part of the whole course - Also the reason why I put PGPIM at MDI, Gurgaon above all other colleges in India, including the IIMs (they are more ordinary than you think) excluding ISB though, their prog sounds almost as strong as PGPIM.

And that reason is an international internship and by international I mean international in the real sense! I worked for Bayer, World Head Quarters. I was in a 3 member team that was responsibe for the #1 branded antibiotic in the world. There are bio companies in India which make less money as a company than we made with 1 brand!!!

My boss was Australian, my team mates, British and German. I was the youngest guy on the whole floor, that just goes to show how much one has to work till they made way on this floor! I got in through with just 3 master degrees in my kitty!

No other B-school in India could have given me this opportunity. The IIM kids who go to work in Investment banks in London usually end up making ppts and printing out copies. (I am suspecting an anti-defamation case by IIM, but even they know I am not lying).

My stay at Berlin, where I stayed for more than a year, also allowed to make friends with not only people who came from the same educational background as mine, but I also got to be friends with a German rapper, an ice-hockey player, a professional marathon runner, etc. There is something to learn from each of them. The learning just cant be compared to what I would have had I stayed in the MDI campus. Though, that wouldnt have been too bad either.

Now coming to the cost aspect - If I take into consideration what I spent and what I earned in my internship, I ended up spending 2 lakh more than my PGPM peers. However for the ones who ended up doing a exchange prog for 3 months, spent almost as much I did, without the same level of learning of course!

Now, the most important part - The reason why you are doing an MBA in the first place - the money, honey! Yes, foreign placements are possible. Rare, but possible. But it just depends if you wanna stay in Europe or not. If you come from one of the awesome cities in India (there is just one, and we all know what city I am talking about), Europe can be a little tough to adjust. But if you have burnt your boats back home, and are ready to slog it out, European dream can turn into a reality.

Lets say you dont get to work in Europe, you can always come back to India and sit for placements along with PGPM guys. Now here lies a small problem. The guys in MDI dont push PGPIM as much as they push PGPM (and I dont care if placecomm sues me, they know what I am saying is true) and the trouble with that is, the companies just dont know what we are all about.

The day I signed up for placements, I knew all I had to do was attend one interview and I couldnt be rejected. My CV is quite a gold mine! The problem with that is though, unlike Europe, here you have to clear horrible GDs and you are up against PGPM guys who have quite a way with them as they have given 10 GDs each during their summers while we got internships in Europe through pure interviews only. Anyway, once you clear even one GD, you get through the first interview you give. It happened with 90% of the IM batch, yours truly included.

Hmm... I think I have said all that I wanted to. For some reason I think I have made more enemies than friends with this post.. But then, what good is all this education if it doesnt make you a little more courageous than you were!

P.S. - I might not answer all the questions you direct at me, but if I have forgotten to mention something about the course or you would like to know more, drop a question in the comments...

P.P.S. - If you have got in, dont even think about any other course -There is just no other like this one. Come with a Arshat Chaudhary seal of quality man!






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I have seen Vinod Kambli cry...

I have seen Vinod Kambli cry. Not like grown men cry when they lose someone important in their life, but like children do, when they feel helpless and confused and frustrated...

More than 15 years have passed since that Semi-final in Eden Gardens in World Cup 1996. But those images refuse to leave me. The image of Kambli crying. The image of the stands at Eden Garden burning. The image of glass bottles littered on the ground. The image of the Ranatunga leading his men off the ground.

As kids, I remember, the only sport we followed was cricket. Kids those days didnt follow football or F1. Most of us didnt even know what FIFA stood for. For us, there was only one sport that mattered - Cricket.

I was 11 when 1996 World Cup was played in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. You didnt learn the significance of this event till you saw men standing outside Electronics stores, standing on their toes to get one glimpse of the batsman. You didnt realise the importance of the World Cup till you heard your male friends talk about the last match, very much like their fathers did with their friends, singing praises of the players if India won and completely degrading them if India lost!

I remember asking my father if India had ever won the World Cup. I dont know if you remember, but for some reason, we had very little faith in our players back then.It was that era when Indians didnt deem India good enough to win any major sporting competition. I was pleasantly surprised when I learnt that we had..Kapil Dev's men had.. So did that mean we could do it again? Of course we could! And we were playing at home!

Then came the quarter finals of India vs. Pakistan. You thought Wednesday's game was awesome? Wait till I tell you this -

Have you, in all the matches you have watched, seen an umpire ask a batsman to ask the crowd in the stands to keep noise levels down coz he cant hear the stump mic? Well, I have. The batsman was Ajay Jadeja! He went hitting the Paki bowlers out of the park and the crowd went crazy, so much so, the noise levels didnt allow the umpire to hear the stump mic! Jadeja had to walk up to the stands and request them to shut the hell up! How cool, just how cool, is that!!!

We went into the semi-finals hoping to thrash Sri-Lanka out of the tournament. We believed we could do it. It had been 2 World Cups since we last won. We thought we could win. Only, we didnt win....

I have such a clear memory of that match in Eden Gardens... The one we lost to Sri Lanka.

I dont know why I remember it so clearly. Maybe it is because it was my first heart-break. Maybe it was because I had learnt that cricket players, the ones whom we saw hit humongous sixers out of grounds the size of our school campus, while we at age 11 couldnt even connect bat to ball properly, were after all human. They felt hurt and helpless just like we did when we got a poor score in Math.

I have such a clear memory of that fateful match...I even remember the commentary. I remember Srinath got Jayasurya and Kaluwitharna out cheaply. I remember the hindi commentator exclaiming "Aaj toh Javagal srinath ball nahi, aag ke gole barsa rahe hain!" At home we rejoiced. The two danger men were out cheaply. Only to be undone by a strong partnership between Arvind D'Silva and Ranatunga.

But we still thought we could win that match. After all, we had Sachin in the team. And then I remember during the 24th over when wickets were falling all around him the commentator said - "He's trying, he's trying hard.. But this is a big ground and he is a small man..." The fact that small man has now close to 100 centuries in One dayers is another story.

I remember how the Indian supporters turned against Indian team all in a matter of hours. A section of Eden Gardens started throwing glass bottles on the ground & burning down the wooden seats.



Vinod Kambli had come in to bat at no.5 and he had seen his team mates depart on what was turning out to be a mine-field of a wicket... He had hung in there for an hour or so scoring around 10 runs or so... It was impossible that India would win. The crowd in Eden Gardens couldnt take that defeat well...

The umpires called the game off and Ranatunga lead his team off the ground. Vinod stayed behind hoping that the crowd will give him one last chance. But the rioting didnt stop. As he walked back to the pavillion, alone, he burst into tears.




I was just 11. I had never seen a grown man cry before. You were made fun of and called names if you cried in front of your friends, and here Vinod was, crying in front of a live crowd. His team mates in the dressing room saw him, his friends must have been watching him on TV, his parents must have seen him... He cried in front of the nation.

Heroes shouldnt cry in front of their fans... It makes the fans realise how ordinary their heroes are, how human.

Vinod's career after that match was rather uneventful. He had a forgettable average. He was dropped from the team soon and then soon, he gave up cricket.

***

Come saturday we will face the Lankans again. Only this time, we wont lose. 15 years have passed since that semi-final. Now, it's our time.

We are going to win the world cup 2011.

I am not being cocky. I am just telling you what fate has in store for us.

It would be unfair to not grant Sachin his World Cup. It would be unfair to Sourav Ganguly after all the work he put in to make this a world champion. It would be unfair to Dhoni after the leadership he has shown. It would be unfair to all Indians who are born after 1983, for they havent seen an Indian lift the World Cup. It would be unfair for those 50 year olds, who were 25 when Kapil Dev lifted the World Cup and have been waiting ever since to see the Indian team win the cup again.

It would be unfair if India didnt win. It is no longer about which team played better cricket on that day. It is about destiny.

And our destiny, is no longer, a matter of chance...


UPDATE: Indians have WON the World Cup 2011!!! (02 April 2011)
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The Screwdriver : The awesomeness of youth


I was a good kid. Really was. And then a good teenager. My parents must have been really proud of me or something. I think the problem with being a good kid is that you start seeing yourself as the world sees you.


Engineering like other professional courses, if done properly, ends up teaching you more about life than about the subject itself. It pushes you to your limit, makes you realise that you might be the best in the city, but stand 15th in your class coz all 14 of them are the best in the city! It is not a good thing for a 20 year old's ego.

I first heard "The Sunscreen song" when I was 20 years old and in the 2nd year of Mechanical Engineering.





I was undergoing a very difficult phase. I think the process of becoming a man from a boy is always a difficult one. No, it is not a physical or a hormonal process. You could be 35 and still be just a boy. This process is tougher, it's emotional, but once you are through, there is nothing quite like it.


Everyday, through Facebook messages and fan mails, I have 20 year olds, not very unlike the way I was, asking for advice about how they could get their girls back or how difficult their jobs are or how confused they are regarding a career choice they have to make. I wish I could answer all their emails and offer them advice, in spite of the fact that I am as ordinary as they come and dont have much experience in life and such compared to what their parents, siblings, friends would have, I do wanna help.



The Screwdriver.






As a young boy, I watched my Mechanical Engineer father fix a broken hinge or a loose compartment door with just a twist of a Screwdriver. Screwdriver fixes everything. No tool box is complete without a screw driver.



If I can offer you one advice for the future, Screwdriver would be it.



I am going to dispense that advice - Now.



Enjoy the awesomeness of your youth, even if youth to you means studying 12 hours a day, commuting to college, attending boring lectures, bruised hearts and itchy pimples. You will look back on these years, sitting on the swivel chair in your office, looking out of the window, sipping coffee...... And feel proud of yourself.



Take time to set your beliefs and form your opinions. Then work hard to defend them. All this while keeping allowances, for they might not be all correct.



Sing.


Even if you don't like your voice. Even if others dont. Bathrooms were designed to make you better singers and nobody has to know.



Don't be jealous of people around you who you think have got it all... When you get to know them better, you realise they dont! Their lives are only as perfect as yours and the millions around you. If you learn to do this, tell me how.



Love.


Love someone... even if you hate the world... love at least one person & when you do, do so with everything you got... It's not love if it doesnt take everything you got.



Spend some time on a beach or a hill. You will realise you probably arent as important as you thought!



Make somebody smile each day.


And when you find that smile you want to spend your life with, let them know...



Do get married.


In spite of what the divorce rates in your country tell you, In spite of what your divorced friends tell you... if you want someone for life, make them yours...


Do NOT sign pre-nuptials, it is the worst thing you could do to yourself.



Understand that money brings freedom to you, but making money needs you to give your freedom away.



Be minimalistic in the way you live your life. Buying many things or too many things you dont want, will make you give up a lot of things you will need in the future. If you don't understand this statement, dont worry, everything will be alright...



Everything is alright. In spite of the 70 year olds who keep telling you that its not. Dont worry, you will be 70 one day and feel the same. But till you reach that age - Everything is alright.



Write.


Even if you cant throw a sentence together. Write something for someone - even if it's a thank you note for the old lady at the bakery.



Support the underdog in a fight. The stronger competitor has fans. All the underdog's got is your support!



There is no better feeling in the world, than proving the world wrong. Prove the world wrong. Time and again.



Put trust in yourself. And then work hard to keep it.



Don't be scared to be alone. That is the only time you will get to learn more about yourself.



Understand that your salary, like other unimportant things in your life like your high school scores, is just a number.



Don't watch porn or Do watch porn.


Either way, know that porn, like a Tarantino movie - has no class and no hint of reality to it.



Nature has a plan for you. Be smart enough to decipher it. Go turn off the light in the living room. Now.



Spend some time away from the cities in the open world. It will do you a world of good.



Run.


If you are ashamed to, run behind a bus, acting like you have to catch it. If the bus stops, quietly walk away. There will be another day, another bus.



Remember the compliments, forget the criticisms. However, dont let either change who you are!


Don't feel bad if something that you worked hard for didnt pan out. If this didnt, something else will. I can't tell you what, but something...



Laugh, out loud. (Don't let it be just an internet acronym)



Listen to your parents. Respect their wisdom. But take your own decisions and be man enough to stick by them. Take responsibilty of the consequences.



Love your parents. Love your siblings. They are a lot like you and you will miss them when you dont get to see them everyday.



Believe in Karma. The world is a system that works according to rules. In 25 years of my life I have realised that Karma is definitely one of them.



Dont be heartbroken by failure, in love or life... Learn from it and know that success wont taste so sweet if it wasnt for the failures.



Have kids. Cute ones. Know that biological clock that's ticking? It was put there for a reason.



Live in suburban Mumbai once, learn first hand why there is nothing like it in the whole wide world... But leave once you start falling in love, for you wont be able to live anywhere else... Live in Old Delhi once, you will know why it's awesome to be Indian.



Everything that's good and bad in this world is due to ego. Only if we could learn to use it better.



Look at your best friends through the years, try to find what traits were common in them - you will end up knowing yourself better... If you have had the same best friend through the years, know that you are very lucky.



Dont be ashamed if you are 20 and dont know what to do with your life - You have such thoughts when you think you can do everything, but just cant decide what you wanna do. Dear 20 year old, rejoice, for you will do well in life.



Advice is almost always autobiographical, only, it's more optimistic than the autobiography itself. Be careful as to whose advice you buy. But be patient with the ones who supply it.



But whatever you do, keep a screwdriver in your toolbox.Trust me, Screwdriver fixes everything!


-Arshat Chaudhary


__________________________________


Dedicated to all the early 20 year old followers of this blog, my facebook fans and everybody who is young and going through a crisis. Trust me, It ll be alright.

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Welcome to the New Decade...

As a kid I used to love New Year eve... It was one of those days when you could spend all night being awake - all night meaning 12.30 am. There would be these comedy programs on DD-1, some of them were really good. Good times those were - we were young, fireworks were limited to Diwali and even DD-1 had good programming.

Things change in every decade. Especially in a country like India.

The 1990s saw reforms being brought in. IT companies sprang up. Graduates out of Engineering colleges lapped up jobs like never before... at salaries that made grown men cry. Shahrukh Khan became a sensation. It became acceptable that a young girl in India could have SRK's poster in her bedroom. Days of hiding Rajesh Khanna or Rishi Kapoor's photos in thick Chemistry journals were over. Owning a Computer was a big deal. Most of us hadnt seen a laptop. A generation used to cars like Fiat and Ambassador was warming up to Hyundai Santro. The Indian cricket team was same old same old... Match fixing allegations, losing matches abroad on a regular basis, giving up on the match 10 overs before the last ball was bowled - typical.

I know 15 year olds are reading this and wondering what the hell I am talking about!


The decade of change : 2000-2010

I was 15 back in 2000. Things were changing. Not just in the world but also with me. I was loosing interest in WWF sports cards and gaining interest in girls. I was almost six feet then and facial hair was there to stay.

I was also pissed off on a couple of my friends who told me that the world would end in 2000. I was pissed off at all those people at Aaj Tak (It was just a short news program on DD back then) who kept talking about the Y2K. I also have to kick the butt of all those guys at "Beyond 2000" a show on Discovery channel about how things would change in the new millennium - None of that happened... What a bummer!°

Anywhooo... Talking about the 10 things that changed us, changed India -


1. Orkut:

Yes, Orkut and not Facebook changed the way India made "Frands"... Finally here was a platform were even Engineers could make female friends. The best thing about Orkut was the privacy and the lack of it - You could be a real perv and check out the photos of that hot girl from school. You could keep a track of what your school friends have been accomplishing - Have they grown fat or Bald or have they joined a gym and have a semi-naked photo as their profile pic?

I am not too fond of anything new. So, when my friends had been lining up to click photos with the camera phone (the, and not 'a' camera phone, because there was only ONE cam phone in the class back then!) I was satisfied not being socially active.

But then I did become socially active and how! I have had my fair share of orkut addiction. I am thankful to Orkut for bring back some of the closest friends I had back in school. I have to thank them specially for one such friend, but then, that is a subject of a different post.

Orkut is dead now. Only people in Tier 3 cities like upcoming Indore and Vishakhapatnam use Orkut. The world has moved on to Facebook.

I have a 13 year old friend who is on Facebook or FB as they call ot. I asked him if he knew what Orkut was - and he gave me a blank look! I can now definitely say I was a part of the Orkut generation - when did you think we would have an name for our generation - not that our elder would give us, but what we would give ourselves!



2. Sourav Ganguly

India are the favourites to win this World Cup. It wasnt the case in 1999. The Indian team was in ruins. If you have watched our team surrender the match as soon as Sachin got out and now Watch a 100+ run partnership between Yusuf Pathan and No. 10 Zaheer Khan, you wouldnt believe it was the same team.

With all due respect to Dhoni and his men, it was Sourav and hi men who dreamt of a fearless Indian team.

I am biased here. I have been a staunch Ganguly fan for the last 10 years. I still am. In spite of all the humiliation that he had to go through from being dropped from the Indian team in 2005 to the last IPL auction. Sourav Ganguly is the hero that we needed in early 2000s. He did what he had to do and he did it with style. Even last year he was the amongst the highest run getters in IPL - this, when he was out of form!

If we win the World Cup this year, which I ll be surprised if we didnt, a lot of it because of Sourav's vision.


3. Google

There are fewer companies that have impacted our lives more than Google. When internet companies like yahoo were busy drafting out revenue models, which essential means finding out ways to screw white people around the world (coz brown people are smart enough not to pay anything for anything digital), google was giving away stuff for free! - Like Gmail's promise of never having to delete a single email because of its unlimited space. Yahoo was charging it's customers 10$ for the same service.

There was a time when you would come home from college and open up - gmail, orkut and blogger in that order - all of them google offerings.

There are companies like Shell who have made a lot of money selling oil and stuff, but Google guys are the ones who have really changed the way we think, the way we work, the way we imagine!


4. Chetan Bhagat

Okay, go ahead and blast me. But if I cared what people thought, would Ganguly come up at #2?

Bhagat changed the way India reads. Back in 2000, only kids in South Mumbai who had parents and grandparents who had studied from the same school could boast of reading novels and eating in McDonalds.

But now thanks to Chetan Bhagat's Rs.99 novels and McDonald's Rs.25 menu, kids from all around India can now boast of doing both.

Bhagat unfairly has to bear the flak of critics who actually are criticizing any IIT-IIM Delhi guy writing stupid stories which revolve around sex. In 1999, Indians would laugh it off if someone said an Indian movie could be based on a novel, but 3 idiots was based on 5 point someone as much as Vidhu Chopra and Co would like to disagree.

Only Amitav Ghosh, Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie and other who had spent their student lives in the costliest of schools in India and then moved on to the US or the UK usually without scholarship with all expenses paid by father's textile business had the right to write "literature". Chetan changed all that - with just one book.

My novel obviously is above Bhagat and these other kids who start writing because their 6th std English teacher told them that they can write. My novel was about love, life and a fight. I wrote it because I wanted to convey an awesome story about an underdog. I like underdogs. I guess most of us are underdogs in a way.

For people who dont know what I am talking about and where you can buy my book - Please go here for awesomeness - www.arshatchaudhary.com (PR bhi important hai bhai!)

5. Malls

"Hi, you are in the city too? Wow! Let's meet up then Where? Well, at the mall, of course!"

Land is the only asset that doesnt depreciate. (Something I learnt at MDI, Gurgaon) The reason, it's limited! So out went the textile mills of Mumbai and in came the Malls! Out went the dusty roads and Mustard fields of Gurgaon and in came the Malls! - I can do this with most other cities, but get the point!

Malls in India have become a way of life. Every time you have to meet someone or go b'day shopping for your friend, then instead of going to the local market and haggling for 30 rupees, you chose to go to a swanky mall and buy something cheap from Big Bazaar if your friend was cheap or buy something from Lifestyle if your friend was, well, a girl! :P

Going by the swankiness of the malls in India, they arent behind anyone. There are the same brands that are there, in say, Europe. I think only Dubai has swankier malls, but then, who want to go to a mall to have a burkha clad woman in Dubai sell you CK perfumes! That would be a serious case of Brand mismanagement! (Something else I learnt at MDI, Gurgaon)

6. BPOs
In the 1990s -
Teenager: Pappa, I want to buy Nagraj's latest comics!
Dad: Go buy it with your own money!
Teenager: But Pappa, I dont have any money. No one will employ me because I have no skills whatsoever!

In the 2000s -
Teenager: Pappa, I want to buy branded underwear!
Dad: Go buy it with your own money!
Teenager: OK!
Dad: What? Who will employ you? You got no skills whatsoever!
Teenager: Dad! Jisse koi nahi employ karta, usse BPO naukri hai! *Amitabh Bacchan ki movies wala music in the background*

BPOs changed us. It made acne ridden Tier 2 and Tier 1 cities kids feel more confident about their non-existent skills! These kids would call us US acting as one of their own, which really goes to say about their levels of low confidencery! I mean, who would want to be one of Michael instead of Mahesh? It's all screwed up. But then, at least it increased the sale of Jockey boxers in India.

7. Aamir Khan
In every path breaking movie in the last 10 years, Aamir has been an important part.

From Dil chahta hai to Taare Zameen Par (both of which I liked but wasnt particularly impressed by) to Lagaan, which should have won an Oscar, to Ghajini, an awesome marketing gimmick, to Rang De Basanti - every movie that aamir has been a part of has been path breaking in one way or the other.

No one would have given a chance to movies like Dhobi ghat or such in 1999. Back then Kaho na pyaar hai made people happy, not to say we have changed a lot in that respect - we still made sure Dabangg was the highest grossing movie in the history of Bollywood.



8. Kaun banega crorepati

When Amitabh Bacchan hung his boots after his last movie Khuda Gawah, for our parents, it was the end of an era. But then ABCL, Amitabh's production company ran into losses and thus began AB's second innings. After disastrous movies like Mrityudata and Lal Badshah (can you believe I still remember the names of these movies?), people who loved him felt he should have stayed at home or entered into politics like his peers.

But then came Kaun Banega Crorepati, and with one master stroke and a white french beard, Big B was back right into our living rooms on Thu at 9. It didnt take him long to make way into our hearts. His "lock kiya jaaye?", "sure? confident?" and "ufsos!" became part of daily slang - in a way he became as big as he was during his peak - How was he different from Deewar's angry young man who would lock the gate behind him and say - "Tum mujhe dhoondh rahe ho aur main tumhara yahan intezaar kar raha hoon"

Then there was the added benefit of winning 1 crore rupees (taxes apply) along with meeting Big B. I remember how when people used - Phone a friend, the people on the other side of the phone went crazy and bantered about how they watched his movies bunking college and stuff... IT probably didnt make much sense to our generation, but one look at our parents in our living room and their smiles made it clear that they had done such a thing as well...

All of us spent hours getting through the phones lines of KBC and getting that one question answered. If you got the answer right, you waited for them to call you back. It was a simpler time. But we knew, TV would never be the same.

9. iPod:
iPod for an Indian doesnt necessarily mean Apple iPod. Any device that can be carried and plays music can be referred to by this term.

For a country thats music crazy, movie crazy, dance crazy - iPod was a God sent. It took the world by storm. But obviously 90% of users of so called generic portable music players would have no idea about Apple. They use Chinese models which are actually made in Taiwan!

You wonder how people who belong to poorer sections of the society can afford these players. That is only till you see how cheap they cost. The only problem that I think is what they face must be updating their music. But if you look at their playlist, it would consists of the choicest Kumar Sanu songs from 1990s. They dont need to update their music. They are happier stuck in better times.
Okay, maybe iPod or the concept didnt change us in a big way. But when you see everyone from a rickshaw driver to a pav bhaji wala having his ears stuffed white earphones listening to the latest Himesh song, you cant help but feel that entertainment should be free for everyone.



10. Reliance mobile
There was a time when having a mobile was considered to be a status symbol That was 1998.

Then Reliance happened. I still remember the Rs.501 advert for a mobile. Sehwag and Sehwag ki maa, took India by storm. Everybody was talking about it. Everybody was wondering if Dhirubhai ka sapna might also have to be parting off with their hard earned money. Like always, the buiness class decided to take the risk of buying it while the working class thought of ways to avoid buying it till Dhirubhai's dream sequence became clearer.

There came a time when your carpenter, painter, vegetable seller, housemaid would give you miscals and you would have to call them back only for them to tell you that they were watching a movie in the nearest Multiplex and would not be able to come work that day.

***

When I look back through the last 10 years, I am amazed to see how much we have changed! From a nation for whom "India Shining" was just a phrase to a nation who have seen it shine. Nations go through phases, just like humans do. What they do during those phases, how they act, how hard they work decide on what they become in the future.

Whatever becomes of us, it is we who are going to change India. It is India's orkut generation - the generation which most thought wont be able to handle the pressures of a developing economy and the pleasures that it brings with it - which will help change her fortunes...

What a time to be born! Why would be anywhere in the world but here!

Jai Hind!

-Arshat Chaudhary
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