Top 10 movies in 2012

If you ask me, 2012 is by far the best year for hindi movie industry. I dont remember when was the last time so many good movies were released and good in all departments. If you dont have time and want to watch the best of Bollywood, here you go-

10. Kahani

Now I am not a fan of Vidya Balan. There is something wrong with that woman. I cant put my finger on it, but ever since Parineeta, I knew something is messed up with her. That negative bias is also the reason why I might have placed Kahani so low on the list.

The fact that there are multiple loop holes in this movie doesnt help its case. Had it not been everyone around me who enjoyed it, it wouldnt have featured on the list.

I believe a good director is like a good perfume. You know it is there but its presence shouldnt be overpowering. The director misguided the audience quite a few times, something the director of Talaash is also guilty of. But since so many people really like this movie, maybe you should have a look at it.


9. Ferrari ki Sawaari

Simple movies have a special place in my heart. Sharman Joshi shines in the movie as a Parsi father trying to gather money for his son's cricket camp. The movie reminds us of 70s' Amol Palekar movies. Such a feel good movie. If you are down and want to just feel good about life, this is a must watch


8. The Dictator

Now I know I said we are going to talk only about Hindi movies, but I gotta include Sacha Baren Cohen's awesomeness. The movie is sheer genius. Remember Borat, well this is nearly as good, if not better. I think it takes time to understand SBC's genius.

This is my second most watched movie this year (the most watched movie gets to be no.1 on the list).


7. Vicky Donor

Ayushman has arrived and how! That guy has some screen presence. This is what cinema is all about, picking up a different story, telling it differently and making you relate to the characters. Vicky donor does everything so well.

What other movie have you seen the mother and the grandmother of the hero drinking? And how do you still find it acceptable? It subtly justifies Vicky wanting to choose donating sperm as a profession. Anu Kapoor shows why he is a seasoned actor! He's quite a gem, isnt he? And Yami Gautam. That is one cute girl.

This movie has done more for the sales of Suzuki A star than all its ads.


6. English Vinglish

See? What I mean this being a good year for Indian cinema? While Madhuri might have won the battle, it's clear that Sridevi will win the war. Not only is she still very good looking, minus the botox, but she has also gotten better in terms of her acting.

The director's treatment of a simple story, is amazing. Even writing such a story is difficult. I mean how do you make your hero sound like a hero without an anti-hero or a villain? This is a must watch this year.


5. Shala

Again, I take liberties with this list and include a Marathi movie in the countdown. It is probably the best high school romance movie ever made, anywhere in the world.

Remember 'The wonder years'? The sitcom that went on to become a cult classic? If you somehow got the same guys to create a movie, they would probably come with something as good as this movie. Get your copy with subtitles if you have to. But do watch this movie.


4.Paan Singh Tomar

I think this was the first movie I saw this year and thought to myself - "This is march and already we have the best movie of this year!" And guess what? I was wrong!! There are 3 other movies which came out this year which have beaten Paan Singh Tomar! And this gives me so much happiness. At the end of this decade, I think all 4 movies would find a mention in the top 20 movies made in this decade. But I have been proved wrong in March and I would be the happiest guy if even better movies come out in the next 7 years.

A true story. I remember as a kid, watching English movies based on true stories, I wondered why did we have to do the whole song dance routine and why cant we do something this meaningful. Guess what? We can.

Everybody knows how good Irfan is as an actor. And in case someone didnt know, he makes sure they do after this movie.


3. Gangs of Wasseypur 2

Never, in the history of Indian cinema have people been so excited about a sequel.

"When is it releasing?" This is all you had to ask during July to any of your guy friends and they would tell you - August 8. You didnt even have to mention what movie you were talking about. Such was the anticipation of this movie.

So much awesomeness. What characters! Definite. Perpendicular. Tangent. Faisal. Wow. What dialogues. What acting. A hindi movie that you had to watch 2 times to completely understand. Name one other film that made you think so hard to understand. Okay, I know what movie you are going to name. So, name 2 movies. I dont think you can. This is a landmark movie.

Most years it would have topped the chart. But not this year.


2. Barfi

Before this movie I didnt respect Ranvir Kapoor as an actor. I saw 3 of his movies - Ajab prem ki, Anjaana Anjaani and Bachana Ae Hasino, all of them crap. I watched all 3 of them on different flights and finished watching them in like 20 mins. So maybe he wasnt that bad an actor, but the choice of movies was horrible.

Barfi changed that. The director is probably who should get a pat on the back for this. When one actor acts better than the others it is the actor's greatness, but if all actors act better than they have in the past, then it is the director who is behind that.

Sure, some of the scenes might have been copied. There was a time in the late 80s and early 90s when Bollywood would copy everything. Scenes, songs, lyrics etc. In the past, we have gotten rid of some of this natural inclination to copy from the west and started copying from the east. While this movie had scenes from like 50 other movies, let me explain why this movie is placed so high up.

I firmly believe being inspired from art is not a bad thing, only, you should be able to improve the quality of the art. That is how humans have progressed throughout the ages, nothing wrong in that. While watching the movie, as an audience, I didnt feel any of the scenes were forced. They were simple and cute. This is India's official entry to the Oscars. Obviously it's not gonna win. The movie that could have won is the #1 on this list.

1. Gangs of Wasseypur

Take a bow Mr. Kashyap. This is the kinda movie after which you can retire. You have given back more than what you took from the society. This is the movie that my kids are going to watch when they are 20, and marvel at the story telling of our era.

You know how we find the movies made during our parents' time silly? Well this is the movie that I think will save our generation from becoming a laughing stock, coz you know, Dabangg 2, Ishqzadde, the works...

You actually had to draw a family tree to understand this movie fully. Everytime I watch it, I learn something new. I might seem to be over praising the movie, but there might be a day when GOW might acquire the same status that Sholay did.

Not matter what part of the world you are from, this is a movie you HAVE to watch.


I might have not included some of the movies that you think should be included in this list. You are free to include your lists in the comment section.

P.S. - In the meanwhile, this blog has reached 3 lac views! Thank you so much, people! 
Top 10 movies in 2012SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Current Issues: , , ,
2 letters to the editor Links to this post  

Euro Trip

This has been pending for a long long time. I did this trip last year. I have been meaning to write about this for a long time, but just couldnt get the right inspiration - Something happened the other day that reminded me of that trip, of Europe in general and I thought, I have to write about this. So here goes....

+++

The Euro rail screeched to a halt. I was sleepy. I had this brainwave of saving money on hotels by travelling in the night and roaming around the cities in the day. Traveller tip: Don't think you can save money by sacrificing sleep. I peered through the window. I saw a dimly lit platform, the Indian equivalent of Bhusaval. Something was wrong. This didnt look like Europe. Had we unknowningly slipped into a diffferent dimension? I thought about Tarantino's only good movie - Hostel 1.

Police entered the bogey. We were the only brown guys in that bogey, maybe in the entire train. An overfed sniffer dog entered, brown, hairy, his eyes the blue of merciless Siberian winter. His master looked very much the same, only, he had more hair. He looked at us suspiciously and then moved on. I repented my decision to do an Euro trip across Eastern Europe. I had chosen to visit areas where even my adventure crazy white friends had not been. Right then, we were somewhere between Slovenia and Croatia. My mind had now drifted to the more gruesome Hostel 2.

Then entered a police woman. Light blue shirt, dark blue pants, which seemed to fit her so well. Ah, so well. Tall, dark brown hair, light brown eyes, curves in the right places, with her right hand on the compartment door and the left hand on her hip, she said - Hi boys.... And smiled. Her smile lit up the compartment. In 2 mins, we had gone from the "Hostel" series to "That-movie-in-the-system32 folder" series.

I looked at JD, he smiled. We had both seen movies which started with women in uniform saying - Hi boys. But nothing of that sort happened. She asked for our passports, wished us happy journey and we were on our way.

Every morning we were greeted with beautiful landscapes whizzing past our compartment window. Had I clicked all those pictures, that I decided to keep engraved in my memories, I would have a mini-desktop wallpaper company by now.

It would be tiresome to share everything that happened during the trip, and anyway, that is not a point of a trip or a blog for that matter. I will share with you all the awesome things that happened on the trip.

+++

So this one morning, we reached Zagreb. We decided to live in the outskirts, which I realised, unlike Mumbai which stretches for like 40 kms, is like 3 kms from the city centre. So, we were super hungry because all the travel and everything. Actually, we are almost always super hungry. So we entered this small cafe. There was a caring middle aged lady and a cute girl in her early 20s serving us. So, since they were so nice, and we were so hungry, we ordered almost everything veggie on the menu. After a hearty meal, I took out two 10 Euro notes and placed them in front of them. The following dialogue followed.

"No, no. Not Euro. Croatia currency please"
Our research was so extensive that we didnt even know Croatia didnt have Euro.
"But I dont have Croatian currency. I only have Euros"
"No. No Euros."
Seriously?! You are saying no to the most powerful currency in the world!!
"Umm... I am sorry, but we dont have any Croatian currency." I said.
The 20 year old who was quiet till now, said -
"That's okay. You dont give money."
And she said that with a smile, which meant she wasnt being sarcastic.
"I will exchange Euros, and give you money" I said.
"Okay." she said. Her smile still intact. JD and I however, had a worried look. How could they trust us? What if we never came back?
The first thing that we did was exchange money at the hostel and pay those ladies.
"What do you suggest we do here" I asked the pretty one as I paid her in croatian currency.
"Spend lots of money in Croatia," she laughed.
I made sure I leave behind a huge tip. Croatians are the most patriotic people I met on the trip. They have a beautiful country, ravaged by years of war, they have put together a rather optimistic folk.

+++

We stayed at the awesomest places. So in Slovakia we stayed at a hostel that was once a prison. Then in Bratislava, we stayed at a hostel that was actually filmed in The Hostel. There was a bar downstairs which was constructed on that exact theme, with severed head and legs and everything.

In this particular hostel, the bathroom wasnt attached. So basically it was a common bathroom. What we didnt realise that it was common to boys and girls. So, this is what happened, the bathroom was occupied, so I thought I shave my 2 day old stubble. I was shaving, when the bathroom door opened, a girl, must be from southern Europe guessing from her hair colour, walked out, dripping, and picked up the towel that she must have placed there before the shower, wraped it around herself and walked away. I just stood there, foam on my face and water running.

+++

There is one more incident I have been trying to forget, but it is etched in my memory. So there is a hot water spring in Budapest, which of all the cities is my favourite city to live in Europe, apart from Berlin obviously. Budapest feels a lot like Mumbai, as in, it is really vibrant. So, after a soak, we decided to just lay in the sun, coz you know, we arent tanned already or something. So we came to the locker area and this German guy started talking to JD in German. I say, how did he know that we knew the language? It is not like we look German or anything!

The discussion moved from Budapest to Berlin, and suddenly, the middle aged man dropped his towel. Right in front of us! And there were more guys around! Nobody seemed to notice or mind. We were astonished, scarred for life, rather. And he kept talking. Like that thing hanging there didnt matter, discussing politics with two brown guys he had just met in the locker room! And while that wasnt weird enough, there was a japanese boy with his father and they undressed and dressed up right in front of each other. Like nobody used a towel to hide anything and stuff! And this shock came after living in Germany for 1 year. It is still there stuck in my head, just doesnt go away. :P

+++

Once we were cycling through Slovenia, I think it was, really, it is a blur. We came across a party in a garden. How can you be so chilled out to have a private party in a public garden? Only then, we realised it wasnt a private party. Everybody who passed by was invited.

This bunch of guys welcomed us and gave us a shot of something to drink. It was alcohol for sure, but they didnt tell us what it was. Imagine Vodka, if it was compressed to somehow increases the alcohol content, that was it. It burnt my inside.

What is this? - I asked
This is Serb drink. Very strong, no?
Yes. Very strong, I said, shaking my head sideways to get my orientation right.
Good. Here one more.

Then a few more.

Come come, you dance with us. - They said. We danced around in circles. With men, children, middle aged ladies, young ladies, grandmas, the priest. All this even before knowing our names or knowing where we were from!

I am Volkovich (or something like that), he is Buskovich, and so on. We told them our names, which I am sure sounded gibberish to them.

After the frolicking was done, in a serious voice and broken English they told us that they were Serb farmers who had lost land when Yugoslavia fell into several pieces. But before the atmosphere could die out, another round of drinks was served and everything was merry again.

+++

Though I love India and Mumbai esp, every time I pass an open drain, or an encroached footpath, I do miss Europe. I no longer find solace in the fact that we arent a rich country, coz you dont need to be a Germany to have beautiful road and wide sidewalks, even countries like Croatia can be beautiful if they want to. We just need people who believe in this country as much as they believe in theirs. A friend asked me if I missed Europe. Well, sometimes, I do. Very much.

Euro TripSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Current Issues: , , ,
2 letters to the editor Links to this post  

The one...

A friend just got married yesterday. Another is about to get married next weekend..

I am old school when it comes to marriage. I believe in the institution of marriage and the purity of the concept. In fact, I am among those very few men who actually wanted to get married early. Early being 21. Yes yes.

I am 27 now and not married. I am glad I didnt marry at 21. I met many beautiful women in the last few years, in India and abroad. I tried understanding them, failed miserably, judged them, ranked them against one another in my mind (I am like that only) and some of them, I still love. To each of them, I am indebted in a way. For each meeting got me closer to that one special girl.

I am glad I didnt get married early. Getting married is a responsibility, which I might not have been able to shoulder at that age. Maybe I would have risen up to the challenge of starting a family. One of my friends did get married early and is blessed with a baby daughter. He is amongst the most level headed and grounded guys I know. I met him in MDI and one of the first things I asked him - Why did you get married so soon man? Like I expected him to repent his decision. He smiled.

Remember that movie - Dil toh Pagal hai? That scene in which Sharukh makes that face which makes girls swoon and guys cringe? "How would I know, that she is the one?" He asks. Gentle wind blows across from a Khaitan fan Yash Chopra uncle bought in the early 70s and has been using in each of his movies. An overweight Madhuri Dixit, the only one who didnt overact in that movie, giggles, her hair flowing in the gentle wind of the Khaitan fan, points towards the sky and says - "He will give a sign." And then SRK smiles and makes another constipated face. That movie is full of such crap.

Over the years our generations - the 80s kids - have been fed such useless info. I will tell you what happens when you meet that special one. My views summaries the different people I have met, who are happily married and stuff.

First and foremost, it happens when you least expect. If you are actively looking for someone and sending out desperado vibes (that is a thing), 'the one' will never happen. You might meet someone who you might be impressed with, but he/she is not 'the one'. They are probably, the second or the third, who you might end up spending your life with, but someday on a tuesday in your office elvator, you will meet someone and go - Ah, so this was the one! Too bad, now that you are married, nothing can be done. And for all you know, the second or the third might not be that bad, but nevertheless, the one will create an impact and change the scenario a bit.

You meet the one, more often than not, at a weird time in your life. Maybe when you are waiting for a bus, or studying real hard for the CAT, or in the office cafeteria. And no, nobody gives a sign. She doesnt pause and look at you between morsels of dosa from across the cafe, and he doesnt stop and turn around in slow motion and smile at her as he walks to get more coconut chutney from anna. That doesnt happen. And there surely isnt a Khaitan fan around. Love, if you can call it that, just happens.

Men and women, both have an idea of an ideal mate. And for neither, even men, this ideal isnt just skin deep. Both have an idea on how their spouse should be. What they should like, what basic qualities should they have, what kinda jobs should they be working at. Consciously or subconsciously we rate people in our heads, this is particularly true for seekers (Seekers, settlers, google on it for more) And then there comes someone who is better than all of them in so many ways. And in some ways that nobody can. That is how it starts happening.

I read a line somewhere, and it is beautiful - "I cant know everything about someone, except when I first look at him." I think this concept plays a huge part in how you decide they are 'the one'.

When I look at my friends I can see why they want to spend all their lives with that one person. That person fits the ideal. The person, is a lot like them, and still is so different. That person is better than they are, and that person makes them wanna be better - at everything. They want to have kids with them, because isn't that was life was meant to be. Slowly and surely, they form their own special world within the big bad world.

So, the next time, when you feel like that about someone, take a step in their direction, and tell them how you feel, for you dont want to meet them 10 years later in your office elevator and think - Things could have been different.

For all those who have taken a plunge and are settling with their ones - Congratulations.

Dedicated to Hiren Rathod who got married to his one yesterday. 
Dedicated to Ram, who gets married next weekend. 










The one...SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Current Issues:
8 letters to the editor Links to this post  

Of heartbreaks...and Hrishita Bhat

It was an arrow that pierced my heart. The one who shot the arrow was Sharukh Khan... wait... that didnt come out sounding right. The arrow hit a tree trunk and there she was. She made my heart flutter. In those 3 seconds of screen time, she made me fall in love with her.

The year. 2001. The movie. Asoka. The actor. Not important. The girl who I lost my heart to. Hrishita Bhat.

When it comes to love, my brain works like a woman. Sure, I can't distinguish between 37 shades of pink, or tell you what necklace looks better with the evening gown and stuff. What I mean is, I am not like other guys. (I am sure you girls have heard this line before.) I fall in love with only one aspect of a woman and it is almost always never a physical aspect. And that one aspect shadows her shortcomings, if any. But I am a judger. I judge people, women, even more and I am stricter with the girls I fall in love with.



So here I was, all of 16, mesmerised by a new actress. Hrishita comes in the second half of the movie, and an already good movie (one of SRK's very few good movies) seemed even better.

Hrishita had this quality about her. You know, how some people can light up your day? She could light up my day. In fact, just thinking about her made me feel good about the world. Maybe it was her smile, which she flashed with ease. Maybe it was her expressive eyes, which always hid back more than they gave away.

I am a salwaar kameez guy, which means, I judge the sexiness of a woman based on how desirable she can look in an attire that covers 90% of her skin. When Haasil came out, I watched her carefully. I still have no idea about the story. I watched it only for her. Hrishita wore simple salwaar kameezs and I still could never take my eyes of her.

Among the not more than 10 female wallpapers I have downloaded in my life, she must feature in more than 50%. Sure, like a true blue 17 year old, I wanted to see how she looked in short skirts and all, but more than that I wanted to know how she was in real life... Was she shy? Is she moody? Had she trained in any of the arts? Did she enjoy reading?

My fascination with her might have been because the 12th std studies that didnt leave me without enough time for real girls... Then things went from bad to worse as I got into Mechanical Engineering. There were a few girls and the prettiest one of them had a moustasche. I knew how dry my next 4 years were going to be. I had braced myself.

Engineering, especially Mechanical, Civil and Electrical, also known as the 'Real' Engineering, puts you back by 4 years in the charming girls department. While Elec and Comps engineers are out bunking college and watching movies with their girlfriends, we spend long hours making engineering drawings. All through those 4 years, I knew it was alright, coz there was a girl out there who was perfect. Sure she was out of my reach, but only for now. But one day...

I wasn't crazy for her or anything. I don't believe in that. I am super practical and I believe planning works. I knew I just had to turn awesome (more awesome than I already was back then) and then make a move. I had no idea how or where I was going to meet her, but I thought it was the easy part. In the years that followed, I learnt things, about relationships, about life in general. I also got better with women. Sure, I am still very shy, and I am very self concious, but if I like you, I will sweep you off your feet and there's nothing you will be able to do about it . :)

All through the years, I have had a list in my head, of women I find amazing. It has women whom I have met over the years and take the pains to keep in touch with. Hrishita Bhat is the only woman in that list whom I havent met and still manages to be among the top (it is a ranked list :) )

In the rare public appearances she makes, the very few endorsements, she still manages to make my heart skip a beat whenever I see her on TV. I am all of 27, it has been 10 long years. I should have found some other celebrity who could do that for me, someone younger. Isnt that how a male brain is supposed to work? I have never thought of marrying her. All I wanted to do was know her. This now seemed possible. I mean, I am pretty cool once you get to know me. :)

I asked my friends in media if they knew her and if they could set up a meeting even if it was under the garb of an interview or something. But apparently she doesnt do much PR. The other day I was just surfing when I reached this page about a movie that she had produced. And then my heart broke. She had married this guy who was acting in the movie. I would have been okay if the guy was like a stud. But I bet he can't even grow a moustache.

My heart sank.  I don't know what I had expected out of the whole relationship, which was one way anyway. Rahul Sindal, a friend of mine has defined this as "Chota dukh". It is the dukh that strikes when an old flame is married, irrespective of what your status is.

Every guy has a "Hrishita Bhat" in his life. She may be a celeb, or she maybe someone in college. Whoever she is, she always reminds him of his old self and of what might have been. She drives in him, a desire, if nothing, to know that he could have had her. The heart breaks when she leaves him without giving him a chance.

And thus ends, a weird love story.




Of heartbreaks...and Hrishita BhatSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Current Issues: , ,
10 letters to the editor Links to this post  

Warning: I am not a bio guy, so I will make lots silly errors. But would you come to a blog with the words Time pass in it if you wanted path breaking-Nobel prize winning research?

Hypothesis: The gender of the child is determined by the egg inherently and not by the sperm as is currently stated.

Years ago, in my sex education class, our teacher asked us - So who decides the gender of the child?
"The male partner." Said the kids in chorus.
"Why?" asked the teacher.
"Because of that X, Y, something..." I said (I was a bit of a nerd...still am)
"Good." The teacher said and went on to explain why actually the man is responsible for determining the the sex of the child.

The man has XY chromosomes while the woman has XX. So depending on which of the chromosomes the man contributes to the union creates a baby boy or a baby girl.

I thought, what if it wasnt the man, but the woman who had a choice on what she wanted to receive? I mean, women have always been the choice makers, no? Havent men gone down on their knees to propose through centuries? It is always the woman who says yes or no! Maybe this is the case in genetics as well. 

I was talking to this attractive girl the other day. I put forth this hypothesis and a experiment design that could prove I was right (How charming, no? This is how I am such a hit among the ladies.)

So I put below the Experiment Design below. I dont have the resources or the time to carry out this experiment. It is the task of more nerdy people, the kind who never get called to parties, who have always been first benchers, who never got ahead with the ladies (Right now, each of you is thinking of some person, please forward this blog address to him.).

Design:

Main Experiment:
1. Take twin female new born (basically clones) mice. (Dont ask me how to determine their sex, I have a life)
2. Keep them in identical enclosures, feed them the exact same food, make them listen to the same music etc. i.e. keep the environment the same till they attain puberty.
3. Take twin male new born mice. Repeat step 2.
4. Make Mr.A procreate with Miss A. Make Mr.B procreate with Miss B. Since the boy mice are clones, they will take equal time to get acquainted with the girl mice who are clones in the same time. Give them the exact same time together.

Now, what I think will happen here is, Mr and Mrs.A (now that they are married) will have Baby A and Mr. and Mrs. B will have Baby B. Now, what I am saying is ---

Point I:: Baby A and Baby B will be  of the same gender. Either both boys or both girls. This happens because, both women mice, since they are clones, have the same egg type getting released from their fallopin tubes at the same time. This will bring us closer to proving my hypothesis. If they arent the same gender, then we are screwed. Let's close shop then and go back home.
(Also, you may argue, the same gender phenomena could also be because of clone male mice also. Patience, my friend. We will come to that.)

Point II:: (This is an extension of Einstien's God doesnt not play dice idea) I guess that the genetic make up of Baby A and B will be exactly similar i.e., they will be clones (if we managed to keep the environment constant). This proves that Einstein's idea was right.



Control Experiment:

1. Take twin female new born (basically clones) mice.
2. Keep them in identical enclosures, feed them the exact same food, make them listen to the same music etc. i.e. keep the environment the same till they attain puberty.
3. Take random male mice. Take one from say Germany Mr.G and the other one from Sri Lanka Mr.S, so that they arent related in anyway.
4. Make Mr.G procreate with MissA. Make Mr.S procreate with MissB.

Now, what I think will happen here is,

Point III: Baby G and Baby S (the names of the baby are chosen by the males, its a patriarchal society) will have the same gender. Since they have different fathers, who are in no way related, one would think that their genders would be different. But I reckon, their genders will be the same.

From Point I and III: We will be able to prove, the eggs of the mice have pre-decided what gender they are going to be when they fertilise.

From Point II: We will be able to prove that for the similar egg and similar set of sperms, the genetic make is similar. If we can make the similar approach exact sameness, we will have clones basically, identical brothers from a different mother (and father)

There. Thanks for reading. I hope you have enough questions. Please feel free to ask.





Experiment Design to prove that the female egg determines the gender of the childSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Current Issues:
12 letters to the editor Links to this post  

The best gift a man could give...

This is a true story.

For the last one year I have been working in an Organisation known for its wacky advertisements. For some reason we associate the awesomeness of the ads with the awesomeness of the company. So when I got placed for this firm, I envisaged long discussions with the CEO over cups of coffee in an air-conditioned office about how I, an MBA from one of the top colleges in the country, could make the brand better.

There is a reason why they call it Sales and Marketing and not the other way around. It is supposed to tell you how your career is going to shape up. So it is going to be sales first.

Sales. My women friends liked the sound of it, probably coz it has the word 'sale' in it. Now who doesnt like a real good sale? But a sales job, as I found out soon, was very different from what I had expected. There were no air conditioned rooms, and there was only thele-ki-chai, and no coffee. The only discussions I had were with shopkeepers and Sales officers.

So, while Sales Officer as a job title sounds swanky, it is not. It essentially involves taking orders from each shop in a market. They earn only a fraction of an MBA would earn. In fact, even 5 years ago, my first salary at an Engineering firm was higher than what these guys make today. These guys are usually graduates with a degree in arts or something, that too, through distance education. Most of them are in their 30s and have a family to support. You ask them why didnt they study and you get different answers...

Paise nahi the ammi-abba ke pass... (Mom and Dad didnt have money)
Do baar fail hogaya tab ghar walon ne padhai chudwa di... (I failed twice, my folks asked to give up studies and work)
Behen ki shaadi ke liye job join kiya, aage nahi padha... (I started working to pay for my sisters wedding.  )

Some of them are intelligent, you feel bad for them. You wish you could help them in some way, maybe lend them some money every month. But then there are so many of them. In Mumbai alone I work with 8 different Sales Officers. There is no way I can lend money to each of them.

With time, you learn to accept the status quo. Maybe you studied hard and so you are here. Maybe it is not all because of being born into a family who knew the importance of education. You soothe yourself. For the time being.

Below the Sales Officers work the Sales Representatives (SR). Sales Representatives are the scum of the earth, or so they are treated. They are essentially courier boys, only worse. They work the hardest. There are times when I get tired walking in the market. I take a rickshaw. The SR walks 4 times as much as I do and cant afford a rickshaw. Heck, even a bus ticket costs 10% of his daily wage. I have had a bottle wine in Paris that cost more than what a SR makes in a month.

One such SR is Ramesh. I just realised, I dont even know his last name. That is how unimportant he is.

I have worked with Ramesh. He carries billboards, posters and then pastes them wherever I ask him to. The first thing I ask him, as a rule, is if he has had something to eat in the morning. He always says yes and when I offer to take him to a restaurant, shyly accepts.

He is shy, timid. He has sudden bursts of anger, frustration actually, over long work hours, over low pay, but like the sweat on his brow on a hot summer afternoon, he quickly wipes it off and puts on a cheerful face. Ramesh is short. He barely comes up to my shoulder. I walk quickly from shop to shop, my sports shoes dont let my soles get tired. He barely manages to keep up with me, his all season shoes, tattered in places, make me think how uncomfortable they might be. I slow down...

On that particular day, we had a plumbers' meet. It is what you think it is. It is a meet where plumbers come, we get a chance to tell them about our new products in the plumbing range and then we feed the plumbers dinner, everyone's happy, everyone except Ramesh. It was 8.30 in the night and the meeting that was supposed to start at 7.30 has yet not begun. Say hello to Indian Strechable Time.

"Yeh Deshmukh sir (Deshmukh is Ramesh's boss) ko yeh meet aaj hi rakhna tha...(Why did Deshmukh sir have to hold the meeting today?)" Ramesh said to me taking me to a corner.

"Kyun, aaj kya hai? (What is special about today?)" I asked.

"Aaj jaldi jaana hai na... (I have to leave early today)" He said, the worry lines on his forehead became more prominent.

"Kyun? Why?" I asked.

He smiled shyly.

"Aaj humari anniversary hai na... (Today is my anniversary)"

I don't know what I found cute, the fact that he actually wanted to go home early to his bride or the way he said it.

I asked him how long they had been married. "17 years," he said. He had a daughter who was in the tenth standard. He said he was going to make sure she does not turn out like him and goes to college. She is very intelligent he told me. He told me about his son. His son wants to be a cricketer. Cricket bats are expensive, he said.

I wondered how he manages a family on that salary. He must live in a slum. My mind wandered. Does he have water supply or do they have to collect water from a common tap? Are the toilets shared too? I felt bad. Sure, I knew how people lived in Mumbai, only, I never thought I would be working so closely with one of them.

I wondered what special he would do on his anniversary. Will he take his wife to a restaurant, a small one of course? Or will they watch a movie in a single screen theatre? Or will they just walk down a quiet road, just talking?

I asked him - "Toh aaj plan kya hai?"
"Mandir jaake aayenge...(We will visit the temple)" He said.

It seemed so pure. I had never thought one could do that on an anniversary. I had always thought of it as a western concept. But this was so Indian and so very beautiful.

"Aapki kya love marriage hai?" I asked.
"Nahi bhai, arranged." He said.

Deshmukh then came in, harried. He wanted Ramesh to fetch a few things from the market. One of our distributors was supposed to come to the meet. This distributor guy is one of the most annoying people I have met. But it is customary to welcome the guest with a bouquet of flowers. So, Ramesh, the all weather guy, had to fetch them from the market. Deshmukh handed Ramesh 200 rupees and asked him to get the best bouquet he can get. I wondered if it hurt Ramesh, that even a bouquet cost more than what he made in a day. How would you feel? But there was no time. It was 9 and the meeting had already started.

Ramesh ran, forgetting everything about his anniversary. He was back just in time with the flowers. I presented the flowers to the distributor. His ego was satisfied. He left the bouquet on the chair.

Once the meeting was over, Ramesh was ordered to keep the chairs back in place. All 80 of them. I started helping him, he tried to stop me, saying that I wasnt supposed to do it.

Around 11, we managed to wrap everything up. Ramesh picked up the bouquet and the three of us started walking towards the station to go back home. I was gloating in the glory of the success of the meet. I was too self absorbed to not understand why Ramesh had picked up the bouquet.

The train arrived on the platform, Deshmukh and I entered the first class compartment, while Ramesh fought his way into the second class compartment, all the while holding the bouquet close to his chest, with his trademark smile on his face.

I thought about what his wife would say when he presents her with the huge bouquet. Would he directly give it to her? Or will he shyly ask his daughter to give it to her mother? Will his wife blush, even after 17 years of marriage? Could all the diamonds, eating out in fancy places, costly gifts that rich men give their wives, ever match a bouquet of flowers and a visit to the temple? Isn't this, the best gift a man could give?




Dedicated to all the Rameshs out there... The unsung heroes of the FMCG industry...



The best gift a man could give...SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Current Issues:
12 letters to the editor Links to this post  

Arranged or love?


Short Story

"Heyyyy! Long time... What are you doing here?" Rajani yelled from across the shop.

Yelling in a saree shop is acceptable. It is like a cafe... for women... And you get to meet so many of your old friends... Rajani was a dear friend from college.

"I was buying sarees for my wedding..." I said.

"Woooowww... When are you getting married? How come you didnt tell me?" She asked.

"Umm... In two weeks... everything happened so fast..." I managed to say.

"So how is he? What does he do? Is he a Doctor? Remember how you used to say...," Rajani glanced at my mother who was going through a pile of sarees, "Is it a love marriage? Or is it arranged?"

"Umm.. It's complicated Rajani... He's an Engineer. Works with a multinational in Banglore," I said. I looked at my mother who was now getting impatient going through the pile of sarees all by herself... "I should get going Rajani. I will call you some time?"

Rajani left. She noticed I was under a lot of stress. Weddings are stressful. I thought mine will be smooth sailing. But life doesnt happen how you think it will.

I thought I will marry a Doctor someday. He will sweep me off my feet. I would be intrigued by his passion for his work. His dedication towards his patients, his ability do good for the society would attract me towards him. I looked at the sarees my mother was showing me. Peacock green with a turquoise pallu for the sangeet. Bottle red with shades of pink and a light orange pallu for the wedding day... I had a say in choosing the sarees I wanted to wear.... But what about the man I wanted to spend my life with?

Why didnt I have the right to choose him?

***

For our honeymoon, it was decided that we ll go to Ooty. It was close to Banglore. So it was decided.

Sometimes I think things would have been different had I been born and brought up in a big city... Maybe then I would get to choose the man I wanted to spend my life with. But look at Rajani... she lived in the same city... we went to the same college... and she can fall in love and marry the man she loves.

Why didnt I fall in love? I was friends with some guys. I had a crush on a guy in college. But could never fall in love with him. Should it be this difficult?

Walking down the steep inclines of Ooty with Suresh, now my husband, I couldnt stop thinking about how I had imagined my husband to be...

I thought how I imagined our afternoons to be... How we would talk about serious issues... about work... about how we wanted to do something for the poor... contribute to the society....

Suresh cracked a joke... I smiled... just enough to not hurt him... The poor guy had been trying to make me comfortable for the three days that we had been married.

He's so different than the guy I thought I will spend my life with... Suresh pointed towards the valley. He said something and laughed. I didnt hear what he said, I was too lost in myself. But his laughter was infectious. I smiled. This time, not out of mercy.

I was lost in my thoughts as we walked downhill. Just then a state transport bus came screeching down the slope and Suresh pulled me towards himself. I looked at the bus that whizzed by... too arrogant to care about a girl lost in her thoughts. I looked into the eyes of Suresh. He held me by my waist. I could feel his heaving chest, his strong hands... This was the first time I was standing this close to a man. I felt safe. I meant something to someone. There was someone who cared for me. He let his grip loose. His eyes almost apologetic for having held me so close.

He was back to his jocular self after a while. This time, I was lost in his talks. He was so intelligent.. so witty... We came across a park where there were school kids playing with balloons. He kept looking at them, a smile playing on his lips... The smile faded when he saw a poor boy in tattered clothes looking at those school kids. He went ahead a bought a balloon for him. The eyes of the little boy lit up. He ran off with the balloon jumping with joy. There was a smile on my husband's lips...

I fell in love with my husband.

***

Back home, once we were out shopping...

"Heyyy.. long time... How are you?" It was Shreya. We were friends from school... "And when did you get married?"She asked looking at my mangalsutra and the sindhoor on my forehead...

"Last month." I said.

"Woooowww... that is so amazing... Love marriage or arranged?" She asked.

"Arranged." I smiled.

Arranged or love?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Current Issues:
6 letters to the editor Links to this post  

An open letter to Pritish Nandy


I read this last week I guess and I obviously oppose most of what Nandy says. He has in fact, never managed to impress me. I fail to understand the audacity with which jots down his opinion most of which can be debated by someone as novice as me.
You can read his article here http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/extraordinaryissue/entry/why-i-love-mumbai


An Open Letter to Pritish Nandy


Dear Mr. Nandy,

Welcome to the freest city in the world. Welcome to Mumbai. I simply love it.

You can't smoke in public places. I understand how that might be an inconvenience to you. I don't like the rule too. After all, why would I want to miss my second hand smoke of the day? I cant buy alcohol below the age of 18. Ah, how I wish my son manages to get his hands on a bottle of Absolut Vodka on his 13th bday. Yes, their are no strip clubs here. I would like to pay the cover charge for every man who turns up to watch girls dance Kathakali (you and your buddies included)

Yes, we would like to let our chefs sleep after 11 (do you mind?) Arent you the same people who talk about quality of life? And yes, if you are 17, you are not an adult, so it is technically rape. I think you can marry at 14 in one of those Eastern European countries. You are free to find your soulmate there.

Our Ministers do get preferential treatment at the queue. Why is that wrong again? Arent you the same people who got pissed off when APJ kalam was frisked at a US airport? You had a problem with even SRK being frisked, like he was some kinda God. And now, you want stricter rules for ministers just coz its too much waiting time for you?

Gun licences? Really? What is Mumbai? A black neighbourhood in New York? How many times have you been threatened with a Gun? Zero? That is coz we dont give out gun licences to idiots like you.

Yes, we are a socialist country. We charge the rich and have the NREGA for the poor. The idea is, if you have enough money to spend 5000 rupees on a meal (most people in Mumbai earn less than that a month), you should have no problem with giving 1000 to the Government, so that on they can work on more schemes for the poor. We are probably the best example of socialism (on paper, at least)

Yes, there is a Hindu-Muslim thing. Remember 1992, asshole? That kinda thing leaves scars that can't be healed even with time. And the next time on your trip to one of the western countries, leave the confines of your corporate sponsored 5 star stay and visit one of the ghettos. Only White trash lives in black/turkish populated areas. And only the best of the black community can afford to live in the white areas (Rem Chris Rock, anyone?)

Yes, all dirty stuff is off the air. I know, you must miss the programming on F TV but such is life.. grow up, okay? Customs will demand duty on goods more than 26k. If you want to have a dollar based limit, how about you smuggle goods in the US? I would like to see what they do to your sorry ass there...

And stop cribbing about some sorry cop who interrupted your party once. You were having coke or some other drug there anyway. Good for you. You do need some policing. If you think otherwise, stop being such a wuss and don't run to you friends in media to help you with a bully. Be a man and stand up to him the next time you meet him.

Footpaths havent vanished. Only, we have 5 times more people than NY does, and that is like the so-called busiest city on the planet. NOT. With so many people around, you just cant see it.

Yes, we don't have open air cafes. The fact that there is a whole beach line where you can walk any time of the night, obviously doesnt cut it... The stars can't be seen because your head is too far up your ass. The sparrows are gone? If you live in the cozy confines of Kurla, yes they are... If you ever happen to come north of Powai, I will show you a bird sanctuary. That is, if you snobbish bastards have started calling the best part of your city as your city yet.

Now, let a real Mumbaikar, someone who hasnt lived south of Mahim, someone who has travelled by trains, hanging on for dear life, someone who walked 22 kms to get home on the night of 26th July, someone who sweats in the heat and rejoices when the first rains hit the city, tell you why this is the awesomest place in the world.

You can leave at 3 in the night and you won't be mugged. You can walk/drive/take a train to wherever you want and get something to eat. People will try to maintain lane discipline (relative concept to India). People dont honk unnecessarily. (again, relative to all eastern countries). The traffic policeman will leave you even if you break the signal, if you try to speak in Marathi, even if you are a north India. You can get a chai for Rs.5 at the tea stall, and at Rs. 500 at the Taj President. You choose where you want to go.

Life is nothing is it's not freedom. But don't ask freedom to drink at 15 or smoke or piss on the wall. Grow up and grow a pair.

Mumbai is a lot more than you make it sound to be.

Welcome to Mumbai. I simply love it.

yours humbly,
A Mumbaikar
An open letter to Pritish NandySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Current Issues:
13 letters to the editor Links to this post  

Girls and Dancing

If you want girls to be crazy for you, learn to dance  ~my learning from the 9th standard

There was this boy in our standard in a different division. I don't remember his name, but let's call him S. So S was an average looker, not too good in sports, below average in studies. I didnt even know he existed till I heard one of my female friends talk about him 2 weeks before the annual day event which was like, an annual thingy where boys and girls of all ages did blasphemous stuff in front of their parents, coaxed by their teachers... This was apparently done to project to the parents that the money spent by the parents on education of their kids was well spent as they had now gained skills such as dancing, singing, violin playing and other such skills that will not help them in real life.

So, my only fault was, I got involved in a conversation related to annual day. My female friend went - "Ah.. Sssss... He is so good."

I feared the worst. Could it mean, they had? I gave my 14 year old brain a rest...

"He is such a good dancerrrrr...."

Other girls in the group also swooned, or whatever girls do.

"Umm.. Who is this S guy?" I asked.

I got the dirty looks, similar to the ones I had got when in the 3rd standard I had asked my cousin who Michael Jackson was? How could I demean their dancing God. He was a free spirit, a guru, someone who made sense of life and all the... okay.. shut up, I say.

I met S in the future, and was like - "Dude, you are dumb shit" within 10 mins of talking to him. This, before I saw him dance. He didnt dance, he flew, he jumped, he flexed his rubber body, he split his... you get the point... I saw the girls go wet... in the eyes... praying to be associated with him in some way. S's confidence grew and he hit on every girl he could, while mere mortals, like me, the ones who were awesome at studying and.... umm, only that, were left with no girls to hit on. No girl wanted to be hit upon after being hit on by Shri Shri S himself!

I vowed that day. I will learn to be a good dancer which I broke after 3 mins of practising, coz it made me all sweaty. I went back to studying.

Today things have changed. Girls today, at least the saner ones, want men who have something stable in their lives, like say, a job. It is much easier for women to like men like us, coz, seriously, we are awesome. I have seen terrible guys from MDI and SPCE, get married to like really pretty girls. Girls who they know deep inside, wouldnt have talked to them back in school. This boosts my confidence - "Iska ho sakta hai, toh apna toh ho hi sakta hai yaar..."

So under this false premise, yours truly set upon the search for a pretty girl. So he ended up dating this cuteness of a girl. She was amazing in every way, which made him question his awesomeness. I mean, how could both him and his girl be awesome, when there was so much difference in awesomeness quotient between the two. So, finally he decided, he will still call himself awesome, while she can be super awesome or uber awesome... something like that.

All these days, it was cool... I could make jokes she could laugh and everything was Mr. Hunky and Mrs. Dory. Then suddenly one day - "Would you like to see me dance?" said the girl.

The me was patting his back. He must have done something good during the day, dont know what, but something. The aforementioned girl, when she walks, she's graceful... If I could see her dance, my God, how beautiful would that be.... But he had to be cool about it... "Yeah.. maybe..."

"Good, so we are going dancing to this pl..." Hold on... Did she say We? Would it be preposterous to think I had been super good all week and I was getting a show here? Something that doesnt involve me at all?

"We?"I asked. "Yes.We." She said.

And that was that. I dont remember what happened next. Everything is a blur. All I remember is driving to this place in the middle of nowhere. There were couples inside, dancing around. Men, holding their women, twirling them at will, and women not minding it. I looked around for courage. I saw a bar at one end of the hall. No beer can give me courage for this.

The girl on the other hand was all smiles fantasising that we could be one of those couples. That gave me courage. If she could be so clueless about how bad I am, and how embarrassed I am going to make all 144 people in that room, why can't I be clueless?

I thought about MDI, Gurgaon, the lineage, the classes, the professors, the friends... None of them idiots had prepared me for this. I thought about S. He must be laughing at me somewhere. Just when I had come to think I was better than him, my own girl, does this to me.

I held her right hand in my left. I put my right hand around her waist. This is the only fun part about dancing. I put my right foot ahead and it pushed against her left.

"You have to start with your left," she whispered.

"My left or yours?" I asked. Only to realise it was a dumb question.

We stood there in the middle of the room, like a missile failed to launch. I was embarrassed, she wasnt. Then I thought, maybe she was here not because she liked dancing so much, but maybe she enjoyed dancing with me. That self indulgent theory gave me much strength. I have to do this. I have to. I started with a 1-2-3, 1-2-3, and stamped my big ugly left foot on her soft, white, small right foot with red nailpaint. I had made her dress in my fav dress, made her put on the nail polish that I wanted, in other words, I had thrown my weight around because I had agreed to dance with her. George Clooney doesnt get to do that, I am sure!

I took the name of the Polish, the jolly folk from Poland who still havent started using the Euro. We started Polka, a dance form from the aforementioned, non Euro users. The Polish might not have won a major war and never mass produced a decent car, but they do know their dance.

The 1-2-3, 1-2-3, worked and then, we were dancing, like they show in the movies. Her grace made up for my lack of it, and we were dancing. I lead her, she trusted me. I wondered if all the men there, dancing with their girls, felt what I felt. Was it pride? Self confidence? Or a heady mix coz of having a woman trust you? The first song ended. The band bowed. But the applause was ours. We danced, for hours, I made mistakes, plenty of them, she laughed them off, and then I did too. It was not about the mistakes, it was about the fun we were having. The crowd slowly faded away. And then it was just us dancing on the floor. The lights dimmed, the music volume went a couple of notches softer. The 1-2-3 in my head was gone. All that was left was she and I dancing on the wooden floor. Her eyes were locked onto mine and I didnt want to leave their gaze, such warmth in her gaze.

That night, we kept dancing. We must be the last couple to leave the floor. As we walked away, we found ladies smiling at us, sighing and reminiscing the lovely days gone by, congratulating her on getting me here and registering my sheepish grin.

I opened the door for her... We walked the long walk to the car... And I thought, Life is much like dancing. It can be done alone, but then, Life and Dancing are more fun, when you have someone with you.





Girls and DancingSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Current Issues:
4 letters to the editor Links to this post  

A day in the life of a Salesman...



[Long post with lot of Hindi references]

When I was in engineering, the only time I would touch a foreign author book was in the first week of the semester. Preferably someone with a German sounding name like 'Weiss', 'Scharf', 'Kuchen'.. Okay the last one I made up, it means 'cake' in German. Ah, how I miss German bakeries, which they just called 'bakery' in Germany.

As the sem progressed we would shift to local authors, with a preferably rural sounding name like 'Waghmare', 'Gaitonde' etc. Their English sucked but they managed to send the theories across. As the sem came to an end, with our professors realising there was so much to be done in such little time, we were given 1204 pages of assignments. I still havent figured out how come sem after sem, our professors managed to mismanage everything. During the exams, one book, maybe calling it a book is an overstatement, it was just a few pages stapled together with the words 'Jigar's Last years papers' on it. I still havent figured out who this 'Jigar' guy was, but by God, kya Jigar paya tha ussne...

Things changed at MDI. I remember the nights I spent reading Marketing Management by Kotler. I like that book. I just couldnt shift to an Indian author. That was how awesome it was.

I dreamt of drafting out marketing strategies. I would have a bunch of guys under me whom I would bark out orders to.. I would be loved by kids and women and respected by the men. (Yeah, I can be silly like tht..) But that never happened.

I am not good with networking. I was never the guy who would make friends with seniors and ask them what to expect from a corporate job. I didnt see it coming.

In my interview, the interviewer obviously impressed by my CV asked me to review my decision to join the company. "You might be too soft for this..." were his exact words. We were only 2 minutes into the interview. I said I was super confident and signed the papers. My interview took 3 minutes. Probably the shortest interview of all time.

There is a reason it’s called Sales & Marketing and not the other way round. It is an indication to how your career is going to pan out. And then it started. I had to be a salesman to be a good marketer. My previous boss, a marketing guru himself, had told me this. How difficult could this be? I remember thinking.

I was given the biggest territory in India to sell stuff to. It happened to be in the heart of India. Old Delhi. Ajmeri gate, Delhi gate (which is not the same as India Gate as you ignorant Mumbaikars might think), Chawri Bazar, Chandni Chowk... These areas had been glorified in Yash Raj type movies. I know the readers who have never been to these areas are thinking Parathas and kachoris, pretty girls in shiny salwar suits and white doves doing a masakali... But no, that’s not how these areas are. There are no pretty girls to be found, parathas and kachoris are too greasy for one’s taste and no doves to be found here either.

It's 10 in the morning. I stand in the middle of the road, looking at the expanse of shops on both sides of the road. One can stand in the middle of the road here, it is Delhi, you see! I see the cycle rickshaws packed with cartons of hardware tools, paints, silicon sealants, saw-blades. I look at young boys carry these cartons into impossibly narrow sublanes, where rickshaws cant enter.

I enter the first shop. Shopkeepers are such characters. Talking to them can be fun at times. They come in all shapes and sizes. All levels of education, knowledge and wisdom or the utter lack of it.

“Namaste” I say. I like this greeting. Our generation has forgotten this basic Indian way of greeting someone.
“Arre sirrr! Namaste. Kaise hain. Aaao Aao, baithiye...” He says.

I like to start with the most welcoming shopkeepers.

“Colours saare hain?” Says another shopkeeper whom I visit. He is referring to the colours of the steelgrip tape my company sells. This is his way of greeting. A cup of tea is placed before me and we drink tea while discussing colours, pricing, competition etc.

I move on to the next shop and pass by a foreigner couple. They have a book with the title “Indien” on it. They are Germans. I feel a sense of belonging for some reason. I wonder if I should go talk to them in broken German, say hi!. I decide against it. Men all around catch 360 degree stares of the girl, esp her legs. She’s wearing shorts, a grave mistake.

I catch two street urchins, rag pickers really, eye the girl. No, not her legs, but the kit-kat that she’s having. The younger one looks at the older one. The older one says-

“Abbey koi nahi, bachpan mein bahut khaya hai.” (I have had lots when I was young.)

He is no more than 10 years old. It makes a dent in me somewhere.

There are all kinds of shopkeepers. Some of them are innocent, some have half cooked knowledge, some are plain horny. Most of them know what places I have lived in, and almost always have questions about it. Every week, there is a new question.

“Aaj-kal bahut thand ho rahi hai Delhi mein.” He says.
“Haan.” I say.
“Germany mein bhi thand hoti hai?”
“Haan”
“Matlab Delhi jitni hoti hai?”
“Nahi. Aur zyada. Barf padti hai.”
“Kya baat kar rahe hain sir!”
“Haan. Minus 15 tak temperature jaata hai.”
“KYA?” He almost jumps out of his chair.
“Haan.”
“Sir,” I can sense the mischief in his voice, “Fir itne thand mein unki ladkiyaan itni chote kapde kaise pehenti hain?”
“Unke body mein auto heater hota hai...”

Hahahaaa... we laugh...




I visit a shop with owned by a sardar. One of them 50 years old, and his son around my age.

“Paaji, Fevibond le lo. Scheme chalu hai.” I say. Fevibond is an adhesive we make. It is, like most products we make, a market leader in its segment.
“Chaloji, 2 peti behjdo.”
“Nahi nahi, 4 peti le lo. 2 aapki 2 meri.”
“Chal yaar, 4 bhejde bas.”
Now greed takes over me.
“Nahi paaji, 5 hi karlo na, round figure.”
“Oye, chad yaar... Itna fevibond bechke mujhe kya James Bond banana hai...”

Hahaha... we laugh. The son leaves the counter to pick up something from the godown at the back. A pretty foreigner in a pink Indian kurta walks by. Paaji, all of 50 years, cranks his neck to watch her. I look at him. He smiles. I smile.

He looks around to check if his son is around, he’s still in the godown.
“Sirji, kinni soni lagdi hain gori kundiyaan Indian dresses mein, nahi?”
“Haan. Woh toh hai.”
“Aacha, sirji, ek baat batao, yeh gori ladkiyan patate kaise hain?”
“Arre bahut easy hota hai. Aur ek baat bataun paaji? Unko Sardar bahut pasand hote hain.”
“Kya sacchi?” He asks wide-eyed, almost sorry that he hasn’t tried his luck yet.

I take advantage and write down an order of 5 Fevibond cases.




Most of these shops are run by Father-sons, I visit a Haryanvi father-son.

Kya baat hai bhai, last time scheme cutke nahi aayi?” says the father in a way that I found threatening at the start, only to learn that this is his “loving voice” when I heard him get angry at one of his workers. There was no female in the worker’s family tree who wasn’t brought into conversation.
“Kyun, kya hua?”
“Arre maal aaya hi nahi toh scheme kategi key?” says the son, probably slightly more educated than the father, but equally crude.
“Ruko, mein call karke poochta hoon distributor ko...” I say.
“Haan, phone lagao uss bhen ke ****, mad****, uski bho@#$%” says the father.
“Poocho usko, maal kyun nahi bheja maa ke %%^^ ne, Bhe$%%# uski, $$%@!” says the son, as if the adjectives used by the father weren’t enough.

This, when the distributor and the Harvanyvi shopkeeper are best friends!! The ways these guys express love, I tell you! I make sure things are in place. And I leave, my vocabulary now richer.

On my way to another shop, I get stuck in a human traffic jam!!! There are so many men all around, I cant move for a good 20 seconds. I manage to wiggle my way out of the lane. My shirt by now is not as crisp as it was in the morning. My face is covered with a layer of dust. I wipe my face with a handkerchief.

The next shop I visit has a rate error in one of the bills for something he ordered last week. The rate is different only by 3 paise. But because of the sheer volume he ordered, it makes a difference of 3000 rupees to the final bill. Swords are unleashed. I take a step back. He pushes me a little, I push him back harder. Verbal volleys, fingers wagged, business sense brought into conversation, logic and rationality discussed. He settles down. I settle down. Tea is ordered.

Real men are animals inside a suit. The better the man, the better hid the animal. The better the man, the fiercer the animal. Mediocre men, who fail to recognise real men, suddenly settle down scared, once the real man unleashes the animal within.

I walk back, tired from all the talking, walking. I sit on a bench outside a tea stall, sipping my fifth tea of the day. Evening has set in, but there is no visible reduction on the hustle and bustle. Suppliers, rickshaws stacked with cartons, runners, customers who have parked their Mercedes at Ajmeri gate moving from shop to shop to get the best price. Such different people all working in the same market. From someone who earns 3000 rupees a month to someone who earns 500 times that. All of them fighting for their place in the market.

Then I see them stop, or at least slow down and gaze up at the telephone wires above. I see them smile. I crank my neck. A baby monkey is playing with his mother. He jumps on her tail, pulls her hair, hangs from the wire, all under the watchful eye of his mother. Everything slows down. Everyone has a smile on their faces.

His mother soon realises the undue attention her baby is attracting towards them. She picks him up, much to the chagrin of the baby, who protests like a kid who has to leave the playground when his mother comes calling. Soon they get hidden behind a crevice in an old building. Sanity or insanity, depending on how you see it, returns. People join other people flowing in the river of humans. But the smile refuses to leave. Both theirs and mine.

I wonder what am I doing here. All the degrees, all the hardwork, the talent... what does it boil down to?

Then it hits me –
What is life but a scrapbook whose pages you are trying to fill with photographs of memories? At the end, if you have a photograph each day that will stick in the scrapbook of life, you, my friend, have lived...


A day in the life of a Salesman...SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Current Issues: , ,
16 letters to the editor Links to this post  

What is Love? Explained.

I just returned from an awesome trip to the United States. This info is of no use to you and I am not bragging. It's not brag worthy when every Tom-Dick-Natrajan from Hyderabad TCS has been to Detroit and back. This info does tell you that I have returned and have been jet-lagged to the hilt. So I am sleepy at lunchtime (unlike all you IT engineers, I am sleepy before I have had lunch) and am wide awake at 5 in the morning.

So, I was trying to get myself to sleep one of these mornings that I couldnt sleep at 5 am. Unlike normal people who deem counting sheep as a fairly effective way of falling asleep, I, from my IIT JEE prep days, know that nothing puts me to sleep better than an Organic Chemistry problem.

I gave up on Organic chemistry years ago. I don't get it. It doesnt get me. We don't get along. So, I chose other more difficult, more universal problems to tackle. I picked up a subject, I have been racking my brains over years. What is Love?

Not that I didnt have the answers to this question when I was 17, the age when I finally decided that life wasnt worth living without cable TV. But those answers werent, well, all satisfactory. They left me wanting, like a good meal without dessert. But everything changed the other day at 5 am. Things became clear. I can't explain the feeling. But it was pretty close to when I first learnt how to bowl leg-spin. Oh, I remember the fear in the eyes of 8 year old batsmen every time I came to bowl. Ah, good days those.

So, let me explain What is Love, with pictures for better understanding. You might want to take notes and all. Yes.

All love, father-son, man-wife, brother-sister, grandpa-grandchildren, girl-teddy bear, young man-fast car, nerd - Harry Potter book can be explained using Love between 4 permutations.

1. Love between a Man and another man




All men admire each other at some level. I think it was hard wired in us by nature. We had to like each other to be in groups. There is strength in numbers in the jungle. Being in groups men could protect themselves from other predators. It kept them safe.

(Notice how I have watermarked the images now that I have finally invested my time creating something?)

Men dont want to be caught dead confessing their love for another man, heck, a grown son wont even kiss his father on the cheek (unless he is Italian of, course). Even between male friends, you will never find one man appreciating another man's friendship. Words like - "You should brush your teeth everyday rather than biweekly" or "Stop being such a jackass" frequent among friends. The only way of spotting true male love is when they talk about each other. There is pride there and admiration and if the friendship is really deep, a hint of respect.

Try that between any two men, try a father and son. They might not confess loving each other, but you will find these three emotions when they talk about each other.

This theory can be further strengthened by proving the converse is exact opposite. Remember a certain politician's son was caught doping the night after the politician was killed by his own brother? Okay, search Pramod Mahajan. The world, I think was too harsh on the son. They said he didnt love his father. Yeah. True. He didnt respect his father. He didnt admire him and wasnt proud of him. In short, he didnt love him. So he didnt care.



2. Love by a man for a woman



All men have an inherent need to protect the women they love. A father is always protective of his girl, a brother is protective of his sister, a boy of the girl he loves... There is something very primal in this type of love too.

Along with protective instincts comes ownership. Men were so obsessed with ownership that the society world over decided to make the woman change her surname when she gets married to a man.

I don't know which of these emotions came first. Is a man protective of a woman because he owns her, or does he feel he owns her because he's been protective of her?

My theory can be verified by testing it for love between a man and an inanimate female object, like say, a car. The love that a man has for his car (provided he loves the car in the first place) can be categorised by ownership and protective instincts.

The makers of Rolls Royce were so protective for their car that they sold it to only those people who they felt could take care of the car. Now, that's love. Some parsi men are known to spend more time with their cars than their wives. (That might also be one reason why their numbers are dwindling.)


3. Love of a Woman for a Man






A woman starts loving a man once she starts respecting him for what he is. A daughter loves her father because she respects what he does for her and her family, the fact that he protects her from all evil, that he is her shield. A wife (not surprisingly) has the exact same reasons why she respects her husband.

Pride is another trait of a woman's love for a man. Ask a woman where her fiance studied - the pride that brims over when she says -IIM Ahmedabad. Never before has the name of the city "Ahmedabad" been pronounced with so much pride. Ask woman about his less educated man's education and she would go - He is the MD. MD of what company, you ask? MD of his father's company. You later learn that his father owns a stationery shop and the MD is actually the shopkeeper.

Like men, women have a few inherent needs too. Women find that the men they love are incomplete without them. A mother feels that about her son, so she ends up ironing the clothes of her son who lives in the hostel, does such stuff on his own back there, every time he comes home. A wife feels the need to pack the bags for her husband's South Asia trip, because "he can't do a good job on his own", forget that fact that he has been around the world before getting married, and has been pretty much packing his own bags.

Men, obviously like the attention. It is a kind of love they are incapable of. Love that is blatantly obvious.

The only problem with the "incomplete without me" emotion is, that when there is more than one woman vouching for the love of a man, it can get catty. Like when - the wife joins the beta-ma club. True story.


4. Love of a woman for another woman:






There always exists a subtle hatred between women. I think it is evolutionary too. When stone age man used to go around in groups so would their women. Inherent in human beings is the need to protect it's young. Now, a man would have relations with more than one woman, every woman would want him to care for her offspring more than the child of another woman in the harem. Hence the hatred.

But this subtle hatred is important for love between women. This tells them that they are related in some way. Indifference is worse than hatred. Indifference is what you dont want someone to feel for you.

Women, when they start understanding each other, they fall in love. It might be easier said than done. Go sit in a ladies compartment in a mumbai local to learn more.

Caring comes naturally to women. But they extend this only to the women who they deem worthy of it. Once they do, they do love each other.

Now, when a woman says she loves another woman, that shouldnt be taken seriously. Observe two girls when they first become friends. The rainbowy talk, the sweet secrets being shared, you think it will go on for ever, only to find them go their seperate ways in two weeks for something as silly as "she likes Ranbir Kapoor. He's mine." I say why fight over Ranbir Kapoor. He's gonna get fat one day anyway.


So there. That is my complete understaning of love and I have explained it with pictures. In case there are any questions, I am always available in the comments section.

Till the next time, keep falling in love.







What is Love? Explained.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend
Current Issues: , , , , ,
11 letters to the editor Links to this post