Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Of marriages made in heaven,celebrated on streets

You never know what sort of ocassional camaraderie you start missing when you leave your home town.And that too from a laid back town like Jamshedpur to the nowhere near laid back city Mumbai.I was thinking about such things when the annual marriage 'season' came to my mind.

A marriage ceremony,I presume since I haven't seen any,is celebrated here in the confines of a community hall,or the lobby of a hotel.How many stars the hotel boasts of depends on the money involved.My mediocre middle class tastes would find such gatherings boring.A few drinks going around.People dressed like they took a day to do the make up.Plastic smiles and nods of acknowledgment all around.Sophisticated music,sometimes live.Showering the best of gifts and wishes on the bride and bridegroom.Food with three syllable names,but which look all the same.And taste even worse.Certainly not a day to remember.

My mind goes back to the tent-on-the-roadside marriages back home.Being a small enough city,there is enough space on the roads to do anything.Lack of community halls and hotel lobbies means that these canvas tents are the most common place for marriage ceremonies,accounting for more than 95% of the marriages that take place.And it is way exciting than it's high class substitute.

Roads are dug up for the supporting bamboos of the tents.Imagine this as an Indian form of "Hollywood walk of fame" street.The memories of the heavenly match that took place has forever been etched on the ground.The roads are blocked to disallow traffic into that part.The flashing signs reading "XYZ weds ABC" make sure that these deprived motorists have something to talk about when they get home,somehow.Not niceties in the strict sense but publicity has it's let downs.At least 10 monster size sound-boxes cover the perimeter of the tent,and these spring into action as soon as the first bamboo is hoisted on the road.That could well be 24 hours before the main event.Those neighbours missing out on being treated by the food are treated instead by the latest bollywood songs.At decibel levels that would make a rock band pack it's act and leave.Another few people to remember this event.

The 'party' begins at times starting from anywhere between 2-3 hours after the time printed in the cards.That means that enough people have gathered to fill the entire place,humbly small in most cases.Announcement from the hosts to get on the with the food meets with a huge rush of people crowding around the plate stacks to get their share (and perhaps more) of food.The most active lot is the huge amount of kids who spring from nowhere to attack the 'food counters' from all directions.Shouting,cheering,playing games and eating food.This is what a gathering is all about.Frail old people are the ones who get to sit down since the number of chairs present is almost always limited.The caterers who look after these 'counters' are amazingly miserly in giving away food,probably as an order from the hosts.Quite understandably so.

The food is nothing special.Same old junk I eat everyday.But I don't go there for the food.Observing people at such gatherings is such a fun thing to do.

The hosts are smiling at everyone and asking about the food,not even waiting for the answer.A few kids and slightly elder people who think they have a thing for the camera,chase the cameraman to make sure they figure in maximum possible frames.A group of middle-aged women are dicussing the fashion of the Soap opera glam girls,and their bit to emulate them.A group of guys is looking for girls to chase around.And out of place people like me are standing in the corners and observing with amusement.

The climax of the show comes when the bridegroom side or Baraat comes to the tent/mandap.Fireworks light the roads.Commuters run for cover.The flower decorated car is followed by a fleet of other rented cars labeled with the names of the souls to be married.The people are dancing on the streets to the tunes of most popular marriage numbers,accompanied by labourers carrying lighted tubelights on their heads.The entire path the baraat traverses get to know whose getting married.Another publicity bonus.

And it's too late by the time the marriage actually happens.So most of the crowd has already gone back.Their motive was to eat and have fun and eat even more.So they do their job and leave.They will come another day for the 'reception' post marriage to shower their gifts and blessings.

Me? I am fast asleep at the nearest free space.Even if it means joining chairs and sleeping in an awkard position.Highly trained to do that,after gaining expertise in sleeping during class hours.

Ah,how I miss these trivialities!

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Jon Stewart on bloggers

I can't restrain myself from talking about Jon in my blogs.'The dead blog' on the links in the left hand side talks about him first up.It took 25 odd posts to talk about him here.You can find all about him in Wikipedia or Google or anywhere on how he is the funniest man in U.S,how he is changing the way news is presented,how his outburst on 'Crossfire' ended that landmark news program.And then it became the most downloaded video on internet.That video you can also find on the net if you search for it.

But what I am linking here is the video clip of a Daily Show episode in which he discusses bloggers and their role today.Pretty relevant too.

Take it from here

You need to have quicktime plugin for this.

In case you are in IITB,you can avoid all this hassle and just leave a comment to get it from me.Seriously worth watching.In case you like it,a lot more clips are available here. Yeah I've got 'em all.

Here is the transcript.So in case you aren't able to view this one,just go through the transcript and you'll get a fair idea.
Happy blogging!

Poetic journey

Been flirting with a lot of verse lately.Mostly 'silly verse'.Anyone who sees my recent Orkut scraps can figure that out .Suddenly my mind rushes back to my first 'published' poem when I was in the 3rd std. It was in the kiddy section of a sunday supplement of the hindi daily 'Jansatta'. Amazingly I still remember the lines and recreate it here with the help of this site.

Here we go.

िहंदु ,मुसिलम् , िसख , ईसाई,
सब आपस मे भाई भाई .

िफर कय होते दंगे और फसाद,
िफर कयहेे भारत माता पर
यह गहरा अवसाद.

भूलें कल को,दे हाथ में हाथ
बढाये देश को,िमलके साथ-साथ.

Just after the Babri Masjid tragedy.Redundant questions asked and equally uncomplicated and improbable answers.But those were the days to dream.Towards Utopia.

To all those unforgiving friends of mine who think pinched this off some place or the other just to see my name in print--I reiterate that I wrote it myself.Seeing my name in print was vanity that my age permitted,but I was honest enough even then not to use unfair means to achieve that.

My budding writing career did not end here.I got something published in the pre-teen zine 'Target'.Got some money off an essay in some other kiddy hindi magazine.And got something published in 'Children's World' too.Then around 6th std. I realised how hollow I wrote,so I quit writing in public.

Until now that is.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Won't get fooled again

Sometimes I wonder why I haven't put in any efforts to get my voter ID card.There is a huge campaign going on targeted at people like me who are educated (someone who can sign his own name in India) and just above 18.These campaigns bring in celebrities and use cheeky puns like 'showing your finger' to project that voting is the 'cool' thing to do.I half expect Hallmark/Archies to come up with 'voting cards' of the other kind and wrist bands or badges to cater to this population to celebrate this achievement of exercising their rights.This would make things even cooler.

I am not influenced by these sweet syrupy campaigns.If anything they irritate me.Like those millions of manufactured 'days' that are celebrated and cashed upon.So why don't I go ahead and do it?

I was looking for the answer and then I heard this song by The Who,which probably reflects my attitude.

I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I'll get on my knees and pray
We don't get fooled again.

Either I am undecided or it just does not matter.Should I vote on the negatives or the positives? Should I vote for the party or the person? So many questions to answer.

I can't think of a single unique policy that a government has made that has affected me directly.And I mean directly.Except perhaps Jaitley's decision to curb the late night classified movies :D. Hikes in petrol prices are not government specific.Everyone has to do it. The policies about the IIT's money to Bharat Shiksha
Kosh hardly have any effect on my day to day life.So how do I get to decide?

I am too ignorant and uninformed on the effects on industries and agriculture.Too unconcerned about the foreign policy.Internal politics hardly matter.One thing I do know is that whenever I get a chance to visit my native village,I see no change.Same pathetic roads,same abysmal power supplies,same schools,same hospital,same everything.Village being in Bihar doesn't help either.Highly disillusioning.

This from a person who when asked in exam to write an essay on 'Your Ambition in life' somewhere around 8th std. wrote that he wanted to be a politician.A revolutionary one,who would remove the 'dirty' tag from politics.This when everyone wrote about being an engineer,doctor,pilot,astronaut and what not.I got the marks all right and probably that's all I had wished for.

So instead of wasting my vote and then repenting about it (as it is I retrospect a lot),I choose to stay away.Watch from the sidelines,wishing for a change.Applauding any change but going on with daily life just as well.And if anything wrong happens,just pray that we don't get fooled again.Just as the song says.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Ashes to ashes

I can't be at Trent Bridge right now.Nor could I be at Lord's or Old Trafford or Edgbaston.The time,the money and the circumstances don't permit me to be.I feel deprived.I try to make it up with my own ritual that I follow every day the test match is being played.And I did that today.

I put an alarm for 3.00 pm.I get off the bed,mostly fast asleep after the highly strenous morning four lectures.At least it seems that way.I take my ID-card from my wallet.Reminds me of the days when I stood in the student ticket lines for matches at Keenan stadium,waiting anxiously with ID-cards in hand.I switch back to the present.Submit my card,enter my name in the register and take the remote and TV-room keys.Now I've got the pass to the stadium.To entertain myself between breaks,I take a book along with me.Last time it was 'An Equal Music',this time it's 'Is New York burning'.I am alone in that room.A hostel has people with varied tastes.And a Govinda movie is much more entertaining for the majority than this trivial tussle between bat and ball.That's why I am so particular with the timing,lest the room be booked by people to whom my tastes seem outrageous.

I pull up the matresses,make myself comfortable.Matches in England are more of a picnic and outing than a one time experience.So unlike India,where there is hardly enough space to crawl on one knee,let alone read a book.But I have written about that already in that long post of mine.Anyway I get into that picnic mode.And I'm off to another world.The sound of leather ball on the well varnished bats is music to my ears.The site of professional sportsmen wearing white flannels giving it their all for their pride is an inspiration.I soak in the moments.

I was there when poor Kasprowicz got out,and Brett Lee looked on helpless.I was there when Lee saved the final ball,and jumped in the air with ecstacy.Not physically but in some sense of cricket-spiritually.The Gods I worship wear white flannels and are masters of their art with the red leather ball and the shining willows.My spirituality,the transcendental state of mind comes by watching them on the green carpet they choose to exhibit themselves on.I am not talented enough to follow my Gods in that field,but this way I pay them my regards.

I used to wake up early,with understanding parents letting me watch the matches as they were aired live from Down Under.Me and my brother used to creep under that warm quilt with dawn breaking out outside and watch in awe as the Australian summer produced one historic performance after another.Never remeber being sincere in waking up that early any other rime.And I would rush home from school to watch the telecast when the series shifted to the northern hemisphere.Even remember putting up with mild resistance from bored cousins who thought there were better things on show.How wrong were they.

I have seen a million replays of the ball of the century,equally amazed each time.I was there when Gough took that hat-trick and the Barmy Army burst into celebration.I was there when Vaughan single handedly put Aussies to task with his brilliant centuries.I was there when Australia lost out to England in England chasing some 100 odd to win.Listened to that on BBC radio,with shocked commentators hardly able to utter a word to describe the match.I was there again when Caddick took that last wicket in the final Test down under to end Australia's winning streak and salvage a win after four losses.Still remember how the news reader on BBC radio interrupted the main news broadcast to convey this pround moment for the poms.I was there when Steve Waugh scored a century batting on with thigh a strain.There when Caddick's bouncer fell Langer and blood spurted out after he had scored his century.There when Butcher brought back memories of Botham's test at Headingley 20 years on by solely leading England to an improbable victory.My brother points out I missed one of the landmark moments that defined the ashes series that year.Steve Waugh's last Ashes match,he is on 97 and he hits a 4 to get his century on the last ball of the day.Says it choked him,must have made everyone in the stadium cry;and then applaud.This is what emotions are made of. I have been there everytime I could.

And now the memories come back flooding to me,as the fickle English rains stop play yet again on the 1st day of the 4th test match.I can't miss this for anything.Maybe someday I will get the chance to enter the hallowed gates of Lord's and see the Gods in Paradise.That would be salvation enough.

Ashes to ashes,dust to dust,
I'll be there someday,I know I must.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Suitable Boy and An Equal Music

I had a great time reading and being read 'A suitable boy'.My dad brought this 1300 page book when the maximum pages I had ever read was somewhere around 300.That was around my 7th grade.He didn't actually buy the book but took him from a friend of his who I gather must be those sort of gentlemen who buy the latest buzz-books and take pride in lending them than actually read them! This because the book is still on our book racks,obviously nobody came asking.

Dad never even suggested we (my bro and me) read the book.But he used to read out excerpts,interesting ones,so that we knew that actually this 1300 page goliath is a good read if you have the courage to do it.He read about how the reckless Maan played holi,how Meenakshi melted her father-in-law's Roorke Engg. college gold medals for her jewels,about Varun's drunken horse racing adventures and a lot more little incidents.That's when I realised that there are books that can be read at random,without making a difference to the story.Such a departure from the predominantly mystery novels I used to read!

So although I knew a lot of anecdotes by the time I enetered 10th grade,I never actually read the book.Then we had almost no book reading time due to the hectic academic routine.Neither I had time enough to read it myself.Then came the carefree vacations after the IIT results.

I had already finished an IIT favourite Catch-22 just before my mains (yes!) and now I had minimal work to do.So I decided to settle some old scores.Dusting off the dog-eared copy of the book,I set out to complete it before I entered IIT.And I finished it within 10 days.It was an enthralling read,coupled by the lack of things I had to do which made me finish this fast.And after reading I realised that I could have read the book from anywhere to anywhere without making difference.The amazing detailed description of every sub-part of the society was one thing that stood out for me.Every stereotype event,person,calamity,caste etc. is narrated so naturally.I knew what the end was going to be,which was highly practical considering the time this novel was set in,and it made little difference.There were no gimmicks,and the novel flowed;like life perhaps.The little sections that the book was divided into made reading simpler.The setting and background made the events so imaginable which was one problem I had faced with the books set in the west.Church spires,unknow festivals,unknown cuisines--was a little tough picturising.

Then I got hold of 'An Equal Music' last week.I started reading with a lot of expectations.Although I wasn't entirely disappointed with the book,but it was far less charming than the first one for me.Always feel mystified by the number of books,movies,songs and works of art that are dedicated to love and life.Sometimes both become interchangeable. 'A Suitable Boy' had it's stories,but it was disappointing to find an entire book dedicated to this most popular of emotions sometimes obsessively so.

This story about Michael and Julia and a small circle of people has so many things left to probability that sometimes it becomes disturbing that a writer like Seth is using the what-happens-next sort of strategy to keep readers glued.The language is brilliant though.The flow and the imagery used sometimes made me think that I am in the middle of a poem.The use of musical terms and pieces,that too classical music also took a bit off the book for me.Especially since I am not past that Rock n'Roll phase of life where Deep Purple and The Who matter more than Schubert or Mozart.I tried my best to get hold of Mozart,Schubert,Vivaldi and the likes.Got most them and tried to appreciate what the protagonist must have lived for.But somehow the little knowledge of quartets,C-minors,D-majors,Fugues etc. were too tough to grasp in one go.So maybe I will read this book again if and when my tastes grow sophisticated enough,to understand it all.The love story that was the other part of the book was disturbing and pretty ordinary I must say.And I hope I don't get to understand this part by experience :D.But the language it was put in is beyond praise.

I had trouble understanding the theme and motive of 'Half a Life',a book whose personally autographed copy by Naipaul I was reading.This was further compunded by the fact that I read it in a train journey.But the one thing that left an impact on me was the dialogue between Willie and his writer friend,when Willie shows him his stories.

"Story has no end,no beginning.It must flow,like life",he said.Perhaps I believe in the same philosophy now.'A Suitable Boy' perfectly fits in this definition,'An Equal Music' would too but the inexperienced constrains of myself perhaps fail to see how.

And no don't take it as a book review.This is the contrast of my feelings,experiences as I read both the novels.Something I wondered about when I hadn't read this book.

The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.
--opening page of 'A suitable Boy'

Monday, August 22, 2005

A fortune a day

Orkut never fails to amaze me.Just about everyday I find some ridiculous group joined by equally weird people or some abysmally pathetic attempt to 'friendship' in some scrapbook.But then I realise it's not Orkut but people who amaze me.Orkut has it's own charms.

None more so than the today's fortune that shows up like a prophecy everytime you successfuly log in.I say successful because most of the times there can be a Bad,Bad server which means no Donut for you.And Orkut server would behave in this way,they say in the coming few days (almost a year now) and they apologise for being inconsiderate.Apologies accepted,especially since you give us the indispensable Today's Fortune.

"Promise only what you can deliver",it screamed today.I scratched my head to recall what I could have promised.Then I remembered I had promised to write about this.A great exemplification of how fortune favours the brave.

"Simplicity of character is a natural result of profound thought."It took me a while to figure out what it meant.And that profound thought made me realise how simple this was.And then the genius of it all struck me.

"A pleasant surprise is in store for you." This one is so flexible.If your'e suprised that it did not rain today,or how your roll no. wasn't called up to solve a problem...there you go! Fortune comes true.Tricky.

"You have an important new business development shaping up." I wondered what.Then I see the notice on the board about the mess advance payment last date.Important business.Lot's of money to lose.And Orkut warned me.

"Good news will be brought to you by mail." This one was easy enough.I saw the spams titled 'Enlarge,enlarge,enlarge' and 'Free university degrees' .Good news surely for people who know how to use them.

"You will inherit a large sum of money." How do they know this? All that secret cash stashed in the labyrinths of my house away from all the IT sniffers.All that money in the safes of Swiss banks.All this while I decieve everyone by toiling my backside (I wish) off for four years trying to get a degree. How could they? Of all the fortunes,I wish this one comes true.With a prior notice.

"Your present plans are going to succeed." For someone who doesn't know what proper planning means,this is an easy thing to say.No plans,no success.Bitter but true.

"You will make a profitable investment." This when I have just logged in into Orkut.Of course man,I've invested my entire reserves of time for you.Go on,Orkutify me.Amaze me more.

"You will be advanced,socially without any special effort."As I read this,the corner of my eye caught that my no. of fans had increased by one.In this virtual society,surely a virtual advancement.And no special effort,except logging in.Beautiful.

"You will travel to many places." They don't mention 'in your dreams'.But that's understandable.If your idea of places are the various numbered hostels and the main building and main gate and lakeside,then things are so much simpler.I travel many places daily.

"You are the master of every situation." Because everytime there is a situation you are alone.So you are the master,you are the slave.No hiding this fact.

"Your mind is original,creative and alert." Well isn't it?

"You first and last love is..self love." Hmmm,do I need to say more on this?

"You will get new clothes today." This is where it all breaks down.No matter how hard I try to interpret this in a favorable way,this one defies all logic. Orkut people if you are reading this,a very good chance of that considering how good you must be at wasting time,I demand an explanation.Rather on the behalf of all those deprived of new clothes,we all demand an explanation.

And it better be soon.If not then you might find a reason for leaving Orkut which you so innocently ask,stating lack of enough new clothes.Quick,I've cleared out my wardrobe.

Holding back the years

Sunday night.Thinking about all that I should have done this weekend,the bigger question pops up.And then I think about this song,listen to it indefinitely in a loop.

Chance for me to escape from all I know.
Holding back the tears.
There’s nothing here has grown.
I’ve wasted all my tears,
Wasted all those years.
Nothing had the chance to be good,

Nothing ever could, yeah.
I’ll keep holding on,

I’ll keep holding on,
I’ll keep holding on,
I’ll keep holding on
So tight.

Simply Red.Now you wonder why I made the lyrics red :D.
If you ever wish to cry and think about all the things that could have been (if you are that sort of person) ,listen to this song.

I am just feeling sleepy,and this is one great sleep inducing song.Thank you Simply Red.All I can think is that I should have slept more.

Friday, August 19, 2005

The everyday verse

How do you counter boredom?
I tried to do that by writing about it.In 'silly verse'.
Here goes:

Through the window I see,it rains again;
Inside,the words rain upon
Of undetermined stress,unknown strain
Slides projected,figures drawn.

Like the drops hitting concrete below;
These words rebound,and dry with time.
It becomes too tough a job to follow;
As the mind searches for words that rhyme.

Glances at the clock
Time stands still
A mental block
More time to kill.

Ah look now,he's calling the rolls
This,this must be end of it all.

A period is all it took.The next day I'll be looking for a new topic then.By the end of the year,there would be an epic on ennui.

Thus far at Malhar-Finals Day-2

It's unimaginable how bored I get writing this.
So it's even more beyond comphrension about the fate of wandering souls who happen to read this.But just for the sake of completeness,like the assignments I manage to scrape through in time,I do this again.

This time when we reached the gates,our entire contingent had already gone in.I asked which was the participant's line

'Is this the participant's line?'
"No it's that side."
'But yesterday I went in from here'
"It's that side"

We go that side,half knowing that we will be sent back again.

"Are you a particpant?"
"Then go that side"
"Ok now I'm not,let me in."

I take the passes from Abir and go in.It doesn't matter what gate you go in from.The security asks if I have ,among other things , cigarettes.I tell that at the present moment I don't.He asks that if I can have it later.I don't smoke but I say maybe.He smiles and lets me in.The bag checking guy goes through my entire belongings.Puzzled,he asks why do I bring the bag.I show him the copy of An Equal Music I am reading,then I add that I bring the bag to carry the prizes.He thinks that's clever and lets me in.The Raga (official newsletter of Malhar) bugs me to buy a copy.I tell him I've to got 2 and if he would like to buy one.He shrugs and goes away.

I have changed my ways of dealing with people.And sometimes it works.

We wander for about an hour before I go to the MMR for the quiz.Chandan is sitting there all excited. Three teams of IIT have made it to the final five. That could only mean more boredom.

The sports quiz guy comes and tells me that they had planned 2 rounds on cricket and one on football.But time constraint prevented them from going through.I ask them why didn't time constraint prevent four back to back round of olympics.He says nothing.

The quiz begins.I don't even listen to the name of the other two teams.I am too apprehensive and bored at the same time.Chandan gets us off the blocks answering two great questions.I wake up.I answer a few more.And suddenly a team whose member believed that he was just sitting through is leading two others.Or does it show the lack of quality of other teams? Two 'speed' rounds with sissy questions mean that leads are frozen.So we enter the final rounds with the other two IIT teams.Who else?

The semi-final rounds were quite good actually.They were fast paced and had questions which on hindsight you think you should have answered.Not like some Romanian olympian you don't even want to know the name of.Much better than the Sports quiz.

The final round was a good innovation.But as always happens with untested innovations,this one had serious flaws.They had chosen 8-9 personalities on which they would ask questions.The teams had to bid on how many questions they could answer on each personality and the questions would be asked in the order of highest bidders. Min. bid was 3 questions and max. was 10. Nice idea,but perhaps they didn't realise that setting 30 questions (slightly more) on each person meant that the standard of questions would suffer a lot.And that's what happened.

While the others were answering their questions,I couldn't help but sleep.The questions varied from someone's lesbian GF's to some newspapers opinion about someone else.We managed to get hold of Jim Morison.Rabindranath,Indira,Martina Navratilova,Tintin,Saddam,Charlie Chaplin were beyond us. The audience ,whatever little was there at the beginning ,had left long ago.Bored to death.We were left to applaud each other.

Finally after what seemed like the morning 4 lectures,the quiz ended.We had no idea of the scores but turned out we were 2nd.The prizes were a joke.Four fruit juices,that too Jamun flavors.It tasted hideous and I threw it after one sip.Two shampoo bottles.That too "For Dry and Damaged hair" written on them. This all seemed like pre planned conspiracy.And four free passes to some Suraj water park.Located in Mucchala fun land.The exclamation mark of the joke,the punchline.Thank you Malhar.Thank you Xavier's.Anyone who comes asking me for a treat,I offer them a sip of jamun juice or a bathe with the shampoo.Tough choice.

And yeah,the purpose of bringing the bag doesn't go undefeated.

As always I didn't stay after my event was over.I learnt later that IITB had got third place.And I had contributed in whatever miniscule way.Felt nice.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Thus Far at Malhar-Finals Day-1

"Could you please move from here?"
"You are blocking the passage,please go and stand behind the registration desk"
'Are you sure,cause someone sent us here because their idea was exactly the same about that place.'
"Umm..yes,please go there."

We go and stand behind the reg. desk.In readiness to register ourselves for the sports quiz we take out our ID cards.

"Excuse me,are you participants"
A question asked when I was holding out my I-card to be cross checked by the reg. desk.
'Until now,yes.'
"Could you please not crowd over here?"
'How else can I register?'
"OK please move after you are registerd"
'Don't worry.I'll be answering questions inside shortly"

We finish the reg.

"Excuse me..."

We weren't listening anymore.We had figured out that most of the Malhar security/assiatance people were robots with fixed statements and absolutely no co-ordination at all.These statements could come out at random anytime from anyone.We applied this theory to lot of robots running around,and it worked most of the times.

The quiz started an hour late.But that's OK.Time is never a factor.Unless you've something to do in the space.We had nothing to do and we are good at that.So time passed.

The first thing that comes into view is that the team names have been named after F-1 constructors.Rings a warning bell,and this wasn't even the warm up lap.Unfortunately no safety car comes out.We see Ferrari and we sit down.It was ominous considering how much I hate Schumi.

The quiz begins.It goes on well for the first few rounds.Then a visual tennis round comes up.All the obscure players only read about in fine print as you browse through the newspapers were staring right at us.I see a face,think it's Patty Schnyder.She is not.Another face,our IIT OTSE answers Patty Schnyder.Bingo! A random face and a random name match.Cruel luck for me,feel like a psychic who got just there but not there.

Next round.Olympics.Never been very keen about that.Turns out that was only the first out of back to back 4 olympics rounds.There is one question where we are to guess why a certain athelete got disqualified in a certain Olympic games.I
decide to have some fun.
"Because later it was proved that he was a man."
I laugh.The organisers laugh.The audience laughs.They all laugh partially at my answer and partially as she points out that the question mentioned that the athelete was a man in the first place!
Next question.The Xaviers team is asked why a certain athelete was disqualified in a certain event at a certain olympic games.They repeat my answer.Bingo again! I realise that I should never choose to be a psychic to earn my living.

I think we got 3-4 in this round.One of them was about picking the odd one out.I did not know the answer but went on for about 2 minutes saying whatever came to my mind justifying my choice.Turned out I threw some random terms which the quizlady considered good enough to give half the points.Rahul knew some olympic stuff so we got some others.

We hold on to a podium place during most of the quiz.Our OTSE team cracks the buzzer round.They gained mostly due to the fact that there were no negs in that round.No negs!! First signs of organising inexperince (the quizlady frequently missed passing the questions to all the teams later) come up.They just buzzed as the cariacture flashed on the screen,and guessed in the nick of time.Good thinking on their part,bad on the organisers.They introduce negs in the next round.Predictably no one takes chances.Then comes the F-1 round.

They show the picture of Mika Hakinnen sitting on top of his car on the racetrack,visibly shattered and asked the funda.I blurted out how he was leading the race,how his car got problems and he had to retire at the penultimate corner and let Schumacher through.And in the quest to be a perfectionist I add French GP when I should have said Spanish.Not the correct funda they say,just because I got the GP wrong.The quiz would have turned into a debate right then as I kept on arguing.My partner is of the sedate type.He prevented anything like this to happen.Not even worth half the points.They do promise to gives us extra points in case of a tie break.I get the humor and ask them to write that down.Wish I made them eat their words.

Next question they show the picture of Schumi crashing into the tyre barricades at Silverstone.Our OTSE gets everything right,gets the name of the corner wrong.They get half points for that.I try and draw an analogy with my mistake and theirs.Again Rahul pulls me back.Wished I had a round of debate right there.

All said and done,we qualified joint (yes the scores were tied,we didn't ask for the extra point though) first with our OTSE for the final round where 2 teams were eliminated.The build up was some 10-11 rounds and the finals had only 15 questions,ONLY 15! In case you are familiar with that no. you probably would have guessed it the same as the no. of GP to be held/held this year.Talk about obsession!! No football questions,no cricket questions and now this.It was a buzzer showdown where the teams started from scratch.We are never good at buzzers.We got 2 negs straightaway and were out of it.Our OTSE too came down after a good start and we were tied again for 2nd.Yes tied again.But we went for the tie breaker instead of bickering for that extra point.No point in doing that.This was all about sports quiz and we tried to be a sport.I knew the answer to the tie-breaker but whispered it to my team mate instead of answering the quizmaster.We lost,came 3rd.Dissapointed,dismayed and disillusioned.

The team that won was some Law college.The memebers were over-dramatic,flashy and irritating.I speak so highly of them beacuse it was one of them in the corporate quiz second rounds who struck that stupid deal I talked about in my previous post and then replied that he did it for the heck of it.But then I realise that they are going to be lawyers.They were just doing their job,rather preparing for it.

The prizes were a dampener.We got tees and wrist bands which was pathetic.I got much more even at school.

Once we got out it was back to the world of misguided robots.Rai was frustrated with the treatment meted out to him and decided to fight back.A girl came an asked us to move.We started jumping and dancing and walking to and fro.Mallu is good at that.People were amused,she wasn't.We were moving in the corridors and someone shouted instructions to stick to the walls.I shouted back if we needed to crawl on the floor and put on our gas masks.Again the crowd laughed,the orgis just made faces.A group of us were exchanging pleasantries when a girl interrupts and asks if she can help us.I turn around,look ar her in the eye for a moment and shout "NOOOOO".Taken aback she adds hastily that she is afraid we would have to move.We move all right,but in our own special way.A lot more fightbacks later,after all the arrows,all the detours and all the directions finally taking us to the exit we rush out.

Out from the madhouse again.But sadly I have to come back again tomorrow for the personality quiz finals.It's the hunger for quizzing perhaps that makes us counter all this rubbish.

And as Prathmesh pointed out I should not base my opinion on the Assistance and Security poeple.The LA people were nice actually,thankfully they were not shouting directions.Whenever they were it was just to check the buzzers or the mics.Not that my opinion really matters.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Thus far at Malhar-Day 2

I had just re-seen a Seinfeld episode in which Jerry starts out by talking about public speaking.He says:

"In a recent survey it was found out that the no. 1 fear that people have is public speaking,followed by death.
Death people!
So it would be better off for most people at a funeral service to get into the casket than do an euology!!"

Group Discussion and me.My partners tried to convince me that I would have to sit for jobs and this is how I will be selected.But somehow this first GD of my career,that too in an inter college fest,didn't seem such a good idea.

I get irritated very easily and the prime irritant is people forcing their views and talking about things they hardly care about in real lives.Bloody hypocrites.Whenever I see an essay on "Brain Drain of IItian's and how we can stop it"or "Secularism in India" by my colleagues,I cry out with frustration.The same people who die for a foreign PT and would do anything to go to the US or the same people who have classified views about the riots writing such hollow things.Same thing happens when I see a deabte or a GD.And now I was to be a part of one.

Thankfully and rather ironically the GD turned about to be a fraud.It was actually open lobbying and politics.The 15 teams selected for the 2nd round were divided into 5 groups with each group again subdivided into 3 teams.Each team was given ownership of an oil company,and they had to strike partenships either 2 at a time or all 3 at time to dig oil wells in a country.Company A had 6 times the capcaity of C and B had 3 times that of C.The purpose was to strike a deal to share 600m$ among the companies.We were team B.

I was cluelesss for a while.My team mates tried to figure out something.By that time A promised C to give 50% of the profit (imagine!!) while we couldn't go beyond 40.So an absurd deal was struck and we were eliminated.I couldn't figure out why A did that with so much more capacity.Then one of A's team members replied "We did it for the heck of it.Never beaten an IItian team".Yeah thanks,nice place to do that.

Since I have no knowledge of how a GD should be or how business deals should be struck,I will refrain from passing a judgement.My partners were heartbroken though.Sorry mates,I am of no help here.

Wordgames is again not my kind of thing.But given good enough partners,my team can still get through.I had to choose between having experienced batchmates/seniors and enthusiastic but limited juniors.I chose the latter and although I didn't make it,I am happy that I guided my juniors who have resolved to do better the next time,whenever it may be.Always been an altruist :D

Now the fairytale of the day was the Personalities Quiz.It was as we expected to be.There were a few straight ones which made sure you knew who the tenth most powerful woman of the world was,but then there were a few workoutable ones.We didn't do very well,but I didn't exactly lose hope.Chandan (who was incidentally in that GD thing too with me) lost hope though.He thought this was going to be another one of those events where we couldn't get through after doing relatively well.This one's for you mate :).But don't be so hopeful in the finals,for my knowledge is pretty limited when it comes to people and places.

The attitude of the Xavierites (not generalising) put me off again.One guy asked to me to get in a line.I told him that I was already in the line.He told me I was slightly off it,and that he wanted a straight line.I asked him why and he told me that it doesn't look good.That's when my patience ran out and I told him that he is not an army general and we are not doing a marchpast.The powers of people looking after queues is limited,so he couldn't do anything even if he wanted to.And a glare hardly scares me.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Thus far at Malhar-Day 1

It's mid week and before the finals weekend of Malhar come up,I thought now would be the time to assess the early rounds before the finals make me change my mind.

The theme this year had something to do with frogs.I am too naive to know what and too disinterested to find it out.Only thing I do know is that they were told to retract from their original mascot,which was nothing but the four lions mascot with the lions replaced by frogs.So original and tasteful.I dunno what sort of people cry loud at Indian flag being worn as a dress or having it as a shoe design.Surely not them.Anyway I got into the mood and changed my ringtone to Crazy Frog,and it helped.

This move made the Gods of Frogs and other related animals smile upon me.I got something that every non-Xavierite craves for when he enters the Xavier's premises.And it's not getting a Xavier chic for girls don't fall for ringtones anymore.It's getting a chance to get into the college on the Finals weekend,which is not an easy thing to do.Believe me,the amount of snob and snootiness directed towards you would make you run away and never come back.A normal person would shut up his years and cry whenever he hears things like "Stand in a line","Stand in a straight line","Do you have any sharp object any cigarette,lighter,knife ...zzz...." ,but the charm of Xaviers makes people bear all this collateral damage.

I am not qualified enough to comment on the organisational success for I never was a part of the busy group of people running around with backpacks with a diary in their hands going out on treats more often than have proper meetings.But I have had moderate experience of college quizzes,and a vast one of school ones,so I think I should stick to my domain.

I was in the college contingent for Sports quiz,which means a lot of undue pressure.One look at the paper and the fear's gone.If you find a question like "What is the full name of Pele" it would make you think it was a 6th std. GK paper.Followed up by "Where are the winter olympics taking place in 2006" and it's regular CSR stuff.If it were not for F1 and tour-de-france,I would seriously have doubted the sources.There were around 7 questions on F1.I couldn't figure out why until I saw the girl incharge wearing a BMW-Williams T-shirt.I can get pretty observant.Now that meant that a team of girls had setup the sports quiz,which until now I thought was not one their interests.That too so socially active Xavierites.Needless to say we got through,although after missing a lot of questions out of sheer complacency.If the finals are anything like this we are surely going to lose.

Next came the shady corporate quiz.A quiz whose 2nd round was a GD.That made me not want to take part but perhaps I was considered too good a quizzing talent to go waste (it's a joke,don't take it seriously) .I am not into east man colored paper prints that talk about business,the color of the newspapers are a huge putoff.So it was pretty obvious that we were struggling,until we came upon the crossword.I always thought crosswords had their share of easy questions to get people of the blocks.But when you see questions like "Yelena Isinbayeva jumped 5 ____ to create a world record",you know something's seriously wrong.We weren't exactly hopeful,but turned out we qualified fourth best.Perhaps the business yuppies considered it too downgrading to take part.The GD was a different story though.

Thus ended the first day for me.I ran out as soon as my events got over.Landed up at Nariman point and walked along to the beach.Wondering all along how pretentious life had become.The seas and horizons always make me do that.And I got that Italia tee I had always craved for.Now I am an Azzuri too.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Pop goes the ego-II

Prelude: 6th standard.Cricket team selections for the upcoming inter school matches.I am already listed as a bowler.Sir wants to see me bat.All the wannabe bowlers have got their chances.Proper full team bowlers,9th-10th std. fellows about 5 inches taller than me on an average (I was short),are steaming in to bowl.

Sir: Put on the gear properly,and the helmet.
Me (after fidgeting with helmet) :Sir,the helmet makes me feel uncomfortable.I'll do without it.
Sir: Are you sure?

I was already on the crease by then.Now there is a thin line between bravery and foolishness and it was hard to tell when I had crossed it.I play the first ball forward,second ball square,almost hitting Sir.

Me: Sorry sir.
Sir:I still think you should get that helmet,now look at he bowler.
Me:What bowler?

A cricket ball hitting anywhere is painful.But when you are not looking at the ball and people blame you forever afterwards for being incompetent,it hurts a lot more.I was hit just under the eye,it was a short ball and I didn't see it because I was talking.I crashed onto the ground,worried people including my brother rushed in.Thankfully my eye was saved by the slightest margin.I carried a huge lump under the eye for about a month.And distorted vision for about 15 days.

Worried voices over me (as I was lying on the ground) :Take him to the hospital.Do something.Get some ice.
Me (mumbling feebly) :I'll be all right
Sir : Shut up.

Sir carried me to the staff room where I was put on a table and given an ice pack.He talked to me after I regained some sense.

Sir: What were you trying to do?
Me: I was...
Sir: This is not bravery..blah...blah..

I wasn't listening.I was worried about the moment I got home.My mom almost fainted.Right there,right then it was decided that cricket,rather competitive cricket wasn't worth such commitment and sacrifice.Although I got into the team,that moment was the watershed moment as far as my confidence was concerned.I got wickets in practice sessions,but was too unsure to play fast bowling.Being an average bowler didn't help and I was phased out of the team.

Footnote: People to this day believe that I made the team because of that incident.I tried convincing them that I was in before I batted,but then figured out it was useless.Somehow that mental bloc has still prevents me from trying for first team place anymore.Again lack of abundant talent doesn't help.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Pop goes the ego

It was Abir's birthday today.That meant we added one more year to our 14 year old acquaintance and later friendship.Okay he added one more,I just celebrated.

As always this made me (us) look back at the school days and more.It is always fun talking about embarrassments,agonies and pains,as it feels so much better in retrospect.He has had many more such moments (he,he I hope you are not reading this ;) )

Pain,agony,defeat,blushes,stupidity or just shattered ego.Made it a point to list some of those here so that we have enough fuel to laugh about on our later (much later maybe) retrospective sessions.And since Abir still doesn't have a blog of his own,I'll use my discretion by not listing some classified (mis)adventures of his.Maybe later :D


Prelude: 9th standard.Outside school after classes.Abir on his bike,me on the backseat.Virtually the entire school waiting outside to get home,or just loiter about.We still in the parking lot.

Neeraj Mishra:Abir,I bet you can't perform the front-wheel-in-the-air-trick here.
Abir' bike:Vroooooom...
Abir:Done baby.
Me:Cool it down,macho man.You can do with broken bones,I can't (wasn't into X-games as yet)

Suddenly some girl comes in front of the bike.His eyes light up.

Abir:Here it comes again

Both of us hit the road (without the bike).If that was not enough,the seat on the bike comes off and is thrown away.Understandably people around us were laughing,and laughing hard.

Vice Principal (somewhere in the vicinity,talking to the student nearest to her):Isn't that Abir ? And whose the other guy..Nikhil??

All right we were famous in school,but it's moments like these that make me wish otherwise.

Abir (readjusting the seat) : Come sit,I promise I won't do this again.
Me:Very reassuring,thank you.

I would have laughed like never before if I wasn't hurt and angry.Now that I am not,I am still laughing visualising that moment.We were being taught a poem by Anita Desai just about the same time,in which a little girl feels so insecure when she is laughed at by her classmates.Life imitated art,but least we don't feel bad in retrospect as Desai did.And we didn't write a poem.But then she didn't write a blog.

Footnote: We take a secret,long way back home,evading everyone who has a chance of recognising us.Abir bunks class the next day.I have the explaining to do,most painfully to the vice principal.I devised an effective answer -"I wasn't even driving!".Sorry Abir ;)


Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The Irony man

I hated the rains even when I was back home.It gave me the feeling of being captivated in my own home,with the rain drops substituting for the iron bars.And probably my parents as the jailors :D .

And then I came to Bombay.I had heard it rained a lot,but with no jailors so to speak,I could do the occassional jailbreak.Soon I found out that there were too few of the adventurous lot who did not let a few drops of rainwater come between their playtime.But at a place where the playground is substituted by a virtual network of computers with the self proclaimed "warriors" sacrificing proper sleep and a real life,finding a few mates to play outside is a tough task even when it does not rain.I wished it stopped at that.

Last Tuesday changed it all.New levels of hate hitherto undiscovered were revealed.It rained close to metre.I have a modest height of less than 1.70m.One more day like this and I am submerged,with lots to spare.The worst part is that I wondered how people at Cherapunji coped with all that nuisance,and that part of the world was on my "worth-visiting" places just to figure that out.Now it's struck-off in a flash.And Bombay creeps into my "never-stay-here" list,too tough to get that out now.

It's not that I haven't seen flood.I have been through 2-3 floods at my Dadaji's place,and once at my Nanaji's.Strange as it may seem,my memories are pretty merry ones.I remember venturing out on a float made of bamboo sticks with water snakes floating around (I was reassured that they were harmless) and other people on similar makeshift boats joining in on the ride.I also remember holding out a fishing line from the 2nd floor of the house into the water which had crept upto the first floor ledge.I don't remember catching anything but I do recall feasting on the river fish that other experienced members(mainly the driver,the servant and other village folk) had hooked.Another thing that stands out is me as a 6 year old joining in on the efforts to lift up the submerged Maruti-800 of my Nanaji to some safer place.All of that was great adventure for me.

If I had visited more often,I would have many more tales to tell,for river Kosi isn't called the Sorrow of Bihar for nothing.Maybe then it would have become boring routine.And maybe I would have been more aware of the seriousness of the calamity that I was in the midst of.

Even a high lying area like my hometown Jamshedpur wasn't spared of the floods.It rained a lot (seemed like a lot!) even there,which made two until then dry rivers roar into action.The habitats near the rivers were the ones hit hard,so strictly speaking I wasn't a part of the action,although minor respites like school holidays surely made for a slightly better image.

Here everything is different.Just when you think it can't rain any more,or any longer,something happens.And this was a special one.Bombay is not a suburb or small town like other of my mentions.So when something like this happens,it takes ages for things to crawl back to normal.

Our internet facilities were upped after a week,we are still served "flood-special-food" at the makeshift mess area(our original swank mess was vitually submerged),we can't go out because there is fear that we might not come back in the same state of mind or body.The transportation-both rail and road,are hit badly,shutting down temporary escape routes out of this madhouse.I don't want to sound like front page of newspapers so I must stop here.

And ironically amidst all this,with Government issuing holidays and notices for educational institutions to remain closed,our classes still go on.

Thank God the internet is back.

One more rainy day

I keep thinking of words that mirror my thoughts in particular situations.Pretty soon I figure out that someone else has already done that.And in a much better and much more conspicous way and medium.

So after all this mayhem,all this rain it's this Deep Purple song that comes to mind immediately.

Changes, visible changes
Sky looking so forlorn
It looks like the world being born
On one more rainy day
Trying to see the sunlight
My heart's crying out loud
I try to see through the clouds
On one more rainy day
One more rainy day
Once again my mind is grey
This is what a rainy day can do

One more rainy day

One more rainy day

Sun starts shining on through

New world, my world with you
It's strange what sun can do
On one more rainy day
One more rainy day
Once again my mind is grey
This is what a rainy day can do

One more rainy day

One more rainy day
One more rainy day

This song sounds like a Deep Purple attempt on a Beatles song.So untypical of Purple.