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Thursday, March 31, 2011

One night at the Mohali

'What is love, if not steadfastly loyal, biased and all-important'
- NN beliefs

India has entered the final, and what perplexes me is what if this is achieved. What does one do after a dream comes true.

For all the tension that shrouded the subcontinent yesterday, the pressure that every cricket lover felt on each side of the border, the skills that the players exhibited, the presence of two Prime Ministers, the Gandhis, and Aamir Khan, the man who stamped the maximum impact on Mohali, in my opinion, was a magnanimous Pathan called Shahid Afridi. Such is the power grace enjoys.

For there were men who played better. Wahab Riaz showed us everything that epitomizes Pakistani fast bowling - clocking over 90 miles, reverse swinging, and looking handsome. In Saeed Ajmal, we saw the spinner to look out for in the future. In Raina, there was a young boy who had not been told this was one of the most hyped matches he would ever play in and therefore he shouldn’t possibly look so cool while batting. In Bhajji, when he picked up Afridi, we saw fervor.

But then Afridi came back and congratulated Team India, willed them to win the final, and apologized to his own country for not delivering them this victory. What Afridi did was not magnificent, really it is but expected of a captain, but it was the manner and conduct with which he did so that made us feel for him. When we expected him to rail his fielders for dropping Sachin not once, not twice or even thrice, he shook his head, smiled and got back to business. When he did take Sachin’s catch, poetic justice if ever there was, he stood in his trademark pose with his hands outstretched and chest protruding out like a proud monarch. Ian Chappell has criticized his celebratory pose, but I find it bloody beautiful.

The game needs showmen Mr Chappell, and yesterday Afridi proved he has more than that to him. Gaurav Banerjee asked me if we could ‘let’ Pakistan win the next world cup. After careful deliberation, we think it is okay. Such is the spell the man cast on us yesterday.

When the game ended, even sleepy Gandhinagar went ballistic as bikes, cars and maybe even nilagais rode around town honking their horns, waving their flags and screaming India Indiaaaa. And those who were walking were nodding back and screaming a similar response, all oblivious that we were all strangers but united by this victory. There were men and women dancing on the road, just like young Raina and Kohli would be in the team bus and hotel. The World Cup tickets and the ‘efficient organization’ surrounding it might make stadium viewing an experience only for the elite, but out on the streets, in Delhi or Mumbai, Gandhinagar or Guwahati, there are thousands of Indians whose lives have just become a shade happier, at least momentarily, because Dhoni and his boys will be playing for themselves and maybe us, at Wankhede on the second of April, 2011.

They say when you truly love something, the whole world conspires for you to achieve it. Pakistan dropping Sachin five times as he approached his 100th hundred probably reinforces this thought. It has been my longest unfulfilled dream to see India win the World Cup, and you to be part of it Sachin. Once you do, we can both hang up our boots together and one day tell our kids how we were part of India’s greatest win at Wankhede, in our own ways.

p.s The author is leaving for Mumbai on the night of the 1st. He does not have a ticket yet, but will not say no if you feel emotional and want to hand over yours to him. Either way, he is going to be part of the procession that celebrates outside the Wankhede in the aftermath of the match. Inviting every single Indian team ‘loyalist’ to be there as well.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Adam versus Madam

Here’s a nice little question for you. What do you think was God’s master plan when social networks were discovered … invented, if you are ready to fall for that. I think She (I am still talking about God here) had had enough of mankind claiming that they were the superior gender, and wanted to create a parallel world where womankind had every single power available.

For a long time, I used to love being a boy, and routinely felt sorry for the girls in my class because while we tore about the football field during games periods like bad football players, they usually huddled under the trees trying to avoid the brunt of an unforgiving sun. The pleasure of momentary ecstasy or agony, something that only sport can provide, was lost on them. Now don’t judge me because in no way am I suggesting that girls do not play sports or are not good at them, but just that they were fewer in number. In my school. There, now you can’t find fault with that even if you want to.

But now, I do feel that it would be rather nice to be a pretty girl and have forty eight people ask you to take care, pray for you, blow ‘muahs’ in concern or send you an sms saying they’ll take the first flight and come over if need be only because you put a status message cribbing that you have a cold. Just yesterday, Gb and I were going through one such profile and either we are cynical stone hearted cavemen, or suddenly, the event of a pretty girl announcing that she has a cold is a matter of national grief and sympathy. On the other hand, if I did dare to put up similar text on my profile page, six men would reply saying how they wished that I had also caught small pox, rabies and chikungunya. And these are the men who were ready to fly down from Mumbai to Delhi to just hold the handkerchief when she sneezed.

Then there is this other very hot girl on my friends list. So hot, that even I feel like declaring my enthusiasm to hold her tightly in my arms and protect her as she battles any grizzly war against innocuous germs who only wanted to make her cough. I want to do more but let’s leave that for another post. Well anyway, miss super hot’s father was turning a year older and she found it mandatory to announce her daughterly affection for him by sharing the birthday message on facebook. The fact that he himself is not on the medium and will never be able to see the message, of course does not mean much to her. Within minutes, there were about fifteen replies. Jat men whose hearts had never ever let them walk into their mothers’ kitchen and who laughed heartily even when SRK ‘finally’ passed away in ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ suddenly found their hearts melting at this girl’s love and declared that she was the sweetest girl on the planet. This after posting a heart birthday wish to the unsuspecting man (you rock uncle, lol!). He would rock, you baboons, with rage when he finds out that your love for him is sprouting out of that girl’s shapely figure. Lol indeed.

It gets worse when these women are struck by a bout of ‘life’s mystique’. While half of mankind is complimenting her on her profoundness (“well said!”) and themselves offer insightful theories on why exactly life is such, I have passed out because there is only so much banging-on-the-table a head can take. It is only after sharing every updated post’s links on fb, twitter, gmail, city hoardings, three times a day and pleading to supposed best friends that I manage to acquire a grand total of four comments on my blog. That hot friend gets 29 comments for appending her facebook page with two words “I’m bored.”

It must be fun to get so much attention. Amusing at least, to have random souls send you ‘friend requests’ and come and tell you in ways galore how and why they want to befriend you. I wonder if it’s the same high as scoring a goal and running around the ground on a hot summer day.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

No country for young men

”Yaar Mehte, yeh kaisi jagah hai yaar …”

- NN, on a long office day when he missed his love,and maybe his datacard too.

Disclaimer: Abhay Sen, it is terribly unfair that your name does not find mention here, alas you were in a different department. But do know, you are 'our baby' and there will be a post on you much before I move into another job.Nod.

Preface: Somewhere in the outskirts of the city of Ahmedabad, lies an eerie jungle. Abundant in Nilgai, a beautiful wide eyed animal belonging to the antelope family, the forest has also courted fame and tourism for being home to a primitive specie known as the Prehistoricus GBicus or GB– very lovable with its long mane and body but best known for adopting a baritone and accent whenever a female of its specie is in proximity. Rumour has it that this strange land is the capital of Gujarat, but of course we don’t believe everything, do we? We call our home - Gandhinagar.

On the 19th of Jan, the Government of Gujarat recruited six people from the class of 2011 and since I was not present on campus then, let me now appraise the chosen few of what they have gotten themselves into. The rest of you can emote expressions as per the rollercoaster nature this riveting read embarks upon and I will give you marks for, skill and another wonderful trait called loyalty.

The Juna Sachiwala campus, a stone’s throw from the Vidhan Sabha, is a series of dilapidated old buildings in pink and brown. On your first few visits, it feels like you have been thrown into a different civilization, a country of old men and older women. Stunned, you turn on your toes like a dog chasing its tail, but nothing changes. It is as if all the oldest people in the country have been thrown into one campus, a thousand A.K.Hangals in one piece of land. There are dinosaur fossils in Cambodia that are younger than the brunt of GoG’s populace.

And then, they ask us to make print ads on ‘Vibrant’ Gujarat. Aaah, the irony.

The office in itself is not like any place you ever interned or worked in before. It is a world of tea served in aluminum kettles and peons waiting on every command of the commissioner. Rooms are large, piles of folders sitting on dusty desks and jokes and laughter being thrown across from all corners. Cubicles are a notion, and privacy unheard of. You tend to not care too much about being aloof or secretive when you spend twenty to thirty years of your life with the same people, day in and day out. All over the world, camaraderie breeds in such environs.

However, ‘in a stroke of luck’, Mican recruits have an air conditioned cabin to themselves. So, when you do enter here as you will the first day, do feel free to greet Nitasha and Mihir. When your eyes move upon the empty chairs at the other end of the table, hopefully you will nod your heads in reverence of the three swashbuckling buccaneers who once gave honour to those seats - Monsieurs Mehta, Banerjee and Narayanan.

There is a certain code of conduct that we inculcated in the cabin. Gaurav does not like to be disturbed when he is watching a movie, come crucial time-bound assignment or enraged, ballistic commissioner. And nothing enrages Abhay Mehta more than an important question related to work when he is in the midst of typing an eloquent comment on Facebook. Of course, once he has typed out the ‘hehe’ or ‘aww’, he becomes his cheery self and will listen carefully to your doubt, right till the moment he finds another status update where he can put the same comment. And me? I have to necessarily move a berserk chest or a vulgar hip every time I play ‘Woofer tu meri meri, mai tera amplifaaya faaya’ so you need to find the little breaks when I don’t, if you really want to converse with me.

Jokes (?) apart, we, the Communication Consultants to the Government of Gujarat are in the business of promoting and developing the brand that is the government of Gujarat and the man who sits on the highest diwan. Print ads, speeches, news letters, magazines, content, website, advertorials are our daily companions. In the lakhs of crores of investments and MOUs signed in the Vibrant Summit, hidden somewhere is the hard work and contribution of the Information Department of the Govt of Gujarat. It is a decent profile that may not drill in you the best practices of advertising, but rest assured you will touch more aspects of communication than your peers in the same year. Also, hopefully, when you sit in the press office some late night and eat dinner with a deputy director, a designer and a chauffeur on the same table and see them laughing and backslapping each other, you will understand that there does exist an India that sometimes frees itself of the forces of inequality and allows itself to laugh gaily. You won’t see much of that in a Proctor & Gamble, but yes do make the switch if you get a chance!

If only that bloke sitting on the big chair did not make us redo pages only because his skin was not appearing the snowiest of whites in the accompanying snap… In this last one year, I have stared at his features with more concern than the fulsome admiration with which I gazed at Pamela Anderson’s womanhood throughout my teens. As GB, Mehta and I stand near a signboard that reads ‘Dreams’, we wish you all the best in your new journey and selection of ‘fair’ photographs. Enjoy!

p.s Long before you enter the den, Gaurav and I used to daily enter it … err late. Please. Mother always told me that I should have my eight hours of sleep. Anyway, as we’d rush to the big man’s chamber, late as usual, the old peon standing outside his room would smile at us. In the last thirty years, the man had never seen anyone so unmindful of the boss’ aura or authority. As we would run past him we would know that he had tried to save us again and we’d smile back, half out of gratefulness half out of habit, before rushing in to face the music.

He’ll cover up for you. But do make sure that there are amongst you some who are even less punctual than us. You see, I would like to be remembered as a good example.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lands and People

Having not fathered any children yet, I am yet to wander my mind over obscure territories such as what would be the ideal gift for a child celebrating his first birthday. But if asked to give my hypothetical opinion, I would put my pants err foot down for a pair of nappies, or maybe a ball. Anyway, it’s safe to assume that most parents would buy their infant a little dress or toy. And that is why I never understood why my dad bought the entire collection of Encyclopedias and‘Lands and People’ the day I turned one.

Over the years, along with the yearly gifts, my sister and I also picked up some of my father’s traits that he so deliberately left all around, and today I can safely say I love both geography and history. This time around, in Nero’s classes, do find below a set of places that you must all visit in your lifetime, and some of the traits that defined the place but did not find honorary mention in classical

Nero Chala Oxford: Part Two

Australia – The modern day Sparta. In this country, all new born babies are baptized with Fosters beer. Girls grow up with boomerangs instead of barbies, while boys receive education on how to celebrate once they have won the Cricket World Cup.

Bihar - Barring Mahender Singh Dhoni, every person in Bihar has kidnapped every other person in Bihar. Last we heard, an upper class cow had stolen a schedule caste monkey’s child and was demanding 20 kgs hay as ransom.

Cuba – The US can’t really be all that powerful as it claims if it could never capture an island country one-hundredth its size and two hop skip and jumps away from its shore, despite obvious attempts, eh?

Delhi – The big hearted city, Dilwalon ki Dilli. The city, rather its people practice thorough equality by nicknaming and referring to every organism, caste, religion, man or even stray dog with a word that sounds very similar to ‘pen chor’. Besides seating all and sundry in our large hearts, we somehow also find the time to completely botch up mega world events, do the bhangra to any form of music be it bollywood, Backstreet Boys or Beethoven(and yet look good at it), and ensure that women are ready to conquer the world, by making the streets thoroughly unsafe for them. Of course we are just acting. How else will they stay at home and study properly!

Estonia – A dis(re)putable survey insists that Estonia’s main occupation is Orkut. I think this is the ideal time for India to invade the country. Then we’ll have Estonia, Kashmir will be USA’s and Pakistan can keep Gurgaon.

France – Last New Year’s eve while I was sitting home alone and flipping through TV channels, a lot of random men were copulating with a lot of random women in the streets of France, supposedly only so because they were emotionally overwhelmed about the arrival of the new year. December 2011 I will be there too.

Greece – A beautiful country that gave the world the Olympics in 776 BC, Illiad in 800 BC, democracy around 450 BC, Aristotle in 384 BC, and then sat back and did nothing in the whole of the 21 centuries after Christ.

Honduras – In 1969, after losing a match to neighbouring Honduras in a South America World Cup qualifier, El Salvador attacked the country in what has been termed as the ‘football war’. Since the fighting stopped in just four days, it’s assumed that most ‘Hondurans’ (what a dreadful way to address one’s citizens, if that is what they call them) were busy celebrating and being wasted and therefore refused to participate, leaving the Salvador army rather confused and bored.

India – We have Rajnikanth and Tendulkar, so we must be more powerful than both Russia and USA.

Japan – A country with zero percent crime now, not because its people are overly honest, just that the few rare times a crime was committed, each victim happily clicked a dozen pictures of their respective thief’s while they were robbing them. The police nabbed them in a time less than what it would take a startled thief to scream ‘Mitsubishi’.

Kerala – Largely referred to as ‘God’s own country’, its image got a beating once Sreesanth announced his connections to the state. Ever since, no mallu wants anything to do with Kerala, and it is just Sreesanth’s, the ‘sod’s own country

Leaning Tower of Pisa – The only building in the world which is marveled despite
having such a ridiculously flawed architectural design that it can’t even stand straight.

Mount Everest – A 13 year old Californian boy has climbed it, a 71 year old Japanese teacher stood at the top and said he wanted to sing a song, Apa Sherpa jogs up and down every day and Rajnikanth is taller than it. Why in sweet Jesus’ name, is it so over hyped then?

Nanga Parbat – When we were eleven, we used to laugh hysterically whenever one of the guys secretly pointed it out in geography class. Dear Lord.

Pakistan – Our books keep telling us that India and Pakistan were one land torn into two, that we are uselessly squabbling against each other, that we are the same people. How then do they produce a beautiful fast bowler every day while our board has to use all its clout to force television channels to not put ‘right-arm laughable’ against Munaf’s name?

Queenstown - Take a look at the picture and then we'll comment on it.

Right. Moving on,

Spain – You might be European and fancy but you have really not developed if you find pleasure in baiting and harassing a bull, playing with its dignity and eventually killing the poor beast. A lot can be said about a man's heart by the way he treats his animals.

The Great Wall of China – Imagine how bored the early Chinese must really have been to build a wall over 8000 kms in length. And if they don’t remove the ban on Twitter and Facebook soon, I am afraid the people might just build another bigger wall, just to entertain themselves. After all how many Jackie Chan movies can one possibly watch?

United States of America - Of America, Twain thus opined in 1890, “We are called the nation of inventors. And we are. We could still claim that title and wear its loftiest honors if we had stopped with the first thing we ever invented, which was human liberty.”

A 120 years and several inventions later, I agree as much.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

It's only words ...

Quotes have always found me lapping them up with great delight, especially when they are of the wry variety. They give the writer a chance to tell what he thinks of the world in but a line or two, and if he is able to make the reader ponder, reflect and smile, it is a personal battle triumphed.

Unsatisfied by Oxford and Britannica’s efforts to educate us, I take it upon myself to delve into the depths of English literature and define some of the words that we use every day. Hopefully one day long after I get a Pulitzer, they would remember this post as the one that shook the very foundations of those institutions that built the language.

Nero chala Oxford: Part One

Apple – That damned object which could choose no other head but Isaac Newton’s to fall upon, leading to a plethora of theories about an unseen force that serve no other purpose but trouble every ninth-grader studying physics in the world. If only it had fallen on me, I would have eaten it.

Ball – That most magnificent of human inventions, ranks right up there with the wheel and the commode. Big or small, it has been the greatest entertainment provider whether in the giant stadium of Wembley, or the most ravaged village in Sudan, Africa.

Cat – A useless animal whose coolness stems from the fact that it can perch at small heights and look unfazed and thoroughly bored by a furiously agitated barking canine standing right below. Reproduces at a remarkable rate in Mica.

Dog – The most noble being in the world, it is the only organism that both understands as well as practices selfless love. Is made to look stupid when its incessant pouring of vitriolic anger is ‘looked down upon’ by its arch-rival, the cat.

England – A country absolutely bereft of brilliance but so adept at Marketing that they have had you convinced that Andy Flintoff, David Beckham, The Spice Girls and Lords Stadium are the pristine best in their categories. Agatha Christie is their redemption.

Fickle – A six letter word and character trait that manifests itself pronouncedly all over India whenever the Indian team loses. Or wins.

Ghosts – Their reputation was left in tatters with the arrival of Casper. Received a further walloping when the makers of ‘Aahat’ tried to felicitate them on screen.

Harry Potter – In the ‘Da Vinci Code’, Langdon’s editor reads his script and is astounded by the finds. He believes it will make more waves than the greatest best seller of all time. “Bible?”, Langdon asks. “Harry Potter” is the reply. Period.

India - There is much about the Indian gene that could be derided - we are lazy, corrupt, largely insensitive to womankind, and racist. But we sure produce bloody good batsmen.

Jat – A breed of organisms that knows no fear, no care, no authority, and sometimes no sense.

K – My favourite letter in the alphabet set. Also Ekta Kapoor’s. For altogether different reasons.

Love – When the whole world collapses, and there is Armageddon, they will remember it as the planet of the apes that went down to the dogs. And for how much he loved her.

Mandira Bedi – A revolutionary, who stood for womankind’s entry into a sports chamber hogged forever by men. After her entry, even women started agreeing that their kind had no business there.

Nero – Played the fiddle when Rome was burning. A CD burning software. A writer. Cute.

Ouagadougou – The capital of Burkina Faso. Has crippled the tongue and larynx of every single person who tried to pronounce the word, including the nation’s president.

Photoshop – A tool that makes every layman a ‘brilliant’, ‘awesome’, ‘fantastic’ photographer

Quotes – A very powerful tool to exercise wit and charm. Rendered Mark Twain and Bernard Shaw immortal.

Ryan Giggs – The greatest son Wales gave birth to, and the son England never had but always desired.

Santa Claus – A very nice man, who really should have visited Hindu, Muslim and Sikh houses too, not just Christian. We, the other religions, have kids too, you know.

Twitter – An expression box which clearly suggests that women love to rant, and men love to 'follow' them.

UDRS – World’s answer to India’s bullish, big-brother attitude in cricket. Under the rule, every batsman plumb lbw to an Indian bowler, has walked 2.5 metres down the wicket, and is therefore not out. Ian, ring a Bell?

Vivacious – the most pleasant word to describe a person who is so full of life as to endear himself to most people he interacts with and be wanted around, by virtue of manner, smile and charm.

Wit – An innocuous character trait that nobody puts as a ‘strength’ in their CV for an interview, but arguably the greatest weapon to have at your disposal at all times. Including that interview.

X – Mark Twain refused to define any words beginning with X, and I have a similar revulsion for the poor alphabet.

Yorker – The first word Lasith Malinga gurgled as a baby, right before he crawled three yards and threw his dirty nappy right into his father’s toes. Second was ‘ooowzat’ and third ‘amma’.

Zephyr – Seated across to Harsha Bhogle in the commentary box in Australia, Terry Jenner once remarked of the weather, "This is not a wind, just a zephyr." The reply speaks volumes of Bhogle’s acumen, and left me as a huge fan, nay, loyalist.

"Zephyr. What a nice word for Scrabble, it has only one vowel and is worth 23 points."