Wednesday, December 15, 2010

World cup memories!!!

After watching the last two world cups on a movie channel, finally it is back where it should be – on the sports channels. And the sports channels are doing their best to refresh our memories of the world cup in form of 24X7 highlight packages– some always attract me (Any of India-Pak encounter), some should attract a ban via the Supreme Court (India-BD 2007). While these programs are turning the TV remote into a big bone of contention in my house, they are helping me relive lot of old memories.

When a Lankan headed out a Semi finalist, 1996 - Richie Richardson was trying his best to win the Semi final against Australia whereas rest of his team mates were doing exactly the opposite. It was as if they had told him – let’s see if you are good enough to get the runs before we commit suicide. In front of Warne, who was in supreme form, each of the other West Indian batsmen were looking like the husband who faces his wife after returning home late & empty handed on the wedding anniversary whereas Richardson was looking like the wife. Warne bowled a googly and Richardson swept it so hard that ball boys at the square leg boundary ran for cover. While everyone had missed the ball, mid-on fielder threw it back to Warne. It must have been the only sweep shot, which was extremely well played, in the history of cricket to have been fielded by mid-on fielder. While the ball was travelling to square leg boundary at a lightning speed, square leg umpire BC Coorey intercepted it with his head. It saved three runs and sent Richardson off-strike. West Indies lost by 5 runs.
Sri Lanka, after the Australia refusing to play in Sri Lanka, was desperate to face Australia in order to have its revenge. Poetic justice was delivered in the final and Sri Lanka won. What if Australia had not reached the finals and Sri Lankans had met a road block named BC Lara in the finals? BC Coorey did play his part in Sri Lanka’s WC win. His save actually made a huge difference. But it is yet to be recognized by Sri Lanka Cricket Board. Umpiring is such a thankless job.

When an Indian ran, dived forward and took a catch, 1992 – For so many years, I heard the stories of Kapil Dev’s THAT catch from my father. I saw it many a times on TV. It was a great catch but there was nothing fancy about it. I was growing up in TV age when you are not considered to be a good fielder you, fielding at first slip, dive to stop the ball which is headed towards…well first slip. And I had seen Rhodes flying to get a batsman out. But I was yet to see an Indian diving to take a catch, forget diving. Only Azhar had come close to my definition of good fielding. So when Alan Border mistimed his shot, I wondered why someone, in navy blue dress, was running so fast. The fielder ran from long-off to mid-off, dived forward, took the catch and got up with the ball with the same expressions on his face as Dharmendra had when he won Filmfare’s life time achievement award – finally.
If a 2 minute promo is made out of cricketing events in WC92, that catch will be India’s only entry. Okay, may be Kiran More will also make an entry but as an extra – it was Miyadad’ show. That was the first time I saw Ajay Jadeja. I was glad to see an Indian field like that. He took many more great catches in his career which abruptly ended. Unfortunately, it was alleged that he himself was finally caught.

Thanks for letting us win, 1987 – It was Pakistan (may be their strongest team ever to have played a WC) against West Indies (not their best but still better than the most). The match was crucial, more so for West Indies. Late hitting brought Pakistan back into the match. They needed 11 odd runs in the final over with 1 wicket in hand. Abdul Qadir looked in right batting form and great hurry to get those runs. Non striker Salim Jaffar looked in a greater hurry to reach the other end. I think it was the first ball of the last over when he had reached the mid pitch even before C. Walsh crossed the umpire. Walsh, in true cricketing spirit, warned him before doing him a Mankadad. Jaffar survived. Qadir took Pakistan to victory. Walsh was given a special prize for his sportsman spirit by Pakistan’s president.
Only if Walsh had been shade less of a gentleman, West Indies would have won that match and kicked Pakistan out of the tournament. May be West Indies would have won the world cup also. Australia would have been denied the biggest turning point in their recent cricket history of 25 odd years – their WC win. But this would surely have made one Australian a bit happier – Greg Chappell. Australian Media would have scientifically proved that Walsh’s crime was bigger than Chappell’s underarm saga.

The huddle Story, 2003 – After terrible loss against Australia, Team India was thrashed by everyone in media – be it Indian or not. Typical frenzy broke in the country. It all looked extremely bleak for team’s morale. So during the next match, when I saw players forming a circle, putting their hands on each other’s shoulders and forming something which was later known as huddle, it looked very strange to me. I wondered if it’s some fitness exercise or its new form of praying or they were simply acting on what their captain explained later about this act – We are not getting any support from outside so we decided to support each other. As it turned out, India went on rampage after their loss to Australia till they met them again in the final. It was India’s best ever performance and longest winning streak.
I just loved Ganguly’s attitude towards media and everyone after the match – “Go to hell. We can and we will do it”. Even a US president, elected a few years later, picked up some tips for his electoral punch line.

What I remember most is something I never witnessed, 1983 – For almost 24 years, my father kept telling me the stories of his most memorable day – 25th June 1983. How Srikanth’s square drive just vanished in the air or how Kapil hit a straight six or how everyone consoled each other, when India could manage only 183, that reaching the final of a WC itself was much beyond their expectations. Then there were stories about the second half of the match – Sandhu clean bowled Greenidge or how Richards batted as if he would finish the match in 10 overs or how Kapil took the greatest catch ever or how India bowled full to dismiss Lloyd or how everyone celebrated after the unthinkable happened. Then there were stories of Kapil’s 175 against Zimbabwe which must be world’s most missed unrecorded event. There were stories of Yashpal Sharma’s 61 against England. And there were more. And more stories. I read about them so many times. I have seen highlights of all these, apart from Kapil’s THAT innings, so many times that I even remember good part of the on-air commentary. So WC83 is the most repeated world cup in my mind. But I do not have any live-memories of WC83. I don’t remember if I saw anything on TV then as TV was a rarest of rare commodity in those days.
Ever since 1987, I have prayed to GOD for giving me MY world cup - a world cup which we win. A world cup about which I can tell my children in the same way my father did for HIS world cup. They pray have been unheard till now.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Job Ek Khoj – Pralaynath Gendaswamy!!!

Ladies and gentlemen!!! After a break of almost 3 months, I am back with the vengeance. Vengeance against no one in particular but against everyone I or you would have ever faced at the other end of the table. Communication or articulation has never been my forte. Hence I have always been with those who share the skill of lacking this skill set. I would have loved to write a book on this topic but knowing myself, I know this dream is also going to die like this. Hence I am going to make it see sunlight here and post on every possible channel – FB, orkut, Gtalk so that you at least click on the link. I am going to write my interview experiences. Some as true as death, rest as fanciful as life. Some as funny as I have ever been, rest as boring as I have never been. Some will be totally mine, rest…I have run out of my vocabulary here.

Like any kid born in India when Kerry Pecker was distributing Pajama to cricketers, I hit my teens when SRT was getting out of his. So I wanted to be a cricketer. I could not become one. And there it all started. All my life I could never become what I wanted to be. That is because I never knew what I wanted to be. I kept looking for what I wanted to be without much luck. Finally, after more than half a decade of unsuccessfully professional and professionally unsuccessful career, I came to know what I wanted to be.

I wanted to become a pole dancer.

Yes.

A pole dancer. The mere image of me clad in pink VIP underwear, black stole wrapped around my neck, and my athletic body making women go run for cover became the dream of my life. Yes I wanted to be a pole dancer. So I started my hunt. Hunt to get a job as a pole dancer in a respectable pub, preferably an MNC.

So I made my CV and carpet bombed all the job sites, networking sites, consultants, my alumni and everyone I knew who had a relative’s relative working in a Pub. Thanks to my prior experience, I had learnt Mallakhamb which is the closest act I can think of as pole dance, I started getting loads of interview calls. I was thrilled. After all pole-dance was nothing but sexing up my education and prior experience a little bit.

First interview I faced was with Parsi Poonji Seemit(PPS). I reached their office 5 minutes before the schedule. The interviewer had yet not arrived.

I waited.

And waited.

And waited. I waited for 45 minutes before the manager of the pub PPS, arrived. It looked as if Pralaynath Gundaswami himself had arrived to interview me.

“Have you bought a copy of your CV?”

“No”, I answered.

“Why didn’t your consultant tell you to get a copy of your CV?”

“He did. But I don’t have a printer at home. I don’t like to use office resources for personal work”

“You could have taken a print out anywhere, even at an internet café” he roared.

“Would you have reimbursed that?” I thought.

“Anyways, by the time my secretary gets me a copy of your CV, tell me about yourself.” He ordered. He took out his fake Mont Blanc and got in position to write my Tell me about yourself.

I had spent 2 days making my CV but it was of no use. May be this fellow liked taking notes right from his childhood. 5 minutes of me telling him Tell me about yourself and he declared – “You are no match for this job. Your profile doesn’t fit here. You have never worked as a pole dancer”.

I enquired politely “If profile doesn’t fit, you would have read it on my CV. What was the need to call me?”

“Well it’s always better to meet someone than reading a piece of paper” he said.

“But…”, 45 minutes of waiting had followed by 5 minutes of Tell me about yourself and 2 minutes of his verdict. My CV was yet to be delivered on his table.

“What but? You do not have any fire. I don’t see hunger to succeed in you.”

“But..”

“I don’t know why should I give you an opportunity?”

“Err…”

“ If you start dancing at my pub, ladies won’t even ask for a beer. You are a piece of shit. You are a piece of crap.”

Within 5 minutes, I felt worse than how MithunDa’s sister feels after getting raped. I was more clueless than Suresh Raina would have ever felt against Glen McGrath. I was more shocked than BahinJi would be if she comes to know that EC has changed SP’s symbol to an elephant. I was more embarrassed than you would ever be if while giving a presentation to a few hundreds, you realize that there are two red ants making love in your undergarments.

Final nail in the coffin came in form of, as soon as my CV was delivered at his desk, “You have never worked as a pole dancer. How will you work here?” he asked.

“Well I am not sure if you want someone to dance around the pole. But I am sure you want someone to dance on your pole. I am not the one for you” I was out as soon as my sentence was over.

I still see Paalaynath Gundaswami every day. I hope next time he lights his cigarette, it turns into a small pencil bomb.

To be continued…

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

When I grew up!!!

30s must be the most confusing decade in a man’s life. Every time he says that he has become old, he is reminded of his negative thinking in stern words by people of lesser age. Every time he sees people in their teens, he realizes that there is an entire generation bridging the gap between him and the ones in their teens. The self realization has yet not come of him being not so young and this is very well reflected in him missing a heartbeat every time he is referred to as “Uncle”. As the realization of widening in generation gap becomes clearer, the comparisons between”his days” and current generation, increases. The process starts as he touches 30 and goes on till….I don’t know as I am still pretty close to 30. But one of the stark differences I see between “my days” and these days is the ease at which the most sought after stuff during adolescent days, porn, is available. Forget about the real porn available at a mouse click, even the normal stuff available on multiple channels is something most of us couldn’t even imagine in our days.
For us, there was nothing called porn or pondy as it was and is fondly called. We relied upon the film magazines like Stardust and, Mayapuri. These magazines became really popular when the trend of posing topless on the cover pages of these magazines started. First an actress/ model would pose topless on the cover page, then there would be huge hue and cry about these photos and then the actress/model would rubbish all this hue and cry by saying “My photographs are not vulgar and suggestive. They are artistic and sensual”. I have yet not understood the difference between these two.
We didn’t have the privilege of lit-eroticas as well. We relied upon the Grihshobhas and Sarita where the columns – “Sharmiye mat, humse poochiye” (Do not feel shy, ask us) were most sought after. Chitrahaar showed pre-80s songs and movies on DD were not worth mentioning.
My first date with the porn was when I moved into college. My roommate told me that one of the guards in the campus showed porn movies at his house for Rs. 40/-. But I must not tell this to anyone as my roommate had worked really hard to dig out this secret and paid Rs. 10/- to a mess-worker to find out the name and address of our showman – that guard. It was supposed to be kept as a secret - The secret.
During the night, we silently slipped out of our room and marched towards our cinema hall – house of that guard. We took another batch mate, who was also made privy to this secret, along with us and reached our destination. The show started. But it was a silent movie. When we asked the guard to increase the volume, he refused telling us that his family was sleeping in the next room.
The movie ended in forty minutes. It was supposed to last an hour. We asked the guard to show that movie again for 20 minutes. He refused saying it’s not his fault if movie ended in 40 minutes. The fight started. We refused to pay the money. He threatened that he would register a complaint against us. We offered to accompany him in registering a complaint against us for not paying him Rs. 40/-to show us a porn movie. The fight ended there.
Anyhow, I had done something every adolescent male aspires to do at some point of his growing up. I had seen my first porn. Like most of the firsts in life, you never forget your first porn in life.
But real challenge for any adolescent male comes when he has to make his parents realize that he has grown up. I hope you get the context you mean. As explained above, comparison between programs on TV in those days and these days would be quite similar to comparing Late Nirupa Roy to Rakhi Sawant. But slowly things started changing. First half of 90s witnessed an era full of vulgar songs. Vulgarity was soon packaged differently and presented as erotic stuff during second half of 90s.
While cable TV had yet not entered most of the houses, DD2 was easily available and so was Ek se badh kar ek on DD2. For first time in our life, we were seeing fresh new songs of unreleased/soon to be released/just released movies/music videos in Ek se badhkar ek. In those days, Ila Arun came up with her music video, Nigodi badi harami hai which portrayed so many skimpy clothed girls that one found it impossible to remove his eyes off TV. But watching it in front of the family was really embarrassing. Most of the TV sets didn’t have remote in those days hence going all the way to the TV and switching the channel made it more embarrassing. On the other hand, there were hardly any options to switch over. All you could do is to switch off the TV. We always remained confused – whether to watch it or not. While the video was indeed vulgar, “We are grown enough to watch it” was the thought that always crossed our minds. I always prayed whenever that video came on TV, I wasn’t accompanied by anyone.
Soon, cable TV made an entry into my house. Star Movies of pre-BJP sponsored censorship era started. I had also, slowly though, started to change a little bit. I wasn’t really shy of watching something on TV in front of my family unless it really crossed the limit. Rarely anything did cross the limit. While my mother rarely watched TV, I always competed with my father for watching TV. Although our interest was pretty much the same, cricket, sometimes it differed and he always dictated the terms. I remember he asked me to go to sleep in a strong voice, when I was 14 years old, while watching Mera Naam Joker.
But times had changed now. I was an adult. And finally one night he did realize it.
Our cablewala was showing Pretty Women. I had heard a bit about the movie. He had seen it earlier. As the movie started, both of us kept our eyes on the TV hoping that the other one will go away. It was one of his favorite movies and he didn’t want to miss it. I was also in no mood to miss the movie as well. So we kept watching with one eye on TV and one eye on the chair next to us. It went on for 15 minutes or so. None of us was willing to wink. My father was expecting me to show a grown up behavior and leave. I was expecting him to realize that I had grown up. As 15 more minutes passed, he winked. He got up from his seat and said, “Switch off the TV when movie is over. And sleep early. I know you are on leave but that doesn’t mean you sleep at 1 and get up at 11”.
He left.
I jumped.
I had realized that my father had realized that I had grown up. I was old enough now, in his eyes, to watch a movie which had an A certificate. KESA (Kanpur electricity supply authority) didn’t like my joyous mood and cut the power of entire area. Power got restored next morning. Needless to say I couldn’t see the movie. I haven’t seen it till date. But it didn’t matter. I had achieved what I had to.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Yeh Pyar Hai Ya Dosti!!!

Welcome to the world of Rahul - the handsome yet single, the rich yet not a brat, always surrounded by girls and yet virgin. Rahul, after a few appearances here and there, was officially launched in Dil to Pagal Hai (DTPH). And it changed the face of Hindi movies forever.

For ages, the protagonist in Hindi movies had to face the challenges of achieving objectives of much lower pedigree like avenging the murder of his family or continuously saving his sister from getting raped or teaching his younger brothers few lessons of life or taking on to a mafia DON. He was always fighting outsiders. But with DTPH, he had found a bigger enemy to fight and the enemy was inside him. It was his confusion.

Confusion was that the girl, with who he spent 23 of 24 hours everyday, was his beloved or just a friend. Did he love her? What he needed to do if she loved him and feeling is not mutual? In his own words it was “Yeh pyar hai ya dosti”.

It was a struggle to achieve self realization to find his target of romanticism.

Rahul, contrary to his predecessors wearing dresses that made me wonder if there was a dress designer at all in those days, wore trendy cloths of brands never heard in India. Some of the brands were even launched by him. He gave birth to celebrity dress designers. He lived in places which had everything - starting from a gym to a music studio to a boxing ring to a landscape garden to a sea beach to basket ball court. Only thing I never saw in his flat was a toilet may be because he believed more in gas. Every Sunday I see the property ads knowing all I can do is to see the ads, cannot buy. But I am yet to see a property ad which offers as many amenities in a flat as Rahul’s flat had.

What I liked most about Rahul was that his life was hassle free. His movies were quite light and in those days, movie tickets didn’t make your pocket much lighter. Whereas watching a movie with family may be more expensive than 15 days of vegetable expenses these days.

Rahul’s life was full of colours. There was not a piece of dirt in his life. Whenever I saw his movies on screen, I thought about my hostel room and said “Wow, this is the place I would like to live”. Whenever I saw him roaming around in fancy cars, I thought about my BSA-SLR bought in 1992 and said “When I start earning, I will drive cars like these”.

Apart from these material pleasures, he had something else at his disposal which I could never have. He had a female friend and friendship was completely mutual. In addition to this, he couldn’t decide if she was “the one” or if he needed to wait for someone more special.

Compared to him, my situation (and most of my friend’s too even though they wont accept it) was different.

Studying in a place which had 20:1 male-female ratio, we weren’t blessed with such luxury to choose for “the one”. Assuming every girl had at least one “the one” and 4 backup options, there were 15 of us below the poverty line. Situation was even worse if someone, like yours truly, had come from all-boys school. For them, the interaction with females remained limited to the ones in our families. Forget befriending, even talking to a girl used to be a challenge bigger than a mountain for us. Some tried to cross the mountain and very few succeeded. Rest remained deprived off a female company. Average time gap between 2 separate interactions of over 15 minutes with a female used to be at least a week. In some cases, it was 4 years. Whichever girl we got a chance to talk became our “the one”. We spent next 24 hours dreaming about her. Rest of the week went in planning for next encounter and hunting for topics to discuss. “Yaar, baat khatam ho jaati hai ladki ke saamne” was our biggest problem. But just before the next encounter was to take place, we saw our “the one” roaming round, hand in hand with her “the one” which left us heartbroken. But we gathered all our courage and moved on. If we were lucky, we had another encounter, found another “the one” and the show went on.

That is why I liked Rahul. He had what I couldn’t dream of having. He had a female who he called his “just a friend”. The places I had spent my youth, men didn’t have that luxury. It was reserved for the other side of sexual divide. Only a girl could have “just a friend”, “good friend”, “close friend”, “very close friend”, “friend - brother”, “target boy friend”, “actual boy friend” and so on.

Rahul was our reply to the so called weaker sex which had the power to choose in a draught struck land.

Thanks to Chopras and Johars, Rahul has lived on to tell his tale. Just that I don’t like them anymore. May be age has caught up with me hence I find the question “Yeh pyar hai ya dosti” absolutely ridiculous. May be times have changed because when one of my friends said “Whenever you have confusion of yeh pyar hai ya dosti¸ get laid. Confusion will get cleared immediately” I appreciated his point of view thinking India has shone under the sun which rises in west. I would assume it’s the former as most of the people I know; who were born after Chetan Shrama was hit for most notorious six ever, liked Jaane Tu Jaane Na. I found IndiaTV more entertaining than the movie.

Monday, May 24, 2010

What to watch???

When Inglorious Bastards was released in 2009, I wanted to watch the movie as soon as possible. My interest increased manifold after I saw the promos of the movie. But to my bad luck, movie was not going to be released in India for quite some time and I have still not got hold of its DVD.

So I decided to break the law and download the movie using torrent. But once you google for any torrent, it can throw up hundreds of links – most of them of “those” kinds. I selected one of the links which took me to a page which had 24 torrents for the movie. I did best of my analysis to find out the link which could have a decent print. Finally, I chose one and started downloading.

3 days and 7 hours later, download was completed. I started watching the movie. Print was good. Just that it looked a bit old. Few minutes later, I realized that I couldn’t understand a single word that was uttered in the movie.

“Damn piracy. At least original DVD comes along with sub-titles” I thought. I follow a very strict rule – if I get a DVD of a Hollywood movie without subtitles, I don’t watch it. Actually watching the movie is technically incorrect term here as I end up reading the subtitles during the movie. So I watch it again. Second time, I actually watch the movie. And I don’t watch Hindi movies these days.

I tried my best to understand the dialogues but failed miserably. I knew I was bad in queen’s language, in fact I still am, but so bad? So I turned to my 24X7 helpline – my wife. She, being proficient in German, told me that the movie was in German. Well, without subtitles that didn’t make any difference to me. I wouldn’t have understood it even if it was in English.

But it didn’t end there. I could not spot Brad Pitt in the movie - that too when more than 20 minutes had passed. So I called up an educated friend –

“Dude, I am watching Inglorious Bastards. But I cannot understand it.”

“Who asked you to go for the English version? Why don’t you wait for its Hindi version – Besharam Haramzade”

“I don’t have that much patience. The movie is in German.”

“Why don’t you read about the movie before watching it? It’s based on the Second World War. And
Quentin Tarantino is a stylish movie maker. He would have, to give it a touch of reality, made first few minutes in German.”

“Oh. But there is no Brad Pitt in the movie”

“Dude, it’s not a Dev Anand movie that he will be there in every scene even if it’s shot in a maternity ward. Brad Pitt comes after 20 minutes.”

So I went back to the movie. However, my patience died after half an hour and I decided to take assistance of Wikipedia. The very first link cleared all my doubts. I had actually downloaded Quel maledetto treno blindato - A German movie which was made in 1978. Which meant that I had spent 3 days, 7 hours and 35 minutes on a movie which was made even before I was born and was in German?

“Why did they make this movie in 1978 and wasted my time? Tarantino was anyhow going to make it a few years later” I thought.

I have never understood the rationale behind remakes. There could be only two reasons – either there is so much dearth of new stories that you have to tell an old story again and again in a movie or a story is so powerful that it doesn’t lose its impact even it is told a million times. But then its not that what is told but how it is told is something which decides the impact of a joke. May be same is true with movies. But remakes have often left me confused.

Like yesterday when I got Planet on Apes on rent. I had scenes promos of the movie in 2001 and was very impressed with them. Special effects in the movie were amazing. But the movie I got had an ancient look to it. I waited for half an hour for those special effects to appear but they never did. Wikipedia revealed that the movie I was watching was made in 1968. Its remake was made in 2001.

Just to make it clear: - If you are thinking of suing me for downloading a movie, wait. This post is a work of fiction, pure fiction and nothing but fiction.

Monday, May 10, 2010

What a loss can do!!!

Its days like this, this, and this which may send your mind to the pinnacle of absentmindedness, but only if you actually follow cricket and not Ravi Shastri’s razzmatazz where the buzz around the ground has momentum like a tracer bullet. I mean you should be the one who discarded any hope of India making into the next round on the very night when we lost but the first thing you would have done on next morning is to check the permutations and combinations of entry into next round. In the event of such losses, you may end up doing things like...


  • Come home to find out wife is not at home. Call up at your landline to find out her whereabouts and when the phone rings, go pick it up and say “Hello!!!”
  • Go to ATM to withdraw money. Swipe your visiting card instead of the ATM card and wait there. After sometime start wondering that why the machine is it not asking for your ATM pin.
  • Get up next morning, decide to shave and put toothpaste on your beard in place of shaving cream.
  • While dining, put chapatti in daal and eat it. Then complain that there is no salt in daal.
  • You are assisting you boss to prepare a document which explains the pricing of your project. Instead of writing Billing rate USD 30 per man hours, you write Required Run rate 5.66 per over (that is what we needed last night) and send the document. The error is overlooked by not only your boss but boss’s boss also. After all they are also saddened by last night’s debacle.
  • Mix coke in your drink only to realize that you are drinking beer.
  • You decide to forget today’s match, go to your room, lock it from inside and start studying for tomorrow’s exam. You study for half an hour and sleep for four. You get up to realize that not only you have had sleep of couple of hours more than your budget; you also studied the subject for which the exam is next week, not tomorrow.

I am done a few of abovementioned, in fact all of them. But the worst I have heard, apart from people breaking their TVs, is something that happened to Tony Cozier. When he went to get fuel for his petrol run car, a day after West Indies lost to SA when from an unthinkable position, petrol-pump guy filled up diesel in his car.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

My name is Vibhash!!! It’s V.I.B.H.A.S.H.

It all started in the year when India’s spin quadrate was turning old; Copyright act was getting ready to blind pirates in US, Pakistan was being ruled by a man jise aam se pyar aur bhutton se nafrat thi (who loved mangoes and hated corns) and India’s most powerful lady was resuming her last term which turned out to be a death sentence few years later. It was the year of my birth when my name was to be decided. Being the first child in the family, everyone one from everywhere chipped in with his/her suggestions for my name.

Finally, I was named Anupam. My nana (maternal grandfather) had given me this name.

There are few relationships in this world which just cannot get along well and keep on fighting with each other over a bone of contention. India-Pakistan is one such example.

There are a few relationships in this world where two people may not spit on each other in public, but they will go miles to prove their superiority over each other. Like the two brothers, the famous ones. Even father-in-law and son-in-law often share such relationship. Hence, my father refused to accept my name as Anupam. If he had accepted it, he must have thought, he would have lost the battle of supremacy then and there.

The hunt for my name started again. It had to start with the letter V and a word had to be inserted between my first name and sir name - Prakash. Reason was very simple. For four generations, everyone in my family was being named as VP Awasthi. It all started with my great grandfather who was named Vishambhar Prasad Awasthi. He named his son, my grandfather, as Vaidyanath Prasad Aawasthi. He, being rebel, changed the trend in the family by naming his three sons as Vimal Prakash Aawasthi (my father), Vipin Prakash Awasthi (my elder uncle) and Vineet Prakash Awasthi (my younger uncle). Please take a note - Prasad had been changed to Prakash. So I had to be named as V Prakash Awasthi. With so much of Prakash in the family, I wonder we were not named KESA – Kanpur Electricity Supply Authority.

My name was imported from Sihora, a small town in MP. My father’s aunt had suggested this name or this is what I know. I was named Vibhash Prakash Awasthi and my life was complicated for ever.

Vibhash is not such a common name and biggest problem with such names is that people are not used to listening them. So they hear what they are used to hearing. For example – in my hometown Kanpur, where people are famous for being sarcastically witty, whenever someone asked my name and I responded accordingly; I got such responses

“What? Vikas?”

“Avinash?”

“Kaun si Ghaas?” (Which grass)

During one of my previous jobs, I had to fix the meeting room for weekly status meeting by calling up the receptionist. There also I got similar responses –

“Sir, what is your name?”

“Vibhash”

“Subhash?” “Vinash”? “Haridas”

Hence I decided that whenever I would tell my name to anyone for the first time, I would tell him/her the spelling of my name first. Name can be pronounced later.

I like the fact that my name is not so common. But problem attached with it are a plenty. To top it all, the people I have met with the same name have never failed to scare me. One of the Vibhash I met in 1996 was in 6th year of his 4 year B-Tech course in IIT Kanpur. Other Vibhash was a cabbie in Kolkata who had spent his last night in a lockup because a female had filed a complained of harassment against him. When I asked him if was he framed by her, he smiled and replied – “No, I was just taking my chances”.

If first name wasn’t enough, middle name has also made me realize that it exists. If someone is filling a form on my behalf, I am never asked my father’s name, especially in Maharashtra. It is assumed that his name was Prakash till the time I explain that it was not. Then I am asked “Who is Prakash?” So I start explaining the family history and tradition.

In class X, the guy who printed my mark sheet, must have got confused and printed my name as “Vibhash Arkash Awasthi” in place of “Vibhash Prakash Awasthi” My school immediately sent it for correction. And for next three years, I paid the price of continuing the family tradition by explaining to everyone, whoever asked for the proof that I was not a class X dropout, that why I did not have my original mark sheet. I got my original mark sheet during first year of my engineering. Only if there was no Prakash in my name, I would have got it immediately.

But even my son is feeling the heat. Most of my friends get confused by thinking that his full name is Divyansh Prakash Awasthi and I have to explain to them – “He is just Divyansh Awasthi and there is no Prakash in his name. Like the last samurai, I will be the last Prakash in my family tree”. After all, even KESA has died in kanpur.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Death of a Virgin!!!

There is an old saying – “Nobody dies virgin, life fucks all.” But this may not hold in a few cases and I know one such case. Come 11/03/2011 and my current passport will have to be cremated as it expires on that day. Incidentally, it happens to be my only photo ID card to have stayed with me for almost a decade. I got my PAN card not before 2002 and have lost my driving licences thrice during last 14 years. I still do not have a voter ID card. Only time I had a realistic chance of getting a voter ID card, I was below 18 (wasn’t very long ago). Hence as a matter of abiding the law, I refused to get one.

Like all these years, a major political party has been asking its prince again and again “When will you grow up and oblige this country by ruling it?” whereas the price has refused to do so, my passport has been asking me “Master, when I will lose my virginity?” Although I am still young (???), my passport has grown up from a being an infant to an old man looking at his bucket list on his deathbed. And till date, the basic objective of getting a passport of going abroad has remained unfulfilled.

For some reasons or the other, my only foreign trip has been to Nepal which didn’t require a passport. This remains a rarity as having worked in IT industry for almost 4 years; if your passport is still unstamped then you must have worked in housekeeping/security department all your life.

On the other hand, people desperately try to go out of India to work in foreign location. Foreign location means US, rest all are believed to be mere refugee camps. In fact there are a few communities in India where a guy just cannot get married unless he has spent at least 24 hours in US. I have seen a guy begging to his boss to send him to US, if nothing at least for a week, so that he can get married. On the other hand whenever my employer has asked me to handover my passport for visa processing, I have replied to him with my resignation letter. I have always worked under the assumption that if I stick to one place for more than two years, people will recognize the flaw in their recruitment system and will try to rectify it immediately. Fortunately my assumption has never been tested but if you ask any of my previous employers, I am sure they will validate my assumption.

There have been a few things common among all my friends who have been to US. But, apart from typical complaints about India’s infrastructure compared to US, most common trait is the way they respond to every location with respect to east coast or west coast. Its like if you ask A if he has met B in US, his answer would be something like

“No Yaar. He is on east coast whereas I am on west”.

“So you chat over the phone?”

“No, his time is 4 hours ahead of mine. US is a big country and he is on east coast”

This makes no sense to someone like me as only place I know in US is New York. So I ask them to tell me their tale with respect to New York.

Haha. You must learn directions in US. B is on east coast”

Sometimes I wonder if I were to ask them “Where is the toilet in you house?” I might get an answer “It’s on west coast whereas I am on east coast. So I need to rush”. I got so irritated by this east coast – west coast explanation that I made sure if I was talking to a friend in US, I would not ask anyone’s address.

However, ever since I have shifted to Mumbai I have got a chance to hit back. Mumbai not only has its own east and west, it has them thrice. Each of western, harbour and central line has their own east and west. If I get a call from a friend in US now, I make sure that I explain my address in full details – in Kandivali EAST which is on western line.

Second most irritating part is to see their photographs posted on community websites. The backgrounds are so picturesque that even a 1.5 mega pixel mobile camera may sound like Nikon D90. It makes me feel as if I have been hit by Onida’s devil. Compared to that, my photographs look like a pirated print of a movie which has been recorded in a cinema hall using a handicam. No reason the Chopras and the Johars prefer Dallas over Dombivalli while deciding their locations. But then, photoshop is available to everyone or that I would like to believe.

With my passport sure to be expiring without even a blot of ink in it, I have been advised by my friends to cremate it prematurely that too as per Hindu mythology. After all, it can do more harm than good. I am not going to use it any how. But if I happen to lose it, I will have to get my complaint registered with police which may result in a monetary loss. But I am no murderer so I rejected the idea. However, I may not get it renewed. I would better get my voter ID card made instead of passport. After all, that is more likely to serve a better purpose.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Daily Routine – in new job

6:00 AM – Alarm rings. I put it back to snooze. I know it will ring again at 6:05 AM. I also know I have at least 15 more minutes to sleep. Oh, only thing for which I can give up my morning sleep is – office off course as I have no choice. But 5 minutes of extra sleep in the morning sounds like getting to know your employer has not deducted tax from your salary. You know you will have to pay it next month but the feel of getting additional money is like orgasmic pleasure.

6:05 AM – Alarm rings. I put it back to snooze. I have 10 more minutes of sleep.

6:10 AM – “Shut up you alarm, I have 5 more minutes” I say.

6:15 AM – No choice now. I have to get up.

6:17 AM – Go to the loo. Spend 10 minutes there pretending you are trying to get rid off it. Basically sleep for 10 more minutes.

6:27 AM – Get out and rush to brush. “Shall I shave?” is the question. “Razor is too old” and decide against it. Basically I am running late.

6:47 AM – Run out of my building to catch an auto.

6:49 AM – Ask autowala “ Borivali?” He replies in negative.

6:49:15 AM to 6:52:27AM – Repeat above step 10 times. Finally get an auto.

7:01 AM – Reach Borivali station. Buy three news papers – We know news, we know news better than we know news, we know news best.

7:04 AM – Catch the 7:00 AM Churchgate local. It’s late but so am I. Spot an old uncle who will get down at next station. Go stand almost on his head “No one is going to take his seat when he gets down. Its mine” Every time he moves his 50 year old body, even to fart, I get myself closer to his seat.

7: 12 AM – Uncle gets down and I get a seat to sit. As soon as I sit, sleep.

8:20 AM – Train reaches Churchgate station. Someone wakes me up. I walk out of station to catch a cab to my office. I am late and there is a queue for the cabs. “Such is this city. Every second missed means life being more difficult. More difficulty in life results in you missing more seconds” I think quietly. Just hope no one hears it else I might get to hear “Why don’t you go back to the place you have come from?”

8:30 AM – I am late for the morning meeting. Boss asks “What about the news on impact of Sania-Shohaib’s marriage on the sales of condoms in Chattisgarh?” I am clueless. He shouts “There is a two page article in today’s newspaper about it. Don’t you read newspapers?” I defend saying I have read three. He throws a newspaper on my face which carried the article. Newspaper is named we know news better than what you have read.

8:55 AM – Come back to my desk. The room where I sit is totally closed. Only place where you can find windows is your computer. We have windows XP.

9:10 AM – Rush to loo to hide from the boss who is hunting for me because I missed the news. Sit there for half an hour, shit there for five minutes and use rest of the time for sleeping.

9:45 AM to 6: 45 PM – Sit in front of the computer and spend entire day in data mining and data interpretation. Try to find out the demand drivers for condoms sales over the internet just to find out that most of the sites capable of giving that information are either blocked or paid.

6:55 PM – Find out that the data I was looking for was available on Bloomberg. Just that I don’t know how to use Bloomberg.

7:00 PM – Come out of office to take some fresh air and realize it’s getting dark. Rush to Churchgate station.

7:25 PM - Take a 7:25 PM Borivali train which is late by 10 minutes. Train is 210% full. Stand between the two seats hoping someone to get up so that I can get a seat. No one moves.

8: 30 PM – Borivalli is 5 minutes away and I get a seat. Sit and enjoy my only moment of triumph in the entire day.

8: 35 PM – Get down at Borivali.

8: 38 PM – Ask an autowala Thakur Village?” Do this for next 10 minutes. I am getting late again. I might miss the MI – RCB match today.

9: 10 PM – Enter the house. TV is already busy serving the boss at home. Laptop is captured by my son.

9:15PM to 9:30 PM – Try persuading my son to handover my laptop to me.

9:31 PM – Get back my laptop but not before it has survived the Su-Su attack by few millimetres.

9:35 PM – Try to see the match on youtube. Since I carry speed in photon, it should be real smooth streaming. Face few problems in start. “It should be a matter of few seconds” I think.

11:30 PM – Internet is finally working. TV is also free now. But its time to sleep else I will be late again.

11:45 PM – Decide to read we know news better than what you have read tomorrow morning and sleep.

For next day’s routine, please go to step 1.