Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Office humor - part 6!!!

Did you get the mail???


I received a message on my phone from an ex-colleague. For next few minutes, we conversed through text-messages.
“Hi. How are you doing?”
“I am fine. How are you?” I replied.
“I need a favor from you” he replied back.
“Tell me”
“A friend of mine is looking for a job. Can you forward his CV to your friends?”
“No issues. Mail it to me.”
“Can I have your mail-id please?” he enquired.
“It’s fultoo.bakar at gmail” I replied back. In our conversation, I gave him my real mail-id but I am not typing it here. Never give away personal details on a public forum is what I often hear.
“I’ve sent it in a mail. Could you please acknowledge the receipt?” he replied.
“No mate. Haven’t received anything”
“Can you please confirm your mail-id?”
“It’s fultoo.bakar at gmail” I replied back.
“Can you check if you have received it now?” he wondered.
“No luck. My mail id is fultoo.bakar@gmail.com” I had to do what I was trying to avoid till now – searching for @ and dot symbols in my phone and typing it.
“Sent again”
“I got it this time”
Now why did the delivery of the mail failed in first two attempts and succeeded in third, I leave it to you to decide the reason. I have not been able to figure it out.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Australia!!!

Australia - the land of commodities i.e. the iron ores, the coals, and the BHP Billiton’s of the worlds. Australia - the land crowded with 2.25 billion people, an amount similar to what we add every year or an amount much lesser than what Mumbai holds. Australia – where 80% of the population resides on less than 20% of the land. Australia is perhaps only country in the world where different states are separate by straight lines.

Australia – where almost everything is grand in size be it size of the country itself, people or the grounds. Some of the Australian grounds are so big that sometimes fielders pray to god “Hope it crosses the boundary line else they will run five”. And cricket, cricket is hostile, competitive and a treat to watch – thanks to channel 9. Cricket means bowlers hurling hand grenades at our batsmen, batsmen pounding millions of runs against our bowlers and their fielders grabbing at everything which passes within 20 meters of their vicinity. If cricketing excellence isn’t enough, there is sufficient “having a go at each other which keeps the game away from being dull” sugarcoated in form of mental disintegration. Like the most permanent thing in life – change, some of them have changed over the year. Or maybe lots of them have changed during last three years.

However, come an Australian tour and mind goes back to the memories of getting up early in the morning as sun rises there few hours before it rises here, covering yourself in the blankets before switching on the TV as we normally play there in December-February period. Normally it’s fun unless your team isn’t badly mauled by Australians – watching the picturesque Australian grounds further beautified by channel 9 cameras while enjoying the winters. Here is how I remember our Australian tours –

1991-92, the half a decade long tour – We travel to Australia with probably the best batting line up in the world, on paper that is. In Tracer bullet and Cheeka, we have a perfect mix of defense and aggression. We have a future star in Sanjay Manjrekar, hero of Mecca Dilip Vengsarkar, magician of wrists Azhar and child prodigy Sachin. We bat deep. Our bowling is a worry though. We play 5 tests, possibly 10 ODIs in B&H cup and in the best case scenario, 11 ODIs in the WC92.

We lose in Brisbane. We lose in Melbourne. 2-0 down in a 5 match series isn’t the best of starts.

Come year 1992 and we decided to fight back in Sydney. Tracer Bullet scores a double hundred. Sachin scores an unbeaten 148. Australia is playing a blonde and round leggie who has come with a big reputation. He scores a 150 too albeit while bowling. Sydney is supposed to be spinner’s paradise in Australia. Australia has to bat out on day five pitch to save the match. Our spinners are going to bundle them out for nothing. But do we have spinners? Holy cow, we are playing 4 pacers, in Sydney, on a pitch full of cracks. Our only spinner is Tracer Bullet who takes 4 for 45. In desperate need to bowl spin from both ends, even Manoj Prabhakar bowls a few overs of spin. Border and McDermott save the test. We manage a moral victory. 

We move to Adelaide, the batsmen’s paradise in Australia. Australians are surprised when they are asked to bat on such a supposedly benign track. They are so surprised that they get bundled out for 145. We surprise them by getting bowled out for 225. Sanity prevails. Australians score big in their second innings. We need 338 to win in 4th innings and manage to lose by 38. Azhar, the man with magical wrists, scores a wonderful century. Series score line reads 3-0.

We move to Perth for final rituals and lose. Michael Whitney takes a career best 7/27. Sachin scores his one of the best centuries and shows he has it in him – the fire inside to fight the fury. By the way, we did play a specialist spinner in pacers paradise called Perth. Maybe we compensated for Sydney.

We somehow manage to reach the finals of B&H cup. Australia scores a tad over 200 in the first final. We are almost sure to win thanks to snail-paced innings by Tracer Bullet and scintillating half century by Sachin. We need 20 of 18. Sachin gets out and sets a trend for the rest of the decade – if he cannot win it for us, we cannot win it. At one point of time we need 14 of 10 with two recognized batsmen at the crease. We lose.
WC92 arrives. We win our world cup i.e. the match against Pakistan. Pakistan wins the real world cup. Thank god the tour is over.

1999-2000, the massacre – We travel to Australia with a completely new set of batsmen, barring Sachin. Problem begins there itself. Barring Sachin no one looks like competing.
Adelaide – Sachin scores a half century in the first innings and a shoulder-before-wicket dismissal in the second innings. Agarkar scores 19 in the first innings. That remains his only score in the test series. He scores a golden duck in the second innings. We lose.

Melbourne – Sachin scores a century in the first innings and a half century in the second innings. We lose. Agarkar collects a king pair.

Sydney – Sachin fails. We lose. Agarkar misses the king pair this time by surviving his first ball in the second innings he gets out in the second innings. He is named Bombay duck now. But just before we lose, we see a glimpse of our future. VVS Laxman leaves Australians gasping. He leaves all of us agape. He leaves Australians chasing the leather. He leaves all of us lauding his efforts. His 167 in Sydney is the best I’ve seen any Indian play in Australia – I didn’t see Sachin’s 114 in Perth-92. Series reads 3-0. Some say - winning doesn’t always matters, competing does. We do neither – win or compete.

We do ourselves a favor by not making it to the finals of B&H cup. What is the point in playing 2 extra matches in the finals and getting beaten in an insulting manner? We win a match against Pakistan and come back happily. That remains our only victory on the tour. We are actually happy to come back.

2003-2004, Adelaide – First time in my cricket viewing career, I can say with some confidence that we have a team which can compete. Australia is missing Warne, courtesy some banned drugs mistakenly given to him by his mom, and McGrath. Yet, Australians are Australians. Steve Waugh is determined to avenge the shattering of his dreams of winning the final frontier in 2001. He threatens of chin music. We all are worried for dada.

Brisbane – Chin music begins. But before that, Z roars. We come back to chin music. Bengal tiger roars. We avoid defeat. After ages, we will be going undefeated in the second test of a foreign tour. BTW, Bombay duck breaks the sequence of ducks – he scores a few.
Adelaide – Australia scores 558. India is reeling at 85 for 3. Someone reminds Dravid of Eden2001 – how he helped India winning from a position of complete discomfort. But there he had VVS for company. Here he is batting with Dada. “Get lost Dada, I want my favorite partner to bat with me” he says and runs out Dada. We are 85/4 now. VVS joins Dravid. They start the magic. They bat, bat and bat. VVS goes. Dravid continues. India fall short of 558 by 20 odd runs. Bombay duck wakes up. He takes his revenge. Australia collapses. We need 220 to win. Australia keeps making our life difficult. But they just cannot cross the Wall. I will never forget that cut shot, realization that it is going for four, that taking the cap out and lifting of those hands. Wall you beauty.

Melbourne – I get up late and run towards the TV room in my hostel. I am in for a shock – we have scored 120 odd without loss in the first session. “Footwork my foot” is the headlines in one of the newspapers after Sehwag scores a scintillating 195. Fresh from the victory in Adelaide and 249 for one on day one in Melbourne – it’s a recipe for a series win is what I think. I am outthought. We lose. 1-1 it stands before we move to Sydney.

Sydney – Sachin’s cover drives have been failing him till now. He decides to chuck them. Chuck them he does - 241 to Sachin, without cover drives, 704 to India. Australians are tottering in reply. It’s down to Katich and the tail-enders now to save Australia. We resort to our favorite strategy of “Let the better batsman breathe easy and target tail-enders”. As expected we fail. Australia avoids follow-on. They need to bat out the last day. Bowlers keep creating chances. Parthiv Patel keeps fluffing them. Steve Waugh shows what he has been all these years. He walks out of the ground and cricket but not before saving the match. 1-1 it is.

We compete better than our last two outings in the triangular ODI series. Yet we lose the finals. But overall, this has been the best tour so far. I will never forget that cut shot, realization that it is going for four, that taking the cap out and lifting of those hands. Wall you beauty.

2007-2008, controversies – We land in Australia and go straight to Melbourne to play our first test. Story resorts back to what happened in 90s. We lose. We lose badly.

We move to Sydney. Things change. Australia is tottering before Steve Bucknor fails to hear an edge which is heard in even West Indies. May be he should have been in West Indies. Symonds rocks. Australia scores a decent score. India begins its reply. Sachin scores a ton. Harbhajan and Symonds fight. Harbhajan scores a 50. India gets a slim lead. But we bat last. And our batting doesn’t last. We need to survive 12 balls with three wickets in hand. We lose them all to a part timer, the same part timer who turned the match on its head in Mumbai-2004. Hell breaks loose after this match. But that does not happen because of cricket.

Perth – Australia have won 16th tests in a row. Last time they tried winning 17th in a row, Eden 2001 happened. This time Australians are going to play in their own den, on their ground which has been an unassailable fort for ages. It’s Perth. Australians say they will beat us in 4 days. After all it’s supposed to be the fastest wicket on planet. Their new opener, Chris Rogers, suggests otherwise – he says we will be beaten in 3 days. Chin music begins. Yet we manage a decent lead in the first innings. Australia bat last. They need 414 to win. Pathan makes sure their openers remain a formality. In comes Ricky Ponting – the man at the peak of his powers. A rookie pacer is bowling to him. He bowls a sharp in-cutter. Ponting is beaten. The rookie does it again. Ponting is beaten again. It continues. At one point of time, Ponting looks ashamed to be at the crease. It’s like David dictating terms to goliath. This spell must be one of the best. Finally Ponting’s agony ends and he falls. So do Australians. 2-1 it is now.

Adelaide – We manage a draw. Sehwag makes a comeback. We lose the series by 2-1. It could easily have been 2-1 in our favor but Steve Bucknor and his colleagues had other ideas.

Finally we manage to win the triangular ODI series and salvage lot of pride.

I must admit, for the first time we look to have our chances better than Australians. But I thought so for the England tour as well. You all know what happened there. I don’t remember it. I hope this Australian tour does turn out to be a memorable one. 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

The Superstar!!!

80s was coming to an end. Last decade of the century was starting. Cold war was in its last phase. Germans, from two different sides of the same wall, were getting reunited. Situation in the Middle East was getting trickier with each passing day.
At home, Congress was realizing twice in two decades that ruling this country wasn’t its birth right. If a new star was born in form of Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, another star in Amithabh Bacchan was fighting his way back to super stardom through movies like Toofan and Jaadugar

And I, I was soon going to enter my teens.


Anil Kapoor was declared as next super star courtesy his 4 hits – Ram Lakhan, a multi starrer hit; Tezab, movie which positioned him as a replacement of Amithabh’s angry young man image; Rakhwala, a movie where credit went to him and only him and Eeshwar, a critically acclaimed success. But very soon, his success turned out to be the boom of 2010 after the recession of 2008. So did Amir Khan, Salman and the rest. 

Watching a movie wasn’t really an easy option during those days. DD showed one movie per week, there was no cable TV and to watch it in a cinema hall wasn’t really an easy option for school-goers like me. A very prevalent trend used to be “Video-Shows” where you would hire someone to come with a colored TV, a VCR/VCP and few video cassettes of your choice. He would charge you around Rs. 30/- per movie. We watched these movies throughout the night.

Someone in my neighborhood was celebrating his kid’s birthday and arranged for the video-show.

First movie to be played was a movie about which I had heard multiple times from my father – Guide. He used to talk about the movie and its hero – Dev Anand, at length. Dev Anand used to be his favorite hero. One day I read Dev Anand’s interview in a newspaper where he claimed to be “the super star”. I asked my dad about it and he told me “Dev Anand will always be much bigger star than your Anil Kapoors or Amir Khans of the world.  He even beats Amitabh in the pecking order”. Dad left me puzzled, how come such an old man could be “the super star”. He hasn’t even given a hit in recent times. I hadn’t seen a single Dev Anand movie till date.

Although the movie of my interest was to be played after Guide, as it was a movie based on cricket, I watched Guide with lot of interest. I didn’t understand the movie completely – movie was a bit too intense for a kid, I still liked it in pieces. After all it was supposed to be an entertainer. But what interested me most was Dev Anand’s style of acting – his right hand was always stretched out, his left hand was always adjusting his scarf and head was as stable as Sensex is these days. Sunil Gavakar would have committed suicide if he had ever seen Dev Anand holding a cricket bat and batting – “A batsman must hold his bat as still as a dead man” is what Gavaskar often says. To be honest, I was a bit bored by the time Guide ended – maybe the movie was too heavy for my age or maybe I couldn’t wait to watch the next movie – Awwal Number.

Awwal Number was about the subject of my interest, in fact the only subject in which I was interested. It was about cricket. It was about a “no-one”, being handpicked by the chairman of selectors – Dev Anand, replacing the “star of the side”, the hatred generated out of this turning into terrorism and demanding withdrawal of India’s forces from Pakistan Border. Aamir Khan played the “no-one” and Aditya Pancholi played the star – both in the starting phases of their respective acting careers. If you see the current state of affairs, you will realize that Aamir khan has managed to make a respectable acting career whereas Aditya Pancholi is yet to start acting. The difference in the acting was visible in the movie itself. While Aditya Pancholi tried acting to bat like a star, Aamir the “no-one” did bat like no one does – not even Ashish Nehra. Hope Nehra doesn’t sue me on the basis of I mentioning his style of batting and Aamir’s batting in Awwal Number in the same sentence.


Coming back to the movie - after being replaced by Aamir khan in the side, Aditya Pancholi takes extreme steps. No, he doesn’t announce his retirement like some Pakistani cricketers do or alleges everyone of match fixing like rest of the Pakistani cricketers do. He takes the route which lots of normal Pakistanis take – route of terrorism.
Aditya Pancholi, with the help of some terrorists, plants a bomb in the stadium where Aamir Khan would make his debut. This gets converted in a serious law and order situation. Director General of Police, Dev Anand, takes the situation in his own hands. Terrorists demand withdrawal of India’s peace keeping forces from the border and government of India appoints a negotiator, again Dev Anand, to deal with them.


The match goes on. Aamir Khan single-handedly takes India to victory. Crowd, oblivion to the fact that they are sitting on a bomb which is being monitored by Aditya Pancholi in a helicopter hovering above the stadium, enjoys the cricket match. Clock keeps ticking. The moment of explosion keeps coming nearer. India needs a savior –off the ground. India needs a hero.


In the end, it all boils down to one man who keeps informing the press about the situation of the bomb, tells terrorists that India doesn’t negotiate with them, hunts down all the terrorists, nails down Aditya Pancholi from the helicopter and finally defuses the bomb. That hero is Dev Anand. And no, there are no multiple roles. It’s Dev Anand who plays the role of a chairman of single man selection committee, deputy general of police, the national negotiator, one-man ATS, government representative to face the press and the bomb diffuser. He also had to carry the duties of writing and directing the movie. I was mighty impressed by this multi-faceted, multi directional, multi dimensional performance by the legend called Dev Anand.


Rumor has it that Dev Anand was going to play the role of Aamir Khan but he didn’t do it at the behest of some senior politicians. They didn’t want Sunil Gavaskar to commit suicide. It is also rumored that these politicians granted permission to Dev Anand to make a movie where he was going to play leader or the ruling party, speaker of the parliament and the ruler of opposition.


No. My intention is not to make fun of a great man after his demise, not at all. The intention is to salute the spirit of his.


Okay. To be honest, I have never been a great fan of Dev Anand – apart from some of his old movies when he wasn’t really old e.g. Hum Dono, Guide.


But what I always liked about him and admired was his dedication towards his profession of movie making and courage to continue with it by defying his age. He looked like a man hungry for acting, writing, directing and acting. He looked like a man hungry to be involved in every second of he did. He looked like a man hungry for life and living every second of it.


When he wrote, he would be the pivot around which the story revolved. A murder mystery maybe about the suspects, the murderer or even the murdered but it’s the one who catches the murderer gets away with all the credits. Dev Anand played the cop who nabs the murderer in Sau Crore.


When he directed, it would be him to occupying the maximum length of the reel. When Awwal Number stars focusing on terrorists instead of cricket, chairman of selectors has no role to play in the movie. Hence Dev Anand also plays the deputy general of police. When matter goes beyond police, Dev Anand becomes the one who catches the villain and diffuses the bomb.


When he acted, he would be the hero, the good cop, the good politician and the one who gets to romance with the hottest chic in the movie. He was everyone. Everyone else was no one in his movies.


The man loved his profession beyond the boundaries of craziness. The man was so much in love with himself that he could be termed as self-obsessed. The man lived a life. This is what he teaches – not only to love what you do but also to love yourself. If you can do so, nothing can stop you – not even age. After all it’s for nothing they say – he wasn’t 88 when he died, he was four times twenty two.


I tempt to say the usual - may his soul rest in peace. But I am sure, somewhere in the heavens; he would be busy preparing the script for his next movie.                      


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The success and the successor!!!

It’s easier to swim with the tide, not so otherwise. It’s easier to move on when there is a pat on your back with every step you move forward, not so when every step forward results in people spitting on your face. Neither is the case always for most of us. Not everyone is a Sonam Kapoor – patted on the back for her dress sense no matter how atrocious it may look. Not everyone is a Rahul Gandhi – perceived as a future PM no matter how mindless his impromptu speeches may sound. Leave aside everyone, there has been and will be only one Sachin Tendulkar – seen as a child prodigy for last 22 years. For every Sonam Kapoor, there is a Mallika Sherawat – always ridiculed no matter what she wears if she does. For every Rahul Gandhi, there is a Mayawati – I don’t see much of a difference between these two. For every Sachin, there is a Sir Jadeja. Let’s look at two of such characters who swim against the tide between those 22 yards.
  
 
Sir Agarkar – Opposition is reeling at 185 for 8 in 47 overs. We have our fastest bowler waiting to finish off his quota. We can easily expect a target not exceeding 190. Enter our fastest bowler to bowl 48th and 50th over. The result - we get to chase 230. Such was the magic of Sir Agarkar. Till date, there has been no bigger potential all-rounder than the Sir himself. Even his name suggested that, Agar-Kar which roughly means “what if he actually does”. This if remained one of the biggest mysteries during the last decade, may be bigger than Digvijay Singh’s grey cells. Sir Ajit always lived in extremes - from 5 ducks in a row to fastest 50, from fastest 50 wickets to imploding at worst possible moments, from toe crushing inswinging Yorkers to juicy half volleys. No matter how much we all detested his selection, he kept coming back – series after series.
Sir Ajit had an aura about him. Whatever he did, it was all style. Remember his swing of the bat in his stance when he rotated it one full circle after the ball left bowler’s hand and before it reached him? It was like he was gathering momentum to send the ball to moon. Okay, he may have missed the ball a few times because of this swing – 5 times in a row in Australia. But ball did travel when he hit it – no matter how rarely it was. Do you remember his celebrations after taking a wicket when he lifted his both forearms in front of his face, showing all the bones he had and shouted agape? Or do you remember those innocent expressions whenever he was hit, actually quite often, as if he was saying – I had no idea he had a bat in his hands, I though he came empty handed to the crease. Sir Ajit served India severely for many years and now he continued his hunt for runs with the ball and wickets with the bat for KKR also. Long live Sir Ajit but only after your retirement. Until then, please don’t make another comeback.

Sir Jadeja – Sir Jadeja came to limelight after his scintillating performance in U19 world cup in 2008. His long and straightened hair made him look like larger than he is. Go to youtube, watch his videos and tell me if you take out his blue dress and wrap around just a banana leaf around his waist, will he not resemble with Mahabali Shaaka or Tarzan. Sir Jadeja made a half century in his Debut ODI and joined the list of some scintillating batsmen who had achieved this hallmark – Saba Karim, Pravin Amre. A little extrapolation tells us that his career is secured as a) cricket expert at Aaj Tak or b) coach of some IPL team. Unfortunately India lost the match and since then, Sir Jadeja became an expert torchbearer who reduced deficit every time India faced the darkness of defeat. All his five 50s have come in losing causes. Being a left handed batsman and a left arm spinner, he tried to emulate another Indian great Sunil Joshi’s famous Chennai – 1999 heroics in Mohali -2009. Sir Jadeja remains the only Indian bowler to achieve a hallmark which only Stuart ‘Barbie’ Broad and Dan Van Bunge have – to be hit 6 consecutive sixes ininternational cricket. “Everything Yuvraj does , I can do better.” is what he secretly announced after the match. Some may consider this a completely unwanted record. Hence Sir Jadeja broke this record, in a different way, and did it in two overs – 6 sixes were equally distributed across his two consecutive overs. While there have been nation-wide protests to oppose his selection, few politicians have even threatened to go on hunger strike, Sir Jadeja kept coming back to the national side. Some say he has some secret documents of agricultural ministry in his possession hence he keeps coming back, some say he was to an important selector what Gambhir was to Ishant Sharma in THAT video. Just that Sir Jadeja performed his duties with lot more intensity and regularity with that selector. But it all went in vain, protests in mean. Sir Jadeja is back and back with vengeance. Who can forget his 70+ innings in India’s last tour to England when he took India from a score of “I may not get a chance to bowl” to “I can bowl my 10 overs now”. It’s a different matter that all of us have forgotten if India ever travelled to England after 2007. But he is back. He is back with a bang – MOS in last home series against England proves that. What more, he may well be thinking of knocking the doors of test side with his recent triple ton in domestic cricket. Don’t be surprised if he does break into the test side. After all, Sir Jadeja has a phoenix touch about him. He is a true successor to Sir Agarkar. God save us all.
Till date, only Sir Jadeja can claim to be real successor of Sir Agarkar as he has made several unreasonable and strange come backs. There have been many more who have tried to fill in the shoes of Sir Agarkar – like Irfan Pathan with his increasingly slow bowling or Sreesanth with his increasing stupidity. Both can be lethal in their bowling for the team they are bowling – on their day. Normally every day is their day.
But they have yet not come close to the hallmark of Sir Ajit as they have either been out of the side for too long, Irfan Pathan, or have given sparks of brilliance, Sreesanth. However, given a chance I think Sreesanth still has it in him to be Sir Agarkar. Can he do it for Sir Ajit? Only time will tell.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Cricket and Wives!!!

Given my dumb head, God has compensated me with really sharp ears. Eavesdropping is one of my strengths. I happened to overhear this conversation today –

A: Dude, what’s up?
B: Nothing, just too sleepy.

A: I can see that. Your eyes look too red. Not well?
B: I am fine man.

A: Then?
B: Wife had gone back to her parent’s place for a week. She came back yesterday.

A: Oh. That explains your lack of sleep. (Smiles and winks)
B: Not the way you are thinking. We had a bit of a tiff last night and by the time cease fire was declared, it was 3:00AM.

A: What happened?
B: Well nothing really. I went back home last evening and we decided to go out.

A: Last evening? How could you?
B: Yeah, but you know all this.

A: Then what happened. You missed the match?
B: Haan yaar. Just before going out I asked her to wait for some time so that I can watch a bit of the match.

A: Oh. If I was Mr. Tracer Bullet, I would have said – “That must have set the cat among the pigeons”.
B: Yeah. As soon as I switched onto the match, she started shouting, “We are meeting after more than a week and still you are more interested in this stupid cricket match. Why the hell you married me. You look much happier with this stupid game”

A: Haha, then?
B: Then what? You can imagine the rest. I wish I could tell her that if we were meeting after more than a week, India was winning after more than three months.

A: Don’t remind me of that England tour please. You could have explained it to her.
B: You are also married. Have you ever tried explaining?

A: You are mad or what?
B: Haha, the big vehicle-small vehicle concept.

A: Yeah I know. No matter what is the truth, bigger vehicle is always at a fault in an accident.
B: And husband is the bigger vehicle in accident called marriage. Man, I had to miss the thrashing of England last night.

A: It was good. They played worse than how we played in England.
B: Sometimes I wonder – God should either have invented cricket or wives.

A: I know. I am sure he invented cricket first.
B: How?
A: God invented cricket. Then he saw people like us getting so lost in the game that they almost forgot God.
B: True. Hence he invented wives so that we don’t forget the almighty.

A: Exactly. Every time there is a cricket match, he switches onto his avtar in wives so that we don’t forget God.
B: I agree.

A: Anyways, we won emphatically.
B: Tell me more.

A: To tell you the truth, I also didn’t see the match.
B: What? Why?

A: As you know, today is Karwa Chauth so wife is fasting.
B: So you had to take her out to a grand dinner so that she could prepare for today’s fast.

A: I can see an improvement in your intellect in my company.

There was a big laughter followed by long silence. After a few minutes, both of them spoke almost simultaneously – “When are they showing the highlights? I hope it doesn’t coincide with the timing of moon tonight.”

PS1 – My intention is to see if you can find some sense in my humor.
PS2 – Remember, I was “eavesdropping”.
PS3 – Any sentiments hurt are deeply regretted.
PS4 – No more PS.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pehle pyar ka pehla gam!!!

I have always been an extremely reluctant driver. Call it my well accepted laziness or poorly disguised clumsiness; driving is something that always gives me jitters. So after four years of consistent persuasion, frequent reminders and fatal threats by my better half, I was forced to buy a car. I had learnt driving few months back but it was on traffic-less roads of Bhopal which were as wide as a highway. I had never driven in a traffic created by people willing to risk their lives so that they can reach their destination faster by a few minutes.

“Firsts” in life always excite you. People cherish the memories of their first love even on their deathbed. First kiss may send you in the state of coma for weeks. First job is always followed by numerous credit cards and hefty bills even before the first salary arrives. On the evening I got the delivery of my first bike, I felt like taking rounds of the city for the rest of the night. Just that it turned out to be impossible because the bike-dealer who delivered it to my office hadn’t left enough petrol in it. The moment I put the bike in 4th gear, I found out that fuel tank was as dry as a desert. Hence I had to pull it along for almost a kilometer to reach the nearest petrol-pump. After pulling 125kg for a kilometer, my fragile body sent a strong signal to my demented mind “Don’t know about you but I am going to sleep”.

Hence when I took the delivery of my first car yesterday evening, first thing I asked the dealer was “How much fuel does it have?”
“Don’t worry Sir. It has enough to drive you out of the city. But I would still suggest, first thing you must do as soon as you drive out of our showroom is to visit a petrol-pump” he said while explaining the policies, receipts, functions of the car and all that.

But my mind was somewhere else. My eyes were glued to the road outside. With each passing second, my heart was sinking.

“How the hell I am going to drive in this mad traffic?” was what I was thinking while looking at the jam packed road outside. To make the matters worse, Government decided to make my life tougher by removing all the street lights from the road. If government jumped into it, how almighty could be left behind. He decided to shower the area with thunderous rains.
 
“Sir, there is no hurry. You can take the delivery tomorrow also and drive it. You are a rookie. It’s better to be safe than sorry”

“See, sooner or later I will have to drive through this madness. Why later? Why not sooner” I was beaming with the shallowest confidence ever owned by any man who walked on this planet.

After some rituals, handshakes, poses, congratulations and formalities, I drove out of the showroom.
 
It was dark. It was raining. But thankfully, my side of the road was vacant. But to my right, it was total chaos.
I went to meet a friend – his office was nearby mine.
“Dude, you look scared. What is the matter?” he looked worried for me.
“Nothing man. Just a bit tired after a long and busy day” I said.
“You were busy? Ha Ha. Chances of water being found on sun are more than you being busy. Don’t take a chance. I will give you three options” he said with a big smile.
“What are they?”
“I will drop you home in your car and come back by a rickshaw. You can park your car in the office and go home by company bus. Or you can stay with me tonight and go home tomorrow morning”
“NO. Thanks for your concerns but FYI, I know how to drive.” I said in a strong voice.
“Ego has been the sole reason for some of the biggest wars in this planet. Anyways, all the best and give me a call in case you get stuck somewhere”
“Thanks. Bye” I put the car in the gear and started driving. But deep down the heart, I knew that I had never ever been so nervous in my life – more than I have ever been before any exams, more than I was on the night of 2nd April, more than I was when my marriage got fixed and definitely more than when I jumped from the roof of BSE building without any safety measures. Okay, I cooked that last one up. But to summarize, I was really nervous and thinking - If anything goes wrong, I TOLD YOU SO would be the only sentence that I would be hearing for the rest of the week.
But I made it without any hiccups and called up that friend “Dude, India comes home in a Maruti”  
“Thank God. I was worried”
“I was confident. I don’t think I am going to face more difficult conditions than tonight. I CAN drive” I said.
While there was a strong urge to go on a long drive during the night, three things stopped me – mom’s strict orders against it, rain and I knew that how difficult it was for me to drive. Got out of jail was what I thinking.
Next morning, strategy was to start before roads become too crowded. But as soon as I was about to get out of the house, my three year old woke up and demanded “Papa ruko. Pehle mujhe school chhod do, fir office jana” (Papa, STOP. First drop me to the school then go to office)
I can wait and drop you to your school son but who will drop me to my office then? I thought.
Starting late meant I had no way of avoiding traffic.
Apply Handbrakes, push the clutch, leave hand brakes and accelerate.
Apply Handbrakes, push the clutch, leave hand brakes and accelerate.
 
I was repeating in my mind.
 
Accelerate, apply handbrakes, clutch. Leave hand brakes, apply brakes, push the clutch, and try to accelerate. Apply clutch, accelerate, and apply brakes. Apply handbrakes, wait and wonder why the car isn’t moving forward. 
This is what I was doing.
Being target of hundreds of stares, thousands of laughs and millions of abuses, I managed to jam the traffic at least at ten places.
A traffic police man came to me and shouted “Why aren’t you moving the car?”
“Can’t you see that I am trying? What more I can do – get down and push it?” I shouted back.
Finally I managed to reach my destination – without a single hit, without a single dent. I had done it – two difficult drives within a span of 12 hours.
I CAN drive. I thought.
All I needed to do was to enter the gate, take a right turn and park it in loads of empty spaces. A victorious smile was shamelessly visible on my face. I was grinning.
Yahan ke hum sikandar, chhahen to rakh len sabkoapni jab eke andar”, the JJWS song was being played at FM.
BANG!!!
Biggest danger for a ship to sink is in shallow water is what my dad had told me. In youth, there is a tendency to ignore what your parents say. I was young. I ignored him.   
 “God damn it” I almost banged my head on the car after seeing that I had hit the gate. The left bottom of the car was proof of it. My ship had sunk.
First dent on the car is as painful as the first heart break – I had heart it many a times. This was the first time I understood it.
With little choice, I decided to drive it to the service station to get the damage repaired. Less than 18 hours ago, I was taking the delivery of my car.
Pehle pyar ka pehla gam, pehli baar hain aankhennam. Pehla hai tanhai ka yeh mausam”, the Papa Kahte Hain song was being played on FM now. I wish I had paid attention to what my papa said to me.   

 


Monday, September 19, 2011

Job Ek Khoj - Opinions and Decisions!!!

I had come to meet the chief risk officer (CRO) of Dhanvanti Bank – a bank which had grown in age but not size. If a bank had top-line of less than Rs. 1,000 cr in 90 years, it could only had been a parking lot for me hence I had no real business in meeting the CRO. More than that, it was the name. I found it hard to imagine that I would need to tell people, “Hey, I work with Dhanwanti Bank”. The name itself sounded like a Paan shop. But I wanted to give it a shot – what if it really clicks well. I was told that money would be good there. A friend of mine had given me the contact of the CRO and advised not take his name as reference.

“Are all IIM guys are like that?” was his first words to me and I was stumped.

“Like what?” I seriously wanted to know.

“You all change jobs so frequently. You all are confused.”

“That is not correct. Among my friends, some have changed frequently; some haven’t changed at all. These two ‘somes’ don’t make the entire sum as well.”

“I don’t believe you. I am yet to meet an IIM grad who hasn’t changed jobs and that too frequently” he had worked in India’s number one private bank for 23 years. Why he was working in such a small bank after such rich experience was something that puzzled me.

“In my humble opinion, you cannot generalize anything. One has to look at such things on case to case basis”

“That is the problem with you IIM guys. You have opinions but when it comes to making decisions, you fall flat.”

All I could do was to smile.

“You have mentioned in your resume that you have handled XYZ Ltd. How was your experience?”

“Company is good but I think their management is not up to the mark. You cannot really trust them”

“So will you lend them money?”

“That depends on the purpose of lending. If the project is viable, I shall be willing to take a small exposure but not a big one.” I thought I gave a very sensible answer.

“Where does the size of loan come in? Do you trust them or not?”

“I didn’t mean that trust factor was completely missing with XYZ. I meant that I wasn’t very comfortable with the management”

“Why cannot you take a call? You either trust someone or don’t. If you trust someone, you do business with him else not”

“I beg to differ. In my opinion, it has to be a function of risk and return. If a bank starts deciding who to lend and who not to lend just on the basis of trust, it might well end up with the government as its sole client. I agree that trust is an important factor in this business but one needs to look at the entire picture, analyze it and then decide. ”

“Again you are giving an opinion. Why cannot you make simple decisions?”

“It’s because you are giving me only scenarios on which I can only opine. I want my decisions to be based on facts and figures. There is another angle to my answer”

“What is that?” he asked.

“I met XYZ in a different capacity. If I meet them in the capacity of a banker, they will surely act differently”

“So?”

“Trust is formed on the basis of how someone behaves with you. People behave differently with different people. Their behavior often depends upon the purpose of the interaction.”

“What crap? Either you trust someone or don’t”

“Well one has to look at the complete picture”

“You seem to have even drawn the picture but I am yet not clear if you trust XYZ or not. Being opinionated is good but being indecisive could be terrible”

I was thinking ‘At least one thing is decided, there is no match of opinions between us’

“Ok. Tell me the names of four of your four favorite Indian companies?” he asked.

I answered.

“How much loan will you give to each of them?”

“It’s tough to answer. You need to tell me the purpose of lending.”

“You are a banker. Lending is your business. Tell me how much you will lend. Where does the purpose fit in?”

“I can tell you what all things I will look into before deciding the amount. I cannot think of an amount without more inputs”

“Again, you have opinions but you cannot make a decision”

I felt like slapping him hard and saying, ‘In my opinion, you deserved this. So I decided to give you what you deserve’.

By now, the outcome of the meeting had become obvious. So I tried to end the meeting.
“Can I ask you something?” I politely asked.

“Yes” he said.

“When you received my resume, how much salary did you decided to pay me?”

“What a stupid question. I don’t decide someone’s salary just after seeing his resume”

“Well you are a prospective employer and I am a prospective employee. You pay, I work. Tell me how much will you pay me?”

“Son, it’s not me who alone decides the salary. We have to take others opinions as well before a decision is made to even hire you, forget deciding your salary.”

“So you neither have an opinion nor made a decision” I said and rushed out of his office.



I called up my friend who had given me this CRO’s contact.

“How did it go?” he asked.

“Dude, what is his problem? Is he anti-IIM?”

“Well he is. Even when I was there, he used to take his vent out against IIMs. I saw him doing it so many times” my friend said laughingly.

“Was he brutally raped by someone from IIMs?” I asked.

“He…He…. No. I think it’s got something to do with his son. He couldn’t make it to IIMs in 4 years”

“Well not my fault if his sperms had low intelligent quotient.” I was wondering.

Job Ek Khoj - Colors!!!


I was sitting in the office of Armpit capital. Armpit capital was an investment bank which boasted to have global ambitions. But to my mind, all they had was local intellect.
I was waiting for my interviewer. After a few minutes of waiting, one of the senior guys came, shook hands, introduced himself and sat down.
“Hey. Let’s start. What I would like to do is to give you a bit of color about ourselves – what we are doing, since when we have been doing, how are we doing, why are we doing, shall we be able to do it or not. Once I am done with that, I would like you to give a bit of color about yourself. Does that sound okay?” he said with a colorful smile.
“Yeah, sounds great. I love rainbows.” I said expecting a really colorful time.
He started talking. He talked, and talked, and talked. All I could understand was that he worked for some investment bank in UK. That bank, couple of years back, had sent him to India to set up their business. If you read between the lines, it’s plain and simple case of “Either you get fired or take an asylum in your motherland”.
Once he stopped, he threw the ball in my court “So why don’t you give me some colors about yourself.”
In front of his digital quality picture, VFX enabled, DTS Dolby, 3D movie, I looked like Alam Ara ().
“Tell me something. In your last job, you changed from one industry to another. Did you do your homework before making this change? Did you enquire about the industry you were moving in, I mean this industry?”
“Yes.”
“How did you do it?”
“I asked a few friends working in this industry”
“Okay. But don’t you think that wouldn’t have been the best way.”
“Why is that so?”
“If you ask a frog, he will only tell you about the well because that is his well. He won’t be able to tell you about the world outside that well”
“But if you are outside the well, you know all about the world outside. Frog can enlighten you about the world inside the well. That completes the portfolio, isn’t it?” I replied.
He changed the topic, “You have such an impressive profile. Why do you want to be in this business? You can do whole lot of things.”
“Well, I am in this industry because I like it”
“Yeah but you can do a world of things other than this kind of job. You have such a good profile”
“As I said, among all those world of things, I like this profile”
This went on and on. He kept asking me why I was and where. I kept telling him why I was where.
Finally I asked him, “Why are you in this industry?”
“Well, I have been in this industry for quite some time”
“The way you said it, looks like you want to move out”
“Well….”
“Why don’t you move out?” I asked before he could complete.
“What do you think?”
“You may not like my answer” I warned him.
“Shoot” he sounded confident.
“All I can say is that either you don’t think that your profile is good enough or you think that you cannot do anything else” I said with a smile. I was looking like two colors which never make an entry in a rainbow – black and white. But it was red that started to take control.
Thankfully, he changed the topic and asked me “Have you done CFA?”
“No”
“Have you registered for it?”
“Neither have I registered for it not I intend to do so” I said in a rude tone.
“But why?” he asked while looking a bit shocked.
“I don’t think that the certification will add any value to me.”
“Why?”
“To be fair, I know very little about the course structure. But what I know is that the course structure has very high US flavor in it whereas I am working in Indian markets. So I see no relevance of the certification to the skill set I should be building upon. If I have to do it for a CV point, I don’t think after more than six years in job-life, I need a certification as a CV point” I tried to be logical.
“But I don’t think you have even seen the course structure. How can you say so?”
“I consulted my friends” I replied.
“Tell me something. If you have to buy a stock, will you do your own research or you will consult your friends”
“Well, there are 5,000 stocks listed in BSE. If I go researching each and every stock, I may not get a chance to buy anything, at least in this life. So I will have to consult my friends and then, do my own research”
“So you apply the same logic to certifications”
“Yes”
“I don’t know. Your logic doesn’t sound convincing enough” he looked a bit pissed off. By now, it was clearly evident that he himself had done CFA.
“Okay. Let me explain. If I do CFA affiliated with US, you would say – why have you done US affiliated CFA when you are working in Indian markets? If I do Indian version of CFA, you would say – US CFA is like Pink Floyd and Indian CFA is like Altaf Raja. If I do both, you would say – why haven’t you done FRM? If I do everything, you would say – why you keep doing all these certifications, you are either zero confidence in your experience or you are totally confused. Hence I have decided that I won’t even touch any of these certifications” I was pissed off.
By now, only color left in the room was red with maroon tinge in it – resembling blood, real bad blood. Both of us had developed a strong disliking for each other. Before the disliking turned into hatred, we needed to end it. End it we did.
He stood up, shook hands with me, thanked me for coming, and said a few more formal words. But he didn’t say what I was waiting for.  
Like every life has to end with death, like every Anshan done by someone other than Anna Hazare has to end with Police Lathi Charge, like every Hollywood movie has to end with a kiss, like every Ajit Agarkar over has to end with a boundary, every interview has to end with a particular sentence. Yes, THAT sentence.
While he was continuing with his monologue, that sentence was still awaited. I was getting impatient. I was about to ask, “So will you get back to me or not?” before he said it “We will get back to you”
Back I was, with loads of colors.