Thursday, March 17, 2016

Professional Equality 101

When a line from a classic comes to mind, 
And offers you comfort to endure the grind

So you're relatively new at your organisation and by virtue of the pink bloom of youth and your bubbling inexperience, you may be subject to unintended patronage by those above and before you. They won't necessarily talk down but you will periodically feel like a second-class citizen in this Republic. 

Here are some instances:

1. "We all have different categories of leaves, but you will need to check if you are eligible for any."

2. "The meal card and similar benefits only apply to a certain salary bracket."

3. "Madam, you can take your car after some time when The Sir leaves."

4. "Since boss and other senior managers will not be travelling this time, you can do a day-trip. Or do you need to stay in a hotel?!"

I find that Mindfulness comes to the rescue at these times. You have less than the flash of a second where you must cheerfully remind yourself that this is not your home and you *may* need to keep this job. Good sense prevails when your face assumes a dead-pan expression and you refrain from uttering a single syllable. However, you may be unable to suppress the chuckle that comes with remembering George Orwell's Animal Farm. Because he was right in saying, "All animals are equal. But some animals are more equal than others."

Monday, July 27, 2015

Weekend frenzy with the latest blockbuster

 So I made my contribution of 150 rupees and watched Hindi cinema’s latest blockbuster movie – the Salman Khan starring Bajrangi Bhaijaan (also introducing the little girl driving the world crazy with her cuteness). It’s incredible that my little cousins, aged 8 and 11 years, were insistent on watching this movie in the theatre. It will be out on tv in a month, I argued. But no, they had to see it the opening weekend. Kids these days, I tell you. And it wasn’t even marketed as a children’s movie (the way that Hrithik Roshan’s Krish series are – did you catch that sound in the background? That was my heart breaking all over again at the remembrance of the recent Krish movie).

Another 500 rupees spent as the kids need to eat cheese popcorn and drink water (mixed with coke). Multiplex culture has really caused us to lose the value of hard-earned money.

I am aware of the introductory song – presenting the hero in all his glory, mostly physical. All those hours spent in the gym have been finally brought to fruition. Roll camera, hoots and whistles. I do realise some of the elements of this so-called formula when I watch these movies on tv but there’s the magic of the big screen. It reinforces the cult of the ordinary man/superhero – he is broader (Ajay Devgn's Singham reportedly had a “solah ka dola, chavalis ki chaati” – 16 inches of biceps and chest measuring 44 inches!) but is simple as a lamb with a heart of gold.

As Bhai’s character unfolded, I recalled him in recent (similar?) roles. A pehelwaan with the perfect blend of simplicity and wit, who has an incredible talent to beat up people, but you know what? He only beats up the wrong people – because in his heart, he is really a good guy, so good that sometimes no one even knows about this secret goodness. It is revealed to both heroine and audience much later to make us guilt-trip for the audacity to doubt such a man (Ref: Dabangg series and Wanted). And even if he does display the occasional blemish in character, like say hitting on the heroine, he is only being human, no? Even then, he is better than most of us, and larger than life itself (Ref: Kick). Such characters do not really require Bhai to act, because, hello, isn’t he the exact guy in real life? Strong and six-packed (or is it eight these days?), helpful and generous, but so misunderstood, papam. It’s unfair, really.

I refrain from saying much about the movie itself – there was sometimes a little too much of it, whether it was comic relief or the feelings. It just gave me a headache. I’m not downing this kind of mass movie – why it is made or why it is popular – it is made because it will be popular and it becomes popular because it is made. That’s just how it is. Because really, we are all equal even if we are different in class, caste, creed, or nationality *.

(* Terms and conditions apply. Offer valid till stocks [or convenience] last[s])

Source: Scoopwhoop

Sunday, July 12, 2015

My books this year and the highlights therein

Covers that catch your fancy or titles that grip your brain,
It’s a pursuit in which there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.

It’s a list that never comes to an end,
Whether I buy them, borrow or lend.

The authors of classics, the legends of yore,
The writers of today, new on the fore.

Paperback, hardcover or on virtual device,
Read them as you like, in any crevice.

With a cup of hot brew, or cold if you wish,
Or if you’d much rather, enjoy with a dish.

My friend Mehak has written eloquently about the merits of an e-book reader, in particular, the Kindle Paperwhite. So I’m hoping that it will suffice for me to say that it is one of the most convenient products ever made and instead write about my reading list for this year.
The following are the books I’ve been fortunate to be able to read this year:

1.    The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky: a worthwhile read to remind yourself what it is to feel young and vulnerable, yet infinite.

So I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.

I think that if I ever have kids, and they are upset, I won’t tell them that people are starving in China or anything like that because it wouldn’t change the fact that they were upset. And even if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t change the fact that you have what you have. Good and bad. It’s just different. Maybe it’s good to put things into perspective, but sometimes, I think that the only perspective is to really be there. Because it’s okay to feel things. And be who you are about them.

2.       The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath: What I learnt from this book is that it is not delusional to be unhappy and feel dissatisfied with your lot in life, even if you don’t know why.

After nineteen years of running after good marks and prizes and grants of one sort and another, I was letting up, slowing down, dropping clean out of the race. The trouble was, I had been inadequate all along. I simply hadn’t thought about it. The one thing I was good at was winning scholarships, and that era was coming to an end.

I felt like a racehorse in a world without racetracks or a champion college footballer suddenly confronted by Wall Street and a business suit, his days of glory shrunk to a little gold cup on his mantel with a date engraved on it like the date on a tombstone.
I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig in the story. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground by my feet.

3.       The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusak: anybody who has ever enjoyed reading must read this book.

When she came to write her story, she would wonder exactly when the books and the words started to mean not just something, but everything. Was it when she first set eyes on the room with shelves and shelves of them?

Certainly, her brother practically died in her arms. Her mother abandoned her. But anything was better than being a Jew.

4.       The Fault in our Stars, by John Green: because even though love is without hope, we can all be hopeless romantics sometimes.

The oblivion fear is something else, fear that I won’t be able to give anything in exchange for my life. If you don’t live a life in service of a greater good, you’ve gotta at least die a death in service of a greater good, you know? And I fear that I won’t get either a life or a death that means anything.

I would probably never again see the ocean from thirty thousand feet above, so far up that you can’t make out the waves or any boats, so that the ocean is a great and endless monolith. I could imagine it. I could remember it. But I couldn’t see it again, and it occurred to me that the voracious ambition of humans is never sated by dreams coming true, because there is always the thought that something might be done better and again.

5.       The Outsiders, by John Clements: because it's never too late to read a coming of age book.

Rat race is a perfect name for it, she said. We’re always going and going and going, and never asking where. Did you ever hear of having more than you wanted? So that you couldn’t want anything else and then started looking for something else to want? It seems like we’re always searching for something to satisfy us, and never finding it. Maybe if we could lose our cool, we could.

6.       Looking for Alaska, by John Green: you like one title, so you have to read others, simple.

I go to seek a Great Perhaps.’ That’s why I’m going. So I don’t have to wait until I die to start seeking a Great Perhaps.
Jesus, I’m not going to be one of those people who sits around talking about what they’re gonna do. I’m just going to do it. Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia.
You spend your whole life stuck in a labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.

And what is an “instant” death anyway? How long is an instant? Is it one second? Ten? The pain of those seconds must have been awful as her heart burst and her lungs collapsed and there was no air and no blood to her brain and only raw panic. What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.

7.       Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy: it was a worthwhile and moving read, despite the length and mundane parts.

It’s the truth I’m telling you. I do value my idea and my work awfully; but in reality only consider this: all this world of ours is nothing but a speck of mildew, which has grown up on a tiny planet. And for us to suppose we can have something great – ideas, work – it’s all dust and ashes.

In his father’s opinion, he did not want to learn what he was taught. In reality, he could not learn that. He could not, because the claims of his own soul were more binding on him than those claims his father and his teacher made upon him. Those claims were in opposition, and he was in direct conflict with his education. He was nine years old; he was a child; but he knew his own soul, it was precious to him, he guarded it as the eyelid guards the eye, and without the key of love he let no one into his soul. His teachers complained that he would not learn, while his soul was brimming over with thirst for knowledge.

8.       Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami: Glad to be finally reading his work.

Memory is a funny thing. When I was in the scene I hardly paid it any attention. I never stopped to think of it as something that would make a lasting impression, certainly never imagined that 18 years later I would recall it in such detail. I was thinking about myself. I was thinking about the beautiful girl walking next to me. I was thinking about the two of us together, and then about myself again. I was at that age, that time of life when every sight, every feeling, every thought came back, like a boomerang, to me. And worse, I was in love. Love with complications. Scenery was the last thing on my mind.
Even so, my memory has grown increasingly dim, and I have already forgotten any number of things. Writing from memory like this, I often feel a pang of dread. What if I’ve forgotten the most important thing? What if somewhere inside me there is a dark limbo where all the truly important memories are heaped and slowly turning into mud?

I tried hard to forget, but there remained inside me a vague knot of air. And as time went by, the knot began to take on a clear and simple form, a form that I am able to put into words, like this: Death exists, not as the opposite of but as a part of life. It’s a cliché translated into words, but at the time I felt it not as words but as that knot of air inside me. Death exists – in a paperweight, in four red and white balls on a pool table – and we go on living and breathing it into our lungs like fine dust. Until that time, I had understood death as something entirely separate from and independent of life. The hand of death is bound to take us, I had felt, but until the day it reaches out for us, it leaves us alone. This had seemed to me the simple, logical truth. Life is here, death is over there. I am here, not over there.
Becoming serious was not the same thing as approaching the truth, I sensed, however vaguely. But death was a fact, a serious fact, no matter how you looked at it. Stuck inside this suffocating contradiction, I went on endlessly spinning in circles. Those were strange days, now that I look back at them. In the midst of life, everything revolved around death.

“Of course life frightens me sometimes. I don’t happen to take that as the premise for everything else, though. I’m going to give it 100 per cent and go as far as I can. I’ll take what I want and leave what I don’t want. That’s how I intend to live my life, and if things go bad, I’ll stop and reconsider at that point. If you think about it, an unfair society is a society that makes it possible for you to exploit your abilities to the limit.” “Sounds like a pretty self-centred way to live,” I said. “Perhaps, but I’m not just looking up at the sky and waiting for the fruit to drop. In my own way, I’m working hard. I’m working ten times harder than you are.

May we always have a friend in need,
And if not, a book to read.

Until next time.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Dedicating a rhyme, for a dear friend of mine

This rhyme is written for Mariam, my dear friend,
To who I am grateful, to no end.

Before she took matters in her hand,
Rhyming was something I could never stand.

The only rhyme I could ever write,
No matter how much I would fight,

Were the following two lines,
From the scores of literary mines:

"A merry month is December,
Though we don't have much cucumber."

I'm sure you understand my plight,
When at the mention of rhyme, my brain would be halfway in flight.

The credit of this fire, my friend, goes to you,
My rhyme is colourful and no longer blue.

Summer lovin'

What to do on waking with a bad mood?
Break your fast and have some sinful comfort food.

But are those early morning calories going to do you any good?
Perhaps just slide back into bed and lower the hood.

You fear if it's going to last all day,
Especially in the tiresome heat of May.

Whether outdoors or indoors, you profusely sweat,
The trick, I realise, is not to fret.

Eat, sleep, drink and be merry,
And when the heat goes down, let's go on the ferry.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


Faded jeans and superhero tee-shirts
Clipped nails and no makeup
Wearing flats, carrying a backpack,
I’m ready to take on the world.
There’s nothing I can’t do,
No limits that I know of.
To take the step, to accelerate,
The time is now.
Now, more than ever!

I am three and twenty years young,
As yet unmarried.
Further disinclined, rather uninterested.
A major concern for the parental units.
And all those of my kin, far and near.
Each of them wanting nothing but The Best for me.
The best that they will decide.

Wham! Unanticipated road blocks and sudden breaks!
Tears, fights, stalemate.
Autopilot on, follow the road,
Present my best profile to the expert’s lens.
Feel comfortable, but strike a pose.
Stand straight, but not too much.
Everything in moderation, nothing in excess.

Sunday, January 18, 2015


For the nasty words I've spoken,
And the well-meaning ones I haven't.

For the thoughtless things I did,
And the well-planned ones I didn't.

For wanting what I wanted,
And refusing what I didn't.

For holding on when it was harder,
And letting go when it was needed.

For doubting what I know,
And knowing what I doubt.

For just being,
And sometimes not being enough.

I plead guilty.

Guilty, for feeling.
Guilty, for not feeling guilty.