Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Riley's life...

My ex-boss shared this e-book preview with me this morning:

The Joy of Not Working (,M1 )

I've just started reading the preview (the link) and it seems really really interesting. Plus I didn't know what Riley's life means till then. This is the ideal perfectly leisurly life where one does not work but is still completely satisfied and at peace.

Read it, it sounds like fun...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Mr. Khan Disappoints...

Went to watch Ghajini today and have come back severely disappointed. This is not a movie Aamir Khan should be associated with. A B-grade action hero would’ve been great in this role.

A slight rewind, a few days ago I re-watched Memento in anticipation of this movie. And how could I not get caught up in the hoopla being created by the movie marketing machinery at the disposal of the producers. Plus, when you see the reclusive Aamir Khan coming out and giving intelligent sounding interviews and exciting appearances all over the place you automatically get drawn into the web. Expectations from the movie were at an all time high for me because even though Memento may not have been one of my favourite movies but I really enjoy interesting experiments with the chronological flow of a movie or even any other experiments in movies. Thus Memento’s reverse order, Pulp Fiction’s muddled chronology and even Dus Kahaniyan’s 10 short movies in one movie have been very interesting for me.

That’s precisely why I wanted to see how Aamir Khan would incorporate the non-chronological play in a movie meant for the general Indian population (including me) who love their song and dance and happy ever after stories. I thought that the man who thought of stories that no one gave any chance of success and turned them into humungous super hits without compromising on his vision would treat this challenge in a unique and unprecedented manner that would draw out a gasp of appreciation from me (This is a sad but true – I get completely engrossed in movies when I see them in a theatre. I am told I have a silly grin on my face and exhibit all the emotions that the movie conveys traipsing over my face as I watch it. I have also been known to clap my hands and guffaw on some silly joke onscreen, much to the chagrin and embarrassment of those accompanying me.)

Sadly, he managed it by ignoring it. A few clich├ęd diary based flashbacks is all we get. A three hour movie which has a huge chunk wasted on a love story between the a pretty but irritating do-gooder girl and a business tycoon who apparently sends his executive assistant with a brood of other senior officers in a bunch of BMWs to get permission to put up a hoarding on the heroine’s terrace (puhleez!). The love story undoubtedly was cute but was not really essential to the plot (Actually it probably was for this movie because the short term memory condition was casually treated as a by-the-way-did-you-know-the-hero-suffered-from-some-brain-problem-ji in Ghajini.).

So the first half was reasonably breezy and quite frankly if they’d have closed the movie immediately after the interval with Asin accepting Aamir’s proposal I would’ve been the first to doff my hat at Mr. Khan for a making a beautiful, light romance. But it was not to be as he had to force in the memory loss and the laughable action sequences. Now the action he did in Ghulam had the crowd getting behind him and egg him on and cheer his every punch. Here you could hear laughter whenever Khan threw a punch that turned a goon’s neck around towards his back (!). And people went out to get more popcorn as a gang of thugs prepared for Aamir’s arrival by their boss attacked him haphazardly with sticks and fists rather than, you know, guns!

And I never thought I’d ever write this, but the perfectionist Khan was overacting like crazy and except two brilliant scenes when he suddenly blanked out. The action sequences were laughably staged.

Sigh, oh Aamir, Oh Aamir, how could you do this to your die hard fans?

Some interesting things:
1. The group of cars AK traveled in were numbered 1111, 2111, 3111, 4111 – this was quite cool
2. Was the iphone that the villain used available in 2006 – I’m not sure? If it wasn’t then it’s a really big gaffe
3. Why would you name a movie on the villains first name – imagine if that movie (whose name escapes me right now) was called ‘Mogambo’ ?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Patience, patience

You'll have to wait a bit for more pearls of wisdom to be poured here. I am on a bit of a self-imposed exile from the online world and this blog.

Will enlighten you soon - i'll probably get more regular in a week or so.

Plus, I have absolutely brilliant blogpost ideas floating around in my head.
A few, as teasers only, are as follows:

1. Nomenclatures and similar-sounding-voice mishaps on the telephone
2. Paris Hilton's movie ' the hottie and the nottie' (This post'll be hilarious, trust me)
3. My next automobile craving
4. Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye and what I didn't like about it.

So as you see you shouldn't even THINK about removing this blog from your favourites list.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


It still hasnt sunk in.

A bunch of psychotic killers can just waltz into our country armed with enough sophisticated weaponary to wage a small war, can shoot inconsiderately and manage to reach the commercial capital within the commercial capital of the country and hole up with hostages while the entire security machinary has no alternative but to sit back and say oops.

Enough has been, and is being said about the attacks so I shall not write too much here. Just a few points that have come to my mind.

1. In todays editorial in Times of India Jug Suraiyya wrote something which is invaluable in my opninion. Lets get our nomenclature right. These people are not Jihaadis or Fidayeen or any such originally respect inducing names for fighters for a cause. These are just psychotic brainwashed murderers and criminals. Giving them any other name is aggrandizing their inhuman acts. They should be treated the way criminals should be.

2. My heart goes out to our ill equipped police force. When I see young men of my age walking towards life threatening situations with only a basic gun and a prayer to protect them, and then I see the huge entourages including hordes of commandos, ambulances and generally a large number of cars that trail on most minor to national level politicians, I seriously think that the priorities are all mixed up. But Ive given up hope. When we can have an attack on the seat of power, the parliament, and even then not have any reforms for the security forces, you can well imagine the sweeping reforms that will be instituted after the hue and cry of this terror strike subsides.
Young men would still be going in grave situations with not even basic protection. I know life is deemed very cheap in our country but is its cost really valued at even less than a basic bullet proof jacket and a proper helmet? How long till even the most patriotic security personnel starts getting second thoughts about his chosen profession?

3. To see officers go into the attack leading the charge and taking risks with their lives makes your heart swell with pride. They are the true martyrs who had the option of sitting at the back and planning and sending willing jawans into the battle, but with the act of donning the mantle themselves and leading the charge they have made their name indelible in the list of true patriots.

4. What is the upshot of this event going to be? Its shameful but I think that absolutely nothing is going to happen. Again I go back to the parliament attack. If a country can take a daring attack on their very heart and then slip into the lethargy of meandering words at obscure international forms then what can be expected as an off shoot of this attack. We are a soft target.

China did their Olympics in the face of huge expectations of some sort of terror strike. But not even a whimper was heard. A strong state backing up a strong security and intelligence service with strong intent in mind can prevent disaster. A nations resources, if concentrated on the job at hand, will always be superior to a rag tag group of psychos who are surreptiously supported by another nation. China did it, and it stands to reason that we should be able to do it too. As the real threat has changed from a full on invasion to such terror attacks the role of the security forces and the resources they get has to be realigned to beat this kind of danger.

5. I again wonder about the mentality of these suicide mission people. Life is the biggest gifts one can get. To snuff out lives of innocent people, not to mention your own life, without even a proper reason just doesn;t make any sense. Seriously, what has this attack achieved for the cause they propound? Nothing. More hatred. More suspiciousness. All it did is that probably a khakhi uniformed colonel or general would be congratulating a rag tag bearded man living in a terror training camp near the border and giving him more weapons and money.
What were these men thinking? Apparently they had a return path all planned out. Who are you kidding guys? Whoever gave you this plan had no intention of ever seeing you alive. They fed you a lie and are probably sipping champagne somewhere while you are hunted and shot.

6. I dont want to give condolences to the affected families on this blog. Thats something very very personal and a casual blog is not the place to show respect and grief, even if it is heartfelt.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Changed Opinion and Pondicherry Ahoy...

Yeah, I know. After a rather cryptic post I seem to have disappeared putting doubts in your head about what's happened to me. I have been deluded with phonecalls and emails asking me what I meant by the post. Touching though it is to hear from so many (2) well wishers, let me assure you that the blog would be the last place I would open up my misery and spoil your day. If I was miserable, that is. Which I'm not.

In fact the reason for my absence is anything but sad. I was travelling for pleasure over the last weekend and since coming back i've been vegetating before I finally managed to write a small piece here.

I'd gone to Chennai and then proceeded to go to Pondicherry over the weekend. My love for Chennai is well known and I personally feel that every minute spent there is probably a minute too much. Before this I had been there for exactly one day and six and three quarters hours and it felt like eternity. However, this time I sort of changed my opinion of the place. AG is staying there for the time being and he showed me around all the hotspots of the city. Fortunately the weather was simply brilliant so the hotspots weren't exactly 'hot'. As in any city it is the company you have that matters the most. All cities have 4-5 nice places that you can go for good food, ogling at girls, relaxing, pubbing etc to offset all other standard problems of commuting, traffic, terrible weather. And this time I really had a good time there visiting the former and ignoring the latter.

Then we went to Pondicherry and my luck and the brilliant weather followed us till that extremely picturesque town. The 9 square kilometre town influenced heavily by the French is one of the serenest places I've ever been to. The sea is gorgeous and the beach has to be the cleanest i've ever seen in India.

An old bachpan ka dost P (childhood friend for non-hindi readers)is staying in Pondicherry itself and it was great to meet up with him after a long time. AG and I rented out a bike and zoomed around the town. (As an aside, I sometimes regret not knowing how to ride a bike well. And this was definitely one of those times. Now the thing is that I could ride a bike a decent bit while I was in college third year but then I got a car from my parents and since then the necessity of transporting a large number of people whenever we went out meant that I had to take the wheel rather than the handlebar. But definitely I would love to get a bike and get the heavenly feeling of the breeze blowing through my hair as I streak down the country road, at peace with nature - er..except for the clouds of poisonous exhaust that I would be belching into the surroundings)

We landed up at P's place and then quickly went out to the beach on our bikes. The weather was awesome by that time and the grey skies were looking magnificent as they reflected on the sea. The gradations of grey culminating in white surf breaking near the shore was a melancholically beautiful vision. The man-made beach interspersed with a small french style bistro and some shelters to avoid the sudden torrential rains common on beaches is a great place to just walk around pensively with no fear of bumping into cootchie-cooing couples like in Mumbai or Goa.

After hanging out at this small restaurant and bar there for sometime we went back to Ps place where I tried my hand at the Xbox he had. Admittedly the games he had were antique but as I haven't ever played on a gaming console it was fun.

And then came the highlight of the trip. P in his wanderings and craving for good homelike food discovered a dhaba being run by that most enterprising of all indian people - a sikh. This Sardarji ka dhaba had the MOST AWESOME paranthas. So in the heart of South India, under the influence of French culture (the roads are named like Rue de Marine) we had good ol' north indian Delhi's paranthes. Oh, they were sinfully good and made me remember mom's paranthes (well, almost :))

A great trip, probably AGs last as a bachelor and though he may have preferred spending more time on the phone as opposed to with me, i'm sure he'll also look back at the trip wistfully later.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Irony, the irony...

God, fate, destiny or whatever you want to call it is a hell of an ironical beast, especially in terms of timing.

Monday, November 17, 2008

My Path to Online Fame or Where I Pimp for Part Time work

(Warning: The apostrophe key on the laptop Im using is not working. So youll have to insert an apostrophe where you deem required. For example the Im and youll would have to be corrected as you read the previous line)

Before I started writing about tennis on a part time basis I wasnt very clear about how the entire season was structured. For me, as with most people, the for Grand Slams were the only events that counted. The Grand slams are still the most important tournaments but going by the fact that the player ending up being the number one in the womens tennis hasnt won a single grandslam begs us to understand the entire season. Now im sure not all of you are tennis fans and would not like a long lesson. Ive informed you of the importance of knowing the whole season schedule - now its up to you to go and find it.

Suffice to say that the season ending tennis masters cup between the top 8 mens and womens players is a very very important tournament in the calendar. This year the womens masters cup was held in Doha (These are the articles I wrote about it which were published on : ) and was won by a resurgent Venus Williams.

The mens tournament, that ended today, was held in Shanghai and saw Novak Djokovic taking the honours ( and )

Why im writing this post is that when I applied for the part time job I had to give a sample of our writing which would showcase the english skills and the excitement towards tennis. I had written a preview of this years tennis masters cup. And as that preview has not been published I can safely put it up here to give you guys a glimpse into the awesome article I wrote to secure my super high paying tennis correspondent role.

Here you go:

Masters Cup preview

It’s a qualifier list that has tennis lovers across the world rubbing their hands in anticipation. And booking tickets for Shanghai for the Tennis Masters cup in November , of course!
The men’s singles tennis scene hasn’t been too competitive for the last few years now. The Federer – Nadal rivalry, though great in itself, was becoming a bit monotonous and even though the tennis was top notch, we were all rooting for some new talent to explode on the scene and take the battle to this duopoly. Gone are the days when expecting a Federer – Nadal final was almost a given. Now, both the greats would think of the other players in the draw as ‘easy’ at their own peril.
The world is looking at this tournament as a dueling ground for Federer to reassert himself. It is amazing to see that Fedex has decided to take the usurping of his ranking and his coveted Grand slam as a personal challenge. The glint of grim determination in his eyes is all too evident now and gives goose bumps to all his fans. And the new look lean, mean and emotional Federer is a sight that would have all other players quaking in their designer tennis shoes. This Federer is not the Federer of old. He will fight tooth and nail for each point and scream if he’s frustrated. He’s not willing to give any quarter in a match now. And that presents a scary picture for Nadal who still hasn’t really got the respect that he deserves. He’ll have to dig deep and prove once and for all that sheer hard work and determination can, indeed, overcome ethereal natural flair. Nadal would be looking to put a stamp of authority in these year ending championships and ensure that he goes into the next season without any doubts.
But all this conjecture ignores the charge of the young brigade. Would Djokovic and Murray sit around and watch the veterans (if you can call two young men of 26 and 22 that) battle out their personal issues? I think not!
Djokovic has been on the verge of greatness on so many occasions this year that he would be raring to finally break into the league when his name is taken in the same breath as both the champions. His hunger for victory is going to take his matches to a whole new level, whoever the opponent. Murray’s prodigious talent is unquestionable. Add to that his liking for hard courts and things become tricky for his opponents. If Murray is able to harness his raw talent we could end up seeing a final featuring him and Djokovic with the Big two gracing the sidelines. It could happen! And that’s what is pushing up the excitement of this tournament.
One thing is for sure, with all players coming into the tournament with a point to prove to themselves and to the world, the battles are going to be epic and loud. Loud, you ask? After all, even Federer has started screaming on court now!

Remember, I am more than willing to take up freelance / part time writing projects at very reasonable rates (sometimes even a smile would suffice). So if you have to get something written, or know someone who wants to get something written, or know someone who may know someone who may want to get something written do send an email to

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Quantum of Wha...

Come ON!! You can't call THAT a Bond movie! No siree, you can't.

Where was the customary visit to Q to load up the latest awesome gadgets?

Hell, where were the gadgets? (Yeah, yeah Sony Ericsson phones are cool (I have one too - the G700) and the Microsoft Surface in M's office is very nice. BUT YOU CAN'T KILL PEOPLE OR GET INTO BED WITH BOND GIRLS USING THEM!! {hmmm, the Surface and Bond girls...could lead to some interesting things. Pause for imagination to run wild a bit here...back? some more...back? ok, we resume}

Where are the pun-ny double entendre names for bond girls (Holly Goodhead,Plenty O'toole, Pussy Galore)?

Where is the nuclear weapon / world domination attempt / oil field / world war 3 initiation centered plot?

What is this? A watered down Vin Diesel flick?

Actually, when you think about it Vin Diesel would've done a way better job as the lead in this movie. After all this movie would've been right up his alley. All Quantum of Solace has is a line of chase sequences strung together with two bit dialogues and flashes of skin. The chases are damn good, no doubt. And they cover all modes of transport as well. So you have a chase on foot, in a car, in a motorboat (Ok, so how does a beat-up fishing boat beat down two state of the art motorboats with sub-machine gun toting goons?) and, to top it all, an aircraft chase (Again, a beat up transport aircraft beats a fighter plane. I mean, seriously, what were they thinking?)

And the pseudo bond-girl's revenge story was a straight lift from numerous Mithun da movies. Has the Bond brand come to this!

The villain would have to be one of the most non-sinister loser of a villain of all Bond movies...ever... even the ones that haven't yet been made. I mean the guy started off thinking that he'd play an evil-incarnate megalomaniacal callous villain. But when he read the script (spoiler warning) and realized that he'd be plotting all his terrible (?) plans around water resources in far off Haiti to get a freakin' utilities contract for his company, I guess his enthusiasm fizzled out. Quite correct too. In the end it seemed that the guy was doing the movie only because he signed the contract earlier and was ruing every second of the shooting.

And Daniel Craig? He's no James Bond. Give me the measured smoothness of Pierce Brosnan or the twinkle-in-the-eye panache of Sean Connery any day. He had the chance of recreating the suave one liner status of Bond with the 'She's sea sick' line (You've seen it in the trailers - Bond walks up a pier with a girl in his hands and tosses her into a confused helpers arms with a wry dialogue). But he did that terribly! It sounded like he was reading it from a cue card. Trust me, that line could've become legendary (or legend...wait for it..dary as Barney Stinson would say)if Pierce Brosnan was delivering it. It could've become the iconic signature line of the movie ('Kitne aadmi the...' - Sholay, 'Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn' - Gone with the Wind)

All in all, not worth a trip to the movie hall late at night with the road dug up and no parking available and sitting in an awkward corner. You guys rent out a Vin Diesel movie instead - way more fun.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Easy Quote

Read this in a book by a new writer (for me) that i'm reading.

"Everyone has a right to make fools of themselves once in their lives"

Book is 'Expecting someone taller' by Tom Holt.

Somehow I really liked this line a lot. I just hope my one time is not over yet!

On a related yet different note I discovered another library in Bangalore. This one is in Koramangala and is called easylib. Its very near AK's home so visiting the library is not an issue. Their collection is quite phenomenal and had me salivating (er..its not that kind of collection - perverts). What I especially liked was a section on award winning books. So you have a lot of booker, commonwealth etc etc winning books which generally are interesting when you're looking to read some new author but have no recommendations from anyone.

Their website is

* On re-reading this post it feels like a paid advertisement for them. Alas, no one pays me for writing such reviews. This is a completely independent opinion. However, I shall not refuse payment if offered...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Next Tennis Article Published...

My article covering the Paris Masters Semi Final happening in, unbelievably Paris (Bet you'd never've guessed it!), is up on The Sports Campus. The link is:

Go, go- read it and write lots of nice comments.

(For example:
'Sigh, this article brought a tear to my eyes. How could anyone one write such a brilliantly poignant piece? Amazing'

'If this doesn't get Swapnil a Pulitzer, I don't know what will. Hell, even a Nobel prize for literature shouldn't be too far away!'

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Award Purpose Book , Anyone?

I'm reading this book called Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2007.

It's a book written from the perspective of a black girl on Bougainville, a small tropical island in the South Pacific when a civil war strikes and reaches their village. In the face of uncertainty and strife the lone white man on the island, who was a recluse and an eccentric, reopens school after around three years. He introduces the children to Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.

The children are transported to the Victorian era inhabited by Pip, Joe Gargery, Pip's sister, Magwitch etc etc (I know, I know everyone has read Great Expectations and I needn't go through all the characters). He provides them an escape from their torn lives and helps them in retaining hope. But in the end the protagonist looks back at those times and understands what really happened and what the adults went through)

Quite frankly I really can't say too much about the book because I couldn't figure out if i like it or not. It just seemed like a regular book written only for the purpose of getting an award. In fact it seems to follow a couple of elements that most of these award winning books have. In fact its almost becoming like a recipe. Another book that comes to mind is Vernon 'God' Little that followed a very similar path. Though it was a better book as it was more in your face and did not push the crisis to some distant pacific island.


Take one innocent child, preferably of a minority group
Garnish with a dysfunctional family (Single mother - either perpetual drunk or zealous religist flavour (to taste)
Stir in a father figure who personifies all that is fair and good in this world (better if he's grieving)
Cook all of it in a Kadhai (Wok) of a crisis (school shootout / political turmoil)
Flavour lightly with coming of age story
Garnish with loads of evidently engineered philosophical gibberish (oooh the judges will not like a simple story. They need layers and overlying layers and underlying layers)


The Booker winning/ shortlisted book is ready. Take small bites between sips of red wine.

Now I may be opiniated here but I think the original book following this path was that all time awesome 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. Now THAT was a book written with heart. The innocence of Scout came out brilliantly there, the situation that arose was easy, simple and believable, the family wasn't dysfunctional though. But Atticus Finch was the perfect father figure and one of the most awesome central characters of all times.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Cracker Pooling is Cool...

Now I'm not very pro-crackers on Diwali ( ).I think there has to be a better way of celebrating than having cordite hanging around the air for days afterward.

But I've noticed that as the night progresses and I see everyone around me bursting crackers, I start feeling like I made a mistake by not buying crackers. I guess it's the boys-will-be-boys reaction of exploding things that kicks in. In fact every Diwali since I've reduced bursting crackers I always go back in with a slightly unsatisfied and not feeling particularly happy for taking a stand and helping in reducing pollution.

But this time will be different! This time six people are getting together to buy crackers. Now the logic is simple - pooling resources of four separate families to buy crackers means that it gets way more economical, we're all able to buy ALL the crackers we've ever wanted to and of course getting together on Diwali would be fun as well (especially as this will be only the second Diwali in my life that I won't be spending at home. And the first time in 2006, all of us outcasts got so depressed by not being at home that we drove to Goa to recuperate!).

I didn't go to buy the crackers but seeing the HUGE horde of crackers that the other poolers got in two bulging boris (hindi term for BIG sacks in which cement and such commodities come) was awesome. Everyone indulged all their childhood fantasies and bought every strange cracker possible that had been refused by their parents when they went cracker shopping as children. So we have a 125 rockets one-after-the-other launcher, screaming devils, so many roman candles that I couldn't count, sack full of assorted bijli bombs, hydrogen (?) bombs, ladi, sparklers, chakris, individual rockets... I mean the list is huge. And we were all so excited with the crackers that we actually set them out and had a photo session around them. I don't have the photos right now but will put them up here once I get them.

Its awesome and I can imagine that Diwali is going to be spectacular. Though I will miss Mom's Chhole Bhature that have become a sort of tradition for Diwali dinner in my home.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Name's Bond...Ruskin Bond

I really like Ruskin Bond's writing. He has that simple way of writing things with such infectious enthusiasm that you end up reading with a little smile playing on your face - from what he's written and as you picturize this perky old hill man sitting around a campfire regaling you with the story in his own enthusiastic manner.

I'm reading 'Tales from the Open Road' by him right now and I wonder how one can put in the essence of a scene so completely and well without resorting to long winded adjectives and complicated words. This is coming from the way I write. I just get this urge to use a word whose meaning is exactly what I want it to be, however complex the word may be. A few people may even think that it is some sort of deliberate ploy to use big words to showcase my vocabulary, but its not true. I just get the urge that the word has to mean exactly what I want to say. I've read that some famous author (I forget his/her name)sometimes took an entire day thinking of which word to use and would be a satisfied person if he added one word to his manuscript in the day. Fortunately my affliction is not so serious or I would still be writing my first post here!

Courtesy: Wikipedia

But Mr. Bond writes in very simple words. But the words and the imagery they conjure up are so strong and retentive that even years later I tend to recognize phrases and whole paragraphs of his writing. For instance, in this book itself Mr. Bond has reused swathes of writing from his other works (Room on the Roof, Rusty etc.). This book is essentially a travelogue in which he tells us about his walks around the hills and (sometimes though rarely)plains of North India. And I could remember them almost word to word from when I had read these other books years ago. Thats the the retainability any author would love to have.

Another thing about him is that I totally understand why the man leads a simple life in Mussourie (I always thought he lived in Dehradun, but the great Wikipedia says its Mussourie - so Mussourie it is) inspite of being a celebrated author. He gets sheer bliss from the simple things in life - the morning sweet milky tea at a chai wala in foggy winters (can you just visualize a curving path with trees on both sides with drifting fog floating across a kaccha path as you sit on a road milestone in your sweaters and muffler sipping sweet tea as the chai wala primes his kerosene stove? I can), sighting a rare bird, meeting his old friend and nature loving banker, long lonely contemplative walks amongst forests, the genuine joy at meeting simple folks and listening to their tales, the excitement of children running away from school to go sailing in ships and glaciers. All these joys find there way into his writing. And because there is a person, away from the machinations and norms of society, who actually craves for these simple joys (and not for cars and houses and status and external respect)his stories resonate with us. Long after we've read them.

Simplicity is Joy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Own Byline!

Ladies and gentlemen your favourite blogger got his own byline! My second article on the Madrid Masters semifinal has been credited to me :)

Check it out:

Notice the 'SWAPNIL B' tucked just under the headline. I got my byline :)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Look Ma, I'm a Tennis Correspondent...

Yes, I am now a part-time tennis correspondent for Yay! Someone is going to pay me to write about tennis. How perfect is that!

My first article reporting on the quarter final of the Madrid Masters tournament has been published on the website ( The article's headline is "Simon wins a Cliffhanger, Nadal up next!".

So all of you, go to the website increase the hits on the website and yes, do put in your comments (Only about the article, no personal stuff please - you can put those here). AND if you don't like the article DON'T tell me, ok?

Update (19 Oct) : Article on semi-final also published :

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Lo-osely Speaking...

Ladies and gentlemen,boys and girls, children of all ages, I shall today enlighteno you about one of my pet peeves.

Couple of things before that.

Call me neanderthal but I like any language to be written in the correct way only. Using 'u' instead of you, 'wud' instead of would is generally quite irritating to me. But even though I may grimace at it, I have made my peace with these common words. So much so that I can sometimes be found actually using them, especially when I'm chatting with someone. My aversion to abridged words also means that text messages are more like essay type writing. The number of texts running into two (or more!) messages that I write must be some sort of record. But still I like my long proper english text messages. However, when I receive shortened messages I sometimes feel that I may be moving a generation too slow. Half the time I have trouble figuring out what exactly has been written (and and no punctuation at all! How do you figure where one sentence is ending and the next beginnning? Don't they realize that the entire meaning of the sentence may change??!). And the other half I'm seething at the murder of the language.

But no matter. Even this I shall forgive, reluctantly. But my biggest pet peeve which has me literally tearing my hair out and gnashing my teeth is something different. And its so universal that I've seen it in client presentations, other presentations, in the writings of some of my favourite writers and bloggers, in newspapers - hell, every freakin' where.

It's the wrong usage of lose and loose. So 'I hope you didn't loose', instead of being a comforting expression of concern from a friend becomes a teeth gnashing, hair pulling, irritation inducing line. Aaargghh its as irritating as when you run your nails on a blackboard, or slide a spoon's edge hard against a steel vessel. And I'm not kidding about the widespread misuse of these two words. In fact only this morning I saw this in a presentation. Maybe I notice this a lot more than usual because I seriously get pissed off with this error.

Come on people, is it so difficult to understand? If some one has won a game against you - you LOSE. And if your jeans are falling off, they're LOOSE.

How difficult is it to get it? Jesus, I'll surely loose my mind at this rate...

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ahem, knock knock...

Yes, I have been out. Forgive me.

Life seems to have overtaken me a bit since after i've come back from the Techno Trip 2. And though this has been a culmination of a number of weeks' thoughts and introspection, change and uncertainity are never the most comfortable of companions. Hopefully I shall soon be in a mood to write cheery funny posts here but right now I'm not getting anything.

Please don't think that I'm morose or depressed - I'm in good shape and nothing too serious has happened that would justify this tone. I'm just in a slightly self involved state where I don't feel like sharing too much with anyone.

And yes, some very interesting and exciting things are happening which would cheer up everyone reading this. But i'd rather not talk about them now or I'll run them down in the mood I am.

Sorry for the cryptic post, but i don't talk about work related stuff here

As for the exciting stuff - read tennis + writing and think on those lines :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Techno Trip Two...

As a vast majority of my readers know, the best trip I've ever been to was to Manali in my final year of engineering college. (This was the 'Techno-trip' and comprised of people who had been involved with organizing an event called Technodrome in college. I made some very good friends while working for this event.) In fact it had such an impact on me that I've actually written two posts about it. Here you go: and .

As a minor digression, do you sometimes go back and read some stuff you've written earlier and absolutely cringe at how badly you've written. And then cringe some more that you thought it was a epitome of awesome writing at the time of writing it? It happens a lot to me. And these two posts are definitely prime examples of this happening. I couldn't bear to read these two posts in their entirety.

Anyway, coming to the crux of this post, we're doing the Techno Trip again!!

This idea came in when I was visiting Delhi over my birthday in August. Sitting together at R's place PS, R and I decided that we HAVE to do another trip in which all of us from the original Techno trip will go on one more trip. Now i'll be frank with you, i wasn't expecting this plan to go anywhere. Getting 5-6 people from across the country to come together, get leaves and generally take a break from their lives is a bit difficult. But the desire to relive the DCE trip days was too strong to resist. In just over a month the dream is being realised!

Ok so the plan post all iterations (which included Mumbai, Murud, Jazeera, Kashid, Coorg, Ooty, Goa and even Singapore) is that we meet at the Delhi airport tonight and drive to Kasauli (350 odd kilometers from Delhi) ( )and vacation there till Saturday after which we go back to our dreary lives with some more glorious memories.

Its been so long that the entire gang has been together without any timelines or other engagements that it seems a bit unreal that this plan is actually going through.

I wouldn't like to raise your hopes, but there is some talk about making this an annual affair. I shall update you as more details trickle in...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Singapore F1-shef1 Bah!

So everyone I know AND their aunt were at the Singapore F1 on Sunday. Don't get me wrong, I'm still not an F1 fan but come on! Everyone has their own vantage point photos on facebook and orkut. Cheezy Indian faces plastered with maniacal grins pasted on a backdrop of lit up streets, whizzing F1 cars, Singaporean girls and even crashed cars.

To top it all a classmate from Mount St. Mary's, the school I was at before I joined DPS was actually a race official volunteer there. So his facebook is full of pre-race post-race pictures as well.

And another person I know flew to Singapore just to attend this race.COME ON!

Am I the only one who can't afford to be at the hottest action points in the world? My glory day was when I went to the opening ceremony of the Indian Premier League in Bangalore. Somehow that just doesn't have the pizzazz and glamour of the Singapore F1

I want to go to such events too...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ramblings of a Crabby Mind...

I'm in a very crabby mood this morning. For the second weekend running tennis has not happened (I did go last Sunday, but the game was really bad with H having forgotten everything he'd learnt because of a hiatus when I was in Delhi).

So this post is going to be very very rambling. I'm also chatting with my former boss while writing this so paragraphs may not necessarily link up together with the smooth fluidity that discerning readers of this blog are used to. So in case you have problems with this, move your eyeballs elsewhere. So there! hmmpff

So eventhough I slept at 2:30 am after a DCE friend's birthday party and then going to his house to chat up after dinner.(Good fun, by the way). But what I want to bring to light here, mi lord, is that inspite of this I woke up at 5:30, then 6:00 am hoping for one of the people who had promised to come this morning to call up. But no one called. Must've been recovering from some innane party the night before. No commitment to the cause of tennis, I tell you.

So I have decided that I need newer people to infect with my tennis in the morning virus. And the demographic profile of the people I'm looking for are absolute social outcasts. People who spend their Friday and Saturday nights curled up infront of the TV with a big bag of chips. Those who're not invited to any party - especially not any party with any kind of alcohol or the option of staying over. And those to whose meticulously planned parties, no one shows up.

People with big cars and an interest in driving early in the morning would have a distinct advantage in getting considered.

Ok, crabbiness finished, I really wanted to write about these home parties i've been going to a lot. I never thought that going to colleagues' home parties would ever be fun but it was a mistake. It is AWESOME fun. Everyone has facets which you never really see at all in office. For instance AS, a colleague, is an absolute gaming freak. And he's set up his den in such an awesome fashion. He has a computer dedicated entirely to enhancing the gaming experience.

Consider this - a very powerful processor with the latest (at any point in time) video card. 17 inch tft flatscreen monitor (This is the best size for gaming. Apparently any bigger than this and you'd have to move your head around too much while playing!). A surround sound system in which you can hear the bullets whistling behind you or to the side. So essentially a spatial surround sound. And the most comfortable gaming chair. Its a regular office chair, but its so ergonomically designed that you can sit on it for hours and hours. In fact this Friday I was there at his place for a party. Unfortunately I did not follow the Indian Standard Time and ended up very early for it. After pottering around and being in the way of the hosts I was firmly put in that chair with Far Cry ( ) and Chronicles of Riddick ( ) playing. And the experience was awesome. I was glued to the game for two hours and refused to join the party till I had killed Rust (A character in the Riddick game)

That reminds me, I have to go to his house and pick up the two games today. And then, ladies and gentlemen, my crabbiness would be completley gone as I let the violent streak within me attack and vapourize the villains in both the games.


Update 1: I got my favourite ring tone of all time, the Top Gun anthem ( ) on my new super cool phone.
Crabbiness factor : -5

Update 2: The ringtone is so low that I wasn't able to hear a call coming in. More work is required on the ringtone.

Crabbiness factor : +10

Net Crabbiness : +5 :(

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Zodiac Buying Behaviour...

Apparently a person's sunsign determines how he or she buys stuff. Like most people I did not give any credence to this sun sign stuff. But the proof is irrefutable!

Consider this, I am a Virgo. Apparently Virgos "know what they want and are not satisfied with anything less or different than that." Now in normal circumstances I scoff at this. I have absolutely no clue about what I want from life. What is that one driving force that would motivate me relentlessly.

But the evidence? Atleast in terms of buying stuff is amazing as was pointed out to me by a friend who doesn't really know me for too long.

Most of the purchases I make, the process for deciding on the product takes way way longer than the buying actual buying process. In fact once I've made up my mind to buy some specific thing I have this huge urge, and absolutely childlike craving to get the thing...NOW!

But I am also willing to wait and wait till I can get the exact same thing. Or till i'm able to afford that particular thing. In the meantime I do not even look at other things or even if I do, they don't really register in my psyche as potential alternatives to the initial decision.

Consider some cases in point.

My watch

I did my summer internship with the erstwhile KSA Technopak ( It was a project about a feasibility study for a couple of malls which the consultancy's clients wanted to set up in Mumbai. So for the 'extremely important and critical primary research' work (read grunt work that no actual employee of the organization wanted to do) D and I were packed off for two weeks to Mumbai.

(As an aside, this was going to be my first trip paid for by someone other than my parents. I was quite excited about it even though we only got train tickets and not air tickets. Unfortunately a day before the trip I crashed my car in a highly stupid way into a divider. Fortunately I wasn't going too fast and I managed to get away without too much damage. Also, I wasn't wearing a seat belt at that time. So all those people reading this blog - WEAR SEATBELTS AND HELMETS. Its just such a stupid way to get injured. Anyway inspite of this I did go to Mumbai the next day)

The work we were doing included visiting a large number of malls and speaking to shop owners, mall managers, customers etc etc. Obviously it was a very plum assignment as compared to most of my batchmates who were researching parts of rural India or even if they were in cities, were doing unglamourous stuff. (Ours wasn't really glamorous but it could be made to sound extemely glamorous - which is what I did while talking to batchmates upon returning :). Oh, and this was improved even further as a batchmate saw D and I having ice cream while strolling along marine lines while he was travelling in a bus. This obviously meant that the image about my project was - he gets to go to Mumbai, cavort around in malls and other air conditioned places while we struggled in hot, semi-rural places. AND he gets to go there with a pretty girl as well! God is not fair. Needless to say I got a lot of dagger eyed stares when I returned to campus (snigger).)

Right, so coming back to the story, I came across this watch in one of my related mall visits.

I just fell in love with the watch. It was awesome to look at, very sporty and had an angled display. Ohh it was just what I wanted. I went back to see it 3-4 times more. It was 3500 rupees. Way way more than I could afford at that time.

I was so sad to leave the watch behind that I actually took down the number of the model of the watch. I carried it in my wallet for a few months before Titan came up with an exchange offer of giving your old watch and getting a 25% discount on their fast track watches. The day I saw the offer, the very next day I went and bought this watch. Completely emptying out whatever I had saved out of the stipend I got during summers.

I still use the watch and am still as in love with it as I was the day I saw it first (er...this doesn't sound too psychotic, does it?). Since then I can afford watches which are much more expensive and are amazing to look at but I just don't feel the urge to buy it the way I felt with this!

Virgo buying behaviour.

The Car

My love for the Palio I have is well documented ( ). I saw the Palio for the first time in 2001 and decided than and there that I had to have it. When I finally put together enough money to buy a Palio, Fiat went and changed the car. They changed the headlights and reduced the power. AND I HATED them for doing it. I just had to have the old model only. I took a used car, but I took the one I wanted forfeiting a better model, or a new car, or even some other car more suited to psychotic driving of Bangalore.

Again the Virgo buying behaviour!

And the latest to join this league is my new phone!

Yes, yes, I bought a new phone over the weekend. Eventhough I didn't take too long to decide on the model, I got that urge to own very very strongly. I slept fitfully one day after dragging my poor flatmate PS half way across the city looking for the phone. The next day I got up bright and early and went through 5-6 shops.(I've become quite lazy about taking out my car and driving across Bangalore on weekends but for this I went for it crazily. So from decision to buying a fairly expensive thing took me about 17 hours!!

Oh, the phone is a Sony Ericsson G700 ( ), very cool phone. I'm broke now, but happy - true Virgo fashion !

Sunday, September 7, 2008

That Silly Little Feeling...

Sometimes when you think you're being extremely smart you end up doing something that is guaranteed to give you a red face for a long time to come whenever you think about it.

Now generally I don't reveal embarrasing things to people who I know would take my case for a very VERY long time. But I guess you're all my friends and wouldn't make fun of me, right? RIGHT? (Damn it, atleast say that you wouldn't)

Now I usually don't buy stuff from vendors on red lights, except maybe its one of those packs of really cheap ear buds (pause. Did the world at large really need to know about my personal hygiene related stuff? I guess not, but now i've typed it so I'm not going to bother deleting it), but today some circumstances occured that I made a transaction there.

I was returning after meeting TDV near Forum mall and as I took the turn and got stuck at a red light I happened to glance at my phone beeping merrily away indicating that the battery was all but over. Now as you know my phone is anyway on its last legs and I couldn't afford to risk the battery hitting zero. Who knows it may just not come back to life at all. Desperately I was cursing myself,

a. For not charging the phone properly
b. For being a cheapskate and not having the in-car charging device

Now apart from the very real threat of the phone conking, I was also expecting a very important message (It didn't come, sigh. No details available for you nosey people). Caught between these two problems I was looking desperately around, and there infront of me, like an angel from heaven, materialized a vendor with the answer to all my peoblems. A revival of hopes was had. And secretly superstitious thoughts of the destiny-is-on-my-side-I-should-take-the-shot came storming into my head (again related to the-expected-but-never-came-message. No details for you nosey people, again). This guy was selling a in-car cellphone charging device with 5 different heads to fit into a multitude of cell phones.

Perfect, oh ye holy angel, I read your message clearly. It is but a clear green signal.

But then my smartness kicked in.

Now i'm a terrible bargainer. I mean not an indifferent bargainer. A TERRIBLE bargainer. Shopkeepers have been known to mark up the price as soon as they see my face. Me strolling into a market is occasion to let loose firworks and light the shops akin to diwali in many marketplaces.

But here I thought I could try my hand. After all I was getting heavenly sign after sign that today was going to be a lucky day.

So I called the guy and sitting there at the red light I negotiated to beat all negotiators in the world. I mean, all those hostage negotiators talking to terrorists and kidnappers the world over would have nothing on me after this day. In fact I should probably be giving them Negotiation 101 seminars after work. I actually got the guy to sell the device to me at my first quoted price. Oh, I was so proud!!

Except one small thing.

None of the 5 heads on the device fits into my cell phone.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Water is the Enemy...

I have realized that water is the biggest aggressive enemy I have. Some of you may remember the post when I dived headfirst into a swirling rain water drain ( ). But what the water Gods have been doing to me over the last few days has been terrible, just absolutely terrible. And eventhough I try to maintain a cheerful view to life, sometimes its just not possible.

14th August, that wonderful day when I was supposed to land in Delhi, get picked up from the airport by PS and R, proceed to a rollicking party in Gurgaon, is when my tale begins. Its not for the fainthearted so read on at your risk. The only thing I can guarantee is that not a single eye would remain dry on reading about my plight.

I joyous Swapnil took the flight from Bangalore airport (incidently, the new airport is phenomenal and I for one think that the long drive to reach it is worth it. It brings back some stateliness to flying again. In the middle I think flying was becoming more akin to boarding a bus with no happiness and romance left with it)

I landed in Delhi in the worst jam ever caused by, what else, torrential rains. After waiting for an hour for the luggage to come out I waded into a sea of people carrying huge amounts of luggage as well as ankle deep water. The water Gods then played another cheap trick with me. Now PS and R were stuck in traffic coming from Gurgaon and somewhere near the airport they took a U-turn and I was supposed to walk out or take an auto to reach their car. The rain Gods suddenly stopped the rains and gullible that I am I walked out. Almost immediately it started pouring like crazy and I ended up soaked to the skin sitting under a small tree with a raincoated policeman of Haryana police with a wicked looking gun waiting for the rain to stop. I waited and waited but the rain did not let up.

There was no chance of reaching R's car and so reluctantly we decided to cancel the party plan as there was no way they could've rejoined the wall of traffic oozing glacially towards the airport. By the end of the night they had been in bumper to bumper traffic for 4 and a half hours that night. It should ideally have taken 20-25 minutes to reach the airport from where R stays in Gurgaon.

My tale of misery was not over though as I waded through water to reach the nearest terminal where I had to request B and his wife to come pick me up at 12 at night and had to crash at their place. In the morning B, who was already under the weather a bit, fell quite ill and I felt quite guilty about contributing to it. The entire long weekend went in bed for the poor chap.

As if that was not enough water was still running its vendetta when I came back.

I reached back to Bangalore yesterday night at 1. It was raining quite heavily and though I avoided it by taking a taxi instead of a shuttle service, I should've known that I couln't avoid its wrath so easily. But I had no premonition and no clue that it was going to launch a sneaky guerilla attack at me!

It had rained so much over the last week in Bangalore that when I walked into the basement garage this morning all excited about going to work after a long vacation (yeah, right...) I found myself wading through ankle deep water.

But that wasn't even the beginning of my troubles.

As I opened the door and sat inside I realised that there was a rather peculiar smell in the car. The smell of stale, stagnant, dirty water. Over the past week water leaked into the carand pools of it were lying casually in my beautiful beautiful hard earned car. Apart from the smell and decidedly dreadful looks of the carpeting, the central locking, air-conditioning and most dangerously the brakes were shot.

Not a great start to my new year (It was my birthday yesterday. I had great fun in Delhi. Thank you :) )

Now, someone tell me how to apprease ze water Gods!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Countdown and awkward recognition...

Just a few more hours before I fly to Delhi :) And have I mentioned how much I love looking at Delhi at night from an aircraft? A splattering of jewels mysteriously arranged in concentric circles.

Awkward recognition:
I am at an office of my company where I don't have access to the doors (Standard security procedure of autolocking doors which open only with proximity cards granting access). So if you have to be in this office for a meeting or something you have to wait for someone to have pity on your plight and let you in. Similar thing happened to me today. I was waiting next to the glass door with a pitiful I-so-want-to-get-inside-and-start-working face (This, the i-am-so-interested-in-what-you're-saying face and the you're-right-I'll-start-working-on-this-immediately face form the triad of faces which are absolutely essential in working life) when I saw a figure approach. Instantly I increased the pleading look manifold and implored him to open the door with my eyes. The guy stopped, turned towards the door and opened it.

Till now everything was perfect. I was about to drop the pleading face, thank him and be on my way. But now comes the twist. He beamed at me and gave me a huge smile and a "Hello, Swapnil". And I stared back- absolutely no clue who this person was and why he was treating me like a long lost brother.

Stuck in a situation like this there are two ways to get out. One, be honest and stick out your hand and say "Hi, I'm really sorry but I can't seem to place you". Awkward and a bit embarrassing, but ok. Second is to beam back, say "Hi" and walk on. No one has a clue that the guy is totally unknown. The guy is happy you recognize him and he WILL open the door for you again.

But what approach did I take? I committed THE cardinal sin of door-opener-recognition-no-quid-pro-quo-recognition syndrome.

I squeaked out a Hi and then very VERY ostentatiously tried to read his name from his ID card. Terrible. There was no way I could have made it clearer that I didn't recognize him. And there was certainly no way I could have made the situation more awkward.

Sigh. Thats one person less who'd ever open the door for me here.

I better go practice my pleading face some more...

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Feluda stories...

I've recently been reading an anthology of Feluda's mystery stories. These are a set of whodunit type short stories set around 1960's to 1980's written by Satyajit Ray

A synopsis of the series:
Pradosh C. Mitter, nick named Felu-da (the 'da' comes from bengali for big brother - da), is a private detective based out of Calcutta in the 1960's. He, along with a faithful sidekick, his cousin Tapesh (Topshe) solve various crimes happening not just in Calcutta but even in exotic (ahem) foreign locations like Kathmandu in Nepal. The crimes range from standard murders to international espionage to smuggling of historical idols (in going with the 60's era where smuggling was the ultimate crime. Ah, the innocent days when people hadn't heard of heinous crimes like serial bombings, organized terrorism) etc.

They are primarily (and in my opinion too heavily) inspired by Sherlock Holmes. Now apart from the stories themselves what I find interesting about these stories is the extremely indian setting. For instance I may have read any number of mystery stories but till now I didn't come across any where the murderer takes advantage of a scheduled load shedding power cut to commit the crime! (For those living in countries where there is no power cut ever, load shedding is ). The description of bazaars, indian eating habits, Odomos while staking out in woods, superstitions, numerous complex family relations and little tongue-in-cheek snide remarks about westerners (What? They can call us the land of snake charmers and elephants and we can't make fun of their li'l idiosyncracies?). Interesting to read but a bit watered down for the children audience it aims at. Satyajit Ray specifically mentions that he wrote these stories to be published in a children's magazine called Sandesh ( consequently there is no violence, passion etc etc that is the hallmark of a mystery story going on to be a thriller. (Have I mentioned that lately I've found myself reading forewords of most books I read)

An interesting if not particularly arresting read. Though I am told by knowledgeable people that the original Bengali version is very very good and a lot is lost in translation (pun intended) to English

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Dilli approacheth...

As another friday approaches various thoughts come in one's mind.
- Will there be an earthquake tonight to prevent office from opening while everything settles down (pun intended) by the evening so that evening revelries can be dived into?
- how quickly would the bosses leave so us lesser mortals can quietly slink away?
- is it possible to fall sick in the morning tomorrow and be hale and hearty (again miraculously) by the evening?

But even more significantly this friday is the last one before I take a vacation back to Delhi.

Yes, Independence Day, Rakhi and my birthday shall be celebrated with gusto in Delhi.

Did I mention - YAY!!!

So this Friday is being kept completely empty dreaming dreams and planning plans of my trip to Delhi. This trip is going to be a bit different as I have to go to a relatives place outside delhi with mom. This could potentially be the boringest home vacation ever (A fact that has been making certain individuals "feel better" {scowls and shakes fist}).

So I better grit myself and plan the few days I have in Delhi to have obscene amounts of fun. So much fun that it should've been made illegal - too late now!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New Cell Phone...

My current cell phone is on the verge of collapse. Its software is hanging 2-3 times an hour and I'm missing important calls (Yes, those credit card calls ARE important).

I'm on the hunt for a new one - it has to be slim, cheap and simple. And yeah I don't like Nokia

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fear ...

I had thought that I wouldn't write anything about the serial blasts we had in Bangalore last Friday. (For those who don't watch tv, or read papers or don't talk to people - essentially those whose sole link to civilization is this blog - 8 low intensity blasts rocked Bangalore on Friday. Many of these explosions happened to be in areas which I frequent. In fact three explosions occured within a kilometre and a half from my house. To make it worse, Ahmedabad suffered a much longer much bloodier trail of bombings on the very next day). I felt that to write about them would give credence to the inhuman act they've committed and to show that yes, we're scared in Bangalore.

But today I realised something. The fear psychosis has actually set in.

I was working out of an office that is near one of the explosion sites and had someone from the online library i'm a member of coming over to collect a couple of books that I had read (seriously, if you're in Bangalore or Mumbai you too can become members of . All you have to do is click on the books you want on their website and they deliver it to you, and once you're through they also come to pick it up.).

Unfortunately the guy got confused and ended up across the road and some half a kilometre away from my office. So I decided I'd walk down to him and return the books. Casually walking without another thought I reached the spot. Suddenly, as I was waiting for him to cross the road, I realised that I was standing very close to the site of the explosion. And suddenly a sort of scary film dropped over my eyes. I'm not exaggerating. I realised that I was standing near a crowded bus stop with people moving around with bags and cases and any of them could be hatching a plot for a follow up explosion. I started looking around and thinking I should've just asked him to come to the office.

Then I was carrying the books in a paper bag which looked, from a distance, like a package containing something illegal. It was like a package which would resemble contraband/explosives for anyone grown up on a diet of bollywood.

Finally the guy crossed over and I took out the books and gave it to him, just to make sure everyone around knows that nothing untoward is happening. I had it in my mind to speak harshly to the guy because he's been losing his efficiency and I had to wait for books to be delivered and picked up this month. But I cut that short and quickly moved back and trotted to the office, breathing a sigh of relief as I entered the safety of the doors.

Yes, the fear has set in a bit. And it'll take a bit of time to casually walk through crowded areas where it all happened.

UPDATE: And we cocked a snook at the terrorists! Just came back from watching the Dark Knight at Forum mall. And the place was full. The spirit lives on!

No Photos...

OH my God! I have no photographs chronicling all my trips and parties and occasions and joys and sorrows!

I thought I'd upload a few pictures in my facebook account and started trawling through my laptop where I assumed I would have hordes and hordes of photos all the way from college to the last trip we took.

But I have none. I came up with two photos but I am on a mission to collect all pics from the past. After all I do want to show my grand children the fun things I've done in my life.

So R, RB, PS, AG and anyone else with any picture including me, in the same vicinity as me, with common memory (like the trips and parties) - YOU HAVE TO SEND THEM TO ME.
I shall be careful with them now and save them on the external hard drive.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Impromptu Parties...

The best kind!

All the carefully planned and meticulously arranged parties on one side, and a casual beer at a colleagues place that grows with people joining on the other side! Guess which one wins?

Late in office hours I had a tough meeting after a pretty heavy day and was feeling totally zapped and drained by the end of it. To add to it there were a number of action items against my name after the meeting and I was feeling quite low ( always seem to get me down somehow, dunno if its a common phenomenon :) ). Coming out of the meeting I just slapped a colleague on the back and without much hope told him, "Man, i'm out for the day. Lets go get a beer, huh?"

"Hmm, yeah I feel like one too. But I have a call in an hour."

"Aww, I could really use a pint"

"Well, lets go to my place. I'll take the call from there"

And that was a cool start to a really fun evening after work. We went to his place and had a pint and then he finished his call while I was wrapping up a bit of stuff I had to do. And suddenly the phone rings. Another colleague calls up - "Whats up?"

"Totally zapped, man. I'm at S's place. We're helping Mallya with his revenue growth a bit."

"Oh, cool. I want to contribute to this noble cause too. You want me to get something?"

A quick glance into the fridge - "No. We're good. Come quick"

Things started swinging as S's wife also came in from her office. They have a brilliant music system in the awesome den they've set up. We started of with rock and when H, the other chap joined in we played some softer music.

And suddenly it turned into a Old hindi song night!
Ancient songs were dug up and played. Absolutely amazing songs. "Ayega, ayega" to "Julie, I love you" to "Sanjh ki dulhan" and what not. It was amazing. The atmosphere was perfect.

All in all a perfect impromptu thursday night party. I love it!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

And the Bidding Starts at...

9 crores? Thats it?

So much effort and hundreds of crores go into holding general elections and then they short charge themselves over a pittance?

Is this why we've sent those MPs to parliament? First you don't have the decency to offer and take bribes for the trust vote with mutual trust, and then you charge embarrasingly small sums for a vote that has the entire country on stake. Where has the spirit of 'honesty amongst thieves' and 'equal pay for equal work' (or lack thereof for the absentees)gone?

Disgusting, they should atleast have charges 15 crores and then not displayed the wealth in that crude and cheap manner. I envision a giant glass truck filled with currency notes being pulled into the parking lot with a camera following the entire movement and projecting it in the well of the house. This would be done by BJP to show

a. They were bribed
b. The bribe was commensurate with their 'status'

What's terrible about this entire episode is that the pervading feeling in all the people i've spoken to today was "whew, doesn't matter what they did, Thank God they pulled through. Now we'll see some radical economic reforms"

Does it say a sad bit about reaching the goal and not caring what the means is? And that the economic issues are way more important than moral issues? Is this really the way we want to go?

Update: July 29, 2008.

I don't know why this joke didn't come out after the trust vote:

What did Manmohan Singh say after he won the confidence motion?
Singh is King!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Chef's, er, rather rambling curry...

A few days back a couple of friends and I (is that grammatically correct?) had gone for lunch to this quaint little place called La Casa. Essentially it serves good continental food and herein lies the irritation of the chef. But I guess i'm running away with the story a bit...

So walking into the restaurant we ran into the chef who took us under his wing for choosing a table for us. I guess the afternoon was a bit slow, or maybe he was a bit tipsy, or maybe he's just a normal friendly guy but he showed us around the restaurant asking us where we would like to sit. Then he took us to the bar and then beyond into the garden where an idyllic cove had been created between a bunch of trees and shrubs. A couple of garden benches and a hacked wood table made that corner into the "Drinker's Den" (in Akhil, the chef's parlance)

Unfortunately it was the afternoon and we couldn't really live up the expectations of the place, if you know what I mean. But Akhil came and joined us there with a smoke in hand and started talking about everything under the sun.

And what interesting tales!

He was born in Kenya. Grew up there, then went to study in UK where he got fascinated by the workings of McDonalds and decided to work with them. He had gone for some agricultural degree so obviously his parents and brothers and sisters were aghast. Against serious pressure he worked there for seven years before opening his own restaurant. Since then he's travelled to 12 countries vacationed in South Africa, gone on wild reserves in Botswana and what not.

Totally excellent to hear all his tales about the places, but importantly he's one guy who totally loves his work. He's managed hotels across the globes but talks about cooking as a form of art. And there's no gyan, he genuinely thinks that way. You can see it the way he talks about some dishes his chef prepared in Africa. And also his irritation for having to serve different cuisines when 'La Casa' means 'The Home' in Spanish, and hence should be serving only original spanish food.

All in all a fascinating experience. And sometimes you just come across some totally different people and its great talking to them.

Corollary: We stayed for 4 hours over lunch. Needless to say the lunch turned out to be one of the most expensive ones i've had - but it was worth it.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Aaargghh I'm a Morning person...

Recently I wrote about the fact that I got up at 5:45 once of my own volition ( ). Little was I to know that that was just the beginning of a steep slope of decline. The brat who turned over to peer hazily and grumpily at the distant cell phone clock at the hour of 8 or 9 even on work days was slowly yet surely being metamorphized into the psycho who wakes up clear eyed when even the sun hasn't completely broken its shackles from the inky darkness spreading towards the horizon.

I've been consistently getting up at 5, 5:30 maximum 6 am for the past week and a half. As a result, I come home from work, have a quick dinner, read a bit and then hit the sack by...gulp...9, 10 maximum 11 pm. Yes, this from me who used to warm up by midnight for a couple of hours of revelry. Its unbelievable but true. No alarm clock, deliberate attempts to stay up late and consequentially sleep till late have all proved absolutely useless. Whatever I do I wake up bright eyed way too early in the morning for any self respecting guy.

I don't know what to do? What's happening to me? someone, help.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Haath ko Aaya, Muh na Lagaya...

Hindi proverb (?) meaning the morsel was in the hand, but I wasn't able to taste it. Means that the opportunity was there but one wasn't able to take advantage of it.

SO on Friday while I was trying to shrink into my little corner cubicle to avoid any work that may delay the onset of the weekend from coming to me, I heard a chatter of excited yet depressed voices. Distraught actually, I should say. I muttered under my breath - "they have to get these crisises only on Fridays, aarghh" - and sunk even lower in my seat so that only the most careful observer would be able to see the little tuft of hair that still showed up above my cubicle wall.

And the mutter did it! I was praying continuously till then for the day to go off without incident. And the moment I stopped praying to mutter a voice sailed over the hubdub, "Swapnil?!", my boss called.

Grumbling minor to high level profanities in a stage whisper I sent out a non-committal grunt, "urngh?" hoping that my obvious lack of enthusiasm would discourage him from saying anything more. But the next few words he said had me grinning from ear to ear and all the way back as well.

"Can you go to Delhi for a couple of days?"

I almost cried. Andhe ko kya chahiye? Do aankhen. (What does a blind man want? Two eyes.)With tremendous restraint I squashed the urge to start crying and hug him, "Sure. When?"

"Today,another person was supposed to go but he's not able to make it. Take a day off on Monday and stay another day home if you want."

Oh, joy and glory beyond. Where are all those atheists that keep saying God doesn't exist. Bring them here - is this not a miracle? Its the single most important proof ever of the existence of God in the history of mankind.

Joyously I agreed to go. Within a minute I was trawling over the net searching for expensive air tickets (all expenses paid, remember? Plus I'd be saving money for the company because I wouldn't stay in a hotel there. Might as well travel with all basic necessities of life. 12 channels of tv and pretty stewardesses ARE basic necessities of life, damn it! Stop sniggering.)

Ok, so this was the haath mein aaya part. Now for the muh ne lagaya part.

10 minutes later when I was still debating whether I wanted an aisle seat or a window seat, or the centre seat (the probability of atleast one pretty lady next to you is twice that of window or aisle. Of course it gets a bit cramped but then I am willing to take some pain in my hunt for a soulmate) I was told that the guy who was originally supposed to go finally was going and I would not be required to travel after all. AARRGHH.

All my glorious plans of two blissful days in Delhi, without worrying about impending credit card bills were dashed and smashed to smithereens.

"Haath ko Aaaya, Muh na Lagaya"

Wimbledon opinion:
I really wanted Federer to win but no one can survive 52 unforced errors in a high pressure game like the finals. It was Fedex's brilliant serve (25 aces as against 6 from Nadal)that helped him cling on for so long or else it would've been a rout. But I still think Federer should've won. There is this sublime grace in his game which the rather mechanical and obsessive game of Nadal cannot replicate.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Fake Titles...

I was recently going through my contact list on Linkedin ( My Profile )and was struck by the innane and fake titles that exist. This has nothing on individual people but just the fact that most industries are using titles which essentially tell you nothing. There must be atleast 20-25 permutations of 'Consultants', another 10 odd analysts, 5-6 associates and for a network comprising primarily of engineers only 2 senior software engineers and one Senior Java Developer - titles that tell you something about what the person actually does on a day to day basis rather than just a bunch of words strung together to sound good and important to boost someone's ego.

This reminds of a chat I had with AD 2-3 years back. We were discussing designations and she said that growing up she thought the stupidest designation was a General Manager - What does it say? So you do nothing specific rather you just manage and that too just, you know, generally?

Naive that I was I scoffed at this and thought that she didn't know what she was talking about and that GM was a BIG post. But now I look back and can't stop a smirk. Do I really want to 'generally, you know, manage'?

And oh yeah, I am an Assistant Manager. So I help in, you know, managing...

Monday, June 30, 2008

"Monday Morning Blues" should be a legally allowed reason for taking leave from office like annual and sick leave.

Update: Comments on the new masthead are welcome - just don't use defamatory or abusive language.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Time for a New Masthead...

I'm bored of my blog's mast head picture. Much thanks and appreciation to SP for allowing the use of his Iced out road in Leh picture but I think the time has come for a new masthead picture.

But I can't make up my mind on what should the image be. A few things i'm clear about - it has to be a composite image, striking but may or may not have any meaning as such.

So here are two images I made today. I'll put up more too as I make them. I'm targetting Sunday to change the image.

Option 1:

Now this is a very fresh and happy mast. The tang of lime and life itself.Joy. Happiness. Passion. Innocence.Exuberance.

Option 2:

This more abstract. Mystique. Sinister(ness?). High. Hallucinogenic trip. Pagan rituals. Raves. Pschosis. The One.

So tell me which one I should go with? And suggest some more themes for my oh-so-awesome-imagination to work.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Interested in Everything, Committed to Nothing...

Interested in everything,
Committed to nothing

What a brilliant line. The author of Shantaram ( ), Gregory David Roberts was described this way by one of his former girlfriends. (About the book, read it. Its brilliantly written and very captivating. The fact that its based on a true story makes it that much more real, plausible and affecting)

This is the line that made me put down the book, lean back and think. Would this be the way in which someone would describe me? Is this the way I would, in a moment of pure honesty, describe myself?

Yes. Definitely. Any man can be described this way until there is that one one burning passion that engulfs him. And till now I haven't found it. In any sphere. I'm a good non-sore loser at sports, equinamous in professional life, not too concerned in personal life. All in all no real passion about anything. And without passion there can be no commitment.

And interested in everything - definitely again. Interest and excitement about new things and activities and people but with a very limited time period. One of my closest friends once told me that I get tremendously interested in a person and then without any discernable reason I have the capacity to go totally cold and formal leaving the person completely bewildered at this change. I started noticing this after he pointed it out to me and he's absolutely correct. I keep doing this. Same is with a particular activity.

Thats why its weird that my blog still exists after an year in operation.Is this giving an idea about that burning passion I'm looking around for?

Friday, June 13, 2008

Morning Tales...

Something's wrong with me. I got up this morning at 5:45 without an alarm clock. It gave me an opportunity to verify what people over the years have told me about getting up at 6.

Rosy sky - check
Gentle breeze - check
Wafts of fragrant wind - check
Totally refreshed and cheery person - do NOT check

I am not refreshed, and I'm certainly not cheery. Nada. Not by a long shot. Can I please go back to sleeping effortlessly through 6 am...and 7 am ... maybe even 8?

And to top it all my car music cds have gone with RBs car to Delhi. So I borrowed a couple from my residual roommate (snigger if he reads this he's going to kill me - this makes him sound like something leftover which is not true). Surprisingly even after staying with him for so long I did not realise how poles apart our music tastes are. So this morning I came listening to Backstreet Boys, Boyzone, Spice Girls and before I slammed my music system off, Jennifer Lopez crooning to 'Waitin' for Tonight' AAARGGHHH

Raise your hands all those who think I need a new flatmate!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Of Court Battles...

No, no don't worry, I don't need a lawyer...yet!

The court I refer to is a tennis court (aarrghh what does this guy think he is, Roger Federer. Every second post has an element of tennis. AAARGHH...ok, so you've screamed and ranted - now can i go on with my post? right, thank you)

So anyway since my earlier tennis partner moved to the US I have infected two more people in my office with the tennis virus. Infact they've sort of exceeded me in enthusiasm for the sport with one of them buying a four thousand rupee racquet

(wait NO, its three thousand - or atleast thats what his wife believes. Apparently if he had told her the obscene amount of money he spent on what she believes is a 'passing phase' she would fry him in slow boiling oil. Which brings us to digression one:

Digression 1: Its crazy the way people follow curfews and budgets and no drinking and what not after they're married. I guess I have the advantage right now to laugh and sneer and make fun of this till I succumb. But till then I WILL laugh. Point a finger and laugh :) )

Anyway to cut a long, winding and mostly pointless story short we've started playing in the evening after office as well. Or atleast we play when we can win the only court in the office I go to. And there is this mean devious pair of people from finance department (why am I always at loggerheads with people who know the difference between debit and credit?) who seem to just manage to come minutes before us and occupy the court while, what else?, laughing deviously. These finance people, I tell you, they have no work. Grumble grumble, occupy the court at 5:45 grumble grumble - sack the lot!

Why can't we play doubles with them you ask? Well thats because those guys play really really well.

I don't mind losing to a better player, but getting sniggered at? No way.

So we finally had our revenge today when we managed to get to the court before them. H and I were at 5-0 in our last set and we were just about to close up for the day when these two guys came in. But we relentlessly stood our ground and kept on playing. We played game after game with their exasperation growing every minute as they ran out of elaborate stretching exercises to do. Finally they had to face the final dishonour - they asked us to play doubles and we refused...and played another couple of games!

Ah, bliss. Small joys that hold my life together and give it that zest.

I shall sleep with a satisfied smile (er..smirk) on my face tonight!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Addicted to Heroes...

And I used to laugh at people obsessing over Desperate Housewives and other such addictive serials!

Yes, I’m an addict.

In the last two days I have watched an entire season of Heroes. That means 23 episodes = 23 multiplied by 42 minutes = 16.1 hours of Heroes . in . 27 . hours.

Late last week, I think on Thursday, a colleague at work told me about her complete addiction to House MD ( ) and Heroes ( My ears perked up at the mention of House MD. It’s a very sarcastic, dry, biting humor serial and I love watching it myself, though not to the level of unhealthy obsession. Now this lady was taking House and Heroes name with the same drooling awe. Interesting. I had been told about Heroes by DU as well but it was a long time ago and I had primarily scoffed when she tried to explain to me how a series about people having genetic mutations leading to amazing powers like telekinesis, invulnerability etc could be interesting for full grown adults (Unless of course they're X-Men – who are extremely slick and cool).

So despite such misgivings, I started on the first episode on Sunday evening. I wasn’t feeling too well and thought that I’d watch a bit of it, laugh at what silly things people watch, make fun of the writers of the series and then go to sleep.

Instead, bleary eyed and full of curiousity I gently moved my eyes towards the clock to see the hands pointing to 3 am. I had watched the first episode, second, third…sixth episode straight on the trot and was cursing that the next day is Monday and I need to go to office.

I woke up with a delighted grin in the morning when I realized that my illness had increased over the fitful sleep I had that night (I’ve been told that screams of ‘I can fly!’ ‘Meester Eesaaac!’ ‘ Save the cheerleader, save the world!’ were emanating from my room.) and I was in no position to go to work (On a totally unrelated note – what do you think of fevers that rise in the morning and disappear in 3 hours normally on work days? Are they actually psychologically generated? Totally unrelated to the main post this ,by the way)

So I curled up in bed after adjusting the speakers and the laptop screen for optimum viewing pleasure, and disappeared for 10 hours at a stretch. The only time I’ve ever done anything for 10 hours without a semblance of movement was when I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on the day it was released (Sigh, that was an awesome series and I’m so sad that its over.). Then I got up to get the pizza I’d ordered from the door. Without wasting any time or energy I took the pizza to my bed and settled down again to watch more episodes. The way they end each episode – crazy. You just HAVE to see the next one.

Still I wasn’t able to finish the series on Monday. I mean I’m not in college where I can bunk complete days of classes when I got my hands on an interesting book (Sigh, again those were the days.). I’m a responsible professional who has things to do and objectives to achieve. The commitment and drive towards my work takes me to heights of joy at work everyday.

All day long I was staring at the clock; waiting, waiting for it to show six pm. I was staring at it so hard that I almost did what Hiro Nakamura does in Heroes – bend space time continuum to teleport himself. And FINALLY it was six. I raced back home, drove like a maniac. Brilliant that I am I hadn’t shut down my laptop thus saving 2 valuable minutes before starting on the Heroes spree again.

With a sigh I was able to finish the 23rd and final episode (How to stop an exploding man) before dinner.

Totally excellent series. A must watch. And don’t listen to people who scoff at these powers. I swear I was staring at a pen on my desk and it rolled an inch towards my hand!

Telekinetic I am, YAY!!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Season of Farewells...

Its that time of the year again when I write a slightly melancholy post about people leaving Bangalore.

When I was hunting for a job in 2006 one of the criteria I was looking for was to try to move to Bangalore. I had heard so much about the place and the entire area was positively teeming with people I know. At that time PS had been living here and was pushing me to come here so we could become flatmates and then have a great time exploring all the pubs in the city, bike rides to nearby areas (That didn't quite culminate. Except one halfway to Shivasamudram [ I think it was this place, I seem to have forgotten.] Even though this trip was cut short half way - er because we forgot to do any research and realised halfway through that the bloody place was 160 km away and not 80 as we'd thought), house parties at the legendary 294 (AKs house).

I duly came to Bangalore and since then I've done all those things and have had an absolutely great time. Add to it the arrival of RB an year and a half back. Now RB and I were more like acquaintences in DCE but ever since he came here we became pretty good friends. Add to it the fact that he loves to drive and is a teetotaller put him in the league of best friend ever :). We went on a huge number of trips though I don't really remember the first one we went on. But quite a few memorable ones - Chennai-Pondicherry, Goa 1 & 2, Yercaud 1& 2, bheemeshwari etc etc. But this isn't about those trips.

RB is leaving on the 4th for Delhi where he's taking up a new job. So thats the first farewell thats coming up.

I will not make this a sad scrapbook type post because I have been warned against that by one of the few people who reads this blog.

The second is my ex-boss at work. I don't write about my work on this blog but it was really good to work with him. We became pretty good friends, played tennis together and hung out quite a bit. He's going to the US tomorrow morning and though we had a very boisterous farewell party for him I would definitely miss working with him.

So there you are two more people are leaving Bangalore in the near future. And it does make me think a bit.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Writer's block 2...

So I open this blogger window and stare at the screen with a glassy stare. Screwing up my eyes I tentatively press a few keys but have to give up with a grimace.


I've suffered from writer's block in my year of blogging before but am still just as far away from the solution as I was then. Do I press a random set of keys to just get over the inertia? Do I open a news website and try to generate opinions about any article? (Incidently I did open and scanned through the site.

Between the Jaipur terror related stories, IPL stories, US election stories and Indian political parties blaming each other for everything under the sun there are a few links to popular articles. So in all these earthshaking headline events which ones have generated the most traffic? "Top sex mishaps revealed!". Yes, this is the most viewed article of the day. And yes, people have also decided that this important article needs to be sent to as many people as possible and so is also the most emailed article of the day. Go figure! [And no I haven't read it. Oh, who am I kidding? I'm also going to read it after I finish this post]), Do I ask around for topics and then try to write witty insightful post?

All this is just way too much effort. There are days when I sit infront of the laptop for 10 minutes and I have a brilliant sparkling witty insightful awesome post (FINE, maybe not all of them together but you're here to read so i'm assuming you like what you see here). Effortless.

And then there are days like today where i'm struggling to find ideas. I contemplated writing about all the night haunts that I go to since college - In Delhi: Greenpark Barista - no money to actually buy anything, Transport nagar - paranthe, Jawaharlal Nehru University - Tefla's cold cofee, Tanku's and Laxman's - paranthe wale infront of IIFT, comesum - desperate with hunger;

In Bangalore: Nandi hills, Royal Orchid midnight buffet.

And then I started thinking that no, it won't be funny enough, people won't read it, would not link to it. Fortunately I snapped out of it. I reminded myself that I write, paint, read for myself. Not to show people (reading comes in because some people read so they can discuss intellectual sounding books. Oh, oh and this reminds me of a guy I knew.

Start digression 1:

{As you all know the coming of the next batch is very high point on a single guys minds in B-school. A new batch means good looking girls who are naive and don't really know what a slacker idiot you actually are. Thus giving you a chance to ensnare them in your web of deceit and date them. Also there are all these late night meetings to integrate the two batches together. Sort of like socials or minor ragging sessions. So the guy I knew used to wake up in the afternoon (slacker - remember?)and start learning songs. Every evening he would shave, take a shower and then go to these socials

Start Sub-digression:

Ironically called Personality Development Program (PDP)- whoever came up with this name must've been an A-grade hypocritical moron. Just call it ragging. Atleast everyone knows where they stand. Incidently these sessions were supposed to 'help' the junior batch deal with the 'fast paced and frentic' lifestyles they were to lead at the Business school. These were supposed to help you learn how to stay up all night and still manage to go to class the next day.

I never slept before sunrise in my entire final semester of engineering. I could probably teach the seniors a thing or two about staying awake at night!).

Stop Sub-digression

He would sing the song he had learnt in the afternoon to serenade any girl who would show the slightest bit of interest. Unfortunately for the sane people in the batch this lame ploy actually worked and since then a number of people could be seen walking around the hostel corridors muttering "Sweet child o'mine o o o ooooo sweet child o'mine..." under their breath! So my point is that people even sing for other people.

Stop Digression 1.

I really empathize with journalists now. What do they do when struck by writer's block with a deadline fast approaching?