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 www.librarywala.com . 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 (er..work 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 ( http://swappinglives.blogspot.com/2008/06/morning-tales.html ). 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...