Monday, November 21, 2011


He ran a loving hand over his stubble, contemplating his time-honoured rule: no shaving on vacations and weekends. Social events were no exception.

And yet, there was a chance he might meet her. In fact, on second thought, it was highly likely that she would be there.

She of the flawless skin, that heavenly hair, that cute little nose and that incredible smile that lit up her luminous eyes.

She of the litling voice, that magical laugh, that soft touch.

She, who five years ago had achingly sweetly yet completely unjustifiably made it clear that there was no possibility of their having a future together. Not the kind of future he wanted, that is.

He steeled himself. He had moved on, found adventure, happiness, fulfilment in life. Dived the world's deepest oceans and climbed its tallest peaks. Found new purpose, new focus, new belief. He hadn't even thought of her for months.

And yet, here he was. Playing with his facial hair like an idiot and thinking about her.

Deep breath. Screw it. No shave. He lingered over his hair, combing and recombing it into submission.

He strode into the ballroom, hoping she was there but praying she wasn't.

All was well, he told himself. Not that it wouldn't have been if he had found her there, of course. He was over her. Completely, utterly, totally.

And, suddenly, there she was. A vision in pink, walking to him from across the room. The skin, the hair, the nose, the smile, the voice, the laugh, all exactly as they had been five years ago.


Saturday, July 02, 2011

What is the world coming to?

I'm sitting in the verandah at my grandmother's house, immersed in my laptop as I try to get some work done. Coffee on my right, music in my ears, smartphone on my left.

The neighbour's kids drop by, inquisitively checking me out as young kids are wont to do. The boy is ten, the girl five.

We share a shy hello, wide smiles and not much more, given the language barrier (they speak Kannada, I don't).

The ice broken, they clamber around me. I humour them as I continue to work.

And that's when they see my mobile phone.

The ten year old boy: Haiyya, Blackberry!
He picks it up.
The five year old girl: Touchscreen?
The boy: No, silly! Normal phone
She looks disappointed, as though she expected better of me.
The boy, turning to me: Does this have Facebook?

Bloody hell. I'm not yet thirty, and I'm already beginning to feel like a dinosaur.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ek Main Aur Ek Tu

I was recently talking to a friend who was convinced she had found someone who was 'The One' for her.

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[Enter lazy, cliched Matrix pun here]

I see this concept of 'The One' in popular culture as a highly Western concept. Made super-ironic by the fact that so many people there who remarry in the course of their lifetimes. I guess it's not so much 'The One' as 'The One at the Moment, until a better One comes along.'

Anyway, as she was going on about her One and their plan for a lifetime of happiness, love and general into-the-sunsetness, I couldn't help but think about my Ones.

To be honest, there have been very few women in my life I've genuinely believed had the potential to someday be considered as a candidate for being 'The One' in a janam-janam-ka-saathi sense. But each relationship, near-relationship, friendship or worship-from-afar carries its learnings and residual emotions, and it isn't hard to characterise some of them as one wallows in memories of happier times.

So, as I was thinking about some of my Ones, I realised it's actually a fairly long and distinct list of perceptions and memories.

  • The First One
  • The One That Got Away
  • The One I Really Really Liked But Realistically Knew I Never Had A Shot With; Then Got a Shot With Which I Cringe-inducingly Muffed
  • The One I Got Drunk And Freaky With, And Who Was Thankfully Cool About It
  • The One That Was An Experiment
  • The One That I Never Dreamed Would Happen
  • The One I Should Never Ever Have Let Go Of (You Bloody Idiot You)
  • The One I Wish I Had Handled Better
  • The One My Closest Friends Thought Was Psycho (she wasn't)
  • The One Who Was Just a Little Psycho (Yes, I know that's rich coming from me)
  • The One That Still Causes Me Emotional Turmoil Although She Has No Idea She Does
  • The One Whose Sunlit Perfection I Basked In But Never Had The Guts To Woo
  • The Thunderbolt One
  • The One Who Will Always Be The One

  • Next hop, skip, jump thought in my stream of consciousness: will I ever find my One? Ha. Ha ha. No. Largely because I believe in neither the concept at a fundamental level, nor the likelihood of my being that deeply emotionally committed for long enough without my inherent cynicism about the human race and the nature of human relationships kicking in and making a complete mess of everything, casting me into the usual cyclical black hole of anger, distrust, self-destruction and isolational misanthropy. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    Some weddings aren't worth the weight

    I have three TamBrahm friends getting married in the near future. All male. And all of them have planned, in addition to the usual wedding preparations, to tone up so as to not embarass themselves when in half-naked glory on D-Day.

    Without further ado, then, here is my latest bit of extremely scientific analysis:

    The Tam Brahm Gym Cycle

    Tuesday, March 08, 2011

    Emotional Atyachaar

    (Note: features some literal translation from Tamil)

    On a visit home recently...

    Aged Relative (AR): Vaada, va. How are you? Are you eating properly?
    Me: Yes, don't worry, I'm eating properly
    AR: How is work?
    Me: Yes, yes. Work is going. How are you? Are you without ailment?
    AR: Something, I exist. When are you going to get married?
    Me (sighing): We'll see, paati, there's time
    AR: What, pa. Simply don't keep saying this. Age has happened, you should get married.
    Me: What, paati... where has age happened...
    AR: You must. Only if you get married now, two years from now can have a child-small, before you are thirty
    Me: Child-small-a! Little too much, no? Let the marriage happen first
    AR: Listen to what I'm saying, da. I am alive only to see you get married and settled with a nice girl
    Me (seeing the loophole and swooping in to win the argument): Aha! If you are with life only for that... I don't want you to die, so I shouldn't get married!
    AR: Ada poda... In comparison to living unhappy, dying happy is so much better!
    Me (flummoxed): ... (retire at a loss for words)

    Sunday, January 09, 2011

    Lyrical Fortress

    Renowned Bollywood lyricist Sameer staggered through the vaulted archway of his study. He lunged for the nearest piece of furniture - a rather hideous chair with purple suede upholstery. Grabbing its arm, the fifty-year-old man heaved himself towards his desk, falling just short. The parquet floor shook. Far off, the last of his guest's cars gunned to life and was driven away. The lyricist lay a moment, gasping for breath, taking stock. I am still coherent. He crawled towards the desk and raised himself up. A voice spoke, chillingly, in his head. "Do not move any further. It isn't worth it." On his hands and knees, he paused, shaking his head slowly. Only fifteen feet away, outside the door, the mountainous silhouette of his grandfather clock rose. It struck deep, ponderous notes. Four a.m.

    "You don't have to do it. It's only words." Words. In an instant, the lyricist grasped the true horror of the situation. If I pass out, the idea will be lost forever. Instinctively, he reached for a pen.

    His mind, under the influence of an evening's worth of whiskey, protested and he felt a searing heat as he was wracked by a massive headache. He fell forward... struggling against the rising blackness. Sameer closed his eyes, his thoughts a swirling tempest of discomfort and regret.

    I must pass on the message. Staggering to his feet, he pictured the conversation he has had a short while ago with his friend and thought of all those whose careers had been affected like him... and in parallel of the job that he had been entrusted with. A chain between the two formed in his mind.

    Suddenly, now, he knew this was the way to get his point across. Swaying, he gripped the pen.

    I must tell the world....

    One year later

    A relatively unknown management consultant stepped out of his house to buy some groceries. He shivered in the cold evening breeze, and drew his jacket tighter around him.

    Although not overly handsome in a classical sense, the twenty seven year old had what his female colleagues referred to as an ‘absolute lack of any sort of’ appeal — wisp of gray in his thick black hair, bloodshot eyes, an annoyingly deep voice, and the strong, carefree smile of someone who was down three vodka shots.

    He was trying to make a thorny decision between multigrain bread and brown bread, when the sound of the radio in the store cut into his thoughts. It was a song, something about a comely lass named Dhanno. He forced it out of his head, completed his shopping and returned home.

    As he lay in bed that night, the song came back to his mind suddenly, not unlike the manner in which the spicy food he had overindulged in earlier came back to trouble him. After a bit, he drifted off to sleep while it played in his mind, unbidden. With a start, he woke up. He sat up, wide-eyed and sweating profusely. "Oh my god!" he thought. "I see it now! The hidden message!"


    Ladies and gentlemen, I have cracked it. While the world might dismiss the song above as just another catchy song from a random movie, there is more to it than meets the eye. And the hidden message is so shocking, I have to italicise the fact. And the fact that it has been dressed up to sound like a typical Bollywood song just adds to the overall deviousness of the situation.

    Sameer, the lyricist, clearly sympathises with the international Finance/I-Banking community, and supports a return to the practice of possibly irrational sky-high bonuses.

    "WTF?" you ask. Hold on to your pants, take a seat and read on. This doesn't require any more suspension of disbelief than your average Farah Khan movie.

    Let's go through the lyrics.

    People on the floor, come and get some more, people on the floor...
    Take it away!

    Clearly, the 'floor' here refers to the trading floor, a common reference in the industry. The line, then, makes blatant sense - come on folks, get yourselves some more money! Even the interjection 'Take it away!' in the song serves to reinforce this point.

    O dhanno, o dhanno, o dhanno, dhanno hey

    Any fool, even I, can see that Dhanno is clearly a derivative of the word 'Dhan' (which, for my Hindi-challenged friends, means wealth). Which this song clearly celebrates.

    Main raaj dilon pe karti hoon, manjale hai dhanno naam mera
    (O dhanno, o dhanno, o dhanno, dhanno hey)
    Ye soch ke mushkil badh gayi hai jaane kya hoga hashar tera
    (O dhanno, o dhanno, o dhanno, dhanno hey)
    Mere noorani chehre se, na teri nazar hategi
    Na tere din guzarenge, na teri raat kategi, kategi, kategi

    Dhanno, the personification of wealth, clearly states (and rather cockily, if I may so) that she rules men's hearts, and goes on to sympathize with the bankers' hashar - the fact that they were very hard hit by the increased scrutiny (and subsequent temporary reduction) of their bonus payments. She further explains her irresistible attraction, pointing out that the greed for money (the 'noorani chehra' a reference to the glint of gold) haunts men day and night, affecting their ability to perform other life functions.

    "Meh, big deal," you might say. "A bit of a stretch, eh, guvnor?" you might say if you wanted to affect a fake English style. Patience. Look at what's next.

    Apni to jaise taise, thodi aise ya waise
    O apni to jaise taise, thodi aise ya waise kat jayegi
    Aapka kya hoga janaab-e-ali, aapka kya hoga

    Oh, Sameer, you clever clever man, you. To further mask the true message, the lyricist lifts this section from a popular song from the early 1980s, thereby ensuring the controversy about plagiarism and copyrights will distract attention from the lyrics and their underlying meaning. But he didn't think he'd have to contend with me.

    In this stanza, we hear the bankers responding, addressing the world at large. They say, in a blissfully carefree way, that they will somehow get away with it through hook or crook ('jaise taise', 'aise ya waise'). They compound this brazenness by mocking the rest of the world, feigning concern and asking them how they will survive in the return to the old world order.

    Apne aagey na peechay, na koi upar neechay rone wala
    Nai koi ronewali janaab-e-ali, aapka kya hoga

    The bankers emphasize that the benefits of the high-bonus regime will be shared by all, not just the top brass at the banks. Everyone around them ('aagey peechey') and at all levels of seniority ('upar neechay') will have no reason for sorrow as they will all gain. They end by once again asking, a smug smile on their lips, how the rest of the population plans to survive.

    At this point in the video (1:30), there are some gratuitous shots of assets (really, could they be less subtle?) and wads of cash being thrown about to further emphasize the point.

    I rest my case. The interpretation of the rest of this song's lyrics is left to the reader as an exercise.

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010

    I'm a twit

    So after months of fighting my inherent anti-technology and anti-social nature, I'm on Twitter. Though how I’ll adapt to 140 characters, I d

    Dammit, it’s going to be tough going for a verbose chap like me. I anticipate quite a challenge fitting everything I want to say and/or shar

    Ah, screw it. @arvindcac, for anyone who cares. (Is that how one uses the ‘@’?) #outofmydepth

    Sunday, December 05, 2010

    He's good!

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    (I have a lot of stuff I want to write about, but I'm feeling too lazy to do it. Silly strips are an easy cop out. Oh well.)