Friday, March 28, 2008

Work can be fun too!

I had the most fun time at work today. Strolled in to work around 11am, learnt that we were supposed to go for a farewell lunch for one of our colleagues. Didn't get much accomplished in the first half as everyone seemed to be in this unusually cheerful Friday mood. Black or green over denims was the order of the day.

We left for lunch around 12.30pm & headed for Phoenix Mills. At lunch, a colleague came up with the BRILLIANT idea of playing a game where we spin a pencil & everyone gets to ask a question to whoever the pencil points at on stopping. The first round was quite tame as no one knew how far to go & where to draw the line. But the subsequent rounds were hilarious, especially the questions aimed at certain people.

By the time we finished our lunch, three people were still remaining who hadn't been asked any questions so we decided to continue the game in office. We got back to office around 3pm but obviously, no one was in the mood to work. People were still laughing at the questions that had been asked during lunch. Come 5pm & we all headed for the conference room to complete the game (only if the same kind of enthusiasm could be seen when people head to the conference room for team meetings!)

My favorite question was one of the guys asking his reportee (who apparently messes up at work all the time): "How do you do it?". The reportee obviously didn't understand what the question meant & he went on to explain "I take it out...I put it where it should go in...and then there is circular motion and to & fro motion". We were about to fall off our chairs laughing. We just didn't know where to stop!

I haven't had so much fun at work in a very long time...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It's Pink!

I can't stay on your life support, there's a shortage in the switch
I can't stay on your morphine, cuz its making me itch
I tried to call the nurse again but she's being a little bitch
I think I'll get outta here, where I can
RUN....just as fast as I can
To the middle of nowhere
To the middle of my frustrated fears
And I swear you're just like a pill
Instead of makin' me better, you keep makin' me ill
You keep makin' me ill

Mumbai...You rock!!

Sometimes, the things we love the most are the things that tie us down. And no matter how much we love them, or how much they are a part of our lives, we must break away...if we want to explore what else the world has to offer, to test what all we're capable of!

Same goes for my relationship with the city of Bombay. Bombay...Mumbai...whatever you call it, the headiness remains the same. I absolutely LOVE the city. It's a city unparalleled in the world. Sure, there are many great cities in the world but Mumbai has a character that's it's own.

This city has given me a lot, just as it's taken a lot from me. But now I've come to the point where I must break the strings that tie me to it & move away. Much as I love Mumbai, it's weighing me down.

It's a beautiful love affair I have with Mumbai, and to preserve its beauty I must say goodbye to it....until I'm ready to embrace it again.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Oh! Calcutta

The city of joy
Of the Hooghly
Of Howrah Bridge
Of Victorial Memorial
Of St Paul's Cathedral
Of Durga Puja

Sunday, March 9, 2008

An ode to summer

Summer is here! You can feel it when you step out of the house in the afternoon. The warm breeze against your skin, the sun beating down on you. Thankfully, the humidity levels in Bombay are still low. The weather reminds me of my days growing up in Patna.

You came back home from school in the middle of the afternoon and headed straight for the refrigerator. The cool blast was a life saver! Then you dug in to get this big piece of cold juicy watermelon and sunk your teeth into it, with the juice dripping down your elbow and staining your uniform. But who cared? It was such a respite to be in the cool confines of your house after being in the hot sultry environment of the school bus! The splash of cold water on your face, gorging down cool cucumber salads and bowls of frozen yoghurt for lunch, the long refreshing naps under the whirling ceiling fan (or AC) before you headed out to play are all reminiscent of my childhood summers!

Summer is here and it's time again to dig out those shorts & dig into luscious juicy watermelons!

The post I didn't want to write

The SMSes have been pouring in since morning. "Thank you for being so special." "Thank you for doing all that you do." "Happy Women's Day." I get these messages on 8th March ever year. I read them, shrug my shoulders & go back to doing what I was doing.

It's no big deal for me to do all that I do. I don't need a pat on my back for it. I don't need a 'thank you' on one particular day every year. I'd rather that your actions speak for you. Every time you break my heart, think about me. Everytime you crib about the food not tasting good, be thankful that you have someone to cook for you. Everytime you take me for granted, think about all the ways I make life special for you.

When I come home late from work because I have the same kind of targets & deadlines to meet as you do, don't make a fuss about it. When I beat you to a promotion or get a higher increment than you, don't snigger. When faced with the same professional challenge, don't look down on me or doubt my capability...becasue I'm capable of doing all that you do & more, without needing a 'thank you' to motivate me.

If I ever place my career after yours, it will be because you gave me kids that needed looking after & you didn't have the time to look after them. Everytime you got ahead of me at work, it won't be because I'm less capable than you. It will be because I had to divide my attention between work & home without doing injustice to either, while you had a "me" at home to take care of all that is your's so you could focus entirely on work!

Sure, there are times when I curse the fact that I was born a woman. There are going to be many such times in the future as well. But at the end of the day, everyday, I'm grateful that I was born a woman.

I give you the strength to be what you are. I can excel at managing both my home & work while you need to be able to focus entirely on work to make an impact. I can endure more pain than you can. I am emotionally stronger than you are. I can take more blows in life without letting it erode my self-esteem. I can place your needs before mine and still feel fulfilled. I can emerge smiling from the toughest situations while you don't know how to handle one tear! I can see a hundred flaws in you & still make you feel like my hero.

But I never mention any of this because I know my worth and I don't need someone else to tell me what I am. I also know that though you choose not to show it, you are silently thankful that I exist. You are because I am and that's the biggest pat on the back anyone can ever give me.

So thank you for all the Women's Day wishes.

I accept humbly,
A woman

Friday, March 7, 2008

Transience of life

Read in the papers today that Patrick Swayze is battling pancreatic cancer & might not have much time to live. Some reports say he has 5 weeks at most, a claim that has been trashed by his publicist & the doctor treating him. We didn't hear of him for a long time. He kind of faded into oblivion, something that happens to almost all successful people at some point in their lives. Eventually, they all become has-been's.

Yet, it's hard to imagine the charming & suave actor from the all-time classic Dirty Dancing looking tired & haggard from chemotherapy. All of us who've seen Dirty Dancing love the movie for Patrick Swayze (apart from the awesome music). Even today he continues to be every girl's dancing delight. But a disease like cancer does not spare even the most beloved celebrities. Imagine how terrible & difficult these few days must be for the actor & his family, thinking about his imminent death all the time. I shudder to think of what they must be going through, the mental state he must be in.

It makes me realize how ephemeral life itself is, and we waste most of it complaining of what we don't have, what all is wrong in our lives etc. We never think of the things that we are blessed enough to have, things that ARE going right for us. UNTIL you hear of a person who's counting days to his end!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Singh is King

Talk about having the last laugh.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

We'll miss you, Gilli

This post is for a cricketer who retired from international cricket today. He played his last one day international against India today, a match his team lost.

Adam Gilchrist - a great wicketkeeper-batsman.

I've admired Gilchrist ever since the semi-final of the 2003 World Cup when Australia was playing Sri Lanka. Arvinda de Silva bowled to Gilchrist, the catch was taken by the wicketkeeper. Sri Lanka appealed for an 'Out'. The umpire, Rudi Koertzen, gave Gilchrist a 'Not Out'. However, Gilchrist walked. He stood by his principles and he walked. And since that day, I've been a fan!

I've never been one for stats, so I can't cite his many catches he took behind the wicket, how many stumpings does he have to his credit, how many runs he made as a batsman etc. All I know is that he was a great opening batsman, and belonging to a side that doesn't believe in leaving the crease until they see the umpire's raised finger, I think he did a brave and admirable thing by walking. We've never heard him involved in any controversies either. His heart has always been in the right place. He's always put his game before everything else.

We'll miss you, Gilli, for your game & the gentleman quality you brought to the game of cricket.

Sports, an equal opportunity employer

One of the reasons I love sports is because it gives people from relatively unprivileged backgrounds a chance to make it big in life. This is particularly true of games such as football and basketball, and closer home, cricket.

Let's start with football. Some of the greatest players world football produces come from deprived families. The one thing they have in common is tremendous talent & a burning desire to prove themselves. It is a well-known fact that most players from Brazil and Argentina belong to extremely poor families and have learned & honed their football playing skills on the streets. Despite flailing economies these countries produce some of the best football players in the world.

Same is the case with basketball in America. Most basketball players tend to be African-Americans who've grown up in American ghettos. Every ghetto has a basketball court and whenever you drive by one, you will see kids dribbling basketballs. A number of those kids go on to attend high school & subsequently, college on sports scholarships. The good ones go on to play for their college teams in the NCAA, and the best amongst those make it to the NBA! These kids from welfare families view basketball as an opportunity to escape the challenges of everyday existence & convert it into a means of doing well financially.

In countries such as India & Pakistan, cricket too is replete with players belonging to humble backgrounds who have come up on the basis of merit alone.

In sports, merit takes precedence over lineage or pedigree. You are as successful as your game is good, and for this reason sports continues to be one of those great things in the world we should all be thankful for.

Monday, March 3, 2008

This is how I remind me of what I really am

1. I can't cook to save my life. I'm a disaster in the kitchen. I can just about make tea, scrambled eggs, omlettes & Maggi! And no, I don't wish to learn how to cook either!

2. I am petrified of marriage & kids. I think anyone who knows me, knows this about me. The whole idea of committing to someone that you will spend your entire life with them scares the s#@% out of me! I mean, what do you do if you've had a nasty fight and you want your space? You can't run away from your own house, can you? Even
if you do, you'll have to come back there. It's like the "ab yahan se kahan jaayen hum" phenomenon from DDLJ! Scarier still are kids! Little things that eat, cry & poop the entire day and all you get to do is to feed them, pacify them & clean their crap! Literally. At the same time, when I'm with the person I love, these things gain sudden & inexplicable appeal. Contradiction..?

3. I am full of contradictions.

4. I am as unpredictable as the sea during the monsoons.

5. I am very impatient. ZERO patience.

6. I am not as focused & clear headed as I seem. I just like to project I am & I truly envy anyone who is!

7. Contrary to my image, I am neither a party animal nor a brat. This one's especially for all those people who don't know me, who've never spoken to me but have assumed I must be a rich daddy's girl who's got loads of daddy's cash to blow up partying, travelling by cab & shopping. So here's bursting the myth -I rarely party, and every single penny I spend travelling by cab or buying things I want is from my own hard-earned money.

8. I love style.

9. I like to look good. I'm not going to elaborate on this one :-)

10. I like wearing matching earrings.

11. I am a total "Value-for-Money" chick. I hate paying 250 bucs for a movie ticket. I hate restaurants that charge you a fortune but serve grossly unjustified quantities of food.

12. I love retro music. It's THE ULTIMATE 'pick-me-up' music for me. Works on me every time, irrespective of how low I'm feeling.

13. I am both romantic & cynical. I don't believe in a life without love. I don't believe in true love either.

14. I love space (both physical & metaphorical). I love open spaces. I guess staying in Bombay has taught me to appreciate open spaces. At the same time, space is absolutely essential to me in any relationship. I thrive on space.

15. Unlike most women, I love watching sports and can talk to guys about sports without sounding like a dumb blond.

16. Most of my friends are guys. I think guys are the more sorted of the two species. Sure, they bitch too but chances are you're less likely to be bitched about in a group of guys than girls. With guys, what you see is what you get. It's easy to figure out what they like (sex, sports, beer, porn, car etc.) and what they don't (shopping, cleaning the house etc). They aren't complicated creatures with a zillion permutations & combinations going on inside their heads. You leave them to do what they want, they'll stay out of your way!

17. My dreams are : to travel all over Europe & South America, write a book (that gets published), and adopt a child (preferably a girl).

18. I love to read. I buy all these hardcore "intellectual" books just because I think best-sellers are trash, even though the books I usually get around to finish tend to be best-sellers!

19. I'm a movie buff. Absolutely. I love to forget about my surroundings & my troubles in life and get transported to the world of the director. I will watch a movie in any language, irrespective of whether I understand the language.

20. I'm a bad swimmer. I'm scared of water.

21. I'm not scared of cockroaches. I just squash them when I see them.

22. I hate cats!

23. I lack initiative. I take time to get started on things but once I get going, I finish what I set out to do.

24. I will battle with weight my entire life. It's a war I've accepted I must fight forever.

25. I can't be at one place or doing the same thing for too long. I'm restless.

26. I get bored easily & this scares the s#*$ out of me!!

27. I'm an agnostic.

28. I'm fairly headstrong & fiercely independent.

29. I don't care much about what the world thinks of me. I do things that seem right to me and I'm willing to face the consequences. I also belive that we can't do the growing up for other people. Everyone's got to make their own mistakes & learn from them.

30. I've only recently figured out what I want to do with my life.

Life, the great leveller

I often hear people say that we should do good and be nice human beings because we'll have to pay for all the wrongs we've committed in our lives once we're dead. I've always wondered what makes people worry about what will happen to us after we're gone instead of worrying about what will happen to us now, in this life. Logic would suggest one would worry more about this life rather than the life after (for those who do believe there's life after death)!

I believe that we pay for our actions in this very life. In my case at least, retribution has been instant. Faster than you can say 'instant coffee'! Whenever I've hurt someone or broken someone's heart, I've gotten it back soon, as good as I gave. The account has always been balanced; I've never had any credit. That is how life keeps score. You lose as much as you gain, and in the end it all evens out. Life is the greatest leveller of all.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

P is for Passion

One of the things that I truly admire in people is passion. I don't mean passion towards a person. More like passion towards a sport, music, writing, making movies etc.

I knew a guy who could play the guitar really well. Music was his passion and he wanted to start his own band. I had faith in his capabilities. I believed he could be a guitarist of a successful band, if only he had the initiative to start one! Yes...unfortunately he lacked initiative.

Yesterday, I went to watch 'Michael Clayton' with a friend. While I was standing in queue to buy the tickets, I was approached by a twenty-something guy who handed me a flyer of the movie 'The Lives of Others', a German movie with English subtitles. I was quite keen on watching Michael Clayton but I didn't want to be rude to this guy by waiving him off either, so I asked him for the synopsis of the movie. He smiled & said "Mam, the synopsis is printed on the other side of the flyer but I'll tell you anyway." And he went on to tell me what the movie was about. I still wasn't too keen to watch the movie (as I had my mind set on the irresistably charming & suave Mr Clooney) so I non-chalantly asked: "Why're you handing out these flyers?". He smiled again & answered, "Because I don't have the money to promote the movie but it's a movie worth watching!" That was enough to make me walk away from Mr Clayton and go to another theater that was screening 'The Lives of Others' shortly. The guy also told me later that he worked for the company that was releasing the movie in India but that didn't matter. I was already sold out on the movie!

I never asked the guy's name, and I don't think he knows I went on to watch the movie he wanted me to watch. Neither do I think he ever will. But I admire his passion towards movies. In a day & age when most of us look for cushy corporate jobs that will help us afford the ridiculously priced multiplex tickets (among other things), it takes a lot of guts, and love for cinema, to work for a small company that doesn't have the financial resources to promote movies that are not only
off the mainstream but are in a language that the mainstream population doesn't even understand! My friend's comment "Here we go watching a freakin' documentary!" is quite descriptive of our attitude towards such movies.

I'm sure he tried pitching 'The Lives of Others' to many other people who had come to the theater to watch other better-known movies. And going by the number of people watching the movie, I don't think he had too much success. But it doesn't matter because while most of us spend our entire lives trying to figure out what we're really passionate about, he was one of the lucky few who know what they're passionate about, and are brave enough to pursue it without worrying about how "successful" they will be. Hats off to such people!

The Forbidden Fruit

It's funny how you have all the good looking men of the universe hitting on you when you're already seeing someone, and particularly when you're in a committed relationship. Without even batting an eyelid or thinking twice, you just smile and say "Thanks, but no thanks" because you're so much in love with the person you're seeing that you see no need to look beyond.

And when you're single, those men miraculaously vanish! Hardly any men ask you out and those who do have LOSER written in caps across their foreheads!

I don't understand this phenomenon. It's not like you go from zero to irresistably attractive as soon as you start seeing someone!

I remember reading a scientific explanation for this sometime back. It said something to the effect that when you're in a relationship, your body secretes these hormones that make you glow & make you more attractive to the opposite sex. Rather, they attract the oppotite sex towards you. Maybe there's truth to this explanation but since there's no way to prove such an abstract hypothesis, I prefer to believe that it's just the case of "the forbidden fruit". We get attracted to someone we can't get because they're committed elsewhere. I guess we haven't been able to overcome the lure of the "forbidden fruit", and seems like we never will. It makes our otherwise insipid lives spicier, and what's life without a little bit of spice? ;-)