Friday, December 19, 2008

Hats Off, Dadi !

Scene 1 : My bed

Winter break. A customary day at home.

Razai chhod, Bunty,” Mumma says affectionately, with her hand in my hair.
Kya mummy, Gyarah bhi nahi baje yaar…
Uth ja, bank mein paise jamaa karne hain…
Ummm…paanch minute…

Knowing the hypothesis of “paanch minute” like the back of her hand, she won’t give in this time. The quilt is wrenched off in a sudden jerk and I do a Jim-Carrey act from Bruce Almighty – banging my legs, hands and everything possible on the bed.

Zulm kar rahi ho maa. Ghar chhod ke chala jaunga. Fir banati rehna jalebi.

Jalebi” refers to a famous ad-film around 10 years back. A kid of eight or so runs away from home and is lured back by jalebis prepared in a certain brand of refined edible oil.

Haan paise daal aa. Fir chale jaiyo.
Sabse gandi meri maa…Sabse gandi meri maa, ” I dance on my own tune in front of the television, blocking her sight.

Scene 2 : Punjab National Bank, Kandra branch

Beta tumhare paise gir gaye hain.” It’s a lady’s voice from behind and the language is Bengali. My power of comprehension of the language is decent. But the exact words are not reproduced here owing to my handicap in speaking the language.

I had accidentally dropped a 100-rupee bill while counting. Wearing a smile and thanking the lady silently, I pick the note up and start filling up the deposit form. She returns a smile, too. It’s a grin rather, for I notice the absence of one of her incisors among the other tobacco stained teeth.

Chheeta Devi,” screams the cashier.
The same lady gets up and goes to the counter.
“(translated from Bengali) Pachaas rupaye kaise nikalegi? Tumhare khate mein paintalees hain,” the cashier said in an icy tone.

This is the first instance when I see someone making a withdrawal of an amount as low as fifty bucks form a bank, and that too unsuccessfully. I notice the old lady returning to her seat where her bag is. The tanned, wrinkled face with a couple of freckles still wears a strange smile of embarrassment. The hollow eyes, almost closed because of the wrinkles on the sides, are wet – or at least, they seem so to me. She dons a white sari with navy blue borders – a typical dress code for widows in this part of India. The piercings in the earlobes have almost vanished leaving behind tiny marks and the lobes don’t hang down either – meaning that she has been widowed for ages.

I make the deposit.

She dumps the bank pass-book back in her bag with her seriously wrinkled hands and turns towards the exit. I watch, still unsure of everything.

Scene 3 : Outside the bank building

I have been talking to the lady for the past few minutes in Bengali and I’m amazed at the frankness with which she tells me the titbits of her life. I call her “Dadi”. I come to know that she’s fifty bucks short of the sum needed to make a purchase of prescribed meds. She shows me the prescription with the chemist’s handwritten cash memo. The total bill is fifty seven – twenty five and she has less than ten rupees with her right now!

I come to know about her family. Her husband passed away the same year as Nehru(in her words). I believe it was 1964. She has two sons and four daughters – all of them married. Her sons have refused to “keep” her with them and she stays, as a result, with one of her daughters. Her son-in-law worked in a sponge-iron industry shut down a couple of months back. There has been no source of income since then. Life has been extremely hard and healthcare has been an unaffordable burden. Her cough has now been unbearable, forcing her to visit a drugstore(and not a doctor). Her continual coughing bears testimony to her abject condition.

I’m appalled. The sponge-iron industry where her son-in-law worked is one among half-a-dozen industries of the area shut down owing to exponentially declining demand. The friggin' greed of the Lords of the Wall Street has made this family – thousands of miles away – incapable of making ends meet. A striking example of globalization, indeed!

I take out my wallet and offer her a hundred rupee note. That is the maximum I can offer. Times have been tight for the last four months.

She refuses to accept any aid but I insist. After many rounds of insistence, she accedes to my requests. Not a penny more than fifty is her condition. I try to make her understand, but in vain. She thanks me profusely. I console her that everything would be all right and ask her to hang in there. I know the consolations are as hollow as her cheeks but that’s the only thing I can say.

Staggered by the sheer sense of honesty (“Beta tumhare paise gir gaye hain.”) and self-esteem (not a penny more than fifty) in such dire straits, I bid her farewell.

Hats off, Dadi!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

BOMBay !!!

Baddies, Bullets, Bomb Blasts...I just wish one of them gets Raj Thackeray...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Day As It Was : 16 November, 2008

0630 hours. “I just called…to say…I luuuuurrrrrrvvvvv you…”

0639 hours. “I just called…to say…I luuuuurrrrrrvvvvv you…”

0648 hours. Again. “I just called…to say…”

…I hate you, Stevie Wonder,” I grunt spitefully.

Ever averse to this repugnant process called “waking up”, I turn off the alarm. Without banging my fist on the wall for a change, I rub my eyes (babyish, eh? Bugger off!!!!!) and (try to)take a deep breath. There’s a frigging snarl-up in Noseshire. Vicks Inhaler is employed. I try to inhale the cool medicated air in vain. Comrade Cough has announced an all day bandh. I persevere, anyway, inhaling nothing through the nose but still exhaling through the mouth, thereby amused at my newly discovered ability to manufacture carbon dioxide from scratch. My eyes wander from the Hrithik poster on the wall near my bed to the Piggy Chops one on the wall to the farthest. The Telegraph whizzes by from under the door and heaves a sigh of relief on crashing into my bed. Feeling sorry for the newspaper, I pick it up.

“Fired Staffer kills Indian CEO in US”

Couldn’t ask for a more ironical front-page headline on the CAT day. What a motivation to crack the exam that guarantees CEOship in the not-so-far future!!

Yawning and scratching my hair in quick succession(so un-suave, eh? Hell yeah!!), I get off the bed.

Room Number 329.

I knock at the door.
I keep on banging the door.

Kuttey, uth!!
Bhai, 5 minute.
Nahi yaar, 7 baje gaye hain…*yawn*
Room aa jaiyo bhai…jaldi…

I kick the door one more time and come back to my room. Amit appears in ten minutes with his towel. I drop a capsule into water in the electric kettle. Using our towels to prevent their escape, we surrender ourselves to the heavenly medicated vapours. What a celestial feeling…to be able to breathe through the nose!!!

07xx hours.

I come back into my room in my towel after taking the bath - shivering like hell – and look for Dad’s watch that I had borrowed the day before, to see what time it was. I find it buried under reams of newspapers. It shows 0710!! By Jove, a real close shave! This had to happen on the CAT day! Had Madamoiselle Watch dumped me 3 hours down the line, I would have been rogered up big time. I borrow Nandy’s Sonata, dress up, pick my lucky mascots – that includes Times Life from some other room – and leave for breakfast.

There’s a spring in every step. The earphones pour sweet voices ranging from The Beatles to Bob Dylan to Shreya Ghoshal into my ears. Handshakes and “Fod Dena, bey” are the order of the day. Nervousness and anxiety find no room in my psyche buoyed by the unbelievable percentiles in the last 5 mock tests – all above 99.4. Lord had been extraordinarily generous in three of them : 99.89, 99.91 and 99.98!!!

0815 hours.

The auto-rickshaw’s right there at the hostel’s entrance. The driver seems familiar.

Suna aap logon ke Utkarsh(our college fest) mein Khayali(A The Great Indian Laughter Challenge Ifinalist) aya tha,” he enquires.
Haan, aya to tha.”
“Kaisa laga?”
“Pakau tha, bhaiya. Purane purane chhod raha tha.”
“Hum bhi top 8 mein reh chuke hain.

Hence the familiarity! The two of us chat a bit. He happens to be Abzaal Khan, whom I had seen a lot on the show’s fourth season, mimicking Lalu and making some amazing sounds, mostly using a nasal twang. Frankly, he wasn’t the best on the block. But he surely had, and obviously has, enough talent to earn a better livelihood. He shows an album of his photographs with Shatrughan Sinha, NS Siddhu and the fellow contestants during the trip. No one else is bothered. I feel bad at it but can’t help. They haven’t seen the show. I talk to him a bit on the way to the exam centre, where we leave the auto, asking him to be at a fixed point after the exam.

CAT 2008...The D-day!!! The whole area is flooded by advertising banners of firms and products even remotely related to B-school preps. Hordes of guys and girls donning every single colour on earth are reminiscent of IIT-JEE and AIEEE days. The count of parents accompanying their wards has dwindled over the years and so has the nervous chit-chat. We check out our respective seats in the seat chart. It happens to be Room number 1, Seat 2 for me. Hilariously, Room number 47 has just the one candidate, Reg No. 6561358!!!

NITians bundle up in circles, discussing every possible thing except CAT. Some of the hot topics are:

Gender Imbalance (“Yaar ladkiyan bahot kam hain…”)
Biology (“Just check her out, boss!!!!”)
Astrology (“Main keh raha hun na, 180 questions hi aayenge”)
Sanitation (“Abey andar toilet to hoga na?”)
Health & Hygiene (“Suna Chhedi boss ka hangover nahi utra hai abhi tak. Raat zada chadaa liye hain kya?”)
Advertising (“Itne saare banners hain yaar. Koi “best of luck” to bhidega.”)
Loneliness (“Room number 47 ki tanhayee…”)
Education System (“Saala aaj shaam ko bhi class hai!!”)

1015 hours.

Question papers distributed. 40 questions in Section-III while Section I & II have 25. No prizes for guessing what would the XL-size section comprise. It has to be English Usage. CAT, over the years, has been making the paper more anti-engineers and pro-B.Sc(Eng Hons.)! But it has crossed the line this time. 44.44% weightage to Verbal Ability. That’s disgusting. Engineers aren’t to be blamed and thus penalized for their proficiency in the quantitative ability. Rules can’t be bent in the favour of the weak. But they have been. I keep my cool and take the test like any mock test I had been taking.

1315 hours.

The hustle-bustle and the cacophony of vehicles don’t bother me. Test was fine. Fine enough at least. I hear people giving mouthfuls to the paper setters for their in-the-face bias towards non-engineers in order to achieve a balanced atmosphere of academic disciplines on the campuses of the hallowed institutes. Academic background, and not merit, is the newfangled yardstick of selection. Crikey!

1400 hours.

Three oft-quoted magical words fill the campus.
Kaisa gaya bey

A response to the above is followed by either “Sahiiiieee bidu, party kab” or “Load nahi bey, bahot exam hai abhi”.

1900 hours.

Almost all the junta has checked out the probable answer key and so have I. I’m bummed.
Quants-67. LR/DI-42 Verbal-40 Overall-149!!! It’s unbelievable, to say the least. Quants cutoff would be cleared by leaps and bounds. DI would be a smooth sail, as well. The total is also, according to the experts on various websites, enough to guarantee 6 IIM calls, if not IIM-A, too.

But damn me! Incredibly silly errors in the English section. I would just manage to cling onto the safer side of the cut-off, if not fall from grace. I would’ve understood if it was DI. But English!!! I’m shattered, finding no peace in the hollow consolations by friends that everything would be fine and I’ll get through. I know the maximum I’ll get are 4 IIM calls, provided I clear the English cut-off. The top three IIMs would not even consider my overall score.

I call up Dad and tell him that I’ve disappointed him…yet again. He wants me to go to IIM-C more than I do. He, as expected, tells me its fine and that I should stay calm. He asks me to sleep over it today and think practically tomorrow. He’s great.

There’s still a glimmer of hope. The answer keys published by the IIMs have, in the past, differed from the keys by various coaching institutes, predominantly in English. “Vindication” of just two of my answers in the English section by the IIMs would catapult me into the 6-call-zone, or, who knows even fetch me the ultra-coveted BLACKIS tag. Plus, the predicted cutoffs may be way off.

Things may even get worse if the IIM keys and the actual cutoffs are even more unfavourable. But I’ve got nothing to lose. As the eleventh commandment goes : “If it aint IIM-C, it aint nothin’!!!”

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Day As It Was : Oct 1, 2008

Oct 2. 0100 hours.

A pack of Britannia 50-50 is half down the belly. I light a smoke. A backbreaking day indeed! Time for a post on the blog. Here’s today’s diary entry:

The hostel’s lifeless. People are off to their places in the Puja vacations. There is a de facto mass bunk irrespective of the seemingly evil designs of the new director of our institute. Ten days back there was a notice on the mess notice board. It warned us of the dire consequences of not being able to manage a 75% attendance till the semester exams. A hefty fine coupled with a semester-exams-debarring was the heaviest penalty. Unperturbed, the guys head to their cribs. This is NIT Jamshedpur for chrissake!! Reasons are manifold: parents, maa ke haath ka khana, girlfriend(s), CAT…or a mere itchiness for change.

I had slept late the last night. Hardly did I know what the morning had in store for me.

There’s a knock on the door. Again. Some more times.

Frozen, I look out of the windowpane. It’s pleasantly cool out there. Birds are chirping as they head out for the day’s ration.

Naseer’s hard-bitten icy face surfaces in my mind. He had planted a bomb in the door of my room which would be triggered on opening it. It was no prank. I recollect everything so accurately. The bag with J&K emblazoned on I has 6 kilograms of RDX. I look for my cell near the pillow. It’s off. I have to call someone up. I try to switch it on but in vain. Naseer has hacked into my cell phone! He’s out there on the terrace of some under-construction building, sipping coffee stored in his thermos and monitoring my activities on a 7” B&W television. I try to scream Husain’s name - his is the room next to me – but I can’t. The bastard has hacked into my vocal cords as well!! I’m gasping and gulping and sweating.

Rubbing my eyes, I get off the bed to find my cell phone with its back cover open and the battery lieing by its side. Raka had borrowed my sim card the last night! Phew!!! I didn’t know I liked Neeraj Pandey’s Naseer starrer A Wednesday this much!

I go to sleep again only to be woken up by Jishnu around 10. Amused by the Freudian experience, I have my breakfast. I get a Jim Carrey 4-in-1 DVD in Jai’s room. Ace Ventura – The Pet detective was the first on the list. The master comedian is at his goofy best. Fun With Dick And Jane is the next. Two movies at a stretch. Lunch. Newspaper. The customary yet heavenly nap o’the noon.

I wake up around six and head straight to the mess. Snacks. Smoke. Tea. Stroll.

Why not just run through the credits of the next flick? It happens to be The Cable Guy. Directed by Ben Stiller! Well, that’s interesting. I didn’t know he dons this cap as well.

CAT’08 is 45 days down the line. Ummmm…just one more movie and that’s it. 45 days is a lot for preparations.

Interesting movie, to say the least. Yet another masterstroke from Carrey.

Husain’s going home for Eid. We go to the Tatanagar Junction to see him off. On our way back, I remember something. Sai had handed me a medical prescription back at the hostel. His eyes have swollen thanks to an amazingly amorous insect. No further delay could be afforded. He urgently needs some antibiotics and disinfectants. I get into a drugstore only to find that I have left the prescription on my table at my room! This isn’t uncommon. Heaving a sigh of disbelief, I wonder at the people who still trust me with such crucial things. I try to imagine how would Sai look with double the swelling the next day. The image isn’t that cute.

Jishnu is successfully manipulated to treat us with Cappucino.

Café Coffee Day. Punit’s cell rings. Its Manish. He happens to miss the train at Adityapur railway station and needs someone to take him and his baggage back to the hostels. I slide the untorn sugar sachet into my pocket and we leave the café.

Punit and I go to the railway station. There’s not a bird in there. We search for Manish, everywhere. He’s nowhere to be found. He isn’t even attending the calls. We search the nearby roads as well.

My cellphone rings. Jishnu happens to be betrayed by his bike. Punctures have become a daily phenomenon. We’re stuck. On one hand we can’t find Manish whose phone is ringing continuously without being picked up. I conjure up all sorts of things that shouldn’t but could have happened to Manish. And on the other, Jishnu is somewhere all alone in the dead of the night. The roads are not that safe. There have been instances of mugging by unsocial elements. Damn!

We roam around looking for Manish. 5 minutes up. Jishnu’s still all alone. A predicament indeed!

Manish finally picks the damn phone up. He has already reached the hostels. Annoyed, I hang up and we make a U-turn to find Jishnu walking along with his bike with punctured tyres. Still around 2.5 kilometres from the hostel, we decide to take turns and walk along with the bikes. Periodically, each one of us gets to walk the punctured bike, walk the unpunctured one and walk all alone – the last being the best of the lot.

This is one of the rarest occasions when a comparatively feather-weight Hero Honda Splendor scores heavily against heavy power bikes. Nevertheless, 2.5 kilometres is a long distance. Halfway through the bike march, I take off my t-shirt. The stupid duo makes some wisecracks on my stripping act that I don’t get.

Punit announces it’s October 2 - Gandhi Jayanti. What a tribute to Bapu! The Dandi march wouldn’t have been much worse. At least the Sabarmati guys didn’t have these two-wheeler monsters to carry along.

Burnt Out, I come back to my room and flake out on my bed. A catnap and it feels better. I rush to BholaJi’s 24X7 and get some biscuits and a smoke. This calls for a post on the blog…

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Economics of Bankruptcy!

First it was the turn of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. Then busted the Lehmann and the AIG. And then doomed the VKG. World economy is, no doubt, in shambles.

Blissfully ignorant, VKG Private Limited was stunned to see its market value shrink to zero. Totally clueless about the commencement of this meltdown, there was chaos everywhere. VKG instantly formed a (one-member) committee – chaired by Sir Varun Kumar Gupta himself - to look into the matter.

The committee blamed the non- existence of any monetary policy and the profligacy in the liquor department for the present state of affairs. VKG had swamped the residential quarters(read: hostel E) with the demon drink when the deal with the NTPC(read: placement) went through. Mortgage crisis was another factor, albeit a minor one. Unrecovered loans to defaulters(read: friends) had started to pinch. The committee brought into light the prevailing scenario along the following discomfiting lines:

1. Revenues have shriveled. Stakeholders(read: parents) have refused to budge an inch from their adamant stand. IPOs(read: requests for financial aid) are no more entertained.

2. Suppliers of raw materials(read: cigarettes, cold drinks etc) have started the age-old pressure tactics. Shyam Da Canteen Corporation has threatened to slash off the supplies altogether.

3. Mess bills are due since the month of August. VKG faces starvation.

4. Inflation is making matters worse. Gold Flake has increased its price per unit by 16.67%.

5. Lay-offs have already begun. Mr. Washerman has been handed the pink slip.

6. Telephone communication with sister concerns(read: family and friends) have been minimized. Internet chatting is being encouraged.

7. Non-Performing Assets(read: old newspapers and magazines) are being sold to fund expenditures.

8. Mergers are the order of the day. Everything from petrol in the bike to a cigarette is willy-nilly being shared. Long rides on the bike in the evenings have become an unaffordable luxury.

US Fed Gov came to the rescue of the big three. Something's got to be done with VKGPL as well. Looking for a saviour...desperately...

Monday, August 04, 2008

A Country Where Everyone’s A Billionaire!!

Warning : The following article may not be suitable for children below 7 years of age due to its mature content. The kids may permanently be traumatized by the flood of zeroes and may never be able to cope up with normal number systems. Parental Discretion is advised.

We’re talking about Zimbabwe.

Ruled by Robert Mugabe since independence in 1980, this country is going through the nastiest ever economic meltdown. Once an exporter of foodgrains, the land is grappling with chronic shortages of nearly everything : ranging from food to fuel, medicines to machines, thanks to a blatantly corrupt system and short-sighted policies of a quasi-dictatorial regime. Western sanctions add insult to injury.

Elections were held in this nation a few months back. The mandate was clear – the people wanted the dictator to go. Quite hilariously, it was the ruling government that complained of biased vote counting resulting in the nullity of the elections. And we thought Musharraf was the most shameless man on earth!

Official inflation figures stand at – hold your breath – 2.2 million or 2,200,000% while unauthorized figures hint at a figure between 9,000,000 to 12,500,000 percent! A supersaver king-size loaf of bread costs as much as 200-billion Zimbabwean Dollars. The extent of monetary chaos can be gauged from the fact that The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe issued a banknote worth Zimbabwean $100,000,000,000, that is, 100 billion bucks two weeks ago!!!

A $250,000,000 bill issued in May 2008

A 50-million bill

Zimbabwe's $100 billion banknote with the number of eggs it could purchase on its release date

To do away with the noughts, the government came up with a new currency this week. The newfangled currency has the same name but it slashed 10 zeroes away. This means, according to newly issued banknotes, a Z$1 is equivalent to 10 billion Zimbabwean Dollars(old currency). The government re-issued the coins that had once become obsolete owing to their microscopic denomination. The electronic calculators must have heaved a sigh of relief, finally getting rid of the billions and trillions in the basic calculations. But for the humans, it has led to farcical times in the country. People who had preserved a collection of old coins are out of the blue finding themselves to be super rich!

This is not the first time everything is zero-fied. Yugoslavia under Tito witnessed its highest ever rate of inflation 15 years back. The government was bound to issue banknotes with a 500-billion denomination. Weimar Republic Of Germany, in the aftermath of the World War issued a 100-trillion note!!!

A German woman feeding a stove with currency notes, which burn longer than the amount of firewood they can buy.

Be ready to drop your lower jaw a tad more. Hungarian National Bank holds the world record in dealing with zillions. The bank issued a banknote with a 100-quintillion denomination in 1946. For the blissfully ignorant, 100 quintillion is written as 100,000,000,000,000,000,000. That’s a total of 20 zeroes!!! The nation also holds the world record for the utmost monthly inflation ever. Just for the record, the inflation was as sky-scraping as 41,900,000,000,000,000 percent!!!

Back home, I sympathize with Mr. Chidambaram who’s spending sleepless nights when the inflation in our country is a miniscule 12% !!!!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Poly-Ticks and Dummy-cracy!

Much has been said, written and shown about the unfathomable plunge that the Indian democracy took on the July 22nd. The alleged horse-trading in the parliament(read : paar-kiya-ment) has garnered headlines like it was the first time such nefarious money-transfers have taken place. The self-righteous Mr. Argal, or the saffron high command for that matter, wouldn’t have a gala time justifying what his party did with the five independent MLAs in Karnatka a few weeks back.

Criminalisation of Indian politics had its moments of glory when the trust vote kneeled down before Their Highness The Bahubalis serving sentences for life. The Opposition left no stones unturned, no pun intended. Neither did the ruling party illustrate any high degree of character. Ultra-strange bedfellows were the order of the day. Lalu’s witticism gave way to slanging matches. Rahul Baba’s Kalawati-sation was followed by high denomination currency display. Emotions, comedy, sleaze, tragedy, action, thrill…everything ran amok.

Who’s to blame for this demeaning exhibition of dummy-cracy? The answer is not that difficult.

Polticians are no superhumans. They are ones among us, albeit rotten ones. Its may be the classic chicken and egg situation when one ponders over whether power corrupts or corrupt come in power. For the ordinary middle class, there are other things to get in a sweat. Tapering monetary supplies and flaring family expenses make one work like a Trojan. No wonder election dates do not mean a tad more than Sundays to a decent percentage of city-zens.

This apparent ignorance of the Indian youth has been aptly struck upon by Paresh Rawal’s character in the Anil Kapoor-starrer Nayak. Our ambitions touch the sky but they limit the domain to personal accomplishments and family obligations. “Ghar ki safai mein haath kaun gandey karey,” comments Madhavan in the 2006 rebellion Rang De Basanti.

Things are starting to change, though on a microscopic scale. The nation was taken aback when 5 IITians relinquished lucrative job offers to take a dive into Indian Politics, forming Lok Paritran Party. Ironically, the leaders of this political party, including the founders, face charges of intra-party corruption. Shiv Khera, noted Indian author, has shaped a political party of intellectuals. Campaigns like Lead India have hurled in a few hopes as well. Mani Ratnam’s Yuva may find a real life twin saga in the time to come. The hitch is that we have a torrent of Lallans and a dearth of Michaels. But affirmative steps are always welcome. However inconsequential they may seem to be, they should be seen as portends of an all-encompassing change; as it is said… Hope springs eternal.

P.S.: Cambridge Dictionary defines a “tick” as an arachnid that sucks from other animals to live. Poly-ticks thus means many blood sucking parasites!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

What is Love??

Here are some chosen ones:

Love is...

" a violin. The music may stop now and then, but the strings remain forever." - Anonymous

" quicksilver in the hand. Leave the fingers open and it stays. Clutch it, and it darts away." - Dorothy Parker

"...everything it's cracked up to be. That's why people are so cynical about it...It really is worth fighting for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don't risk everything, you risk even more." - Erica Jong

" act of endless forgiveness" - Peter Ustinov

"...something that, if you have, you don't need to have anything else, and if you don't have it, it doesn't matter much what else you have. - Sir James M. Barrie

Here's the masterly stroke:

"Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired." - Mark Twain/Robert Frost

And here's some food for thought:

"Love is to suffer. To avoid suffering one must not love. But then one suffers from not loving. Therefore to love is to suffer, not to love is to suffer. To suffer is to suffer. To be happy is to love. To be happy then is to suffer. But suffering makes one unhappy. Therefore, to be unhappy one must love, or love to suffer, or suffer from too much happiness. I hope you're getting this down." - Woody Allen

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

What not to do @ the placements!!! : The marathon post!

The anecdote dates back to 12th of May 2008. Four of the biggest good-for-nothings vowed to toil real hard in the summer break. Placements were about to begin two months down the line. With an engineering gyaan of our standards, we had to leave no stone unturned to get a job.
The summer break went on smoothly. The only thing we forgot to do was studying. Fed up of the #%&*@ within me, I went on to purchase a textbook on digital electronics on the 2nd of July. Reason: This was the only subject I didn’t know naught about.

Procrastination didn’t end. 36 hours to go!

I went to shop, finally, for the formals and all. It was then I realized the gross mismatch between the quantity of material used and the price commanded by the tie. I had almost zeroed in on an international business of reasonably-priced ties. I made the calculations: millions needed. Chucked the plan of setting out an IPO owing to the bullying bears (that’s quite an irony!) in the primary stock market. The B-plan bombed.

I prepared a schedule of how to extract the full monty of the next 36 hours. I did nothing.

Restless, I talked to all the persons who could possibly help me with clearing the interview. (I take this opportunity to thank every single one of them though I didn’t make much out of what they(except my sisters) said; but the gesture always counts.) In the process I ended up tearing my hair apart when one of my uncles suggested me to touch the interviewers’ feet on entering the cabin.

The evening before the D-day: it was raining cats and dogs. I had to get my certis back from home. Jishnu, the saviour, made an appearance. He agreed on accompanying me to my place. We hopped onto his bike and took the rain bullets on our chests like men. Dripping, we returned. Ugly sniffs and sneezes in the interview hall loomed large.

About 12 hours to go (I wasn’t quite sure of the reporting time until morn!). It was high time to prepare my CV. I scratched my head for ages and still couldn’t come up with one single accomplishment worth mentioning. I anaesthetized my conscience and declared that I was the second topper of my batch in the ICSE board exams. I wasn’t. At least it was better than Jishnu’s achievements that commenced with “Won the Long Jump event in the eleventh grade”. And they say academic achievements should feature in a CV!

2200 hours. We had to rush if we wanted the CVs printed. Jishnu and Kiran left for Bistupur. My job was to ask the mess boy to not to finish the food off so that the two do not have to get maggi-fied. I forgot.

Preparations for the written round got off the mark. I jotted down the list of probables – answers, not questions. Critical reasoning questions from the Barron’s GRE prep-book have a passage followed by some multiple-choice questions. There was a sheet that had the answers and the clues to have them by heart. The list had been handed over to us by our seniors and this is a tradition being followed since TCS has been gracing our campus. Given below is a part of the list of the answers to be mugged up.

Question with red,brown: Answers(1to4) : CABD : CAB in Delhi
Question with dogshow: Answers(1to5) : BCCAD : Beta Chori Chhupe Aur Daaru chadao
Question with 2 children : Answers(1to4) : DEEB : Dono Ek Ek Baar

I talked to some nice people over the phone and dozed off around 0200 hours.
Got up late. The pre-placement talks were to commence at 9am. We reached there around 0935. Fortuitously, punctuality isn’t one of the virtues of a firm that boasts of a punchline “Experience Certainty”. The talks began at quarter to twelve. Epiphany : I had forgotten the pen and the paper at the hostels. The TCS guy kept on blabbering and I jotted some points down anyhow.

Written round. Easy pickings throughout the grossly sub-standard paper. Qualified.
I started having second thoughts about my selection of “favourite subject”. 60 minutes before the interviews were to start, I changed my mind. Mobile Communication superceded digital bullshit. Manish took me orally through the basics of the subject.
1900 hours. I was famished. It had been 6 hours since lunch. It was decided to send the girls first for the interview. The order of interviewees was altered. I found myself near the end of the list. I took this opportunity to nip out in quest of anything edible. It was bucketing down outside. I couldn’t afford to get myself drenched at this moment.

1930 hours. Sukirti, the godsend, hove into sight. I handed him twenty bucks for sandwiches. I was on the ground floor of the Academic Building. I loosened my tie-knot and took a seat on the stairs dreaming about the delicacy.

I heard a call.
“Varun Gupta”.
I heard it again.

Dumbfounded, I ran up the flight of stairs. How could it be? How could the list be reshuffled? I tossed the extra stuff out from my file of certis. There was a commotion on the first floor. Several confused voices sounded like “VKG kahan hai”, “Kya karta hai ye #$%^$$”, “Jaldi Bulao yaar” and so on. The thirty yard corridor seemed like light years. I tightened the tie-knot, running. I checked the certis, running. I wiped the sweat off my face, running. Believe it or not, I entered the cabin, almost running.

Excerpts :
“Good Evening, sir. Good Evening, sir.”
“Good evening(almost in chorus).”
“Take your seat, Varun.”
“Thank you.”
“So Varun. How was your day?”
“Pretty nice, sir”
“No complaints? We heard you guys complaining about the hectic schedule.”
“No sir, not at all. Actually I was in the luckier batch. I had the time for lunch. Some people had to skip it. I’m fine.”
I wasn’t.
“Good. So tell us something about yourself. Your achievements, your moments of glory, when youe felt elated, when you helped someone, when you were helped…blah blah blah”
“I’m Varun…..”

I talked about two incidents that never happened. The people seemed interested and impressed.
The buggers didn’t ask for my file of certis. Neither did they ask anything about the much hyped “favourite subject”.
“Okay…whats BTS”
“Sir, Base Transceiver Station”
“Base Service Centre…Base Switching Centre.”

“Realise a NAND gate using OR gates.”
I drew a NOR instead of a NAND.
“Verify it using truth tables”
I was stuck. I realized my blunder. I apologized. I did it again. This time I was right.
“What do you know about Phase Modulation?”
Damn. What on earth was modulation?
“Sir, I’m not sure but I can try. Suppose…” Plain horseshit.
“What are the types of modulation?”
“Analog and Digital Modulation.”
It was a question more than an answer.
“I meant like frequency modulation…and what else?”
“Sir, frequency modulation, phase modulation…ummm…time modulation, amplitude modulation, velocity modulation.”

I guess my answer was ahead of its time. Time and velocity modulation had not yet been discovered. Damn you, scientists!

“Achcha, why is modulation done?”

Which sucker invented modulation???!!!????!!!

Anyway, rest of the interview went fine.

I returned to the hostels. Loads of Bon Jovi and Aerosmith. I passed out soon. Got up late, had my breakfast and went to sleep again. I couldn’t stand the anxiety.
1630 hours. Abhinandan woke me up. “Saale uth, ho gaya.”

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Kudos MHRD!!! State quotas abolished in AIEEE !

Common sense has finally prevailed in the Ministry of Human Resource & Development. Just when I thought caste based reservation and electoral politics was the mainstay of Sir Arjun singh and Co., they did something surreal.

For the record, prior to this year 50% of the seats in every National Institute Of Technology(NIT) were reserved for the candidates from the state in which the NIT is located. The left over 50% will have a state quota so that every state in the country would be duly represented in the campus. The number of seats for different states was based on quite a few factors like the nearness of that state with the state where the NIT is, the population of the state et al. So here in NITJ we ended up with 140 seats for Jharkhand, around 25 for UP, around 20 for Bihar, 8 for the entire North-East, 1 for Goa, 1 for Sikkim and so on(in our times in 2k5). Total number of seats was escalated considerably in 2k6 and so were the number of seats for the respective states. This – I’ll admit it quite unabashedly – created a upset in terms of the All India Ranks (AIRs) among the students. The pangs of fortune tilted towards the so-called “backward” states whose students managed to lock a seat by achieving an AIR even ten times of students from the states where there is ferocious competition for an engineering seat in a reputed institute for example, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh , Rajasthan and most importantly, Andhra Pradesh, the most awful sufferer. The irregularity can be best gauged on learning that the solitary seat in NITJ for Mizoram remained vacant for three years (2k3 to 2k5) as the total number of seats allotted to Mizoram in different NITs outnumbered the total number of eligible candidates from the state!!! Contrast this with the thousands of aspirants from the above mentioned states who haplessly watch the guys from the “backward” states grabbing the seats with both hands.

According to the new concept, come AIEEE Counselling 2008, 50% reservation for the home state is kept untouched. But as a rare welcome development, the remaining half would be filled up solely on the basis of AIRs. This would help in shipshaping the skewed balance and create an atmosphere of people with just about the same AIRs as in the prestigious IITs.

Students hailing from the “backward” states, hitherto benefited from the system, would have a rough time rubbing their eyes on reading similar chunks of dream-shattering news. But re-emphasizing, the development would, no doubt, address the admission irregularities.

This was not expected at all, to say the least. But one needs to thump the back of
the officials from MHRD for such a wonderful step. Bravo!

TOI: :

My pre-teen classics!!!

Spare me for making you read this shit but couldn't help myself from posting these masterpieces that I accidentally found in a diary a month back. The masterpiece named "Examination" was created when I was in the 8th standard. Kindly consider the cranial limits of a twelve-year old. The next one, "Mathematics" goes one step ahead in "quality". I wrote this in my seventh standard of schooling. Read at your own risk :


This bloody examination is really a headache -
To all my enjoyments it puts a check.
Thirty – thirty chapters are not easy to learn,
And all I can do is to sit and spurn.

In this mysterical(Gawwwd!!! That isn’t even a word) history
I cant by heart the names;
Suddenly a ban occurs
On all the games.

Now the subject of geography
The delta and the meander;
That we study such a subject
Is the greatest wonder.

The physics and the dyne
Prick me like spine;
After studying this subject
I’m never fine.

Someone please save me from
Chemistry’s deadly claws;
For I have to mug up
A million of laws.

When I study Biology then
I become ambiguous;
Was it the chapter
Mentioned in the syllabus.

Hey this computer science
And the programs in BASIC;
Convert my happy mood
Into happy and tragic.

English and Hindi Chapters
Pass above my head;
Remembering all those characters
Is truly a dread.

But the only subject of Maths
Where I score a hundred;
The silly reason is that
The total is three hundred.


Lets throw some light
On this mathematics
Because of which I broke my house
Just to count the bricks! (Did I really write these lines???!!!!???)

When I open the maths book
I always feel a surprise;
The same sum again
And again in disguise.

Making innocent children
Study set theory;
Is a criminal offence
Serious than the dowry.

Then comes the polygon
Dangerous than a machine gun;
2n-4 or 2n-5
I’m always in confusion.

Whenever I see mensuration
Forehead gives out perspiration;
I never find in those figures
Any type of anticipation. (Wot on earth is that supposed to mean???)

The rules of logarithm
Are more than mysticism;
And all the measurement
Puts me into amazement.

The AAS and SSS
Of Congruency and Similarity;
And fins the sums
Never in parity. (:o!!!!)

Then come the cubes and cuboids
With six-six hands;
And I always try to run
To my intelligent friends.

The angles of trigonometry
Alpha, Beta and Gamma;
Always leave me in
A huge huge dilemma. (That was my best idea of rhyming)

The constructions in geometry
Aren’t less than headaches;
For always in between
My disloyal pencil breaks.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ye Road Tere Baap Ki Hai??

“The rate of accidents and casualties is disturbing. There is an urgent need to curb the menace on our roads and highways. With more people driving or using personal transport, only a stringent law will induce vehicle users to avoid rash driving,” asserted Justice A R Lakshmanan, the Chairman of the Law Commission before recommending that maximum jail term for a casualty caused by drunken or rash driving be escalated from two to ten years.

A sneak-peak into the statistics (bunched up through various official websites of Indian legislative organizations) :

• India is the world’s leading light with 35 – the highest – accidents per 1000 registered vehicles. (Pinch of salt : These figures are official.) It varies from 4 to 10 in America. Bravo! One-love!
• Around one lac people wash their hands with their lives (come on, its my favourite hindi idiom translated. I always wonder how is this done!) in road accidents per year (Official figures again!). We are next only to China. Buck Up, folks. We have in it us to eclipse the dragon. The same number in the U.S. is as low as 17k. Two-love; Game Point!
• In Patna and Mumbai the percentage of pedestrians among the road mishap victims is the highest in the country at 90% and 78% respectively. The highest in America is nowhere around. Three-love, Game!!

No doubt something needs to be done, urgently. But isn’t the proposal, in terms of the TOI, “driving too far”? Is the lack of stern norms the only impediment in the way of a healthy traffic system? Hasn’t it got something to do with the goddamn execution of the present norms?

Aamir hands the Rs. 100 bill to the Inspector Sahib in Rang De Basanti with impunity and exclaims suggestively, “Welcome to India!” All of us have either done or witnessed the same in our lives. It’s such a regular phenomenon in urban India that it has been exploited to full comic relief in other flicks like Gurudev Bhalla’s Shararat where the “cool” male protagonist dupes the corrupt traffic constable in the process of bribing him.

Jaywalking is as common as spitting on the roads. Here in Jamshedpur, the traffic officials have no mechanism to prevent the populace on Shanks’s Pony from walking on their whim with full disregard to the traffic lights close to the Natraj Theatre in Bistupur.

Drunken Driving is a peril yet to be cracked down. Few things can match the thrill of continuous honking and overtaking when blasted. For us, this is our desi version of Psychedelic Rock, Mr. Devil may care! Being mellowed down by a frigging Maruti 800 is an insult to The Hammered. Give the driver a mouthful and there you go. In the Bollywood ishtyleYe Road hamare baap ki hai!!!

Lets get down to serious business. Why is the flouting of traffic norms so common? Why isn’t it such a pain in the neck of the developed nations? The answer follows as an example of the American scheme of things.

The process of acquiring a driving licence in the States is a hard nut to crack in itself. One needs to duly attend a traffic school and needs to pass a written test. (This exam made the two - Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron - meet in one of my favourite mushy flicks – Sweet November). Negative points are awarded on every single violation of a law, however inconsequential it may be. Continue being Mr. Mere-Baap-Ki-Road and your licence would be confiscated in no time. Time to grace the traffic school all over again with your presence; in conjunction with a hefty fine and an increase in the insurance premium. Now this is something!! The best part is the implementation. Far less corrupt and far more dynamic traffic officials hold the key.

There is no need of labouring the point of making people aware of the norms from an early age. Poppycock! Who doesn’t know the rules? Even if we are dumb enough to be confused by the self explanatory traffic signs, we can at least read the words in the regulations mentioned along the divider line on the roads. But then, why the heck should we care? A 50-buck is all that’s required in the nearly worst case scenario. Well okay, inflationary times. Lets make it 100. Deal!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

He Came, He WARNEd, He Conquered.

We know him as “thicker than a set of Wisden yearbooks” for his incorrigibility. We have heard of him as the “eternal child”, “Cyclone Shane” and “Hollywood” for his theatrical antics. We’ve heard of him caught up in more off-field controversies than any single cricketer. He has been the God of sledging in the slips. But yet we adore him. Critics would never rate him as high as some of the other spinning legends. And yet Wisden rated him as one of the five cricketers of the century – the only bowler to have featured in the prestigious list along with Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Jack Hobbs and Sir Vivian Richards.

Some say he’s the best skipper Australia never had. And he proved it in the IPL 2008 and how! Having been assigned the twofold role of captain-cum-coach, the man led a bunch of neophytes to victory. In fact, the team, considered small fries before the contest dominated it like no other team did.

In words of Dinesh Salunkhe, who shared the dressing room with him said, “I was quivering when he first entered the room. A couple of conversations later, I felt as if I’d known him for years. He became a friend, philosopher and guide. He has no airs about himself. It took me only one chat with him to make me believe that I belong here.” Zilch was left to be explained when the U-19 guys of the team hurrahed after the final conquest, shouting at the top of their voices that he is a legend.

He is Shane Keith Warne. Two years into the retirement already, The Royal would return next year to defend the trophy. The team would straightaway start as favourites all thanks to their first outing.

What made Warnie such a Pied Piper? Some say it was his knack of seeing the intangibles. An astute judge of talent, he prepared an awe-inspiring dossier called “What is My Role?” for each of his teammates merely after a couple of practice sessions. He asked them to give it a shot of their lifetime. He asked them to lope on the edge, thoroughly assured that he would be there to catch them if they fell. Such raw zeal towards the game after remaining 15 years at the apex logically made the team follow him blindly. The 17 off the last over by Symonds against the Chargers made the team swear loyalty to him till death, as it made them believe that they had a leader who could walk the talk. A TEAM was explicated to the bunch as “Together Everyone Achieves More”.

He treated them all alike – from the support staff to the franchise owner Manoj Badale. Shane Watson was denied an entry to a team meeting when he was 5 minutes late. Warne added, in no uncertain terms, that Watson could not take things for granted just because the latter was one of the “better known” players of the side. He asked the squad to wear black armbands as a mark of respect when Zahir, the luggage handler, stayed on with them even when he lost his mother during the tourney.

Swapnil Asnodkar, one of the finds of the series, owed himself to Warne. Learning that Swapnil’s grandfather was a diehard fan of his, he graced the Asnodkars for dinner. Grandpa’s parting words to Warne were that now that he had seen him, he could “die a happy man”.

He assigned the role of the “Pace-setter” to Munaf Patel. He guaranteed that MP was their spearhead no matter what was being whispered about him. The result : he redeemed himself almost incredibly. The man who had to be concealed in the field; the man who preferred not to bend too much to stop the ball from running away; the man who was disparaged as the cricketer with the “least cricketing attitude” of all times; the man who the outgoing team physio labeled as the “only bloke I couldn’t understand” flipped 180. He hit the deck hard and had the best field days ever.

Warne made sure that the guys enjoyed themselves to the fullest off the field. In the words of the franchise owner, he “personally ensured that everyone had fun (at the parties). He cracked jokes, learned the choicest of abuses in Hindi and used them whenever possible.”

Being a hero in a nation that vehemently abhors the Kangaroos was no trifle. But Warnie did it. Leading a lineup that had been assembled for chickenfeed, when compared with the big daddies was a daunting task in itself. But Warnie did it. It was almost impossible for a team that lacked the oomph factor to make headlines in a nation crazy about Bollywood. But Warnie did it. Warnie did it all

Monday, June 09, 2008

When Mumma bowled me over!!!

Having nothing more stimulating to do, there I was surfing the channels a few minutes back. Star Cricket was telecasting the highlights of the 3rd day of the 3rd test of the nPower Test Series from Trent Bridge. Being an aficionado of quality test cricket – actually any shitty cricket including the Australian domestic codswallop; a 22 yard of cricket turf is all that’s required to seize my attention – I let the remote control heave a sigh of relief. It was Jamie Anderson’s day. He was delivering gold. The out swingers were simply unplayable. He had already scalped one-to-six of the kiwi batting order and had left them seething at 123-7 (he finished with outstanding figures of 7-43). The score line bordering the lower edge of the television read “NZ need 42 more to avoid follow-on”.

There was a usual doubt in Mumma’s mind. “What’s a follow on?” she enquired. Well, this was regular stuff. Mumma has been whetting her knowhow of the gentlemen’s sport since the time I’ve been religiously following it. She started with the trivial things like “Why doesn’t the eleventh wicket fall???!!!!” or “Why didn’t the batsman get out when the fielder caught it after it had bobbed once?” or “Why doesn’t he run for extra runs before the ball could run across the boundary?” And I used to elucidate it all to her gleefully. Actually it helped me to avoid getting her irritated and change the channel.

She has come a long way. She can now calculate the required run rate in the death. She now knows what a maiden over is. And she is no more amazed at the sight of Warnie spinning the ball by miles.

I tried to avoid any technical jargon and explained to her what a follow on is. She understood it as always : she’s a fast learner. But then came Stuart Broad who dismissed Kylie Mills on the third delivery and outsmarted Ian O’Brien on the fifth delivery of the same over. One slow-mo replay followed another. Here I was nonplussed by the rank unplayability of the reverse swinger that took the off-stump off the ground when mumma dropped a bomb, flushing down the gutter all the cricketing gyaan. “Umpire galat hai dekh…Ball to balle se lagi hi nahi…”

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Happy Eyes

-Written and performed by: Varun Gupta

Now that I've lost the race
Now that it's a big disgrace
Wish I could say in your face

You think you left no trace
You think its empty space
Sadly that's not the case
In my heart…

It's the same since the time you were gone; Every little thing is the same
Learnt my lesson the harder way round; Won your heart baby, lost the game
Everything was slipping out of my hands; I was blind, I couldn't realize
All I'm left with, All I've got; Frozen tears in my happy eyes

Chorus :
I wish, you could, see through happy eyes;
I wish, you could read my happy eyes.
I wish, you could, see through happy eyes;
I wish, you could read my happy eyes

Now there is no one to stand by me, No one to catch my falling tear
Its eating me from inside of my soul, Its not like I don't wanna share
Everybody gets the wrong end of the stick, Friendship is such a thin disguise
Hardly I blink without thinking of you, Your dreams play with my waking eyes

Chorus :
I wish, you could, see through happy eyes;
I wish, you could read my happy eyes.
I wish, you could, see through happy eyes;
I wish, you could read my happy eyes.

Happy eyes, Happy eyes, Happy eyes, Happy eyes…
Happy eyes, Happy eyes, Happy eyes, Happy eyes…

Better Late Than Never !!!

3rd June 2008 brought with it for NIT Jamshedpur a light of hope, pun totally intended. It takes a great deal of nerve to publicly admit that one’s insti sucks. And I make a clean breast almost unabashedly. Grubby politics has always been an innate characteristic of all the organizations and institutions in this part of the country. But inhumane conditions of living added insult to injury. And all this to the wannabe technocrats, nearly all of whom missed a berth at the hallowed Indian Institutes Of Technology by a whisker after clearing the screening stage. Some of us even committed the Great Blunder of turning our backs to the IITs due to unavailability of the desired disciplines owing to an AIR around 3k.

But now things are most likely to take a handsome twirl. Multiple strikes by the junior year students finally bore fruit. Kudos! Jamshedpur Utilities and Services Corporation (JUSCO) – the vocational training hub for our batch mates from the Department Of Civil Engineering – has been a godsend. We, The Deprived, have finally been blessed. What this coup de theatre means to us would never be appreciated by them who have never been left to languish to spend the most vital four years of their lives in the state plagued by this loopy power crisis. With the risk of lending my words a semblance of exaggeration, I would like to classify this development as the single best thing to have been happened to this institute.

I feel for you, our 2k4 seniors. You missed it by month, damn it! And equally do I feel for the 2k8 juniors, due to enter the campus in early August. You just can’t imagine the thrill of spending the whole dark night out, sitting on a bench bordering the Downs’ ground, gossiping like hell!!

Our next valid wish is that the administration looks into the Wi-Fi project that has inexplicably been dormant for the past few weeks. After a remarkable progress in the early days of the project, which aimed at connecting the length and breadth of the campus by a wireless network, the project receded into conspicuous obscurity.

Can’t wait to return to the hostels!!!

As per mid-June 2008 : hostel mein 24 hours wi-fi connectivity bhi aa gayi hai...yip yip yippieeeee...