04 May, 2011

Breaking Down News

Eleven past eight in the morning was when I woke up. That’s early by my owlish standards. The first chore is checking Facebook on my phone, drowsily. One of my old school chums, now settled in the States has just walled saying something to the effect that if it REALLY was Laden’s body they found and not a body-double, then its sweet revenge for America. That’s enough to get anyone wide awake, forget a news-hack.

Iv already typed in nyt.com on my browser. That’s logical, considering it is an American story. If it was anywhere else, the logical choice would have been one of the wires, like Reuters, Associated Press or Bloomberg. The Times has a very short story quoting an AP report that Laden has been killed in Pakistan, and that President Obama will make a statement shortly. The three biggest pointers, Laden, Pakistan & Obama, which went on to be blown up manifold over the next day was very much there in the first twenty minutes of news gathering.

I decide to double check on Reuters. Reuters also has essentially that much information, again quoting AP. Bloomberg has still not updated its website. I have a wisecrack and text my boss, and his boss. Four words. ‘Laden dead, says nyt’. That’s important, because the name of the source carries a lot of credibility. If it was Fox News saying it, the news  would have been trashed.

Ten seconds later I get a reply saying ‘we have it, we’re already running it’. I feel foolish and out of touch. By now its twenty minutes since the first report on the New York Times website. But by now all four business news channels (not to mention the dozens of non-business news channels in India) were all broadcasting the story in their own version of the flashy red Breaking News tickers.

In fact, by then NDTV profit had even made the first blooper, pronouncing Obama dead, instead of Osama. Iv worked the ticker. I know the pressure a ticker person goes through. The bigger the story, the higher the decibel levels around you urging you to finish writing that line and click on the Publish button, higher the force of the blood pumping through the veins of your hands, and in spite of that, higher the need to actually publish that line before your counterpart in the competition.

The entire competition probably would have laughed at that blooper. We allow ourselves that luxury. It’s too high-strung a world to not indulge yourself with a moment of relaxation. Very soon, we also make that same mistake. The girl who was responsible got it personally from the Chief Editor for about twenty minutes, not to mention the mails that went to the entire office calling attention to the error. She was in tears.

Within an hour, the Times had a proper 500 word article, accompanying an image of people in front of the giant screen on Times Square proclaiming Osama’s death, written, Im assuming, with inputs from their White House correspondent, and their reporter covering the CIA. This they do by getting the reporters who are regularly in touch with high placed figures in the White House and the CIA or the FBI to verify what happened. With the news already out, and America already taken to the streets in celebration, this verification should have been relatively easy. But then again, for a journalist, news is important only till it becomes news.

In the meanwhile, I continue to text a few friends about the news break. The fellow journalist has also seen the piece of news, and replies saying they’re carrying it on her channel too. The non-news friend hasn’t. And that is the essential difference between a news person and a non-newsperson. For a hack, news just has a way of finding you. That happens on different levels. For a reporter, like the AP correspondent who first broke the story, the people who make the news tell them. In this case, probably one very-high placed CIA operative, who was in the loop. For someone who’s job is to sit in the office, it comes through the reporters or the many wire services around, or if not, one of the rival television channels. But news is never hidden or obscure for a long period, and by that I mean around a quarter of an hour.

Another aspect of being in the news business is how news keeps changing like its nobody’s business. Every week, the world had brushed aside a happening event and moved on to the next.

Lets take this year for instance. In the last week of January, it was the Egyptian uprising, and the toppling of President Mubarak. In ther beginning of February, it was the arrest of A Raja and his aides. The last two weeks of Feb were about the budget. March brought the Tsunami in Japan. A week later, it was the crisis in Libya. Early April was the world cup victory. Later on the Royal Wedding, and now this. Each of these stories can vie for the biggest annual news event any other year, and we’re through with just four months in the year.

(Will probably be completed... Whenever that is)

21 April, 2009

Owning up to your spine

Every once in a while, a young man or woman shoots out of obscurity with an act or a statement that, while it shocks the guts out of the conformists for its sheer veracity, helps reaffirm the faith of us puritans in the existence of the demarcation between right and wrong.

Miss California Carrie Prejean was the frontrunner for the Miss America title last weekend, till she was asked what definitely was a loaded question by Gay celebrity blogger Perez Hilton. “Vermont recently became the 4th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Do you think every state should follow suit. Why or why not?”

Now, gay-rights is an issue which even the presidential candidate is expected to have an opinion on in the US. Why, even Carrie later confessed that “of all the topics I had studied on, I dreaded this one. Any other question and….” But neither the fears, which eventually proved founded, nor the inclination to doctor her prepared answer to sound politically correct like even Barack Obama did, stopped her from giving an answer that politely but clearly stated her convictions.

“Well I think its great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. And you know what, in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offence to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised and that’s how I think it should be between a man and a woman. Thank you very much”

Ms Prejean predictably (though it is fair to suspect that she could have lost for other reasons too) lost the winners sash. But clearly she was the winner that night. Touted as a potential winner, and having anticipated this very topic, she probably knew how badly such an answer could affect her chances at the pageant. Even when she foresaw the depth of the trap that she was being lured into, even when she could have escaped with a politically agreeable answer that wouldn’t commit her opinion anywhere, even when she could have found a thousand excuses to even betray her convictions for the larger picture, like all of us are so prone to do, the 21 year old girl chose to be candidly forthright.

We live in a society that, we’d better admit, is abounding in covert morality, covert ethics, and covert spirituality - ‘Keep your inclinations to yourself, please. It isn’t socially acceptable’ So, that a celebrity, from that very class of society that we hold responsible for the downward plunge of our moral values, can stand up and say “it's not about being politically correct, for me it was being biblically correct”, is not just refreshing for its frankness, but also a slap in the face of a generation that shies away from owning up to anything that isn’t the in-thing, a generation that is terrified at the thought of not conforming.

But the furore that resulted points out something else too. The question technically asked for the contestants views on the subject. There was no way she should have been booed for stating what she thought was right. If anything she should have been lauded for the gumption. Instead, Perez Hilton derides her, calling her a bitch Have we become so obsessed with socially accepted stance’s, or the need for self justification in Hiltons case, that we cant even accept a differing view without snickering.

Something in the bottom of my heart applauds the way Miss California could be so vocal about her religion even in front of a partisan crowd, something we rarely have the guts to do. She later described the encounter as “by having to answer that question in front of a national audience, God was testing my character and faith. I'm glad I stayed true to myself”. She might have lost the pageant, and maybe a potential international title, but she was clearly the winner of the night!

PS: All this said, something still bothers me. Same sex marriages might not be Christian, but is sashaying in a bikini, a costume that classifies as semi-pornography in half the world, Christian? But yeah, for now, lets give it to the girl!

19 April, 2009

The Happy Post

Its election time again, and predictably, everyone’s talking elections. So could I refrain? Atleast that’s my lame excuse for loading a whole post with boring political talk and analysis last time. But then again, I really wanted to say that, and anyway, you rely on my commentaries on the stock market. Then why not some politics? So hears the deal – You read politics, but I promise to keep it interesting as I can, not to mention insightful! Okay?


Politicians are known to talk big. Or rather, have a loose tongue. Someone once characterized all politicians as liars. Others just settle for calling them opportunists. Nevertheless, they speak of seemingly implausible things with so much of conviction that you begin to suspect that they actually believe whatever it is they say to be true.

Take for instance the number of leaders claiming that they will win the elections convincingly. Now, these leaders who are known as the best political strategists would surely have us believing that they knew the electorate as nobody else can. Only thing, even their opponents make the same wild claim of victory that leaves you quizzed.

Mayawati (oh btw, does she have a first name or something?) thinks that this is her year of reckoning. LK Advani thinks she doesn’t even stand a chance and is only dreaming. Both of them are Z category names that have had their share of wins so far. Could they be bad at feeling the pulse? One would think not. So why would they engage in such ramble? You would guess, so as to disillusion the voter into believing that the victory is already sealed and all he needed to do was be a part of it by voting for them.

Hmmm, that’s a point, but take this. Pinarayi Vijayan the secretary of the CPM in Kerala thinks his party will do one better than last time and win all 20 seats from the state. He claims a ‘Leftern wind is sweeping across the state’. And you read my last post.

So that leads me to conclude that maybe the leaders are not always telling you what they want you to hear. Rather, at the heights of desperation, they tell you what they would have someone telling them. Heights of disillusionment, wouldn’t you say? And they expect us to vote for them!

***

Talking of political rhetoric, it is sad, no pathetic, to hear the Congress keep on accusing the NDA of laying out a banquet for 3 terrorists some ten years ago, and then accompanying them all the way to Kandahar (Just to tickle your memory, that was when DD transformed itself into a 24 hour news channel – with hourly bulletins. Those were still the days when Prannoy Roy was only the Chairman of a news agency known as New Delhi Television). Now, that was a long way ago, but I remember clearly what happened then. No politician had come up with a solution then. So why make a deal of it now, when the intricacies have conveniently faded from public memory. That is where Indian politics needs to mature. We need to grow above the culture of saying anything and everything that suits our disposition at any given time. Home Minister Chidambaram’s statement early this year that the govt. of that day could not have done much better with the lives of so many hostages at stake was a solitary example of political honesty that transcends rhetoric. That’s why I respect that man. He has the guts to call a spade a spade.

But that said, even Advani’s allegation that 26/11 would not have happened under his rule is again crap. The thing is, no Indian government could have stopped it. The attacks were not a , but even in its simplicity, the only way those attacks could have gone wrong was if the terrorists themselves messed up. I think as a country we have to own up to that. That it is the system that failed us. And while the system ought to be improved, it isn’t something that features high on the agenda of any political party. And moreover, both Kandahar and Mumbai were one of a kind attacks. There was no way really that we could have seen it coming. Or atleast there was no way any govt. could have prevented it, given that we are talking about India.

L K Advani says the laws (POTA) during the previous govt. were much stronger and could have helped counter terrorism. But tell me, which terrorist has he stopped with that law? Ultimately, the law was only used by some regional satraps, trying to settle old scores with political rivals. And in any case, you have to give it to the Manmohan Singh govt. that terrorists started unleashing their venom only during his tenure.

***

Talking of POTA enforcement, one of the most significant instances of its misuse was Jayalalitha’s arrest of Vaiko. Today, Vaiko and Jayalalitha share a platform asking for a joint mandate. If there is an insult to a poor voter wielding his solitary vote that is to keep his mouth shut for five years or so, it is the presumption that he doesn’t even remember!

***

But this is nothing. Today, Advani stands up to the election commission for his partyman, Varun Gandhi. Now lets put that in perspective. Advani standing up for the son of Sanjay Gandhi, the very man who he ought to be accusing for the atrocities commited during the emergency, especially his own jailing which he still keeps crying hoarse about. Of course, he was just being fair and putting justice above his personal anguish. But tell me, by what stretch of logic can he still taunt the sister in law and the niece of the perpetrator, while he enlists the support of the son?

***

Congress without the dynasty, BJP without the RSS backing, or a progressive left. That’s what Ram Guha recently claimed would see the revival of mature politics in India. Ram Guha is a discerning man for sure. But has he forgotten the mess that the Congress party became during the only time that the dynasty wasn’t around to dictate things? 1996 was when the Congress actually threatened to become a political non entity till the videshi-bahu (thankfully the BJP has realized that that argument doesn’t really sell with us folks) rescued it, I must say, with her hard work.

Now the Gandhi family is not without its flaws. But these flaws are not the fallout of being the first family of India. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And that works just as much for Ms G. Im not justifying her. But whatever she did was in a way a reflection of what the BJP did for the previous six years, and in some cases, a taste of what they are going to do should they be bestowed power yet again.

But on the dynasty, the Congress is better of with it. Otherwise, it is just a party of unruly power hungry men who don’t realize their pettiness. Sonia Gandhi helped put them all in place.

The BJP without RSS support? Now before you say why not, let me ask you where would BJP get its cadres from if not from the RSS? The ideology is far imbibed into the party that it is but a hope that the two can be divorced. But of course, if that happens, it will be the best thing that happened to the country.

And a progressive left, you gotta be kidding me! No no, I was just joking. Like Buddhadev has shown in Bengal, the left can be progressive. What they cannot be is accommodating. The communist parties might have a really democratic party structure, and they might not be communal, but their apathy towards a new idea is disheartening. For some reason, they still cant accept anything unless it was clearly permitted in the communist manifesto, and still look up to China and Russia (two non communist countries) for ideological support.

***

“Lalu, who had hit out at L K Advani as well for his role in the mosque's demolition has been slammed by an upset BJP as well. The BJP in turn attacked the Prime Minister and said it will complain to the Election Commission”. Of course, it should have been an oversight by the editors at IBNpolitics, but that sentence made me laugh out loud.

Indeed that’s what it has come to. For just about anything this summer, the BJP has taken to blaming the PM, calling him weak. Im not sure anyone is impressed. Im not in any case.



There’s more, but this is enough food for thought for the moment, methinks. Ill be back with more shortly. And Monika, you think this wasn’t a happy me writing?

04 April, 2009

Another Tag, Another Trail



So they think they can take our idea, use it, pass it of as creatively innovative, and claim to enjoy it?

And they think they can pretend to be baring their minds or souls or whatever else, even while looking down with disdain at bloggers?

And they think they can sell us the idea of facebook blogging!

Hmm… but then, sometimes when im like this starved for ideas, I couldnt help taking a facebook idea, twist it to suit myself, and then employ it like we would have anyways…

So this one is 15 things (er, well, actually 25, but Im not sure Ill last that long – so we’ll take it as it comes) I would tell the myself who was around a year ago by way of advice, based on a years experience. Or atleast something like that! So, here goes…. And trust me, if I had heard even one of these last March, I would have ROFL’d for want of more absurd things to laugh at!


    Hmmm well, for starts, maybe you can think of splurging a little on yourself while you have the cash. You’ll be hopelessly broke by this time next year!
    Don’t make plans too elaborate, even for the immediate future. Not one single one of them is going to Actually work out remotely like you planned!
    Stop advising all and sundry. Over the next year, the biggest revelation will be that even you are incapable of living your own advice. And that’ll be a humiliation by itself.
    You will know what it means to flunk exams. That too, multiple times! And how it feels each time!
    You will, okay, now hold your breath… you will be called a ‘ladies man’ by the majority in a group of 20-something’s. And that too, not without more than a hint of jealousy.
    You will start getting bizarre ideas like ‘write a book’, or even ‘start writing your memoirs’. But be warned, don’t attempt it. It’s just another attempt by Life to humiliate you. By proving you aren’t capable of even that!
    Why, you will actually go out and make attempts to pursue all your dreams. Not that any one of them will actually materialize. You’ll just have your options curtailed.
    You will lose pretty much all your friends. But surprise surprise… you wont actually miss them like you feared you would!
    You will swear that Indian authors are the best in the world. Right From Vikram Seth down to Shobhaa De. Jhumpa Lahiri will attain a status in your book collection that was reserved for Paulo Coehlo this far.
    You will actually see every movie you’ve wanted to in your life (thanks to file sharing, free internet time, and irrepressible joblessness. You, of all people!
    You will discover that your soul-mate does exist. Or atleast someone who satisfies your idea of a soul-mate. You’ll miss her!
    Hmmm well, you’ll happen to sleep with a female stranger on a train! Oh yeah, I know that’s corny, and so just in case you start getting Emraan Hashmi- flavoured reveries, Ill break the news that she’ll be around 7 years old!
    You will discover that you can survive without knowing sensex levels, without blogging (or wanting to), without wanting to win arguments, or even without singing! For months, not days…..
    You will be jobless for months on end. You’ll reeeeealllly realize the implications of cribbing about work!
    Oh no, I forgot… You will be damn right about the recession/Bear Market! Not that the fact will save you from becoming its casualty.

So guys, that’s it. I guess you’ve got a fair idea of my current state of affairs, and perhaps an explanation of why you haven’t even heard from me in months! Its new, and I must say, I didn’t see it coming!

28 December, 2008

Blogging



Im not very much of a blogger. Or so I guess its time I admitted. So much for the regularity of my posts. Till about a month ago, I had my excuse of too much else to do. Iv spent the last month doing nothing except fretting that I don’t have anything productive to occupy myself with. 

I did try my hand at writing. And found out that maybe I don’t want to actually. Oh, in fact, Iv been having doubts whether I really wanted to write in the future. But that dissection can wait.

Right now we’ll talk about blogging. Or my blogging, to be precise.

I don’t consider myself to be a very interesting blogger either (And no, Im not fishing for compliments). Mainly because of the absolute lack of original stuff I come up with on a regular basis. Of course there’s the rare, maybe semi-annual, post which is indeed interesting. Uh well, now that I’ve berated myself a little, I guess I can get back to attempting to write something post-worthy.

Sometime ago, I had answered a tag on ‘Reasons why I blog’. Going through that now, I really don’t think they were honest answers. The only reason I blog ought to be because nobody else would want to publish the stuff I come up with. Or for that matter, pay to read. So, that begs the question, why do I write. I think that puts the whole thing in perspective. I need to write. Not because writing is the essential me, like I claimed in that post. Not because I need to voice my opinion about the happenings around me (I do, but a vocal argument will satiate that need). Not even because I believe I could influence public debate (Anyway Im seen as no more than an immature male-chauvinist who voices everything his mother makes him believe – yeah D, that was aimed straight at you and a few others who don’t read this blog anymore).

I write because I enjoy reading what I write. Uhh no, I enjoy reading the outcome of the creativity in me. Every time I feel like writing, I intend to churn out something that satisfies that yearning in me. Often for prolonged stretches of time, my mind refuses to cooperate. And so I give up writing temporarily. I would rather live in oblivion than subject myself to reading routine boring inconsequential stuff (This of course, is about my writing, you are entitled to write what you please, and I as a dutiful blog buddy, will read)

I write because I love compliments. Not compliments like how smart I am or intelligent (They’re quite off-the-mark anyway), but compliments on my creativity. Yeah, Ill admit it, I get a kick to hear that. I don’t mind the light-headedness that comes from feeling a little superior.

I write because somewhere in the bottom of my heart, I am vain. I want to be a famous writer. Not necessarily an author, but atleast a revered columnist (yeah, I meant ‘revered’). Well, I hope I do!

****

Back to blogging. There was a time when for a few months I thought I was actually a good blogger. Good blogger as in, regular blogger plus popular blogger. And as I am wont to do, I began giving out advice on how to make your blog popular. And sometimes I get a kick out of seeing the popularity of some blogs.

It’s simple actually. And it’s high time you accepted it. You visit someone else’s blog and leave a comment, they visit yours and comment. You blogroll someone, they return the ‘favour’. Isn’t that what is known as a quid pro quo? But somewhere down the line that irked me. I didn’t add up. I know it was asking too much of a busy world that people should acknowledge me without prompting. I mean, don’t we all want to be loved without us having to demand it? That was when I started putting anonymous comments. So, I could continue ‘sampling life’ without leaving an obligation.

Well of course, I didn’t tell you. That was the period in which I was a little insane. Or rather what I would call my withdrawal phase. I got through that (Surprisingly, on my own). And then came the privacy phase. Now I suddenly didn’t want any new blog readers. But by then the blog had become quite public among my extra-net friends, even the very persons about whom I had to vent. That put writing about the questions that were bothering me out of the question.

***

But blogging is where I discovered myself. Blogging wasn’t all just about quid pro quo. Blogging was also where I realised that I am not alone. That so many people, in fact most of the people, have gone through experiences that I did, in some form or the other. That helped put problems into perspective. That people have gone through it before, and so I will also survive.

Blogging is how I learnt some of the most important lessons in life. In spite of my dislike for quid pro quo, it taught me that the value of appreciation, both given and received, as long as it isn’t fake. It teaches you that to receive you must first be willing to give. I think I can boast of atleast a few real friends over and above blog-buddies. It teaches you that you need to spend time and effort on people, that you need to empathise with them, and. It taught me to be a good friend!

Blog-world was where I made a lot of good friends. In fact, I know a lot of the people on my blogroll by their real names - from all around the world. People with whom I identified with in spite of all the differences. And for a brief period, my blog buddies were my best friends.

So you see, I didn’t have reason enough to quit blogging altogether either.

***

01 December, 2008

Holiday Blues

Iv never been in love. Atleast, not officially! But that doesnt mean that I havent felt a lot of the things that distressed lovers claim to feel. Well, so I was watching this movie 'The Holiday', starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet and Jude Law. My first movie in a long long time, but just a few minutes into it, and I was hooked. Pathetic as I think I would be with a movie review, (and anyway, I feel almost impotent creativity-wise) Ill settle with sharing a few of the dialogues that made me go "oh wow, there's someone else too"!

*****

".... because you're hoping you're wrong. And every time she does something that tells you she's no good, you ignore it. And every time she comes through and suprises you, she wins you over, and you lose that argument with yourself, that she's not for you" - on why you stick with someone who's obviously not meant for you!


"I've found almost everything ever written about love to be true. Shakespeare said 'Journeys end in lovers meeting'. What an extraordinary thought. Personally, I have not experienced anything remotely close to that, but I am more than willing to believe Shakespeare had. I suppose I think about love more than anyone really should. I am constantly amazed by its sheer power to alter and define our lives. It was Shakespeare who also said 'love is blind'. Now that is something I know to be true. For some quite inexplicably, love fades; for others love is simply lost. But then of course love can also be found, even if just for the night.
"And then, there's another kind of love: the cruelest kind. The one that almost kills its victims. Its called unrequited love. Of that I am an expert. Most love stories are about people who fall in love with each other. But what about the rest of us? What about our stories, those of us who fall in love alone? We are the victims of the one sided affair. We are the cursed of the loved ones. We are the unloved ones, the walking wounded. The handicapped without the advantage of a great parking space! Yes, you are looking at one such individual ......
"These years that I have been in love have been the darkest days of my life. All because I've been cursed by being in love with a man who does not and will not love me back. Oh god, just the sight of him! Heart pounding! Throat thickening! Absolutely can't swallow! All the usual symptoms."


"... in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason you are behaving like the best friend.You're supposed to be the leading lady of your own life, for god's sake!"


"Say a man and a woman both need something to sleep in and both go to the same men's pajama department. The man says to the salesman, 'I just need bottoms', and the woman says, 'I just need a top'. They look at each other and that's the 'meet cute'." - Well, this one doesnt really apply to me. But I thought it cute, so there it stays!


"I understand feeling as small and as insignificant as humanly possible. And how it can actually ache in places you didn't know you had inside you. And it doesn't matter how many new haircuts you get, or gyms you join, or how many glasses of chardonnay you drink with your girlfriends... you still go to bed every night going over every detail and wonder what you did wrong or how you could have misunderstood. And how in the hell for that brief moment you could think that you were that happy.
"And sometimes you can even convince yourself that he'll see the light and show up at your door. And after all that, however long all that may be, you'll go somewhere new. And you'll meet people who make you feel worthwhile again. And little pieces of your soul will finally come back. And all that fuzzy stuff, those years of your life that you wasted, that will eventually begin to fade."


"I need some peace and quiet... or whatever it is people go away for." - I DO! really do!!!!!

22 November, 2008

Rat race

Jobless, but still starved for ideas, I decide to post some of my personal writing. Something I had written a few months ago:-

Today morning on the bus, I was thinking about this conversation I had a few days ago with a friend and was mentally telling her that after all, we're all in a rat- race, and whatever the outcome, we're still rats! And I look out of the window of my bus and what do I see but a dead rat, squashed under the wheels of an indifferent vehicle right in the middle of the road.
But then thinking on, i guess thats all a part of the deal. We'll all meet our end. And then we wont be any better than that rat, dead, with with its insides out. Or even if we're better off, it wouldnt really matter.

So the thing is not to take yourself too seriously. Enjoy life while you have it. Live by Aamir Khan's advice in his new samsung ad! Find the joy in existing. Be willing to take the risks you want to, like the rodent. Take a plunge. Experience LIFE. And dont worry about what people will think about you.

Like I said, I wrote this a few months ago, while I was still in Chennnai. Im not sure I still subscribe to it! Nevertheless....

19 October, 2008

I choose!

Isn’t it much easier to just call it quits?

Does it really matter that you might get branded a loser?
How long do you battle against Fate?
How many times do you keep getting up after being knocked down?
Isn’t there a limit to self-motivation?
When does one draw the line?

Is it really worth the agony to beat an untrodden path for yourself?
Do you really need to be different?
How long do you justify you lack of exceptional talent to yourself?
How long must you keep convincing your loved ones that you’re old enough to take a decision after realizing its consequences?

How many times must you start building your life all over again?
How many times must you endure the hardships of getting off the block?
How many times do you put your Luck for enterprise to test?

Isn’t it much easier to just say ‘I quit’?

And to get on with life the way everybody else seems to be doing?
To bury your dreams and gradually forget that they existed?

Or is it worth, after all?


***

“Despite my lack of ability or interest, being on the team kept me away from the knuckle dragging bullies” - Kareem Abdul – Jabber, legend among basketball legends, on what had him started off as a basketball player, at the age of nine! (from his book ‘On the Shoulder of Giants’)

Its mad hearing of people who succeed like this. It shows that you could also be as successful, provided you make the effort. But how much of an effort?


***

Iv almost convinced my parents that I need to do something better (or rather, lesser) than being a blue collared executive-in-the-making if I were to find peace of mind. And though they’ve come to accept it, they, like most parents, would prefer I did something that would keep at least myself financially secure from day one.

Now starts the dilemma. Convincing your parents (of all people) that you are talented or that you can ultimately make it big isn’t really difficult. Convincing (or even, finding someone who wants to be convinced) a prospective employer is! So, thus another job search trudges on. And even before its really started, you have to contend with the rebuffs as well as the constant discouragements from people who think they know all that can happen! At least, I was saved the misery of having to bear the agony of being ignored by people you considered as friends and who were in a position to help. In fact, Iv got a lot to be thankful in that regard. All my through my travails, Iv found a lot of people willing to help, help more than was necessary, and to help like as if I had given them a life or something.

But still, you need to explain the lack of progress to yourself, and that makes you feel like quitting. And so often, I feel like I could actually quit.

In fact, I could just decide that my dreams were just idealistic cravings, and set about building a career in finance. Im sure with the attractions, I could get settled quite fast in life (in all respects) and who knows maybe Ill even be happy!

And if Im not, Iv got a wonderful excuse. That my parents wanted me to do something safer. And safety comes with its cost. A lack of excitement!

But I couldn’t get away with that. Because today the choice is open. Today when Im choosing, I need to consider that ultimately my parents did give me a free hand, that I have to own up to my decisions rather than leaving room for scapegoats!

Today I need to tell myself that I can choose an adventurous life. One that will at the very least deliver in terms of excitement, if not achievements. But more importantly, I need to tell myself that I must choose to follow my dream or not to. I really cant put the blame on somebody else for the way my life turns out when it really is in my hands.

Iv chosen adventure. Trying to beat a path for myself. Im sure Ill succeed. But even if I don’t, Ill have made my own choices, like a Man

20 September, 2008

Tagged to the Rescue

Starved for ideas, who wouldnt take up the offer of a tag? Well, for the few of you who still dont know, Im under net-arrest, meaning, Im not allowed to use the net because Im supposed to be studying for a great big exam, and I cant afford to be distracted. Atleast mom thinks so, and while Im at home, rules go! So that leaves me with the precious few hours I get on saturday. So there goes the answers to a few tags. One by D and another from VJ

Of course, that leaves me with no time to read all your posts and all. But then, you'll understand, havent I been the best of blog buddies while I could? anyways... read on.


    If your lover betrayed you, what will your reaction be?
    HURT. I really don’t know if Ill be angry.

(I do sometimes wonder whether Ill be the one who cheats. I hope I don’t. Im not sure if adultery’s not ok. But Im sure that its NOT FAIR!)

    If you can have a dream come true, what would it be?
    Be known as India’s most trusted man. I mean, seriously :D

    Whose butt would you like to kick?
    On second thoughts, I would kick the chairman of the CA institute, as a representation of what I think of the whole lot of them.

    What would do with a billion dollars?
    Gosh. Maybe Ill write to Forbes. Just in case they didn’t hear of it. But seriously I don’t want a billion dollars. I need to build a house because mom insists it is necessary. I need to have enough to raise a pair of children if ever I have them without making them feel depraved. And I need a little to travel the world for the rest of my life. Does that call for a billion dollars?

But yeah, a worthwhile idea would be to buy off a good newspaper or a TV channel. Apart from the fact that it would solve my employment woes (:-D) it would also give some competition for Rupert Murdoch before he finally k icks the bucket! (Y ou know, I still harbour dreams of some media baron taking a liking to me and offering me 25% of his company, only to die without a heir, and Ill buy off the other 75% too – Like in ‘Kane and Abel’)

    Will you fall in love with your best friend?
    I would fall in love only with my best friend. I don’t know, I cant think of any relationship that isn’t intimate to the absolute.

    Which is more blessed: loving someone or being loved by someone?
    I guess its being loved. It gives you a reason to be around.

    How long do you intend to wait for someone you love?
    To quote Mark Twain, Id wait for her for half my life, if I can meet her before the other half. But of course, do tell me if you know any shortcuts.

    If the person you secretly like is attached, what will you do?
    Oh well, a few weeks ago, I did something, and suffice it to say that I characteristically messed it up. So, Im back to ‘The hardest thing Iv ever done, is keep believing, there’s someone in this crazy world for me’ and ‘I know I need to be in love’. God bless the Carpenters!

    If you could root for one social cause, what would it be?
    Domestic Violence. Ill treatment of women. But I wouldn’t call it women’s rights!

    What takes you down the fastest?
    Insensitivity to others. And people who'r so full of themselves already.

    Where do you see yourself in 10 years time?
    A successful journalist, career wise. And happy, life-wise.

    What’s your fear?
    Living long – that is, long enough without being able to eat the things that I can today. Everything sweet, spicy and oily!

    What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is?

Well, Ill say this. She’s in the best love story Iv actually come across in real life. And thats saying something, methinks!


14. Would you rather be single and rich or married and poor?
You got me there! But no, I wouldn wanna be poor, whatever be the sacrifice.

15. If you fall in love with two people simultaneously who will you pick?
The person with whom I can be myself, and the person who wouldn’t have to

change for me. The person who I enjoy spending time with!

16. Would you give all in a relationship?
Yes. Period. And I wouldn’t get into any relationship where all isn’t required.

17. Would you forgive and forget someone no matter how horrible a thing he has

done?
Well, actually yes. maybe Im not being manly. But actually, I find it quite easy to get over an incident, if I

see the remorse and the sorry’s. I mean, I melt quite easily.


18. Do you prefer being single or in a relationship?
After hearing that D prefers being single, Im having second thoughts, but yeah, as

of now, relationship!

And then this. I wrote this a week ago, but couldn’t get around to posting!

My oldest memory :

Well, its funny, but my earliest memories wouldn’t really be about me. It would be something like watching Anil Kumble screw the famed West Indian opposition with 6 wickets at the Eden Gardens (which, I was watching while everyone else was celebrating a friends birthday in the next room). Or reading in the papers that Kapil Dev was the highest wicket–taker in the world. I remember that the previous day I had argued with a friend that he wasn’t – Because I hadn’t read that in the papers. (I think that hasn’t changed over 14 years. Ignorance combined with too much of arrogance to match intelligence!)

Another memory catches me. This same friend and I had once hatched a plan to write a song. My dad had assured me that it was pretty easy. And we reasoned why not! So, at the appointed time we both sat down with our tools – pen, paper and, of all things, a dictionary. Well, suffice it to say that that was my earliest memory of a writers block. We gave it up as a bad job some 15 minutes into trying. That might have been the first among many incidents that took away from my admiration for my dad (which is at its nadir right now)

Thinking it over, I remember squinting at bus #123 in Bangalore (that’s when my parents noticed maybe I had a problem with my sight – I was eight then)

I remember envying my school chums who could buy ice creams from the roadside vendors, something that my parents insisted were too unhygienic)

I remember being at a friends birthday party in which I could choose from the wrapped gifts. I so wanted a miniature bow and arrow that a lot of other guys wanted, but all that turned up was a Cadbury bar.

I remember watching a football match at this friends place. Lazio Vs Ajax. I now remember that it was he who was so gaga about AC Milan, but since then, there’s a bond between me and the club!

Gosh, I remember Yoko Zuna lock up the Undertaker in his own coffin.

Need I go on?

10 years ago:

Feeling too important for my shoes! Sulking after yet another fight with mom. Sulking after being told by my uncles that boys would many more things than curl up in bed with a Hardy boys on a holiday. Sulking over the fact that not one girl really would talk to me for more than a couple of sentences and that the guys only made fun of me. Sulking after being told by mom that I wasn’t allowed to play, because my marks weren’t good enough (less than 60% in 8th standard, fyi. We still joke about those days) and aaah, feeling relieved after using yet another lecture to do something useful – like, read that novel or take a nap!


My first thought today morning :

Yippee, finally todays internet day again! Oh by the way I should have slept a little more. To see what happened after I ended up at the dentist clinic to undergo some tests to my brain! Gosh… btw, any of you guys can read dreams, by any chance? In case you could, I can clarify that the concerned doctor is actually a urologist, and that for some crazy reason I was chewing strips of cinnamon in his room, and he made me spit it out, which was when mom decided I had overslept enough!

My time capsule would contain :

Haha. I guess the answer will have to be some motivational speeches I seem to be fond of making to myself when noone’s around. And some really really interesting though twisted, philosophies on life! Its bound to come out sometime.

This year :

Has been wonderful. Even its nastiness. Finally, Iv come of age in the School of Life. Learned to decide what’s best for me!

(Update: ah well, you know those games of ‘snake and ladder’ in which you crawl all the way up, only to be bitten by the longest snake to end up in square two? That’s where I am today. Hmmmph… come of age! Fat chance)

I think this would sum it up – The year the 23 year old boy turned into a 24 year old man! (of course, still untested by the fires that await men, but nevertheless!)

14 years from now :

Be happily married, or happily unmarried – Happy anyway! And well on my way to becoming India’s most trusted journalist, if not the best!!!!!

11 September, 2008

The Circle of Life

They used to play a game during break time. Table Tennis on the thin classroom desks with two pencil boxes arranged midway to serve as the net. Well, He was a master on that surface. As much as it kept him from scoring even a point on the regular TT court, he could beat the very best in this format. And he had a wonderful bat that everyone would borrow. Not the TT racquets with glazed surfaces that you see these days, but one with groves on the face that aided his high-speed top spins, back spins and whateverelse spins! But that isn’t the crux of the story. One day a fight broke out and one guy, lets call him Keji, was banished from this small playing community. The bully of the class, decided that he wasn’t fit to play with them. But Keji happened to be the friend of our protagonist.

Well, he got all worked up and started with a carrot and stick negotiation. Over the next two periods, he had very clearly spelt out that if Keji wasn’t reinstated, he was also pulling out, and naturally his racquet would also go with him.

Now, as the story turned out, at lunch break, they were all still playing. Keji has been reinstated. But our friend is out. And what’s worst, they shamelessly ask him for his racquet as, in any case, he had said he wasn’t interested in playing.

This story has kept on repeating ever since. The characters change. The settings change. But unfairness doesn’t. And he makes it his business to fight. Holding on to pride and honour. The pride of standing up for a friend. The honour of doing what he felt was right. Not realising that the world really didn’t need his huge efforts. That it has always been on the go. And that it would move on in spite of whatever happened within. Not realising that the ones he sought to help themselves had moved on.

Holding a fort that was no longer there! Duelling a shadow! Helping friends who were in need of help. Not realising that they didn’t need it any more.

Like Forrst Gump. They asked him only to run. They didn’t bother stopping him after their purpose was served. They had better things to do in life!
---------

We are all optimists. And we believe in the Circle of Life. But does the so called circle necessarily have to come a full circle. I was reading Khaled Hosseini’s ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ yesterday. This story talks about two women in war-torn Afghanistan, almost fifteen years apart in age, and pretty much as separated in terms of cultural background, who end up fated to marry a man about 30 and 45 years older to them respectively. A man who, at the very least would give them a home.

Their life with him is miserable. But again to put it in perspective you could see that it could have been much worse. But the fates of the two women are different. The older woman, Mariam, a harami – fatherless-, kills the man to save the other woman Laila from getting killed by him, and gets exected by the Taliban for the crime. Laila escapes and in the end, to prove that love triumphs, gets reunited with her childhood sweetheart, and the father of her daughter, and has a happy life in Hamid Karzai’s Afganistan.

But the contrast is stark. Mariam. Brought up in a kolba, a mud hut which was all her single mother had, she is made to believe that what she was granted was indeed happiness. As if it was her fault that she was born a harami. She loses her mother because of an adventurous mistake she makes, and gets married off to a life of complete misery.

On the other hand, Laila grew up in native Kabul, the daughter of loving parents, in the company of her best friend Tariq. She loses them all, and she also ends up in Mariam’s house.

But life doesn’t come a full circle for them. Laila, brought up in happiness, has a happy ending to her woes. Mariam, born a loser, dies, though valiantly, a loser. Her only claim having helped the younger Laila to live through the debacle.
And it gives me the jolts. All the optimism is centred around the idea that life will come a full circle, and my time will indeed come. But what if it doesnt?