27 August, 2007

Writer unblocked

A few days ago Devanshi was talking about the writers block. Well, if it actually means what I think it means, she was talking about what all a faithfull blogger can do when he/she stops having the inspiration to write, or something in that line. Anyways, among the options she came up with (some of them, as bizarre as talking about the weather - man, you do that, and you're banished from my blogosphere for life, period) the only one that actually appealed to me was do nothing. And believe it or not, the lady herself seemed to take quite well to the suggestion. But tongue in cheek, the next day she comes out with a new post with an excellent theme !
Now, for someone like me, who is superstitious in a bizarre way, but also understands the concept of probability, it logically follows that whenever you find yourself short of inspiration, you just need to rant about the lack of inspiration, and touchwood, bang come the ideas the very next day!
Or maybe, I thought. ill atleast try to convince the few people who actually manage to reach this space that it isnt because of lack of effort that it seems forever since I last posted. To be frank, Iv started on 3 posts in the last two weeks. (phew!) One about Hutch having changed my price plan without informing me, again. (Oh well, btw thats a long story. last month they did it the first time and I almost took them to court before their chief accountant rang me up and admitted her mistake. And she was pleading so badly that I decided I wouldnt even press for damages - in terms of time and effort wasted digging through TRAI regulations and running from Hutch pillar to Hutch post ( I even felt a lot of our Govt offices give more customer satisfaction than a private telecom operator) - Anyway this time they had timed the change in priceing of sms's for the whole of Chennai to coincide with the day of my having completed six months of being a Hutch customer, so now they could fool around with me, and not give a damn!)
Then I thought, i think it was last sunday, of telling you of my secret so-called fears. Oh yeah, I was really depressed by the time I reached half way, with stuff like the fear that I would forever go on being lazy and lousy, sleep on unmade beds, with the lights on, littered with 2 day old newspapers, and sometimes even the clothes I wore to to office that day, or that I would never become India's answer to Warren Buffet combined with Peter Lynch (Well to save you from worrying your head off on that, they were two of the most successfull investors ever) or Siddarth Basu, Prannoy Roy and Rajdeep Sardesai combined. Tell you what, I got all worked up and started coming up with weird worries like going bald by the time I become 25, that i decided to stop right there! The third post i started on, i actually dont even remember what it was about, though it wasnt worth being on my blog anyway. For leads, it was an answer to a tag i really didn feel like answering
Anyway, today, when work became a little boring, I got hooked on to another blog from an unlikely source. Dmitry Tursunov, a not so famed tennis player, with a famed tennis blog. Somehow I get the feeling that he should be likened to the WTA players. The players that get huge followings for reasons completely unconnected to their game. Like lets say, the length of their skirts! anyway this guy used to have a really cool blog. He starts a post by saying that he wasnt feeling like writing anything interesting today, and goes on to keep you struggling to hold on to your seats. And he very freely picks on all his fellow players, which of course is great reading for our controversy scouting minds!
Well, reading that, like reading anything creative these days, gave me the really pinching feeling that I could write something that is damn funny even when i really dont have a special topic with a four syllable heading and three pages of long and winding prose! But then again, when i sit down to actually do it, Hermione Granger's (yo right, the Harry potter gal who knows just about anything) words keep echoing in my head. You cant make something out of nothing, even with magic. By the way she called it the law of some over-complicated word that even I cant remember.
So now, my only hope is the writers block unblocked, and that ill come up with some breakthrough ideas in tonights dream and tomorrow you'll have the blogpost of your life!

07 August, 2007

Two for the price of one

There are songs, and then there are great songs. Great songs with melody persuasive enough to keep you listening to it over and over again. Great songs with out of the world lyrics. Lyrics that are imaginative, and make you want to hear the song again just to catch the lyrics another time.
Among the many songwriters that I have followed, I have always been a fan of Elton John (of course, without forgetting his main lyricist Tim Rice (who wrote 'Candle in the wind', for Marilyn Monroe and 'Can you feel the love tonight' from "Lion King" for him as well as a lot of broadway musicals for Andrew Lloyd Webber). But the song that has enchanted me most is one that was written by Elton along with Bernie Taupin, who certainly had more than his share of disappointments like Elton. During their earliest days together, he and Elton were unhappily trying to be commercial songwriters.
The song talks about a youth who seeks to make a living in the "Emerald City", the land of opportunity, a town where troubles wash away. Instead, the youth is exploited for his talents and decides to abandon this place of vanquished dreams and decides to go back home where his future really lies.
For some reason or the other, this song reminds me of a world I struggled to like, never actually managed to do so, and finally give up for good, not even despairing about it. The world of being a budding Chartered Accountant. A world which, to me, can only be explained as unfairness impersonified. Even cruelty garbed in the sexy robes of hope.

And it appeals to me because it was quite obvious from the start that CA wasnt my destiny. Of course, it was a fine profession. It commanded a lot of respect. Money was there to be earned. They coloured it with the exotic hues of future prospects. But then yeah, the caveat too was accetable. Hard work, dedication. But then wasnt that a normal thing? But well, to keep it short, what transpired was a world where the mantra was work and only work, which again, isnt a bad thing on the face of it. But for a restless, fun loving guy like me, it was a bit too much. And anyway, i always studied it half heartedly.

To me, Charterered Accountants were just pretentious hypocrites. Pretentious, because they pretend they are happy, and that this is the life they yearned for (well, I know a few of them personally), and hypocrites, because they go around with the air of being the most knowledgable persons in the world, when, like most of you now know, they are just a bunch of arrogant self proclaimed intellectuals, who barely know anything (atleast, most of them) beyond the numbers they audit, who make a living -to crudely state the facts- finding fault, and even at their pinacle of professional excellence, cannot be trusted to give the truth (well, to be frank, while analysing companies, Iv been always suspect of the sanctity of its audited financial statements, which ultimately defeats the purpose - with a thousand standards and laws that justify not having to be absolutely certan)

So whenever I hear this song, there is an emphatic statement from the bottom of my heart to all those who think they can fool me about paradise, and to all my co labourers, who still go on believing in the dream that the suffering is for a moment and all that jazz... I actually compare you to the black slaves in 19th century America

So here is a dedication to the lot of you. Chartered Accountants, students, and most importantly, my old boss and colleagues who thought I wouldnt ever leave for all the threats I made. Who thought I actually cared!
When are you gonna come down
When are you going to land
I should have stayed on the farm
I should have listened to my old man
You know you can't hold me forever I didn't sign up with you
I'm not a present for your friends to open This boy's too young to be singing the blues
So goodbye yellow brick road
Where the dogs of society howl
You can't plant me in your penthouse
I'm going back to my plough
Back to the howling old owl in the woods
Hunting the horny back toad
Oh i've finally decided my future lies Beyond the yellow brick road
What do you think you'll do then
I bet that'll shoot down your plane
It'll take you a couple of vodka and tonics
To set you on your feet again
Maybe you'll get a replacement There's plenty like me to be found
Mongrels who ain't got a penny Sniffing for tidbits like you on the ground
And oh yeah, this is just my destiny. You choose yours. I decided that hyped up values arent worth dying for. But dont be fooled into thinking that success in life is just about working all day and night, money, deserved or not, and social acceptability. Hmm, maybe success is all about that, but then, Id rather not be 'successfull'... !
Well to leave you in a better mood, heres another song. Again, commemorating a favorite lyricist. Oh ya its ABBA (for those of you who dont know, my music begins and ends there - and Iv loaded my player with every ABBA song) but well, this song is different. For story telling it could rival Jeffrey Archer. Read on
He had what you might call a trivial occupation
He cleaned the platforms of the local railway station
With no romance in his life Sometimes he wished he had a wife
He read the matrimonial advertising pages
The cries for help from different people, different ages
But they had nothing to say At least not until the day
When something special he read
This is what it said:
If you dream of the girl for you Then call us and get two for the price of one
We're the answer if you feel blue So call us and get two for the price of one
If you dream of the girl for you Why don't you call us and you'll get two for the price of one
We may be the answers to your problem, a chance with we two
So call us and get two for the price of one
He called the number and a voice said, 'Alice Whiting'
The voice was husky and it sounded quite exciting
He was amazed at his luck The purest streak of gold he'd struck
He said, 'I read your ad, it sounded rather thrilling
I think a meeting could be mutually fulfilling
Why don't we meet for a chat The three of us in my flat I can't forget what I read'
She said, "I'm sure we must be perfect for each other
And if you doubt it you'll be certain when you meet my mother"
Cheers... Ab

01 August, 2007

The Gandhiji way!

So Sanjay Dutt is finally going back to jail. The judge, His honour (excuse me, is that allowed?) Pramod Kode of course had to choose between seeing himself decried on the evening news (which these days, goes on for about 24 hours) by social activists as being lenient to a public figure, and being decried by the rest of the nation as not being lenient to the only public figure who managed to convincingly remind us of Gandhiji's message in living memory.
Well, going by news reports, the scene at the courtroom could very well have been coreographed to oblige some director waiting to finish off a film before the protagonist is rushed off to jail. It seems, (and somehow, reading it in 'the Hindu makes it hard to disbelieve) Mr Dutt, after hearing the verdict, walked back to the witness box with folded hands and tried pleading with the judge (and you thought that could happen only in a bollywood movie) that he had spent more time in jail than with his family (NDTV). Well, to be frank, I think for that one sin, he ought to be jailed for six years, considering that the 48 year old had spent just 16 months in Jail... If he wasnt with family, where on earth was he?
the judge, on his part, consoled him saying that he had 'taken away' just 6 years from his life, and he could go on acting till he was 100! six years people, the judge would have retired by then, and who knows, grown tired of watching Amitabh Bachchan as the omniscient daddy. Oh and yes, and the judge also did mention that he was bound by duty.
So, anyway, pending appeal at the supreme court, the actor is going to jail for 'a mistake he committed 14 years ago'. (Before you laugh at how fast things are done in India, remember that a trial in Canada on a plane hijack in 1987 commenced a few months ago, and had much more loopholes) A few american papers latched onto the words 'with terrorist connections' for their headlines.
Okay, now lets get our thinking hats on. One, do you think its justice, and only justice, is what was done in Dutt's case? I mean, without donning the black robes. Im afraid not. Now dont go gaga about the law taking its course, or that everybody is equal in the eyes of the law.
More seriously, for sometime, I have been perturbed (and their seems to be a huge number of things that dont in the least concern me, that I am perturbed about these days) by the question, Does law, the way it is established, actually give any room for circumstances (as opposed to 'facts') of the case? Lets talk about the Indian doctor who found himself on the wrong side of the by now fabled, 'war on terror'. All he was, and could be convicted was of having unsuspectingly left a sim card in the hands of a cousin, whom he would have known since the younger of them was born. Now look, I exchanged the first sim card i bought with my then room-mate, whom I had known for few months, just because I didn like the number (duhhh!)
How much more common would it be for this doctor to have passed it to his cousin. But there was no limit to the mental torture that he had to endure. So, to repeat the question, does law, stony faced as it is, allow for an arbitrageur to take this into consideration?
Back to the question of Sanjay Dutt, there's no denying he has suffered more than most of his fellow convicts. He had a past. And he was raw meat for a controversy starved nation (hey, Im talking about 10 years ago, when Richard Gere and Mandira Bedi werent at large)
Of course, his peaking career is not a defense in law. His possesion of arms evidenced, as the judge rightly put it, a scant disregard for law. But an uncleared convict is no more free, than a man on parole. 14 years is a long time. And after all, we're all sure he just did something foolish. A foolish thing , which he, Im surer, had no idea carried a sentence of 5-10 years imprisonment.