Friday, 29 February 2008

For Love or Money

He knew as she cut the call that he'd never speak to her again. It was inevitable, once he told her how much he earned. It was like a switch had gone off.
That was how it had been with most of the women (she wasn't the first, of course). What had surprised him about this one was how soon it had all ended. Usually he could keep them interested a little longer. That is, till they started talking about money and what he did for a living. He'd tried lying about it a couple of times, but they seemed to get the truth out of him eventually.
He'd now become so inured to the rejection that this one almost didn't sting. Besides, he consoled himself, that girl from GE Money would be calling him back on Monday, and she had that pleasingly-pleading tone in her voice of a girl who was behind on her monthly personal loan sales targets.

Happy Birthday, Kracker-boy! This one's for you.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Kyonki Maham Anga bhi kabhi bahu thi

Watched 'Jodhaa Akbar' last night with Mohit and Mack. Show started at 10.00 PM, ended at 2.00 AM. 4 hours of slow period cinema that basically depicts Akbar as a hopelessly romantic sap who got bossed around by women and spent most of his time mooning around his zenana waiting to get some action from his wife. The acting makes the movie seem like a glorified school play, and given the amount of money spent on the locations , the costumes and the sets, there are hardly any great-looking scenes. The battle scenes look like they got truncated to save on production expenses, and the music's not that great either. Instead, all you've got Ila Arun playing Maham Anga like the evil mother-in-law from some Balaji soap opera.
My key take-away from the movie - work out like crazy, because when all else fails in trying to impress a girl, you can just take off your shirt and pose in front of her balcony and she's sure to get all weak-kneed and mushy in no time. Who said history never teaches us anything?

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Speak no Evil

Mathew Hayden has apparently stirred up the waters again, calling Bhajji an 'obnoxious weed' on radio. As far as I can tell, that's not an Aussie term of endearment, so I suppose he was being critical. Cricinfo now reports that Hayden has been reprimanded by Cricket Australia and, 'in the spirit of the game', has accepted their decision.
While all this is pretty farcical, it does make it pretty obvious that the Aussies are definitely out to get under the metaphorical skin of the Indian team. So the obvious question is, what should the Indians do? They definitely can't sledge back because, let's face it, they're really bad at it. They're not too articulate, which means that they're a lot more likely to say something that's obviously offensive, instead of being clever and using polysyllabic words that the ICC's Code of Conduct does not cover as yet.
Instead, I suggest they get in touch with their Indian roots and start off a well-publicised campaign of Gandhigiri. The CB series finals will be the last few international games for Gilchrist and Hogg, so it gives a readymade opportunity tothrow as many soundbytes out there as possible saying what wonderful competitors they, and by extension the Australian team, are and such-like and clapping for them at every opportunity, even ( or especially,wink wink) when they mess up. They should make it a point to clap for anyone who makes a half-decent score. Perhaps even call Hayden and Ponting 'Uncle' out of respect -after all Haden is nearly twice Ishant Sharma's age. I'd like to see how the Aussies would respond to that. Complaining that the Indians are being insincere would be churlish, being rude would make them look outright boorish and being polite back would mean that they're being taught manners by a bunch of kids half their age.
Of course, it's important that the media is carefully handled in this. Dhoni would need to give an interview on how the team got together and watched 'Lage Raho Munnabhai' and decided that they'd use Gandhigiri to face up to all the negativity, Bhajji would have to say that he's reformed and maybe Robin Uthappa can talk about how he feels connected to his heritage through non-violence. It's the kind of position that they can't lose from - the Aussie media won't be able to criticize it without sounding like they're criticizing Gandhi himself, the Indian media will go crazy showing stock footage of Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi, and even if they mess up, they can always apologize and talk about how bad they feel for letting the team and their fans and everyone else down and give their best repentant-schoolboy look.
It's not a strategy that would have worked under, say, Dravid, but with Dhoni as captain, I'd say it's workable. He's already won plaudits for his charisma and the way he's led the team by example, AND he's got that beatific smile.
It's a perfect strategy, just as long as no-one talks about Gandhiji's three monkeys.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Thoughts from a weekend of mall-ratting

I spent quite a bit of time this weekend at 2 malls near my house, shopping for groceries, eating a couple of meals and generally watching the populace since that seemed like a wannabe-writer-type thing to do. Came up with a few random thoughts, which probably don't merit entire posts on their own- that just clutters up the RSS feed - so instead, I'm going to lay them out as part of a single, rambling post. So here goes:

Thought 1: There's something very endearing about watching grown people travelling on escalators for the first few times. This is a sight you still see pretty often in places like Bangalore and Mumbai in the malls, especially on the weekends. As they get onto the escalators their faces express apprehension and excitement in equal measure, and then their expression changes to one of wonderment and joy as they get borne up (or down). There's something very child-like and innocent about that, about seeing people find wonder in something that others consider mundane.

Thought 2: The fact that ice-cream sold in the food courts is over-priced may be a good thing. Since any craving for ice-cream is purely for taste, not nutritional value, the marginal utility gained from eating more ice-cream beyond a single scoop is very small. On the other hand, it does impose an additional 'cost' on the consumer in terms of filling him/her up with 'empty' calories and preservatives. The high price of the ice cream at the food court therefore (however unconsciously) internalises these negative aspects, causing the consumer to buy a more optimal amount of ice-cream. At least, that's how I rationalized the fact that I was paying thirty bucks for a tiny little half-scoop of ice-cream at the Swirls stall.

Thought 3: I saw this middle-aged woman with her daughter and (probably) the daughter's boyfriend, waiting to buy a sandwich at Subway. She had the sort of bad haircut (really short and straight) they give women when they've fallen badly ill or got some sort of mental disorder (I hope that's a politically correct way of putting it), and she just seemed rather lost, singing some kind of song to herself. I gave her a bit of a half-smile which no-one else caught, at which point she started smiling back at me. The daughter didn't see me smile, so she scolded the mother for smiling at a stranger. I thought I'd step in and explain, but then I figured he daughter seemed to be having a tough enough time holding it all together without having strangers tell them when it was okay for her mother to smile. It can get pretty tough taking care of people who are ill.

Thought 4: I realized I'm usually very polite to strangers like sales-people and auto-drivers. I'm not sure if that's because I'm just generally a nice guy, or if it's because there's a competitive streak in my Good Mallu Catholic Holier-than-Thou blood that wants to get a few extra points on a scale of relative holiness.

Holy Matrimony

Kerala, as everybody knows, is God's own country. Like all good Malayalis, however, God too emigrated at the first opportunity, and now sends home monthly remittances to the family. The fact that God has done so well for Himself is a matter of great pride to His extended family as also sundry neighbours and friends. Although God no longer resides there, that has not stopped them from throwing their weight around based on their close proximity to the house of God. Of late, there has been some comment among the more aged relatives that it's about time He settled down, and the search has begun in earnest for a suitable bride. While it is in itself a difficult task to find a good God-fearing girl (for all good Malayali wives must fear their husbands, or at least appear to do so in public), the relatives admit in private that the greater difficulty lies in finding a girl with a father rich enough to afford a wedding reception fit for Divinity.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

My notebook

This is the cover of the notebook I'm using currently at work. More interesting blogging will be done tomorrow, hopefully.
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Friday, 22 February 2008

Taken out of context

We know you, we know your children, husband, neighbors, so these are the
ways to make sure, as best as you can, so that the things that you promise that
you'll do, you're doing exactly that.

Sounds ominous right? Maybe not. Link via How the World Works.

Plan B

Back in third year of college when I was slogging for CAT, I used to get asked what I'd do if I didn't make it. My back-up plan basically involved lying low till I was 30, trying not to do too much damage to my liver, and wait until all my contemporaries at college hit it big, at which point I'd write a semi-autobiographical book, full of veiled references, innuendo and snarky remarks about all of them. Sort of like 'The Class' meets Shobha De meets 'The Dilbert Principle'. Maybe even throw in some junk about elephants and beggars and Random Phrases capitalized for No Apparent Reason, just for the Booker crowd. Once that came out, I could get onto the Page-3 bandwagon for a while, eating one free meal a day at some party or other and air-kissing with the best of them. Give that a couple of years, gather up enough material, then write another tell-all book which would get me kicked off the party circuit. By this time I'd also find a cause to espouse- I'm guessing Arundhati Roy would be forgotten by then, so there'd be a a niche there that could need to be filled. Another few years of rabble-rousing, denouncing capitalism and so on, then on to the next step - spiritualism (with the customary tell-all book punctuating the shift). My liver would probably need the break by then. After that, I don't know - maybe a couple of books after that where I ask for forgiveness from all the people I've bitched about until then. Things get a little hazy around that point.
So I was thinking about this recently while putting up all these blog posts, and I figured I'm still pretty much on track. It's up to all of you guys now to hit it big. And don't forget to put up embarrassing tidbits about yourself on facebook while you're becoming successful. Remember, I'll be taking notes.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

How much is that Hoggy in the window?

The one in the Australian tail?
Much has been made of the IPL auction and the way money's been thrown about almost indiscriminately at the various players. Cricinfo has a summary on the auction, with a picture of SRK and wife looking like Yash and Avanti Birla -wannabes, and there's another on what the team compositions are like. There's also loads of stuff floating around all over the net on the merits and demerits of the league and stuff, and I've blogged on it as well.
There's been a lot of comparison with other sports and sporting leagues, especially football and the EPL. As it happens, I just finished reading Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby. It's an account of his life as an Arsenal fan, and that too as an Arsenal fan when they were rough, middle-of-the-road plodders rather than the extremely rich Francophone plodders they are now. There's something deeply personal about the way he talks about his total obsession with the club. It gives an insight into one aspect of club football that the commentators on the IPL have not touched on much-namely, the fans. It's different from international sport, where you'd almost always support your own national team. With clubs, you choose whom to support, and it's not necessary that those around you may agree.
The book got made into a movie with Colin Firth, then another movie set in Boston starring Drew Barrymore, with the Gunners replaced by the Red Sox (digression: last year when the Red Sox won the World Series we had a guy from the Boston office here in Bangalore with us, and he was trying to explain how crazy people in Boston were about the Red Sox, so he referred to the movie; I don't think he was too pleased when I told him that the movie was an adaptation of a story originally based on soccer).
The book stops in 1992, the year that the EPL was set up, before money really started flowing into English football through TV rights and all the international players started flooding in. Arsenal has since then become a richer and much more successful team, with a large worldwide, but I wonder if the fans are anywhere as fanatical these days.
Cricket, especially in India, rarely seems to care too much about the fans - as long as you've goto your TV on, it doesn't matter what you really feel about the game. And even the administrators would probably laugh at the thought of going and watching the game at the ground. Maybe with the IPL we might see a change. And with it, we might see some interesting fan literature as well.

A (More or Less) True Story

Once upon a time, 4 men, including one Supposedly Wise One, were walking down to the Mother Dairy booth. It was late evening and the sky was clear of clouds and sprinkled with various shiny celestial bodies. One man looked up and saw an especially twinkly one, and claimed it was a planet. Another claimed it was a star, and the third for the sake of variety claimed it was part of a meteor shower. Much loud discussion ensued on who was correct.
All three then turned to the Supposedly Wise Man (SWM, henceforth) and asked him for his expert opinion. The SWM turned to them, gave them his most sagely, beatific smile and said, "The best way to ensure that your opinion is always considered to be an expert one, is to keep your mouth shut when you don't have a clue."
Such is the way of the SWM.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Running Commentary

For some reason I've gotten into a long and somewhat pointless argument with colours on Mumbai. I'm not sure who he/she is, all I know is that s/he posted a comment on my blog and then I checked out his/her blog and saw that post and it was late at night and I guess I do like Bombay enough to stand up for it and anyway it's better than B'lore and well you know it's pretty late as I write this as well which is why this is such a long and pointless sentence.
Anyway, go read the post and the comments if you're bored and have bandwidth. Put down any comments you may have. (Note: I reserve judgement on any other content on the blog - it's not really stuff that makes me go wow!, but hey if it pushes your buttons then good for you).
Colours, you can thank me later for the plug.

UPDATE: Ah shucks! Looks like colours has decided that he/she doesn't want to come out and play. Um... Sorry?

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Thoughts on watching the highlights of today's game...

How come when India's bowlers turn in a sub-par performance (by the high standards they've set in recent games), the batsmen finally decide to get into the act?
How come Ravi Shastri is allowed to call (the umpire) Peter Parker 'Porky' every time he mentions him? It may not be racist, but it's definitely insensitive.
I wonder if it would be a good idea to bring back Mohammed Kaif. The team needs someone in the middle order with some experience and maturity to complement Yuvraj and Dhoni. It will be a little hard on Uthappa, but then he's not really doing too much with the chances he's getting right now.
In the post-Tendulkar era, this would be my team:
Openers: Sehwag and Gambhir, with Uthappa as back-up
Middle order: Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj, Kaif - Uthappa could fit in here too ,
or Dhoni in India. Not Pathan though - he's perfect at no.7 and and first
change bowler
All-rounders: Dhoni, Pathan, Piyush Chawla. Maybe Praveen
Kumar could fit in, though he's still got some way to go
Bowlers: Harbhajan, and any 2 out of Ishant, Sree Santh, RP, or Zaheer.
Maybe Murali Karthik as back-up for Bhajji.
There you go - no players as illustrious as any of the Big Four point Five (that's Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Kumble and Laxman), but that could well be their strength, with everyone contributing. Sort of like the Sri Lankan team under Ranatunga.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Saying Thanks for the little things

Now if only I could think of someone on my friend list on facebook to send this to...

Getting Whooped by Sajan Nair

Played cricket this Saturday. First time in 2 months, since I messed up the foot. Set up a match with the Cricinfo people. Among other things, it definitely helped raise my profile amongst my colleagues -went from being 'that strange guy who falls asleep at his desk every afternoon and has a blocked nose almost everyday' to ' that guy who went to college with George Binoy'. It worked back at the bank as well.
We've got an intra-office cricket tournament coming up and the department is setting up it's team, so the match was to help us figure out exactly where we stand. It turns out that we stand mostly at the edge of the boundary, waiting to go retrieve the ball when it gets picked up from outside off to be planted anywhere between square-leg and long-on. We got to 74 of 12 overs, they got to that in about 6. Not a confidence-booster. At the end of it all, thankfully, my foot didn't hurt, although every other body part did.
Somewhat strange to think that the most exciting thing that's happening in my life right now is an intra-office cricket tournament. A year back I would've laughed at that thought. Two years back I might have even turned my nose up at it. Wonder if it means that my go-getter enthu is running out, or it's just me slowing down to Bangalore's pace.
Anyway, cricket is a better way to spend Saturdays than roaming about the neighbourhood checking out new department stores.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Another Brick in the Deewar

The D-school alumni network alerted me to this video on Facebook. Interesting way to get people to take notice of the old pink building. And I suppose they can be forgiven for claiming that students discuss the upcoming budget over coffee. They're usually discussing how to finish the course in 2 years without going through too much trauma. I wonder what the faculty thought of it, especially considering the stated opinion of at least one of them that the real world is 'a little over-rated'.

As for the policy suggestions, I'm not sure Chidambaram would be rushing to implement too many of them. Besides, some probably need to be fleshed-out more - for example, lower tax rates would prove useful only if you remove tax loopholes across the system. Also, I don't know how good an idea reverse mortgages are - besides the risks of predatory lending and incorrect/biased valuations, you would have to overcome low financial literacy/product awareness amongst senior citizens for it to have any serious impact.

Full marks for enthu though. Maybe now we'll get to see JNU remake Don, with an undercover capitalist infiltrating the politburo by impersonating Budhadeb.

Consider Yourself Warned

Article in the National Post about the high (and possibly hidden) costs of long-distance relationships (via MR, again):

"If your boyfriend or girlfriend who lives 3,000 miles away is worth dating, it
better be high-quality because you might as well have no boyfriend or girlfriend
than a low-quality boyfriend or girlfriend who lives 3,000 miles away," says Mr.
Harford. "If you're going to visit for a weekend, you want a high-quality
weekend. You don't want to arrive and crack open a beer. You want lobsters, you want Champagne."

And they don't even talk about the phone bills. All-Purpose Economics once more comes to the rescue.It's also pretty amusing to find out that there's such a thing as the Institute of Long Distance Relationships. I wonder if they get their funding from Hallmark cards and such-like.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

It's an Italian Conspiracy!

NDTV reports that "Sarkozy-Bruni make it to the alter". I wonder if the BJP will now find common cause with the French Opposition parties on how both countries now have Italian women as the power behind the throne...
Bonus bad joke: TOI reported a few days ago about the Sangh Parivar setting up Software Shakhas for IT professionals. I wonder if they'll have an RSS feed for that...

Friday, 1 February 2008

Enough Already!

Now that there's a final verdict on the Harbhajan incident and the ODIs are coming up, hopefully we'll be over and done with the monkey chants and go back to watching Sree Santh doing monkey impersonations. In the meanwhile, Prem Panicker summarizes the judgement and the subsequent media coverage quite nicely on his blog, Smoke Signals, with some good commentary of his own. His pieces on the IPL are pretty comprehensive too - I've now added his RSS feed to my Google Reader list.
A quick search on YouTube brings up this video of Bhajji taking on Symonds. Inconclusive evidence no matter what Michael Slater says in Part II of the clip, and thankfully Tony Greig balances him out somewhat.
My take: the ICC botched up when they let Procter adjudicate the first time around. I bet back in Dubai the head honchos of the ICC probably thought he'd be smart (and/or cynical) enough not to rock the boat. If the issue had been resolved properly at that first instance, the coverage of the series, if not the results themselves, would have turned out differently.

Anyway, that's that. Given how Harbhajan played in Adelaide, he may not play much of a role in the ODIs anyway. And the next time there's a problem, maybe the Indians can just challenge the Aussies to a break-dance competition.
I'll admit I'm becoming a YouTube junkie now.