Monday, July 2

Rain, rain come again

At times the drizzle, the soft caressing of the skin, blowing into the hair. Like love.

At times the heavy pouring that clings to the kurta. soaks every strand of you and trickles from the nose. Invasive and personal.

At times the howling storm that throws itself on the French window like bad intent.Demanding and angry.

Drizzle or deluge, rains in this city permeate you.

And its here again.

It soaks you under the hapless umbrella every now and then. It invades your living room with mud stained flip flops. It walks with you on the Bandstand promenade on a lonely high tide evening. It huddles with you on a cab ride home. It’s everywhere, in the wet car seat, in the fungal smell of half dried clothes, the washed roads, the staying-in, the venturing –out, the stranded children at the bus stop, the walking-togetherness of a couple and the heightened feeling of romance within.

Wednesday, June 13

Oliver Twist asks for more!

After ages I feel like blogging on an organisational reality.

I have always liked to keep my blog a medium of my self expression. I compare this to the Gulzaar song from the TV serial "Thoda sa asman" ( of doordarshan days ) which goes ...."mein bichao ya oodhu, mera thoda sa asman de do." On Borrowed time is my piece of sky. I have tried to keep it away from the "commonly discussed topics" or " hotly debated today". Also because I do not want to come across as articulating the views of my employer nor do I think its professionally right to articulate views on my profession when I am part of an organisational framework.

But Coach Ford's rejection of BCCI offer touched a raw nerve, yes we can call him names. Like he did not what he was missing. or he is an opportunist. or how could he renegotiate ? But the fact is he has.

And it boils down to plain economics, there are more jobs in the market than there are job seekers. And its the role of an organisation to create a pull for potential employees.

Well, Consider Coach Ford, any bleary eyed HR manager could have sold him the depth of the job he was taking on,the moolah he was getting, the never before, never again visibility of it but....

BCCI needs to examine why Ford jettisoned the Indian storm to the calm of Kent?

Was it the stormy stint Chappel went through where a lift of the fingure launched many a television debates? Was it the pressure of performance in a scenario where cricket is deeply embedded into the psyche of a nation,a collective release of our supressed nationalistic pride ? Or is it the fear, that his career may end a la woolmer? or just the shabby way the whole recruitment process was handled by BCCI?

BCCI has a job at hand to figure out, why is it not a preferred employer for Ford?

Why BCCI ? Offer rejection is an organisational reality India Inc is groping with.And it is reacting fast to it, Employer Brand measures are fast emerging,no longer is one smug with filling vacancies or getting people on board. Application percentages,Offer funnels, applications to offers, offers to acceptance are far better measures of Employer Brand today.

And yes, the employee watches you every minute. The call the consultant makes to a potential employee, the way the job brief is written or not written, to the dressing sense of the interviewer all play a role in engaging the potential employee. Pre Recruitment meetings, welcome calling etc have become a norm as tools of engagement by potential employers.

Talking about Employer Brand the Govt needs to do something about itself. Read some revealing statistics few days back, the last 10 years has witnessed a little less than a quarter of Govt Employees moving to Private Sector.This trend is a cause of concern in a society where need for security is a celebrated behavior.

Today Oliver Twist asks for more!

Tuesday, May 29

Review of Life in a Metro



Life in a Metro is the latest in the string of multi story dished out for an urbane audience that flocks to multiplex for feel good cinema. The movie explores the underbelly of a city caught in a 9 to 9 existence, lure of retail economy and its implications on human equations.

Well, for one the subject definitely has potential. But what goes terribly wrong with this movie is its lack of ambition. Anurag Basu is content with his final product: clichéd cinema with loads of oomph value.

So Metro becomes a tell tale of “who does who” in a Corporate environment with characters who out do each other in the bedroom. The stories are etched weakly and so are the characters. Of the jamboree, the only story that strike a chord is Shruti’s.

Shruti is the quintessential girl caught in the whirlpool of job, career and making her life in the city which leaves little time for play. Her loneliness takes her to matrimonial sites and wrong choices. Half an affair with a gay and some meetings, Shruti finds togetherness with the awkward, “off the train” Debu. With shades of Sex and the City, the bond Debu and Shruti form is endearing. However, Anurag explores only one facet of the single life in Metro. Most singles do bother about where the next hug would come from but there are other overriding factors to a single life. Like career, ambition self expression, savings, taxes, laundry etc. Rahul (Sharman Joshi) works in a call centre and pawns his apartment for the good things in life without an emotion. Rahul finds himself at the crossroads when Neha, who he loves, attempts suicide in his apartment. He questions his premises and chooses to stop. The story of Kay Kay Menon and Shilpa Shetty, a couple whose marriage is on the verge of breakdown, is by far the most clichéd. It goes on to strengthen the small town perception of a metro where married men are jumping from bed to bed while their waiting wives heave and sigh with a sacrificial lamb like attitude. Basu boy should know better. Marriages caught in expectation warp, lack of compatibility, vortex of EMIs, and struggle for identity in a social institution with multiple pressures demand a more sensitive portrayal than a philandering husband and a waiting wife. Kangana Renaut’s as the unbalanced woman seeking meaning through a relationship is copied from earlier movies like Arth but lacks depth. Incoherent dialogues like”Mein apne us baap ko dhoond rahee hoon jo mujhe bachpan mein chod kar chala gaya tha” makes you groan. The story of Dharmedra- Nafisa Ali laced with sexual innuendos are passé.

The performances lack punch. The extremely talented Shiney Ahuja is wasted as the wannabe actor who starts caring for the neglected wife. Sharman Joshi, and Kangana Renuat are just about average. Kay Kay Menon delivers the goods but becomes a victim of weak characterization. Anurag, eschews from exploring the urban male psyche through Ranjeet’s character. The doe eyed Shilpa Shetty of the big brother fame needs to act now. She comes across as both vacuous and pretentious as the suffering wife. The movie belongs to the on screen chemistry of Irfaan Khan & Konkana Sen who act unpretentiously.

And finally, one word about the music. Pritam’s band sung some songs well but their leaping onto the screen in weird hairdos and black garb was distracting. Amitabh’s lyrics could have been better.

Anurag Basu is capable of much more, Metro can be at best described as a creative hiatus of the guy who gave us the very luscious Murder and the very black Gangster.

Tuesday, May 15

and the brush spoke




I stirred the thin paste of mustard & tomatoes in the frying pan. She stood in front of me. part of a world lost.

I had walked away from it. Built my life. Changed. She had walked away too. Built her own life. She hadn’t changed..

She still tied her hair neatly in a small ponytail. With one stroke of brush. still wore her specs. she still wore loose khadi kurta with white churidars. still didn’t wear any makeup. She still talked a lot. And had a studied arrogance towards life.

"I downloaded your father's picture"...she gushed,” can never forget him...neeeever.. the uncreased kurta...the loose pyajams.... his languid walk...he seemed from another world".

And I could hear the unsaid...forms and images were so important to her...it must have been important for her to download the fading image of the man who was my father.

The simmering mustard stuck to the ends of the pan. I stirred it scraping the crispy brown layers from the edge. Just like old times, that stick to the edges, brown and crisp.

“Do you still cook as well?” She asked. “ You were such a spectacular cook….” she said excitedly.

“It still tastes the same”…I replied. We laughed.It didn’t take her more than a second to react.

And then we laughed at everything in turn. The bunked classes, the bad movies churned out in sweaty cinema halls, the hunk of an English Professor, the crammed togetherness in small rikshaws, the dosa afternoons and stolen cups of coffees at Shubraj, pride of Ashok Rajpath.

We laughed at complex things as well, things that were neither black nor white, but a shade somewhere in between, things that were core to our existence then.

Her paintings. My poetry. Her research. My job. Our single status. And our collective disdain towards it.

Neetu still paints beautifully. As though all the intensity within pours on the canvas. Her paintings haunt.

I insisted she send some paintings to put on my blog. She conceded with some hesitation.

I don’t claim to understand art, but I am aesthetically inclined. And I think Neetu, it’s a loss that you don’t take your gift a little more seriously.

Monday, May 7

stray ones

Shredder

I think about the shredder
of the white sheafs of paper
That goes in
and the thin stripes of
pulp perfection
that comes out
hiding within
all the stories
that were never told

Toothpaste

Its tough
being born
with a perfect body
and to be filled with
salt and gel
and freshness
and then to be
squeezed around
every morning
to nothingness
I only feel better
when I see
the toothbrush
haggard to death
like that

Thursday, May 3

One day @Chintu Sahay




his plastic punishment

Friday, April 13

For my father





It has taken me almost a month to write this. And I still dont think it captures all that I feel and want to say to the man who meant everything to me.

I lost him on 6th March'07.

When I wrote this several images flashed by.

Of a 40 year old father who peeped into my nursery school with a brown paper bag that was to be my tiffin.

Of my father who gave me some hurried points on why proliferation of arms wasnt a great idea for the school debate. and also who told me that Salt Satyagrah happened across the nation and not only in Gujarat.

Of a man who choked when he told his sister that I had started writing for newspapers.

Who made me afternoon tea when I prepared for various exams.

Of a man who withdrew from the room when I announced being a bureaucrat was too much of hard work and I wasnt game for it.

Of a father who asked whats HR all about?

Of the decaying father who urged me to get Goldflake lights if I dont find Wills Navy Cut on his maiden trip to Bombay 6 months back.

Who held me before going to the hospital and said "looks like its the end".

If you count backwards hard,
maybe you can hold your breath.
May be if you spelt with your eyes shut
And take your mind off that goddamn pain
your kidneys will work
If you persist your blood pressure will come
Outside the ICU sits a woman,
Her heart breaking into two parts
Waiting to be told: “You can now take him home”
Images of all the gods flash past her eyes
And all the chants she forgot only for a second
Find their way through her muted, scared lips
May be, if you try hard enough tonight
You can live


What is the smell of death?
Disposable syringe smelling
of freshly drawn dosages ?
Acidic smelling ICU away
from loved ones ?
or the hurriedly dissolving incense
In a 100 sq ft enclosure
where you lay shrouded
in white muslin

What is its touch?
Biting mosquitoes
outside a dimly lit ICU
or pricking syringes
through shriveled veins
or a hurried touch
To hands that tiptoed in

How does it taste?
like the last half eaten chapatti
or the sweet holy water
dripping all over the muslin
or just a strange chocolate
Just like Life.

What is a dying man’s thought?
A praying woman
sacred chants eluding her
or a daughter
who refused to believe
take it at face value
or a daughter,
who peered through a slit
to watch life’s last spectacle
or the son
forced to be father
Always without a buy-in
did you carelessly shrug
To all who mattered ?

In a dark night
You lay there, indifferent
As we sat in turns
when finality struck us
Unawares, Unprepared
A cold night
That taught us
Life’s hardest lesson
Of living
Without a part of us.

They say time,
Give it time
All will heal.
I wonder how
Who will I say
Those thousands
Unsaid things to ?
Who will I read
The editorial
of TOI to ?
Who will I
Think of
When I cook red meat
And how will I smile
Indulgently
when I see
Someone smoking
How will you know
Last time I got angry
It was not for real.
And that
Every time I said
Bye, I meant to talk more.

Sunday, February 18

To laughter & happiness

Yesterday, I reread "Hot Water" by P G Woodehouse...and I was honestly rolling over. Its one of my favourites.

And I have decided,I am going to buy the whole PG Woodehouse collection, if it makes me so happy. His humor is so subtle, the play of words so tenuous, the moment of laughter so fragile, that one can miss it and never laugh.

Almost lifelike.

The moments of truth are so few and far in between that chances are if one misses the happy moments one would not be happy.

We are all taught to be perfect, morally upright, and most of our actions and pursuits are in the same direction. It only makes us more perfect, and yes more morally upright.

Well... nothing wrong with that as following formats in life are more difficult than not following them. But, perfection is not happiness. Perfection is about efficiency... Happiness is something tenuous, amorphous, neither heaven nor hell, but what lies in between, amoeba like shapeless formless entity.

like a PG Woodehouse novel....

Or Chintu Sahay, my pet fish.... searching for food the whole day.

I have never written about Chintu Sahay before. I bought Chintu Sahay & Mannu Sahay at a suburban aquarium shop.

They made home in a bland fishbowl in my orange green living room. Chintu Sahay is black, Mannu Sahay was orange in color.

They fought for food the whole day and then Chintu would chase Mannu holding it by its tail. It was interesting to watch Mannu, the quieter of the two, fight for his space and share of food with this aggressive partner.

And then one day he died.lived his life.

Now its just Chintu Sahay floating tirelessly in a watery slippery fishbowl.

This one's a survivor, he understands the dynamics of fishbowl well... comes to the surface when fed, takes to the plastic punishment well during weekend water change. I have a feeling it responds to music too.

I sit there and watch it, swimming in circular motion, rhythm of life. Chintu Sahay makes me happy. Also imparts a sense of responsibility. I like to fuss over Chintu, remember to feed it every morning and make it a point to sit around and watch it in the evening.

Some tips on fish behavior.

1. They gnaw at your finger tips only & only for food. ( do not mistake it for affection.)
2. They respond to colors.
3. They look for food the whole day.
4. They, like us, hate change. especially water change.
5. They eat boring food. pink & green things. doesn't look appealing at all.

Do they love? Or when loved do they love back?

Can't say.

Read this guy's interview, don't remember his name, he takes a subject called psychology 1400 ( or was it 1600?) at Harvard. He is said to be pulling more crowd that Churchill & Roosevelt could.

See, that's the thing about happiness, everyone seeks it, nobody knows how to fetch it?

What this guy says is that hordes of us don't know that we have it too. Some of the points he makes are arguably thought provoking.About finding meaning in ourselves, enjoying a vocation for its own sake, understanding the perils of wealth accumulation, seeking inner balance etc.But what keeps me intrigued as an HR professional is not as much the panacea as the burgeoning attendance in the class.

Why would blokes from Harvard, undoubtedly the brighter of the lot, follow the pied piper from hamelin?

Brings us back to the point, best is just that, the best, not the happiest.

Fulfillment, as they say, is generally abstract and mostly within.

Friday, February 9

a poem

phir aaj ek naye havan mein jalna hoga
Dilon ke beechee bisate, baazi wafa kee,
phir kisi pyade ko marna hoga
band khidkee,band darwaje,
jhoka baarish ka aye to kahan se?
aaj phir tang surakhon se risna hoga.
chalti rahe raftaar zindagi kee
un armano ko pahiyo tale kuchalna hoga.
woh ruka to hoga ekbaar jaroor jane se pehle
parchaee ka ehsaas aaj bhee hota hein,
aab umr bhar inke saath hee chalna hoga.

Friday, February 2

The Wait

I have surprised myself this time. This is my 2nd post within 2 days.

Is it being 30? Is it catharsis? Doesn't matter...

I had an interesting thought today, writing a story or a poem must be like having a child.

The moment its out, you rush to count if it has all ten fingers & toes.

The wait

The Universe between us
stands unlived…
an angrily read book
groans in pain
At a distance
A black fish
searches for food
And a lost mate
In a watery slippery fishbowl

Two stumbled souls
Thrown off from
Unkempt mornings
Arrogant evenings
Met in a fishbowl
Swam & Search
Search & Swam
Together
Dreamt to
Swim in a sea
Away from the bowl

Much later
They would
When their gills
Would be strong
To break the glass
And when, they can
Take the journey
Also before
They grow old

Not far off from
The fishbowl
Sat two planets.
They were changing orbits
For another cosmic dance
Apologetic, Scared
Sad.
Also Lost.

Thursday, February 1

profund

Last night I was drained.

Fatigue. Stress. And the weight of going through a tomorrow in the next few hours.

It was one of those rare nights when I did want to sleep early.

I was woken up at aound 1:00 p.m. by a friend who is known for his rather profund ways. Fate had it, he was heading home after the last of the pubs was shutting down when he saw a couple fighting on the raod.

Usual stuff. You - didnt- do - this - for- me. and I -am -the -only-one-making-efforts-in-this.

He called me up to tell me how painful it was to see them not making it.

And how unhappy he was with his own life. And how meaningless was his own success. And how there was no fun in drinking.

Well... I said.

And then he said something that kept me awake for the rest of my night. ( Thanks so much!)

Love is something that a million people hanker for but only, only, a chosen few get!!!

Goddamn....that sounds so painful.