Wednesday, December 31

Audit ' 08

I celebrated the New Year with very close friends in my living room away from the crowding outside discs and pubs. Probably the first New Year eve, where I chose to be at home over dancing on soggy dance floors with near strangers.

I am finding it hard to sum 2008.

A constant nagging feeling to every moment last year was the continued absence of my father from my life. Sometimes, some people wield so much influence in our lives that its difficult to gauge the real depth of that dependence. Well, I missed him on several occasions, when I explored NY and could not be home for his death anniversary, when Barrack Obama got elected as a president, when Raj MNS Thackaray invented an insipid anti Bihari agitation, when Bombay lay bare with its vulnerability victim to a dangerous international phenomemnon.Thats how our relationship stood. Conversations on state of the nation, he found it difficult to play father, to steer conversations towards my well being and way forward. And thus he made conversation in his area of comfort, the fatherly concern lurked from the corner of his mouth. I missed his refuge. His belief in me. And above all his choked affection.

Otherwise, 2008 was homecoming on every other account.

Tired of endless nights of drinking and getting up groggy and hung-over, I finally gave up drinking. Yes, alcohol is now restricted to new year eve or my birthday or some such time. Same went for smoking. It eased in my battle of bulge. I now weigh 10 kgs less than the last 2 years but if I hope to walk the proverbial ramp, I still would have another odd 20-30 kgs to go. I have taken up dancing to fill up my otherwise languid Sunday, it is better than dragging myself on the treadmill.

However, low drinking, no smoking and curtailing endless binging has severely limited my social life.

And I have rediscovered an old passion. Cooking

My mom always discouraged my cooking because she didn’t want me to waste my life in the kitchen. She wanted me to realize my potential and she thought the cakes and bakes would come in the way of that. It was a way of bringing up children. Because when parents want you to explore your potential in those days it largely meant earning potential (e-potential) in conventional careers. However no measure of success would rate a Nigella Feast, Anjum Anand or a Rashmi Uday Singh any less successful than Kiran Bedi, Barkha Dutt or someone else in Public Life.

And like JK Rowling says “there’s an expiry date to blame your parents for everything.” I achieved the expiry date on the “blame the parents” cough syrup in 2008. It resolved a lot of things for me in the process.

I was half ashamed to admit that I love cooking. It always conjured an image of a housewife with a tucked sari in her well rounded midriff, smelling of garlic and turmeric.
Even today, it took 8 years of realizing my e – potential for me to admit that I think about cinnamon quite a bit. And Olive does to wine what Obama does to USA. And that I would love to take time off from my hectic career and maybe travel a bit and explore cuisines around the world. Or closer home, I have a Chula (coal wood et all) and I make my kebabs on that. And that making a Tandoori chicken on Kihim Beach was my moment in the sun.

In my professional life, market rules were thrown off like Confetti. And those of us who were pampered by a 21000 didn’t know how to cope up with a new reality. At work, this has led to washed enthusiasm and in a preserve way, set in some age old conservative behavior. While, I have my fingers crossed, not only for my savings that’s doing its own waltz with market sentiments for a partner but also for all those homes that are run
on commissions. And underneath the frustration, the anger, the layer of unreasonable demand lays a palpable fear. And I pack my bags for a nation wide Employee Communication in this backdrop.

Year before last, during an employee communication at Nasik, I had to break into Hindi to answer a question on compensation on why the said organization paid less than the market?

I could defend the firm, thanks to India’s growth story and a booming Industry then. Another hand shot up in the room and before I groaned, the man stood up and asked his colleague to take a long term view. He spoke in chaste Hindi – “ aap yeh dekhiye kee aaj apko is naukree ke wajah se market mein kya izzat miltee hain.” ? “ apne kahan se shooro kiya that or aap kahan aa gaye hain”

There was hope in the air. It was a room of people who had started as frontline sales and grown in their careers in their hometowns, in the very neighborhood where they grew.

They were riding the “India Shining wave.”

I wonder if they will still feel that way.

And to keep the collective hope of the underdogs and the dark horses alive, Barrack Hussein Obama, realized the most unabashed dream of them all. Americans have run out of self adulatory phrases but back home, we have to ask ourselves some hard questions.
Have we shed our racist skin or cloaked it under our secular democratic stance? Shabana Azmi still can’t buy a flat in Lokhandwala. Madhur Bhandarkar, our national award winning director, depicts depravity, when his drunken protagonist wakes up to a black back on morning –after. (Groan!) And we blast Danny Boyle, for exposing Bombay’s underbelly.

Lets get rid of the underbelly or at least watch Pather Panchali, Ardh Satya or City of God to know what an underbelly is to be able to register an informed protest!!!

Otherwise, 2008 was homecoming on every other account.