Thursday, December 29, 2005

Life with an MBA

Life with an MBA is a series of options. All of a sudden, when you’re short of bread in the house, you’ve run out of resources, eating out at pizza hut is paying for their ad spends, while crackers at Diwali is just plain burning of money. (OK, so the last bit I tend to agree with)

The average conversation runs something like this, “You have to weight the pros and cons before looking into any investment. The long term benefits of spending money in this investment are zilch. Not to mention depreciation. Are you sure you are making an informed decision?” To which I say, “Honey, it’s just a pair of socks! And yes, I need the pair of socks; coz the previous one has holes in them.”

MBAs are a paradox, which has most women dying to unravel ‘em. How anyone with the brains to find a small loophole in a 33 page complexly worded lawyers’ agreement fails to find his one pair of clean shorts in the morning has me at a loss for words. And then there’s the fact that the stock market is child’s play, but re-arranging the closet is a task that is seen as Herculean.

But I must admit life with them is anything but routine, despite their odd behavior and odder life choices…. After all he chose me, didn’t he?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

I just like the feeling this spire gives me. Mysore had perfect weather that day.
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Tuesday, December 27, 2005


"When things go wrong, as they usually will..." - the phrase carries a wealth of meaning, especially in a field like mine. Or did I mean mine-field? Never mind. Read on.

I'm an event manager, by the way, also commonly known as Crises controller (notice the plural- there's always more than one!), event 'damn'ager (Yup. Your language would make a sailor blush, and you're just one of the novices here.), and so on.

Needless to say, an event that goes smoothly and exactly as planned is a utopian scenario. You’ve heard of things like that happening to a friend’s friend, but first hand reports are wholly absent. Most events, you're just glad if you come out of it alive, unscathed and with no permanent disability. Of course it helps immensely if your client's piss drunk and trying to hit on anything in skirts during the event. But, just in case he isn't, here area few ground rules to take you thru' to the next round....

1. 'It wasn't me!'- OK. So someone's screwed up. Big Time. Make sure your client knows it wasn't you. Help him find a scapegoat, if need be. Embellish the facts to really tighten the noose, if desired, but just remember- 'It Wasn't Me!!!'

2. Know Who's Foooting the Bill: It's pointless sucking up to someone if he's not going to be the one who's signing the cheques, or at the very least the one blowing on the signature for the ink to dry. So conserve all that suck-up energy and unleash it big time on the One That Counts....

3. 'You're right, of course.’ The client- He Da Man. He's always right. Never mind if what he's asking defies the very laws of physics and would have made Newton's hair stand on end. Just go ahead and do your thing- and tell him it was all his idea, and that he's a Goddamned Genius!

4. 'All's well that ends well': No one remembers how many times you've lost material, missed deadlines, erroneously deleted matter and totally mixed up your timings if the end result is a resounding success. The equation's pretty simple:
Resounding Success= Client Basking In Glory
Client Basking In Glory= Big Push Up the Ladder
Big Push Up the Ladder= All is Forgiven
All is Forgiven= More events to make your life living Hell.

Which is what you wanted...Oh Crap- I really haven't though this thru' have I?

Monday, December 26, 2005

Travails of SSIW (single southie women), or Why Amma said so!*

* This would be a corollary to a Blog I read somewhere titled "The Travails of Single South Indian men of conservative upbringing" or "Why we don't get any..."

If you think South Indian men had it bad, boy you have another thing coming when you hear the woes of a traditional southie woman.

Lets start at the beginning- no, not at childbirth, but when still in the womb. You are subjected to a barrage of high calorie foods smothered in desi ghee… The cards are already stacked up against you- You are programmed to head for the fatty foods everytime a crisis hits. Your comfort zone- the only place that reminds you of the womb is the pastries section at the supermarket!!!

Then of course once you are born, you are promptly christened ‘Mahalaxmi’ or ‘Saraswati’ or some similar deity- I mean c’mon! I’m sure that’s a conspiracy by all dutiful appas to keep teens with raging hormones away from their ‘kunju’- After all, who’d want to date someone who shares a name with your grandmom??

By the time the traumatized southie hits her teens, she works at a severe disadvantage, since her communication skills are restricted to complex equations or quoting arbitrary lines from Shakespeare, while her north Indian counterparts have been thoroughly coached in the latest movies, clothes, gadgets and the art of not seeming too bright in front of the guy they like.

To make things worse, mothers and grandmothers of a southie household will hide instruments like tweezers and wax from the poor girl child til the age of twenty-three, thus making the poor girl go thru’ her teen as the only girl in her class to have a more luxurious facial hair growth than most boys.

Skirts, if they absolutely have to be worn, should barely show a flash of the ankle, and the preferred choice of clothing for a ‘nalla ponnu’ of course is a voluminous tent-like salwar kameez that hides all bodily contours. Good girls are also expected to wear their hair in two, thick, rope-like plaits, and any mention of cutting of hair will result in an uproar so huge, the only thing worse would be not getting a 100 on your math pop quiz.

By this time, the girl has positively given up on any hope of finding a guy- any guy (further conditions of nice, tall, etc would be asking for too much) and is seriously looking up a good monastery to join up, when her parents, after consulting their family astrologer have decided that this is the year she will find a nice southie boy to settle down with.

Since at this point the girl, of course is clueless how to proceed, her well meaning relatives will help things along by parading her in front of a host of ‘good boys’ who have passed a mysterious screening process known only to them.

Any this juncture I must point out that any resemblance of the southie girl to a trained circus seal is purely co incidental. In a span of fifteen minues, not only will her parents show her off as a closet rocket scientist, but also someone who puts Travolta (o.k. o.k. Prabhu Deva) to shame, sings like MS and cooks up a whirling dervish in between all of this. Of course these qualifications are an absolute must for someone who’s going to migrate to the US (or middle east in the case of a mallu) and stay at home to look after home and hearth while hubby dearest earns the Bread & B at a nearby software firm.

So its no small wonder that when her husband’s busy whispering sinful pleasures into her ear, all she can make of it is that it’s probably another weird ritual to be carried out to please the family deity and whispers "But amma has said only on second saturdays!"

Sunday, December 25, 2005


The Bengali at work is an odd sight to behold… mainly due to the fact that he’s so not used to working… it’s like, umm what’s the term- fish out of water- or a hilish out of water to be more precise.

Now don’t get me wrong- these guys are brilliant people. Take the case of my office peon. The man is damned near genius. Just ask him to perform a simple task. The first thing he’ll do, even before he hears you out- shake his head sorrowfully and say ‘hobe naa’ and then the man comes up with such brilliant excuses for the ‘hobe naa’ it just takes your breath away.

You quite simply run out of words. It’s easier to get up and do the work yourself! And thus our man Amar has served his purpose of not doing an iota of work. I tell you, the chap’s in the wrong profession. We should just send him out on the field to collect some of our dues. He could successfully rob a man of his patience, and he’ll find it easier to pay up, rather than have a verbal confrontation with Amar.

The concept of urgency is quite alien to banglas. The average Bengali’s idea of a rush job is to finish an assigned task before three deadlines have passed. Two deadlines is a miracle, and completion before the first deadline is an insult to their intelligence. Not only is it offensive if he finishes it, but he takes it as a personal affront to him, if you dare to do the same. He shall then regard you right down there along with the bourgeois and the capitalists.

But all said and done, no one knows how to enjoy life like a true ‘bong’. Only a true Bengali enjoys the essence of life as hedonists see fit. Ordinary mortals lag far behind in such futuristic thought process, and it is left to the Begalis to lead us into the light.

Friday, December 23, 2005

EATS, SHOOTS AND LEAVES (With Due Apologies To Ms. Truss)

Ever suffer from foot-in-mouth disease? I have a chronic case of it and my friends seem to get the worst of it. Here’s a sampler from the other day – one bite and I promptly blurted out that the brownie my friend spent hours slaving over was simply “awful” and I really had meant “awesome”!
A friend of mine insists that all my slips are classic Freudian. Recently, I got myself into sour soup by missing out on punctuation between two words. That may seem minor enough, but when a sentence goes something like 'you won't catch the flu by sharing a meal off a loo seat, shaking hands… (Oops! see how important the comma suddenly seems?).

My friend's still upset with me, and I'm pretty sure she's thinking I'm some whacked-out, no-good bitch with a smart mouth that needs to be flushed out with carbolic soap or something worse. Then of course, there's the 'I-know-but-I'm-not-supposed-to-spill’ syndrome. This one has me really anxious as it gets me into the most trouble.

I forget I'm supposed to know or not know that I know, or know that I do not know... err get the picture. You’d rather not tell me stuff till you're pretty much ready to broadcast it to the world. (That was a hard confession to make, believe me.) And to top it I'm really bad at keeping a straight face, so in case you want to throw that surprise birthday party, guess what, surprise me too!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Or do I? Well you better not tell me. If it’s any consolation, I’ve decided to acknowledge punctuation. I wish to respect the full stop, the comma and the apostrophes and appreciate its essentially poignant or keenly distressing effects. (You don’t believe me do you? You forget that I’m capable of surprises too.)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Now That’s A Collegial Outing!

So there we were, about 30 dewy-eyed, pimple-faced kids on our way to our very first Monsoon Picnic.

The millennium was still a good four years away. After three weeks of sweating it out over mark sheets and admission lists, we became the latest batch of fresh-faced wannabe architects to join LSR with dreams of becoming future Wrights and Gehrys. But our seniors and professors soon brought us down to reality.

A month after admissions, when the rose tinted glasses had come off, we were more than ready for a welcome break and head for the hills. So the annual overnight Monsoon Picnic to Lonavala seemed God-sent. Of course, the added attraction was that this picnic was for the students; by the students… you can fill up the rest.
Elaborate plans and wardrobes were discussed for weeks before.

When D-Day finally arrived, the morning promised to be a fine one, with fresh rain and clean streets. We made good time in two busloads, with songs, the occasional dances and frequent catcalls till we reached our overnight accommodation, the local school. Bags were soon dumped in whatever classrooms were open.

Then the seniors summoned us.

Choosing between answering and not answering the summons was like choosing between the devil and the deep sea - you either got ragged mercilessly now, or faced a fate worse than death later. If you were real lucky you got away with a few sessions of imaginary ball games and a couple of wacky proposals from the tops of railway stations. The unluckiest were those who were spotted by the ‘super-seniors’ - those unique breeds who were in their ‘nth’ year of a five-year course. Their only desire, apart from harbouring dreams of being the first octogenarians to graduate from the institute, was to torture pimple-faced freshers.

I had the misfortune to meet the worst of the lot. After about half an hour of relentless grilling, the details of which are still too gruesomely fresh in my memory, I tottered out into the sunshine. My fellow freshers looked at me like I was a veteran war hero. The saving grace was that once the rest of the seniors heard that Anurag had ragged me, they let me go my own merry way. Nothing they’d do could come close to surpassing Anurag’s techniques.

Of course we were all told in the most ominous tones that this was just the beginning. Meaning that the evening and night would be worse (I secretly pictured all the seniors turning into vamps and werewolves and hunting us down, the way they were going on about it).

Well, by evening, our watch-me-do-just-about-anything GS had converted the assembly space into a temporary discotheque, complete with shiny disco balls, JBLs and a mixer!

Naturally, the quiet town of Lonavala decided to take offence to the fact that their sleep ought to be disturbed by anything other than the occasional roaring of a hungry wild cat. In the midst of all that manic dancing, ably aided by the spiked lemonade ( or vodka spiked with a smidgeon of lemonade), one such peace-loving resident turned up in a bike, armed with a camera. The seniors, of course weren’t took pleased about their mugs being captured on film when they were at their drunken best.

Needless to say, the peace-lover was soon relieved of his camera. This deeply hurt our peace-lover, and he ran howling into the night - only to return with ten other peace-lovers armed with protest slogans, banners and a dishevelled policeman. You could tell that the policeman wasn’t too pleased about being roused from his slumber by the fact that every question posed to him was answered with a distinctive grunt and an odd pawing of the ground, not unlike that of a bored bull.

Soon enough the chant of anti-LSR slogans began to permeate through the alcohol-induced fog that clouded the senior’s brains. To cut a long story short (imagine- this could have been longer!), they wanted us out. Fair enough, except for one small hitch - we had nowhere to go. Repeated pleas to allow the girls to stay behind fell on deaf ears.

Bag-baggage and beer were soon piled into the two buses, while desperate arrangements were being made for a stopover to rest our weary butts. Finally a place was found consisting of two bare rooms where about 100 girls slept, packed like sardines. Kind of an interesting experience where you could choose to breathe in someone’s hair oil or stinky sock. There was also something poking into your butt, but you’d rather not know what it was, since finding out entailed upsetting the whole row of 25 people. The boys spent the night in the bus, where we found them in the morning with blue noses and bluer moods.

The drive back was much quieter with frequent stops to replenish the Aspirin and Pepto Bismol supplies. On reaching home mom asks- ‘so honey how was the trip?’ and I say ‘Awesome, Mom, can’t wait to go again!’

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Shake Yer Tailfeather

You know, there’s a lot you can say about a person by the way they behave on the dance floor. Like, for instance, you have the meek ones, who dance the shuffle, never take more than three square inches of space and start nervously every time anyone comes within a square mile of their vicinity (which incidentally makes for very interesting dance moves-kinda like you’re on a hellish roller coaster ride).

Then there are their diametric opposites - the flashpans! Favourite dance movements include expansive hand gestures frequently leading to spilt drinks, cigarette burns and black eyes. It’s easy to spot them in a crowd by the number of people doing odd hop-on-one-foot moves accompanied by yowls of pain around them.

Then there’s the ‘wannabe’ dancer - now he’s a chap who avidly watches MTV and promptly tries to re-enact the scenes for real. Never mind that he’s not exactly built like Usher and that he really can’t carry those moves off. Hint: watch out for that faux bling-bling he’ll be sporting around his neck and the dark glasses in the middle of the night (me thinks it’s just a disguise, so people don’t point and laugh when they see him the next morning).

The next can’t-miss of course is the ‘I-only-dance-when-I’m drunk’ dancer. Word to the wise: you’d better steel yourself with a stiff drink or two before you gather the courage to watch this specimen. Characteristics include manic dancing to three songs and then hitting the bar and getting steadily sloshed for the next four. Then it’s back to manic dancing for the next three.

Now a stone cold sober, never-even-had-my-shirt-unbuttoned-let-alone-let-my-hair-down type often accompanies him. He will hit the dance floor with the same grim determination as he tackles his Bania Boss’s balance sheets. Unfortunately he ends up looking like a still grasshopper on a bad acid flashback. Not a very pretty sight.

Neither, of course are the Siamese twins. These couples generally enter and leave the dance floor joined at the hip, and what never ceases to amaze me is that while the rest of their bodies (read flailing arms and legs) move individually, the hips don’t budge. Like I said- Siamese.

The ones that are truly a pleasure to watch, quite often are not necessarily the best dancers with the hippest moves. It’s the ones with the largest smile on their faces - the ones, who dance for themselves, to the inner music of their soul, sway to the rhythm of their own heartbeat - and the rest of the world can go to hell in a hand basket. Now that is a dancer.