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Elevator - Reality Check

Aug. 29th, 2009 | 09:27 pm
mood: amusedamused

Have you ever noticed that

1. Distressed people waiting for an elevator press an already selected button umpteen times as if it will make any difference to its speed?

2. People sometimes press the "down" button when they actually need to go up (thinking that this action will make the elevator...err...come down!)?

3. The first thing that women do (a few men too actually) soon after they get into the elevator...is to look in the closest mirror?

4. Sometimes it is faster to just take the stairs (that way, at least people can get a healthy break from their 'desk sentenced' lives) but then they think they have waited far too long and the marginal return on taking the stairs is neglible and end up waiting anyway?

5. People living in higher storeys wished they lived in lower ones when the elevator goes bust? (People living on lower floors wish the reverse at all other times)

6. People press both "up" and "down" buttons at the same time, as if in an attempt to wake a sleeping elevator?

We are all so dependent on this spectacular invention in our everyday lives, considering we live or work (or both) in high rises. But it is the people and their acts (which could be slightly inane at times) that give an interesting dimension to anything. It is fun to watch though, from an onlooker's perspective, so I am not complaining!

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This one’s for Priya

Mar. 19th, 2009 | 12:41 am

She tagged me on her blog http://girlwithbigeyes.blogspot.com/2009/03/tag-qna.html and I love her too much to disappoint her! My blog apparently desperately needed an impetus to jump out of hibernation too. So here goes...

1. Where is your cell phone?
Safe at home with me!

2. Your significant other?
Is now my better half.

3. Your hair?
Needs an uplift.

4. Your mother?
Is sorely missed.

5. Your father?
Does not want to retire from work!

6. Your favorite thing?
My identity.

7. Your dream last night?
Not worth remembering.

8. Your favorite drink?
Masala chai (Starbucks has it too!)

9. Your dream/goal?
To roam the earth.

10. What room you are in?

11. Your hobby?
Trying to find a hobby that can stick!

12. Your fear?
Not being able to accomplish (9).

13. Where do you want to be in 6 years?
I don’t believe in planning for so long – but wherever I am I hope I’m having fun!

14. Where were you last night?
Home sweet home.

15. Muffins?
Can eat anything if it has chocolate.

16. Wish list item?
I can’t afford to say ‘flat tummy’ like my dear friend. It’s a long shot. I’ll go for an all-expense paid trip to Europe (sounds no less elusive!).

17. Where you grew up?
Namma Bengaluru.

18. Last thing you did?
Made palak paneer – my signature dish!

19. What are you wearing?
My confidence.

20. Your TV?
A Samsung flatscreen.

21. Your pets?
Only one - refer to question 2.

22. Friends?
Love them all.

23. Your life?
Is perfect. Touch wood.

24. Your mood?

25. Missing some one?
My darling sister.

26. Car?
Our first – a Toyota Camry.

27. Something you’re not wearing?
Make-up (too lazy for it!)

28. Favorite store?
Ghirardelli (can’t help craving for their chocolate ice cream!)

29. Your summer?
Is much awaited.

30. Your favorite color?
Orange – bright and cheery.

31. When is the last time you laughed?
A few minutes ago.

32. Last time you cried?
I don’t remember. Funny how I forgot.

33. Three people who email me?
Can’t pick just three!

34. Three of my favorite foods?
Chocolate, Ice Cream and of course anything cooked by Mom (ok that’s effectively more than 3!)

35. Three places I would rather be right now?
Home is where I am and where I long to be.

I choose to tag synapseme (http://synapseme.blogspot.com) and indiagenie (http://indiagenie.blogspot.com).
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Younger by the hair

Dec. 22nd, 2008 | 05:06 pm
mood: highhigh

It was not too long ago when I discovered my first strand of gray hair. I ignored it. Then came my second and third and I did not react the same way as before (!). I vividly remember the moment - a sudden surge of wisdom and maturity. And it just wasn’t me. So I happily let the moment pass. Call it a willing suspension of disbelief if you will.

So what did I do if I did not ignore the fact that I am growing older? I did not scream in horror. No fainting spell either. No I did not feel proud of a sense of assumed wisdom. I introspected (as usual!) and concluded that I am, in reality, growing younger by the hour. And this realisation has come with a sense of acceptance and not avoidance.

Every passing day is a reminder of the fact that you have that much lesser time to live, love and laugh. And I find myself doing more of these and surprisingly end up coming across as a childlike, cheery woman...or should I say girl?

Every passing day is a reminder of how much more you have to accomplish. There is so much to do and so little time. Now is the time to act and eliminate potential regrets later on. So that makes me more ambitious - to take a leap and do all that I have always dreamt of.

Every passing day is also a reminder of the people who really matter. So growing older is certainly not about becoming more restrained and cloistered. It is all about opening up and making the remainder of your moments with loved ones special and memorable.

Every passing day is ultimately a reminder of the choices you need to make. Life presents us with so many – it is difficult to pick and choose. But when you grow older and feel younger, you know exactly what you want. And there is no stopping you! So, go out and seize the day. Carpe Diem.

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If wishes were horses...

May. 5th, 2008 | 12:47 pm

beggars would ride.

This is a piece of an old Scottish rhyme. It can be interpreted as - if wishing alone was enough, there would be no one short of anything in this world.

Well that leads me to ponder what else do we need to realize our wishes – besides of course a strong rooted wish itself? Hard work, some would say. Luck, others would say. Both – the large majority would say. The quest for happiness, I would say.

All our actions are directed towards discovering happiness and this indeed is the one universal wish. But we are different (or we ‘think’ we are). Our sources of happiness are different (or we think they are). This, I imagine, would culminate in multifarious chases – one for each of the oases of wealth, love, power, revenge, comfort and suchlike. People are in one race or the other at any phase in their lives. Sometimes our guess about ‘our’ source is right. At other times it is not. To err is human and we fail to understand what gives us true happiness. There are moments when we realize that we have been chasing a mirage or felt grateful that a wish did not ultimately come true as something bigger was in store for us. If I may quote from Forrest Gump – “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get”. This makes the activity of wishing look redundant. But the desire for eternal happiness keeps us going – we fall, rise, retreat, rebound, fail, thrive. This about sums up life in a nutshell.

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The Societe Generale Rogue Trade Debate

Feb. 3rd, 2008 | 12:43 pm

The European Market seems to know no respite. After the Northern Rock scandal, it is the turn of the costly rogue trade at Societe Generale to cause a commotion. The French bank lost about 5 billion euros with an exposure of ten times that much - not withstanding an emergency cash call on shareholders. The bank blamed it on Jerome Kerviel, a junior trader working as part of its highly successful equities derivatives group.

What did Jerome’s accusers actually indict him for? Jerome allegedly used a slim arbitrage technique to create fake hedging contracts and rather surprisingly raked up massive losses as these contracts later got cancelled. In this technique that Jerome used - called Delta One - investors bet on share price movements but do not buy or sell the stocks in question. For instance: an investor wants to earn returns on a £10 million investment in a particular index – say the FTSE 100 index. He has to cough up an upfront fee (the margin) to the bank of say £1 million. If the index went up 5%, the client is paid half a million pounds. If the index went down 5%, half of his margin would be lost. The investment bank’s obligation to the investor moves in perfect correlation to the trade specified by the investor. Hence the name ‘Delta One’. The profit margin for the bank is low and hence there is an onus on volumes. Banks hedge out the risk they have assumed mostly by netting positions with another portfolio which offsets the first. This leaves one to wonder whether such a low risk business can actually explain the colossal rogue trade.

Financial analysts, forensic accounting experts, investors and rival banks are all making several accusations – most of which SocGen seems to have provided explanations for, satisfactory or not.

1. Given stringent internal controls in the equities derivatives business, how did the rogue trader pull this off?

SocGen: The trader inserted fictitious operations into portfolio B in order to give the impression that this portfolio genuinely offset portfolio A which he had purchased, when this was not the case. Hence the internal controls were ineffectual or inoperable as the operations did get registered in the systems but did not correspond to reality.

It is quite possible that the profit making equities derivatives business could have been granted some flexibility from many audit controls as it made up a third of the group’s profit. This could have only worked in favour of the trader. This speculation would only undermine the position of the Chairman of SocGen, Mr. Daniel Bouton who was a former adviser to the French government on Corporate Governance!

2. Margin calls should have served as a warning sign.

SocGen: The rogue trader chose very specific operations with no cash movements or margin call and which did not require immediate confirmation.

According to sources SocGen did pay up large margin calls as a result of the falling value of the futures position that Mr. Kerviel had assembled. A dwindling cash position should have sounded an alarm at the least – but was anyone listening?

3. Positions are commonly hedged using bespoke derivatives and the paper work takes weeks to complete.

SocGen: The trader falsified documents.

That was easy! However a couple of things to consider are that even if the trader did not falsify documents, there is definitely a period of exposure for the bank when the contracts are getting tossed hither and tither.

In spite of everything, what was Mr.Jerome Kerviel’s personal incentive in all this? Or was he simply made a scapegoat by the bank which was trying to save its face or conceal names of (maybe) some board members who could have been at fault? This is quite plausible considering that a rival bank even made a statement that Jerome was not entirely to blame as his futures trading had only accumulated a deficit of 1.5 bn euros. The rest was apparently lost by the board of SocGen.

Many questions and many more answers. There is no time to lose in crying over spilt milk. What remains to be done is to strengthen internal risk controls in all financial institutions.

Speaking about SocGen, Mr. Bouton would now be secretly praying to not score a hat trick after two major debacles - losing the bid for Paribas to BNP and the rogue trade in question.

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Quod me nutrit, me destruit

Dec. 2nd, 2007 | 11:21 am
mood: contemplativecontemplative

What nourishes me destroys me – solely my ramblings on this Latin expression.

Analysing this as a statement of fact, in a superficial sense every situation has pros and cons to it. For instance, you are in a job that you detest for every reason other than the money it brings with it. You can use the money to nourish (obviously) yourself and your family, pay off your debts and ensure security with a rather low risk source of income. But the job by itself does not give you a sense of fulfilment – it destroys your deeper aspirations slowly but surely. Two sides of the same coin, so to say.

At a deeper level, a slightly altered version of this slogan can be expressed as a question - What if that which nourishes me ultimately destroys me? A few lines from one of the most intense songs in the history of Hindi cinema ‘Chingaari koi bhadke to saawan use bujhaaye, saawan jo aag lagaagye use kaun bujhaaye’ (If there is a spark, the rain would extinguish it – but what if the rain itself causes a fire – who will douse it?) nicely sums it up. What better example than love itself? You run after love thinking it is a source of everlasting happiness. But what if love itself becomes the cause for eternal despair? Who will rescue you from the clutches of misery then?

Now for a moment view this idiom as a cheery toned exclamation. What nourishes me destroys me! If you perform an extraordinary action, you do suffer some temporary ill effects of it. But you are contented nevertheless because you did something creative, bold, whimsical, wild, out of the world. For instance: Dancing in the rain on a cold wintry night got me a little flu. But my only reaction was ‘Who cares!’ In this case pleasure overpowered the subsequent pain and is more long lived as a sweet memory. The pain is also cherished, in fact, as it acts like a testimony to the wildness of the action!

I believe Angelina Jolie has this phrase tattooed below her navel – I’m tempted to ask her what she was thinking!

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Talking about fantasies...

Nov. 4th, 2007 | 01:01 am
mood: crazycrazy

...a few of these are in the offing. The others are highly unlikely – but you never know!

1. Hitch a ride in a speeding police car (no no not as a handcuffed criminal please!) – these cars have the license to break all traffic rules and zoom at astronomical speeds.
2. Go paragliding and the parachute ‘fails to open’ – errrrr – let me change that to ‘opens really late’. The very thought of this has my adrenalin soaring.
3. Just miss being hit by a speeding vehicle - I almost always wait for the pedestrian signal to turn red before crossing a road and the fact that my insurance does not cover me for such acts of insanity makes it even more exciting.
4. Break in to a store in the night(I would never do something like that – but the displays on the shelves look so neglected from outside and they seem to be vying for my attention) and not touch a thing (except the unfortunate piece of glass of course)
5. Star opposite Hugh Grant (I could do with a younger version of his ;) ) in an English movie. (I just happened to watch Four Weddings and a Funeral and every time I see him on screen my heart still skips a beat. He is so adorable in Music and Lyrics and Notting Hill - actually always!)

The list of fulfilled ones:

1. Cliff jumping into a river without a life jacket (that had accidentally come off during rafting!) and with the knowledge of swimming restricted to the spelling and phonetics of the word and the fact that it is an exercise done in water.
2. Running up an escalator which was moving down – I had to fight dual gravitational forces to reach my destination. This entailed tremendous expenditure of energy and was worth every bit of it.
3. Watch three movies in a hall in a row – achieved the hat trick in Cine World, Sheffield. The first two films Mr. Woodcock and Ratatouille were worth the watch. I could endure Michael Clayton as it gave me an opportunity to ogle uninterrupted at one of the hottest men in existence today – George Clooney - while my comrade dozed off to glory.

I choose to keep some of my fantasies undisclosed – lest I be rightly construed as a deranged wierdo beyond repair.

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My English Connection

Sep. 14th, 2007 | 12:19 pm
mood: excitedexcited

It has been a refreshing month and a half at the UK and I have pretty much reached a point in time where I can look back.

As I flew into Manchester airport in late July, I was ushered into this rather non descript place called Rotherham. A smallish city or a town I’d say. At first I was taken aback at the quaintness of this place – no air conditioners in one of the most expensive hotels, radiators jutting out of walls as if they were an afterthought, table fans in rooms and the sheer lack of populace! However I was amazed by the lush greenery, late sunsets, English houses with beautiful gardens and fountains and the tranquillity that I had been craving for so long.

Just three days into peace and quiet when I was rushed to London on work (the very reason that brought me here). I was staying in the choicest of places – near the Tower Bridge on the banks of the Thames. This place became my favourite hangout and I simply loved everything to do with it - long walks on the pathways, simply sitting and watching the river glisten under sun rays, witnessing the spectacle of the bridge opening and making way for a tall ship to sail through unhindered. Come weekend and I did the touristy thing – visiting Madame Tussauds (needs no introduction), Guitar Town (interesting fact: this public exhibition of creatively painted guitars brings together many of Britain’s musicians and visual artists as part of a unique charity campaign) and Oxford Street (shopping and Govinda restaurant). Brick Lane which was a few bricks’ throw away hosted a deluge of Bangladeshi restaurants which made my tummy happy. I managed to visit Hyde Park and Millenium bridge as well. A great part London is made up of water and a greater fraction covered with parks!

The second time, I happened to visit West India Quay by making a journey through a Dockland Railway train. Canary Wharf was enticing – several top companies are headquartered here. Plus there was a massive shopping mall and theatres too.

I have seen some buildings in curious shapes in London – some dome like structures; some with the top sliced off, some with layered facades. The Gherkin is a classic example. A BBC article describes it thus:

‘In the initial stages of construction, its curved skeleton could only be glimpsed between the buildings crowding the City's tangled streets. But as it stretched skyward, it crested the packed skyline.
From this glazed tower, the capital spreads out beneath your feet. And just as those inside look out at London, London looks back.
For it can be seen from far and wide, its blue cigar-like shape providing a sharp contrast as it rises above box-like office blocks and familiar sights such as Tower Bridge, the London Eye and St Paul's Cathedral.’

Having set up base in Sheffield, I look forward to my London trips now. Sheffield is big in itself – I particularly liked strolling through the Meadow Hall shopping centre which was vast and offered a varied range of shops to suit all budgets. I look forward to Sheffield markets and children’s attractions on Saturdays (some of my friends are right when they tell me I am still a kid!)

The last weekend in London was the most fun filled one. Covent Gardens offered shopping opportunity at the Apple Market, street entertainment and music of several flavours. I enjoyed a fun filled time with friends – singing, laughing and talking. A trip to Valentine Park, Ilford marked the end of a truly memorable day.

I am looking forward to more fun in this beautiful country – and beyond. I have been seeing new places, experiencing a new culture and meeting absolutely endearing people. Some of the moments that I have spent here have been subconsciously etched into the pages of my memory book. I am glad I came!

A few captured memories can be found at http://flickr.com/photos/nomadicbliss/sets/72157602001128846/detail/.

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The Exhilarant Expedition!

Jun. 20th, 2007 | 03:10 pm
mood: contentcontent

I desperately needed a getaway and good old Adi was concerned enough to realise that and astute enough to come out with a stirring itinerary.

The initial plan was to do a long train journey and just talk – over cups of steaming chai and mirchi pakore. A ramification (a rather divine one on after thought) of my friend’s idea was to do a taxing trek. The best place up North for this endeavour was of course the Vaishno Devi climb! So this plan became the primary and the train journey per se was subordinated – to an extent I’d say.

Here goes the story of the most satisfying expedition of my life thus far…

After a busy week, I hurriedly rushed to the airport on a dark Saturday morning of the 26th of May. I was quite a sight with dripping, dishevelled hair (I just did not have the time at such a crazy hour in the morning!) and my not-so-meticulously packed Wildcraft trekking bag which resembled a carelessly stuffed pillow. I arrived in Delhi with a thirty minute delay to find my friend with a chauffer driven car. (The car in reality belonged to Baba – the wounded soldier whom I was determined to visit before he decided to venture into another of those hilarious road adventures and croak his way up the heavenly stairs.)

I have always admired Delhi for its elegance and alternative scenes of old charming architecture and spiralling flyovers. The admiration (topped with patriotism for having set foot on the nation’s capital) was obvious in my eyes which were constantly looking out of the car window to catch some nice sights. The chai sipping saga started while we were in the car itself and once I parked myself at Adi and Baba’s house in Delhi (we took the route to Ghaziabad to land there) – there seemed to be no end to my gorging and snoozing. As the day came to an end, Adi and I realised it was the time to start the first leg of our journey – get to Jammu and then Katra in a pre booked Volvo. The bus went all the way through Punjab and Haryana and I was feeling proud of having traversed the Northern part of the country with such ease and of course the constant chatter of my fellow traveller was a welcome thing.

We reached Katra on Sunday and decided to do the climb on Monday. We walked to the origin (instead of taking an auto) to gain some momentum (and it was a secret pilot test conducted on me by my comrade to judge my capabilities and physical strength vis-à-vis walking – which I passed with little difficulty). The Trikuta hill which houses the Vaishno Devi shrine looked indomitable from below. I realised how important it was then to bash my ego and raise myself to a higher level to accomplish this feat. Divine intervention was beginning to surface already. I started the climb with neither over confidence nor diffidence – but with an aim to complete the 14 km trek to the top as early as I could. It was getting hotter as we climbed – the road was flat but was steep nevertheless. There were old women being carried in palkis by men and the old and young alike on ponies making their way up the hill. I was startled by the sheer number of people and the mix of demographics that they represented - but they all had one voice Jai Mata Di!.

Adi had wisely carried a big packet of Glucon D and he kept feeding me swigs of glucose water to keep me going as if the goal itself was not motivating enough. Reaching ArdhKuwari milestone was a huge relief and pushed me to walk faster. When we were three quarters way up the hill (we missed Saanjhi chatth which is where Air Deccan helipads carrying pilgrims landed - as we were taking the new route), I was granted my first cuppa while my companion nibbled away on a dosa to fulfil an impulse of eating one on a hill top (surprised? Don’t be – we are like this only!). It was getting chill and also started to drizzle as we moved up the flat pathway. We witnessed several Mahindra Bijlee three wheelers transporting people up and down. As I looked around, I saw the beautiful Tawi river which seemed to understand no boundaries. The destination appeared less daunting and the sight below made us feel like humble conquerors. Crossing valleys with serrations looked as if a wide toothed comb had made its way through several women’s thick crowning glories while they were sitting together. We finally did make it to the Bhawan milestone at around 4 PM (we started the climb at 10 in the morning). All the fatigue vanished at the prospect of seeing the Goddess. We locked away our belongings and joined the queue of people who were waiting to enter the cave where the Goddess resides in the form of a rock. I was stunned by a metallic full sized statue of Vaishno Devi on a lion at the entrance of the cave. The actual darshan in the cave was for split seconds – the priest managed to tell us that the three rock formations in the cave represent three Goddesses – Amba Devi, Vaishno Devi and Saraswati Devi from left to right in that order while the security guard shoved us away. We drank the sacred water and were elated at having made it to Vaishno Devi!

The descent seemed more painful with my calf muscles trembling and starting to give away. The top is not always a vantage point, I realised. But we kept going. There was a power cut as we were getting down – this did not hinder us either. At about 10 PM, we reached the same point at which we started our expedition. A total of 12 hours for 28 kms – breaks and darshan all inclusive.

We took a bus to Jammu and managed to do the train journey as well to Delhi. This time, I got lots of chai, chole bathure and other mouth watering chaat items at frequent intervals. Once in Delhi, I got to travel in metro rail and was awestruck at the clean and flawless operation of the system. After catching a movie, it was time to fly back home.

The entire expedition left me with a feeling of tranquillity and thoughtlessness – a state which only months of meditation can confer on you - for several days to come. I am looking forward to my next adventure – not sure if it would be as fulfilling.

For a few photos: http://flickr.com/photos/nomadicbliss/sets/72157600408339112/detail/

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Rain and Love

May. 19th, 2007 | 11:09 pm
mood: hopefulhopeful

I have been clamouring for the Rain
Your Love is not less elusive

Thought I saw lightning. Alas! Just a flickering streetlight
Mistook my shadow for your presence

Did I hear thunder? No, it was not to be.
Your voice was a hallucination. It was the rustle of falling leaves.

I smelt the rain in the wind and hope soared
Senses triggered by your fragrance – I looked around expectantly but you were nowhere.

Claret coloured skies
Tear filled eyes

Soft breeze tantalising
Your touch I cannot feel

Summer singes unbearable
Oh the anguish of separation

Mystery uncoils and Rain falls to the Earth
Will you now shower your Love on me, my love?

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Are you the marrying kind?

Apr. 9th, 2007 | 08:28 pm
mood: contemplativecontemplative

As the fact that I am in my late twenties is staring me in the face, I am bound to think about matrimony in general. I have begun to question the very concept of marriage. No wonder in the ancient times, our ancestors insisted on early marriages – probably they knew that if people hit their late twenties or early thirties – with a few strands of grey hair or receding hairlines - and could think in more vivid and experienced terms, they might end up giving a thumbs down to the whole affair.

According to me, a few reasons for which people marry (in full consciousness or otherwise)

Parental pressure: Understandable in the “Great Indian” context.

Love: The next logical step, they say. I would say a live-in relationship is good enough.

Need for companionship: A pet may not suffice for all people at all times. Also, who laid down the rule that the choice of companion should be driven by sexuality? Why do heterosexual people choose companions of the opposite sex and homosexuals, people of the same sex? Is marriage driven by the need for sexual fulfillment alone then?

Preemptive avoidance of repentance: Most people actually regret getting married and not the other way round!

Peer pressure: I would rather not analyze this.

Sex: Net present value of paid sex is cheaper over a lifetime, when compared to the planned and unforeseen amounts of money spent on a spouse.

Kids: Adoption is always an option

I am not taking sides here – there is no right or wrong reason to marry. We always don’t need a valid reason for everything too. Ever heard of someone who got married on a whim? Or by accident when mucking around?

Also, ever wondered what will happen to the zillions of melodramas wetting our idiot boxes if the concept of marriage suddenly ceased to exist? The Indian Television Industry would declare bankruptcy. Housewives and retired husbands will have nothing to look forward to in life. Prospective vamps would be deprived of their role models – in terms of dressing and dramatizing (and traumatizing). Divorce lawyers, marriage counselors, marriage hall owners, band-wallas, would all end up jobless. Unemployment would soar. Shaadi.com would have long buried the idea of moving from a click-only to a click-and-brick model and bit the dust along with its numerous dot com cousins mushrooming by the hour. The nation’s economy would see doom. This is so truly hilariously amusing.

Marriage is an issue with serious societal, economic and financial ramifications (!). In spite of looking at it from all angles, I still cannot figure out why marriage is such an overhyped concept and tacitly misunderstood as mandatory.

To each his own.

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My tryst with Uncle Sam

Mar. 2nd, 2007 | 04:26 pm
mood: chipperchipper

It has already been a week since I returned from the bitter sweet chills of the US of A. I’m still wondering why people are the same everywhere.

You “make” a turn in the US. You “take” a turn in India. You end up doing the same thing. There is no ground floor in the US. Level 1 is the floor above ground floor in India. That does not change the number of floors, does it?

People exchange pleasantries at the drop of a hat in the US. People may mistake extra courteousness for sexual overtures in India. It is these differences that make visiting new places so interesting. Nevertheless, people are STILL the same everywhere.

Well, what was I doing in the US? I was happily away on a short term business visit. The first week was spent in a sleepy town called Flint – a few miles away from Detroit, Michigan. The very first weekend was a “splurgey” one at the truly awesome Prime Outlets at Birch Run, Flint. I found this unparalleled by even Jersey Gardens, NJ, which I visited a week later.

Prime Outlets had these millions (excuse the exaggeration!) of shops spread over acres of land. You name the brand – and it was there. Unfortunately, they were all in an open expanse. Imagine my plight at -20F. So we ended up visiting every shop just to warm up – and I bought this and that at every such stop! Some of the outlets that caught my fancy – Liz Claiborne, GAP, VF, Nike, Chocolate factory, some random Kitchen shop where I bought a Chicago cutlery set, Perfumania (maxed my spending here) and so on. When our car broke down, we sought solace in a Golf store in which one of the wall hangings (apparently a wife’s epitaph) had this – “When I die, bury me in a Golf course so that my husband visits me eight times a week”.

The next week, I was in Detroit for three days and Southfield for two days – working :(

After a hectic 70-hour work week, I flew DTW-LGA. Spent a day at NJ – had lip smacking South Indian vegetarian lunch (Mysore food more specifically) at this Indian restaurant called Swagath at Edison. And then spent some time in Jersey Gardens, surprisingly did not shop much there. Sunday was the best day of my entire trip. NYC was like one soft boulder of fun hurled at me. And the boulders kept coming the whole day. After a quick sight seeing tour where we shown a spate of “cast iron” buildings, Chinese shopping areas, Parks and other landmarks, Vinns and I disembarked quickly. We had a Burritto bowl each at Chipotle and sailed to and fro in Staten Island ferry – catching a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty and Brooklyn Bridge. We took the subway to Times Square. We clicked a few photos near the Empire State Building. I shopped some expensive watches at Macy’s (the first ever to be established I was told). Then we bought tickets for a Broadway musical called “I love you. You are Perfect. Now change!” We were trying to kill time when I chanced upon a souvenir shop – I bought some to gift and some to keep for myself. We dined at an exquisite Indian restaurant called Utsav and rushed to Westside Theatre on 43rd Street. The comical satirical musical comprising well woven sequences revolving around love, sex, dating and marriage - was almost mesmerizing – the actors were perfect and were fantastic singers too. Except for the last bit “Funerals are for dating”, I enjoyed every moment of the two-and-a-half-hour entertainment.

The final week was in Flint again. I did not fancy the Courtyard hotel as much as Marriott Residence Inn. However, I was “ok” with anything as I was joyfully preoccupied about getting back home.

Some thoughts and after thoughts:

NYC traffic reminded me of the traffic woes back home. I told you. People are the same everywhere.

Things I tried for the first time and absolutely loved: Flavored coffees (French Vanilla, Hazelnut, Caramel), Waffles.

Loved the snow. It is fun to observe and not to jump into. Just like matrimony(!)

I would certainly not mind going back to NYC for a day or two. This time around, I would shop a little bit more. And walk through every avenue of every street in Times Square. I don’t like to miss a thing.

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Dirty Dancing?

Dec. 25th, 2006 | 11:19 pm
mood: energeticenergetic

There are times when I have an urge to write but am stifled with work.
This moment – I am being stifled by the urge itself. So here goes a random post.

It was the first mess party at IIMK. I had not even bothered to stay up. My motto those days was “Surabhi and dance? No-no-no-no-no”. I was swept into a dream – about the last time I ever danced. That was around 8 years ago from that point in time. I was still wondering in my trance – why had I stopped dancing abruptly? Who had bunged my innate desire? Nobody had ridiculed me. Nobody had said a word. But I had built a fort around myself for absolutely no reason. I was portraying someone I was not.

While I was still lost in my dream and trying to find the answers, I was woken up by a knock on the door. Seconds later came another. And then another. The knocks had turned into intense bangs. I finally managed to trot up to the door. I was still feeling hazy. When I opened the door, I found Dheeraj, Ravi and Qaynat. They were apparently trying to haul me along for the dance. At first I refused to come. But they just would not listen. Then I told them I would accompany them but would not dance. Not at any cost. I hesitantly went to the mess in the firm grip of the determined trio. I was welcomed by the smell of booze and smoke of cigarettes. I was saying to myself – “How the hell can people dance in a place like this?” Then slowly I was enticed – by the dance floor and the music. It was pretty dark – and nobody seemed to be looking. So I said to myself – “I will try my hand (or feet) at dancing anyway”. So I let my body flow with the music. And within seconds I had rediscovered my passion. I was dancing like a pro and nobody except my own fatigue would stop me!

There was no looking back after that. I was a common factor at almost every mess party. And the Taj parties. Any occasion where I could shake a leg. I still remember – Ravi and I had the last dance at the farewell party we gave our seniors. We were the last ones to leave the dance floor.

Then came salsa, merengue and jiving classes which I enjoyed immensely. No, no. Latino dances are not kinky. They are superbly graceful and great fun to perform.

My motto is now – “Dance till you fall and cannot rise at all” :). Did someone just say there’s a party around the corner?

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Tera Guroor?

Nov. 23rd, 2006 | 09:30 pm
mood: amusedamused

A piece of news that was doing the rounds a few days ago – apparently about a not-so-significant statement made by the super successful Himesh Reshammiya and zoomed over a 1000X by the ever thirsty media.

In an interview, when the mediaperson made a reference to Himesh’s “nasal tone”, he quipped - “Mukesh, R D Burman and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan used to sing in a nasal voice too. But I am blessed to have produced 36 hits in a year”. These were more or less the exact words that he used. Now the media transformed this statement to mean that Himesh insulted the legends of yesteryears and claimed superiority over them. It accused him of arrogance by flashing headlines like “Tera Tera Tera Guroor” – a take on one of hit songs. The point here is this – by a simple application of logical reasoning, Himesh’s words could have meant any of the following:

1. Mukesh, Burman and Khan were good singers too though they sang in a nasal voice. But they were not lucky, while I was fortunate enough to have delivered 36 hits a year.

2. Mukesh, Burman and Khan were good singers but I am not. I had the blessings to produce hits at a greater rate than they did.

3. Mukesh, Burman and Khan were also bad singers like me – We all belong to the “Nasal Brothers Club”. However, while they did not have the luck, I had all of it to produce hit after hit.

4. Mukesh, Burman and Khan were in fact bad singers though they were also accused of singing through their noses. I also sing through my nose – but I am a good singer – this is the reason I could produce so many hits in such a short span of time.

The media conveniently ignored the first three possible premises and blew up the last one beyond proportions. Well, Himesh later on ate his own words to an extent when he made another statement that the three great singers were legends in their own right and he never meant to humiliate his seniors, the hype created did have a percolating effect. Does this mean the media defies logic and thrives on sensationalism? Is it so by design or by choice? Well, my view is that even if some trivial issue has to be sensationalized, it should be done in a way that makes it look important – audience should never get the impression that something is being hyped up for no reason. And I guess most of the successful media agencies are adept at achieving this. Probably, this is just another survival instinct for this part of the professional world.

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Real life lessons from a game

Oct. 22nd, 2006 | 05:34 am
mood: calmcalm

Frivolous though it may seem, a simple word game “Book Worm” (wherein the player has to connect adjacent tiles to form words – and form long ones to avoid burning tiles which will almost certainly end the game if they reach the bottom of the tile grid, new tiles appear from the top after every turn) has tickled my thinking cells quite a bit. There are a few things that have reinforced my understanding of life:

1. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush: Sometimes I form a small word first. And then I suddenly notice that I can form a longer one. But I click “enter” in a hurry. WE OFTEN LOSE OUT ON OPPORTUNITIES WELL WITHIN OUR REACH – we see them, we go close to them and then we let them pass. The reason could be haste, indiscretion, ignorance or sheer stupidity. But the fact is that – it happens.

2. Greed – the worst of the Seven Sins: There are little pats-on-the-back that Bookworm gives me from time-time - in the form of Green, Yellow or Blue tiles which will fetch me more points when used. I keep waiting for those much needed adjacent tiles to garner extra points due to the coloured tiles as well as the length of my exquisite word. I am all eager to showcase my grandiose language (to Bookworm…err...myself…err…whomever) when all of a sudden, a burning tile appears over my coloured tile. I cannot use the burning tile in any way. After a turn, the burning tile eats up my coloured tile and there I go! WE MISS OUT ON SMALLER AND VALUABLE OPPORTUNITIES IN A FIT OF AVARICE, WAITING FOR A “BIGGER” ONE TO COME OUR WAY.

3. Sometimes, you just gotta give up: There have been situations when two burning tiles have reached the extreme bottom of the tile grid. In spite of my best efforts, there is absolutely no way I can connect those two tiles to form a meaningful word. I press enter and there ends my game and my dream of clearing the highest level someday. Our failures are not totally attributable to us. EXTRANEOUS FACTORS CAN RUIN OUR CAUSE.

4. Victims of circumstances: We all are, are we not? I am so engrossed in using all the burning tiles as soon as they appear that I end up utilizing only the top tiles in my grid. After a while, I realize that the bottom of my grid is filled with formidable letters – W, X, Z, K and the like with no vowel nearby. WE NEGLECT ONE PART OF OUR LIFE AT THE COST OF THE OTHER. This is the primal cause of regret. A typical one would be – “I wish I had balanced my academics and guitar classes”.

Lessons are to be learnt from everything – nothing in this world is really trivial in an absolute sense. Of course, in a relative sense, few details may be less important than the others. We should move from one situation to another fairly quickly in life – so that we are presented with new information and new avenues to learn. Another reason not to stagnate, right? In this case, the only direction is forward or sideward – but not backward. Just another perspective of how learning and progress are interrelated.

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Moments of Truth?

Sep. 21st, 2006 | 04:24 pm
mood: blahblah

I land in Mumbai and the minute I switch on my mobile I get the sms “Dear Airtel Karnataka subscriber, welcome to Mah/Goa…For any assistance, call 121. Have a pleasant stay...”

And then I feel at the top of the world with national roaming at my disposal so that I can make and receive calls helter skelter.

Two days pass and my balance has been depleted by well beyond 500 bucks. Now I am curious to know why. The last time I spoke to a customer service officer, she said anywhere in India, incoming and outgoing calls cost Rs. 2 per min (never trust ‘em I tell you).

I call 121 and this guy comes on line. It is well past the wee hours of the evening.
I say "Hello".
And he says “Good morning Sir, can I help you?”.
I freak.
The second word of the sentence did not upset me as much as the third.
I shout “Do I sound like a man?”
“No Sir”
I shout at a higher decibel “Then CALL ME Ma’am”
“Sorry ma’am”
“Now, what are my incoming and outgoing call charges?”
“Your number is originally from which place ma’am?” (not forgetting the ma’am)
“Then call Kerala customer service centre ma’am”
“But why Kerala????”
“Bangalore is in Kerala, no ma’am?”
“Excuse me Mister. Bangalore is the CAPITAL of KARNATAKA”
“Sorry ma’am”
“But if I call Bangalore customer service number, I will be charged right?”
“Yes ma’am, we cannot help ma’am”
“Then why do you provide “free” numbers like your stupid 121” and I hang up.

So much for customer service.

Moments of Truth, we had learnt in Marketing of Services- are those instances when the provider is actually interacting with the customer. One wrong step can make or break the fragile relationship. “Good” customer service is nowadays just a hygiene factor and no longer a value-add. All the value additions are in terms of the products a company sells. But then, "exceptional" customer service could be a value add, though arguably so. I would be impressed if someone from Airtel called me when the balance on my prepaid number was almost reaching zero and offered to charge my currency on credit. But then are they willing to go the extra mile to make their customer smile?

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Things people scrap

Aug. 28th, 2006 | 03:35 pm
mood: amusedamused

I have had some really weird scraps written by strangers in orkut. They are replete with errors - grammatical and logical. Worth a good laugh and no offence intended!!!

1. Today my birthday i think u have to congratulate me

[Have I taken on the responsibility of "congratulating" (God knows what for) every Tom Dick and Harry on his birthday?"]

2. wishing you a world filled with happiness
....and happiness filled with reality,
....and reality filled with success
....and success filled with fame
....and fame filled with eternity
....and eternity filled with life
....and life for ever..

have agreat day ahead.. just a wishing a new friend a great begining.

[I don't want my scrap book "filled" with your unoriginal messages]

3. hi....
wanna fren of urs [Excuse me?]
may i hv the privilege

4. hi good morning nice to s ee u want o be a frnd have anice day keep smiling
happy Independence day

[All I ask is freedom from you]

5. hi,
i like mail friendship with u.becoz u are my first friend in my orkut account.i am engg student .plz reply me again for your good decision.
BYE BYE ..............


6. first of all compliments u on ur full of confidence decent luks....
and wanna comment on ur ideal match section.by giving ur comment in that section u can help guys to know wt most of girls look for in them.
after all u r also a consultant na
(sorry if offended u)


7. kab tak mere dost nahi banoge i will try i will try and i will try

[Keep trying]

8. Hiiii surabhi..hw r U?
U knw one thing..U r toooo sweeeet too resist..

[What the hell]

[Next one is the most HILARIOUS of them all:]

9. Some facts and figures are best when acquainted by
others...Like your ..beauty ..it is your bearing and my pleasure because ..it is extreme of satisfaction for ..guys like me to appriciate...to appriciate you your beauty..
you are beautiful, you are beautiful,.its tru..

take care of it and your appriciater also
bye bye

[Try figuring THIS out. I have had splits of laughter reading this over and over again :)) ]

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Procreation or Recreation?

Aug. 13th, 2006 | 02:23 am
mood: irateirate

A recent economic report on India Vs China claimed that the percentage of youth in India being far greater than that in China (thanks to its one-child policy and the subsequent alarmingly high aged-to-young ratio), gives a fillip to the former’s attractiveness.

There was a recent piece of news making waves for all the wrong reasons – that of an eighty eight year old man in Rajasthan becoming a father, in a quest to proliferate the “Jat” community.

The Kerala Catholic Church has taken a strong stand against contraception, disseminating the message that children are the “gifts of God” and should not be refused.

Then there are women like Angelina Jolie and Sushmita Sen who have given such a graceful and exemplary angle to adoption. They are the saving grace of womanhood in stark contrast to those illiterate second wives of old men in Rajasthan (for instance) who do not even think before pulling up their lehengas while the man indulges in the routine. I also believe that there are a class of men in this world who are not Chengis Khan wannabes.

This brings us to the question: Why do people take procreation so seriously? Is marriage’s primal motive producing children and prolonging the “vamsh” or generation? Whenever a boy is born in the family, they say they have a “vamshoddhaaraka” (a saviour of the family). Whoever coined this term must have been a male chauvinistic pig or a typical self subjugated female. And whenever a girl is born in the family, people in some parts of the country pronounce that she will one day light up someone else’s house. But how - by producing kids like a litter of puppies? If she cannot carry out this biological function successfully, she is dowsed with kerosene and set afire. Not a very nice way to light the house, I’d say.

Then is the act of intercourse just for recreation – an orgasmic result of the interplay of sex hormones? Well, the answer may be a blunt “yes”. But does every such act have to result in an issue? Well, the answer is “not necessarily”. But sometimes couples are obliged to have children. Either to prove their fertility to the world. Or “enhance” the growth rate of their clans. Pretty contemptible rationales. Would the sensible man and woman please stand up.

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The world's shortest personality test!

Aug. 9th, 2006 | 09:58 am
mood: bouncybouncy

A break from work made me bump into this. And lo and behold!

Your Personality Profile

You are dependable, popular, and observant.
Deep and thoughtful, you are prone to moodiness.
In fact, your emotions tend to influence everything you do.

You are unique, creative, and expressive.
You don't mind waving your freak flag every once and a while.
And lucky for you, most people find your weird ways charming!

You can get it at http://www.blogthings.com/worldsshortestpersonalitytest

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Why I disapprove of an arranged marriage

Jul. 28th, 2006 | 11:44 am
mood: indescribableindescribable

I have never failed to raise an eyebrow when someone has been married the “arranged” way. Though I am not much of a believer in marriage itself, I find the arranged ones albeit a little strange. I have my own reservations. You can blame the numerous MBAs (Marriage Broker Aunties) for helping me develop such a sour taste for the same. (‘Aunties’ being a generic term for the bride hunting aunty-like).

This happened at a temple 11 years ago, when I had just completed my 10th. My grandparents (especially my granny wanted me to do the usual temple visit and I didn’t want to displease her).

Priest (asks my grandpa): “So, she is your granddaughter?”
Grandpa: “Yes, she has scored a high percentage in her 10th std. Please bless her”
Priest: “So you must be looking for a groom for her?”
Me: Stupefied. Angry. Disgusted. Shirking away from the priest to escape his blessings.
Grandpa: “No way. She will study further.”
Me (with a sigh of relief, mutter to self): “Thanks, Grandpa.”

At a wedding 5 years ago –

Aunty No. 1: “Surabhi, you have done your B.E and now you are 22. I think this is the time for you to get married”.
Me: “But aunty ji, I feel there is no “right time” for marriage”
Aunty No. 1: “But girls should marry when they are young only. Otherwise how will they look good in the video?”
Me: Zonked.
Me: “Aunty ji, I plan to do my MBA”
Aunty No 1: “Don’t do that dear. It would be tough to find you a higher educated groom. The husband should always be more educated than the wife”
Me (trying to avoid fainting): ”Whattttttttttttttttttttttttt?”

At a relative’s house warming ceremony 4 years ago –

Granny No. 1 catches me unawares and exclaims – “Oh dear, you are so pretty. Whose daughter are you”. Just like someone found a cute stray puppy on the road and was thinking of taking it home.

Aunty No.2 pitches in with details. And uncalled for ones like “Didn’t you know, she is accomplished in veena, singing and has won so many awards in her school and college days” (A perfect sales pitch? It is not uncommon to find girls in South Indian Brahmin families dabbling in an art form or two. For one moment, they made me regret all the learning).

Granny No. 1: “Surabhi dear, my nephew is coming to India from the US. He has done his MS and pursuing MBA. He will be here for a short while and wants to take a wife back” (As if wife becomes an addendum to the visa for an eligible bachelor in the US)

Me (thinking, with my lower jaw dropped so low in despise and shock that it remained that way for the rest of the function): “Will you care to ask what I want”

All I did was apply reverse gear and stay as far away from Granny No. 1’s line of sight as possible.

Now if I accidentally venture into a wedding, all those aunties and grannies would give me a “oh - that girl who has done her MBA - is already 27 and still single” look and would not manage to hover anywhere near me. The fact that I am intimidating to them amuses me and I end up enjoying every moment of it. I hope one day a meteorite from “Planet Sense” comes and hits these bride hunting relatives. Or maybe it will take a generation or two for natural evolution.

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Some things are never forgotten

Jul. 19th, 2006 | 01:01 am
mood: thankfulthankful

Not a day passes without bringing sweet memories from the good old days at IIMK. Some of these are simply unforgettable. Some bring laughter and the others tears. I’ll try and list them down in whatever order they emerge:

1. Ravi’s fixation with the haunted streetlight – everytime we passed the ghostly light on his bike, it would toggle from on-off or off-on. (My guess is that it must have been a male ghost winking at my friend...for the uninitiated – male denizens of this city were alleged for exhibiting gay overtures). We shared this phenomenon with a few others and they ended up bewildered or should I say bewitched.

2. Dheeraj and I retro-dancing at the mess parties – we used to wait till around 1 am for DJ Kunal to play those old Hindi songs and put our best foot forward to instantly metamorphose into Shammi Kapoor and Mumtaz.

3. The last day of college (sob sob), I guess Feb 25th, when Madhu, Dheeraj, Ravi and I took a final tour of the campus, clicking photos and shooting each other, with the grand finale at the top of the tower.

4. Reddy’s and Vikhyat’s relentless efforts in scaring me by stealthily knocking my room door and then all of us letting out screams (first they and then me ) at decibels that could potentially have knocked down C hostel (or even the hill that hoists IIMK itself, if one would not deem the expression a hyperbole).

5. Nitai, Ravi and I “celebrating” Aditya “Chatur’s” birthday by having the ghazal guy sing “Happy Birthday” on a day which was not even close to the guy-in-question’s birthday.

6. Kanav giving Neeta, Ravi and me the laugh of our lives with his hilarious rendering of songs and anecdotes during our night-out at Bandipur.

7. Ravi and I fleeing the campus at 4 am to have road side chai near Medical College. And also our 40-min adventure of K-Baskin Robbins-K so that we’d be back before my IM class.

8. Staying up till 6 am to watch the sunrise and then catching up those forty winks. This was a scene worth waiting the whole night for, though it was not such an arduous task for the very nocturnal me.

9. And how can I forget the way we – Madhu, Vikhyat, Qaynat, Dheeraj, Nitai, Aditya and I - slid down the hill during our trek in Coorg – using our “boats” ;)

10. Madhu and I sitting in the amphitheatre on a particular night, talking away to our hearts’ content – about ourselves, the people in our lives and just anything under the sun…or the moon, when instead we should have been working for the Technovision contest.

11. All those contests won – Technovision with Madhu, B-Plan contest with Aditya and Ravi, Coolavenues paper writing contest with Ravi, Konsultant with Aditya – more than the glory of winning, it was the sheer joy of working together with your dream team that was and is still so coveted.

12. When we tanned our skins to glory at the Kovalam beaches and ended up looking like bandicoots that have been carelessly fried by an amateur cook.

13. Neeta, Ravi and I river rafting at Rishikesh – it was one hell of a thriller.

14. When once I woke up a sleeping class by an “alarm”-ing doubt and was at the receiving end of brickbats in exchange for a “Good Morning Folks”.

15. All those late night snazzy PPTs jointly and sleepily cooked up by the trio – Aditya, Ravi and me (though the credit for the jazz part should go to AC) – be it for CIOM, IB or BDC.

Finally, I think the whole experience is unforgettable. Right from the first day of college, the Bob Marsh case study, the jitters of Micro Economics and Accounting, the late nights, the sleepy mornings, the bread pakodas at the night canteen (and of course the papdi chat without papdi), the surprise quizzes, the gamut of presentations and those formidable excel sheets, the wrestle for electives, the elections to various committees, the re-elections, the tense placement season, the GDs and interviews, the pre-placement talks, the last-day formalities, packing and unpacking, the welcome parties, the farewell parties, the “’X’ hostel rocks” spams on IP, the status messages on yahoo, the yahoo conferences, the mail wars on topics ranging from communalism @ K to attendance in seminars, all those amazing people – I think everything to do with these two years will forever stay locked up in my memory closet. And I really think it deserves to stay there.

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This is "The" Wedding Song - if you ask me

Jul. 5th, 2006 | 11:51 am
mood: highhigh

This is one song rendered so beautifully by my favourite crooner Cliff Richard and then of course the vocally blessed Sarah Brightman. It's called "All I ask of you". It is so full of love, passion, promise, submission and warmth. The ideal song to be sung by the bride and the groom, I'd say.

The song featured in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical "The Phantom of the Opera", which is now the longest running one in history, putting even Titanic's box office collections to shame. Originally a French novel, "The Phantom..." was then translated and adapted many a time.

The story is about a hideous musical genius Erik who is on the path of completing his greatest ever composition and desires to end his life at the helm of it. He hides from men as his very sight sometimes aroused interest, sometimes pity and sometimes terror. He is the "ghost" of the opera house. When he has almost completed his masterpiece, he falls in love with a budding soprano Christine who has a childhood sweetheart Raoul. His wish to die is washed away as he dreams of a normal life with his inamorata. She showers pity on him and he - love on her. In the end, he is gratified that she made him feel like a man and gives his life, nevertheless.

Here goes the song:

Raoul (Cliff)
No more talk of darkness,
forget these wide-eyed fears;
I'm here, nothing can harm you,
my words will warm and calm you.
Let me be your freedom,
let daylight dry your tears;
I'm here, with you, beside you,
to guard you and to guide you.

Christine (Sarah)
Say you'll love me ev'ry waking moment;
turn my head with talk of summertime.
Say you need me with you now and always;
promise me that all you say is true,
that's all I ask of you.

Let me be your shelter,
let me be your light;
you're safe, no one will find you,
your fears are far behind you.

All I want is freedom,
a world with no more night;
and you, always beside me,
to hold me and to hide me.

Then say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime;
let me lead you from your solitude.
Say you want me with you, here beside you,
anywhere you go, let me go too,
that's all I ask of you.

Say you'll share with me one love, one lifetime.

Say the word and I will follow you.
Share each day with me, each night, each morning.

Say you love me ...

You know I do.

Love me, that's all I ask of you ...

Love me, that's all I ask of you.

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Amchi Mumbai?

Jun. 22nd, 2006 | 12:53 am
mood: goodgood

Now that I’m blissfully back at home after a 45-day stint at Mumbai, I’m gushing with things to talk about.

First of all, what struck me most pleasantly there:

• I am absolutely in awe of the efficient transport system (especially after grappling with the Bangalore roads and traffic). Local buses were frequent and not very crowded generally. I did manage the local trains but only on weekends! (I have preserved my first local train ticket which was from Chembur station). It was hilarious to see women pulling each others’ hair and duppattas and saree pallus in a frenzy of entering the ladies’ compartment. A few even engaged in physical fights. I had my share of fun!

• The attitude of the people – non interfering, industrious and always ready to help with information. Free-home delivery for whatever paraphernalia irrespective of the volume.

• Not very arrogant auto and taxi-wallahs. They don’t demand excess fare and generally comply with the destination you want to hit.

• Numerous shopping avenues – a treat for a compulsive shopper like me. I went all the way from Sion to Malad just to wade through Inorbit (a friend claims that it is the biggest mall in Asia). R Mall and Nirmal’s Lifestyle in Mulund, Eternity Mall in Thane, yet another mall in Goregaon, Linking Road and Shoppers’ Stop in Bandra, Fashion Street in VT, Colaba – whew!

What I really loathed:

• People spitting and defaecating anywhere and everywhere. I’ve said this before and I’ll reiterate that if the Mumbai Municipal Corporation started fining people for these obnoxious acts, its revenue woes would be a thing of history.

• The filth on Chowpatty beach – probably I was comparing apples to oranges when I likened Mumbai beaches to the Kerala ones.

Memorable Places:

• Band Stand, Bandra – very neat for people who just want to walk. Good breeze and amazing sunset view.

• Chaat Chaska, Chembur – I was literally addicted to their yummy “Chaska Jamuns”

• Bombay Blues, Bandra – for some nice veg sizzlers

• Urban Tadka, R Mall – Ambience and food

Pet Peeves:

• Didn’t do justice to the gourmet (or should I shed my ego and call myself a gourmand ;-) ) in me – didn’t have enough time or probably company to discover more eat-out places

• I have heard praises of Pune but could not make it there

• Could not indulge in trekking or in visiting places around Mumbai

All in all, I had a good time in this gargantuan city. Since most of my expeditions were solitary in nature, I had all the time to savour the beauty (or otherwise) of this place. But then heart is where the home is :) I was longing to get back – to my place, my people and my life. And here I am – happy and tranquil in my city – my part of Terra Mater.

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The "Inside" Movie

Jun. 5th, 2006 | 11:03 am
mood: highhigh

Category 1: Two movies. Both introduced to the public with hype and hoopla. Both disappointing.

Category 2: One movie. Little publicity. Great output.

I’m talking about “Fanaa” and “The Da Vinci Code” in the former genre and “The Inside Man” in the latter.

Fanaa is a movie with an unconvincing storyline. No doubt Kajol and Aamir set the screen on fire with their mysterious chemistry. But the saga of a sensible girl falling for a guy without checking at the least a wee bit of his credentials required nothing short of mortgaging our common senses for a movie ticket. Everything is so predictable. What was Tabu doing in the movie for heaven’s sake?

The Da Vinci Code proved to be another disaster of sorts. The delivery is nowhere close to your expectations. The book, though excessively descriptive atleast had some essence of thrill. But the movie unravels all suspense right from the first scene and then mediocrity prevails.

The dark horse turned out to be “The Inside Man”. The repartee, blue humour and the banter were a welcome relief just like the Mumbai rains. It had the audience in splits and craving for some more meaty dialogues. The movie had people gripped to their seats, disturbance averse – so that they could catch every word of the witty conversations. But then again a small glitch in the sense that Jodie Foster looks wasted in an unsubstantial role. But the whole experience was worth the watch.

So, the moral of the story is that marketing can sometimes make the execution team’s task more difficult. Promotions and publicity raise audience expectations to such an extent that they are tough to appease. Is it always better to have a low profile and make a huge impact? I guess well in this case viewers are drawn by word of mouth and reviews more than anything else. So the initial rush would be greater in the first case [extravagant marketing] and lesser in the second [low key]. Probably there is a point in the graph of “number of viewers versus time” for both the categories of films where the two curves meet. The first curve would be a falling one and the second a rising one. Is this the point that marketing outcome starts plummeting?

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Apr. 13th, 2006 | 09:16 pm
mood: peacefulpeaceful

The whole pathway covered with fallen yellow leaves
As if giving grip to wobbly lovers' feet
As if bringing messages from above, whispering them into your ear as they touch you
Denuding the trees of their beauty so that every moment of love is like a thousand blossoms
Removing the shade so that you put your arms around your lover and
making space for the Gods to smile down on you
Exposing you to the Heavens when the world is what you are running away from
Portraying the shedding of inhibitions,
and the virtuous cycle of growth in love and decay for your love
The tallest leaf shows the fall of ego
and when all comes to dust, there is a new hope of Spring – eternal as seasons and love itself.

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Love – myths and realities

Apr. 7th, 2006 | 01:44 am
mood: goodgood

All of us crave for love - “Unconditional love”. But does love with strings attached even qualify to be called that in the first place? Love by essence spells selflessness, empathy and sensitivity. It is but a tacit promise to give for no reason, with no demands for a return favour. According me all love is unconditional; otherwise it is just another transitory mortal feeling.

I am reminded of another concept here called “Unidirectional love”. Whatever is the meaning of this? You say you love somebody but you cannot express your emotions to him or her by words or deeds. Can love stay locked up in the heart or does it need to be expressed? If you cannot show what you feel, it does imply that you are suppressing outlets of positive energy and such bottled up emotions can in fact be detrimental to you. Love needs to be nurtured and in turn should help you grow. So if you love and if it is reciprocated, only then subsist. Otherwise take the relationship onto a different plane or level – so that both the stakeholders can contribute equally, albeit in different roles, and one does not fester at the cost of the other. All love better be bidirectional. But then some great man has said “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. If two people are truly in love, that love will never vanish. Destiny does mean tricks and those salad days may not culminate in wedlock. But then love has no attachments. It is beyond all worldly ceremonies. Oh yes, if you have never loved at all then you are playing safe. But then you have also lost out on a whole lot of things – ask the lovers, they will tell you!

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What my IIMK friends think of me...

Mar. 23rd, 2006 | 01:35 am
mood: hopefulhopeful

I was tempted to post these year book comments:

Ayyo, Bangalore Gal with spunk, attitude, wit, smarts, and a sense of humour that so matches mine its scary. Always willing to "expand her horizons", Surabhi has been my teammate in many a memorable endeavours. The Superstar of the Atta Besan Maida Sattu combine, her grades never fail to surprise me. SFM Mid term topper, with this being the only fin paper??? Aur kya bolun? Here is wishing you Best of Luck.
- Adi

"Beautiful". Everything about her is elegant and graceful :) Vikhyat bechara. He’ll never understand why you ditched him ;-) Everyday she eats for over an hour in canteen and then exclaims "OMG! I ate so much" :)) - Dheeraj

hamari mohabbat mein aksar yeh hota hai,
hum dono hastein hain hai magar Dheeraj rota hai,
manzil tak tere saath chalna chahtey they hum
magar kya kare! humsafar tera koi aur hi hota hai.
- Vikhyat

[Apparently Dheeraj and Vikhyat have this pseudo crush on me and they are fighting for their lady love...err pseudo lady love...err...lady pseudo love...whatever]

One of the few persons on campus I can be comfortable around, without shifting to a different external self, Surabhi is one hell of a girl. With promises of "We will rock IIMK, man!" over Yahoo before coming here, time has really come full circle and yes, we did manage to rock IIMK, Surabhi!
- Nitai

[Nitai and I had long chats over yahoo before landing at K]

Cool personified. Seriously. Surabhi is the perfect example of how much cooler it is to be who you are than anyone else. One with the ready laughter and quick humor. - Neeta

She calls me "bachche" in her weird accent!:-D Even so, I think she is one of the most beautiful women on campus.
- Kanav

[thanks Kanav :) ]

I thought we had a lot of parallels and the recent events led me to cement those thoughts! Looking forward to getting to know you more in CG.
- Priya

A face that wins, a smile that hits, a wit that surprises, a wisdom that impresses ... The lady of style ... The lady of sense ...
- Qaynat

Surabhi, your achievements, grades including latest SFM stunt never surprised me but your long outings before the exams do. I am sure you will make it big in this world whether for 'love of life' or for your 'World tour'!! Made me comfortable whenever the situation demanded and silently bore my moods, what more can I ask for!! I feel happy that I’ll have one more sister after I go out of K. Hope you continue to rock wherever you go.
- Madhu

OB ki topper Surabhi ke saath IBM mein humne tha saath kaam kiya; inki pratibhaoan ko tab hi thaa humne wahaan pe jan liya.
- Pavan

Surabhi Maeydum, nimma 1000 Watt smile mathu infectious laughter tumba ishta. An affable humsafar on the unforgettable Bandipur, Waynad, Kovalam trips.
- Pavithra

[the first line translates to "Surabhi madam, I like your 1000 Watt smile and infectious laughter very much"]

Your dare-devil and carefree attitude have taught me that one can achieve lots and yet have time for fun. The recruiter's delight, given your focus and soft skills, I am sure you will have a great career. - Sharika

Cheerful and care-free. Dangerous in GD's. In search of a time-machine. Surbhee, beware the eater of bamboo shoots!!
- Somas

[I was in search of a time machine which would catapult me into the past or future...Shounak was supposed to sell me and Puneet Punyani one but the deal never materialised]

Horizons team mate, really awed by her strong GD performances…girl power…leader of non FIN majors in SFM giving one tight slap on the face of all FIN bonds mocking at us! All the best, future director of CG.
- Abhijit

My lasting memory of you will be – “my Salsa instructor”!
- Deki
[oh How I miss salsa!]

The pretty project manager. - Pranay

My Guru, will miss her loud laughs once off campus.
- Swaroop

Surabhi scares me sometimes! She knows about me more than I do myself! - Shounak

[Shounak and I were cross observers in a group activity in OB-I. I made a detailed analysis of Shounak and he thinks I can read minds!]

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Khamosh Pani

Mar. 22nd, 2006 | 11:51 pm
mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

Little wonder that this film is an award winner. Set in Pakistan during 1979, the story leaps back and forth between the current and 1947 and climaxes in 2002. It is about a Sikh woman “Veero” (deftly portrayed by Kirron Kher) who refuses to be pushed into the jaws of death during the partition, when emigrant Sikh fathers killed their own daughters for fear of their being taken away by Pak Muslim men. She runs for life from the village well into which was being forced to jump - into the arms of “Afsaan”, who gives her solace, a new name “Ayesha”, marital status, the Islam religion and a son “Saleem”. She is in fact so terrified of going to the well that other women fetch water for her everyday. Ayesha is fondly called “chachi” by the inhabitants of Charkhi. Saleem is an aimless tramp and Zubeida, his lady love is a woman with a steely ambition.

So far so good. Until the tentacles of fundamentalism start encroaching this sleepy village. When self proclaimed guardians of religion start mobilizing ignorant masses, including the rebellious Saleem, in a war against “infidels”. All the kinship between the Sikhs and the Muslims is wiped out. Women are forced to drape dupattas and cover their heads. They are cossetted in the enclosure of their homes in the name of protection. Mother and son are in total disagreement. There is no love lost between Saleem and Zubeida too, after frequent skirmishes.

When Saleem comes to know of his mother’s Sikh connection, the two have a tussle and Veero goes back to the same old village well and ends her life.

Well this is just the story. There are several questions to be raised. Why do men always make the rules and compel women to carry them out? Why is it that few women can have their own way and others simply follow set routes – like Zubeida who makes a career for herself whereas Veero inspite of best efforts, succumbs to her fate? Why do politicians have to use religion as a weapon to come to power?

These are certainly burning issues in a few countries even today. And the film acts as a superb sensitizer in this direction.

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An MBA from an IIM - yippiee

Mar. 19th, 2006 | 12:31 pm
mood: contentcontent

A proud moment. For me and my folks. When I received the PGDM during the 8th convocation of the Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode. With all the post graduates donning black robes and hats and the chief guest, director, PGP chairman and the faculty dressed in the typical convo attire - it was really a sight to behold. The event was in full splendour with the proceedings carried out in an immaculate fashion.

Well, all good things come to an end. I feel one among the coveted few :) I am now what I once died to be. So, should I die out of glee or just chill? I guess I'll do the latter.

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A brick in the wall

Mar. 10th, 2006 | 11:01 pm
mood: accomplishedaccomplished

I was one till a few years ago.

All through school, I thought I had to top the class. But didn’t know why. And I was good at both – topping and not knowing why. After 12th, popped the million dollar question – engineering or medicine? I did not raise an eyebrow even then. Were these the only possible careers in the world? Going by facts, neither of these are top money spinners. Anyway, I chose engineering over medicine since it required a lot less tedium and time. What after engineering? Before I knew it, I was placed while still in 6th semester. I joined the Company, underwent a rigorous training and even started to work. All the time wondering why I was doing what I was doing.

And then came the moment of wisdom in my life, one fine day. The dawn of sense – at just the right time. “Oh yes MBA was my childhood dream!” I screamed. I was so naïve as a kid that I thought an MBA was done after a BA. Nevertheless, it turned out to be a sensible dream, I realized later. When classmates at my engineering college were bragging about their GRE scores, all I did was be apathetic. I did not want to flow with the stream yet again. I could be technically inclined if I wanted to. But then programming was something that I could enjoy – only if I forced myself to. One bright day, I said to myself “Enough of pretences lady. Do what you have always wanted to. And something you will enjoy”. And then my MBA dream was reborn.

With my MBA over and convocation around the corner, I can vouch for the fact that I’m no longer a brick in the wall. Well, I might be some brick in some wall, but not in the one that matters the most :)

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