Monday, September 02, 2019


It was a time when I was single. It was a time when Bajaj & Kawasaki were still a couple though. Bajaj & Kawasaki decided to make out. And they gave birth to a beauty called Caliber. Man, what a celebration she had when she came out. With a brilliant advertisement, of swiveling and tilted wheeling of the ‘green’ one. The slow motion of the visuals and the easy background score made sure I fall into the temptation. I had very recently started earning. And had promised myself, no more pocket money from parents, anymore. But,”kambakht ishq hai jo, sara jahaan hai vo….”  

Till the month I received my first salary, my parents would send me my pocket money, without ever being reminded of it. I would get a call from my father, every month, without fail, informing me that he had transferred money into my bank account & I should continue enjoying life, non-stop & without any worry. And I did, without fail. Incidentally and fortunately, the year my father retired from his 37 years’ service with the Indian Railways, I got a job. My first salary was four times the measly monthly pocket money my father would send me. I was ecstatic just by the thought of having four times the fun I was having till now. And not for moment till that time, had I imagined, I need to repay my parents. In fact, I had fallen in love now. And I could not afford this love life style. So, the only people I could think of, were my poor & now retired parents. My parents had come to Chennai to watch me walk into office on my first day to work. (People from my Chennai days would remember ‘that first day to work’ is another story to share, but some other time). I had stayed in a company sponsored accommodation for the first week, but my parents knew I would not stay too far from office. But, now, within the first six months of my joining my first job, I had fallen in love, as expected of a man, with a machine. And I needed my parents’ support, yet again. More specifically, monetary support.

I am the only son. And I had been a good son, so far. I had never asked anything that was out of means, ever in life. Or at least, I believed so. I mean, after attending a boarding school in the hills, graduating from another city and post-graduation from yet another city, all taken care of by my parents, I actually didn’t have much to ask for. Until today. When I had fallen in love & had to have her in my possession. The best part was, it name. It was K-Bajaj Caliber. I mean, it was just made for me! Although, I had fallen for the ‘green’ one which would come in the advertisements, the moment I walked into the showroom for my test ride, I knew I would not look good on it. So, i opted for the more professional, black model with a golden & maroon swoosh on the petrol tank. And what a ride it was. “ekdam makkhan”.  And it was mine, forever.

But I had to pay a price for it. Well, actually, my parents had to pay for it. My father, to be more precise. I mean, not that my mother did not work. She probably worked more than my father. Just that she was never paid any salary. Much like most “house makers”. So, it was my father’s responsibility to ensure I am well off, monetarily. I think, it was my mother’s responsibility to ensure my father complied to his responsibilities. Anyhow, my only ask was, you pay the down payment & I will manage the monthly EMI for the 2-wheeler. Simple no? Now, my father had just retired. He had plans. Which he unraveled to me much later, during the time I was trying to buy my parents a 4-wheeler, using the same logic – I will pay the down payment, you manage the monthly EMI! That is when he had given me one of his usual Oxford English dialogues - You invest on horses. You invest in jockeys. I had not invested on the bike. I had invested in you.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Wolf of the House

After a lot of trials & tests, I made it to the squad. But could not make it to the playing XI of my school football team for a long time. And finally, the day I was selected, in the very first match, I got injured and missed finishing that match & the next few too. For a long time I kept blaming luck. After a few years, during one of the meet-ups with schoolmates, I repeated this incident & we laughed about it. But later in the evening, it struck me hard that perhaps, the painful waiting period for that call to jog in & play, was much more than the pain of the injury. During that time of wait, I had started feeling worthless, of reduced value & inferior. And that stayed with me for a long, very long time. Physical injury, heals. It may leave scars as a brut reminder. Internal wounds have no scars, but a forever, seething pain. Interestingly, in school, we would curse harder beneath our breath, when a senior from our home town would slap us for a mistake we had committed than we would to a random senior who would thrash us even without reason.

Remarkably similar is the correlation of known people taking you for a ride as against strangers making a fool of you. Imagine, when you happily lend some money to a close relative or a dear friend, versus parting with money to an office colleague. To a colleague, you remind them the approaching due date, on the due date & then taunt them every day after the due date, till you get every penny back. To the relative/friend, even after the promised due date when it is not returned, you don’t ask for it & expect the relative/friend to do so on their own. In fact, many a times, you justify to yourself why there could be delays. But you never forget that loss. Two exceptions when some of us consciously & happily part with valuable possessions are social/religious practices (such as donations, birth/death rituals etc) & doling out alms to needy/beggars, with partial and continued guilt riddance in our minds. 

Distance breeds indifference. In families, we tend to avoid our own relatives and instead, prefer hanging out with friends. And in times of emergency, you believe that friends contributed more than relatives. Which may be right in some ways too. But there is always a relative who worked through silently, without seeking any credit for anything. We never acknowledge that person, leave alone appreciate her/his part. I believe, s/he may not speak out ever. But it will hurt, forever.

In corporate life, we work with multiple stakeholders. We do not frontend with everyone. There are people responsible to do so on our behalf who are supposed to share with timely and appropriate information, facilitate through the process workflow & provide backup and cover fire in times of crisis or an escalation. Being part of the same team, that is bare minimum expectation. Some support & a little empathy. Funnily, it is becoming rarer by the day. We all are getting hungry for brownie points, even at the expense of our own team. And it hurts, everyone and everything. It hurts the team’s credibility, productivity, motivation levels. But what hurts the most is the failing trust between internal team members. 

The wolf of the house pierces through rather badly than the tiger in the woods.



Monday, October 02, 2017

Hey Ram: Die for a few moments

Hey Ram! Probably the most prolific death sentence that has reverberated in this part of the world. I believe, the man was shot and thus his fame shot up multiple times than other wise how he and his death would have been celebrated. He was a memorable personality, nonetheless. For me, he made some things really fashionable. Like khadi wear, walking stick, slow walk with ladies and long walks for anything worth its salt! In fact, now that I realize, he made ‘walking’ cool ! May be, that is why we had Mile Race as a competition among other events during Gandhi Jayanti celebrations in my boarding school.

The only two personalities whose birthdays were celebrated as a full day affair were Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. In fact, Teachers’ Day activities were a pretty close translation to Hey Ram. There would be orgasmic raptures of OMG most of the day, from all corners. Hence, it needs a much longer illustration. May be, some other time.

October had arrived, monsoons had left. October, I think, was the best month of the year. It had 2nd Oct, mostly Diwali holiday, Sports Day and Annual Fancy Fair. Early mornings of October has the tender chilly breeze and a replay of the same chill as the sun would set around 1730 hrs, every evening. Between 1030 hrs & 1730 hrs, it would be a beautiful day. Bright sunshine, green sceneries after a good showering monsoon was getting greener with lusty leaves. Even locals would start taking out their light warm clothes. It would get cozier by the day. Gandhi Jayanti would be celebrated in The Valley, the congregation point for most school events. And every section of the school had their own motive of such celebrations. Teachers had to impress the Principal. Principal had to impress his/her spouse. Spouse had to impress a visiting relative. Junior school kids had to impress their teachers. Boys had to impress the fairies who would descend from Girls School slopes onto the green field. Am sure, some girls had someone to impress too. Though, most of them looked pretty oblivious to any male species around. Except, perhaps, an exceptional good looking male teacher.

Central aggregation of 2nd Oct celebrations was the music competition between schools. Well, it wasn’t exactly a competition. But somehow, became one. For the entire decade that I was there, we would sing the same song, music for which was arranged by the same music teacher, sitting at the very same spot, year after year. And yet, once it was over, people would debate, if “Hari Tum Haro” by Junior School, “Lead Kindly Light” by Girls School or “Ekla Cholo Re” by Boys School was better than the other two.

The high point of the 3 hr-or-so celebrations, before all left for their respective schools for a special lunch, was The Mile Race. It was 8 rounds to run of the 200 metres, 8-track running track that was freshly carved by Calcium Hydroxide (Chuna) just before Sports Day that would arriving around the second Saturday of October, every year. Serious athletes had been practicing for it for over a month, if not more. They were the “long distance runners”. Then, there were the “long-distance lovers”. They would just look at girls and think for the entire those 3 hrs. In this time, they would have imagined a whole life with his imaginary girlfriend, depending on which girl threw even a half glance at him. And then, there were the “smart joggers”. They would participate in the Mile Race, not to win or lose. In fact, their motive was not even to complete the race. They would jog well & easy, ensuring most girls, if not all, gave them a half glance. Finally, after the 3rd or 4th round, they would suddenly develop a sprain, right below the stands where the girls would be sitting and cheering. And from thereon, would spend the entire time mending their sprained heart, oops, ankle, knee or whatever they could hold first, when the girls school teacher would approach to check on him. Everyone knew what are they upto. Everyone had a good laugh. Except, the jogger. He just had a smile on his face. For the entire day. Make that for the entire week. Till Sports Day arrived. When he would exchange glances again with the girl who laughed the least and smiled the most. And the jogger would sigh, “Hey Ram”. And fall in love & die. For a few moments. Just as Gulzar Saaheb has said, "jo nahi kiya, kar ke dekhna; saans rok ke mar ke dekhna" . :-) 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Sunday Love Story of Jharipani

Sunday was the day when a make belief world would be created in junior school when prisoners would role-play as free civilians. So much so, that some prisoners were actually allowed to walk out of the oh-so-feared wooden gates! Those lucky few were boys & girls who had an elder sister in senior girls’ school. Fortunately, I was one of them. So, I had the first-hand experience of stepping out of those high-teethed olive-green gates & stroll down the slopes of the road to a much better green valley, then again rally up a steep rise and walk into senior girls’ school campus. Those 40 minutes or so, spent with your sister were some really sweet and happy times, initially. As you moved to higher classes and hence were in senior boys’ school, you were not sure how much time would you actually get to talk to your sister, about each other. You were the postman, delivering & exchanging messages, letters, small gifts & sometimes, farewell speeches of the eternal lovers of our times. Not that we didn’t like it, frankly. For those couple of hours, when one lover is prepping you, was almost like making a movie. There was an idea. There was a script, some very racy, lucid, romantic, funny and sometimes, sad dialogues. There were real & imaginary characters (mostly competition to the lover). Sometimes, a situation was of an upcoming social event and hence a possibility to see each other. These meetings were really special since conversations would mostly be in quick sign language. Some special glances would keep the fire burning till the next such school gathering. The more daring lovers would meet in the school hospital. The conversation still was in sign language but a little more spaced out.

Anyhow, back in senior girls’ school playing field, while visiting your sister, you were treated a lot differently, when you came as a little sweet innocent kid from junior school, against how you would be scrutinized and scanned with piercing eyes of the teacher on duty, when you visited from senior boys’ school. Naturally so. And at that time, we really believed, we were the smartest and could actually fool the teachers, every time. Now that I look back and think, the teachers actually created those “loose moments” when something had to happen. They would look at you, your movements and then move out of sight and back in sight again just for those right few moments so that you can hand over the “stuff” to your sister and she could hide them in her book, sleeves or under the long pullover she wore today specifically for this job. Even the day of Rakhi wasn’t spared! Boys would smuggle gifts for love birds in the garb of Rakhi gifts for sisters. I think some sisters would be really jealous of some of these girls receiving these gifts. In fact, am sure, some sisters would be receiving such gifts through another brother! Who knows. The bro-code was to never spill the beans, lady finger or curd!!

Sunday of course, was also the day of other kinds of freedom. We had ‘late rising’, no morning prep-time, a much easier breakfast menu and an entire day of binge TV watching, including the national news for deaf & dumb, in between the regional movie. In junior school, kids were sent to their dormitories for Sunday siesta! That was magical. Most would sleep, some were lucky enough to get hold of some comics to read and there were some not so lucky ones who were listed to have a haircut. As it is, the hair cut was a problem. To top it, not being able to clean your head and clothes after the haircut would mean itching across your back of the head, shoulders & back etc, the entire evening and night. 

In senior school, one could not get a bed for a siesta. Some boys would find pretty soft, cozy and shady (I only mean tree shade!!) places to have a nap. Seniors would be in a much-relaxed mood but still dangerous, the not-so-junior classes would be planning how to screw lives of juniors. And juniors would be, well, preparing for their lives to get screwed. Sunday, though was special for a rare lot of eternal lovers and their 'innocent' delivery boys who were ready to script the best ever love story in Mussoorie Hills.