Action Manifesto

‘Controlled aggression’ was the headline of an ad for a mutual fund in today’s newspaper. The image was that of a bowler pumping his fists and screaming after scalping a wicket. I gave a hint of a smirk before turning over the page.

Forget a newspaper ad, no force on earth could change my mind.

Amol Badwe, Learning & Development Manager with an MNC at Pune, used to think that genuine cordiality was the best demeanor one could have. Winning over people was very important. No, he wasn’t too keen about collecting a virtual army of ‘friends’ on Facebook. They were just names for most part, he thought. Winning over people at work, his professional contacts, and his limited set of friends of course.

Amol never said ‘no’ to people. Even if he had to, he would take extreme pains to get them to empathize with him before letting him off the hook. There were instances when people would tell him irritably, “theek hai yaar, tension kashaala ghetoyaes? Naahi jamnaar tar naahi jamnaar. Its Ok”.  He never missed an opportunity to compliment people on their attire. While he was more vested in women, he would do an occasional, “that’s a nice shirt, man!” to the men around him too, just to reassure himself that he was being fair to both sexes. He knew it himself that he was looking for avenues to flirt. Yes, he was married and, in a love-filled one at that. But who has set in stone the definition of propriety?

People well-acquainted with Amol knew that he wore his heart on his sleeve. His face betrayed emotions. He was aware that people could manipulate him, but rationalized it saying it was because of the face God had given him.

If he hadn’t rehearsed, he couldn’t lie. When Ravi, an old friend had once asked him on phone what his weekend plans were, he had said he’d be traveling to Andheri East in Mumbai to meet his cousin, the latter had exclaimed, “Wow! You’d better have made plans to meet me. You know I live in Andheri right?”. Amol could have said any random thing to Ravi and shake himself off obligations. What he instead was, “ohh.. yesss.. of course you live in Andheri!! You see, my wife will be a little impatient. I’ll be done with my meeting at 6.30. To meet you would mean another hour. If I leave at 7.30,  I won’t be at Pune before 11.30-12! I’m sure you can understand”

“Why would she be impatient? You would have driven down, right? And the day after is a Sunday anyway, how would half to one hour make a difference?”

“I agree with you buddy. In fact, it would be so great to catch up with you after so many years. But I’ll make proper plan and visit you sometime soon. We should do a good lunch with drink, what say?”

It was on one of the pleasant Friday afternoons, when the general mood at office was to not work, with many of the folks ready to leave early for the week and board a train or flight to their hometown, that Amol Badwe’s idyll was disturbed. Milind Raut, the guy who he had no clue about the existence of, came visiting. The receptionist got Amol on his desk phone.

“OK. I’m coming. Ask him to wait for a minute.”

He entered the reception lobby and caught Milind, flipping a newspaper. Milind, a scrawny bespectacled chap wearing a steel watch that placed itself perennially on the dorsum of his palm, a checkered slack with sleeves curled inward in an effort to hide his tubular arms, and jet-black denim trousers standing heavily on colorful sneakers.

He came up to Amol at the glass access door, looked right into his eyes, and said in an unexpectedly gruff voice,

“Amol Badwe na tumhi? Yaa majha barobar. Please come with me”

“Hello, boss, I don’t know who you are? Aani Kuthe yaeoon?”

Abbe saale! Kaana khaali ek dega na, you’ll understand!”

“What??? Please get out of here, right away! Prerna, ask the security to take him away please!”

“Call the security if you have to, but before that here goes”, Milind took a step closer to him menacingly, and whacked him hard across the face, sending Amol reeling. Amol heard these words before he collapsed, “Bhenchod, next time you send those Whatsapp messages to Gauri and act like a saint na, saale bajaake rakhdoonga!”

When he came to, Amol found himself on a hospital bed. His colleagues had rushed him to the hospital, just to be sure. They had imagined that a defibrillator or some such technique would be needed to revive him. But the doctor had just shaken him up violently and given him water to drink. He presently asked Amol to take rest for a while before heading back home.

 The  motherfucker mentioned Gauri! I could just chokeslam him and he wouldn’t get up ever! He looks puny, but I must give it to his temerity! Whatever happened to the thing called civility? Maybe he is Gauri’s boyfriend; others wouldn’t have given a damn! And whatever on earth did I do that he almost finished me off? A Whatsapp message? Really?

These thoughts swam in his head. He was anything but resting.

Gauri Verma was the girl he used to chat to at the gym. A joke or two he would have exchanged with her at the most. And maybe a compliment here and a harmless coffee invite there. Not that anything ever materialized. It’s the cheap thrill I get, seeing the Whatsapp notification with her name appear on my phone, he rationalized to himself. The bitch! She has ratted on me, though I can’t for the life of me understand whatever on earth had I done to tick her or that good-for-nothing boyfriend of hers off.  If this is the kind of people she hangs out with, then to hell with her.

But something still needs to be done about Milind all the same.

At the start of the week, I launched a Blitzkrieg of sorts against Milind. I didn’t have to do many enquiries before getting to know where he lived. Wanowrie. I went over to his apartment complex, told the security my name was Gauri Shankar, and he only had to say Gauri, Milind will know. I was let inside. I knocked on his door on the 2nd floor. To my luck, he answered. I had carried an old defunct laptop with me. I smashed it on his head with one lavish swing. His mother came out alarmed. I held a Whatsapp message on my phone, to her face. It said, “You’ll get your money if you fuck my mother”. Obviously, I had stored some random number as Milind Raut. In the fury and shock of the moment, she wouldn’t bother to check if her son could indeed write with near-impeccable grammar. I told her to have a hold on her son, else he will be a confirmed sociopath. Having ensured Milind wouldn’t move an inch and that his mother would spend all night wondering if she should finish off the work I had started – breaking her son’s head – or attend to his evident concussion, I headed back home and flipped open my other functioning laptop. I dashed off an email to the editors of Pune Mirror and Sakaal, who I knew personally. I tipped them off on the newly surfaced menace called Milind Raut,  a gerontophile on the loose. A photoshopped picture to boot. I was confident they would publish the story with discretion. The next morning, on the way to work, I lodged a complaint against Milind at the police station. Showed the inspector the doctor’s report and the morning’s newspaper. That evening I tracked Gauri at the gym and told her that her boyfriend was done for. All thanks to her brainless tip off. It was a pleasure to see the horror on her face.  Finally that night I went over to Mlind’s apartment, bribed the security to stick a note on his door, which read, “try acting smart, and you won’t know what hit you next time. Tu gelas re!”

The next morning, nothing seemed to have moved. It looked like a lazier Saturday than usual. Amol had woken up late. Of course, having dreamt a revenge dripping with venom, he’d needed time before he had soaked his illusion in.

But who on earth was Milind Rau ? Gauri, whom he met later in the day at the gym, denied knowing him. She may have lied, but I’d made it known to her she would be on my radar right then.

Later that evening, he got a Whatsapp from an unknown number.

“Hey Amol. Don’t trust Gauri. Regds, Milind”

Amol was visibly flustered. And he thought, ‘this time, real action, no shit’.


——-  Could be continued ——


Happy, but lucky?

What is it like when you feel exhilarated, but the world around you goes about in blissful oblivion? Remember the bowler who sent the stumps flying, only to realize she had stepped over the crease? No madam, I’m not once questioning the validity of your excitement. If anything, the crease is probably an accomplice in conspiracy. No, I meant the feeling of having to swallow your pride along with all that booze, after your invitees do a no-show at your party. The world just doesn’t give a damn about you, does it?

Just in case you thought this little essay is about the virtue of being happy for others, it is not. Of course, one needs to be happy, all the time! If you are of the multitasking kind, as most of us are, you make space for happiness for others while stealing those moments of glee for yourself. Happiness here being, a state of being! It’s more about, shall we say, people syncing to your state of exuberance.

‘But how can you expect that? The world isn’t programmed that way!’ would probably be a standard response. Sure, they got the keyword right. Programmed. Imagine a charade at work where you go about giving hi-fives and back-slaps to every second chap you bumped into. (And please, can we keep Karan Johar out of this?) An observer of slightly higher refinement would whisper to their friend, ‘she must have smoked up some real good shit’ or ‘this is what comes of smoking cheap weed’. The masses would probably mutter among themselves, ‘bhai, bachke rehna usse! She is probably putting on an act’! Bad programming, maybe.

How is it then, that we end up talking zestfully to some people, keeping up with their demeanor? One would think we have a great party coming up, that our lives are a bouquet of pleasant surprises, and that we are perhaps well endowed. They may well be forgiven for assuming that we belong to similar worlds. How lucky! Step back a little and you’ll see that the people whose bearing we match will likely have many such circles of friends or connections. Positive vibes they give, we would like to attribute. Heck, they don’t even need a cause to celebrate. It is they who should be high on something.

So, the next time you got that award at work, or picked up a sexy new car, or even got your book published, make sure some serious overhaul of your facial expression precedes that event. But who’s to say when something big will come your way?



The travails of hyperstardom

During the audio release of his last blockbuster Enthiran/Robot, Rajinikanth while addressing the star-struck audience raised his right hand and twirled its index finger in air saying, “once one reaches the top, one has to come down. That’s life. If you remain right there, there’s every chance you will disappear” and signed off with that staccato laughter. A good measure of what he said seems to apply to the great man himself today. His popularity has reached stratospheric heights, but his movies are apparently taking the fall for him.

If Rajini were to be stationed high above this lonely planet, in the stratosphere, how would a conversation between him and ground control look?


Rajini: Ground control, I have a situation.

Ground control operator to his colleagues: Oh my God!!! Anbu, Ilamaran, Umaa seekiram vaanga inga! Guess who’s on the line from stratosphere? Enga thalaivar da! Rajini has called.

Anbu: Comedy pannaadha (don’t kid me)! Speaker le podu, let’s hear

GCO: I’m serious! Thalaiva, is it really you?

Rajini: Aamam da kanna (yes dear), it’s me! Now listen, I don’t have forever to talk. Up here, I’m alone and getting really bugged. Can you get me back on earth?

GCO: Impossible thalaiva. You shouldn’t have gone so high up. We have never had anyone reach such heights, and don’t know how to deal with it.

Rajini: Dammit, I’m stuck! OK, here is the real deal. My movies are not keeping me company

Ilamaran: What happened thalaiva?

Rajini: You bloody well know. Last five years, none of my movies have done well

GCO: Very true annai. You should choose good scripts

Rajini: Dei, you think I’m doing time pass? We need to keep evolving, yes? I can’t keep warning every baddie who comes my way with my finger and pack him off with a punch line. So I try to do something different these days

Umaa: Sir, we want you to give us movies like Baasha and Padayappa

Rajini: Ayyoo, the ghost of these movies will continue to haunt me even in my grave, I’m sure! Can’t you ever get over these?

Umaa: That’s difficult sir. But we also like different movies….

Rajini: Where? I try an animation flick, that too motion capture, and you say ‘kuppa padam’ (trash), ‘bomma padam’ (doll movie). I try some history and add amusement, and you say it’s too long and boring. I play a gangster again, just for you, and you still aren’t happy. What shall I do?

Ilamaran: We understand thalaiva. I feel you need good directors

Rajini: You fool! KS Ravikumar has given some of my biggest hits. You call him a bad director? Ranjith is young and promising and critically acclaimed. That’s also a mistake? I’m getting tired I tell you

Ila: Shankar, sir. See how good  Sivaji and Robot were

Rajini: I can’t book Shankar for a lifetime, can I? Anyway next year 2.0 is coming. Working with him 10 years now

Anbu: Why do you worry so much annai? We will continue to love you anyway

Rajini: (to self) When will these jokers understand that a string of flops is not good for a superstar. My resume is starting to look pathetic anyway. I don’t want to end up like Rajesh Khanna.

(to the kids at ground control) It’s for your sake I’m trying different roles guys! Today you watch movies from around the world and choices are varied. I need to give you something that matches international quality

Anbu: All that I agree. But you are special, you see! You are bigger than your movies.

Rajini: Karmam! (all my doing)

(to self) no point in discussing with these kids!

(to the team) ok guys! I’ll see what I can do. Thanks for your time, nice talking!

Hangs up.

Then to his accounts manager, “do you think I will do fine even if I announce retirement?”

Accounts: Yes sir. You can also endorse some brands on TV

Rajini: Kanna, I will never come on TV! Understand? You better understand!


Lethal Whim

Ji wished for a secret weapon.

He had concluded that the only way to end crime against women and children was to be able to attack culprits from stealth. He wanted to do better than Batman. Indian criminals were too shifty to take on someone like Batman. So he reasoned. They shouldn’t know what hit them.

It isn’t clear to this day if Ji had a divine intervention, or if he experienced a violent spasm in his sleep one night.  Police dossiers mention that the hunt for clues is on. But the fact of the matter is, when Ji woke up, he felt a little weightless. After he had dressed following shower, he casually interlocked his fingers and pressed to crack his knuckles. Then headed out. He saw someone he knew and waved at the person. The latter seemed to look through him.

A couple of similar observations later, Ji was sure that he had become invisible.

He spotted a lanky young man with a hint of a moustache, making passes at a girl passing by. He walked straight up to the boy, grabbed him by his wavy hair, swirled him around and smashed his face to the wall. The paralyzed young man began to scream. Ji then flicked open a knife, and started slashing through the boy’s trousers from behind, while having him pinned down. When the last shreds of the boy’s pants had come off his legs, Ji proceeded to destroy his testicles. That was when he remembered there was some work he had attend to. He let go of the boy, dashed out of sight, ran for a couple of kilometres, and transformed back to his regular self.

Ji checked the newspaper the next morning. Not a word about this strange incident. Nor any mention on the Internet.

He decided the only way to contain any crime was to strike terror into the hearts of the people. They have to sit up and take notice. In the limited time he had on hand during evenings, owing to the clandestine nature of his ‘operation’, he set about looking for signs of trouble. He would float by like a ghost, wreak havoc and flee.

The news people and social media did dig this. They added emotion to sensation. Other things that went into the mix included sorcery, religion, politics to name a few. Respectable publications turned tabloids overnight. Homicides started trending. Crime it seemed had just gotten glamorous. The thugs and hooligans wanted their fifteen minutes of fame apparently.  Women in the city had never felt more unsafe.

Ji flunked his exams a couple months later. He realized that if he had to make a living, he needed to pass his exams. His invisibility would only empower him to loot.

Ji is now praying hard to get back to being normal. He is disappearing without warning, and greed & lust getting him through his moments of invisibility.

Dangerous times. We should all pray for Ji.


Us and Them

Baradwaj Rangan takes us back to our days of Floyd worhsip!

Baradwaj Rangan

With a new Pink Floyd album out, Baradwaj Rangan reflects on the band’s longstanding popularity with kids across college campuses in India.

So Pink Floyd have a new album out. It’s called The Endless River, which sounds about right for a Pink Floyd album. It’s the kind of name the band is so fond of, suffused with new-agey imagery from nature. I mean, just look at their discography. There was Delicate Sound of Thunder. There was Obscured by Clouds. There was The Dark Side of the Moon. There was The Wall (okay, not exactly nature, but you build walls on the earth, and that’s surely nature). There was The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. There was Atom Heart Mother (which sounds like a greeting card Schrödinger would send his mum, who was surely made of atoms, as is all of nature). There was Animals

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I got a Liebster Award Nomination!

Namaskara all me hearties!

Life just got better with a Liebster Award Nomination by a charming young lady, Adity Roy. She’s an avid traveler and is on course to scale the map of the subcontinent, and more! And what greater fun to know someone who loves traveling and food! Thank you ever so much, Adity, for going through my blog and considering it worthy of recognition!

So basically, the nominees for the award need to answer a set of 11 questions and let the blessed soul who nominated them know that they have poured their heart out! 🙂 And nominate the next three bloggers who they think are doing some amazing writing!

Without further ado, here are my responses to the 11 posers


  1. Do you have a travel talisman? If yes, then what is it?

Yes. Inquiry and anticipation.

   2. Have you ever lost your way and found yourself in a totally deserted place with strange people? If yes, then how did you deal with it?

I’ve only lost my way on the streets of Bangalore, but people were all the same across the city, though they are strange!

  3. If there was one famous traveler you could be, then who would it be?

Ibn Batuta

4. What’s your favorite mode of transportation – walking, bikes, or local transport?

Trains, followed by motorcycling

5. I miss my nail paints, my footwear and my dog when I am travelling. What do you miss?

Not sure if I miss anything. I even carry books, so I don’t miss them either. Probably some bit of writing (and reading too)

6. What inspires you to keep travelling other than the passion of travelling?

Souvenir shopping! Ok i’m kidding. Who doesn’t want to see how people eat, talk, work and play around the world

7. ‘Into the Wild’ or ‘Eat.Pray.Love’?

Into the Wild

8. Out of all the places you have been to, which one is your favourite? Any place you hate or wouldn’t ever wish to go back to?

Chicago. Need to travel a lot more to have a hate list

9. How old were you when you made your first big trip and where was it?

 I did a grand South India trip.

10. Northern Lights or Pulpit Rock

Pass, for now

If you weren’t a blogger, then what do you think you would have been?



The blog I’d like to nominate for the award is

Salil Lawande –






Pyongyang – Guy’s been there and done what?

The enigma surrounding North Korea has been impenetrable for most of the country’s 101 year old existence (in it public conscience). That’s right, one hundred and one, no more. Distorted as it may seem, history so unfolded that North Korea’s autocratic governments  in an absolute display of obeisance to the ruling dynasty promulgated that April 15, 1912, the birthday of the ‘eternal president’ Kim Il-Sung, would be thenceforth the first day of the Juche calendar.  So, what has North Korea, or DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), told us about herself? Probably as much as she wants us to know about her.  It is extremely likely that the latest bout of belligerence she continues to display is part of her renewed effort for the world to be cognizant of what she does, rather than bother about who she is. As the ‘hermit nation’ raises decibels in letting her southern neighbor and the US know about her nuclear intentions,  the message is clear that hate-mongering is back on the top of her political agenda.  However, even as the author writes, all of North Korea will have gone out full steam in celebrating their first leader’s birthday today, oblivious to the scramble it has left the world to. Celebrations will be certainly grand, and not without the willing participation of scores of her visibly obsequious citizens.  This is what one can rightly believe after reading Quebecois cartoonist Guy Delisle’s ‘Pyongyang – A Journey in North Korea’, unlike the country’s bigoted populace that believes in the theory of their leaders’ nobility of mind and purpose, hook line and sinker.

Guy was one of the few adventurers from the western world who in the right spirit didn’t pass up an opportunity to make a trip to Pyongyang as a liaison between a French animation production company and the SEK (Scientific Educational Korea) Studio in 2003. It was when the country very cautiously opened its door a crack to possible foreign investment. His two months stay in the ‘phantom city’ left him stunned by its manicured landscape and the incredible attitude of its people.  He entered Pyongyang with very few permitted pyngitems, along with the basic stuff he was authorized to carry. A copy of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four, two reggae CDs and gifts like Gitane cigarettes and cognac. The outstanding product of the North’s political machinery was popular opinion, and continues to be so.  Every idea, value and perspective is so flawlessly manufactured. On interacting with the country’s people however, Guy realized that beneath the charade of political propriety and perfume-sprayed air of intelligence lay a thick mass of pedestrian tastes and literary indifference. When the guide who was mandated to tail him around borrowed Nineteen Eighty Four and returned it without having so much as turned a page, Guy knew that natural instincts had yet to completely disappear in this part of the world.

Pyongyang should be a necessary addition to any graphic novel collector’s shelf, and compulsorily read by anyone who’s interested in wanting to know about the works inside the world’s last remaining fascist regimes and combat zones. Guy’s humor is wry and works well here.  The author can wager that, had the country opened any more than it did, the narrative would have been more than suitably amusing. There are a couple of absolutely brilliant depictions that can crack anyone up. Like the plate featuring Guy riding in a car to one of the monuments and in one of his rare upbeat moods. He starts singing aloud one of the oft-heard songs on government controlled radio, when he’s joined by his guide. The latter has a larger repertoire, and every other number manages to accommodate ‘Kim Jong-Il’ somehow.

The North has been a non-starter on the global economic stage, reeling under several decades of ‘hereditary dictatorship’ with a palpable cult of personality built around Kim Il-Sung, the founding father. Guy observed that every brick and mortar structure, every business house, every product of literature and the arts is indeed a tribute to their only President  (Jong-Il the son and Jong-un the grandson are merely referred to as leaders).  He depicts his subjection to Il-Sung eulogies ad nauseam, and tacitly tells us where a huge part of the country’s problem lies.  Opting for self-reliance (Juche state, as they claim they are) is one thing, but fancying communism as a means to all ends has clearly not been of much help to the dictatorship’s cause. The US, through the United Nations food program, helped North Korea deal with the famine it was struck by in 1997. A 1998 report published by the UN revealed that more than 60% of the country’s children were malnourished.  Pyongyang doesn’t mention these in great detail,  but a pithy mention of the regime’s delusional governance tells us a story equal in magnitude as the book itself.

Guy Delisle has crafted a fairly engaging book from his experiences with apparent nothingness. It is the current under placid waters he has led us to explore.