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?

rajni1

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?

Violinist

 

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

Salil Lawande – lawandesalil.wordpress.com

 

Best!

Anoop

 

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.

-Met

Eager to tell, eager to write, eager to do!

Say you always approached cooking with awe and trepidation, and never bothered risking a stint in the kitchen and have since hired a cook. Yet you are invited by the chef of a popularrestaurant and asked to give your inputs on a new continental cuisine he’s alchemizing. Fancy that!

The author had a humbling experience this past weekend, akin to the incredible supposition of the invite you would receive. For someone whose MBA hasn’t come to mean a lot more than its respectable initials, a call from his alma mater to help out in recruiting for the class of 2013-15 was more-than-adequately mystifying.  Ordinary academic credentials, a two-year stay in the middling realm of anonymity, consistently safely maintained distance with the faculty — these traits were how you could best describe the author with. That he was as popular with the ladies as Kumar Sanu would be with Carnatic aficionados didn’t help matters either. When he received the call from the incumbent administrative officer, the author couldn’t simply make sense of the apparent insanity. To be sure, he caught the admin officer on the phone again in ten minutes hence, and asked extremely articulately if his name was picked at random, or had the latter conducted some sort of research on the author’s current occupation. He even tried gleaning some vague idea from their conversation, but it seemed like the gentleman from the college had deliberately become guarded. All that the author could download was that he wasn’t the first one to be called, and that the other alumni were mostly unavailable on phone. Now, if this wouldn’t exemplify destiny, what else would?

So, it was real that he was going to be part of a panel of interviewers in whose hands lay the future of several young ‘uns.  What was real and hard was that the ‘event’ was scheduled for the very next morning.  With little to show as prior experience in any meaningful recruitment, and being unbelieving in the Internet as a perennial refuge for any sort of preparation, the author decided that he would simply let things take their course and ‘live’ the experience-to-come. And some experience it was!

The specifics of how the day went by would well entertain all the author’s faithful on a different day, different place. But rest assured that it was a most amusing outing, right from teething logistical snags to generously idiosyncratic co-panelists to transmission delays news channel style to the abounding eagerness of the hopefuls, in all their intensity and excitement.  Ah yes, their eagerness!  It is the very eagerness that told the author of several vistas. Of the candidates, of the co-panelists, of the world outside, and of himself.

The kids came from across the sub-continent. Some of them just out of college, some of them still finishing, and a few of them with some work experience. Be it the extempore they delivered, the questions they attempted answering or the ones they threw at the panel, eagerness was writ large on their faces. Picture this. A girl who appears timid, who brings her eyebrows on closed eyes together when asked a question from one of her study topics in undergrad college, borders on desperation in convincing the panel that she can deliver the goods if given a chance. Her objective in pursuing an MBA is something she parrots, from what one of the coaching institutes (like the one the author occasionally visits) has likely made her memorize. She is duly reminded to present her original thoughts, which she readily agrees to and bares her heart.  A few candidates later, appears a young man looking extremely confident and sports a genial smile all through. He knows his stuff and can tackle any question thrown at him. But he has an air of jubilation for every correct reply he gives.  And he follows it up with smart one-liners, which after a couple of instances start wearing themselves out. He is probably thinking that adding effects is a cool way of getting himself heard above the noise. He’s equally but eager to book a seat in the college for the coming term.

It will ultimately be a select bunch of enthusiastic and dreamy eyed boys and girls making it to the batch starting June. All their eagerness is just waiting to be channelized from the blatant aspirations of an assured campus placement their faces betray. If they believe they can make great management graduates, they can very well be made to believe that they make great entrepreneurs, or educationists. It is the vistas that they need to be shown. All the competition is such a raw energy bank, after all.

The author’s co-panelists were respected names in their areas of interest. It was a weekend and yet they had arrived at the venue in time. If their job is to teach and do research, it will be a safe guess that they would feel absolutely at home doing just that. What egged them on to take up this activity which is naturally preliminary to the whole institution of academia? Many of us would say it is the obvious eagerness to interact with young minds and identify the future spark. Absolutely, but is that it? It certainly wasn’t all energizing as the day wore on.  The professor to the author’s left was a woman from a neighboring institute, and was decidedly impatient two hours into the interviews. The first time she gave clear indications about her gradual disorientation was when she asked the same question twice to a candidate, and got busy with text messages the moment her turn to ask was up.  Well, let’s not discount the fact that her family needed her home early that day. Despite this, would the author agree to counter-suggestions that she had just come down to honor a commitment, or simply to make some extra money while she could? Nope. The faculties were in attendance probably to see what perspective they could derive from these kids. For their academic pursuits.  In the ecosystem of education and academia, the different roles certainly are not sandboxed, and there is a collaborative spirit waiting to be ignited. Lofty as the words may seem, it is indeed a synchronous world out there we are seeing.

As for the author, like he mentioned earlier on, it was all experiential. He arrived at the venue with the wonder of an eight year old. He discovered that his world is not very different from the one he entered then. And, one is as far from academics as he wants to be. It’s his eagerness that got the author empanelled and talking academics. Probably something that got him writing!

-Met