An image too precious

Can you pick out three individuals from your life and think about  your image of them? Now then, I’m unsure whether you are going to share your list with me or not, so let me pull up a fairly generic selection from our collective experiences. Does that work?

The chap who knows that you – and countless others – have a crush on him

Your man, the dude, has caught you fawning over him. And you, like your other similarly smitten classmates/colleagues, haven’t mustered the courage to tell him that he looks like a billion dollars. So, what does the dude do? Raise the bar. Not for you to jump over, but to outdo himself. He brings on more enigma. A clever line here, a smirk there, and of course, making himself a little scarcer than he already is.  You end up convinced that he deserves all the adulation no doubt. But if there’s even a hint of curiosity inside you, you have to know more about him at any cost. You try to dig out more. If your dude is happily settled (not necessarily married, mind you), he’ll probably insulate his personal life from work; if he’s foraging about, he may likely play hide and seek. He will only present to you that side of himself that you first fell for. You finally decide to get closer to him and try to chat up a little more. Not much comes out of him. You gradually start wondering if you are really talking to a human. If you are not persistent enough, you let go and wash down your consternation with, wine probably? If you are of the other type, you take him head on, and say “hey, is this how you are all the time?” For which, the dude may say, “how?” You know he’s up to his evasive tricks when you say, “hell, I wonder if there’s anything more to you than just show off”. If that ticks him off, he will say, “bhenchod, dimaag ka dahi ho raha hai mera! Just what do you want?”

Whatever happened to the suave and smashing young man you salivated over? He still may be one, for all you know. But didn’t fit your image of him, right? Did we hear a burst??

Your sarcastic bossimgmgmt

So you have this manager who can never spare a sweet word for you. Even if he’s approving of your work, it will be with a sneer. Hard to say if he has complimented you. Like, “this is wonderful! Some precious talent you have, huh?” Now you don’t know if means that your talent is really precious, or if you have been hiding it all these days that nobody has noticed it.  But the same chap talks very cordially with others at his level. He’s probably nasty with juniors then. Maybe he has some soft corner for you after all. You think he will look out for you if you continue to deliver. You are cruising along, when one day by a stroke of bad luck you goof up in your work. And he has a go at you. With a vengeance. You then feel that you shouldn’t have given him the benefit of doubt at all. A few days later, you are at a dinner do with him, among others. The wound has healed. You think he might socialize with you and talk general things. But not a peep from him. You then walk up to the group he’s talking to amidst laughter and quietly blend in, whisky glass in hand. And in no time you hear him say, looking your way, “guys you need to involve our buddy here a little more in the strategy meetings. We need more people who can think. But hey, tell your wife you may get home late in the days to come huh? Let her not get worried” You are like, “really? Did he just show some concern, and also appreciate my work?” You try to catch him when he’s alone a few minutes later. He throws half a glance your way and moves away, appearing to responding to someone

Your favourite movie star

She’s vivacious, intelligent and dignified. She sounds just so right in all her interviews. You catch her at the inauguration ceremony of a huge store. She certainly all that she is known to be. You manage to shake hands with her. She is all smiles, but did she meet your eye for half a second even? Of course she has to satisfy a hundred other fans. But hell, what’s a handshake without proper eye contact? Do you mean anything at all to her? You wonder, what if you write to her. Would she respond? Yes, you should try that. You go home and turn on your iPad. Your fingers are raring to tap the keypad. But you just aren’t getting the words. And then something dawns upon you. How’s a fucking email gonna help when she gave herself away in real time!


Nice, the new mean?

How does a writer go from good to popular? Write better, of course – something you and I would agree readily. But most often than not, one would have ended up writing very well, only to end up as a ‘good’ writer, and not necessarily a popular one at that! Who then gets the ‘popular’ ‘vote’ or ‘like’, if you will? Let’s guess: a. someone who has done monumental deeds – lot of them, a lot more than they could finish writing about. They can spend the rest of their glorious lives cherry picking delicious episodes from their adventures and serve them up hot and spicy to drooling readers;b. Someone who has clout, and can have the parliament ducking for cover when the individual sneezes. They will have a cohort of faithful who will drum up enough noise about their idol’s writing, that the world is gifted with real-time updates of the said individual’s literary pursuits;, c. Someone in whom resides the most deadly triumvirate of an illusionist, a hypnotist and a tantric. They need no one to endorse their writing, but only need to have the air of a conscience keeper of the masses, with a grave tone and a graver promotional line. In short they are all set to become the next messiah in their part of the world; and finally, d. someone who had a swell marketing career and then decided to take a stab at creativity.

What about the writers who aren’t attracted by any of these categories and those who choose to repel from them? They’ll probably be eagerly joining up fraternities that deride and ridicule members of the aforementioned classes of individuals aka writers.

Naturally, because they are mostly at the mercy of people who are ‘nice’ to them. The ‘nice’ brigade. Make no mistake, this is a dragon rapidly growing in size, and will start treading mindlessly over our magnificent structures. This is very much akin to the massive army of sentinels that awed us in ‘The Matrix’ trilogy. What do the nice ones do? They want peace on earth, which we all do too of course. But, while it’s unclear if they are doing any bit for the peace that’s eluding the geopolitical hotspots in this world, they will certainly praise our writers to the skies and avoid the remotest possibility of conflict. Here’s a poor chap who has lost sleep over a critique of the growing popularity of visuals in social media, and goes about urging people to read his piece. The first chap who comes along – just our writer-critic’s luck – is from the nice brigade. The latter, as he begins reading, has a benign smile plastered on his face, which remains static till the last line of the essay. He looks up at our writer and says it was absolutely fantastic and his vocabulary was exquisite, and that he has style. Keep writing, you’ll do great, he says. Er, what about the critique? Oh, he just remembered he had to rush for a meeting. See you around buddy, keep up the good writing. Never the one to give up, our writer continues hawking his thoughts to other likely buyers.


The nice guys, if one were to think, are probably striving to grow their social network (including the virtual one). Their elating feedback is bound to lift anyone’s spirits up, and bingo, they have collected another ‘friend’. The next time the writer comes out with a piece, they’d have chosen to ignore, as the writing would do anything but boost their social status. So our writer waits up for a while – their readership has remained as low as their toddler’s age-, and decides to knock on Nicey’s door. Nicey is at their effervescent best. Hi there, how do you do? But of course I will read your stuff. I thought you had stopped writing these days. Do show me no, quick. Nicey does a quick scan through. There you go, brilliant as always. Writer says, ‘c’mon you are being nice’. Nicey says, naah, you know I never believe in complimenting people for the sake of it. Wish I could write like you. This is followed by an abrupt silence. Our writer, being the sensitive sort, decides to change the topic, and Nicey all but hugs the opportunity tight.

Our writer by now knows better than to expect any real connect between the world and their writing. People, he reckons, will make time for ideas, but only from certain people, a privileged lot at that!


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!