Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The koward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!"
                     oscar wilde , the ballad of reading gaol

When was the last that I thought of you...I know not...but am I the one who goes alone on this path...and should I but care only a little for the souls that follow or those as march ahead?

Mode C is a way of life, perhaps my way of life: C for Cool, C for Cold, C for Chaos, C for Calvin. Ultimately, all of it boils down to the way you look at things. Are they not how they are but just how they appear?? No...and yes...Almost all the seriously critical fundamental concepts of life...aren't they just the bogies under Calvin's bed that he is afraid of? Miss Wormwood, Susie, Mom and Dad, and of course above all, Hobbes...aren't they all merely the means that he uses to attack these bogies?

Reflecting on 'living the Calvin way', I have started to believe that life and our reaction to it can only be explained by a number of Calvin and Hobbes strips combined together. The philosophy, as I like to call it, is to know that you are not alone. It is not just my perspective alone that is going to help me fight my bogies. I will be able to inch towards the Calvin way only when I perceive the other perspectives on my way.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2004
Wrong side of the bed

I am in a very bad mood today and things that have been happening since the morning are not helping at all. I couldn't even possibly have got up on the wrong side of the bed because the other side is too close to the wall for me to get down unless I (or someone else) moved the bed during the night. To start with, something seemed wrong with the bike while I was driving in the morning...somehow, it was just not running smooth...even after having checked the petrol and air pressure yesterday. For breakfast, I got the last parathas in the container. They were cold and uncooked in parts, but due to some strange reason, I did not (could not?) ask for replacement.

Office has been bad since the morning, too. There is a big group of children come over for some summer camp. I do like children and love talking to them but half of them understand only Tamil. Also, whenever I approached some kid, prompt came the instructor to ward them off from me (as if I was some monster thing straight from Harry Potter's Azkaban). On second thoughts, it would be great to look like one of the Dementors. At least I will know for sure that the reason some of these kids are running away from me is that I simply scare them witless (and not just my monstrous looks that might have been scaring them off). These kids have been making a racket and from sounding cute this morning when I came in (even after the biking experience), it started to gradually get on my nerves and now, I can hardly shut their voices off from banging into my head.

Bijon got his stock options converted today. He sent the exercise request three whole days after I did. I know that it sounds childish but what the hell, I have not even received an acknowledgement of my request. I was about to send a hot mail to the HR on this but was finally able to calm myself and sent them a mail rich on satire. The prompt reply said that they have not even received my request, and they are telling me now, 12 days after I sent the damn thing. I rushed up to the dispatch section, fully prepared for a fight and scored a duck there, too when they showed me their records with the IOC numbers and the WOB numbers and I don't know what else. I noted down all the numbers and sent them all to HR again...waiting for their response and hopefully, a big fight now.

It is strange how things go wrong all at the same time. Yahoo messenger is behaving oddly (not that it ever behaved correctly) and I am getting disconnected 5 times a minute. The net connection is pathetic and I don't have anything to do. I can not work (because there is no work and because more importantly, I don't want to work). I can not surf or chat (because of the God-forsaken connection). I can not leave office (they have started monitoring the In and Out timings, or rather the difference between the In and Out timings)

Hopefully, I will be updating the blog with some of the saner stuff tomorrow if things don't go from bad to worse too soon...

Posted at 05:28 pm by Nitai

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Tuesday, May 25, 2004
The last salute before goodbye

I finally got my official release date: June 4. Suresh, the Delivery Manager who had to officially accept my resignation, was out of town for the past two weeks. He came back on Monday and I went to see him last evening. He was very professional, as expected and did not waste too many words in the discussion (I had not expected any delay, either). He talked about the feedback that he has received about me from my colleagues and my manager. He sounded quite sincere when he said that people have told him and he himself feels (he does know me by name and face) that I have had a good track record of technical and communication expertise, and I do take initiatives...this was when his voice broke and gave me the hint that he is just saying what he would have told all others who would have resigned from his department earlier. He was just repeating stuff for the sake of it, but I think even that is good, decent and as professional as one could expect.

One of the interesting things about yesterday's conversation was that Suresh asked me to get back to him anytime for a referral letter if at all I decide to come back to Infosys after passing out from IIMK. I took the offer at its face value and said thanks to him and came back. Ravi, my project mate who is going to IIMA, actually suggested that we should ask him for a referral or a recommendation letter straight away, even before leaving Infosys, but somehow I don't agree. I think that there is still a lot of time before I decide on what I want to do after passing out of IIMK. Also, Suresh is in a position at Infosys (he might be another couple of steps, long ones though, from the Board of Directors) where he won't obviously be leaving the company in a hurry. I can keep in touch with him and ask for the favor/referral if and when required.

Another thing that was in the pipeline got some clarity today. I (like all others of my batch who have joined the e-group for IIMK) received a mail from Prashant, my senior at IIMK about the alumni-freshers meet. The Chennai meet is scheduled on the 29th at The Chola Sheraton. Now, I am confused after hearing about the venue. On reason is that it is the sea-food restaurant at Chola Sheraton (the restaurant is called Saagari) that is mentioned as the venue, and I don't know if, being a vegetarian, I am ready for the Kerala cuisine yet. The other reason is the ambience and reputation of the place which is quite formal. If I remember right from my past experience at Chola Sheraton, this place is quite a decent hotel (a three or five star one) and I hardly saw anyone in casual attire during my last few visits to the place. The question, therefore, is the question of more than a penny worth. Is this meet going to be a formal affair, one of the first that we might be expected to attend as a part of being groomed (???) as an MBA? I know that the alumni are all going to be there but in the case of IIMK, they are all quite young and hardly out of B-school. Do we still need to be in our light colored full-sleeved shirt, dark trousers mode (more on a psychological than literal level) when we go to this meet next Saturday?

In the meanwhile, there is still no news of the stock options for which I have already sent the exercise request and completed the fund transfer. I am actually getting worried over the thing because it involves quite a big amount of money and I don't want to goof up here. I tried calling up the concerned department in Bangalore but can not find the person at her desk, not even after 10 attempts since the morning. I have sent a mail to the HR people about my concern and have been waiting patiently for their reply ever since...nothing, so far.

Posted at 06:01 pm by Nitai

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Monday, May 24, 2004
The denimic (dynamic) future

Milind Deora…Sachin Pilot…Rahul Gandhi…Omar Abdullah…Jyotiraditya Scindia…these are just some of the young faces that the Indian Parliament is going to play host to, when it goes into session after the recent General Elections. They might as well come to the Central Hall in jeans and tees, contrasting with and yet not mocking the khaki of yore. In fact, they complement it, bring a fresh whiff of air, a riot of color to the dull proceedings of parliament (well, not always dull) least that is what Mani Ratnam wants us to believe, and let me tell you, Mr. Ratnam, I, for one, do believe you.

Yuva is a sincere effort at telling a sincere story in a sincere format. The director has decided that he wants to show something to his audience in a certain way and contrary to the norm in the Indian movie industry, has succeeded in not making a mess of it. In fact, he has done a creditable job by actually making what he started out to make. If this effort of his does not appeal to a section of the audience, it is not the director who is at fault and it can only be said that the perception of all people, regarding something so widely discussed and analyzed as a Mani Ratnam movie, can never be the same.

Like Saathiya, Yuva starts with an incident, goes back to show the build-up towards the incident, and then again moves forward to bring the story to its logical conclusion. The difference from Saathiya is that unlike Saathiya, there are three different characters central to the incident and to the events that follow and the build-up part of the story has to be branched out in three parts to do full justice to all the three characters.

Lallan (Abhishek Bachchan) has come to Kolkata from a small place called Chandauli in the state of Uttar Pradesh (this place is near Varanasi, and I have been there a number of times during my college days). He follows the lead of his elder brother who is a goon in the service of a corrupt politician (Om Puri) and becomes an odd-job man who works on contract. Lallan has a wife in Shashi (Rani Mukherjee) who always comes back to him, despite beatings, threats, and Lallan’s continued dangerous and illegal living style. Lallan is told to beat up and threaten the students who have dared to contest Panchayat elections against the party of Dada (Om Puri). He is finally asked to kill the leader of the student political awakening after the students come down to his brother’s house and beat up the goons there.

The story then moves on to Michael Mukherjee (Ajay Devgan) who is a brilliant student (has even received a scholarship to work under a Nobel laureate in US) but who, like his father, wants to work for his country. He leads the students to villages where they persuade the people to defeat the candidates of Dada’s party and elect their own people instead in the Panchayat elections. Michael is assisted in his endeavors by his childhood sweetheart (played by Esha Deol) who teaches French in college when she is not roaming about with Michael to the villages of Bengal. When Michael looks set to become too dangerous a foe by even beating up Gopal, Lallan’s brother and Dada’s chief goon, Dada orders Lallan to bump off Michael once and for all.

After the intermission, we are introduced to Arjun (Vivek Oberoi), who plays a character that most of us would be able to identify with. Arjun has no confusion in his mind. He is selfish, he is fun, and he is a playboy. He flirts with girls, enjoys discos and plans to leave to US for higher studies. He finally finds his match in Meera (Kareena Kapoor) who is equally carefree and charismatic. He starts to really love her but she finally decides to say good bye to him to get married to the groom of her parents’ choice. All this, but not before one final try by Arjun to woo Meera back on the Howrah bridge where he witnesses Lallan shoot Michael.

This is where the three threads of the story meet and move ahead. In a well concluded end, Arjun gets convinced by Michael and enters politics (even gets back Meera in the bargain, who sees Arjun on TV, and comes back to him, all impressed with his heroics). Four students, including Michael and Arjun stand for the bye-elections. The police, in the meanwhile, is hot on Lallan’s scent after the attempted murder of Michael. Lallan joins forces with Dada and kidnaps all other candidates except Michael and holds them to ransom. The students are finally able to escape Lallan but not before Lallan starts following Arjun on the second Hooghly bridge in a deadly chase. In the middle of the chase, Arjun manages to grab the mobile phone of a passer-by and calls Michael to the rendezvous for the climax of the movie.

And what a super climax it turns out to be, one of the best and most wonderfully executed scenes in the Hindi movie history. Though a little high on gore, the scene proves Ratnam’s technical wizardry beyond any doubt. In no way inferior to any scene from any Hollywood flick, this scene sees the three central characters battle it out on the high traffic bridge. With vehicles zooming past as the fight scene unfolds, frame by frame, it sure is a treat to watch.

Acting wise, Abhishek Bachchan is superb. He had to come to terms with his brooding personality and his flair for roles like these, sooner or later. Mani Ratnam has surely portrayed the best of Abhishek to the audience and I would say, later than sooner. Rani Mukherjee is a class act, as expected from an actress of her caliblre. Ajay Devgan is as usual, good and despite being typecast as the brooding, silent and yet angry executioner, he carries his role well. However, it certainly would have helped if Ratnam had chosen to show Devgan as a fiery young professor than a young student, because if anything, Devgan sure looks above 30 years. Esha Deol, for a change, looks cute and naughty. In fact, I was surprised by the way she has performed and managed to look good too. Vivek and Kareena are good because they have not over played their parts and have stayed within their roles, giving a good performance. Om Puri is also good in his role of the corrupt politician (certainly not challenging enough for an actor of his caliber). I personally felt that Ratnam could have made much better use of this actor.

Over all, the film appeals not just to the classes but equally so to the masses. The final scene when the four elected candidates make way to the Legislature in denim jeans and shirts is really encouraging and promising. The timing of the movie’s release could not have been better. The movie portrays the entry of youth into the political arena, youth who are well-educated, qualified, have opportunities to study abroad, earn money and yet those who can do much more than merely crib about the nation’s bad state. With the face of Indian politics actually changing, and the young people (even if they are here because of their surnames) actually changing the color of the Parliament, Yuva is a welcome movie and a very realistic indicator of the times…

Posted at 02:09 pm by Nitai

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Sunday, May 23, 2004
One two cha cha cha

What an awesome weekend this is turning out to be. From the Pizza Hut treat last night to Kormangla it was, after we finally convinced Ankur to stay with us for the night and not leave for his village (!!!) immediately. But this was not the end of celebrations, if that is what you prefer to call it. We came down to MG Road again, at 2 in the night and it was really awesome. The chaiwallahs there and the number of people stopping by for a cuppa of chai while they smoked or simply chilled out was too good. It reminded us so much of Lanka, of BHU, of Varanasi...

After a brilliant Saturday, it was the turn of a blissful Sunday. With Bangalore weather chipping in with the occasional shower and a consistently good climate the whole day, we had more fun than I could possible digest in a single day. Today was the turn of the Infosys training batch and I had decided that I will try to meet as many of them as possible and have the dinner treat with all of them together. I knew that there have been problems between Sweta and Richa, and many more apart from it, but I really wanted to have a get-together of all for one last time before I left for IIMK.

Luckily for me, things turned out the way I wanted them to, and even better. Starting with a round of parathas at the local joint with yesterday's crowd, I went on to Sushant's place to have a bath and get ready for the party today. Sushant, as usual, was not there. We got ready and went to Richa's place to pick up Sushant and go in the search of movie tickets for Yuva, the latest and much awaited flick by Mani Ratnam. Luckily we found two familiar faces (familiar to Sushant) in the one mile long queue. Unashamed, unchallenged, we got in the middle of the queue and somehow got 7 tickets for 5 people despite the strict instructions given at the counter that there will be only one ticket given per person. It certainly helped that a girl was asking for the tickets and she had the exact change ready. We really have learnt to strategize, what?

Richa and his cousin joined us after we had the tickets all secured. After a lot of discussion and one full to the brim Chinese restaurant, we had a good lunch at MarryBrown before finally getting all wet in the rain and moving on to the theatre for three hours of good and solid entertainment.

After a brilliant movie (I really liked it), we decided to go back to Richa's place and collect our snaps of the Ooty trip. I particularly wanted these as I am really looking more photogenic in these snaps than I have ever been in my life (apart from the time when I was this cute little kid some eons ago). I might scan these and put them on my web profile (to impress a lot of girls??? :-)). The weather was again turning out to be a darling and we sat in the balcony at Richa's place planning for the treat tonight. After some phone calls and some already booked restaurants and some obscenely costly ones (which Richa rejected right away, nice girl!), we finally settled on a restaurant called 'A pinch of Jazz'.

Bangalore is one cool place, I have always believed this of the city. Yesterday night's party convinced me yet again of the truth of the above matter. What a place this was, 'A pinch of Jazz' and what a night to go there. Sunday night was dance competition night and today's dance categories were Cha cha cha and Salsa. I don't really know much about these dance forms but there were people in the party who actually did. So many pretty faces dancing with so many smart hunks really made for a great, bright and colorful evening. The food was okay but the ambience, awesome. Sweta was asked for a dance by some guy from the nearby table but she refused. Had I known how to dance, I would have asked out the organizer of the night ( and would have been refused too, most probably), who was looking oh-so-pretty in the red dress (red as a rose?) with a glass of wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other (I would have preferred her without these but...). The long and short of it was that when Animesh had to leave for the bus in the middle of the dance, his was one sorry face and when he finally got to know (after reaching the bus stand) that his bus actually left some 45 minutes later, his was one sorry SMS...

We had to catch a train at 11:30 but a round of ice cream was pending before we finally said our good-byes. I had always wanted to go to this place called Corner House, which according to some of my best sources, is a really cool place to have some really nice and sinful ice cream. There we were, all six of us, eating ice cream together, Chandna making his chin eat more than his mouth, Sweta scolding him, Sushant generally making a mess of things and Richa silently criticizing him, me and Puneet having a good laugh at all this. She alone was not there from our training days and luckily so. I might not have enjoyed as much. Otherwise, it was exactly like it used to be when we came back from our training days in Chennai Infosys, and used to sit down in some restaurant or the other for a long meal before finally leaving for the night and re-joining again at the bus stop next day…

Posted at 10:58 pm by Nitai

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Saturday, May 22, 2004
Old memories

She called me up almost as soon as I reached Bangalore. Sweta had called up earlier and might have told her that I am in town. She might have known even otherwise. Why did she call...I really don't know. To congratulate me...that she had already done in her typical one-line-email way: "Congrats! Have a nice time there". To ask for a treat...she never did ask me for any treat though we talked for about 15 minutes and there was a lot of mention of how I am going to loose my entire bank balance in Bangalore. To just talk to that is simply ridiculous. Whatever be the reason, her call was a jolt that I was not expecting and I would certainly have been better off without it. I was confused about her when we were both in Chennai, during our training days at Infosys and I guess that I still am confused about her. Did I really love her then and do even now? Did I love her then and have grown out of that now? Did I love her then and hate her now? Did I just want her as my best friend then and still do? Did I just want her as my best friend then and not more than an acquaintance now? I don't know and perhaps, I never will. One thing, however, is certain and that is the fact that my going to IIMK means that there is very little chance of my seeing her again and I really feel like saying 'good riddance'.

We (I and Puneet, my room-mate) had decided to keep the luggage at Sushant's place and then move on to meet our respective friends from there. Sushant was not at home when we reached there. Chandna was, and was in a very good mood, compared to the last time I was here. In fact, I had thought after the last time, that I would hardly be talking to Chandna the same old way but this time, it was certainly much better and he did seem like the Chandna of old. Radhika came up when we were almost about to leave. I don't know what her problem is. She certainly feels as if I am intruding on her property somehow, whenever I come to these guys' house. The way she looks at me says very clearly that either she considers herself to be among the clouds or me in the dirt. Whatever it is, it is her problem and hopefully, not mine. Anyway, I am not at all comfortable with people from whom I get such negative vibes.

Keeping aside these one-off things that happened, the rest of Saturday was as good as it could have been. I really had so much fun and after a long time, too. Animesh had come down from Mangalore and Ankur had come down from his own village in Bangalore (Yeshwantpur, to be exact). We had a whale of a time, roaming around Forum, the new mall at Kormangala in Bangalore, passing comments on all pairs and singletons, getting rowdy, re-living the college days. We then moved on to MG Road, discussed our lives, futures, got all nostalgic about college, and almost ended up in the nearest pub (not actually, just figuratively). Finally, sense prevailed and we moved on to Pizza Hut for the much awaited treat. The sacrificial goats this time were Animesh for his coming onsite trip and of course, the poor me. Somebody at the nearby table had a birthday and the Pizza Hut people really made a bash of it. They made the poor girl stand on the top of a chair and wave to the Saturday evening crowd while they sang the birthday song (we pitched in, too). For a moment, we thought we would celebrate the birthday of Animesh but I guess, they would have seen through it (they might even have given some discount, was my take)...


Posted at 11:35 pm by Nitai

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