Thursday, March 31, 2005


A year to the day....slow poison....seething rage.....shanti om shanti...some like it short, some like it long, I don't care...Iola Morton...maroon sofa.......dhoooom machaale dhoooom.... .wav......why me....quick rebound....a thuncle.....Bailamos....Herod....Friday Weddings.....war.... Tis all Sa Si's fault................choices...........12b..................Jekyll is dead, Hyde lives on....... The end: 2040:RIP

A little bit of everything....


Tango Charlie (3.5/5)
Finally a movie that does full justice to Bobby Deol's hidden potential....Thank you Mani Shankar !!

Slick movie with a running time of less than 2 hrs
Appropriately episodic screenplay
Well executed action sequences (a little too gory for the weaker sex)
Bobby's natural performance
Kelly Dorji

The glam dolls
Yet another 'method acting' performance by Devgun...its getting tiresome, dude

Mahanadigan (1/5)
My Dad's cousin had been going ga-ga about this movie for a long time calling it nothing short of Amaidhi Padai-2 for sheer nakkal so when I watched it with gargantuan expectations, I was in for a total shock

Namitha and Mumtaj ;-) (Is someone listening ?)

Rajini nakkal scenes...Thalaiva, how dare they !!
The atrocious flashback and change-of-heart of the hero
Visu Visu Visu...all contributions to his retirement fund are welcome
Everything in the movie

House of Flying Daggers (3/5) (PG)
Two prominent Oscar nominations and the irresistable Zhang Zhiyi were more than enough to persuade me to rent this Mandarin flick and have to admit that I wasn't disappointed.

Amazing choreography and stunts
Riveting musical score
Awesome performances by the lead trio
Two twists, one of which had me gasping for breath

Absolute masala with action, romance and sentiments mixed in equal measure
The first 45 minutes are a real drag

Book corner:

A story that marries rich modern history with classical Hindu myth, prose that sometimes borders on the insolent, humor that is reckless to say the least, allegories that drive your imagination wild....Utterly unputdownable but still a book that needs to be read in short spurts if not for anything but to enjoy every single word printed....For the unfortunate few (sorry PnI) who have had the misfortune of being seated besides me during those long shuttle rides from EC to K2 and from M3 to EC, when with book on one hand I've grinned like a Cheshire cat or suddenly burst into peels of laughter, I dedicate this recommendation

The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor

An absolute Tour de force...Easily the best book I have read in the last couple of years. And yes, for someone who's been pestering me for a long time on this front, there are hajaar digs about one Mr. MK Gandhi :-))


Speaking of MK Gandhi in the previous para reminded me of a long overdue reco on the music front. Yes, I am talking of the music of Bose - The Forgotten hero as some of you might have guessed. I know I have taken my own sweet time to pass judgement but this being one of ARRs non commercial albums and the fact that the music has been long-in-the-making made me give it more than the usual share of hearings before I reached my verdict. So after a good two weeks and multiple listenings, I can safely say that it is definitely not gonna be a commercial success but if you are an ARR fan who can appreciate music that is not of the season's flavor kind but more of the suit-the-screenplay type, then this is a must buy. Most of the songs are bound to easily fit into the historical context of the story and yes, there are songs for Sonu. For a more detailed review, pls chk out Ramanand's review which comes as close as it gets to my own opinion on each of the songs.

Joke of the week:

4 easy steps to cook noodles
Step 1: Boil one cup of water
Step 2: As soon as Ganguly goes for batting, put the noodles in the boiled water and put the tastemaker.
Step 3: stir till Ganguly is onfield.
Step 4: As soon as Ganguly is back in pavilion, your noodles are ready to eat.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The ------ has two faces

He: What's wrong with you ?
Me: Nothing.. I am fine..Haven't been better !!
He: I don't think so...I've been getting a lot of complaints.
Me: Complaints ? From who ? Like ?
He: The usual. You haven't called people for ages
Me: I lost my charger for a week and the phone conked off
He: That's a lie
Me: The Airtel network is always crowded
He: You know that's not true
Me: Forget making calls
He: What about receiving then ? Didn't you yelp when the phone rang on Sunday evening when we were watching TV ?
Me: Pranav's call ? Hey, we spoke for 21 minutes...
He: But your first reaction before you saw it was him was "Why do ppl call me?"
Me: Hmm
He: I think you are becoming anti-social
Me: No..Definitely not. I am so extroverted its just not possible
He: Is it ? So who have you been having lunch with at office ?
Me: Errr..
He: Tell Tell
Me: well, the buggers are all away in Japan for the roadshow...
He: But that was only since last Thursday...
Me...and Tom is now not here....:-(
He: There is still Swamy and gang...
Me: But they eat at 1:45
He: and you ?
Me: 1:40 is the latest...after that you don't get all the items in the menu...
He: Bullshit....Then why not with Sat and Mandy ?
Me: Who wants to walk till T8 ?
He: Seeee...
Me: You are reading too much into this..
He: How many unanswered mails do you have in your inbox ?
Me: Not many
He: Give me a number
Me: gulpppp...76
He: ..and how many are official in this ?
Me: 3
He: Forget that... when did u last play TT ?
Me: well..Sumit's been out of station..
He: So did you call and check if he is back..
Me: But I told you nuh.. Airtel is not working
He: Did you respond to his Happy Holi sms ?
Me: No
He: Have you thanked everyone who wished you on your Birthday ?
Me: Yesssssssss
He: Sure ?
Me: Not all..there are still a couple of mails.. PC, Anjali...
He: Why not ?
Me: Chuck nuh...All this does not make me anti-social
He: Okie, have you visited Di's parents ?
Me: They are not back from Delhi
He: They have... remember they called when we were at Meet The Fockers..
Me: Yeahhhhh.. I forgot..
He: The truth is you are too lazy to go to their place..right ?
Me: Come on man.. Hebbal is almost as far as.... say... Ohio...
He: why is it that u won't start the conversation on YM whenever ur pals get online..
Me: I do that...
He: Think...Ohio...
Me: Hmmmm...
He: Why do they always have to say Hiii first...
Me: You've been reading too much of this psychometry stuff
He: I am just concerned about you...
Me: Yeahhhhhhhh

...and then the phone rings... Damnnnnn...why can't I have my bloody privacy ? Its a landline number...Must be yet another of my batchmates.wanting to organise get-togethers :-( I don't think I will pick the call...I quickly dry my hands, set my slightly tousled hair back in place, smile at the face staring at me from the mirror.

Of course I am fine. Haven't been better :-)

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Never stop whining....

...for you never know when the Good Lord is turning his ears in your direction. That's the lesson I've learnt in the last 48 hrs :-)

Of course, cribbing is my birthright and I love indulging in it not because I am pessimistic or anything (OK would have laughed here...sigh..) but simply because it is the easiest way to let off steam. I know I've cribbed a lot about how mundane my work is and how there is absolutely no sense of fulfillment or satisfaction at the end of each day. Most often my arguments have either been brushed aside as that of a yuppie from B-skool wanting to rule the world from Day One (which I definitely am not) or the fact that everyone else is doing more or less the same meaningless crap as I am (which isn't much of a comfort) or how organisational goals need to be balanced with individual aspirations (which is absolute balderdash)

Recently I seem to have become a little more vocal and restive about the existing state of affairs so much so that I got a surprise call from the boss yesterday to discuss a possible new role. Having worked with him for 22 months, I knew I was becoming more and more indispensable (yeah...but not in a very positive way) to the BU and was reasonably confident that he was not going to offer me a totally new, plum role on a platter. There was definitely something fishy and resolving not to commit myself till I was spelt out all the details including the fine print, I dropped in to meet him. Half an hour later, the first half of the jigsaw puzzle fell in place.

1. I would become a SAM with immediate effect in addition to my current SME responsibilities. I am assured that this would and should only take 25% of my bandwidth.

(Initial reaction: So basically no 'new role' - just more work dumped)

2. I would carry a number target, namely X $

(Initial reaction: Oh yeah....finally some real action...and X seems reaonable enough for a so-called 'strategic account')

3. The account in question would be a new one, not one amongst the many that I had already followed in detail out of sheer interest.

(Initial reaction: No probs..Should be more challenging)

4. We got the account moved from Vertical A to Vertical B after a lot of wrangling which finally had to be settled thanks to the big boss himself interfering.

(Initial reaction: So that's the complication...)

Given these details, I weighed my options carefully and decided that I would have a go at it. Not that I had much of a choice considering the only other option were continued boredom or switching to a new company. (where I am reasonably sure things won't be drastically different). Since the idea was to move the account seamlessly from A to B without the customer being affected in any possible way, the boss and I met the biggies from A today morning to plan for the transition and to generally try and get some insights into the account...and that is when the second half of the puzzle fell in place.

1. When accounts move, people also move. Atleast that is the rule but this time the bloodbath had been so severe and the two parties in question so uncompromising that the final settlement had been to move the account but staff it with new people.

(Initial reaction: Whattttttttttttt...and our transition team is supposed to start off from Apr 1 and understand it all within a month ??)

2. There are 3 projects currently running which will all end by June. Taking into consideration other engagements in the pipeline where we are yet to staff people and going by current run rate, the outlook for the account is that we will fall short of our target by a good 80%

(Initial reaction: ohhhh hoooo)

3. Two of the current projects are slipping in schedule.

(Initial reaction: Atleast I am not in charge of delivery)

4. The current BDM will phase out by April 1st and a new BDM will be taking over this account.

(Initial reaction: Omigawd...a new BDM, a new SAM, a new Delivery Team serving a new Customer with new whims ...could things get worse ?)

5. The erstwhile SAM, a 16 yr experienced guy, who was so pissed with the account being moved away from A has shot off a mail to the customer thanking them for all the support in the past informing them on a personal basis that because of an organisation overhaul he will no longer be associated with them. He hasn't introduced his successor and worse still, he has completely shut the door on an official transition period. The customer has written back and needless to say the reaction has not been very comforting.

(Initial reaction: He did that ? $#!%^&* How could he ? Has he got no brains ? Without a transition, wouldn't the customer go wild ? This is really bad)

6. They are looking for a rate negotiation in April

(Initial reaction: Hahahahahaha...after all, when things are so bad, there is nothing one can do but laugh...)

When we came out of the meeting, to his credit, my boss asked me again if I was sure I wanted to take up this extra role. He also explained why he didn't want this to be my full time job since he felt it would be too tough a challenge so early on in my career. I couldn't agree more on his judgement of ground reality but also feel strongly that drastic situations need drastic measures and if ever there was a case for someone to be involved 100% in anything, here was one. I know I won't be able to convince him otherwise especially when he has decided he won't listen but its still a wonderful challenge to take up for 25% of my time. Btw, that was official...hehehe.. off the record, I think I will put in more time on this...would look great on the resume if it works out...will still make it look good if it doesn't ;-)

Of course, as it usualy happens with verbal exchanges with my boss, the best was reserved for the parting shot and after all our deliberations, when my he finally wished me luck, I coolly retorted that I would rather trust my abilities than rely on luck. The look on his face said it all. We'll see it through !! there it is, my dahlings, the story of how my whining has finally been answered :-)

Monday, March 28, 2005

Women....Baaah !!

Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus: A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships

Mars and Venus in the Bedroom : A Guide to Lasting Romance and Passion

Mars and Venus Together Forever: Relationship Skills for Lasting Love

Mars and Venus on a Date: A Guide for Navigating the 5 Stages
of Dating to Create a Loving and Lasting Relationship

Mars and Venus Starting Over: A Practical Guide for Finding Love Again After a Painful Breakup, Divorce, or the Loss of a Loved One

Men, Women and Relationships : Making Peace with the Opposite Sex

pssst: A little birdie tells me that between these 6 titles, an obscene no: of millions of copies have been sold so far. Of course, the author is male, the agent in concern is male, the publishers are all male and everyone of them is laughing all the way to their bank.

PSSST: Another birdie tells me that 83% of these books were bought by women....ROFLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL !! Women bahhhh !! Is there any hope at all for this species ? Why is it that they need help with every damn thing in their lives......

...and just when you thought that everything that had to be said on this subject had already been done so by that great gentleman John Gray, here come two other gentlemen Daniel Rosenberg and Richard Kirshenbaum (Trust guys to know that women are always sucker for anything new on this beaten-to-death topic) with their own sweet take on a field of interest which somehow seems to have not been covered as much in detail as women would have preferred....The title of this soon-to-be-bestseller goes something like

Closing the deal: From Single Miss to Wedded Bliss

In case you are wondering what exactly these two charlatans are upto then here's a hint - they will give you ten easy steps by which you can get your boyfriend to finally get down and make that elusive marriage proposal. Do I hear the feet of women barging towards the nearest store to pre-order their copy ? ;-)

(An afterthought: I've always felt that guys take a long time to decide whether they want to go steady with a gal - in woman's parlance 'to be her boyfriend' - preferring to maintain a platonic relationship till they are sure but once the decision is made, then the next step towards marriage is relatively very quick....On the other hand, women love to jump into relationships and will not think twice before calling every Tom, Dick and Harry who shows even the slightest hint of interest in them as their boyfriend but to get them to commit to a future together is so painful that more often than not, its just not worth it. In that context, I am just wondering how relevant this latest book is... but w-t-h, most of these self-help books are crap neways !!)

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Stories from the stadium

I am in a very crazy mood today...Got up late and found New Zealand yet again in trouble with Ponting looking ominous...And when there are two cricket matches on telly, there is not a hope in a million that Dad will give me the remote..Definitely not when Australia is involved atleast.. Not that I can't bear to watch cricket but then, three consecutive days would be an overdose so here I am in office..yeah sue me...trying to cajole myself to update my resume for the umpteenth time in the last month.

This is again gonna be a crazy post for I know I have so many stories to tell but then some of them could border on the bizarre or the boring so if you're not the regular reader who is by now used to my random ramblings, then you jolly well stop here...

Yeah.. Everyone around has been telling me that Bangalore this week has been reallly hotttt and this has more to do with the innumerable Pakistani chicks who have descended in numbers to watch their cricketing team than the weather which, incidentally, has seen the mercury level climb really high..I beg to differ..w-t-h... I holler to differ...sob sob...The only blokes who have travelled this far are the handsome but dumb Pathan youth and that omnipresent chacha...Absolutely no women....Did I hear you say "There he goes being judgemental !!" - Hear me out folks ! Saturday was a long boring day at the Chinnaswamy stadium thanks to Pakistan piling up a tonne of runs on Day 1 and looking to consolidate while Dada was clearly on the defensive seeking to minimise the damage. Of course, Younis Khan was awesome but then if you've come in with the sole intention of cheering on the Indian team, then 'cricket was the winner' is not the cliche you want to say. The lone bright spark of the day was the fact that chacha came over and danced along with the people in our stand for a good 20 mts.. and needless to say, we got our moment in the Giant screen :-) For anyone who's been following sub continent cricket for the last 10 years, the chacha is as much part of the history of the game as are the players..Sharjah, Karachi, Peshawar, it and the chacha is there on screen at every venue...I was so tempted to take a snap with him but when I saw him mobbed by fans who were thronging to get his autograph, the EGO resurfaced and I held back ;-)

Other observations:
The Bangalore crowd is one of the most vociferous and cheerful lot you can imagine. When the chips are down, they can still retain their enthusiasm by creating a huge din with their cheering and Mexican waves. What definitely helps is if the fielder in the boundary is appreciative of the fact and also does his bit by playing to the gallery. Of all the people in the Indian team, Viru and Bhajji are the real darlings of the crowd. Sachin is tremendously respected and loved and though he is all concentration personified, once in a while he does indulge in playful banter. Balaji and Pathan are admired simply because whatever time of the day, however tiring proceedings have been they give 120%. Surprisingly, though he is a localite, one person who is not very popular with the masses is Kumble. For one, he has to be one of the most surly cricketers I have seen who seldom has a smile for the crowd or even some good words for those small kids who toil at the boundary line picking up balls that reach the boundary and replenish the tired fielders with drinks and water in between overs. I've never been a big fan of this so called 'thinking cricketer' (the way he bowled on Saturday wouldn't have got my arthritis stricken 76 yr old Grandma out) and his off-the-field attitude, of which I have heard enough stories, doesn't also say much.

After the late declaration on Friday evening and with Viru going hammer and tongs in the last 10 overs, Saturday seemed to have exciting prospects lined up. Needless to say I wasn't disappointed as the cricket was classic stuff. I shan't bother giving you details about why Sehwag is one of the kind simply because for that you can listen to verbal diarrhoea Kris Srikkanth and the Amir Khusro-wannabe Mohinder Amarnath on Fourth umpire (Does nebody find that lady anchor cute ?) I had got into the stadium late thanks to my dumb pal C and ended up getting seats which was 6 rows from the railing. Thankfully it was a blessing in disguise since we ended up befriending two Pakistani guys, Qasim and Farhan, who had come all the way from Peshawar. A good couple of hours of bonding later, Farhan mentioned that his younger brother was a good friend of Afridi and even shared some dark secrets about the dashing Pakistani all rounder. It's not in my nature to gossip (hehe) but all you pretty women who find Afridi hotttt, I'll just hint that there's some local competition for you. Anyway as the match wore on, Qasim who had come prepared with posters, crayons and wanted so desperately to come on TV since he had friends and relatives back home watching out for him, kept cribbing about how the lensmen tended to concentrate only on the pretty chicks. (I love Zaheer isn't the smartest poster I've seen...and bad taste that girl has) Feeling sorry for him, I came up with this brainwave of a suggestion to catch the cameraman's attention but then, this dumb Paki didn't buy into my idea at all. (Can I show off plsssssssssss ?) After Viru's dismissal, when things got just a tad boring, my suggestion was to put up a poster which ran something like this...


..and this coupled with Qasim being a Paki (he had the flag painted on his face) was bound to have got the lensman's attention....Sigh.....

Other observations:
The next time you watch a match in a stadium, don't get yourself an expensive ticket in the fancy stands near the pavilion where the rich and the famous sit. Get yourself reasonably affordable tickets where you can be one amongst the public just to understand why cricket is religion in this country. If you're anywhere in India, watch the crowd go mad everytime Sachin walks in to bat. Trust me - You HAVE to be INSIDE to believe the frenzy. Its not the same watching it on telly. Everytime a boundary is struck by an Indian, you wouldn't be faulted if you thought the roof would fall on top of you. (Start of Digression: With so much love and adulation, I still can't believe why cricketers need to be paid to play. After all, isn't representing the nation itself such a high ? End of Digression) Another thing that amazed me was the knowledge that most of these fans had. I distinctly remember that much before Dada actually thought along the lines of asking Kumble to bowl round the sticks with 6 men on the onside, an old gentleman near me had detailed what should have been done atleast a couple of overs before with exact fielding positions that Dada should adopt to stem the flow of runs. Doff my hat to you sir.

There are many other small stories about the Bangalore test match that I could narrate but let me end it with my favorite one - yeah, one on Marketing and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Indian hawker. A cricket match is usually much more than just a game - for some its a carnival and for some its a business opportunity. The last couple of days everything from bakery biscuits, bananas, bandanas (I hope ppl don't think I have spelt the same thing twice :-P), binoculars, face paints, flags, lemon sherbeths, sugarcane juice, trumpets and whistles have been peddled by persistent vendors but the thing that impressed me most was ONE guy who sold it all under one roof, constantly checking with his supply chain over the mobile fone and ordering stuff to be delivered as and when he thought they would be getting stocked out. Waaaah....there is so much one can learn from such people.

Ta-ta folks !

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Sometimes you read something that sparks off an idea and then you pen a few paragraphs and try to develop it into something worthwhile...20 mts down the line you know this thing is going nowhere but refusing to cut ur losses, you labor on hoping that things will pan out better...alas !! The final product is crap..Likewise this story...or..shud I say pretending to be a story...neway I have still published it simply to remind myself that I need to take a break :-( A creative check as my reviewers tell me...If you still insist on reading on, be my guest !!

I just love these tie breaks. Whoever introduced them must have been a sheer genius. When you're pushing 27 with tired legs that just won't take any more, the last thing you want to do is be involved in a slug fest at 41 degrees centigrade on a hot summer afternoon with an opponent who was not yet born when you first watched Boris win Wimbledon at Centre Court. These kids of today - they sure can hit a ball hard !! Seated on my chair and sipping the cool orange juice, I glance at the manual score board towards the far end of the court.

x-1 Jules Lobo           1 7 6
Mahesh Vaidyanathan 6 5 6

I silently wish that the injury time-out I have taken be extended for another couple of minutes but then, I also want this to end soon.

"Go Jules Go..Kick the bugger's ass"

There is a sudden buzz in the crowd after the heckler's call but all I can hear are muted murmurs of approval. Not a single voice to shout back in my support. An understandable reaction from the younger section of the crowd, mostly college going girls, who knew very little of tennis except that Jules Lobo was a Greek God worthy of worship but surely the elders knew better. The price one pays for being the bad boy of tennis.

"So did you hit a few balls today morning ?"
"Are you serious ? Absolutely no preparations ?"
"None if you exclude the one hour of lazing at the pool"
"You don't want to win ?"
"As if practicing will help.."
"Don't be a cynic"
"8 years on the tour, 16 hour work days and what do I have to show for all this in my trophy cabinet ? Nothing"
"It just means you need to practice harder"
"Not the way I see it"
"Forget it. I've been watching Lobo all week ever since the draw was up. Here are some interesting statistics."
"I don't wanna know"
"Lets talk about his biggest strength first. His first serve percentages were in the early 70s in the first couple of rounds but in the last two matches it is down to 52%. Ace count so far is only 10 per match which is well below his career record. He has served 28 double faults in the four rounds so far but 16 of them in the last match. His forehand is big - he hits 15 winners on that side on an average per match - but his backhand is very brittle. His return of serve on the deuce court is better than the one in the ad side. He has good instinct and can handle fiery serves but he seems to be having a problem with high kicking serves on his backhand"
"Enough...Are you done ?"
"No. Here's the most important part. He is a man of momentum. When he's down, finish him off. You give him a sniff, he'll make you pay. He is a darling of the crowds and will use that to the hilt. For a kid of 17, he has amazing nerves of steel and will not be rattled by your tantrums"
"All the best. And btw, Haroon has pulled out which means Shashank is already through to the finals"
"Thanks. I surely could have done without that extra piece of information. You know my dismal record against him"

If only I had paid heed to her words. If only I had not gone for that ultra safe second serve at 5-2: Deuce. If only I had slowed down the pace of my shots and mixed it up more. 20 minutes of madness had absolutely changed the complexion of the match. All that ranting and raving and questioning line calls and throwing the racket had won me nothing besides alienating the crowd. So here I am still on court when I could have been relaxing under a cool shower. Damn.


I walk slowly towards the baseline and prepare to receive. The ballboy raises his arm and throws a couple in my direction. I am bewildered and realise a little late that I start off first at the deuce court. I practice my serve motion by tossing the ball up to check to see if the sun is against my eyes. No. It is not. I stare across the net. Jules is ready. I decide to go wide.


Good wide serve on Jules' forehand - he'd lunged in despair to reach it but cudn't put enough to get the ball back over the net. A service winner.

1-0 Mahesh

I walk over to the ad court and try to steal a glance towards my opponent. He seems totally in control. I remind myself that I am more experienced and the pressure is bound to get to Jules as long as I can keep my nose in front. Jules gets ready to serve.


Before I could react, the ball had whizzed past me and it was an ace down the centre - he must have served more than 20 such untouchables.

1-1 Jules

The chair umpire is trying to control the deafening applause but I have already moved on to play the next point. It is the Deuce Court. My favorite side. If only I could get the ball back and make him play more shots. Jules prepares to serve. For a fleeting moment I think I can see his eyes peering towards my right. Maybe he is thinking of serving wide but at this distance I am not sure. I guess I will take a chance and if he indeed does go that way, then I will have a swing at it.


Yet another ace down the centre and I had moved hopelessly in the other direction.

2-1 Jules

The clapping and hooting has still not subsided. I pick up the racket I had slammed down and swear to never trust my instinct again. I remind myself that he can't keep serving so well and that my chance will come. Till then I just have to take care of my own serve. Its the ad court now and I remember the advice I'd received before the match. Maybe its time to try it out.


A good kicking serve to the backhand had prompted a high return which had presented me with an easy forehand volley to put away.

2-2 Mahesh

The muted applause does not distract me as I concentrate on the fact that Jules had not even bothered to chase the last ball down. Maybe I should charge to the net more often. Its the deuce court and I contemplate going wide again. But then, the previous point has clearly shown that Jules' backhand is showing signs of falling apart.


I had gone straight down the centre to his backhand but Jules, guessing right, had just stabbed at the serve with the intention of passing me down the line. Diving at the net out of sheer desperation, I'd watched the ball fly past and miss the sidelines just by a fraction of an inch.

3-2 Mahesh

...Oooooh...The murmurs from the crowd over the last point continue to fly from every corner but Jules seems more preoccupied in selecting the balls for the next point. I pump myself up hoping for the first serve to falter and give me an opening.


There it is.. Finally I get a look in at his second serve. I step in a couple of inches clearly signaling my intention to go for the kill. Jules grimaces.


It had been a good kicking serve on the forehand side but I'd been prepared for it. Surprisingly he had chosen to come in on the second serve and my angled return had fallen sharply at his feet. Managing to wriggle out a low volley, the ball had kissed the net and agonisingly dropped on my side of the court.

3-3 Jules

...The loud cheering is still on...Damn my luck. Time to change ends. I walk slowly towards the other side. More whistles and cat calls from the crowd urging Jules to finish me off. I am tired. Its deuce court again. Last time it was down the centre. I am sure he will go wide now but should I move in advance. I decide to wait and see.


Another ace. And this time it had been wide, well wide. I had been rooted at my spot, unable to decide on which side to move.

4-3 Jules

Loud roars of delight. For the first time in this set, Jules looks to be closing in on victory. The first pangs of anger set in within me but I quickly dismiss them away. After all, its still going with serve and I know its all a battle of wits. Its the ad court and I decide on a huge serve down the centre.


Another lucky break. Jules guessed right again and had a mighty swing at the ball but the return just caught the tape. Another service winner.

4-4 Mahesh

There is absolute silence in the stadium but the adrenalin within me is pumping and I can sense that if I win this next point, I can put some serious pressure on Jules. I decide to gamble by going wide again to his forehand.


A return winner from the corner that I could only watch with resignation land at the left corner of the court inches inside the sideline.

5-4 Jules

The crazy girls who had erupted wildly, rising as one to cheer their man on, are finally back on their seats. The momentum is now firmly with Jules. I have to go for broke. Jules unties his laces and reties them. He chooses the balls carefully and prepares to play the biggest two points of his tournament so far.


A good heavy serve down the line had forced me into a defensive lob which Jules put away into the crowd with the practiced swagger of a born showman.

6-4 Jules

The crowd is still delirious with joy as I walk slowly towards the deuce court. It is now or never - I have to take that risk. Jules casts a quick glance towards my forehand side but this time I will not be fooled.


Following a huge serve down the line, Jules had rushed towards the net only to be totally caught unaware by a defensive return lob that had sailed over his towering figure to land right at the back of the court centimetres short of the baseline.

6-5 Jules

The crowd is stunned by the audacity of my shot selection and can sense that something dramatic is about to happen. I know I have been given a lifeline but I can sense that I am tiring too. Drawing on my reserves, I realise I need to go on as I really want to win this one badly, if not for myself for someone watching it on TV at home. Its the ad court and I think for a moment of kicking one up to Jules' backhand.


...and then it happened...

I slammed one down the line and Jules, who had instinctively moved away from the centre to cover his weak backhand, watched in horror as the ball lined up in his favorite side. It was an unfortunate ace...except that someone had dropped one of the balls by mistake and it had strayed down to where Jules had been standing. Of course, the sound behind him might have momentarily disturbed his concentration but everyone could see that it would have, in no way, affected the outcome of the point. The umpire seemed to concur and had awarded the point against him.

6-6 Mahesh

Jules, however, can see the match slipping away from his grasp and refuses to accept the chair umpire's ruling. I use this break to give myself some rest and watch as more drama unfolds. He argues for a couple of minutes and hurls abuses at the embarassed ballgirl. He is promptly served a warning and the crowd is now booing and baying for his blood. Undeterred by their sudden hostility, he refuses to budge and instead demands that the match referee be called. The arguments get a little more heated and Jules, who has by now completely lost his cool, protests by going to his chair and refusing to continue. I have had enough of this whole fracas and realise its time to take control. I walk towards the chair umpire and say

"I offer to replay the point":"What ?""Let's just replay the point"
"LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, We'll replay the point."

As I walk back, the crowd who've just realised the magnitude of my incredible gesture are up on their feet giving me a hero's welcome.

6-5 Jules

I look across the net and can see Jules is perspiring. Clearly the whole incident has shaken him badly. I decide to go to his backhand.


The ball had hit the net and it was now a second serve on match point.

"Go Mahesh Go..Kick the bugger's ass"

Its the same heckler. How things can change in 15 minutes. I weigh the options. I could go for a safe kicking serve on his backhand or I could go for one aimed at his body. Either way I would have to fight for the point..Or maybe I could just....


The ball had hit the net again and it was a double fault.

Game, Set and Match - Jules Lobo 1-6 7-5 7-6

I walk dejectedly towards the net and congratulate Jules. He doesnt speak much and waits for me to shake first with the chair umpire. There is pin drop silence in the crowd. Everybody is in a trance. No one can believe that I just blew it. And then all of a sudden, the crowd breaks into raptures. As I pack up, a mike is thrust before me and history is made as I become the first loser in a semifinals to have an interview done on court.

"What were your thoughts when you went for that huge second serve at match point ?"
"It was just another point so I backed myself to come good with that serve"
"In hindsight, what do you think of your offer to replay that last point when the rules and the umpire were on your side"
"Its just a sport. I didn't lose a war. Given a chance, I'd do that all over again"
"So where do you go from here ?"
"I know you are talking of my bad boy reputation Vijay, but thanks for asking coz I happen to have some news to break. I just played my last match today. I'm retiring..If you'll excuse me now, I am tired"

The crowd cannot believe what they just heard and before they can react, I silently make my way out.

"Hello Aunty... Its me... Is Priya around ?"
"Yeah.. but she is in a very foul mood Mahesh.. Be careful...Pri, Mahesh is on the line..Don't sulk...Talk to him"
"Hi chittu"
"Hey, this isn't exactly the most cheerful start to a telephonic conversation"
"What's bothering you ?"
"Damnitt..Don't act dumb. Why the hell did you throw the match away ?"
"I didn't .. I jes went by gut and it let me down"
"Bullshit...and what in the name of God was all that fucking crap you spoke on TV"
"You didn't like that interview ?"
"C'mon sweetheart, I know you better than that..."
"Priya Priya.."
"The devil suddenly becoming a saint..You might have fooled the world but not me..."
"Well..I've been thinking of calling it quits for a long time now.."
"Cut to the chase.. we all know this part of the story"
"...and I wasn't exactly taking the tennis world by storm"
"Go on.."
"And the replay was a god-given opportunity to redeem my reputation and mark my own small place in tennis history.."
"Go on.."
"People loves good stories...All legends are made of small incidents..Nobody remembers Jana Novotna for the one Wimbledon she finally won.. Isn't she remembered more for those wonderful scenes of crying on the Duchess of Kent's shoulders..."
"*giggle*You devious piece of shit.."
"..and trust me, Goran would have been a greater hero if only he had never won Wimbledon..."
"You are impossible.."
"...and what do you think about Bradman...99.94 ?"
"No.. the last ball duck..I am getting it..."
"Good honey good.. you catch on fast....and anyway I wouldn't have bet money on myself for the finals"
" what next ?"
"Just wait and see...Reading tomorrow's newspapers is gonna be fun..I can already imagine the headlines.."

Journeyman Pro shows the sporting world its still a gentleman's game

Hyderabad Open: Jules wins match, Mahesh wins hearts - Sportsmanship lives on !

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A movie roundup


Its finally back...The thriller genre in Kollywood has arrived, albeit a little late.. but definitely with a bang !!!!! Ameer, the man behind that 'vithyasamaana love story' Mounam Pesiyaadhey, has delivered yet another genuinely 'different' film...and rasigargal like me who had long given up hope that quality movies like Sigappu Rojakkal and Tik Tik Tik (don't even get me into arguments about movies like Manmadhan) will be made again have now a reason to rejoice...At a time when every 'successful' movie seems to be a rehash of the same old formula (Yes, I AM toking of Vijay films and I am sure Sachin will be A1 +B3 +C2 +....), Raam is definitely a whiff of fresh air !!

So what is it that endeared me to Raam. Well, to be perfectly honest, if I were to sum up the storyline in a paragraph, it definitely would not make interesting reading. But then its in the screenplay that Ameer has invested a lot of attention and the results speak for themselves. Full marks to the director for adopting a shifty (interesting though not necessarily novel) approach to story-telling by switching back and forth time to move the plot in the first half. The meticulous detail in characterisation - point in case being the small quirks of some of the fringe characters like the jockey, the saamiyaar/guru and the cops in the local police station - goes a long way in building credibility for each and every character and the reason for his / her behavior under the circumstances. The dialogues are rapier sharp, conveying what they need to with minimal effort and maximum impact.

Ably supporting Ameer is his wonderful technical crew. The hilly terrains of Kodaikanal so brilliantly canned by the camera of Ramji (watch out also for the lighting in every frame) elevates many a scene to dizzy heights....and when that is not in play, the alternatively invigorating and mellow background score of Yuvan ensures that the tempo of the movie is maintained throughout. Almost all the songs are lilting melodies and special mention must be made of Yaaro Arivaal which aims straight for the gut (I could probably compare it with that mottai number in Sethu)

Performance wise, there is not a single actor in the movie who puts a foot wrong. Of all the sons with a filmi background, save Surya, I've always maintained that Jeeva was the one with the most talent (even after his insipid Thithikudhey..and considering competition like Dhanusssss, Simbu, Manoj, Sibiraj, Arun Vijaykumar...) and Raam has just proved me right. It would be no exaggeration to say that Raam is clearly his show. Other noteworthy performances include Saranya playing Jeeva's mother (I am ok as long as its neone but that horrible Nadia Moideen) with a perpetual frown on her face and that wonderful Malayalam actor Murali who plays a local tough cop. The real surprise package though is Rahman (of Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal fame) who comes up with a sterling performance as the Sub Inspector digging to get to the truth.

You might probably be wondering why I have not spoken even a word about the actual story but then to review any movie belonging to this genre without giving away the plot details is a difficult task. Let me just say that Raam has enough twists and turns to keep one engaged in the first 90 minutes. Of course, the movie has its own share of flaws and critics have been quick to point out that the revelation is anticlimactic and tame and that the last 20 minutes are a real drag, especially since the suspense is revealed a good couple of reels before the end. Of course, they are right to an extent but I guess the director had by then boxed himself into a corner and any other approach to wriggle out would have come out even worse. There is a also a school of thought that is of the opinion than any thriller should have a smart twist in the end, leaving the viewer gasping for breath, but I definitely do not belong to this tribe. I firmly believe there could be simple yet interesting explanations for, what appears on the face of it, a complicated question (remember Mystic River, Village) and Raam, intentionally or otherwise, works reasonably well on this front.

In short, an effort worthy of praise !! Keep up the good work, Ameer !!
(4 out of 5)

Since I do not have time to write in detail about some of the other movies that I've seen over the last couple of weeks, here are my recommendations.

Meet the Fockers - 2/5
Constantine - I refuse to rate
Ayya (Tamil) - 2/5
Mayaavi - 3.5/5
Be Cool - 2.5/5

Coming soon
Tango Charlie
Achuvinte Amma
Udayananu Tharam
House of Flying Daggers

Monday, March 21, 2005

Friday, March 18, 2005

A Quiver Full of Arrows

Curious Incident of the Phone in the Night-time

If you were under the impression that MSM is responsible for most of life's problems, then you are mistaken. I just realised today that AIM can be equally dangerous too. Now blogs come under the latter category and the more popular ones in India, I have observed, have the power to shape public opinion and behavior. Take the case of that notoriously celebrated blogger who uploaded the 'in'famous Trisha video at his site and was almost sued for libel..and then, refusing to learn from past mistakes, he went one step further by also giving a lot of unecessary publicity to that poor Billion Dollar Company's prankster on the bench. You guys know what I am talking about, right !! Now, why all this you may ask !! Wait... lemme say it my way...Regular readers of this blog are well aware of my unabashed admiration, bordering on worship, for a prolific blogger who is very famous for his life-enhancing mushy (YEAH, I am, saying that) short stories...Hehehehe..that sounded so corny...It now appears as if a lot of ppl have taken to enacting some of the scenes from those classics in real life...

On Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, as this happened from 11:59:54 pm to 12:00:05 am (wot awesome timing), I got my first anonymous fan calling in from god-knows-where. If there is one thing I absolutely cannot tolerate, then it is my mobile phone ringing after I have hit the sack. I've tried keeping it in silent mode but quite often this has had disastrous effects since I forget to put it back in General mode and end up missing a lot of calls and realising it very late...I digressed again, didn't I ? :-( Neway I got this crazy fone call at 11:59:54 on Tuesday night and when I finally picked it up after trying to ignore it for around 4 rings, there was a sweet female voice at the other end of the line. Wait...Don't scoff at that...I swear I'm not fibbing...It was all too good to be true and at that moment, I didn't believe it myself. And then this voice at the other end wished me Happy Birthday. When I look back now, there could have been a million possible responses but any guesses on what I did. Yes. I just said "Thanks" and hung up...But then you might say, Wednesday isn't my Birthday right...Of course, this is where Jupe is smart. The last thing he wanted to do was correct that sweet thing and ensure that he is disturbed again the following night... Smart move nuh ?? (pat on Jupe's back) Neway the next morning when I was up and awake, the first thing I did was to check my mobile for the no. It looked like a Reliance number which meant I did not stand much of a chance of finding out who it could have been unless I called back... which I could not coz of Jupe's principle no: 5 of mobile fone etiquette..Never return calls from strangers. But then there is also this thing called curiosity...So finally got a friend of mine to call the no: but I guess the chick was smarter than I imagined. The fone was not reachable or sthg like that...Neway I am pretty sure its someone from the immediate past since I was clearly adressed as Jupe so here's a big THANKOO from Jupe to this secret admirer ;-)

Embarassment of the Nth order

You wake up as late as possible, you do your daily chores, you try to act as if everything is normal hoping that your folks will understand that you are too old to celebrate the occassion but naaah....that just didn't happen... Well...what exactly happened on Thursday was that I had to wear the new dress (MN, you better start practicing fast sprints coz I'm gonna kill ya when I meet ya...the damn shirt didn't have a pocket and the orange was way too bright), do the namaskaram and accept the money (which isn't all that bad) comes the sheeeeeeeesh part....actually cut a cake :-( Twas a good rich one too...Those 3 huge slices must have set my fitness regimen back by a month :-(

What is usually the most enjoyable part of the day are the numerous fone calls and the pampering & attention (atleast I am honest enough to accept it) that I get from 'the makkal' but this time the day happened to co-incide with our annual technical symposium and so everytime I got a fone call, I had to escape from the crowd and take it in private. Another embarassing / annoying thing was the endless stream of wishes coming in from total strangers greeting everyone in my workplace who celebrated their B'days on that day (there is a tool in our intranet which lets you send emails to this lot) - at last count, I think we got something like 32 such mails. Ufffffff.

..and of course, there is this kiddish lot who sent e-cards with rude messages about one getting older and blah blah blah...When will these pigs (hehehe) realise that unlike a lot of ppl I know, I actually enjoy growing older :-p So please save all this crap for someone else.. It gets so embarassing to open these e-cards (not to mention the accompanying music) and read such juvenile stuff ;-)

Smile time

Yes..almost everyone I expected called and wished...atleast the ones that matter most...and I really appreciate those two loooooooong distance calls and that one looooooooooong call...Did I forget to mention my two machaans who, even on this day, gave a missed call and expected me to call back...If only you guys had behaved otherwise, I would have hated the world for changing...Sometimes status quo rocks...

Lunatics Unleashed

Though my really close buddies know that I hate sentimental gifts (why 'thin flimsy paper with Gandhi on one side' as an option eludes their pea brains continues to baffle me..Hint Hint) the more creative in this motley lot always spring a surprise or two with their whacky stunts...This year the bar has been raised really high...I got this really cute mail which reads something like this...

This is a PRE-PAID Voucher that entitles the bearer to 2 Days and 1 night of 'Comforts Unlimited' (???) at {some address in Sona Gachchi}. Kindly redeem by Jan 1st 2006.

Please note:
1. Reserve a week in advance.
2. In case of last minute cancellations, there will be no refund.
3. Baggage and Belongings are at your own risk during the stay.

..and yes, please remember to fill the feedback form at the end of your stay. This will entitle you to a 20% discount during your second visit. After all, Customer Delight is a thing of the past. Its the time for Customer Orgasm ;-)

Well..what do I say ? Funny... very very funny... but where the hell are my travel tickets ? And remember, nothing less than 2nd a/c ;-)


There had to be some, right...I jes remember that one dear pal didn't call......who it now looks like is well and truly happily married...Maybe I should re-read that article which appeared in the TOI sometime back..."Losing your best friend to a romantic partner" :-p

Yeah, it would have been good to round off the day by winning Dumb C at the culturals but then I can only remember the thathuva paadal "Ninaipadhellam Nadandhuvittaal..." ;-) Btw, we came 3rd and missed the second prize coz we were 3 Marketing people in the team and there was a round where we had to mime 'Cyclic Redundancy Code' - WTF !!!

OK OK. We've come to the end of this post and I know you are still itchng to know what MSM and AIM are. Of course, I was flaunting. I just learnt these two acronyms from a new blog. MSM is MainStream Media and AIM is Alternate or Independent Media. hehehehhee..Sorry huh...kya karein, aisa hi hoon main ;-)

Thursday, March 17, 2005


16 years ? I can't believe it. Thats one heckuva long time to tolerate neone. Leave alone someone like YOU who can be a real pain-you-know-where.... But I guess you are one of those pains that can feel really nice too ;-) Now don't think dirty about the rest. Neway I digress.. You've followed me everywhere from school through undergrad till postgrad and though I must confess that its been tiresome to have a regular nemesis wherever I go, I wudn't mind at all if we were in the same workplace too. Atleast I would have someone to whom I could crib continuously. (I swear I did my bit by fwding ur CV but somehow the ppl here seemed to realise they didn't need two of my kind)...which brings us to the one thing that continues to rankle me most about you and well.. me. Those inevitable odious comparisons...

The 'women in our lives' who claim to know both of us really well (I guess there aren't many of this kind but atleast the last 2) have said on more than a few occasions that we are so alike but in my personal opinion nothing could be further away from the truth. How I wish that were true though !! Alas, it is never meant to be !! There you are at one end of the spectrum - smart, sensible, sensitive, intelligent, dashing, winsome..I could go on but then I am beginning to get a wee bit jealous and that is a bad trait.. as you've reminded me so often...and hence suffice to say that you are every (well....almost) woman's dream...and here I am at the opposite end..Can I skip the adjectives please ? Wailll..Waill.. You've always been the aspirational model for me..and will continue to be too...

On this special day, as you turn yet another year older (and wiser) here's wishing and praying that you get hitched soon so that the women who find us 'alike' finally turn in my direction.

Bugger, Happy Birthday ;-)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Mujhse Punga Na Le -OR- Long Live Women

"Hey, mind dropping in at home"
"T, I am coming there on Saturday neway nuh.."
" won't take more than 5 mts...And maybe you'll get a cuppa kaapi too"
"Yayyy..Now you are toking sense"

Destination reached.

"Hello Appa, meet Ramki - my colleague from office"
"Ramki nuh ? Ramakrishnan ??"
"Yes Uncle"
(a broad smile) "Come in Come in...Sit down in the sofa.."
"Hey, I'll just freshen up. You guys keep talking"

(A stream of sweet words flow between Uncle and T in Kannada)

"So what do you do, Ramki?"
"I am in the Marketing side of Business, Uncle"
"Take some coffee. I have not put sugar since I did not know how many tea spoons you use. "
"Thanks Aunty - I'll help myself"
"And where did you do your MBA from ?"
"I am not really sure you would know of it"

(from yonder) "Appa, he is from SP"
"Of course, I know it. The best B-School in Mumbai, consistently ranked in the top 10. I heard this year's placements have been very good. I assume you are aware that T just came back from their interview"
"Really ? She didn't tell me. Neway as far as placements go, I would not know Uncle. I passed out two years back and I'm not exactly in touch."

(Another rapid exchange of high pitched words, this time between Uncle and Aunty in Kannada)

"Ramki..are you vegetarian ?"
"Yes Aunty.. Not even egg"
"Good...Do you like sweets ? Here.. have some home-made Gulab Jamuns"
"No Aunty...I have to go back home and have dinner..I can't afford to stuff myself so much"
"Rubbish. You mom wont say anything."
"So, who else is there in your family ?"
"Uncle, I am the only child. My parents have moved in with me"

(The first harsh exchange between T and Uncle)

"Good..How old are you ?"
"Aunty, I will soon be 28"
"What ? Why aren't you married yet ?"

(All hell breaks loose. Angry words are exchanged between Uncle, Aunty and T)

"I am sorry Ramki.. I didn't mean to intrude"
"Its OK Uncle.. I am used to being asked this..Neway...."

..and before I could explain, T comes in and Uncle walks away silently with a grave face.

"Sorry da. They always do it when I bring home new friends"
"Hmmm..Btw, wot was all that Kannada talk ?"
"Nothing. They were just checking you out."
"Whatttttttttt...Are they that desperate ? You drag any cat from the streets and they try this... ?"

"Hahaha..Yeah, its been 18 months since they've been sounding me out..."
"Hmmmm..I pity 'em"
"They wanted to know if you were Brahmin and single and such crap"
"Jesus Christ... and what did you tell them ?"
"I had to save the situation and I did what I had to do to stop this line of conversation"
"Which is...."
"I told them you just got engaged after a 5 year courtship and that your marriage is due in a month"
"Yeah. And please don't raise your voice"
"Kum se kum mujhse poochna tha na"
"You want them to know the truth ?"
"Noooo.. but still...Wait till I pay u back for this.."
"Try me"
"Uncle, forget me... How old is T ? She's also a single child ? Why aren't you marrying her off ?"
"Ramkiiii... stop.."

Uncle has now re-entered the room and is eager to take this discussion forward.

"Why don't good friends like you advice her ?"
"T, you really should listen to you dad. See, all this management education is bullshit...Oops sorry Uncle.. Look at me, I am a walking ad for an MBA failure"
(with a stare-to-kill) "Thanks but I think I am smarter than you and will do better"
"See..She is already so old, she's earning so much and on top of it, she wants to do an MBA...Who will marry her then ? She just refuses to listen to us"
"Come on Uncle, she can't be that old.."'
"21st May 1979"
(furious) "Daddy, will you please stop this ? Haven't we been through this so much ?"
"..And Ramki, the worst thing is she has even applied to US Universities"
"T, you are wasting so much time. Look at it this way. By the time you finish your MBA, Preeti and I will already be having a kid."
"So Preeti is your would-be's name ?"
"My fiance..."
"Oh ho"
"...surely even you parents want to see their grandchildren..Don't be so selfish T"
"He is right !! Why are you stopping him ?"
" don't know..."
"Uncle, I think I should be going... T, maybe you should sit down and have a long chat with your parents and do a rethink about life."

...saying so, UDU JOOOOT.

I know I stirred a hornet's nest that day but coming to think of it, I can't but help admire T and in a broader perspective, the women of my generation. There are a couple of other friends of mine who have also chosen to go the "career-woman" route and marriage, if at all it happens, will definitely be at their own terms and not some sort of a compromise. I admire their guts and the conviction of their beliefs. Yeah, today is Women's Day and this post is a dedication to all these 'women-of-substance'. You gals truly rock !!

PS: Today also happens to be MahaShivRaatri or something like that... In keeping with the spirit, yes, I shall stay awake all night...After all, Chelsea play Barca in the reverse leg at home...Gotta ensure that they win...Go Chelsea Go...And it will be doubly joyous if Man U also lose :-p

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Interview of a Life-time

"So you're serious about this April thing ?"
"Not serious but veering around to it....I must be the first guy who said YES on grounds of sheer boredom"
" :-) Can we just test how ready you are for D-day ?"
"Q&A ?? you gotta be kidding !!"
"BB, pleeez..Take it like a game nuh..."

Scene 1 Take 1

Buddygal posing as prospective bride: So..ever been in love ?
BB: Yeah..once...
Buddygal (incredulous tone): You're gonna say that ?????
BB: Complete honesty is the foundation of every relationship.
(A long silence)

Scene 1 Take 2
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: So..ever been in love ?
BB: HAHAHAHAHAHA.. What about you ?
Buddygal (even more incredulous tone): You're gonna laugh that loud ? And couldn't you think of anything worse to say..Use your brains BB..Atleast use your goddamn sense of humour...

Scene 1 Take 3
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: So..ever been in love ?
BB: Haha.. Of course..the usual... Manisha Koirala, Sushmita Sen and more recently Karena Kapoor
Buddygal (pleased tone): Nice one. Good polite laughter. I liked the way you casually displayed your sense of humor.. But the list has too many movie stars.. She might think you are a juvenile, star struck kid...
BB: Hullooooooo... How do you say juvenile ?
Buddygal: C'mon, everyone can relate to Manisha and then Bombay and that song and that famous running scene... ;-)
BB (sheepish): You're awesome..
Buddygal: You guys are all the same..Sush is OK.. shows you are classy too...and replace Kareena with some sportswoman...NO NO.. Not Kournikova or Sharapova..
BB: Sabatini ?
Buddygal: Yes
BB: Can I mention Priyanka Gandhi also ?
Buddygal: Uffff.. No politics please..besides she's married.. It might not send out the right signals.

Scene 2 Take 1
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: Would you call yourself as career oriented and ambitious ?
BB: Define ambitious
Buddygal (frustrated tone): This ain't a court of law so redirect and crossquestioning ain't allowed.
BB: ...But I just wanted a clarification.
Buddygal: You ain't getting any. Try again.

Scene 2 Take 2
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: Would you call yourself career oriented and ambitious ?
BB: Well..I don't think my aim in life is to become a CEO and run a billion $ company by the age of 35, if that's what you meant.
Buddygal (disapproving tone): That may be true but you don't say that straight away. I mean, there's gotta be a different way of putting it.
BB: How about this ? I want to be successful, I want to do stuff and I want to be good...really good... at what I do.. If this constitutes ambition, so be it.
Buddygal: Still doesn't feel perfect...The idea is more or less ok but work on the words...
BB: Oh yeahhhhhhhhh

Scene 3 Take 1
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: What are your hobbies ?
BB: (face lighting up at once) Movies and Books
BB: Wot's rong with that ?
Buddygal: She must have already seen 16 guys of which 14 said this and got rejected.
BB: Psephology and Steganography ?
Buddygal: No No..Say it differently.

Scene 3 Take 2
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: What are your hobbies ?
BB: Oooh.. the oldest Q in the get-to-know-each-other manual.... Can I answer that like we do in B-skool interviews ?
Buddygal: Try me !!
BB: Books enthral me - I don't care whether its fiction or non fiction as long as it can keep me occupied on a rainy Saturday afternoon. Forsyth, Dickens, Bach, any and I read 'em all. Movies are a way of life - for a lot of people Friday evening signals the start of a weekend, for me it simply means another outing at the movies. ..B/w you and me, can I confess that most of my favorite movies are all rom-coms ? (sheepish smile)
Buddygal: Super. Nice combination of authors..Just reflects your personality...Or lack of it ;-) And though women might not prefer men who like mush, we can never resist one who feels comfortable enough to share this secret with them. Bulls eye.

Scene 4 Take 1
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: What are your expectations from a potential partner ?
BB: I just want her to be my best friend, philosopher and guide.
Buddygal: Wotttt... This answer is so unlike you....
BB: Shucks...How did you find out ? Neway I stole it from someone else coz I quite found it cool....very simple and very honest...
Buddygal: Hmm..agree with you on that but if that's not you, I don't think you should be using it...
BB: Can we skip this one for now ?
Buddygal: Fine with me.. but do give it a thought...And do NOT joke here...Pls do not bring up Vadivel or Govinda...

Scene 5 Take 1
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: So do you smoke or drink ?
BB (with a delight that comes from yearning to be asked this): I used to but quit a year and a half back......
Buddygal (annoyed) Stop. You really think in a first meeting she wants to know the sordid details of WHEN and WHY...
BB: :-(
Buddygal: You've been watching VAALI too often

Scene 5 Take 2
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: So do you smoke or drink ?
BB: No
Buddygal: Perfect

Scene 6 Take 1
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: Can I continue to work after marriage ?
BB: Why not ? It would be a crime to waste that wonderful education you've had by just sitting at home.
Buddygal: Oversell.

Scene 6 Take 2
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: Can I continue to work after marriage ?
BB: Of course, you should. It would not be fair on my part to ask you to give up such a promising career.
Buddygal: Sounds like you need her money.
BB: Damn you..

Scene 6 Take 3
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: Can I continue to work after marriage ?
BB: I think its a personal choice but if you still insist, I think you should continue atleast for some more time. Then maybe..down the line, you can re-evaluate your options.
Buddygal: Good. Just use simpler words.

Scene 7 Take 1
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: Do you want to settle abroad ?
BB: No
Buddygal: Not such a blunt answer, please
BB: Sorry dee but this is non-negotiable. Besides, this is not something one should dilly-dally on. Better to be forthright about it.
Buddygal: I guess you have a point.

Scene 8 Take 1
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: Do you have any questions to ask of me ?
BB: Well...I hope you weren't forced into this whole meeting-a-groom thing ? I mean, your folks wanted you to do this or sthg like that..
Buddygal: Not a very apt question. For one, this reeks of a Mani Ratnam touch.. a distinct Mouna Ragam hangover...Too filmi.. And even if you want to ask, I am not sure this is the right time to do it.
BB: But I wanna know.
Buddygal (is clearly not prepared for this exigency): Handle this dynamically nuh...It will either be a Roja kinda of reaction or a positive one..
BB: Yeah...
Buddygal: Maybe she will think you are insecure...
BB: Oops
Buddygal; Mebbe she thinks you have a past...
BB: Shitttt
Buddygal: Take my advice.. Don't ask this.

Scene 8 Take 2
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: Do you have any questions to ask of me ?
BB: No
Buddygal: Nooooooo..this is like a job interview..You can't duck this one.. You gotta ask something otherwise she'll think you are boring or worse still she'll assume you find her boring..and you don't want that to happen esp if you like her...
BB: Hmmmm

Scene 8 Take 3
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: Do you have any questions to ask of me ?
BB: This is kinda out of the way and may even sound atrocious but...
Buddygal (curious): Go ahead....
BB: If she has a bro or sthg.. and I know all gals love their bro...I'll say sthg like "I noticed that bike in the yard..and how its been well bro seems to love bikes..." and if I get a positive response I'll say " So do I "
Buddygal: Go on...
BB: Or I could say sthg like "I saw those posters of Sachin in that bedroom..You're a huge fan of Sachin ?" and she says "Tis my brother" and I'll say " Wowww.. me too" - Basically I'll somehow try and pay her brother a compliment...
Buddygal: Well..It'll work like a charm if all women were like me.. But you gotta be careful...Very dangerous territory...
BB: I know.. Nothing venture nothing gained.
Buddygal (smiles): I'll say one thing - It pays to have presence of mind and you usually get lucky...Hope the law of averages doesn't catch up...

Scene 9 Take 1
Buddygal posing as prospective bride: So do you wanna marry me ?
BB (too shocked to speak): Well....
Buddygal: Gotta ask Mom ?
BB (indignant): No
Buddygal: So you don't like me ?
BB: Noooooooooooooo
Buddygal: Then ?
BB: Hmmm
Buddygal: Wanna sleep over it ?
BB: Welll...

"Lets stop this game please...."
"You know what...I don't think any woman can be this merciless"

(A long silence)

"ok ok..You know what...I don't think I'm there yet"
"Hey, chillax da...You did much better than a lot of people I know"
(raised eyebrow) "Like ?"
"My hubby for instance"
"That is definitely not inspiring enough"
"You are such a chicken"
"quack quack quack"
"Thats a duck"

PS: Dedicated to Mani Ratnam ;-)

Friday, March 04, 2005

She's a darling...she's a demon....

There's nothing that will make my Dad stay back after 10:30 pm and watch TV....except maybe when Australia is involved in some cricket match. But yesterday he stayed back and watched. There is very little that will prevent me from missing F.R.I.E.N.D.S in Zee MGM between 10 and 10:30 every night. But yesterday I gave it a skip. Ever since the Iceberg retired, my mom's dwindling interest in the sport has been limited to watching the odd match involving the Baadshah of Basel...But yesterday she was there, riveted to her seat for the whole match.

Yes, Sania Mirza has arrived. Atleast in our family and also in Dubai and if the rowdy, raucous crowd yesterday is any proof, then India has another woman sporting icon. (of course Numero Uno continues to be that sweet Anju George)

I know a lot of hue and cry was made when Sania did extremely well at The Australian Open but then one swallow doesn't make a summer. Her classy show at The Hyderabad Open was further proof of her blosomming potential but its been her showing at Dubai that has confirmed for me that she has what it takes to make it to the top. Of course, Indian women's tennis has had its share of promising starts - Nirupama Vaidyanathan, Arati Ponappa (drool) and Rushmi Chakravarthy - but what makes me believe that Sania is different from them is that she still has age on her side and her attitude on court is perfect.

As far as yesterday goes, you can't write much about her performance, can you ? But for her future, every tennis fan, I'm sure, has his own two cents worth of advice to give and here is mine

- After Miss Graf, I haven't seen anyone in the ladies circuit with a forehand as huge as yours. Its your biggest weapon but you would do well to remember that it could also be your undoing. So keep working on your backhand.

- Your serve is very mediocre. Besides, you havta work on that correction in your service motion, the one when you snap your body and land after hitting the tossed ball. Maybe you could consult Goran, Pete or Tanner.

- You can surely hide behind excuses like exuberance of youth or whatever but there is a simple rule that if you play percentage tennis, you end up winning more matches than you lose. Just put the ball back in play. Make your opponent play more shots - after all, not every point needs to be got over with in just 3 shots.

- Yes, sport is all about passion but there are times when you need to play with your head rather than your heart. Use the crowd to your advantage but please do not play to please them. Play to win even if it means playing ugly...Think Conchita Martinez..Yeah, she did not set the tennis scene on fire with her dazzling strokes nor was she a serve and volley wonder but w-t-h, she won Wimbledon...

- which also brings us to the fact that you definitely need a good coach now. Someone like cricket's John Buchanan or football's Jose Mourinho.. No great shakes in their player days but wonderful tacticians and man-managers...May I suggest Brad Gilbert for a start ?

- and yes, its not your fault that God made you pretty...nah...very pretty...nah...very very pretty... forget it.. you got the use it to your advantage...behave well on court, become a darling with audiences world smart...opponents are gonna resent the support you get and self destruct.. its a very potent weapon, this beauty... USE IT...

- and yeah, you look awesome in colored oufits be it the canary yellow, the light blue or the mind blowing crimson you wore yesterday...You need someone with some reallly good taste in clothes to continue to assist you in the dress-to-kill part of your armoury. May I ? :-)))


I know this probably doesn't make much sense but the first thing I remember when I think of ya is this lovely song...

How do you solve a problem like Sania
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down
How do you find a word that means Sania
A flibbertigibbet, a will-o'-the-wisp, a clown

Many a thing you know you'd like to tell her
Many a thing she ought to understand
But how do you make her stay
And listen to all you say...

She's as flighty as a feather
She's a darling
She's a demon
She's a lamb (ooooooooooooooooooooh)

She is gentle, she is wild
She's a riddle, she's a child
She's a headache
She's an angel
She's a girl (yeahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh)

- and lastly, gulpp..gulpp...grow old soon so that I can marry ya ;-) we'll think about our parents later coz I am sure I can borrow a leaf from Vivek here

Bye and take care,

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Nuvvosthanante Nenondhantana

Cast of characters:

The ladkiwaale
Trisha aka Siri
Age: 18 :-)))))))))))))))))))))))
Occupation: Student ??
Address: a beautiful village in Andhra
Identity: Orphan

Srihari aka Sivaramakrishnan
Age: GOK
Occupation: Farmer
Address: the same beautiful village in Andhra
Identity: Siri's brother / father / friend all rolled into one

The ladkewaale
Sidharth aka... Ooops....I forgot.. but who cares...Gautam?
Age: 21
Occupation: Student ??
Address: London
Identity: mad lover boy

Prakash Raj playing... Gautam's (??) father
Age: 45
Occupation: Business Magnate
Identity: Sid's friend, philosopher and father

Geeta playing...Gautam's (??) mother
Age: 40
Occupation: domineering housewife
Identity: Social snob

The other important characters
Sid's cousin Veda who happens to be Trisha's best pal and a wooden toy horse.

The plot:
Veda is getting married. Sid and Trisha meet and in the process fall in love. However Sid's mom wants him to marry a gold digger's vampish daughter. Sid's mom insults Trisha and her brother. Sid goes to the village to convince the brother and win his love back. In the process he becomes a farmer who can cultivate a field and even grow one bag of rice extra as compared to his girl's brother. Evil loses Good wins. Alls well that ends well.

The formula:
Maine Pyar Kiya - 33%
Pyar Kiya To Darna Kya - 57 %
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam - 8 %
Rest of K/B/Tollywood - 2 %
Originality - now what is that ?????

What rocks:
Sid in the first half...Veda and her Sania Mirza glasses in every scene she appears in (drooool)....The Camerawork....MS Raju's racy screenplay...The songs ;-)

The verdict:
Rockinnnnnnn' !!


yeah.. it had to come, right ?

I am tired of these kinda movies simply because every time its the hero who has to prove his love for the gal and do all sorts of mad things. Here is how I wud have made the movie had I been the director.

First half:
Veda is about to tie the knot but since her horoscope says that her marriage will last only if its occurs in a village with population < 500, the scene shifts to the beautiful hamlet where Trisha lives. Sid is a geek, a computer genius, whose father runs a successful software company in London. They arrive in the village for the wedding and one thing leads to another and boisterous and brave Trisha manages to get Sid to fall in love with her. However Sid's parents are against the union as they want Sid to marry Carly Fiorina's stepdaughter. Sid's dad insults Trisha's brother saying he has raised his sis like a frog in the well and throws the gauntlet that Trisha can become his daughter in law only if she can prove herself adept at writing efficient C code, the condition being she has to become a better programmer than Sid himself.


Pls note: There were 4 songs in the first half - one in Bulgaria, one in Cuba, one in pouring rain in the hamlet and one in a space shuttle to Venus. There were also a couple of lewd jokes and a martial arts fight scene where Trisha beats the pulp out of eve-teasers in her village a la Kill Bill style.

Second half:
Trisha reaches London and settles down with a lot of trouble to the fast paced metropolitan life style. She starts by reading C Programming Language by Kernighan and Ritchie and slowly grasps the fundamentals. Seeing her earnest attempts to succeed in love, Sid's heart melts and he longs to help but his promise to his parents to not interfere prevents him from doing so. Instead he gives her company during the night outs and offers her moral support by replenishing her with an endless supply of Diet Coke and pepperonni pizza and playing Eminem songs to wake her up whenever she dozes off. Slowly but surely, Trisha makes progress till she comes to Pointers. And then she gets stuck. She desperately needs an 'Indian author' book. She calls up her brother who after enquiring with a lot of people suggests a book by Yeshwant Kanetkar. Trisha tries to buy this book but to her dismay finds that it is stocked out at every bookstore in London thanks to Sid's ex who has bought every copy. Finally she manages to procure one at a second hand bookstore owned by a expat Tamilian, Prabhu Deva and after reading this book, all concepts become crystal clear. Suddenly there is a crisis in Sid's dad's company. A top secret FPP project for Scotland Yard is behind schedule. There are too many bugs in the code. Sid tries to debug but his mind is not on his job. Trisha steps in and voila, the project is back in shape. Sid's Dad is very impressed and he immedietly agrees to the wedding. Alls well that ends well ? No..wait. On the day of the wedding, Trisha faints. It is then revealed that she is suffering from brain cancer. Sid's parents cancel the wedding but Sid stands up for his love and ties the knot. The movie ends with Trisha being wheeled in her for her first session of radiation treatment. Love conquers all.

Pls note: There will be 4 songs in the second half - one in Uzbekistan, one in Senegal, one in a library full of C and C++ books and one bit song in the hospital in the hospital.

...and the best part is, the title makes sense for my story too :-)

Coming soon to a theatre near you !!

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

(Mis)Adventures of the Lone Wolf - Concluding Part

Omigawd...I can't believe I didn't finish my North Indian adventure. Never realised I had left the story hanging in Ajmer till a good friend mentioned about Agra yesterday.
Here I go then...

Traveling by bus in Rajasthan can be an awesome experience if only one can get over this annoying compulsion of the bus drivers to 'play safe'. Lemme explain. Since I had booked tickets in a private luxury bus which boasted of being a Volvo, I had wrongly assumed that it would be a quick journey from Ajmer to Udaipur. A lot of you must have watched Bollywood movies where moms get their sons to make silly promises - on similar lines in Rajasthan, all bus drivers have sworn to their moms never to drive at a speed greater than 50 kmph. And that night, to my utter horror, I discovered that even when the driver makes the rare mistake of revving up the accelerator close to 48 kmph, a swift disapproving look from the conductor sitting nearby was all it took for the bus to get back to that cool 45 kmph. And mind you, the road was empty and it was a bloody NH. Yeah. You got it. I did not sleep a wink that night thanks also to 3 noisy teenagers who kept speaking throughout to god-knows-who using their Reliance mobile fones. Airtel and Hutch kindly note: Whereever our bus went, only the RIL network followed.

Reaching Udaipur at that unearthly hour of 5:15 am with the temperature still in the late single digits, I checked out a few seedy motels before settling down into one where I had a relatively neat bed, provision for warm water and a nice quilt for Rs 125 a day. (There was a room with a TV also for Rs 150 but I gave it a skip since the TV had only 12 channels and most of them were in some obscure language - MAA - Rajasthani ??) Please note: There is nothing more satisfying for a marketeer that a bargain deal sealed in a strange land with strange people at a strange hour.

At a quarter to 8, I woke up and after the usual daily chores, left for the RTDC hotel from where the sight seeing for the day would start. I had no clue where this hotel was and so had to get onto an auto to get there. No sooner was I inside the than the autowalah started pestering me to engage him for the sightseeing. He was quoting Rs 500 for the day whereas RTDC's official trip was around Rs 150. By this time it was 8:30am and I was aware that it was getting late since my motel receptionist had informed me that the bus would leave at 8:30 sharp. To compound my agony the autowalah sensed that he had a great chance to wreck havoc on my plans and drove at an infuriating pace of 10 kmph. Soon cycles were overtaking us and I was getting restless. Just when I thought I should maybe get another auto than we reached the RTDC hotel. To my sheer delight, the bus had not yet left. As I was settling the autofare, I also got a chance to pick up some really awesome foul language that my autowala chose to shower on the bus driver.

I will not bore you much about the actual places that I visited in Udaipur. I will just limit myself to the one hilarious incident of the afternoon session. We had a newly wed Surd couple on their honeymoon trip as part of our party. At one of the Shiv Mandirs which happened to be a sight seeing spot, while the rest of us got down, the couple preferred to stay back. Assuming that they were upto some mischief, all of us magnanimously gave them their privacy and came back half an hour later...And guess what awaited us when we returned. The dashing (he was bloody handsome) Surd was fast asleep in the last seat of our bus and the Sardarni was checking out Punjabi munda ringtones in her husband's jazzy mobile phone. And it stayed that way for most part of the afternoon. For an hour and half, as our super Sardar blissfully slept, his pretty wife amused herself by checking out the snaps in my digicam and asking me innocuous questions like "How can you travel alone ? Aren't you bored ?" (Do I sound like I wish she had asked me this Q with ulterior motives..Cheeeee dirty folks) I could barely contain my laughter for the rest of the journey but if there was one thing that this incident confirmed for me, then its the fact that Surds are...well.. really sweeeeeeeet.

8:30 pm Thursday. I still had the whole of Friday and I was yet to make plans. Though I would have loved to see Chitorgarh, there was no way I could spend the whole of Friday there and then reach Delhi on time for my return journey. Ditto for Jodhpur. Should I go to Agra ? Though I'd been to this heavily hyped tourist spot atleast thrice and didn't find it in the least exciting, left with nothing else to do, I decided on an impulse that I'd leave for Agra. Unfortunately for me, the direct bus to Agra has already left. However the travel guy mentioned that all buses to Agra went via Jaipur and so I could go there and then get a connect. The idea found instant favor with me and I checked for availability of tickets to Jaipur. Here comes the first big lesson for MBA folks.

In Tamil Nadu, as a rule, private luxury buses are much costlier than Govt buses. To give you an example, Trichy to Chennai which is 324 kms is Rs 300 by KPN whereas a SETC bus would cost you Rs 150. Udaipur to Jaipur is around 410 odd kms. So what do you think is a fair rate ? Go on.. Guess.. Hahahaha..Wear your specs NOW. A ticket in a " private luxury bus without push back" (??) was Rs 120, "private luxury bus with push back" was Rs 150 and a sleeper was Rs 200. I first didn't believe my ears but when I checked with a couple of other travels, they were all consistent. So I bought a sleeper ticket and settled into the bus which was scheduled to leave at 10. It was 9:50 and the bus was still only half full. When we finally left at 10:15, I asked the person who got into the bunk oppsite mine how much he had paid for his sleeper and got the shock of my life. Guess.. Go on... Rs 120. And it seems he had got pushback seats for Rs 100 but had felt the sleeper would be more value for money. Trust me when I say that I never felt more STUPID and CONNED in all my 27 years of existence in this planet. I felt like howling. People in Rajasthan actually bargain for bus tickets. I cannot, for even a second, ever imagine someone trying to pull such a trick with KPN. This incident however got the Marketeer in me curious. In the travel business, does it make more sense to discount and ensure occupancy or should one risk low occupancy rather than diluting the brand's image and premium ? Think about it.

Neway, I reached Jaipur slow and safe on Friday morning from where I proceeded to Agra, just for the heck of it, by a Government luxury bus. The only noteworthy incident in this journey was the fact that we got held up in Fatehpur Sikri in a huge traffic jam which was also compounded by an absent minded truck driver who had left his vehicle in the middle of the road and gone for a leak only to return 20 minutes late. And all we did was wait and wait...If this had happened somewhere in Tamil Nadu he would have been lynched but in Agra, people didn't even swear at him.

I arrived in Agra only to be greeted at the bus stand by someone who seemed all too familiar to me.

"So you're back, eh ?
"Yeah.. but who are you ? Haven't I seen you somewhere ?"
"I am Shah Jahan"
"Oh, that lovelorn bugger ;-)"
"Cut the crap. Why are you here ?"
"To see's greatest erection for woman"
"You still haven't lost your sarcasm, have you ?"
"You swine.. You eavesdrop !!!"
"Whadever.. remember the disparaging comments you made last time"

Jai So how was the trip to Agra ?
Jai: And 'the teardrop on the cheek of time' ?
Me: Duh ?
Jai: Ufff..the Taj re..
Me: whats the big deal man...That building - its a huge waste of time and money..
Jai: Cmon, love's worth it
Me: Bullshit...Mumtaz must have been a nympho ;-)

Cut to present

"So you still maintain your opinion of my wife ?"
"Well.. I guess I was a little harsh on her"
"So, you're in love and thats why you came back ?"
"Nooo.. no such crap.."
"Cmon tell me the truth"
"Ok bugger.. maybe I came coz I thought I'd be able to appreciate your monument better this time"
"Tough luck, son. We are closed today"
"What, you son-of-a-gun..I came all the way.. and...."
"Sorry. We are closed on Fridays"
"So, what do I do now ?"
"Hmm.. there is a seedy motel which lets people go upto their 5th floor where there is a room which probably has the best view of the Taj in this whole city. Maybe you can pay Rs 5 and see it there."
"Please tell me you are kidding"

....and thus ended my sometimes-awesome-sometimes-awful trip of North India. Of course, there is that uneventful return journey I can talk about but then isn't it always a nice thing to end a story on a real high or a real low. Audiences always like happy endings or Greek tragedies, never something which is middle of the road.


Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The Man

There he is, standing unobstrusively in one corner of the hall, sipping his glass of champagne and lending a patient ear to my garrulous, old man. He is exactly the same person that I first met 7 years back... except maybe for his choice of ties which has just become more...what do I say..outrageous. Today it is a canary yellow one with dancing elephants. I smile silently. Maybe he has aged a little too and there is a slight hint of a paunch developing but then he looks just as dashing and handsome as he was a few years back..7 to be precise. How I love him. Why is it that I feel so strongly but can never get down to telling him how much he means to me. Maybe I will - someday.

I still remember our first date.

We had just met a week back at a common friend's Birthday party and I'd found him quite charming, especially that laid back style and subtle humor. Things had moved very slowly from them on and we went out for our first movie together a month later. It was March 1st. I still can't forget that day. According to my best friend Mahesh, he did everything that would constitute as 'Totally Unacceptable Social Behavior On A First Date' - we went dutch on the movie, the popcorn and even the autofare. However I hung on for there was something about him that I'd never experienced with the hordes of men I'd dated before. I'm glad I chose wisely for things became progressively better. On our second date at a fashionable Chinese restaurant downtown, he even pulled chairs for me and tipped the waiter handsomely. Strange as it might seem, as we got to know each other better we started meeting up almost every alternate day and he would always insist on picking me up from my room and religiously drop me back at the hostel. After a couple of months, his natural but misplaced chivalry was getting maddeningly frustrating for he would simply refuse to let me pay whenever we were together. No wonder Mahesh always used to joke that he was doing everything in reverse - after all it made more sense to adopt this cavalier approach during those initial attempts to impress a girl and then settle down in to that comfort zone where you can be 'your natural self'. We went steady for a good 6 months before we had our first serious talk about where our relationship was going. We were both aware that there were hurdles to be overcome and it definitely did not help that we came from different social backgrounds. But being old-fashioned and honorable, I knew there was no way he would take this thing forward without my parents' consent. And then fate intervened.

I feel someone tugging at my sari and I see that its my 6 year old darling of a princess. She has a small note which she quickly thrusts into Mommy's hand and scampers away to some more mischief. I open the note, slowly absorb the contents and scan the crowd but I can't see him. I smile.

"Stop ogling at your husband. He is getting very embarassed - Mahesh"