Monday, June 27, 2005

BBC Weather Forecast

Posted by Hello see no evil?

If you ever visit a middle class housing complex in Delhi, one prominent thing you would notice is the roof-top rooms. These are little, single rooms built on the terrace, which they rent out to bachelors, and in some case, small families. I live in one such attachment.

It acts as an oven in the summers and a freezer in the winters. In the rainy season however, it acts as a water-tank. This is one reason I ring up my room-mate every thirty seconds on rainy days. Due to the lack of space and furniture, my computer sits on the floor. When it rains, water rushes in mercilessly, within its vicinity. My computer is slightly allergic to water making me very cautious during a rainy day.

Summers were ending and the fear of rain had started haunting me. Everyday I left for my office kissing my computer good bye. You never know when you will see that highly ‘radiating’ smile again.

As I was sitting in the office wondering about calling my room-mate, (who worked very close to where I live) just in case it rains, and tell him to stuff the gap between the door and the floor with a cloth of some sort to prevent the water from gushing in, a BBC weather forecast pop-up popped up in front of me. Bingo! Now I can make a schedule as to when I should call him up.

BBC forecasted a clear, sunny sky all week. However, since all good things should come to an end, it predicted heavy showers on Monday. So Monday it is. I had a pretty nice booze on Saturday at a friends place (on the BBC assurance), slept over there like a dead duck. On Sunday afternoon, I woke up to the sounds of heavy thunderstorms. Damn BBC!

I called up my room-mate. As luck would have it, he wasn’t home either. I did not have any modes of transport at my beckoning. I left it all to fate. Monday was warm and sunny. It rained heavily on Tuesday; that is today. So much for the very reliable BBC weather forecast.

Friday, June 24, 2005

How I became a copywriter...

Posted by Hello Confused? Me? Never!

I had a troubled childhood. No, no, no, don’t you get any wrong ideas. My dad never beat up my mom, he never burnt my bum with hot iron rods, nor did I have a sister who had reasons to press charges on a number of issues. When I said I had a troubled childhood, I meant that I was a very confused child. My childhood spanned a very long time. The time from when I was born, to the time I was happily employed, that is now.

Many children when young want to be pilots, carpenters, truck drivers, dacoits and a whole lot of things which they never grow up to be. The first thing I ever wanted to be was my dad! I wanted to pull my son’s (my dad would be my son in return) ears for playing with earthworms, would like to scold my brother (something which my dad never did, and something I have always wanted to do) for crying too much while I watch ‘Jimmy and the magic torch,’ and a lot of such things only the elder is privileged to do. In our language we have a saying – ‘An elder can even shit in the stove.’ That is power for you ladies ‘n’ gentlemen.

My second ambition in life (speaking of which, I had plenty later on), was to become an oceanographer. I had to fight hard with my teachers while trying to explain to them what I wanted to be in the future. Simply because I did not know the term. “I want to go underwater and study about whales and giant octopuses,” I used to say. That’s weird for a fifth standard guy. (note the point that I was in the fifth standard, before I had my second ambition. I was never an ambitious man. I hated to even plan a few weeks ahead. This, also, wasn’t a properly framed plan; just that I wanted to say something when the teachers asked me; something to match my classmates saying stuff like, ‘doctor’, ‘engineer’, ‘scientist’ n all that.) I grew up, letting people around me take decisions for me and pave the way to my future. ‘Hey, I don’t have time for such trivia.’

It was after my tenth standard, while busy engaged in a game of cricket, that the big bad term ‘Future’ struck me. (I hate the word future except in the name of the movie – ‘Back to the future’ – one of my all time favourite movies, the trilogy) Hey, I had to do something. I asked Chandrakanth, who was fielding right next to me, the class topper, “What are you going to do?” “I am going to get into the same school and choose computer science option,” he replied. My future was decided for the time being.

I chose computers not just because Chandrakanth told me to, it was also because I hated biology. I never cared much for both the subjects, but I cared less for biology to such an extent that if I ever have a kid, I will send him to a school where they don’t teach him biology at all. I am ‘Biologiophobic’, probably because this was the first subject in which I came across a prominent character that would follow me till I left school – ‘Failure.’

Getting into the eleventh standard, or plus two section as it is popularly known, got a virus into every kid’s head, at least in our part of the country. They had two options in front of them, as distinct and as singular as ‘life n death’ or ‘devil n the deep blue sea’ – the tug o war was between ‘engineering and medicine. I got out of one of them by default, medicine, coz I had opted out of learning Biology. Now, I would by no means say that I was saved, nobody who has seen the engineering physics or math text ever would.

One year of coaching and a large amount of money was spent before I realized that I was not fit for engineering or rather(being egoistic), engineering was not fit for me. My dad though wouldn’t share the same realization. I had to make an excuse. My excuse came in form of one Ms. Elizabeth Varghese. She put in front of me an option, the door to freedom and luxury, in the form of a law degree, wherein I did not have to know much of mathematics, physics and all that. Cool, I wanted to be a lawyer. A good score in English, and a decent knowledge of things around me, got me in a prestigious law school in our state. Hey, where is the twist? Patience is a virtue. One month from then, I was sitting in a place that closely resembled an ashram, and studying computer science.

Speaking of computer science graduates, all they ever want to be is an MCA holder. I was no exception. No tension about future for three years. Two years into the course and I had a sudden change in plans; a cry from the Oracle which told me to join for a Business Administration program. Now what did I know about business, do not ask. Apart from tricking my friend into buying a post card worth 2 bucks for 50 bucks, I have never come close to what I can call – Business. With that experience to back me, I decided to be a business chap. (To tell you the truth, Java and VC++ were eating my brain as if they were competing against each other.)

You must be thinking that this guy is finally settled, decided what he has to do. Let me wish him all the best. Wait! Don’t you dare do anything of sort. I have just seen a couple of brochures and realized that during an MBA, I will have to encounter one of my childhood phobias – Math. No, not again. (This was one of the many occasions when I strongly abhorred the Indian educational system. A person is not allowed to learn what he likes; things are being imposed on him; it is time for a revolution; and then I woke up.)
What do I do now? I am stranded for sure. I have been one real client servicing guy convincing my dad about this n that n this n that. Now what?

Page 112, MAT brochure, Program in advertising…there lies my answer. No math, no physics, no science. Fun all the way. My future has taken a safe stance once again. It is to be noted that I had never seen an advertising agency(I might have seen it, but not realized it was one), leave alone the formation.

New college, new friends, new inspirations and new SENIORS; hence – ragging. ‘What do you want to get into, ’asked a senior. “I love writing,” said I without realizing that I had just made my career. My senior replied without even bothering to wait for my second sentence, “So you want to be a copywriter.”

That is what I am, guess that is what I will be for the rest of my life. Let us see, I might just bump into a sports journalist someday and …

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Interview - one of its kinds

Posted by Hello david 'n' goliath

I was trembling when I stood in front of Alvin Saldanha, the National Creative Director, of McCann Erickson India. What provoked the fear? Was it the feeling of being unemployed mid way into January or was it sheer respect for the man, till date I do not know.

He hardly had opened my ad portfolio(something which every copywriter had to treasure more than his balls) and I was wiping the sweat of my brows. The ice had grown thicker than that block which toppled Titanic. Silence echoed the loudest.

One of the ads in my folio was that of NGC. It had a visual of tortoises mating in the conventional position. The headline read – ‘from where they meet to where they mate.’Alvin turned around. “The story of my life kid. Every time I hook up with a chick, she has a shell on.” The ice broke with a series of earth shattering laughs. From then on it was a joy ride.

Alvin briefed me on the rules of the agency. A few of them were:
1. Never light a joint before 8pm
2. Never watch porn without sharing it with your superiors
3. Never have sex in the office without the lights switched on
4. No sleep
5. No luxuries
6. No girlfriends
‘Excuse me sir,’ I interrupted. “I don’t have a girlfriend.” Alvin stood up, put an arm around my shoulder and said, “Oh, so you are not privileged with a sex life. Do not worry son. We will give you a sex life. If you don’t do your stuff on time, we will screw your black ass, right left and center.” The point was put across very clearly.

All this jazz apart, I was in. I was in one of the top five agencies in the world after a string of abuses and a healthy folio. I turned around, thanking everybody to head home and party. Unfortunately for me, I had shown Alvin, some of the films I had made.As I was walking towards the exit I heard Alvin shout. “Fucker, you were showing me some movies eh? Let me see what you have got. Write a film for Nestle.” The whole world fell apart tumbling in front of my eyes as I heard him say that. First day in an agency, 26th of January, a National holiday, our dear old Republic Day, friends partying at Saket, and I was writing a film for Nestle.

God help advertising!

Ironic, isn't it?

Posted by Hello ironic!

Q: Which is that one term which surpasses all the ironies around you?
A: Unbeliever.

The term is used mercilessly by the Christians to identify anybody who doesn’t believe in the myths and prejudices formulated at Vatican.

Many of you would disagree with me if I tell you what I feel about it. A person who chose not believe in something he hasn’t seen or felt being branded, by a bunch of people who believe in something which is intangible in its superlative form, as an unbeliever! Isn’t that the most ironic thing you have ever come across?

I am just putting my thoughts on paper (e-paper). Arguments and abuses are not welcome. This post isn’t posted with the intention of sparking up any controversies. I felt so, hence I wrote so. That is it. Amen (now that should be comforting).

Heat wave...

Posted by Hello hot! hot! hot!

It was 8 p.m. at night and I was shouting out abuses at the top of my lungs to a very perplexed Hyderabadi room mate of mine. Every night, apart from my cigarette and a visit to the toilet, watering my mattress (YESSS…U HEARD ME RITE!) has also become routine work. You get some solace out of the fact that you can sleep on the terrace at nights. Delhi has answers for that too. I have just caught up with my sleep and at around 3 a.m. in the morn, a time when the greediest of thieves are sleeping, a trickle of rain. I pick up my bag n baggage n run in.

Fortunately for me, it did not rain yesterday. I had a sound sleep on the terrace. An interesting fact about the terrace which I forgot to mention; this most coveted piece of concrete during late evenings, can toast you into delicious human kebab in the mornings or afternoons!

In the mean time, my neighbour, a worn out Delhiite, tried to console me. Her words of consolation were more of an intimidating statement than anything else. "It is absolutely okay. It is the Loo(the hot wind from the Thar desert) that is going to be the worst part of the summers." Yeah right. If this is not bad, Loo sounded fatal. It seems, during the Loo, there will be heavy sandstorms, literal heat-waves; there will be simultaneous rain and hail. Wonderful isn’t it? Simply put, lying on a frying pan under an ice shower.

Indian constitution is supposed to have been made by picking the best from all the other constitutions. Delhi seems to be a stark contrast. It has the worst of all. It takes in the burning sand storm from Rajastan during the summers;( can’t disappoint winters right?) during the winters, freezing winds from Jammu blows in to make lives miserable. Pardon me for wondering whether I am on Earth itself. This is unheard of, some kind of punishment for some godforsaken thing I did in my previous birth, if there ever was one.


Posted by Hello dreaming to dare!

Walking along the banks of the Amazon, alongside the pyramids of Egypt, watching the sun set beyond the Himalayas, enjoying the environmental inexplicability of Switzerland, making way through the wind swept prairies and above all hand in hand with the girl I love. Practically impossible, due to obvious geographical constraints. This is a dream .to be precise - this is my dream.

Dream is one limitless allowance that Mother Nature has bestowed upon us inferior mortals. Is there a person without dreams or is there anybody who hasn’t had a dream all life? If you have met anyone who claims to be one in the former categories, he lied. In this very conventional world, there is hardly anyone who can boast of doing everything he wants, in the way he wants it to be done. There are limitations.Take the case of my little but extravagant dream. In my ‘not so ambitious’ dream, I wish to be present in five continents all at once. 'A little greedy, close to impossibility', would say Napoleon Bonaparte, if he were to be present. Unfortunately he wasn’t immortal or else he would have had second thoughts about his so-called infamous saying - 'Impossible is found only in the dictionary of fools.' If you still stick to your ego, try to make this possible Mr. Little Corporal.

Though the above mentioned feature of my intercontinental presence may seem very unlikely, under the present circumstances, my hand in hand travel with my girlfriend seems to be a tougher task to endeavour. All the geographical boundaries and the girl’s father may prevent me from doing whatever I plan to do with her. Try stopping me from dreaming that out, Oh, you mighty ones. Anything you want to do, close your eyes and there it is right in front of you. As Janos Arnay once said - ‘In dreams and in love, there are no impossibilities.’ I do agree with the former one of the entities. Love is unpredictable, but never incredible.

Dreams are considered to be attributes of mere talkers and not doers; but can you imagine a life without dreams. A life where there are always boundaries ,limits ,restrictions ; where we can't do what we really want to do; where there are no ridiculous fantasies of our childhood. Dreamless life is like a wingless bird - though certain birds have impossible flight routes like the one in the first paragraph. I don’t fully agree with some of my friends saying stuff like ‘dare to dream.’ There is nobody who can stop you from dreaming, so what is it with daring to dream. Close your eyes, that is all you got to do, and surrender to your darkest dreams!

Zombie Dhaba

Posted by Hello stereotyped!

Delhi has more dhabas than there are Maruti 800s. They fall into a very monotonous group of institutions where you are almost sure to find a 15 yr old north east Indian, a poor replacement for a ‘Sardarji’ in a Punjabi speaking 6 footer and an antique piece of a tandoori stove. All these elements in place, you have a sweet, old, Delhi dhaba.

Those were the days when I used to go to any extent to tell my family back home that I am having three square meals in 24 hours. What did my every meal consist of; I left to their optimistic imaginations.

It stood there, a few hundreds meters before the first 'Golchakkar' as you travel from the Nehru Place fly-over towards Govindpuri. It blended beautifully into its surroundings, neatly camouflaged, which included a few lanes, a grocery shop, a very prominent ‘Aggarwals’ and dozens of indistinguishable brethren.

Every single person in the Dhaba, including the customers, would fit into any of those Hollywood horror flicks without much effort. I went there once, probably twice, or you can rather say that my pocket persuaded me to go there. Once inside, a one eyed waiter and the cook with six fingers on his right hand( the one with which he mercilessly slapped the roti on the inner walls of the tandoori stove) intimidated me into having food in the shortest span of time ever recorded and get the hell out of the place. Every time I asked for a roti, he would come to me with an expression so menacing as if I had asked him whether I could sleep with his sister. I finished the entire meal without taking a sip of water. I was almost certain that he would chop me off and shove me into the stove if I had asked him to get me a bottle of Bisleri from across the street. I paid the bill, and not waiting for the change, rushed home to live happily ever after.

Had to end this abruptly. Even the narration is scaring the shit out of me. Speaking of which, I am a courageous man.

My definition of a bad day - in a nut shell!

Posted by Hello me at the end of the day

09:21 PM 7/25/03

note: This is a true story and has got everything to do with a person living not so perfectly well and not dead by any means.

A bad day by my standards is when... You wake up in the morning and realize that you can’t get off your bed due to a back pain that is killing you. After immense pressure from the parents and a mini-battle, you decide to go to the doctor and find out that he is busy and will be back only after 30 minutes. You decide to spend the time in a very industrious manner like surfing and go to a net-cafe and My oh My, the highly reliable electricity board has given you the privilege of working with a computer without an electric supply(UPS unavailable). You curse the board and get out and run into a very unfriendly man in uniform who informs you that you are riding without insurance and gives you an opportunity to part with 500 units of your hard earned money. You are also shown the way home, which you are supposed to cover on your feet. A meagre 2.5 kms! You get home and realize that you are not very eagerly awaited by your parents who had somehow come to know about the whole incident and push you out of home for paying the insurance. You find out that the person who could have saved you from the plight has just been transferred and you are all ready to part with your (your dad's) money. You rush to pay your insurance (a dragging 15 km) and get to the office to find out that the man at the counter needs your father's signature to pass the insurance. You rush to your father's office(15 km yet again) and is very much unwelcome, get the signature and rush on eagerly. You get there and are struck by the fact that, the man at the counter is demanding an amount of money which is beyond the 'then scope' of your purse. He ushers you out and asks you to pay the full amount. This time he gives you a time limit for covering the grueling 15km, as it is closing time. You are prepared to take the fastest ride of your life to get the money and soon find out that you have to take that ride in heavy rain and ... you don’t have a raincoat. Bravely you take up the challenge and rush to your nearest friend to find out that (the guy who carries around cash at all the times unnecessary) he is totally broke becoz he had to fill petrol in his bike which was running around with a cool 9 ltrs the day before. You are stranded and decide to go to an acquaintance of yours and unfortunately neither she nor her mom is home. You go back to the insurance company and you are fired and you are asked to return after two days. You return home wondering what could be worse. You get the answer as you get home. You have just forgotten to get a couple of your documents laminated to intensify your dad's anger. You go through all this and decide to get to bed and your back pain, in a worse manner, gives you a wake up call. And over all of it you come to know that a few of your very good friends are leaving and you might not be seeing them for a very loooooonggg... time.

If the greatest of the optimists were to be around, they would tell you that there is going to be a better tomorrow. You have an answer for them too. It is becoz ... the most irritating of all human beings is coming to town the next day.

Closing this nutshell hoping that Mr. Bobby Mcferrin does not come before me singing, 'Dont worry , Be happy' , after you have been through a day like this. Now you, don’t give me that crap about smiling all day. Hasn't the damn nutshell broken yet ???

Moral of the story : Friday the 25th may prove to be as equally disastrous as Friday the 13th

(9:54 PM 7/25/03)

Kerala – Welcome to heaven’s neighbourhood

Posted by Hello nature at its best!
Unlike a lot of people who flaunt on their t-shirts the pride they derive from being born in a particular country, I kept my mouth shut. I guess it is time to give vent to all that was suppressed.

Lived in Kerala for nearly 2 decades without realizing what I was blessed with. When the time came to cross the borders in pursuit of education, I was thrilled to leave the cage which had held me captive for over 20 years. Kept me away from the wonders of the northern, eastern, western and to some extent, southern part of India, I relished the departure. The frog had managed to jump out of the well. ‘The grass is always greener on the other side.’

The moment I stepped out of the train, 3000 kms from the apparently detestable land, I realized how wrong I was. The moment I put my foot on the Nizam-ud-din railway platform, I started missing my homeland. Every time I tore a ‘roti’ apart, I missed Kerala; every time I drank a ‘lemonade-masala marke’(spiced up lemonade), I missed Kerala.; every time I talked to friend in Hindi, I missed Kerala; every time I listened to a song about rain, I missed Kerala; every time I hailed a taxi, I missed Kerala; every time I closed my eyes I missed Kerala; every time I took a breath, I missed Kerala; every moment I was alive…I missed Kerala. I never realized what I had before being miles away from it.

They did not name Kerala ‘god’s own country’ for nothing. Kerala reminds you of a pampered child, in this case, one pampered by the almighty with all the beauty of nature one could have asked for. One of those rare dreams that came true, you have to be there to believe it.

The oldest medicinal form in the world; the pungent aroma of spices in the air; the shrills and cries of 50 men tearing through the backwaters in never-ending boats; Lovely damsels who visit the temple, in the evenings, with jasmines in their hair and clad in ‘Kasavu Mundu’ giving the mermaids a complex; resplendence of, arguably the most colourful festival on earth – ‘Thrissur Pooram’; the toddy shops which serve the best sea food on the planet; Coconut trees which outnumber any other living plant form around; An early 70s melody playing in one of those shops where they serve you hot ‘Puttu and Kadala’; a procession which is studded with red flags; a language which only half a percent of the world’s population can speak, which has the most mind boggling tongue twisters as alphabets, still loved by over 45 million; a few things that await you as you travel across to this little state, in the south western corner of India. 5000 years of culture preserved in just over 38,000 square kms, Kerala brims with heritage beyond frontiers.

You will find it hard to find most of the things that I’ve mentioned, if you visit Kerala. These are some things which no boundary can hold, no tour guides can lead you to. These are things that you can find only in warm corners within this state - the hearts of Keralites; No…in the hearts of ‘Malayalees.’

‘God did not rest on the seventh day. He was busy working on this.’

Sleepless in New Delhi

Posted by Hello that's her

There are a thousand things you can lose your sleep over- from your neighbour's success to your girlfriend's cleavage. Why has it got to be this?

SLAPPPP!!! 12 down, I wonder how many more to go! I stared at the ceiling, the only thing I had been doing for the past so many hours apart from the mosquito massacre. If there is god and if he were to appear before me and ask me for one single wish... I wouldn't ask for a longer life, a fatter wallet or a prettier wife. I would plead him for a mosquito free summer inDelhi.

I made most of my kills on my forehead. I simply cant understand what these mosquitos have for my forehead. I have a broad one and it is not very full of blood. Why not my 'bloody' buttocks? Why my forehead? Since the mosquitos cannot understand my language and vice versa, I guess the answer shall go unanswered to my grave.

Mmmmmm..... The most irritating music second only to Britney Spears in its unbearable nature - Mosquito Melody. Why fancy my ear? There are a couple of more good looking, equally well functioning pair of ears right next to mine. Why not those? He might be a music lover too. She just wouldn't understand( the mosquito).

You leave me no choice dear. I am no Gandhi or Christ to feed the mosquito till she is chubby and fat. If any of you animal rights people have problems, take her home, give her all the blood you want. If you cannot do that, just keep your freaking mouths shut and mind your equally disgusting business. Slapppppp! Dead. Death of another one of those obnoxious creatures. I am going to get some sleep now. My hands are too bloody for the day.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... Darn u!

Portrait on water

Posted by Hello 'moment of realisation'
Definitely sounds stupid, doesn't it. How can anybody draw anything, anything at all, on water of all things ? It was when crossing a watery mass - a lake - that this impossibilty struck me. Wouldn't water be a fantastic background for any painting. I haven't seen any material work until now, but visualisation has had its effects on me.

I was lying when I said about not seeing any paintings on water. I have seen the most picturesque of views on water. I am not suffering from schizophrenia nor have I been struck on the head by this inconceivable idea of painting on water. In fact all of us have seen these sceneries. Still wondering what I am talking about ? Reflections. What else ? Water, due to its lustre, reflects almost every ray of light thrown upon it. Hence I have seen the pictures of every visible object from the mother of all powers - The sun, to the most insignificant of the natural entities, yep, that is me.

That was the first portrait I came upon. It was all wrinkled and disfigured. A stone is dropped upon it, it disappears into little geometric sculptures (has this guy gone crazy? First paintings on water, now sculptures!).Ripples. Yeah, that is what I was talking about. The image appears after the troubled water turns calm again. This little 'at-the-first-sight' unimportant phenomenon has a lot to do with real life. Isn't this what happens to all of us? When there are troubles we run away from them and return when everything is over, return to face life, rather than trying to face them straight, if the troubles were to be personified that is.

The other factor is the comparison of the portrait with a person's character. He changes with the change in waves (circumstances), light (fortune) and other disturbances( troubles). His thoughts and behaviour are so very temporary. He is malleable and tends to bend under pressure. He forgets relationships out of self centeredness and greed. He tramples everything in his path, regardless of bonds, to become what he wants to be or achieve his selfish goals. His life becomes a 'lone wolf' race, where there is only one winner and that is him. He will loot, cheat, betray, plunder or kill to get there. That is the way the modern man lives. He becomes so mechanical, so insensitive and void of emotions. In the end he becomes a portrait - So very life like , yet so lacking in life. His character so fickle makes him - a portrait on water.

Whisky thirsty!

Posted by Hello Manna!

Have you ever been thirsty for Whisky? I have been and am curious to know whether I have lost the battle against intoxicants. I clearly remember a day when I preferred a glass of iced whisky to a glass of iced water. Can this be rated as perversion?

There is something about whisky that makes it so drinkable. During my initial drinking days, whisky was a luxury (with some weird taxes Kerala government imposed). Rum used to be every Keralites' delight, something we dared not to think beyond.

Delhi has spoilt me with its ridiculously low liquor rates (I stunned a friend of mine to death when I went back home, entered a bar, and ordered a whisky). Unlike Vodka, whisky is good when taken dry, on the rocks, with water, soda or cold beverages including iced tea. It is not all that bad even when taken warm.

Whisky takes you on slowly, unlike rum which hits you as if are in the middle of a street brawl; whisky is like much awaited bondage, something you would succumb to. Directors Special Black for me has become synonymous with whisky. (I remember trashing a glass of Bacardi for a Johnnie Walker at a party) Scotch is heavenly, let me not talk about it till I am within reach or rather it is within reach. I would hide behind brand loyalty when it comes to my passion or hidden desire for scotch. It is like committing yourself to your girlfriend just because you know that things working out between Katie Holmes and you is not something that will happen in the near(being optimistic) future.

That’s it about whisky. I might add on when I am high.