Wednesday, November 18, 2009

M !

M. Yes, M. No, not that M. This M.

Yes folks. At long last, yours truly has decided enough is enough and its best to tie the knot and pester a woman apart from my M.

Ergo, Ladies and Gentlemen allow me to introduce the lady. R.

And to quote a very dear (albeit dormant) friend – “So help me God”.D-Day is Nov 27.

So all my friends of the blog world – Cyn, Mr. Shenoy, Sharell,Ms. Vodka, Rohini, Mettakau, Priya and the One, Ms. L - the warmest of welcome and the hottest of J are awaiting you !

Sunday, November 8, 2009

My personal Anthem !

Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya,
Har Fikar Ko Dhuen Mein Udata Chala Gaya.
Barbadiyon Ka Shok Manana Fizul Tha,
Barbadiyon Ka Shok Manana Fizul Tha,
Barbadiyon Ka Jashan Manata Chala Gaya.
Har Fikar Ko Dhuen Mein Uda...

Jo Mil Gaya Usi Ko Muqaddar Samajh Liya,
Jo Mil Gaya Usi Ko Muqaddar Samajh Liya,
Jo Kho Gaya Maein Usko Bhulata Chala Gaya.
Har Fikar Ko Dhuen Mein Uda...

Gham Aur Khushi Mein Farq Na Mehsoos Ho Jahan,
Gham Aur Khushi Mein Farq Na Mehsoos Ho Jahan,
Main Dil Ko Us Muqaam Pe Laata Chala Gaya !
Har Fikar Ko Dhuen Mein Uda...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Outsider

The time has come,
and not a moment too soon.
Onward I march,
straight into the inky unknown.
Friends,hopes and failures,
in full measure I found.
A new mask,a different ocean,
is where I now belong.

So save your farewells,
for on me they sit lightly.
The light has shone,the torch has passed;
Irreverent or Irrelevant,the outsider has moved on.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bow to conquer …

In today’s fast paced world, can old-time values survive? This is what I learnt, from the most unlikely of teachers.

Sometime back, I took a trip to Blore for S’s housewarming. A day off from work spent sauntering across Blore with nothing in hand, soaking in S’s wonderful hospitality and a promise of yummy Bengali food was too irresistible to miss. Thus I found myself staring at an ornate door some 600 km away from home, at the royal hour of 5:51 AM on a Wednesday.

Fast forward to the actual housewarming. The beauty of India is her culture (a dumb cliché, but its 1AM and I’ve been working all day. I’m so drained, I’m writing two sentences here rather than use the DELETE key…) My only experience of Bengali culture have been the rosogolla (K.C Das) and a Durga puja I attended in Chennai. But I digress. The fact is that the average Indian, and that includes the Bengalis too are so wonderfully charming in their rites and rituals. The invocation to the gods by a rotund pujari, known/unknown aunties and uncles swapping notes, and the combined “youth” looking out of the balcony waiting for the food to arrive sums up the typical ritual experience. But I gott brave enough, and wandered into the proceeding and sat in the puja; and it was quite wonderful. This gave rise to a related problem. What do you say to an aunty next to you some 4 decades your senior, unknown by face and speaking an unfamiliar language? You smile broadly perhaps, teeth and all. And that’s what I did –to all and sundry, including the pujari.

As an aside, I found that the invocation in a Bengali ceremony including the continuous chanting of the sacred Gayatri mantra. Down south, I have not come across open chants – instead my upanayanam had me inside a silk shawl of sorts with my Dad, who initiated me to the mantra in a whisper. Most interesting.

Sometime along this time, N entered the proceedings. A flashback here, courtesy inputs from the host – N is the good chum of S from college. Along with V, whom I’m yet to have the pleasure of meeting, they formed the Unholy Trinity and tormented all of Bangalore’s collegiate population in the last millennium. But fear not - they have reformed and lead respectable lives and careers.

Thankfully for me, I soon managed to hit upon the stars of the day – S’s niece S and N’s son V. Rather, they “hit” upon me. Somehow, both kids got it into their minds that I was perhaps a good high-five coach/ punching bag. Soon enough, both of them were putting their calories to good use and beating me to pulp. And I loved it. And that was just one of the many activities they undertook – running around the house, crying for food (yes, coming in the next para), asking forthright questions etc. etc. At which point of time, one lonely black “DRA-GUN” with bloodshot eyes was discovered with typical entreaties to the kids to keep silent lest he gobbled us all up. In short, this was the typical Indian ritual.

If somebody told me that the Bengalis were the sweetest people on earth, I would second the thought. The food was lip-smacking and sweet. Quite an effort in the first helping, but one gives in by the second, and is raving from the third onwards. That perhaps was the number of raids that S (S’s friend from the bank, a guy) and I participated in. And each raid brought yummy booty. From puri with mango, sweetened dal with rice and subzi and the most delectable sweets they had us begging for more.

Post lunch and general gupshup ensued. The wonderful home, stock market crash, Bengal updates, rains in Bangalore (and the absence thereof in Chennai) were all animatedly discussed. The kids got all fidgety and the DRA-GUN was fast losing his bite. At which point of time, the rains broke and a walk to the play area followed. Post this, it was tea time and soon folks had to depart for home. It had been wonderful till then, but the best was yet to unfold. As N turned to leave, little V reached out to me sitting on the floor and bade me to get up. Thinking he wanted an escort to the door, I gladly complied. At which point of time the young feller in a flash quickly bent and touched my feet.

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t choked. It has never been this way- but perhaps in a long, long time I was touched by a simple gesture of a little child that I’d just met. N explained that V was taking leave of me with a “Namaste”. I did not know what to say – perhaps a little longer and a tear or two would have made an entry. I don’t know why – perhaps sometimes people just make you happy and you express it by crying. But I didn’t and that’s the way it is.

The day wound up with S’s dad taking care I got onto the correct bus back home. There is so much I’ve left out in this account- Uncle’s old world charm, Aunty’s excellent house management skills and their hospitality and all the other things that go to make a great day. But then its simple gestures like those of V that really speak a lot. As a “consulting detective” put it:

"My dear Watson, you as a medical man are continually gaining light as to the tendencies of a child by the study of the parents. Don't you see that the converse is equally valid. I have frequently gained my first real insight into the character of parents by studying their children. - "The Adventure of the Copper Beeches"

N and V must be proud of their son and justifiably so. And so for the first time, I deviate from my “no-names” policy on this blog. Ladies and gentlemen – please put your hands together for Vinay A Kamath.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hamam mein sab…

The global economic crisis has claimed many victims, but perhaps the greatest blow of them all has been to the aura of invincibility of the developed world. Indeed, from the “Asian crisis” in 1997 where the IMF and United States played a key role in advising, cajoling and sometimes demanding prudent free-market economic solutions, to a scenario where an open discussion on the future of the US Dollar as the world’s reserve currency is no longer seen as the talk of fringe communists, the world has indeed come a long way. (And that was a long sentence too!)

So are the days of laissez-faire over? Hardly, in my opinion. On the contrary, this economic crisis perfectly mirrors the fallibility of man – one part optimism, two parts euphoria, a violent dash of lunacy and a tinge of stoicism- not necessarily in that sequence and definitely not in proportion.

The only people who have been laughing their way to the bank have been men like him, him and him. These were the pessimists who decried the “go-go” attitude in the financial markets. To be fair to them, the writing has been on the wall (or on the charts) for a really long time, and even when they tried to voice their opinion, all they were met with was a few yawns of incredulity, or some hand-wringing at the most. Who can fault them for taking advantage of what seems foolish in hindsight?

India itself appears to have weathered this storm with relative comfort. But this has not been due to amazing government clairvoyance or the sagacity of the stock-market seers. The reason for this has been the attitude of the ordinary man – the wisdom of the middle class to save for a rainy day, not spend more than they need and provide for the education of the next generation – an investment that has always delivered handsome returns.

Will these attitudes sustain the consumerist culture? As long as common sense prevails, yes. If they do not, the hope is that society will still function as a safety net to restore the fallen to health. Or perhaps the government will get its act together to provide one, just as they have wisely decided in this instance.

Oh-but what of the title? It has been inspired by this article I read recently. While the motivation to create such an index does make for somber reading, perhaps now all shall agree definitively that we are in the same hot-house. After all, Mr. Market told us so!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Born Again !

From slumber I rose on this day,
Mastering tricky hypotenuses and holding Euclid at bay !
A quick breakfast, and when that was done,
Ready I was for my place under the sun.

We walked together to the polling booth,
Quiet and confident in this single truth,
That while leaders may sneer and stoop to connect,
Today was the day we got to kick their bucket !

I reached the threshold and waited without comment,
All around me, the world moved like a sea in torrent.
What seemed like just another day at office,
Was for me, the evidence of a strong edifice.

There they sat, unsung officials of the Election Commission,
Amongst musty files and heat without remission.
All here because they believed in the same dream,
that ordinary hands and humble voices can maketh a team.

Tattered, rusty and frayed at the edges India might be,
but with determination and a prayer on our lips we strongly believe.
I shed my prejudices and cynical refrain,
The Kingdom of God was before me and I was Born Again !

PS: Inspired by John 3:3-
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

PPS: A most unique day was 5/13.I dreamt of solving geometry problems.Analyze that ?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Pakistanis are coming…home?

I have for long wished to travel across North India. For the quintessential “thair sadam” (curd rice) type that I am, the North comes across as robust as the amazing paranthas that I’ve savored in my hostels. The friends I’ve made from these parts amaze me with their irrepressible spirit and their zest for life. And the love to live it large perhaps cuts across states -be it the fierce warriors of Rajputana, the earthy UP/Bihari/Jat bhaiyyas or the Punjabis with their ready smile (I’m thinking of dear D and her spouse here!)

Then why did Partition happen?

Was it the hunger for fertile land that drove the madness? Or of men coveting the warm bosoms that were not theirs to embrace? A natural cycle of bloodshed to fertilize the land of the five rivers? Or was History shuffling the cards of social structure –for a fresh game of gin-rummy?

These thoughts rise in my mind in the light of the disturbing incidents that have occurred recently in the NWFP of Pakistan. An immensely strategic region, the use of religion to address perceived and real inequalities and the transition of the old order to the new; all of them together these make a deadly combination. Add to this a powerful foreign power, much maligned after eight years of war-weariness – and you have conditions eerily similar to the pre-Partition era.

The responses to this situation are far from being different. While all concerned parties acknowledge the severity of the problem, far too little is being done to contain it. A concession to the democratic elements in this jigsaw –it is far too unlikely that they have the strength to overcome these forces, weakened as they are by the systematic abuse over the years.

So why should India be concerned? Or involved? Is it not “their” problem? Did “they” not choose Pakistan over India? Or wage war through all means overt and covert through the years? Khalistan, Kashmir and God knows where else – are these not “their” bogeys?

While such extremist thought is admittedly a minority, from most Indians there is little response but tut-tutting. One hopes the Indian administration does not believe in a similar response. The need of the hour is to be fully integrated in a meaningful response – in poker terms we need to go “all in”.

Such a response is justified on several fronts. First, history has shown us that a restive North-West has been the bugbear of stability in the sub-continent. Alexander, Ghazni, Mughals, Mongols, Huns and the list goes on when we discuss the groups who have invaded India through this region. These and other invasions have no doubt created a composite culture, but what has been the tremendous cost to stability?

On an immediate basis, the Af-Pak has turned into a hub of terror; a fact not lost on any world power. As long as this is allowed to thrive any hope of peace and economic goodwill for the countries is a fleeting illusion at best. There is tremendous potential for sustained commercial opportunities here and for this peace has to reign.

Lastly, and importantly, Pakistan has perhaps never been our enemy. Pakistan represents the futility of believing that in the long run, politics can successfully deviate from the will of the people. The cry for freedom was full-throated- from the maulvi and the pandit alike. Partition was a horrific mistake, a tremendous miscalculation and a disastrous compromise. Far from been resolved, trouble has re-emerged with a vengeance and impacted the world irreparably, igniting a “clash of civilizations”. Today Pakistan is in danger of disintegrating into pieces, triggering a second movement of refugees, a reverse Partition of sorts. Does India have a policy and the resources to provide them with solace? And importantly, will India find the reservoir of goodwill to treat Pakistanis for who they really are – brothers estranged for the last 60 years?

The time has come to recognize Partition for what it essentially was – an illusion. For India has to emerge intact, she has to embrace Pakistan in full – body and soul.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Once in the realm of sleepy thought,
I wandered, and was soon accosted by the God Janus.
A question rose, and an answer I sought,
"What shall be of the lands named after the Indus ?"
"Fear not",spake He "for your past has been glorious
And your future like the sun shines bright.
But your present shall continue to be labourious,
as long as your people sleep in broad daylight."

Friday, February 13, 2009

Why don't I enter politics ?

I love Def Leppard,JBJ,Floyd,Dire Straits and ColdPlay- to sweep the urban yuppie vote

I believe in opening a door for a lady, saying(and meaning) please and thank you- hopefully the women vote

I earned my spurs making money for people(and me)- thats for the business vote

I hail from a modest background,love the land and am proud of it- the rural vote

I've been in fist fights and smashed teeth successfully- the doodh-badam aur lathi vote

You wont believe the previous line if you meet me- the military vote

I'm a veggie, no booze or ciggies - the brahmin/buddhist/jain/vegan vote

I don't have a problem if you eat meat, smoke and drink - the rest of us vote

I'm bald - that will get me the 40+ vote

What am I waiting for?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The last of the Bushisms ?

"And like that he was gone. Underground. No one has ever seen him again." - Kevin Spacey, "The Usual Suspects" (1994)

On this day, when the whole world turned out for the Obama inaugural party, I tried to imagine what President Bush was thinking. Was it his legacy that worried him ? Or clearing brush at crawford from tomorrow ? Unease about the nameless enemies who shall stalk him ?

Or was he just glad it was all over ?

I looked up Bush's inaugural speech today and compared it to that of President Obama(remember the suffix!).Both speeches were from the BBC's website. Strangely, I thought I discovered a lot of similarities.The same reference to the American way of life,freedom,democracy,removal of racial injustice,leading the world,reference to American history among others. Of course, they did have significant differences. Bush spoke of weapons of mass destruction, war and had more biblical references. Obama spoke about the crisis, reaching out, global warming, non-believers and promised radical action.

And all that I agonize over is this - Will Obama influence history or shall he be swayed by it? Bush signed the No Child left behind Act,called Darfur "genocide", and led an ill-fated attempt to tackle the illegal immigration issue square on its face. But perhaps his most unsung hurrah is the huge aid that he oversaw for AIDS relief in Africa,not to mention the loan waivers for the struggling countries there.And for those who crow about the financial mess that Bush caused, one might want to read this statement from the 2007 report of the US treasury on hedge funds - "As we noted in 1999, "[i]n our market-based economy, market discipline of risk-taking is the rule and government regulation is the exception.We look forward to further progress as these principles continue to inform our actions and strengthen our vibrant capital markets."

Yet,think of Bush and the most defining moments shall seem 9/11,Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and the Katrina disaster.

Hopefully, Pres.Obama will fare better, and history will take a less jaundiced view of Bush's years at the White House. In his inaugural speech, Bush spoke of "the American story - a story of flawed and fallible people, united across the generations by grand and enduring ideals."

He may have well been describing himself. Au revoir, Dubya.