Dec 27, 2010

The Time-Travel Airlines

"The environs are aesthetic and it’s a cool place to work" - this is what prompted Rajeev to opt for a job at the Mumbai airport. Lately, he has been questioning the worth of his job. "Am I really creating any value?", he thought. Giving boarding passes & allotting seats isn't too productive, he felt.

He is a well read person with a keen interest in general knowledge and politics. Rajeev has the habit of reading life journeys of successful people. He has been a big fan of Nandan Nilekani among the other corporate honchos and Dr. B. R. Ambedkar among the political heroes.

He stayed positive and tried to be aware of his daily chores to figure some worth out. One day, an idea struck him. It made him realize that he can be a perfect Puppet Master! That he can produce conversations that otherwise would be left to chances.

He can make a Muslim sit next to a Brahmin, a Priest next to a Model and a 5 year old next to a rock star. He tried this for a while and just imagined the possible discussions which might have happened in the flight. Like he made Mr. Ajay Joshi and Mr. Ashraf Khan sit next to each other and wished that they would constructively discuss about the religion and caste systems in India. The conversations happened, but however interesting they might have been, they could not reach him.

The idea, however, took a safe place in his mind.


Sleeping one night, he had a weird dream. He worked for the Time-Travel airlines, which sends people in the past to revisit their life. The good part of this dream is that the conversations did reach him, or rather, came through him.

Mr. Nilekani, appeared as a passenger in Rajeev's dream. Mr. Nandan Nilekani (Born 1955) approaches Rajeev to collect the boarding pass of a long flight, going in to the past, from 2010 to 1955. The flight took off. Jon Stewart met Nilekani (in 2009) to discuss about the talk show episode; Dr. Abdul Kalam met in 2006, who congratulated him for the Padma Bhushan feat. Narayan Murthy appeared and appointed him as the CEO of Infosys. Then Nilekani, in his young avatar, received his degree from the then Director of IIT Bombay.

All these conversations were flashes of Nilekani's important milestones of life. But, it was actually Rajeev's knowledge about Nilekani's life history that cobbled up as a dream. The dream till this point was not left to imaginative interpretations, except for an anonymous IIT Director who appeared as a 60 year old, fat, mid-sized man.

The idea kept at the safe place sparked at last. Rajeev made Dr. B.R. Ambedkar sit next to Nilekani.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar appeared in 1956, an year before Nilekani had to off board the flight. Ambedkar (1891-1956) was not looking well. He held the 1 year old Nilekani in his arms. He looked in to Nilekani's eyes and said "My work involved law making and policy formations. Such vital decisions are taken according to specific time frames. These decision don't hold true forever. Even Gandhi believed in this idea. I know that people will remember me for establishing caste reservations, but i do not want people to be remembered for their castes, not in the India i imagine. Don’t allow the future politicians to use caste reservation for politics, and certainly not for anything that could be a threat to the identity of a united India.”


Rajeev woke up and kept thinking about what Dr. Ambedkar said in the dream. A few days later, he had another dream. Nilekani appeared again as a passenger of the Time-Travel airlines. Only in this case, the flight was travelling to the future.

The flight took off in 2010. In 2011, Dr. Manmohan Singh congratulated Nilekani for the successful completion of the UID project. In 2012, Rajeev made Ajay Joshi and Ashraf Khan sit next to Nilekani. They took out their Unique Identity Cards and told Nilekani - "Sir, can you please get rid of this "Caste" section from our identity!"


Sep 5, 2010


In a white body-fit costume, she dances with a pattern, in a style not known to many. The music is slow with a soothing treble. She makes waves with the hands and the body. She doesn't move from where she stood but does take turns. The room is dark, the floor is white and the walls are that of some shiny crystal.

She looks elegant and suave. With a distinguished jaw-line, green eyes and a sharp nose, she conveys a lot, even without any facial expressions. The dance patterns are designed to convey a message.

She revolves on the toe-tip, squints her eyes and extends her hands towards a white table. She waves her palm towards a candle placed on top of the table. It lights up! In the dark room, a ray of light from the candle passes through a prism and colors scatter through it. It happens in a split-second but is observed slowly. She dances around and waves her palm as she swiftly lights up hundreds of candles in a few seconds with her magical sleight of hand. The crystal walls are made of prisms too, they produce a color carnival outside.

From a green landscape outside, an 8 year old girl looks at the wall. Her pupils dilate. With dropped jaws, she stares admirably at the spectacle. Through a window on the wall, she sees the candle. The view from behind her zooms out. The music builds up. The wall converts in to a rectangular TV screen. The candle morphs in to the TV's power button.

The music changes and the line reads - It loves your eyes. Return the favor! ..


PS: The dancer represents the company. The dance represents the research. The candle represents the technology. The prism wall, of course, represents the L.E.D Tv.

Aug 7, 2010

Bhavnagar ka Kung Fu Panda

Pidilite industries have a Science Center at Bhavnagar. I went there officially to introduce Robotics at their Center. It was a Sunday but the day was spent in a completely formal way, unlike any of my other Sundays. I was preparing to leave when they introduced me to the local cable channel guy who wanted to shoot our product and ask some questions. The formal day took a sudden u-turn.

He took 5 stair steps to come and greet me. Fighting for breath after this physical assault, he said "Vinay bhai let's go to the Studio. It is at the 3rd floor." "You go and make yourself comfortable. I will take sometime reaching up," said the 5' 5", Fat, Chatterbox Kung Fu Panda.

I went up. Camera and Cameraman were in place. I waited for 10 minutes. Panda came and exhaled volumes of air. The AC sensed the temperature difference, beeped and turned on the compressor. He was seeing spots and needed time to settle down. I waited for 5 more minutes. He stood up, closed the door and switched off the fans. Fine, he's canceling the external sound before shooting, I thought.

After this point, whatever happened made my feelings hover in a 3-D space. The parameters being Fear, Frustration and Fun.

(1,0,0): He started unbuttoning his shirt. The cameraman started smiling at me. That can't be fine, this place is perfectly set for any kind of shoot, I thought. I feared for the 4th possible F parameter. The cameraman sensed the 1 I assigned to Fear and pointed towards a polythene bag. It was a bright blood red shirt. Oh! The Interview Shirt, he's just changing, I thought. This was my turn to make the AC beep. People exhale after mental assaults too.

(0,1,0): In that red shirt, he looked like the imaginary son of Bappi Lahiri and Jayalalitha. With that get-up, he gave me some facing-the-camera and vocab tips. The tips vividly reminded me of Tusshar Kapoor and Inzamam-ul-haq respectively. So now, after the Whistling Woods training, the interview started. He asked me to keep a robot in hand and shot the first question: "Is this a new kind of laptop computer?" Stumped, I decided not to answer his questions and somehow convey about the company and its work.

(0,0,1): So the interview went like a 5th standard kid blurting the table of 2 when asked the value of square root of 2. One has got to say what one wants to say! In this case it didn't even matter as his only reply to my any answer was "arey Vinay bhai, kya baat boli hai." He stopped the camera thrice during the interview as I kept hiding my smile by scratching my nose. Each time, he gave me more tips. I then vividly remembered the likes of Kamaal Khan, Dabboo Malik, Rajiv Shukla and Arun Lal.

Then I got my chance. Panda made a weird face. I couldn't figure if he was trying to sneeze or yawn or cough. Half of his face was normal and the other half looked like that of a desperate bull looking out for party cows. I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and stopped the camera. Got a kick, trust me. I wanted to do that to the Panda too.

The Panda, however, stole the show with this: "arey Vinay bhai kya baat kar rahe ho .. mera camera facing side thode kharaab tha .. main peeche wale side se hi cheenk leta"

I laughed majestic-fanatic-gigantic-ally!


Jul 7, 2010

The so-called Gods

Middle class small town homes witness a lot of guests. The Mishras represent a generic set of hosts. The family: Housewife Mummy, Generous Papa, The 90% Chotu and the leader Pinki

It’s evening tea time at the Mishra’s and a 1989 Bajaj Chetak is feared to appear. The Maharana Pratap rides along and sitting behind on the saddle are his wife and 3 daughters. He is about to take the last turn for the Mishra Nivas. He pushes the 3 mm diameter horn and pulls the throttle simultaneously. It’s like whipping the horse while pulling the strings. This groovy mix results in a high pitch horse neigh, which signifies Chetak. The droopy buffalo around the corner moves an ear as a gesture of irrelevant recognition.

Pratap grooves it up 2 more times so Mishras shouldn’t be in for a surprise. Mummy cracks the code and adds more water for 5 extra cups of tea. She pours the water and grunts her teeth. Tired from the daily chores, she exhales and rightly predicts Pratap’s first words - “Arey bhabhiji, 5 cup aur .. ha ha ha”. Chotu throws his chess board and rushes downstairs with his latest report card. Pinki vanishes with the 3 daughters without saying a word to Pratap and wife. Papa hugs Pratap and says “aap hi ko yaad kar rahe they”. Wife delivers the fake Aishwarya laugh yet again. Mummy exhales yet again. Visitors are Gods, they say, she can’t ask them not to come.

Then begins the conversation. Pratap complements Papa for his kindness and warm heart. He praises Mummy for the excellent tea. He shows pride over smart Chotu and able Pinki. He then talks about a spectrum of personalities varying from Ram Dev Baba to Obama. Although, he always ends up talking about money. He helps Papa invest. He has been helping for years now. He is a Bank Manager, which Papa knows and he works part time as an investment agent, which is a secret.

But Mummy knows everything. She knows why Papa is being praised. She knows that the Maharana Pratap would want to come again for some reason and will compliment even better next time. She knows that Papa is unaware - It’s a duty, a part of their life to get a stamp of goodness and character from him. She knows that Mishras are emotional fools.

She knows that Manmohan Singh has a balanced head and heart. She also knows that Pranab will show a good report card and that Chidambaram will lead smart. But she just understood why Obama praises Manmohan Singh each time there’s an Indian journalist around. She has now learnt that majority of Indians are also emotional fools - that they go gaga on such praises. Not all visitors are Gods, she knows!


May 4, 2010

MS Dhoni

I had been a fluctuating fan of Saurav Ganguly till the curve went -ve a few years back. Then came a rustic man with long dry hairs. Since then, my graph of fannature is as straight as that of a dead man's heart beat. Lately, the ECG instrument has only tilted up - the graph is now straight and rising, no ups and downs!

I am talking about the cricket captains that India and I have witnessed and I am completely biased towards MS. He is a visionary, a strategist and an executor. While others plant trees, he plants seeds; which is correct both linguistically and symbolically!

In tense situations Azhar chewed, Sachin screwed and Dada threw. MS likes it tense, that's his comfort zone. Many cynics say he is lucky. And then when Harbhajan pulls for a six at third man, they say that luck favors the brave.

I saw him in action a few days back. I was fortunate to get a seat at the IPL Final. It was Mumbai Indians vs Chennai Super Kings and Sachin vs MS. MI was down and Pollard came to the rescue. He hit some sixes.

The man has got strings inside his gloves. The other 10 on the field are wire-lessly controlled by each of his 10 fingers. MS moved Hayden to mid-off. Haydos smiled and said hello to his confused team mate at long off. MS laid the trap, Haydos took the catch & Pollard was off to Caribbean. This was a first of its kind, marvelously rare tactic.

At the presentation ceremony, Ravi Shastri was dying to discuss this move with MS. MS responds: "No rocket science, the big hitters of the world don't play sweep or reverse sweep shots! .. why waste fielders at those positions. I had tried this on Hayden himself at some of the practice matches and it works"

Now just observe this:

At the closing ceremony, Sachin said nice things about the crowd & MI's performance in IPL-3, specially mentioned about Pollard & Tiwary and congratulated CSK for their deserving win.

MS said nice things about the crowd & CSK's performance in IPL-3, specially mentioned about Raina and Ashwin and congratulated Sachin for his performance. Then he talked about the upcoming T20 World Cup. He said that the IPL is getting bigger and bigger and that the office bearers have to raise the benchmarks every consecutive year. Finally, he mentioned that the CSK team will change in the next IPL auction so he will miss being with the same team ..

.. BIG picture, always - Mahendra Singh Dhoni, for you!


Mar 8, 2010

DD National and The Better God

Weary eyes were overpowering my will to go for the TV remote, lying 1 meter away from me. I picked the remote after it struck me that the one day match between India and South Africa was to take place that day - Feb 24.

I browsed through the channels in RGV horror movies style. My eyes were looking for some blue amidst green and my ears were anticipating the great Indian uproar/some child plan ad. After a while, i succeeded. My eyes automatically went to the top left corner for the score. The weary eyes doubled in size and luminosity after a glance at the score. I raised the volume to enjoy the uproar. Indians produce this Jungle music when Sachin, in his nineties, takes a single. Just then i heard the word "Khuda-na-khasta".

My heart beat went down. It was some Hindi-Urdu commentary on the platter and the dialect was straight from the Mughal era. With complete disbelief in the idea of entertainment i looked at the top right corner of the TV. There it was - the hallucinating logo of DD National. DD stands for Door-Darshan, which in Hindi means something metaphorically close to hallucination! I sunk in to the logo for a second before my consciousness revived back to self-consciousness.

So i browsed again, this time not for the blue-green and the uproar, but for the correct logo (Neo Sports) on the top right corner. Sadly, NEO Sports was not there. I came back to DD and out of disgust threw the remote 10 meters away. I decided to try and focus more on the uproar than on the commentary. Here are some excerpts as a proof of my intrinsic disgust:

1. On Sachin approaching 100, given that his total no. of centuries in Tests+One Days were also approaching 100: "Shatkon ka shatak lagane ke liye apne aaj ke shatak ki taraf badhte shatakveer Sachin. Jaise hum roz chai peete hain, ye shatak lagate hain"
2. On Kallis, after he bowls a slower delivery: "Lagta hai Kallis DD National ki commentary sun rahe hain. Maine abhi kaha ki ye slow bowl acchi dalte hain aur inhone daal di"
3. On a pending 3rd umpire decision on Sachin for a run-out when he was on 157: "Person1: 'Poora hindustan pareshani mein hai - aap bhi lag rahe hain - apne pair kyun hila rahe hain' .. Person2: 'Aji pair kya cheez hai - jab Sachin musibat mein hote hain toh sab kuch hil jata hai!' "

Sachin was now in 190s. The commentator had started shouting his lungs out. Urdu was now impossible to decipher. Hindi turned into Sanskrit. Mughal era became the Mahabharata era. I pitied on the wet mic. I now realized why they never show the commentator's face on DD National.

I couldn't take it now. My ears were bleeding. I felt like sitting at the Hard Rock Cafe with a 70's Transistor on full volume. I hated God for the situation i was in, but it was the magical Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar displaying his masterclass, for whom it was all worth it. He took the final run, reached 200, raised his bat for one more time and looked at the sky for one more time. Only this time he asked God, "Howzzat?".

For a moment, i didn't listen to the public uproar or the screaming commentator because he stood there - The Better God, asking all my neurons to focus on signals from him, which unfortunately were only the visuals ! ..

Feb 6, 2010

The Accident of Life

Scene A

"But i have been saving for SX4 for the last 2 years", shouted Aman, at his wife Asha. She wanted a Fiat Linea. After heated arguments for 2 months on which car to buy, he had no option but to give her a surprise gift of SX4. A surprise that wasn't, that too on a Sunday. To cool her down he gave her another surprise: "Look i have got "Asha" printed on the Car"

He got his return-gift as follows: "I told you to buy me a Linea", "So what if i don't drive", "AND you got the Black model, I was hoping you would at least go for White", "Ya, but at least the color would have made me a little happy", "Shut up!, that's just my name printed in White", "Now don't request me to not cry", "No you don't care for me", "No, you don't love me", "I hate you", "You are not a MAN" .. "Enjoy your Upma"

It's Monday and Aman ate his favorite breakfast Upma at a South Indian joint nearby. This has happened a lot of times before. Every fight costs him one week of Upma and a non-surprising Gift.

"Gahh, forget it .. i love my car". He drove out of the joint and headed for the flyover loaded with Traffic ..

Scene B

Chaman bought a dude brass horn (the ones in BEST buses) for his auto. He was now a hero among his fellows. "How much did it cost you", asked his friend. "8000 Rupeeees!!", he exclaimed. Chaman explained: "You see! when i blow this, people think it's the killer BEST bus coming from behind and they give me side". "This way, i can move faster in traffic. So technically, i can earn more .. 8000 is just a matter of a few months .. after that i'll reap profits".

The hero became the villain at home. "You didn't pay for his school fee and got this?", "I don't care what your friends think, i live under a flyover with a man who spends 8000 on a horn", "You could have gotten me an anklet", "That ring was last year", "You could have at least chosen some other color", "I don't care if this is the only color of Brass", "Ya, but at least the color would have made me a little happy", "No, i am not crying", "No you don't care for me", "No, you don't love me", "I hate you", "You are not a MAN" .. "Enjoy your Vada-Pav for 'Sunday special'"

Chaman heads off for work on Monday. "Gahh, forget it .. i will blow it even hard now". He came out from under and headed for going up the flyover ..

Scene C

Chaman blew the horn loudly, Aman lost control and Crash!!! .. both started shouting while not listening to each other.

Aman: "Abey Chaman! .. paagal hai kya?"(Such a big horn!!), "scratch laga diya gaadi par" (I spent so much for the stickers), "itna tez horn bajata hai baju se (How costly would this horn be)", "saale so raha hai .. subah nashta nahi diya kya biwi ne?" (I hope I'm not alone!), "aisa horn kharida hai, biwi bacchon par kharch kar deta paise" (I hope his wife fights him for this horn).

Chaman felt insulted as the abuse was his name indeed. After reading the printed name on the car, Chaman: "Chup kar saale Aman ki Asha, badi gaadi hai toh maarega kya!" (Such a big Car!!), "side dena chahiye na" (I spent so much money for ultimately getting a side), "itni badi gaadi le liya hai, chalana toh seekh le" (How costly would this car be), "saale so raha hai .. subah nashta nahi diya kya biwi ne?" (I hope I'm not alone!), "biwi ko nayi car pasand nahi ayi kya?" (I hope his wife fights him for this Car)

After much brawl, they parted ways, as Men do each day. Both smiled while driving ahead, having dumped their frustrations early in the morning. Their rediscovered aggression reassured them: "Men are Back"


Jan 25, 2010

It’s Unfortunate


The phrase “It’s Unfortunate” is thrown at our faces by the high ranking govt. officials on a day-to-day basis. It’s easy to learn and eliminates cross-questioning, probably the most efficient and high profile replacement to “I take the responsibility and will work on the shortcomings”

4 poor children just died of cold on Delhi streets; New Delhi, to be precise.

The govt. officials comment “It’s Unfortunate”. They claim they did everything possible to save the poor from the smoggish chill. They gave the necessary shelter, a mattress and a blanket; Rava blanket, to be precise.

We say It’s Unfortunate that there is a New in New Delhi.

They say It’s Unfortunate that Dal has become unaffordable to the poor, It’s Unfortunate that India is still vulnerable to terror attacks, It’s Unfortunate that Hockey India has hit a new low.

We say It’s Unfortunate that a farmer sells Dal at Rs 35/kg and people get it at Rs 100/kg, It’s Unfortunate that 26/11 happened a few weeks after an Intelligence warning, It’s Unfortunate that Hockey is our national sport.

For govt. officials, “It’s Unfortunate” should be dubbed as “I’m Unfortunate”.

For us, the Aam Aadmi bandwagon, it should be dubbed as “I can’t bring any fortune”


Jan 1, 2010

In to the wild


“Bhai-Saab” said we as we kicked off the wild tour in our gypsies. Standing on the seats we took a deep breath of the freshest form of air.

Enter Pench National Park - Madhya Pradesh.

4 of us wished to spot a roaming Tiger; Tigress to be honest. Our Guide seemed to be a Jungle connoisseur. 100 meters away from the entry gate, we started troubling him: “Have you seen the Tiger hunting?”, “Is there any way we can get down from the Gypsy?”, “Can we also figure out the Tiger calls?” He gave us a giant snub on all the 3 questions. Rat Bastard. So, 100 meters in to the Jungle we found the first wild animal - the Guide.

Guide said he couldn’t do much about finding a Tiger. He could just decipher the noises which animals make when they see a Tiger around, which are called “Calls”. Calls can help track a Tiger.

My companions were worried it might turn in to some really boring 3 hours. The companions were Narbhakshi, Ghoda and Badey. 2 of these, as the names suggest, were already wild. The 3rd one, Badey, doesn’t give a tiny rat’s ass to the world and all the existing forms of life & matter. Given the wild gypsy content, I was sure of some fun amongst us.

250 meters in, Guide asked us to be pin-drop quiet and screamed “STOP”. Gypsy halted. He gave a Byomkesh look and asked us to spot a Deer. Beautiful it was. We waited for 10 minutes. Badey took a pic. 200 meters more and STOP. 2 Deers this time, 2 pics. We were thrilled as we had spotted 3 Deers in half an hour. Anticipating our joy, the Guide slapped: “There are 35,000 Deers and 35 Tigers in this Jungle”. One of them (Deer) will kill him someday for me, I pray.

After one hour of boring Deer-spotting, we saw an Owl. Finally something to fake-cheer a little about. Badey took a pic. Frustrated, we said “Can you please take us to the Tigress?” Guide screamed “STOP”. “That was quick”, I thought. He pointed towards a potty mountain and said “look, that’s Tiger’s faeces”. Narbhakshi added spice to the Eureka: “It has Deer’s hair in it”. Badey promptly took a pic. Ghoda laughed horsterically. Shame on us.

Two and half hours and the count was 4: Deer, Owl, Jackal and Bison. We took a Godzilla sigh as we spotted a bunch of 50 Deers and gave up majestically. Anticipating our early give-up, the Rat Bastard said STOP. This time he moved his ears, shrank his forehead, waved his fingers and closed his eyes. It looked as if he was the lord of ears - Kaandev, trying to decipher some random screech. “Bingo, it should be a Tiger call”, I fake-cheered. Narbhakshi asked me to shut the shuck up, so he and the guide could concentrate on “THE CALL”.

After 5 minutes of this high voltage melodrama and mind numbing silence, he shrugged and ordered the driver - “Aage badho”. He must have felt a Patiala kick after rubbing salt in our wise-owl-brain bruises. Ghoda finally felt the slow death and took a wild yawn. Thereafter, I and Badey labeled every screech in the Jungle a “Missed Call”

Heading towards the exit, I started analyzing the worth of the trip. I assigned Rs 1 to each of the 100 Deers we saw. Rs 10 for 1 Owl. Rs 20 for 2 Jackal and Rs 20 for 2 Bison. This made a total of 150 bucks, nothing close to the Rs 650 we spent on the entry tickets. The only way to recover the money was to assign money to each tree. I cursed the Jungle and accepted the result.

The only man coming out smiling from the Jungle was Badey. He had 50 pics in his cam. 1 of the Tiger potty with Deer hair, 3 of Deers, none of Bison (coz we thought it was a regular Buffalo), 2 of Jackals, and 44 of his own.