Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Blur.

She nudged away stray tendrils with the back of her hand, and couldn't help smiling at their soft texture. Just as playfully, they rushed back quickly to play hide and seek with her bright kohl-lined eyes.

Her eyes. He loved her eyes. They were so intense, so big, they seemed to gleam with the radiance of energy around them.

There was a certain energy about them. Not eerie or uncomfortable silence, but the cheery, warm welcome of wordless-ness, that questioned the purpose of communication itself.

Pinning the rebellious strand back in place, she continued to graciously knead the dough in front of her. There was still an hour to go and she'd be done in the next 20 minutes.

Which left  40 minutes to get ready, wear her favorite red kurta and golden jhumkas, and of course retouch the black magic : kohl. She loved kohl, and its intense black quality - like a black hole that took everything in its stride, no questions asked.

He'd never really asked questions. He knew what he wanted to know. He knew he had her from word go. He knew he loved her from before.

Before, when he first met her. Before, when they started smiling. Before, when he first kissed her hand. Before, when their lives became awesome.

Awesomness, of course is a relative term, he thought, smiling at the thought of the bright red kurta she'd be wearing today. He knew that, no questions asked. Surprises surprised him, he basked in the pleasure of knowing her every thought.

Hmmm, thoughts totally blew her away... So she could sit in front of the window pane, for hours together, a book in one hand and a coffee in the other.. and continue to contemplate life, before after and now, ups and downs, screams and tantrums, laughs and fears, chokes and smears.... hmmm. And then all of a sudden a squeak or a shout would shake her from her reverie and accuse procrastination. Almost as reflex, her hands would move back on the pages. Guilt had its annoying ways of creeping into her personal life, like a honk on a quiet street or perhaps, a banging doorbell in the middle of her siesta?

*Knock Knock*

He walked in to the smell of homemade choclate slush cake. She jumped at the sound of gift wrap along his fingers. They both lunged for their respective targets.

Almost ceremoniously, they stood together to cut the cake, comfortable in the joys of quiet anniversary celebrations. Later as they fed each other pieces, he naughtily scratched a smile on the back of her hand and slid a love band through her ring finger. Because love was simple, precious and eternal. Because love was theirs to keep.

In thirty years of blind and mute togetherness, they cheered on yet another year of silence. He swiftly released the locks around her ears, he knew she'd be smiling. No questions asked.

Celebrating the Platinum Day of Love with Indiblogger and Platinum

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Five people you meet in the Delhi Metro

The Delhi Metro, local train of New Delhi, India
If we could collect miles by travelling on the metro, I'm pretty sure I'd have collected enough for a world-tour. No really, I didn't have a car (I think cars are bad investments, but anyway that's a separate issue), autowallahs were too haughty, rickshaw-waalas were too slow, my friends were car-less, and sitting at home on the weekends was simply not an option that I entertained.

So I had the unique opportunity to travel long distances for random reasons on convoluted paths of the Delhi Metro. I can explain the use of the word convoluted: for example, if I had to go from point A to B, but the metro went from A to C to D and then to B, I'd happily tag along. It was cheap, had Air Conditioning, and fellow travelers graciously offered free, non-stop entertainment.

So now that I'm missing dilli, I thought I'd write an ode to by far the best place around there: The Women's Coach. I have seen many men standing on one leg, falling on the edges, spilling over the sides of the adjacent coach, staring right in (to the women's coach) of course pretending otherwise, trying hard to pry in on every conversation, so I thought I might as well do them the favor and spill the secret of this magic coach.

So here's the observation: all people aboard the Metro at any instant of time can broadly be classified into either or at best, a combination of, these five prime categories:

  • Stare at me, Size me up: This category is predominant: they are sharply dressed, but often have one super shiny, and very-out-of-place accessory on them, almost like a warning signal. Beware, the warning is no use, because by the time you notice the warning, they have noticed you.. Err did I say notice? I meant sized you up from top to bottom, noted all the brands (or lack thereof) that you're wearing, commented on whether the stud around your neck is gold or platinum, decided what 'type' of girl you are, where you live and what you might be up to at that time. They're the hawks and they kill their prey just by staring. So if you're suddenly more uncomfortable than a chicken squirming under butcher's knife, look out for hawk eyes (or the shiny accessory) 
  • Sleeping Beauty: If you don't find atleast one of this category through your ride, you are probably not travelling long enough. They can be spotted along the edge seats, leaning along the panes, enjoying the bumpy ride, some smiling, some mouth open, (once I even saw one drooling, urgh) all enjoying a a surprisingly peaceful siesta, without a care for the world.
    • Sleep walkers: this subtype jumps up at the sound of Rajiv Chowk Metro Station, neatly gets up (wipes away the drool) and walks out like sleep-walking in the metro is the 'in-thing' to do
  • Phone Connection: These ones are stuck to their phones. If the battery dies out, they would do anything to get to the one charging point in extreme end of the coach. Anything. And that means, leaning along five rows of people, requesting two other strangers (who happen to be sitting next to the charging point) to hold the wire and keep the connection as she continues to chatter/ text/ both on the amazingly addictive android device. Caution: This type is generally make-up heavy, and smell like Victoria's Secret, which is great, but they also have extremely well exercised jaw muscles. If you look close enough you can see ab-like sick packs right under the chin, a product of hard work from years of non-stop blabber. And yes, the whole metro knows their life history, past boyfriends, current boyfriends, how many people in office are hitting on them, who said what, whether the boss is cute looking, the latest CK sale, how the fruits are too expensive, but the pink MANGO shorts are a steal. Phew.
  • Lovers: These are the lovers, they travel in pairs, smile a lot, are obviously well-dressed, believe strongly in PDA, and weirdly enough travel right on the edge of the women's coach. The girl is on women's side, the guy is hanging on the other, and of course the hawk's eyes are hanging in right there. If you know what I mean. (If you don't, go to 1)
  • Books and Brew: If there were two seconds between their stop and the now, they'd open a book and read 1.75 words. No kidding, they could be hanging along the ceiling, one hand trying to balance the jerks, back trying to balance a back-pack, feet trying to twitch some space, nose trying to find some air, but eye-balls slithering along pages like a hungry snake advancing towards its prey. As expected, they're the easiest to spot - young, spectacled, (a spectacle themselves), serious, brooding, and not listening to the phone connection (for more, see 3). 

"Yatri kripya dhyaan dein..Dilli Metro mein khaana, peena, ve dhumra-paan varjit hai" 
(Travellers, please take note, smoking, drinking and eating is not permitted on the Delhi Metro)

Happy Travelling!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Dark Secrets and Forbidden Words.

Okay, so there have been a lot of troubling developments over the past week but I would like to write about the most distressing one. Writing about my fears is the last (many times the only) trick in my survivors' handbook.

In classes, and on the bus-stop, in a corporate presentation or right after, while running on the track (okay, running to school) or gulping my food - basically practically everywhere I go or everything that I do - I have started to feel the presence of a snoopy something right behind.

Something's been stalking me and the faster I run, the swifter it gets. No really, it does, I've tried.

Wherever I go, it follows. Except that its not the cute hutch doggie but a huge, scary bull-dog that's designed to scare the living daylights out of me. It doesn't bother anyone else you see, it's a nice well-behaved dog for the other pedestrians, the ones they pet and smile at, the one they wish they had.

But inside its screaming, barking, and cursing - spewing nastiness right into mind. It blocks my thoughts, and cuts my veins, it numbs my moves and freezes reflex. My hands start to tremble, my mind starts to wander, my heart is pounding, I struggle to mutter. Thick beads of sweat start surfacing on my forehead (they've been conniving with the bull dog) and they start converging along temples form thicker, more prominent signals of my weakness. I start to stutter and try to recollect my name.
"Who am I, what is all this even about, urgh", I think. A third voice in my mind now takes charge, "This is NOT the time for philosophy, idiot", it starts another bloodcurdling scream. As three conflicting, angry, and obviously fuming voices fight for airspace, the confusion inside my head starts to surface in wrinkles now. The sweat finds more challenging trajectory to start sloping downwards. Aha, and now its starting to smell as well. Incredible, what can get worse. I bring sweaty palms forward to shake hands and hope they're not leaving an impression (literally).
Hope, that's what keeps me alive as the screaming gets louder, the sweat gets dirtier and my trembling hands now graduate to shaky legs. Isn't the room too stuffy, or are the windows closed. There isn't enough oxygen here, I try to stop the screaming as my wobbly legs turn rubber and my mind start to phase out. I am falling or fainting or losing consciousness or I think.

I pass out. The dog's tail is wagging, right behind me.


That's the one word that describes networking. I simply do not know how this works, despite numerous sessions, 'practical' advice, a long list to-dos, do-not's and keep-in-mind's. This does not come naturally to me and I am tethering on balancing rope hoping that I am doing the right thing. Hoping that they don't hate me. Hoping that I'm not cutting the chances of landing a job of the very limited options that I have here. Okay, I'm just a little anxious. But I still hate networking. Shh, don't say that loud. The snoopy something follows if you call out.


PS. For the uninitiated, networking is a socio-academic activity which involves casual conversation with prospective employers. B-school grads ask relevant questions, create an impact, to try and land an interview call. The fear of messing up is so high that it makes the whole activity something of a nightmare. Fingers crossed. And that's really not the point, I think. I'd just like to know people for fun. But anyway, what I think doesn't matter and fun is definitely not on the agenda.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Blitz-burgh, Thoughts and Basecamp

So, this is my first time here in the States and the following are my quick observations about the city, its people and the whats in store ahead. Business school seems like its going to get tough. Our Dean said that once classes start we'll be at least one month behind after wading through the first week. Urgh, I'm not sure I'd like that feeling.

Anyway, here I am happily typing away, waiting for (read terrified of) the high tide.

1. Shut up and Run: 

Running, if not a neurotic overuse of thyroid glands, is very much an anytime obsession here. I mean, you could wake in the middle of the night, say 2AM, or jump right out of a meeting at 12 Noon on a business day to spot people quietly running on the road like burning calories on the running track is their full time job description. Talk about a one-track mind. Not that tracking them is any of my business, but I just like to keep my eyes open to contrast.

2. Chees-y and Loving it:

By Indian standards, I am a cheese lover. I like cheese on my bread, I enjoy pizza with a cheese base and toppings, and I like cheese tomato sabzi. But W.O.A.H, I learnt the real meaning of a cheese sandwich when I saw a few broccoli, lettuce, and two pieces of tomato gasping for air like inexperienced swimmers in a sea of cheese. Not just one type of cheese, mind you, but 15 thick layers of 3 different mozzarella, pepperjack and parmesan. Cheese is no joke here, they like their food cheesy and they like to see it dripping.

I think Indians easily spend about 3 times the amount of time as compared to Americans on contemplating, preparing, eating and digesting their food.

Though I'm really not sure which approach works out better, maybe something on the middle path?

3. Self-Service or No-Service: 

Though my parents don't really (thankfully) support the servants-culture, I come from a land where there are always other people to do your work. It could be any work - from washing your dishes, to preparing your food, to parking your car to getting a photocopy, you can always pay someone peanuts and get it done with. Though there is nothing wrong with the concept per se, (it gives someone poor a livelihood, after all), I think that psychologically it instills a sense of superiority in the payer, which over time matures into the illusion of power. 

But service is so expensive here, that one would rather move their own muscles.
And although I've been running around looking for instructions on how-to-do stuff that comes almost intuitively to the natives ("just put in your username and password to get the print-out, duh"), I like that.

I guess that this do-it-yourself culture helps to develop a sense of appreciation for every job (any job) and a mutual respect for everyone irrespective of who they are or what they do. So the 'janta-hai-mera-baap-kaun-hai' attitude does not surface, no-one is a king by birth. They've got to work their way up. 

As a corollary, people do not pollute the streets or spit on the footpath or throw trash on the road, simply because they have picked up their own garbage at home and know what happens if they litter.

No, this does not mean that US is bias free: I have seen impolite people, rude by-passers (interestingly enough, it was right when I entered the airport), the polluted Michigan lake (my first two days in the States), cigarette butts in no-smoking zones, thick black smoking vehicles polluting the whole world with them and more. It simply means that the incidence of such incidents is less, and more specifically, this is not the norm.

4. A picture is worth a thousand words: 

I found this house number very close to the street on which I live, and just had to take a picture. Americans really have their own sense of humor.

House Number 5218.5

5. Miles to go before I sleep

Everyone here has work to do. An errand to run, a task to complete, a scheduled run (!) perhaps, and food is the least of everyone's priorities. They'd rather just "grab a sandwich" or "pick up a (cheesy) pizza" and be done with it. Ah, they need to visit my laid back city in India.

The famous slant structure at CMU cuts right through the sky

So here I am in the middle of Tepper Basecamp - this is an orientation of sorts, which has preliminary maths classes, an introduction to the various MBA specializations, internship talk, resume reviews and the forbidden N-word*. Spirits are quite high in our batch (both literally and figuratively) and we all are practically at somebody's place or at Walnut Street or in the middle of the road, every other evening, chatting each other up. The batch is quite diverse and there is loads to talk about. Very soon Basecamp will be over, though and scaling Mount Tepper in harsh Pittsburgh winter will begin, hmm.

*In case you haven't guessed it yet, it's also the subject of my next post, so please wait up :)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Last Day at ZS!

This is a small poem which I dedicated to my workplace, ZS Associates, New Delhi on my last day of work. 
Most of the jokes here are ZS internal, but I can provide a little context (starred) as we go along. 2.5 exciting years of my life have been spent here and ZS has been my first impression for a lot of corporate jargons, management techniques and consulting jingles, if you know what I mean. (Makes sense, ahan!) 

Just to offset the fact that I have cribbed in discomfort, revolted in anger, fought in frustration, cried in helplessness over ZS and its experiences, I would like to add that I have also met AWESOME people, made friends for life, gained faith in my abilities and overall had one helluva experience! And as I set out to newer, crazier experiences, I will really miss my partners in crime :)

And I thought they’ll never go
Those starry ZS days
The grand entries in client calls
Accents, deliverables, delays

And I thought I’ll never miss,
That sudden adhoc request*
That rep on leave, the DM’s pet-peeve**
Why normal distribution works best 

And I thought - it is the end
But I still got partners in crime
For excellence is really getting it right
First time, every time.***

* Sudden, panic analysis which generally comes with a strict deadline
** Project specific, IC joke
*** Connotes fresh wave of formalized process excellence at ZS, where all efforts must be got right, first time and every time

Team 0101 NY2922: You'll be missed!
Clockwise from left: Siddharth, Umesh, Buddhi, Prateek, Me, Kunal, Vinay, Deepam, Shivam, Anurag, Chanpreet, Vinay, Nitisha, Anand, Anu, Deeksha
Not in the picture: Ankur, Rajiv, Praveen, Vaibhav, Mayuri, Amit, Karishma, Tania
We missed you Manoj!

L-R: Sonali, Me, Swati, Saloni

Team 0793 PH 2767: (L-R) Sonali, Me, Rohit, Saloni, Ankit, Nitin
PS. We missed you Chan-dan!

Monday, July 8, 2013

... Because Every Dog Has Its Day!

(Click on each image to expand)

Starbucks, ahan!

                                                 Sip.                                               Lick.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy Mother's Day Ma!

Three little difficult daughters old,
And you're still going strong
I'd think you have some special skills
For you made it all along

Three different shades of crazy
Three different worlds to tame
Each one wanted 'meri muh'*
And worse, we looked the same!

We want to thank you Mama,
For the terrible pees and poos,
and screams and shouts and tantrums,
We were tough, stubborn, obtuse

We applaud you Mama, for still
Lookin' thro' a rose colored lens,
For letting us explore all possible options
to maybe upgrade your dressing sense

And though you'd think I'm quite confused
About what I'd like to do
A journo, aimless MBA, and maybe PhD too
The truth for sure is Mama, I'd like to be just like you.

* Nah, that's a secret.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Truth be told.

I'd always placed you on a pedestal. I enjoyed smiling up to you. Up, the keyword here.
And, sometimes, when you'd look out of the window, with a faraway look on your face, I'd poke you and you'd look away. That scared me, it wasn't easy to bare myself in front of you in the first place and I really didn't know what I'd do without.
So in those uncomfortable moments of pinching disorientation, I accused myself of hallucinating again. Making up problems for myself, because they made life so much more interesting. Didn't they make life feel like one big struggle? And overcoming them made my otherwise uneventful life heroic. Like all those accomplished quotes I loved reading. I have to stop doing that, I'd tell myself.

Smiling of course, as I looked up at you.

You couldn't be wrong and I knew that.
Because when you did look, you looked straight into my eyes, poring into my head, reading all my dirty thoughts and staring right there, smiling a knowing grin even as my eyes paced around the room, fidgety yet longing to look back. I hankered quickly cover up as much as possible. I didn't want to trust too much. As always, I was scared. But, not cynical no.

Not until you walked out on me. Just walked out. Without a second thought. Without a backward glance. Without as much as parting word.
Leaving me scared, confused and searching. Searching for an explanation. Searching for what'd gone wrong. Searching for my bare self, and all that I'd lost to you. Searching for that moment, that brought me closer to you.

Truth be told, dear Trust, you broke my faith.


In the memory of my trust, in people, processes and intentions, which died a slow and painful death. I bow to your inexplicable power, but I'd like to keep my distance now. Thank you very much.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Love, Actually: My entry for the Get Published Contest

Love, Actually is a tale of two hearts, young at heart and free in spirit. The two protagonists of the story are the school-going-kids-next-door. Watch them grapple with issues of love and friendship, love versus friendship and much more.. They will sway you with their intensity and tickle you with their innocence. Will he or won’t she? Will love keep up? Read on to know more.


Snuggling cozily in her quilt, she stealthily inched out two fingers from under the covers - just enough to reach the alarm as it continued to get louder, cross new decibel limits with every oncoming chorus. Darn, where does this goddamn thing get turned off?

Then she remembered, it was 1st of October. Haha, she chuckled at the rather cocky choice of alarm tone - smiled slowly and drifted back into the warmth of her quilt and the convenience of her dreams.

She loved dreams.

She dreamt of Paris, the ever higher Eiffel Tower, of love haven and unfettered freedom, of the misty haze and the snowy Alps..her reddish cheeks in the winter chill, her picky nose in the piercing winds..

She also dreamt of Harvard Law and corporate cases, of heady success and a great career.. and all the good things that money could and couldn’t buy.

And then, she dreamt of love.. His genuine smile and scruffy stubble, his soft whispers and sturdy arms.. wrapped loosely on her waist. Oh, why wouldn’t he say it, should she? Doesn’t he know he’s awesome?

“Urrgghhh, snooze will go to hell for sure”, she murmured as the rubbed her eyes into the ticklish sunlight. Wait a minute, sunlight?

She jumped out of bed with the determined ferocity of a starving lion, hurling abuses at the clock, her stupid best friend and well, all things that did or did not come in her way as she hankered for clothes, shoes and what not – frenzied, prancing and obviously late for school.

“And you know, her hair smells sooo good”, he smiled, sheepish, almost guilty at his revelation.

“So have you asked her out?”

“Noooo, not yet. She’s my best friend and you know how girls are, right? I think she just sees me as a friend and I would just spoil our friendship too.”

“But don’t you like her?”

“I do, I can take her no, but I can’t stop talking to her. Crap, why does she have to be so perfect.. How do I tell her.. this is just so crazy. We talk about everything but this – and I’ve practiced it about a 100 times, just can’t get myself to say it”, he mumbled, his incoherent thoughts rambling randomly out of his rather troubled mind.

As they entered the classroom and took their chairs, he quickly ‘reserved’ the seat on his right, smiling helplessly to himself. She’d be late and he loved that.


This is my entry for the HarperCollins-IndiBlogger Get Published Contest, which is run with inputs fromYashodhara Lal and HarperCollins India.

If you like it enough and would like to read more, please do shower your love here:

Monday, January 21, 2013


I just hope you're happy now,
And all your deeds are done,
For I don't want no arid 
drops, burnt sooty by the sun.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...