Thursday, December 24, 2009

Oh Kolkata !

The thud of the wheels touching down woke me up from my early morning slumber.The flght was on time and very soon I was standing in the queue for getting a pre-paid taxi .I am coming to Kolkata after a good 6 months and I was looking around for some signs of changes. The Airport looked pretty much the same.Of course there is evidence of some constructions/extensions happening.The typical "government" look was a contrast to the swanky looks of the Delhi Airport.Of course, the "swankiness" of the Delhi airport gets exposed after a good rain, but nonetheless, it looks less "sarkari".

After having hollered my destination to a booking clerk whom I rememeber seeing in the same counter for as long as I can remember, I was thrust a piece of paper which was my ticket to my home. I came out looking for my cab and very soon hopped into one.

The Kolkata taxi is an unique piece of machinary. Some might say that it is not really a machine- it has a life of its own .By make , they are Ambassador cars, made by Hindustan Motors ,and Kolkata is its homeground,so to speak.The Kolkata ambassadors however, are unique that they probabaly are the oldest running fleet of these fine creations by Hindustan Motors. As soon as the engine starts, you get a free session of fat removal by vibration. You are transported into a vibratory world where no two parts of your body are ever moving in the same direction or sequence.Your OSIM massage equipments pale in comparision when considering the vivacity, frequency and effectiveness of the massage thus rendered.

It takes a while to realize that one is still alive, despite the cataclysm ongoing, when one realizes that the term "noise" has altogether a new meaning when you sit inside these taxis.Here you are ungulfed in noise that is alll pervading. Your audimetry test is also done for free, thus, and you could of course sing along just to make sure that your ears are indeed functional.

But they do also transport you from point A to point B, besides the other freebies mentioned above. Alongwith the ride, you also get to see extreme accelartion,braking, honking,manual honking ( Dada..sorben ??) , free racing events where your armourded vehicle overakes a bulbous city bus bursting at its seams and veering at impossible angles.Your adrenalin runs faster than Pink Panther and normally your eyeballs are found to be almost popping out while your bones does the samba with gusto .

Of course, if you survive the above, you also get to see the City and it's denizens. The ultra chic vye for attention with the 18th century and you are never at a point where you do not stay bemused,shocked, happy, angry,frustrated, meditated or simply wonderstruck .

And then you start marvelling at life...

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Annual Stock Taking

An enjoyable and busy weekend just got over - Party at friends place on Saturday, followed by a Sunday lunch to celebrate the birthday of another friends daughter, who turned 12 ! Time flies and how !

As the year is coming to a close, this is the time to do a stock taking and and resetting the scheme of things . Actually, you don't need an occasion like the end of the year to do a stock taking-one can do it all the while, anytime,any occasion. Some folks ,however, wait for the appropriate time and space to pause, sit back and , yes,take stock ! This is the time when the pads are flashed out and new year wishes and resolutions get written,agreed or typed- depending on your preferred choice.There is always the belief that from next year onwards, I will be more organized, will plan better, will work harder, will run faster, sing better, drive saner, will drink wiser …..

So with all gusto, I am also about to embark on my annual stock taking exercise. I am painfully aware of the fate of most of my resolutions as the year turns around.Usually , before you can say "what ho" , the resolutions get entangled with the logic and practicality of life and one is seen "revising" the plans to better "fit" the current situation. In my case, at least, the revised plans don't resemble the original ones ,say within a time span of 4-5 days from the D day , and that has proved to be happenstance time and again ! Indeed , a time tested tradition ! But then, no point worrying too much about it- there will always be next year to try these ,again !

I of course wish I could avoid at least some of these end of the year chores- like furnishing receipts for your investments ( fat good they do to your tax savings anyway- it is just a 'feel good' exercice !) so that you are within your declared tax plannings. Tax and tax planning bugs me and I wish for a simpler state of mind and well being . But wishes are not horses and don't even come close to the characteristics of these fine animals !

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Winter Sun

I have started reading Harsh Snehanshu's novel "Oops I fell in Love" . Just finished the first chapter, so there is still the whole book to read. Interesting to read such young authors and that too Indian ! There are quite a few on the stands now . The book promises to be a good read.

My battle with the virus is still on.. I am still on the losing side with the result that now my voice alternates between a deep baritone ( I like) and a high pitched falsetto( I hate) with me having no control over their occurrences ! I have given up the fight and waiting patiently for sanity to strike my vocal chords .

The winter chill is setting in,though I must say it is quite nice now with the Sun shining through a lazy winter sky. The only darn problem with the Sky,at least in Gurgaon, is that it is never blue-always a dirty shade of some vague color created by layers of dust. All builders are building one fancy building after another, with shining glass facades and moderns looks.Every road and every piece of available land is perennially being dug by somebody or the other, showering layers of dust in gay abandon. There are almost never any decent roads leading to these buildings symbolizing the "millennium City". You have dirty pot holed roads, stray cows meandering around,traffic going any way they please,water flooding at the slightest, and in the midst of all this squalor you have these magnificent buildings with glass facades, where thousands of the elite strut in and out, where billions of dollars worth of business is carried on, where ,once you enter these buildings, you are immediately isolated from the surreal world outside . Well,almost..

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Mighty Virus

I would be making a rather silly statement if I were to pronounce that Science has achieved a lot ! Of course it has, and it is not in the purview of this piece to enumerate those. Suffice to say that there is possibly no problem on earth that cannot be solved with science- such is it's glory and grandeur ! God Bless the Scientists and may their clan grow and prosper; and the scientist who is an atheist may simply ignore the "god Bless" part !

But ,but, but .... that is where science gives way to my philosophical query.. why has science not found a cure for common cold ? Stale as it might sound, and notwithstanding the fact that countless reams ( err.. bytes !!) have been written about the subject , a non-medical mortal like me is constantly barraged with this profound question ! Why, pray why ?

A common cold is a terror which engulfs most of humanity with regular patterns. Yes, most, because there are of course a few who escape the wrath of the virus, probably due to umpteen good deeds done in the past life. I ,on the contrary , lie quite on the other end of the spectrum , giving disturbing indicators of dubious past life misadventures . I wonder what Tiger Wood's next Viral life is going to be like-of course the inference could depend on which side you are ,Elin's or Tigers ?

But yes, coming back to the virus in question ,and there are many of them, I am told, I must admire their effectiveness and stealth ! Something which can create disturbances of such magnitude without being tamed definitely deserves a round of applause !

And that brings me to the next philosophical question-do Virus have Monday Blues ?

I guess I better stop now......

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Blues

Why are Mondays Blue ?

The typical mood cycle of an average worker ( a term collectively used to represent all hues and types,including the corporate Yuppie and a small section of government workers ) represents a curve that can be best approximated to the Sinusoidal, with interesting variations thrown in for good measure.

The ascent starts roughly at midweek when realization often dawns on the hapless worker that life is not all a bed of thorns and there are glimpses of light at the end of a long tunnel.But of course, you are not singing tra- la- la yet at this juncture yet ,and the birds are not flapping their wings yet, but you start sensing hope and salvation !

The next two days throws up confirmatory pointers that yes,indeed, one can start crooning ,somewhat .The blurry images of birds flapping their wingies become more substantive and by the time it is Friday morning , you are the epitome of radiance,happiness and you don't mind spreading the smile around the countryside !

This state lasts the whole of Friday and in some cases,Saturday too ! The more realistic and pragmatic amongst us sees through the temporary veneer,but for many others, it is a song sung heartily.

The down-slide starts from the next day ( varies between morning to mid morning), but by the time one is faced with evening, he is practically a nervous wreck! The birds disappears, the voice croaks and the colors simply go away.

Many wake up on Mondays either in self denial or in in abject despondence.Either way, you are almost at the lowest end of the curve and nothing matters anyway. This is the time when great philosophies get written.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Kailash Kher Night

Music of course is a great healer. And when it is soulful Sufi,and that too in a live concert by one of the notable proponents of this genre, the effect is simply multiplied manifold !

So, the hard concrete steps serving as seats in Hamshadhwani open air theater at Pragati Maidan really did not matter,neither did the chill in the air ! Kailash Kher held everyone mesmerized and one soulful number followed another ! Of course , his numbers are a rich blend of Sufi soul juxtaposed nicely with contemporary sounds and style. So you have the 'non sufi ' types also nodding their heads vigorously and clapping and swaying in equal measures. All in all, an extremely enjoyable evening .

Of course, as is almost expected, the show started 1 hour late. Yes, there was the customary opening speech by a 'minister' and I suspect he ,as wont his habit, simply turned up an hour late ! The organizers offered no explanation,but did one really expect any ?

Kailash Kher of course more than made up !

Friday, December 11, 2009

Digital Life

Well, it is about time I got into this too..blogging ! Just when I thought I was just about getting the hang of the online world when someone pointed out that I was a non-blogger, and that, simply, was not good enough ! I had diligently created accounts in Facebook, Orkut, Linkedin and many other sites whose passwords I have misplaced, and I was patting myself on the back that now I am "new generation" type already, when I was told that I am not there , yet ! I am still grappling with the notion of venting your inner emotions on a public wall , and wondering how much of the window can you really open up.And now, here I am , now getting one step ahead, in terms of maintaining an online dairy, public ! Well, here it starts !