We have a new home minister!

Finally, its over. The last of the crackpots has been killed (apparently one is still alive and kicking in costody and pleading to be killed. I would have loved to grant his last wish in the most brutal manner possible, had he not been young enough to divulge a little more information). The Taj Hotel might not look the same again. The death toll is uncertain. As most of my fellows demanded, Mr. Shivraj Patil has stepped down and our beloved PC has taken over his office as well (why do I get this feeling about us as a country having only one decent minister on the board? Maybe I don't like PC or maybe I am just ruthlessly objective in noticing that PC is also in charge of the Finance Portfolio in a country which might be on the threshold of suffering from huge home loan, car loan and credit card loan defaults, which has a faultering growth rate due to the global meltdown, whose benchmark index was at 21000 in the beginning of the year and is still shy of 9000 on December, 1st. Also, Mr. Chidambaram is supposed to present the interim budget for an election year, come February!)
Maybe I am just over reacting in thinking that the Centre is really looking at the whole issue as only a matter of replacing the Home Minister with another person who commands respect among the people.

Operation Mayhem

I don't care if they came in a speed boat. I am not bothered about where they came from or what their ideology is. I don't know if they came from the lands of our friendly neighbours of if they are 'highly motivated'. I have no interesting in finding out if the gunmen were Deccan Mujahideen or their brethren from Damascas. I want them chopped to death in some dingy corner of the laundry room in the basements of Taj. No glory, no martyrdom.
All I care about is that a hundred of my countrymen are dead, one of our most prestigious landmarks has been mutilated and the common man in the country's financial capital, after losing much of his hard earned money in the market meltdown, is now scared for his life.
Hence like any normal human being, should I not proceed to look for the first and most visible scapegoat? Most of my friends would say, "Sure! Pull the shirt off Patilji's back!", "Bring out Afzal Guru and hang him right away!", "Lets bloody drop a nuke somewhere west of Wagha!"
Since there are so many people already looking at these myriad interesting solutions to the problem of blatant man-slaughter in the name of some fundamental dictat (which I refuse to buy because I am 24 and I know that no regilion asks you to kill)
I would prefer to look at the mirror and think if the person on the other side has had something to do with it.
The world knows how divisive a crowd we are becoming in India. Eighty percent of us don't know what's happening in our neighbour's house. We are just not bothered. We are happy competing amongst ourselves to earn more money, fame, grades, contacts, cars, houses and foreign trips. We are least bothered about what the country goes through. We have reduced ourselves to that crab tank which doesn't need a lid. Why so? Because whenever one crab gets too close to jumping out, the others pull it back in. Hence people come to our country in speed boats, kill a hundred odd innocent folks and leave the country paralyzed.
Oh, an observation I totally forgot to mention. I haven't heard anything from the great Marathi saviour, Mr. Raj Thakarey. Is he too scared to get out of his hole and wave his tongue uttering filthy incantation in pure Marathi against the people from northern India? Or does he think that this massacre is another dastardly act of our brothers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh?
He has probably played the biggest role in dividing the city at a regional level.
My country lives on though and I must get back to my books because I also belong to that tank of crabs, I have a TT match in the evening, a session of Toastmasters after that and a presentation and a quiz on Saturday! They are still important.

The nightmare refuses to get over!

I don't know if I deserved this. I have no idea what went wrong and I don't even have the inclination to fight it out any more. I just want to escape. Yes, I accept, for this one time, I had rather be an escapist than fight a losing battle.
I don't know how to make contacts or use them, I don't think I am as useless and mundane as the people here make me out to be. I have no idea if all my accomplishments till this date are so insignificant that they don't matter at all to anyone involved today.
I am not fit to join the great clubs on campus, neither am I fit to get decent scores in my papers. Nor do people think that I am worth a pence when it comes to the two painstaking years I spent at Mathura working my arse off on multiple project estimates and piping designs!
Its been a downhill journey since the time I came here and my confidence has been shattered in every possible sphere in life.
Now-a-days I am scared to open my mouth to speak, lest I said something inaccurate and people came after my blood for not being as suave as everyone around them is. I don't even look or feel good these days. Every time I try to pull myself together and try to fight it out, another huge hit grounds me .
Life has become totally insipid now, hardly anything to look forward to any more.

Dope is a good thing

I don't say so. In fact I had written "Hope is a good thing" on my white board a couple of days back. But when my team mates left my room after a project meeting, I noticed that the H had been surreptitiously changed to D behind my back without much hullabaloo.
The mood on campus is very much like that as of now. Except the handful of brilliant people who feature on every firm's shortlists, there are many who are yet to find their names on a company shortlist. Yet, given the fact that we are at one of India's premier business schools we may still stand up and say that we will be placed and placed real fast.
But till that point in time arrives, we don't know what's in store for us. With the Investment Banks busy taking care of themselves and the Consultancies looking to pick only the best of the lot, it's a tense time on campus.

It's just an unending roller coaster ride. And I hate to hang on to it for too long.

But then again, if you have seen the cloud, maybe the silver lining is just eluding you.

Sometimes...you have got to let go

Yeah...sometimes, you just have to let go. No point building the castles when you have that gut feeling that they are going to come down crashing while you stand alone looking helplessly at them and try and make things work for yourself.
Life becomes horribly difficult to get along with. But then again, you can never summon enough courage to get over with it either. Hence you keep living and keep complaining like the algae that floats on the water and keeps it looking beautiful while killing it slowly. You keep showing a facade of perceived brilliance while people, with their incisive and presumptuous natures, gnaw through your armors and threaten to expose that soft spot that you were trying to hide from the world. You become a miserable fraud who doesn't have the courage to speak the truth to himself or the shamelessness to let the world know that he's worth nothing more than an eroded dime lying on the walkway for eternity.
Life goes on and you keep waiting for the almighty to give you a chance to find out if you really fit into the play or you were born to play a supporting role all through your life.
The story keeps rolling till you have lost faith or sometimes, if you are lucky, you are dead before that.
But some people are just not born lucky. They live through it, telling themselves that they are doing something good for people who matter till the day when its time to go.

Time out!

Its been too long since I did something out of impulse and just because I wanted to do it without binding myself in a predefined time frame and work schedule. I called up a cousin of mine only to find that he was spending time with another one and I was the missing out on catching up with people. I slipped out of campus and came straight down to meet my cousins. No questions asked, no plans prepared, no ideas exchanged.
It felt liberating, as if I was breaking out of a prison of my own mind in deciding to be spontaneous and not stay bound by my own prejudices. As someone in my class keeps reminding us all, "In the long term... we are all dead." So why bother so much about the long term when the short term is what you actually have.
Guess he has a point. I feel weirdly happy to have been able to get out of campus without giving anything else a thought. I hope this keeps happening more often and I finally figure out what is most important to me. I hope this last academic tryst becomes a true journey of self discovery and not something that will always be measured in marks, grades and salaries. Because, at the end of the day (assuming the day is long enough) we are all dead.
Therefore, its imperative, we keep taking the occasional time-outs, or else, we'll have very little of short term gain to show.

The beginning of being...or is it?

Just around a month and a half ago I was living in Mathura and working in a refinery, not quite sure of my bearings. Forty days hence, nothing much has changed. I sat through a cultural program put by my batch-mates as is the tradition at IIM Bangalore. But something was conspicuous in its absence. That feeling of belonging still hasn't sunk it. Perhaps its about those two years spent in Mathura like a gypsy that always prevents me from trusting people and traditions blindly. The lack of trust in systems, people and traditions continue to bug me and keep me wound up in myself for as long as it takes. It takes a lot more than just wanting to do something.
People have to let you do it. Life grows difficult with time and we have to start teaching ourselves that in the end everything evens out. Hope it does, for if it doesn't, it will be an uphill task right from time it ends.
Cryptic again. Helpless me, again.

IIM Bangalore - The Initial Impression

I have been here for more than a week now and classes begin tomorrow. However, the activities of the first week were really hectic and time-consuming and I never quite found time to do or think of much else.
However, I did manage to click a little. Till I find time for the next post, hopefully the snaps will give some idea about what I have been up to.

Crowded streets

I had to go to Kolkata for a relative's wedding during the last visit home. Hadn't been to Kolkata since the last visit I made to take CAT in the early winter of November. This time however, there was nothing to worry about, test or the distance of the location I was supposed to reach or the time by which I should be there. Instead of taking a direct train to Dumdum (as any sane human being would do) I decided to take a round-about route only the be able to feel the pulse of the city once again. I decide to reach Howrah by a train, then take a minibus to the nearest metro station (depending on the route followed by the bus it could be Central, Esplanade or even Park Street), go to Dumdum on the metro and take a rickshaw to my relative's house.
As the designated day came I got onto the Howrah bound Agnibina Express (still known as Bidhan to the common man - sometimes a change in the name only popularizes the older name to a greater extent). The journey to Howrah was quite uneventful, if I decide not to mention the way in which the twenty something commuter letchs at every female form of any age, seated anywhere within the limits of visual contact. Looks to me, the average working male in the Asansol-Kolkata belt is starved of female company!
Alighting from a train at Howrah station has always been a different feeling altogether. Its been one of awe mingled with fear in the beginning (but that was mostly because a visit to Kolkata was usually made for the purpose of writing a test) which slowly transformed to one of distaste (in the formative years, I used to think of Kolkata as a huge, dirty city filled with beggars and undernourished children running along the footpaths) and finally into a feeling of recognition and love for the city that is the symbol of all Bengalis to the World. I am not scared of the city any more, neither do I hate the beggars and childern on the footpaths. I enjoy the tussle of the numerous mini-buses that fight for a passage from the conjested alleys into the broad crossings leading onto the Howrah Bridge. I have learnt to become a part of the crowd the moment I get off the train. But I haven't been able to give up looking at the different faces and trying to decipher the story behind each one.
I reached the exit of the station within a couple of minutes after getting off the train and jumped on to the first bus that was leaving the parking area. Once inside, I paid for my ticket (five bucks for a ten minute ride to Park Street is definitely costly by Kolkata standards, but then communism in the city is dead for good and costs are going to rise) and sat by the window as the bus started on its ordeal to reach the windy boulevard of the Howrah Bridge. When three buses fight for the place of one, there are bound to be a few scratches and "thuds", but as long as they are not near my seat, I enjoy the fun. Finally we did manage to get onto the wider road, only after a traffic police thumped the front of the bus with his Lath . This is the only place in the world perhaps where traffic police is still equipped with a plastic whislte and an unenviable lath to control rogue buses and unruly traffic!
By the time I reached Park Street it was office time at its peak. I never quite accepted the fact the getting to office from home was a big thing. For me its just a 7 minute motorcycle ride on NH2 where the concept of a traffice jam is hardly considered. In Kolkata however its different.
As I got off the bus and crossed the AJC bose flyover to get into the park street metro station, I stole a glance at the best chicken roll shop I had come across, the little shack called hot kati rolls a couple of steps down park street after passing the Asiatic society building.
Walking with the flow is easy, standing against the flow, difficult and walking against it, next to impossible. I am not getting philosophical here, just trying to explain the act of walking down the steps leading to the platform of Park Street metro station. Everyone in the building was leaving it while I kept decending the stairs. The air was thick with smell of hairoil, deodorant and even traces of perfume. The anxiety of the working youth to reach their office on time was palpable. The numerous earplugs shoved into their ears gave them this eerie image of robots being controlled by that little peice of wire dangling out of their ears. reminded me of Agent Smith from the famous movie. We are all running after something, but to understand the significance or insignificance of the whole act, we need to stand out of the crowd and look at it from a distance. Its worth the pain.
The rest of the journey was insignificant though, the same old yellow compartments of the metro train, the stench of Dumdum railway station, the finicky rickshaw puller trying to extract an extra buck from me, guessing my unfamiliarity with the place from my attire,the same relatives welcoming me with open arms. The typical bengali family engaged in the nitty-gritties of a marriage. I was home, but not before I had walked down the crowded streets to which I belong in the larger race of life.

S#$% Happens

There was a famous phrase in college which people frequently uttered after tests. Two words which could give you a clear idea of what happened inside the examination hall.
It went like, "S#$% Happens."
However, the problem comes when it happens to you in real life and when the effects seem to be unending. When life just refuses to let go of you and keeps pulling you back into the quicksand of non-existent problems that refuse to let you live in peace. Whether its your body, your mind, your soul or your surrounding is immaterial. There are times when the suicidal tendency takes over and you sit quietly on your bed stealing a glance at your ceiling fan every now and then. Or when you decide to ride your bike at above ninety kilometres only hoping that something makes you brake really hard and the pain ends once and for all.
But some of us get so deep into the S##$ that we are never able to pull ourselves back and we just keep going deeper till one point comes when it doesn't matter any more. When everything we do is ignored with a little understanding nod of the head, when people say, "He used to be a brilliant chap, but after a point he lost all interest, s@#$ Happens"
No one bothers to sit with you and help you out. But then again, why should someone do that? Don't they have some work of their own? Why should someone try to help you when they might as well help themselves.
Then comes the time when the you embrace the mediocre safe life that every other normal mortal is living in the world.And when you die, the last words you tell your folks is "Shit Happens!"