When in doubt…

Disclaimer: Post is as long as the time I took to finish my run. You might need electrolytes or an energy bar to finish reading. Or better. Just run. Put the energy bar to better use.

…RUN!

And that was pretty much the thought I had when I started on it. Not that I doubted my abilities in running. But I thought it’d be a nice twist to Al Pacino’s famous line from “Scent of A Woman”. I also kept hearing “Run, Rishi Madhav Madgula! Run!” in my head while I was writing this. But somehow, it did not sound cool.

Hmm. Maybe, “Run, Madgula! Run” would have been cooler.

Anyways, I still remember my first run being chased by a street dog and me shouting “aami kichhu korini, aami kichhu korini”, when I was still an innocent, 8-year old growing up in the beautiful and safe confines of CMERI Colony, Durgapur in West Bengal. That is where I was born. Which is why most people fail to identify me as a Gult on first looks. And then fail even more when they hear me speak Telugu. And they have this really inquisitive look on their faces with the eyebrows crinkled (much like how my 1 year old nephew looks at me when I make weird sounding noises just to get his attention. He just seems to say, “dude, do you have a speech impediment? What the hell are you making those sounds for?”)

Well, I just hope people listening to me speak Telugu do not think the same. I do love NTR’s dance moves, you know.

Btw, “aami kicchu korini” means “I did not do anything”. I still do not know why I was trying to talk my way through with the dog while I was running my a** off. I always knew I was bad at negotiating.

Well, not to detract you from the route I am trying to chalk out, many people including my mother and my 3 year old niece have asked me why at all have I started this madness. By that they mean this entire cycle-or-run-your-guts-out-and-come-back-with-a-sore-ass-and-knees routine. In short, why have I become so fitness conscious. In fact, my niece looks at me every time I wear the weird looking helmet and take out my cycle to go to office, and tells me to be careful. So sweet of her.

And then she starts laughing.

Anyways, to them I just smile and say – just like that. To the others, I say that an unexplainable bug has bitten my backside – I am still trying to figure out what that is, but I hope it is here to stay. Another bug next to it tells me it is going to stay, especially after what I did on 9th October.

More on that later. But even my 3-year old niece would have known better than to jump into this without any serious preparation, zilch training and zero knowledge of the technicalities of running. But as all self-help books recommend that it is better to see the glass half full, than half empty, I decided to focus on what I thought I did have and what it was I could do to complete the run.

But let’s go into flashback.

Prior experience in running? Minimal. Mostly treadmill. And sometimes on the roads early in the morning. 30 to 40 mins jog/sprint early in the morning before stopping to pant like my neighbor’s dog with the tongue out. And then walk back slowly feeling nice, announce at home what a fit guy I am and making grand plans to do the same everyday of the week.

Repeat the above a week or two later.

And then, a lightning bolt hit me. Why don’t I buy a cycle and well, start cycling? I mean what else can you do after you buy a cycle? So, I did that. Amidst all the spending for my new flat which I had bought practically making myself a pauper with a fancy MBA degree, I went ahead and made myself a little more pauper. Or pauperer, if you will. And bought a shiny new Schwinn Sporterra! I even started a blog on that. Do check it out whenever you are bored of sleeping over your office desk or formatting that presentation for your boss.

So then, I started cycling. To work, to the nearby community shop, on long rides on weekends, in my dreams. And then posted all that on Facebook and Twitter. How can anything you do not go up on Facebook? I even had half an atrocius thought of going up the mountain trails in the Nilgiris. But then left it at that.

I did not have the money to spare, actually.Which means I am open to receiving charity. Only in cash and some in kind too. Please get back to me on that.

So, I did the next best thing. I looked up on the net to see if there were people running about in Hyderabad. And I came across the Hyderabad Runners. A motley bunch of old, young and the middle-aged who all love to just do that. Run. That’s about it. And then run a little more. A lot of them are more of the serious types – with Garmins, 3/4 Full marathons under the belt, who run for 10 Kms and can still talk like they just woke up from sleep. And if you thought this was crazy, you should meet my good friend Manoj, who said that he ended up running 40 kms with a partner who was training for the Comrades. Just like that.

That is not to mean for members of CPM, but for the Comrades Marathon. Touted to be the “ultimate human race”. Crazies all around, I tell ya!

So. I found out on Friday that there was a 14/16/18 Km loop run on Sunday, sometime in mid of september. Signed up for it and landed at KBR park at 5 am in the morning. Ipod in the ears, bottle in the hands, and josh in the hearts. Met up with some really nice, cool people, one of whom ran with me for most of the time, giving me some really good tips and asking all about me. I answered for most part in between the breathless strides I was taking. All I could ask him was what did he do, and how many years was he into running. He said, “oh just a couple. And I am a software guy”.

He smiled at me, and then vanished while still 5 kms away from the finish. Later I found out he was the CEO of an IT company and an accomplished marathon runner who also trained newbies! I have been able to talk him into training me as well! Yippee!

Anyways, so I ran.  14 Km all the way with the 18 km folks ending the loop before me. And a few of them continuing on to what one of them said, ” to increase their mileage”.

I was just glad I could run. And I could finish.

Of course, once the crazy had gotten on to the bus, there was no way I could stop myself. And I just kept on pushing, running random 2 kms and 3 Kms, and then a 13 Km and then a few more 2 to 3 Kms. While doing all this, I picked up knee pains, did a lot of research on shoes which suited the arch of my feet, added new words such as pronation and supination to my vocabulary and then decided on a pair which fitted my budget. I also shifted into my new flat as well, made friends with new running folks and finally mustered enough and more doubts to register for the Hyderabad Heritage Marathon – Half Marathon, 21.1 Kms. My first ever!

And that really was the highlight of the last one month since the running bug had caught my you-kn0w-where. A couple of calls to my good friend Manoj on how I need to prepare, and some encouraging calls later, I started getting subsumed by the run. I thought about it. I ran the distance in my mind. I imagined myself in all kinds of mental and physical states – ecstatic with a podium finish, running like a true marathoner, hobbling all the way, quitting after the first few kms and so on. I read blogs about running, followed the Hyderabad Runner’s group emails like I was getting paid for it, I bought a book about it.

In short. I was going crazy. Or maybe I am over-reacting.

Everything I did centered around 9th October, so much so that I ensured the luggage shifting to my new flat happened in a “phased approach” with proper planning and logistics in place. MBA really helped me here, you see. Of course, when I told mom why I wanted to do this, she just looked at me, nodded my head in exasperation, and said, “Please get an LIC policy first!”.

I nodded my head too. And finished the shifting.

The run-up to race day was probably a coach’s worst training nightmare. Hal Higdon recommends at least 12 weeks of consistent small runs with adequate cross-training and rests in between while gradually increasing your pace/mileage. And that is what all the seasoned runners in the Hyderabad Runners group also said. Well, the sad part with good advice is it gets defeated in the face of impracticality. I like to put it as “pure enthusiasm”. Of course, that is just me.

Anyways, so here I was with 2 weeks more to go. I did a 14 Km 2 sundays prior to the marathon, ended the run with knee pains. While it should have been enough for any trainer to give a whacking on my backside while getting a check-in by the doctor, I carelessly decided to take a break for a day, give it rest and resume running small distances.

I paired up with another newbie and his wife, and did small runs of 2 to 3 kms each day for a week. Knee pains notwithstanding.

And then, as the experts would say, I tapered for the remaining week. Any seasoned runner would probably gawk at how I tapered. Usually, for people who train, how I ran the previous week is how they taper off. As if it were a nice romantic stroll around the park with their wives or girlfriends.

I just stopped running.That was my tapering off. Another whack!

I kept nursing my knee with ice packs while still imagining myself at the marathon. Of course, now the “podium finish” seemed like a distant dream. I only saw myself finish the run with a flourish, arms spread out, sweat glistening on my forehead, my hair completely wet, and Queen’s “We are the champions” playing in the background. All in slow-mo, as usual.

I still had not taken my LIC policy and my mother was getting antsy. She appreciated my efforts once in a while, but not without adding the LIC policy rider in between. I kept my counsel and patiently waited for my day. I had my doubts too. But I decided to sleep over them.

And then D-day. Or, the M-day. Well, to be precise HM-day. But we will leave it to D-day.

9th October. 2:30 AM. I had slept only for 3 hours – not sure if it was the khichdi I ate the previous night or race-day excitement. But I was up and rolling about on the bed since 2:30 AM when I needed to be ready only by 4. I had got to know this person who stayed in the same locality and was one of the star runners of the group. She was kind enough to offer me a lift to the start point when she realized we were practically neighbors. And to top it, they were Bengalis.

By 4 AM, I was ready. Shoes, a bottle of electrolytes, my cell phone. What else did you need to run? And I was off to the start point in the car with butterflies in the stomach. Or I guess it was the khichdi. Ok, let’s not get into it.

9th October. 5:00 AM. Chowmahalla Palace. Electrifying atmosphere – lights, sound, Milind Soman, hundreds running around, stretching, talking about sub-4s and sub-3s, palpable excitement in the air coupled with the Hyderabad 5 AM chill. Laughter, some tense faces around, and some sleepy ones too – it was the perfect setting for me to relax.

A slow jog inside the palace with my friends, some jokes about the timings and I was all set.

My first half marathon.21.1 Kms.

…and then it happened…

****** To Be Continued******

Wham Bam…

…you’ve got spam!

Spam

verb /spam/

  • Send the same message indiscriminately to (large numbers of recipients) on the Internet

noun /spam/

  • A canned meat product made mainly from ham
  • Irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients
confucius say   /spam/
  • Spam is like Japanese driver in Indian traffic, be safe but you will get hit anyways.
  • Spam is like Indian driver in Japanese traffic, honk in No Parking zone and get towed away.
  • Horny spam, honk repeatedly.
  • Man who confuse sperm with spam, date wrong thing.
  • Man who write bulls***, get more of the same.

Just came across this spam comment on my last blog post. Not that this was the first time, but it just felt so apt. The made-for-each-other types, the perfect glove for the hand, the right tie for the shirt, the right drink for the mood. You get the picture.

Thanks about the tremendous related information right here from your net, this is often a little bit of questions in the site market. Who reported by the other line? . . . .Lasting love might be patron, appreciation may be range. But there’s more covet, but there’s more brag, purpose incredibly. It’s not necessarily rude or obnoxious, to the self-seeking, it is not necessarily really angered, this stops simply history of the errors. Take delight in shouldn’t appreciate noxious yet unfortunately rejoices applying the actuality. This particular you must defends, be certain to trusts, constantly hope, often perseveres.

And then I checked the stats for the spam count on my blog. This is what I got.

It figured. Confucius was right after all.

P.S : Ham is that which is not spam. Nothing to do with pork or pig. Veggies, do not sue me. Else, I’ll spam you.

Whatitees Guide: The Dictionary of Crap

Disclaimer: If you are currently reeling under a bad stomach ache, and/or are making frequent visits to the loo, and/or constipated, I’d advise you to to not read this now, and maybe come back a later time. This is not for the weak farted hearted and certainly not for the constipated. Because when the shit hits the fan,some people run and some people wonder what’s happening. So keep a loose motion tablet next to you. Please. 


I say it is about time.

About time we broke the shackles of convenient morality. About time we came out of the closet and let it out in the open. About time we redefined the dictionary and fought for inclusion of this word which has been so used, abused, misused, demeaned, and thrown around like an old rag with utter contempt. That which has allowed billions of people around the world express myriad emotions – Anger, happiness, love, frustration, elation, ecstasy, orgasm, denial, horror – with just one word: CRAP! Sometimes shit!

And yet, we have not recognized the selfless way it has weaved itself into our way of life without asking for anything in return. Oh! The beauty! The beauty!

It is about time we give it the respect it duly deserves. And I have taken the mantle of doing so.

Here again, with a dramatic re-entry and continuation of what the latest reviews on http://www.crappyguides.com have to say about, I present to you from the house of the Whatitees Guides:

The Dictionary of Crap.

Please imagine the mandatory trumpets, bugles and drum rolls, as is the norm with all my posts. Here goes:

Crapilicious crapi-li-cious

– adjective

   1. highly unpleasant to the senses, especially to taste or smell:

             a crapilicious dinner, a crapilicious aroma.

2. highly unpleasant feeling growing in the stomach after consuming such foods where the chicken (or brinjal, as the case may be) is seen to be floating harmlessly in red colored oil:

              I had such a crapilicious paneer butter masala in office yesterday, my boss could hear the rumbles in my stomach from his cabin!

Crapugedera crapu-ge-dera

– adjective

   1. when you come and go out of the cricket team and don’t get picked even for an IPL team despite the lowest starting price.

Crape diem cra-pe di-em

      Latin. Run with the newspaper in hand the moment you hear the rumble; as opposed to delaying it while increasing the CO2 content in the atmosphere. Seize the moment; don’t think of the future.

Crapuscular crapus-cu-lar

-adjective

1. of or pertaining to crap: crapuscular feeling

2. dependent on or affected by crap: crapuscular feeling

3. having well-developed crap: crappy

Crappendix cra-pen-dix

-noun, plural -dix.es -dic.es

1. supplementary material at the end or beginning of a question in an MBA class, an article, a document, a book, a long speech, a training session in office post lunch, a blog such as this or any other text usually of an explanatory nature which will make you feel crapuscular.

2. an appendage which makes you feel like pulling out your hair.

Bon crapetit bon cra-pe-tit

-interjection. French

Used as a salutation for a person who has been affected by the Fourth Law of Motion. (I wish you) a crappy appetite.

Crapsule cra-ps-ule

-noun

1. a small soluble container, usually made of gelatin that is needed to be taken when someone has just wished you bon crapetit.

Craptitude cra-pti-tude

-noun

1. an inherent ability to endure when s**t happens. Man, he had the craptitude to have two plates of chicken masala even when he was constipated!

2. display of intelligence while attending to the call of nature. You know what, he is so intelligent, he has the craptitude to solve an entire ET crossword when he is in the loo!

Crapitulate crapi-tul-ate

-verb

1. to surrender unconditionally when the rumbling goes bigger and one cannot squirm nor sit nor stand nor take the support of a nearby table/chair/pole/person.

2. to give up and experience utter bliss.

Crapsize cra-psi-ze

-verb (used without object), -verb (used with object) -siz.ed, -siz.ing

to turn bottom up. you get the picture.

Crapivorous crapi-vo-rous

-adjective

1. of the carnivores and herbivores family.

2. crap-eating. Heard one fly telling another, “you are crapivorous, dude. Bon crapetit!”

Whataycrap what-a-crap

-abuse,

What you are thinking right now for having come all the way here reading all this crap.

Crappendix: I just realized that this was the fastest post I ever came up with. What can I say. Sh*t happens!


Story of a house – II

 Continuing from part I. If you have not read it yet, you have no right to be here.

Pune. Circa 2007. Fourth job. Sixth House.

What do you call something that is somewhere between a 2BHK and a 1BHK but actually is a 2BHK?

Buzzz. A stupid question.That is the wrong answer. You have another chance.

Oh, I know. A 1.2333 BHK with a loo that has no commode. That is again the wrong answer. You have one last chance, you jackass!

Ok, ok. 2BHK with one of the bedrooms locked. That is the correct answer!

So, there it was. An old, but nice 1BHK apartment. Found after a month of incessant searching. Not only of the Google types. And I was to get almost married by an old man and a middle-aged woman for me to move into this flat. The old man called himself the society broker and the middle-aged woman was a friend to the owner / caretaker.

The owner was cooling his heels in Dubai. I keep getting email forwards from him even now. He still does not know about the nail I drove into the kitchen wall, I guess!

So, we are in the woman’s apartment inside the society at around 7 in the evening after having taken a look at the flat. Under the watchful gaze of the woman, her not-so-watchful husband and the old man, I looked around, drank a glass of water and made some mental calculations of the amount I could spend for this flat. Satisfied with the numbers, I broadened my chest, brought a smile to my face and started to speak.

Me. “OK, Ma’am, how much…”

Old man who called himself the society broker. First, tell us. Are you married?

Me. “I am sorry? What..”

Old man who called himself. “Yes.Yes. please tell us, are you married?”

Me. “No, I am not. Could you please….”

Old man who called. “When do you plan to?”

Me. “Sir, this is a personal question.”

Old man who. “Yes. This is a decent society with decent people. We do not want any hanky-panky going on. So, when do you plan to?

I was indignant and amazed at this. Yes, both at the same time. And it is possible. You just need to raise one eyebrow and show a hand gesture which seems to say “what the??”.

No sir. This is a personal question which I do not need to answer. I am as decent as you people are. In fact, more decent than you all. At least I have manners. I do not need your house. This is against my principles and I do not need to get insulted like this.

Me. “Ah. Maybe this year. But yeah, I forgot to tell you. My mother will be coming over this month to stay with me. I am from Hyderabad sir. I have an elder brother and a sister-in-law who stay in Hyderabad. And my mother will come to stay with me. She says she needs a change, and wants to see Pune also. You see, she is getting old….

Old man. “Ok, ok. The rent is 7000 per month. And again, no hanky-panky. You seem to be a very nice boy”.

And that was how I did not get to do any hanky-panky for the 6 months I stayed in that house. Because I eventually had to call my mom to stay with me to prove to the old man / society broker / caretaker that I indeed am a nice boy. And my mom not only ensured they know the same, but she also went a step ahead and called the lady over for some nice Andhra snacks / coffee. Not to mention the smiles and small talk they eventually started to share like they were old buddies. smooth stuff.

And, remember I said I had fallen in love? Yeah, that also happened along with a big divine intervention. I got shipped off to Japan. The Japan Diaries has the dope on why I went there. For my Sumi.

We shall not talk about the love story here. Since this is the story of a house. Suffice it to say that this love story spanned across

  • 18 months,
  • 2 countries,
  • innumerable calling cards,
  • countless fights and make ups,
  • lots of pasta, trips, insobriety,brooding, philosophizing,
  • lots of 555s, and finally
  • did not end with us living happily ever after.

Quite an anti-thesis to the DDLJ type stuff we are fed on. Serendipity is the lifeline for a wanderer. I was still trying to unravel myself. But on retrospect, it was the best thing that happened to me.

I learned life’s sixth big lesson. “Love is not blind, deaf nor dumb and needs to have a good memory.”

Confucius is confused between shaadi.com or meetsinglesinyourlocalarea.com.

I hope you are enjoying the story. ‘Cause if you aren’t, then am sure you do not have much to do for you to reach this line. So read on.

Japan. Circa 2008. Same job. Seventh house.

What do you call a place that is somewhere between a 1BHK and a 1BHK?

Buzzzz. A 1BHK with H silent. That is the right answer! Man, are you on fire!

Arigato Gozaimasu! Yes, it was a 1-room-kitchen-bathroom-toilet-balcony. All rolled into one, beautifully cramped-up pigeon-hole and yet spacious enough to do a 2-minute sumo wrestling jaunt with your Japanese girlfriend before you let go of her and she falls over the balcony railing.

And this was the same room where I spent 18 months of fun, cooking, trying out Japanese cuisine, treks (Mount Fuji!) and more, including the points listed above.

Then I intervened – the only time when I did not let the divine come in. I regret that actually. And I shipped myself back to homeland.

Learned life’s seventh biggest lesson. “Love does know boundaries. When in Japan, stay in Japan and earn some more.”

Confucius is feeling better as I came closer to China.

Chennai. Circa 2009.Fifth job. Temporary.Seventh House.

What do you call a place which is between the ocean, some coconut trees, a wide stretch of road, is pink in color and is lovingly called the Playboy Mansion?

Buzzz. Wow! A hammock between the trees and some nude gays running around!

Wrong answer. And what is making you so excited?

“Err. Pink, Playboy. Hmm. Has to be one of the Best Homes I have ever seen.” Yep. That’s the right answer!

And so, “Best Homes”, the name of the apartments on OMR Road, Chennai became the backdrop for one  of the strangest seven months in my life.

Fun, dark, poignant and in all that, made some friends for life. The Chennai Times. Says it all.

And then it happened.The happening that happens at the end before I happen to learn my lesson. Strange, it always happens that way.

Divine intervention and I went back to Pune to my previous company.

I learned life’s eighth biggest lesson. ” A pink colored apartment is not always a playboy mansion”.

Confucius is searching the dictionary and the phone directory for playboy.

Pune. Circa 2009. Sixth Job. Eighth House.

What do you call a place that looks like a run-down 1BHK from the Victorian era?

Buzzzz. A 1BHK in a cosy residential area behind ICT towers on SB Road. Yep! That is the right answer. Am surprised you understood the koschan.

This 1BHK from the Victorian era was a stone’s throwaway from a swanky gym, a Crossword to spend weekends at, nice looking chicks, some malls and which costed me a bomb.

But I did not complain because it was right next to where one of my very close friends from Chennai stayed. Hence, the prospect of continuing the Chennai Times seemed so inviting, money did not matter. And friendship prevailed.

Hmmm. I am so warm and mushy right now. Not so much though when the same guy abuses me these days for not calling him so frequently.

But for the few months I stayed there, before you-know-what-intervened (duh!), the wheels of fortune flipped, hopped, skipped and jumped in such a random and yet heart-warming manner, I started seeing dots everywhere. Yes, dots. Not stars.

Angst, frustration, dogged persistence with the mundane while expecting the turn of a corner, and finally harmony.

Got divorced. The word does not seem to have the strange twang it used to have earlier.

And got an MBA admit along with it. This neither. Of course, because I am an MBA now. Ah. There it is again. Damn!

It’s amazing how easy life’s hurdles seem, when you start believing in these rather insignificant elements of the universe – The dots. Steve Jobs has spoken about it. Rashmi Bansal has written about it. And I am blogging about it. Man! Too much that was!

The divine intervened and I left Pune yet again to head back to where I was born. Well, not exactly where I was born, but close enough. I learned life’s ninth big lesson. “A strange dot twangs and a strange blot swangs.”

Confucius is levitating. He is deeply moved by the depth of this saying. The playboy seemed to have worked.

Hyderabad. Circa 2011. Seventh Job. Ninth House. My Home.

And this is the moment I have been waiting. For almost 172 Hours, 54 minutes, 6 seconds. Since I started writing all this down. Including part I.

Trumpets, Bugles and Drum Rolls. I will take a dramatic pause and imagine myself standing atop the roof of my brother’s beaten down Hyundai with my hands stretched out, a la SRK while you answer this koschan. The last one, I promise.

What do you call a place that

  • makes you walk and drive around in the sun like it was pleasant weather,
  • surprises you by making 7-figure numbers dance on your fingertips,
  • makes you negotiate like you were born to do that,
  • makes terms such as “super built up area” look like you use it everyday
  • makes you a financial planner, interior designer, carpenter, pujari, loan and real estate consultant, all rolled into one,
  • makes you read the “Personal Finance” section of the ET with unprecedented enthu,
  • makes you go on an all-night, mantra-chanting devotional trip, clad in only a dhoti and shrouded in smoke that would singe you down to your eye sockets, and preceded only by a day-long fast that’d get the rats in your stomach run everywhere inside of you, and
  • gets you to pay almost half of your salary every month after all this, and yet

does not make you feel a wee bit uncomfortable?

Buzzzz. The comfort and warmth of your own home. Yeah, I know that is the right answer, and the only answer. Thank you and good luck!

The one thought that hit me right in the middle of my medula oblongata when I was going through all the bullet points listed above while searching, deciding and finalizing my own apartment in Hyderabad was just this – I guess I am growing up. I just smiled at myself.

And it has only started. The dots seemed to be lining up.

Meanwhile, I learned life’s tenth big lesson. “Don’t laugh when someone says “rubber wood”.”

Confucius is calling up playboy and is asking about it. I need to call him home once.

Confucius say

“Man who reads long post gets exhausted”

Story of a house – I

Sector 35, Noida. Circa 2004. My second job. My first house. 6 months.

What do you call a place to stay which is somewhere between a 1 room flat and an enclosed space with a thatched roof?

Buzzzzz. A servant’s quarter. That’s the right answer!! And I paid for it every month.

An LG Flatron TV. A wooden bed. 6 AM knock on the door by a nice caring owner with a steaming cup of tea. A few “Bobby Da Dhabas” at a stone’s throw for the daily staple.

And if I threw a few more stones,  I even had a “Waves” mall. For the Saturday night movies. And some eye balm too. Nutshell. Everything what a bachelor, still fresh from staying in a hostel for four years, needed.

Except that one thing. Which you need for the sweat and the heat. The swelter that can make you go crazy. That which can make you strip down to your bare skin in utter desperation. Yeah, a fan. What else did you think?? That rotating piece of machinery, which throws air around and lets you sleep in peace. Especially during power cuts in the middle of the hot summers’ night of Noida.

It was the first insight I had into life’s myriad lessons. “A fan rotates fast.” It was an eye-opener. A silver bullet. Confucius would have wanted to say this. And I moved on.

Andheri, Mumbai. Circa 2005. My third job. My second house. 6 months.

What do you call a place that is somewhere between a servant’s quarter and a 2BHK?

Buzzzzzz. A 1BHK!. That is the right answer!

I also had 3 housemates. One of them was my first running buddies. And the last also, I guess. We used to run every night post dinner after 10 PM. I never understood then. I do not understand now, either.  But we ran after 10 PM.

Probably it was all part of the bonding process between housemates. Turned out we were the only ones to be bonding. ‘Cause the other two already had mates with whom they did more than just run. One of them was always on the phone. The other always returned at ungodly hours in the night.

And I always woke up with yellow wall paint peeled off from the ceiling.

This had nothing to do with the bonding process I am sure. A call to the house owner always ended up with

  • him saying that he would fix it, BUT
  • he would add that amount to the rent, BUT
  • we always refused to do that, AND

I ended up waking up with the yellow paint peeled off from the ceiling.

I learned life’s second big lesson. “A ceiling paint never peels. And it never falls all over you during the night”.

Confucius wants to hug me right now.

I was on the verge of moving out. And at around the same time, like a divine intervention, I was shipped off to Bangalore.

I learned life’s third big lesson as well. “Ceiling paint and software services are not related”.

I can sense Confucius confused.

Bengaluru. Circa 2005-2006. Same job. Different place. Third house.

What do you call something that is between a 1BHK in a village type place and an IT park and is only 10 minutes to reach from?

Buzzzz. A road! Yes, but a little more specific? A road, tarred in places and not so much elsewhere! That is the right answer! This has nothing to do with the post, though.

Easily, one of the best times I have had. In fact, third house = 2 houses. And that includes a motley crew of my engineering buddies. Waking up to strange guys lying sprawled in the living room, French toast and beer for breakfast, night outs and “power cut” intoxicants, fighting, laughing, et al. It was called The Mansion. And we were called the Homies. We listened to everything that sounded like music, cooked anything that looked like food, partied anytime, cracked poor jokes, swore at each other and generally hung around with no hassles at all. Cool stuff, really.

Oh. And I even started to fall in something called love. Will talk about that later.

While I was about to transform into a real Homie, the divine intervened once more and I got called back to Mumbai. Actually, Thane. Most people say it is not Mumbai. Whatever works.

I learned life’s fourth big lesson. “A Homie always drinks on Mondays”. Yo, Confu bro! Wazzup!

And I moved on again.

Thane. Circa 2006. Same job. Fifth house.

What do you call a place that has a semblance to what you call a “house” and looks like a poor cousin to Hiranandani?

Buzzzz. A 1BHK apartment in Rutu Estate. That is the correct answer! By the way, Hiranandani has got nothing to do with Rutu.

This 1BHK was one of the places I could call my own. Well, technically it was mine because I was the only one who lived in it and paid the rent. And it had everything. My own bedroom. My own TV. My own loo. And a fully functional kitchen where I had one of my very first encounters, among many with an entity called Dosa.

It was my first tryst at staying alone. And strangely, it did not feel strange to me. I guess I had grown up, although I could never get that Dosa to look like one.

Oh. Talk about growing up. I also went on a date once. You know, the kinds where you do not know if it’s a real date? Or you’ve been made part of a romantic scene of a Hindi movie with cameras all around and you just don’t know it yet?

Going by the general definition of a “Date”, it was all smooth and copybook. Like the bullet points I have written below.

  • I took a sweaty bus ride
  • I waited outside her place for half an hour
  • I took another sweaty auto ride. This time with her.
  • I spent the evening sitting by the beach with coconut water and listening to her talk. Mostly about herself.
  • Meanwhile, I held on to my drink, all the time wondering if watching a movie with pizza had been a better option. Do not get me wrong. She was a nice, pretty girl. But remember the point about the movie scene?
  • I took a sweaty bus ride back

Copybook and nice. Really. Only thing, it happened only once. Because, between this one and the next one that was being thought of, by her, she said something about her parents looking out for her and something about me deciding soon. I do not remember the “something” because it was around 3 AM when she said this. But I distinctly remember me not going to office the next day.

I had a bad stomach. And I had not even made Dosas.

Meanwhile, divine intervention happened. And I moved again.

I learned life’s fifth lesson. “A bad dosa or a bad date will cause a bad stomach” Confucius must be hungry.

I am hungry too. Will continue in part II. This is just to keep the curiosity alive. And kill the cat.

******** To be Continued********

******** Yes, will be Continued********

******** Quadrata Continuendum********

******** El Continu********

******** Continuum Mechanicos********

******** Your call is important to us. Please be in line.********

******** Your call is important to us. Please be in line.********

******** Your call is important to us. Please be in line.********

The Manilogues – I

Epilogue

Dekha hai pehli baar man in the box

where were you roobaroo

And so the tone was set for the first leg of our Manila trip as part of the International immersion module for our batch. A motley crew of around 40, after battling it out for over two weeks with a barrage of classes, quizzes, night outs, and even the guilt of nonchalance, was all set to let their hair down on our first leg from Jamshedpur to Kolkata Airport, en route to the pristine beaches of Manila and AIM. Half of this crew was the “Taiwanese” junta, who were going to Fujen University, Taiwan.

By the way, they lovingly call themselves “Taiwan ke haiwan”. Very cliched and tacky no? Of course, we were not to be left behind in the tackiness game and our punchline has been “Manila mein raslila”. There are other versions too.

  • “Manila mein ghatshila”
  • “Yenla Manila” – This is the Kannada offshoot.
  • “Man illa. Only Woman”.

Nice no? Ok, the last three were my inventions, but am sure they are infinitely better than the raslila thingy!! Hmpff!

Prologue

So, back to the trip. It all started with a voting system that happened in the 1st term where we had to put in our choices for the country and university we wanted to go to. In fact, a big takeaway from the perspective of management education, per se, has been the capability with which we, as techno-managers are able to think outside the box, manage conflicts within disparate groups, get in best of the breed solutions without creating dissonance and ultimately norm ourselves towards a consensus, getting a buy in from all parties concerned.

To cut a long story short. Google polls. I probably have not participated in as many polls as I have after coming to do an MBA. Consensus building, they say.

Note the sarcastic take on management jargon? Eh? Time for a pause with a gloating smile here, pliss.

By the way, me thinks there is too much sarcasm for MBA education in my posts. Do you think so too? I think I need to do a poll on this. Hmmm.

Prologue again

Anyways, as I was saying. We had a poll on which universities we wanted. Now, “want” is an overestimated word in here. Some got the university and place of their choice. Some got the place and not the university. Some got the university and not the place. Some got tired of this and opted out of this choosing to go back home. And some just did not care. The last segment (Jargon alert!) would have gone to TIM, for all they cared,  if it was close to their hometowns. Or better, if there was a virtual International Immersion Module!

TIM – Timbuctoo Institute of Management. Flagship Program is their 1-month International EGMBA where the focus is on Timbuctoo’s burgeoning tourism industry which has grown by leaps and bounds just because everyone goes to this place when you do not have anywhere else to go. Good program, I must say.

Anyways, so finally the score looked something like this :

6 universities, 4 Countries, ~ 115 casualties, and 23 of them to Manila (Asia Institute of Management, Makati City).

I am one of the 23. Hence the title of the post. If you didn’t get it by now, you probably went to one of the other three places. Or just do not get what “play on words” is. Or you do not visit my blog often. Or you are an MBA with no sense of humor (sarcasm alert!!).

Anyways, a few emails later, a poll on who would be the team leader and a lot of emails hence on how to get ourselves transported to Kolkata without getting our asses kicked by the Maoist fellas, a bus was booked. And nope. No redbus, no yaatra.com and none of those “<dash><your><mine><his><and what not>trip” websites catering to provide buses between Jamshedpur and kolkata. It is the good ol’ “call up the travels, haggle on the price and book a bus” MO that works here. Hence, post a lot of debate on whether we should take a volvo or not, we ended up with a non-volvo.

That’s ’cause he did not have a volvo. He had a “Pahari Maa”. The name of the luxury bus, i.e.

And that is how, we ended up with a mish mash of the “tones” I mentioned earlier.

By the way, that was an indication of how I was listening to songs that were playing in the iPod shuffle I was using and the music system in the bus. And believe it or not, there was this mish mash through out. Except when we stopped the bus to pee.

Epilogue?

So, post a not-so-eventful bus trip we reached the Kolkata Airport well within time for check-in. After a not-so-eventful wait for the flight and a not-so-eventful boarding (of course, discounting the pretty Singapore Airlines hostesses) at 11:30 PM, we and the flight were set for the long trip to Manila. Again, except some nice turbulence, 2 really nice scotch-on-the-rocks for me, and 3 really nice conversations with a pretty air-hostess that seemed to last for hours (she came quite a few times to my seat actually, asking me if I had the belt on, if I needed a drink, and if I wanted some food…ah. The caring) , the not-so-eventful flight reached Singapore at an ungodly hour of around 3:30 AM. I think it was pretty much of a “walk in a hangover” for me, as I do not remember much of what I saw loitering around in the airport. Also, I think I am was am was in love with the air hostess. What was her name, dammit?

A not-so-eventful 4 , 3 hour wait later, the sleepy 23 boarded the Singapore Airlines flight to Manila. With a new set of prettier air hostesses waiting for me us. This time I had to sleep. I mean, on my seat. Alone, i.e. Ahem. Remember I was sleepy?

Ok. It’s over

And 3 hours later, we reached Manila. Philippines. Where else? A not-so-eventful 5 wait later, we met our AIM representatives, Frenzy and Chick. No, he was not in a frenzy. And she is very nice.

Post getting to know whether they were faculty (I think Koschan Nair has resurfaced!), we set out for the AIM Conference Center, at Makati City where we were to be put up.

A nice cup of hot tea, some Filipino biscuits, a quick tour of the institute by “Frick”, a hot, warm bath, an orientation to the 3 weeks of stay on what we would be doing, and with Juan on our heels, we were all set to immerse ourselves internationally in Manila!

P.S : As a first step to that, we got a crate of you-know-what. Just to immerse ourselves.

P.P.S : I have read Law. I will not be thrown out if I do not mention you-know-what….I guess?


Bye Bye lizzy…

I know we’ve had a love-hate relationship. Since my school days when I used to study under a table lamp and you would sneak up to me from behind and sit on my table. When my dad would lovingly laugh at me for being so scared of you and would tell me not to bother about you. When I spent sleepless nights imagining where you were in my room and hide under my blanket. Waiting for the first break of dawn.

In fact, as far as I remember, it has been more hate than love, actually.

Probably, the only time I have had an iota of affection for you was when I was told by my mother that you bring a lot of luck. That if I saw through your eyes, and touched you on your forehead, you would bring me peace of mind. Of course, she also said a lot of other stuff about you being a form of god and how you are actually revered by so many people.

But you know what. I went through hell taking deep breaths and preparing myself to face you. You scare and creep me up so much. So, I agree I do not know a lot about you. But that is the way it has stayed. Even after so many years. And yeah, I did touch your forehead. Traveling miles away from home, and jostling through a sea of people. Just because my mother told me to.

I know I’ve always shunned you away. Even though my friends welcomed you in their rooms. Saw you through their windows without a hint of disgust. Hell, they even let you into their bathrooms. I mean, the bathroom! For heaven’s sake! Where you spend the most private moments, immersed in thought, planning for the day or just preparing for that case study you are supposed to analyze in class. And there you are looking at them with that steely gaze of yours’.

Anyway. Peace. I have no intentions of knowing what it was exactly that you did in their bathrooms.

I have seen you stare at me. I don’t know what it is that you expect of me. I have tried to be patient with you. I have tried ignoring you. But you always seem to intrude in to my life. At the most important moments. Such as in the mornings, after that customary cup of tea and all I would want to do was read my  morning newspaper and then rush for office. Or after a long day’s work, I just want to watch some good ol’ TV with a cup of tea, and there you are. Looking at me again. I mean. Seriously. What is with that look of yours’? Is it anger? Is it fear? Is it love? Or do I not matter to you at all? Not that I care, but what the hell is that look??

Anyways. Now, why would you want to interfere in my life like that? I have never hurt you, have I?

In fact, I have had to change my life because of you. During those days when you accidentally came into my room,  I have had to re-orient my furniture! Just so you could live leave peacefully. Without any bad blood. And this, after a long day of classes, quizzes and all I wanted to do was plonk on my bed and crash to a dreamless sleep.

Dreamless, did I say?. I have had nightmares after that. But did I ever complain? No. Never.

Well. Now, I am leaving for a few weeks and would hopefully not see you in the foreign shores I am headed to. I might come across your friends, but I am sorry I cannot carry any message for them, because I have no intention of talking to or looking at them.

I would hope that when I come back, I do not find you in my life. In my room. Or in my bathroom. Or looking at me through the windows. Or anywhere in the vicinity of me.

Please do not get me wrong.

I know you find various ways to come back in to my life, and I have blocked you off it. With cello tape!

I have never meant to hurt you. I have never meant to spite you, and god knows, I have never wanted to hate you.

But I just don’t want to love you.

I know I don’t have a heart.

But it is the pain of seeing you that makes me heartless. Bye Bye Lizzy. So long.