Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Birthday, D.

Circa 1980.
Home. Morning. Or evening. Or pretty much anytime, actually. Me standing in the corner (standard punishment for having done something ghastly). D walks up.

Me: sniffle
D: Ke bokechhey? Ma bokechhey? Acchha, ami ma-ke bokey debo.*

Circa 1982.
Bonfire night - presumably St. Paul's Cathedral, in the crisp Calcutta winter.

Me: (Having really heard the words to "Rudolph" for the first time) What does "He went down in history" mean?

D: (Deadpan) It means he failed history.

Circa 1985.

Interior of jeep, Hazaribagh forest, pitch black night, competing for a favourite uncle's attention. D telling joke, me trying to cut in.
Me: I saw a tail, I saw a tail! I just saw a tail hanging down from that tree.

D: Was it a long tail or a tall tale?

Circa 1987.
Home. D (18) and a bunch of his friends hanging around in his room. Me (10) insisting on hanging around with them.
D: Progga, now do your disappearing trick.

Circa 1992.
Platform, Ahmedabad station, waiting for the train home after visiting D on campus for a few days.
D: So... what else has been happening?

Me: (the first time I'm speaking to Family about Something So Very Important)
Ummm... so... ummm. I think I like this boy... (kicking clods embarassedly, voice trailing off)

D: Really? And? Tell me more...
Me: I don't want to talk about it.

D: OK.

(Not another question about this, ever.)

Circa 1996.
Me hysterical, sitting at the top of the stairs, howling so hard I can barely speak. On phone with D, calling from Bangalore.

Me: And I fell off the train. And I can't figure out if I'm hurt. My knees are numb, I can't feel anything. I'm scared. Don't tell Ma and Baba.

D: (trying to understand what I'm saying and respond calmly instead of calling the parents pronto) OK. First, go see a doctor, and let me know what he says. And sometime - tomorrow, next year, 5 years later, whenever - make sure you tell them yourself. Don't let them hear from someone else.#

Circa 1998.

Me in Bombay, talking on the phone to D in Bangalore.
Me: What the hell is the deal with men? Why the...? What the...? *%@!#&! (non-stop ranting for 10 minutes.)

D: (resigned tone) OK, I can see we'll have to have that man-to-man chat about sex now.

And on... and on... and on...

To the world's most outstandingly annoying sibling... my tormentor for years... and idol for many more. You may be old but I still think you're pretty cool.

* Who scolded you? Ma? OK, I'll scold Ma then.
# It only took me 3 years, by the way.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

And what, then, is there to write about?

Miserable weather, mostly. Too cold, too many flurries, too soon. Grey, wet gloom and ice slicking the tarmac so one has to pick one's feet and walk carefully. Office thermostat malfunction, so that one's feet freeze through the day. End-of-year blues. Deathly malaise that makes it difficult to drag oneself out of bed and into work each morning. A crippling incapacity to do anything remotely productive... and an environment that robs anything productive one does of any excitement or value.

Crib, bitch, whine, moan...

But ah, the one silver lining: the discovery of the Telegraph quick crossword online. Oh Calcutta-morning-ritual joy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

None of These Dots Connect

1. Airplane stationary between runways, waiting for a gap in the every-9-seconds take-offs and landings to taxi to the gate. Sunset, a steady stream of flights appearing magically, hey-presto, out of crimson and grey cloud banks, landing lights ablaze. Magical. What is it about watching flights land and take off that fires the imagination?

2. Red sofa and sheets in lamplight, warmth against the drizzly cold gloom of a too-cold-too-early winter.

3. A week-long vacation at the Grand Canyon. Driving through desert, past vermilion cliffs, across the mighty Colorado. No laptop, no Blackberry, no thoughts of work. A daily dose of beer, If On A Winter's Night, A Traveler, the Gotan Project, family. More, please.

4. Family get-together. Arrivals timed to make me go to the airport thrice in 48 hours. 5 of us in my 1-bedroom apartment, getting in each other's way - and into each other's hair. All the inevitable squabbles and then some. Still perfect.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Faith & Reason

An astounding series of interviews with prominent authors about the twin ideas of faith and reason, and how they impact our lives and futures. Watch.

Link courtesy M.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Crime & Enjoyment

I'd totally buy these.
Though I suspect that the real cosies come from reading the originals, while snuggled into a squashy sofa lit by the glow of a single lamp, on stormy evenings

Link from M.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Familiarity breeds... ummm... contempt?

(short, telling silence)
S: Are you trying to make cat noises?
Me: No, but I KNEW you'd say that.

~ ~ ~

S: aghotrrj
Me: have you gone insane, or is your cat walking across the keyboard again?

S: ha ha ha - I KNEW you'd say that.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Yippi Ki Yay Mo

So I just got back from watching Live Free or Die Hard, which was a spectacular movie. Spectacularly bad, that is. Although highly entertaining. Among other things, the movie features Bruce Willis hanging from every conceivable item (a walkway, an F-35 plane, the open door of a car balanced precariously in what appears to be an elevator shaft), jumping out of a car at the last moment, to send it up a pillar with such precision as to collide with and take out a helicopter, surfing on the wing of the aforesaid F-35 as it's about to crash, and in a spectacular wheelie with an 18-wheeler, which Mr. Willis gets out of, against all known laws of physics, by turning the steering wheel in the direction that will actually disbalance him more. (At the end of this scene, I wanted to jump up and cheer, and throw loose change at the screen!) And, of course, there were some scenes that were lifted straight from other movies (the elevator shaft scene carries shades of one of the Jurassic Park movies, for instance).

And as we stood around rehashing and laughing hysterically at some scenes, the conversation rolled around to the worst movies we've ever seen. Immediate contenders for the rank of world's worst movie were:
a. Independence Day (Best line: "Today will be known as the independence day of the whole world.")
b. Dante's Peak
c. King Solomon's Mines
d. Matrix Revolutions
e. Commando
f. Air Force One (Best line: "Get off my plane!")

What thoughts, people? If I wanted to watch some really, really terrible movies, what would you recommend?

Friday, July 20, 2007


R: Do you want to play Dumb Charades?

Me: Yes, let's! But we'll need to get the others to play too, not just the two of us.

R: Yes. Because that would be dumb.

Me: It would be a charade.

R: Yup. We're all done here, aren't we?

Thursday, July 12, 2007


1. You may be as much in the right as it is possible to be, but the customer is the customer. You don't have the right to tell her she's irrational, unprofessional or mediocre. You don't have the right to grab her lapels and shake her into comprehension. You don't have the right to scream and shout and kick her shins, even when she's beating her fists on the floor and throwing tantrums about your being unable to resolve her mistakes, even when she offers no gratitude for the help you offer. Yours but to offer the assistance you can, keep your temper and know when to walk away from games of "who blinks first".

2. Hope dies eternal. Walking away is difficult. You always think, around this next bend will be a solution for us both.

3. Serenity prayer.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Bombay, Meri Jaan

Suddenly, I am yearning for Bombay. Even the rain and waterlogging. Remembering my first weekend in Bombay, drenched and happy, sitting at Yankee's and singing loudly, chasing away customers. Gokul's tiny pieces of cheese and boiled eggs, served with cheap one-for-one alcohol. Leo's chilli beef and beer. The thrum of Colaba. Sitting on Marine Drive at sunset, drinking oversweet tea and smoking, existentialism in the air. Even those fucking trains. I miss the late night clack of the handrails in the trains when I was the only passenger. The feel of standing at the door and watching the city pass by, faster than fairies, faster than witches, bridges and houses, and lots of shit-filled ditches. I miss the solitude and anonymity the city afforded me, the people, the things we did. Bandstand in the evening. Churchgate station. Go 92.5 FM and Good Morning Mumbai with Tarana and Jaggu. And the chai wala who would make you half a cup of adrak wala chai, kum shakkar, in a city made to order. The sandwich wala who had a cell phone and would deliver a sandwich up to the 9th floor for you when you called down. My little place in Juhu, with windows opening onto green leaves and aerodrome hums. South Bombay at night, roads wide and empty, fluorescent lamps gleaming. Trying to buy shoes on Linking Road. Imagining J trying to buy furry handcuffs on Hill Road. Our trips to Apple Cake, where we embarassed the Bong waiter and P in one fell swoop. And where was it that P ate cake before dinner and they laughed at us? And oh, Pot Pourri, dammit, hallowed site of so many of our sessions. And Toto's and the Shack. And karoke night at Starters. And taxicabs. And all the places where we sat and bared our souls and gurgled with laughter. Zara hatke, zara b(n)achke, yeh hai Bombay, meri jaan.

Sunday, July 08, 2007


1. Why was the dyslexic devil-worshipper upset?

Because he'd sold his soul to Santa.

2. Did you hear about the dyxlexic, agnostic insomniac?

He stayed up nights wondering if there was a dog.


Following weeks of waking up late and heavy-lidded, I awoke relatively early today, to a glorious, sunny day. After an evening of excellent company, great food, random hysterical conversation and great waves of laughter, not to mention copious quantities of wine. In time to listen to my favourite weekly radio show: Breakfast With The Beatles. Morning coffee, newspapers and pottering, the day stretching out in front of me. Perhaps some chores. Perhaps visiting friends. Perhaps just sacking out, watching movies and reading. Perhaps posting about my trip to the Grand Canyon. The possibilities shimmer and hang in the air.

What in the world could be better?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Whose Right Is It Anyway?

A colleague and his family, on their way for a break, had a major accident this weekend. My colleague, following his GPS, took a detour off the highway onto a small road, which turned into a single lane road. Not realizing this, my colleague, who has an unsafe driving record, drove onto the left side of the road, which, he thought, was the passing lane. By the time he had realized it wasn't, and that he was driving in the lane for oncoming traffic, it was too late. Head-on collision, everybody injured, some people air-lifted to a hospital, cars totalled. My colleague's two little children have had steel pegs put in their legs, and his wife is still in critical condition. Nobody seems to know the condition of those in the other car. My colleague is relatively unscathed, though frantic with worry and guilt.

So now, he has been charged with "failure to keep right", and has to respond with a guilty / not-guilty plea. If he pleads guilty, he assumes blame for the accident, and will, in all probability, have his license suspended. (In suburban USA, this is equivalent to having your limbs cut off - you are effectively paralyzed.) If he pleads not guilty, and his guilt his proved, this might happen anyway. However, with a good lawyer, there is a chance that he may get away with something more minor. And thereby keep his license and keep driving.

My heart goes out to him and his family, still in the hospital far away from home, wondering how it will all go. But does this man deserve to drive again? It scares the shit out of me to think that through no fault of my own, someone might come barrelling down the wrong side of the road and plough into me. That what happens to me may not be a function of how safe a driver I am, but of how effective the system is at taking and keeping unsafe drivers off the road. That ultimately, what I do may have little impact (unfortunate term) on what happens to me.

Let's hope the system works.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


What on earth makes us think that customers wish to read pages and pages of our company's history (when we ourselves can't read through it)?

What makes us think that as long as we fill a proposal with gobbledegook and make it 100 pages long (thereby rendering it completely unreadable), it's alright to paste the exact same paragraph and diagram in multiple sections?

What makes us believe that proposal writing demands the unconditional surrender of both, the English language and logic, so that under the header "Project Management Methodology", we are compelled to write, "This section explains ____'s Project Management Methodology"?
And what makes us think that "project management methodology" as a part of a sentence is deserving of proper noun status?

And finally, why does nobody responsible for writing these proposals ever think about these things?

I think that the Indian offshore IT industry is in severe need of good communicators who:
a. Can write in short, clear sentences.
b. Approach communication from the customer's perspective, asking not "What do we want to showcase?" but "What would the customer like to see?"
c. See the function of communication as clarifying a point, not obfuscating it, and weigh content by substance, not by the pound.


Monday, April 30, 2007


So Puffle had pups. 7 of 'em. We now have, therefore, 10 dogs at home. This is my dream come true! It's like Santa's making up for lost time, for all the years over which I wrote to him, begging for a puppy because I had been "a good girl this year"! Of course, the fact is that I'm not home now, so :(

But still. Isn't this awesome?

Now let's all say it together: Awwwwwwww!

PS: Much as we'd like to keep them all, we will have to find homes for the pups. If you know of anybody in Calcutta who's looking for a Labrador Retriever and who will meet our high standards in fit-to-be-honoured-with-one-of-our-babies-ness, please let me know.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Free Hugs

This is awesome. Here you go - with a hug attached.

Courtesy of N.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Home Life

A long day of delayed flights, pointless trips, power outages and cancelled meetings. I arrived at Charlotte at 2:30 and took the 3:10 flight back. One would think that people would wisen up and get generators or something.

Back home, to work for the next couple of hours, while Pollini plays Chopin's Preludes & Etudes just for me.

Meanwhile, here are some pics.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Murphy Lives!

So I finally gave in and decided to buy some furniture, so friends could choose to sit somewhere other than on the floor. After weeks of research and a couple of trips to IKEA, I purchased the stuff and arranged to have it home delivered. Couldn't wait to set it up.
(And you just know that there's a "but" to this story, right?)

Murphy is laughing hysterically from his perch, somewhere. Because

a. Instead of the chair-sized futon I wanted, IKEA sent me (and charged me for) a sofa-sized futon. But just to taunt me, the cover they sent was for a chair-sized mattress.

b. My sofa arrived in three boxes - frame, cushions and cover. But, without hardware, without instructions, and most importantly, without arms or legs. IKEA informs me that "the arms and legs come separately, you have to buy them separately." Naturally. How stupid (slapping side of my head in self-flagellation) of me not to have specified that I'd like the arms and legs with the sofa too, that I don't want to just lean the frame against the wall.


A Week In The Life

Late night conference call.
Early morning conference call.
Work till 7:00 p.m.
Late night conference call.
Early morning conference call.
Flight to Cleveland.
2-hour drive to Erie.
Late night conference call.
Early morning conference call.
Late night conference call.
Early morning flight to Cleveland
Run km in Cleveland airport to different terminal for connecting flight due to depart in 20 minutes.
Late night conference call.
Morning meeting an hour's drive away.
Work till 3:00 a.m.
Work 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

This is not a life, it's a disease.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Snow and Sunshine

For no other reason than that it's wonderful to be out on a crisp day like this.

Friday, March 09, 2007

King of Swingers, aka Jungle VIP

Today is different.

Today I left work at 3:30 p.m., without a stab of guilt, indeed, gripped by an overwhelming belief that I deserved to go to the pub for a drink. Or several.

Today I didn't feel the cold.

Today I noticed how the bare branches of trees are beginning to bud.

Today I opened my first new account. The first new account for the company this year. (No doubt, there will be others tomorrow and on Monday, but let me have my moment of glory.)

It's taken only nine months. Nine months of pursuit, occasionally joyous and occasionally wearisome, with periodic highs as we crossed each stage more-or-less unscathed, and frequent, overwhelming setbacks making me want to stay in bed for a month. Much midnight oil burned, and the occasional warning to my boss that I was about to throw myself out of the office windows (which, by the way, can't be opened, presumably to dissuade people like me who shrink from the inconvenience of first needing to throw chairs through windows in order to be able to dispatch themselves thereafter). Nine months. It feels like forever.

But it's all been worth it. :) I feel like a king. A somewhat drunk king, about to drink some more. Let there be light. Goodwill on earth and peace to all mankind. Bring on the dancing girls with their hoola hoops and war-whoops and paint the town red. I certainly will!

The town has been painted red. The dancing girls are wearily whooping their way back to wherever they came from. The documents are signed. And now, back to the program.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

The Spirit of Celebration

This is worth watching. And acting on.

Link from India Uncut.

The Writing On The Wall

Is it a sign of the how addicted I am to work, or of how sad my life has become, that I find myself, at 10:44 p.m. on a Friday night, after returning from dinner with a friend, standing at my kitchen counter (I still haven't invested in furniture), laptop open, feeding in forecasts and filling in the CRM? Calling R to discuss the numbers before sending them out, my brain filling with thoughts of where those remaining numbers, the difference between the forecast and the target, are going to come from? Tea grown cold next to me, suitcase unpacked since I got back home last night, a book, face-down next to the laptop, not quite as enthralling as the calculations in my head?

Ze addiction, she is alive and well.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007


Yes, yes, I'm still alive. Photographs will have to suffice for now. Updates later.