Wednesday, October 29, 2008


The first time I did it, I was old enough to tell between good and evil. When you’re twenty one, they don’t send you to cute playschools with cuter women to look after you, or do they? I’ve done it in front of my friends, my economics professor, my neighbour’s dog, my grandmother’s pet gold fish, people I knew, people I never met before and a whole bunch of people you wouldn’t want to know about. Today, I can’t do it anymore. And it’s not me. It’s the rotten system that forbids it.

By now if you haven’t figured out what my ranting is all about… You must be -

o A dead sewer rat who got washed ashore last week

o A wretched introvert living in Pluto, who occasionally mutters a word or two to the potted plant on the window sill

o A fitness freak whose sex life is restricted to Sundays because the gym is closed on that day

o A numbskull diet freak whose mental activity is limited to the arithmetic of counting calories

o A lousy fucking pencil pusher who hides behind the reels of red tape and bureaucracy because it makes you feel important; or simply

o A health minister who still hasn’t figured out what to do with your rising power graph and falling popularity graph

But it’s ok. You don’t need a doctor turned politician turned self-styled messiah of the vote bank to tell you that smoking causes cancer, impotency, emphysema and other life threatening diseases that scientists are still discovering. For that matter, even marijuana, hashish and other recreational drugs can do the job more swiftly. Let’s allow the sale of recreational drugs and then ban their use in public places. Brilliant!

But not so fast Mr. Prophet! And not before you have told us how to stop the few million men who spend the last nickel of their day’s earnings on liquor; to go home to beat up their wives black and blue, and then have forced sex with them. Is the smoking ban going to change this? Or stop the rising suicides among our farmers for that matter??

So why kill joy by coming in the way of our troubled souls and our only solace (cheap publicity hehe). This is a free country and everyone of us is free to do what we like. Only that, the legitimacy of our actions depends on the ambiguity of our laws and our ability to arm-twist it. And your muscle’s bigger than mine. Anyways, your plight is sad. And sadder than mine. You can’t even smoke the peace pipe with me, even if you badly want to.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


But I don’t think I am any good either. Right now I am too busy to evaluate my laziness and put a check on it. Yes, I’ve got too much to work: Weekends my desk seems to be a Mt. Everest of A4 sheets; and weeknights I am in office figuring out what next.

I don’t have the time to fix the ceiling fan in my living room. There’s my suit hanging from the curtain pelmet. I still haven’t found time to hang it in the wardrobe. My parents have assumed that I work abroad these days. My neighbours think I work for the secret service. My wife thinks Wednesdays are perfect to meet, because they fall exactly between Monday blues and Friday blitzkriegs. I am doing too many things. And I still have too many things to do.

Wait. This is not a practiced act of condemnation and self-pity. I am merely reflecting a thought. Something, which many can’t afford in the current context of life.

Most of us seem to be becoming adept in incessantly running from task to chore to priority to ambition without moving an inch. For many of us, our days begin and end right at our desks. This includes the express meal breaks confined to our cubicles.

Almost all of us have a ready answer for the pesky aunts and uncles of the world. “I am busy, there’s so much of work at office and I am the only one there to do it. Some of us even manage to convince our family and friends that the bosses would have to shut shop and go; if we failed to turn up at work two days in a row.

All that is fine. But are we really putting the 24 hours of a day to best use?

One of my most original theories is that- if one slept eight hours a day, he or she would end up wasting one third of his or her life (irrespective of one’s lifespan). I must admit… I haven’t managed to propound anything this brilliant till date.

As for the countless beers I’ve had wasted in the company of men with similar ideals; and the kinetic progression of my waistline; or the ever-expanding aura of my dark circles, I hope to find answers one day.

Still okay. I think it got the point across. That’s what matters. I guess identifying one’s problem is the first step towards solving it. So hopefully I make some progress from here. Huh, gotta go! My colleague wants some more beer. And me too.

Monday, February 25, 2008

About ends and beginnings.

2008 has been a fabulous year for me so far. It’s rather early in the day, I know. But I still feel it’s worth mention. The year began on an upbeat note and the going so far has been more than good. But many I know have lost someone dear this year. It’s really depressing; especially when it’s only February yet. A good friend lost his dad last month. My neighbour lost his wife- a mother of two pre-teen daughters, one of our clients lost a bright young executive – the guy was not even 30. It’s not like any of them were ailing for months and waiting their turn, or biding their time. It just happened.

I am in no mood for my usual sarcasm or spell of contorted humour; moreover am late for this month’s post. It’s my third attempt on this post and I shamelessly admit that the previous two attempts neither began nor ended well.

Writing about death is so different and difficult to even the most articulate of men. I think it is simple, complex, consequential, trivial, expectable, surprising and shocking, all at the same time. I have heard this question countless times in the last couple of months. Almost all of us ask this question when we lose someone too close to our heart: Where does one go, after life?

Religion in its multitude has its explanations to offer. Every religion has a carefully crafted guidebook of life’s instructions and all philosophy is centred on the mysterious concept of death, thrusting the fear of the unknown deep into our hearts. So we’ve all been told about heaven, hell and earth. Though we convince ourselves to believe, all of us still want to know where we’ll all head one day.

Thankfully my perception of afterlife is somewhat stable; I am proud to say. But the bloody truth I am yet to accept is that one day my worldly possessions would cease to be mine. My beautiful bikes, my collections of knives and lighters, my books, my movies, and me, myself? Feels like a firm kick on the bottom with a metal boot.

Alas, a few hours of profound thinking and a few cigarettes before concluding the post did their job. It did dawn upon me that as humans we are endowed with memories. It’s one of the few things that differentiate us from animals. The kind of people we have been; of stuff we’ve done for those around us; of good things and good times. They are the inseparable part of ourselves that we leave behind; a little of it in everyone we meet in our lives everyday. So, as long as the good memories remain, one really doesn’t go away anywhere. This is my learning from the fond memories I have; of those who've lived beyond life.

It doesn't take much effort to be pleasant, good or even helpful. And it’s never too early, or never too late to start. Now is just right to make a beginning. As for me, I would love to be remembered as a good writer. So, even if you find my writing boring beyond description, please remember to forgive me. It's good.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Bargaining for trouble!

If someone as intimidating as I am (with a walrus moustache, 200lb displacement and stature well beyond six feet from the ground), can be confused, irritated and helpless with where things are heading… then I guess life’s definitely not better for any other law-abiding tax-paying commoner in India.

The millions who parch their throats dry bargaining over a dozen bananas, but remain mute spectators in a system that sucks out their lifeblood in the name of personal tax: Ashamedly I am one of them. What we call the Great Indian Middle Class (GIMC).

Life was bliss and everything seemed just fine, until the day my employers decided to reward me with a little more. My new pay check was a pleasant shock. Pleasant because I was costing them more than before; and a shock because it came with a tax clause (read claws) that clipped my net salary and dipped it below my current earnings.

Personal tax is mouse trap. A custom-made trap specially designed for the GIMC. The poor are too poor to pay; the rich are rich enough to escape its tentacles; and the divide remains the same. Except that the GIMC (the most efficient indicators of economic growth) have been too preoccupied to bother. For the past three generations, they have been slogging it out for a paradise that will never be. Like all this was not enough - the current rat race to produce the One Lac Car seems like the perfect icing on the cake of mockery.

I am not any gun-wielding anti-establishment insurgent on the run, who found his calling in high-voltage discourses on liberty, equality and justice. I am just another man, who wants his voice to be heard; whose ultimate aspiration is the ability to spend his money the way he wants.

The establishment is a company of senile old men who run it for the common welfare of their progeny and no one else. The men in white; who deserted their Ambies for faster, sportier cars (no guesses to tell who’s paying for all that opulence) somehow never bothered about the pace of our progress obstructed by frustration and helplessness.

All our Good Samaritan- Role Model Citizen - Corporate Gurus, who went on to found, manage and mentor their public-funded enterprises, pay only a notional personal tax. It’s possible because the establishment believes it to be lawful and legitimate. They couldn’t have managed their private islands and Scottish castles from their salaries after tax. The truth here is that their booties come from the dividend income and not salaries. It’s a no-brainer. On second thoughts it seems otherwise. Even their morally upright socially responsible charity initiatives are merely well-orchestrated PR exercises that are ploughed back as tax rebates.

As I write this piece, I am interrupted by an unavoidable phone call. It’s from a jubilant friend who says how he foresees drastic reforms on personal taxes in the forthcoming budget. I’m suddenly religious and summon all the gods I can remember. I wish it’s the truth.
I pinch myself and ask him to repeat what he just uttered. My heart misses a beat. It is “drastic personal taxes to budget forthcoming reforms”. Sarcasm? Hardly!!