Monday, December 2, 2013

Why Capt. Gopinath never asks for directions today?

Shiv and I worked for the Co Curricular Activities (CCA) department for sometime together. My workstation was right opposite to Shiv and in his den where he thundered almost always on his phone. The one problem with him roaring on the phone is that the guys on the other side seldom tried to cut in.
This was a time when ISB had gone ballistic with getting high value celebrities on to campus. Everyone from M F Husain to George Bush were paying us a visit and we were becoming famous. All in the CCA were engaged in coordinating these visits under the able leadership of Shiv.
One day a Student who was coordinating to get the Chief Minister of AP - the late YSR to campus, walked into the room and handed her mobile phone to Shiv and said Capt. Gopinath on line and he wants directions to reach ISB.
Shiv as usual took the opportunity to thunder... "Where are you coming from?" apparently Captain said "Bagumpet Airport."
Shiv took his customary pause before roaring back... "Oh in that case take the left to Panjaguda junction then from there to Banjara hills, then along KBR park to Jubilee Hills Check Post from where you take a left towards Apollo Hospital but turn right before that to take the Whisper Valley route to come to the old Bombay highway and once you reach the Highway go towards Hyderabad University or Gachibowli Stadium till you reach IDBI. If you see IIIT to your left you have missed IDBI so go back and take the road to Infosys and we are right opposite to that. Actually if your driver is from Noorie (cab service) he will know."
Shiv took a breath as he had done breathless that would put the original song to shame.
There was some stony silence that followed and then want Shiv turned and said to me in nonchalant Marathi makes me laugh even today...
"Arre tichya! hyalla Helicopter sathi directions pahije!"
Translation of the last line in English:
"Shit! this guy needed air directions for his Helicopter."

Mission & Vission

Reading into my social behavior i.e updates on Facebook, Linked In, Google +, PagalGuy, Etc... my McKenzie discard (sorry alumni) friend connected with me.
She wanted to know what exactly I was doing and how did I plan to make money out of this in the MBA prep industry.
She like many others could not believe that I had no profit motive and just would not take no for an answer with regards to free advice for me.
So I decided to shut my trap and listen...
She said "You know you should first draft a Vision & Mission?"
"May be your Mission statement should be like... "If its ISB then you Should go through #."
"Phew! cheesy Mission... " I sighed...
"And your Vision..."
"Short sighted but optically correctable to 6/6." I cut in.
We both had a good laugh and then I had to explain to her that I operate like a Section 25 Entity.
The moment I uttered that she seem to back off like I have never seen a sales consultant do before.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

14 Injections!

Those were the days when rumors were rampant that if a dog bites, you got to take 14 injections and that too in the stomach.

A bitch had just littered and like all school kids in my building I too was very keen to play with the pups. 

However the bitch was unpredictable and on one occasion, just out of the blue came over real closed and barked in a threatening manner. 

Everyone ran and so did I.

A little later someone saw that my elbow had a little scratch. Since there was no way I could inspect it, I had to rely on the opinion of my companions. And these brats did not stop there... The ran up to my Mum and told her that a dog had bitten me. They also filled her in with details on how rabies was around and I needed to be taken to the doctor.

My chicken hearted Mum rushed me to the Doc who rightly dismissed it as a small scratch and even said to my Mum that it did not look like I was bitten by a dog. However as a precaution advised an anti tetanus shot. I hated injections and like any kid my age protested but soon I had to give in.

Still in pain and even afraid to touch my bum, I got out of the dispensary to go home with my Mum when the Doc said... "Keep an eye on the dog... If it dies in the next 10 days I will have to give you those 14 injections in the tummy."

I think he was joking but this parting shot took my breath away. Just one bloody prick had taken life out of me and now this guy had told me about the 14 injections in the stomach...

From that day I would be extra nice to the bitch. I just wanted her to live forever if it were possible. I was so frighten about the bitch dying in the next ten days that I would fight with people who would throw stones at her. I even saved up stuff from my school tiffin box by not eating anything to feed the bitch.

I was very small and could hardly count so had lost count of days but thanks to the way I was treating the bitch, she had become very friendly with me.

As soon as she would see me she would come running to me expecting me to either give her biscuits or at least show some affection. 

One day when my Mum noticed this she asked me in a very stern tone why I was still playing with the bitch even after the bite. Innocently, I explained that I was only ensuring that the bitch lived so that I don't have to take the 14 injections in the stomach.   

My Mum laughed and told me that it had been more than a month and I was out of danger now...

That day when I went to play in the evening as usual the bitch and her 3 pups who by now seem to have grown up came to me runing the moment they saw me. 

I had revenge on my mind and picked up stones from near by and started throwing at the bitch. Thankfully my aim was bad and and her dodging skills were good. She and her pups escaped unhurt but ran away not understanding what had happened.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A deal that took my breath away…

The year was 2004 and Gachibowli was a very sleepy place then. The AP Housing Board Colony at Gachibowli was built on a set of low hills around a lake. It was a very beautiful place with the famous Hyderabad hanging rocks all around. I really loved the semi forest like feel of the place but I must confess that I was afraid of the eerie feeling at nights. While most of my colleagues and friends felt this was a place for a fugitive, I chose this as my abode. Little did I know that I was going to live here for the next five years!

Singled in life I was trying to find my feet in a new city. As a single child this did not come naturally to me. Born, brought up, produced and developed in a super metro like Bombay I had never been tortured or subjected to household chores of any kind. Leave aside cooking, sweeping or cleaning, I had not much experience in even locking my room. There was always someone to take care of these duties at home.

In a suburb like Gachibowli what was most difficult to find in those days was a servant. I did not know any Telugu and thus could only practice dumb charades with the women who came to negotiate with me. Even after engaging with a few my life was a nightmare. These women would refuse to understand any instructions and keep to timings of their own. They would go unannounced on long leave and demand cash advances in the middle of the month. I also knew that I was paying at least 40% more than the market rate. My middle class neighbors who helped me communicate with my servants often took advantage of this and negotiated package deals with them to get the benefit of the higher premium I was paying.

Among all this walked in Shaheen. She was frail, lived far, did not impress with her work at first but spoke Hindi. The language barrier broken I managed to negotiate much better and soon we were in a deal. Shaheen as the name suggest was also a Muslim and with firm secularism celebrated every festival on earth. She would thus want leave every now and then. Also since she stayed a little far she found it difficult to keep timings. As I had hardly anything of value in my house I was open to the idea of sharing the keys to my place with her.

One day I found my TV on when I returned in the evening. I realized that my assets were being used without my knowledge. Since I would meet her only over weekends and on pay days the communication gap this time was of a different type. I also knew that confrontation would not help as she would just chuck the job. So that weekend I decided to very politely ask her about this.

While she dismissed the allegations, soon she started demanding some more privileges. She had inspected my refrigerator and candidly told me that since there are only water bottles in the fridge she should be allowed to use it to store some stuff occasionally. At first I was reluctant but she showed me the logic in terms of equal power consumption in both cases. I was amazed by her ability to analyze the situation and negotiate. I had no option but to give in to her demand.

I soon forgot about this arrangement as Shaheen would seldom keep anything in the fridge and I would rarely visit my refrigerator thanks to the Hyderabadi winter.

It should have been a night in early April as I remember clearly I was back from the ISB Graduation Day Celebrations. Hyderabad had just begun to get hot and I decided to walk into my fridge and pull out a bottle of cold water to drink. When I opened the door I saw two large goat heads wrapped in a transparent plastic bag staring right at me. I almost let out a scream and dropped the bottle in my hand before running for cover. Was this a scene from a horror show?

After collecting my breath and gathering my courage I decided to approach my fridge door again. The packets were still there so that was nothing paranormal about this. Now I started thinking and inspecting the stuff. The heads in my fridge were like the ones you would see at a butcher’s shop. While thinking I also realized that it was bakri eid a day before and thus finally I concluded that the culprit was Shaheen. I did not have to be Sherlock Homes for that.

I mustered up the courage to speak to Shaheen the next day but my aggression went for a toss when we both had a good laugh about the incident. When my neighbor’s kid inquired about my scream the previous night, I taught him to play this practical joke on his folks at home. Alas they did not have a fridge nor did we have a spare goat head so he found some other carcass from the garbage nearby and tried the trick by putting it in his dad’s trunk. The foul smell was a giveaway and the beating he got actually made me feel sorry for him.

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The Convertible.

The information dissemination drives for the Young Leaders Programme (YLP) at the ISB were quite literally taking me places. BITS Pilani is a 5 hour drive from Delhi and Vikram and I decided to hire a cab from Delhi to Pilani and Back. I had been to Pilani before and thus knew that the road could be a bit of a pain in the wrong place but what we had not bargained for was a Sikh Missionary for a driver.

Joginder was a five foot one inch average looking Sardar with extraordinary driving skills. Well at least that is what made me like him. However he was also a missionary on a zealous undertaking. I wonder what made him think that we would be interested in converting ourselves but I have this strange feeling that the ‘Singh’ in Vikram’s name was giving Joginder ideas.

As soon as we were out of bounds of the FM radio network, my dear Joginder switched on a ‘majlis’ like discourse in Punjabi. Thanks to Hindi films we could decipher what was being rendered but I was a little uncomfortable with what followed. Once the speech on the digital media was finished, Joginder started off with his missionary aggression.

He went on and on describing in graphic detail how Sikh Gurus were sacrificed at the hands of Moghal rulers like Aurangzeb, Humayun, Babur and even Shah Jahan. Wonder why he left Jahangir and Akbar out of the list. He even told us the reason why Sikhs differentiate themselves by using a turban and how when the time comes each Sikh warrior like him would be enough to tackle a militia of millions.

Pilani came to our rescue and since we reached our destination Joginder was forced to stop. However he promised us that he was not finished yet and would give us a sequel on our way back to Delhi.

The students at BITS Pilani rocked and made the entire effort worth it. We almost forgot about the tribulation we had been subjected to until the next day a smiling Joginder was back to drive us crazy.

This time he spared the Moghals and started off with how the Hindu Pundits and other holy men had miss used the sacred premises of Sikh Gurudwaras in the North Western Region of a united India. He went on to describe how authority entrusted in good faith was misused and how the Sikhs had to fight valiantly to recover honour.

At each stage we were being reassured that Sardar Joginder Singh was a man who could all alone take on an army in aggression for us.

The road from Pilani to Delhi passes through a place called Bhiwani. This place in recent times is more known for the Jat agitations and the Rail and Road blockades. The Jats are a hot blooded and more importantly able bodied tribe that lives in this region. They are known for their ability beat people into pulp when in a human combat situation.

As we were driving listening to Joginder we saw a few vehicles damaged by accidents on the way and then suddenly it happened. There was a kind of a traffic hold up most probably due to an accident ahead. Even thought the holdup was more than ½ a kilometer away, Joginder slammed the breaks and did a ‘U’ turn almost skidding off the highway. Then he raced away from the place as though we had just looted a bank. Not responding to our inquiries Joginder kept his foot pressed on the accelerator till we were more than 2 kilometers away from the situation at a Petrol Pump. After almost hiding the car behind a tree at the petrol pump by facing it in the opposite direction, Joginder finally heaved a sigh of relief.

After wiping sweat off his forehead and consuming two bottles of mineral water he told us that he had actually saved our life by scooting from the scene. He then told us another story where the Jats had almost beaten the day lights out of a driver for causing an accident. He went on to say that the Jats would end up beating anyone close by even if they were not involved in the accident.

I found it difficult to believe that anyone in this day and time could be as unreasonable as that. Nevertheless, what I could not digest was how someone who was a little while ago telling us about how much valour he as a Sardar was supposed to display, chickened out so meekly.

Although I was tempted to ask, I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and asked him instead if the FM radio was working.

Special Note: Whatever has been written here is a travel experience only. There is no intention to hurt any religious sentiments and if for any reason I have hurt Sikh sentiments, I would like to apologize in advance.

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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Don’t switch it off first Nagmani.

The GSB elections at the ISB are almost always keenly contested and thus declaring the results is a very sensitive activity for the staff of the Co curricular activities (CCA) team. Shiv has been doing this for years and I think I assisted him one year when this entire near fiasco happened.

This was a year when Pavit had declared that he was going to buy world peace after winning the elections and Rajesh Mani had declared that he is not half as bad as he looks. To be honest I always though he did not look all that bad at all … wonder what made him say that. I think Bharat Ayer the future NDTV Profit guy was the third candidate but I don’t remember if there was a fourth.

We had finished counting and were ready to declare results. Shiv’s experience told us that the moment the results would be sent by email, all the candidates and their string of supporters may descend on the CCA office.

The discussion that followed set us on a plan. We called Nagmani the office help woman and Shiv explained to her in great detail how she should use the mouse to click the ‘Send’ and once the screen changes immediately switch off the computer. The plan was to get into a car reach the ISB gate and call Nagmani and ask her to do this. We then planned to switch off the mobile phones and return back on Monday and hoped by then the storm would have subsided.

We reached the ISB gate and Shiv called Nagmani and said something to her in Telgu. A long silence from Shiv followed and after around a min he said ‘Shit’ and started to shout on phone. I could not understand a thing but what unfolded later makes me laugh even today.

Nagmani had first switched off the computer and thus has nothing on the screen to click.

Poor Shiv had to go back and set it up all over again and I don’t think he tried anything smart this time round.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The day Afzal Khan’s men beat up Shivaji.

Before my blog stirs up any controversy about distorting history, here is my disclaimer which says this is just a semi fiction depiction of one of the million things that happened to me at school and not at all an attempt at maligning the image of Shivaji Maharaj.
It was time for the annual day event at my school and like most years teachers were out to showcase the talents of their pupils. My favourite teacher announced that this year she will help interested students make a skit on the ‘Shivaji Vs Afzal Khan standoff.’ I was intrigued by the idea and like most of the kids in class wanted to participate in the skit so almost instantly raised my hand to volunteer.

In those days we were yet to be taught about democracy so there were no auditions but the teacher immediately after announcing the skit selected Amit Marathe(the shortest boy in my class) as the guy who would play Shivaji. Amit was short, frail, spoke fluent Marathi and sat right under the teacher’s nose with Ravi on the 3rd row first bench. I thought he was a pathetic choice but what was to follow was even worse. The teacher pointed towards me (the tallest boy in class) and said you will be Afzal Khan. I think my teacher had done the selection for this skit many times before and knew the roles demand height disparity of extreme proportions.

Now in the actual scrip Shivaji was the obvious hero but Afzal Khan was the most pathetic villain. As portrayed in my History text book, Afzal Khan was a very oppressive general of a Mughal Muslim Emperor and was killed by the very smart Shivaji using artificial iron tiger claws.

As a kid of that age I did not like to play a villain. Plus this was Afzal Khan. Now either my history textbook had to do something with it or the way history was taught to us in school but the character of Afzal Khan was totally BLACK. Afzal Khan was absolutely and typically the Hindi picture villain we love to hate. Nothing was good about him at all.

My teacher then made the rest of the selections for the other characters in a similar fashion and announced that we will meet near the school stage after school for practice.

At practice my teacher came a little late and as usual shouted at us for not standing together as a group. She then narrated to us what I today understand to be a script.

It was terrible for me. I hardly had any meaningful dialogs. I was almost all the while supposed to laugh like Gabbar Singh and in the climax try to strangle Shivaji and as an anti climax die.

Not knowing how to protest I decided to give it a try...

When practice started the next day, people just realised that I was an actor that could be described as a director’s nightmare. By day three of practice they decided to replace me as Afzal Khan because Shivaji had complained against me.

Amit who was playing Shivaji had a genuine problem. In the climax I was very difficult to kill. Plus in one of the many rehearsals I had actually tried my level best to strangle him. This act was prompted by my frustration and had nothing to do with me trying to get into the character or any such attempt.

The Teacher also realised that it would make the episode that we were trying to depict a little more believable in the prevailing context if the ‘Huge’ Afzal Khan was replaced by a more killable (smaller) Mughal General. So history was distorted and a not so big Afzal Khan was chosen.

By now I was feeling a little insulted. First I was asked to portray a character I hated and now I was replaced. I think my teacher read my feelings and ensured I was still in the play...

I was now playing one of Afzal Khan’s guards. I had no dialogs at all but was supposed to get killed without putting up a fight after the anti climax.

The three other fellow sentries of Afzal Khan were almost like me – Big, huge and frustrated. The plot of us dying without putting up a fight was what was killing us even before our eventual end. In the various dress rehearsals that started 2 days before the actual show we were the laughing stock and butt of almost all the jokes. We could not put up with all who were laughing at us. Our Shivaji also left no stone unturned insulting us. He would very much unlike the real Shivaji act to stab each one of us multiple times before curtains. In many such acts he actually hurt us bad in the ribs and the stomach with his rented wooden sword.

This was provocation enough for us to do the unthinkable in the actual show.

After Shivaji had killed Afzal Khan we the proud protectors of our lord decided revenge. We refused to die. Our Shivaji and his 5 soldiers were suddenly surprised and so was the audience. They tried desperately with their weapons to put us to rest but size does matter and this is what they realised. The four of us right there on stage shooed away all of Shivaji’s men and gave Amit Marathe a beating of a lifetime. Even the dead Afzal Khan realised the gravity of the situation and begged us to spare Amit.

I think the audience enjoyed what they saw and laughed their guts out. What happened to us the Crazy 4 is something human rights activists will not let me put in my blog.