The Ringside View

My attempts at writing have always been stacked up in old diaries and scraps of yellowing paper.Time,neglect and phylum insecta however, always ensured that the gibberish i scrawled, never would see the prying gaze of an alien eye.Years later, i still scribble once in a while - this time in word documents stored in some obscure folder somewhere in the innards of my C drive.I am unearthing some of them and opening them up for the interested.To get what i call - The Ringside view.

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Location: Bangalore, Karnataka, India

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Where the hell is goold old Bourbon

The curly haired, cute looking boy from the neighbouring house is a regular visitor. And his visits unlike most kids his age are not noisy or tantrum filled. They are in fact, quiet and business like. He gets off his cycle, goes on his toes to open the gate and then parks his cycle like all gentlemen do, before hitting the doorbell. Nice size zero footwear are neatly parked at the threshold before he quietly makes his entry into the house. The routine is clinical. He first mounts the sofa and sits there for a while. A minute, maybe two. And then quickly dismounts and heads off to the kitchen. ‘Swalpa kara kodi (something spicy please)’, he then matter of factly asks mother. And whether the savory of his liking is available or not, he promptly gets to business. His daily dose of biscuits - chocolate cream biscuits. Its Bourbon and Bourbon alone that will pass. It’s this little man’s caviar. You give him anything else and he nods dismissively with a ‘why don’t you understand’ look and says ‘Cream brown irbekku (the cream has to be brown)’. And seeing him tuck away one into his pocket and hold onto one for the road, as he cycles away into the sunset is what life is one of life’s little joys.

Father has been ill the last couple of days and the little man’s Bourbon routine has been severely affected. A supply side shock of this magnitude has taken even this ‘no thrills and frills’ gentleman by surprise. And so, for the third consecutive day, when he was turned away from his quota, he just nodded disgustingly and headed home almost in protest. And did not bother coming today. After all, how much ‘No’ can a man of 5 hear?

In a quick move to appease the little guest, home affairs quickly dispatched me on a biscuit shopping errand today. Wonder what happened to good old Bourbon. Three different shops and no stock anywhere. So I bought chocolate cream biscuits of two varieties – Pure Magic and Tiger Chocolate. Will the little man like it? Only tomorrow will tell.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

What do you do?

What do you do when you have two lousy days back to back* like it were some one plus one offer of Hamam soap? Yes please, do throw me the kitchen sink. I don’t mind as long as you throw me the bouquets and true love and all that jazz later.

What do you do when confidence level is generally at the Marina Trench levels and shows no signs of floating up? Buoyancy did Archimedes say.

What do you do when everything you pick up to read turns out as academic and boring as Corporate Strategy 101? Bill Bryson, why did you stop ‘The Short History of Nearly Everything’ at page 580 something?

What do you do when you become an exhibit in a random experiment to prove boredom does not kill? Because if it did, I’d be dead by now.

What do you do when you are always the one who turns up thirty minutes too early every time you go out to meet a friend of yours? ‘Too much work da macha’. Ok, my watch is not working and I don’t have a job, so what?

What do you do when your daily evening getaway is only as exciting as the insipid coffee at Java City? Sigh.

And then what do you do when a friend calls and asks you if you want to drive 250 km to check out the ruins of a 19th century French Rosary church? Obviously, ‘Come on I say’.

* Well it was not two whole days to be honest. The wee end of day two was the party at DS place and it was a swell affair. Let truth be told.

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Thursday, June 04, 2009

And let there be light

Going to B school is like packing your bags and going to Tahiti. One morning you decide to quit your job, borrow truck loads of money and set off like the great sailors of yore. And like them great sailors, you don’t have a freakin clue what you are going in search of. But you can feel an excitement like you have never felt in your boring jobs for gods knows how long and that is reason enough, you convince yourself.

There is one difference never the less between the men of the Spanish Armada and us, B school going types. The former very often do not return. Sea, sickness or over ambitious fellow seamen will generally ensure the journey is exciting but short. But in the rare cases in which they do return, it’s with the exuberance of having found new continents or the uninhibited joy of having a good many pots of gold by the deck side. The latter on the contrary, return for sure. With or without a world view; with or without answers; and in such times, with or without a job even.

Anyways, talked to an old classmate of mine over chat the other day. Some exotic US business school he was doing the soul searching in. Congratulations, he wished me; on graduating in one piece. I reciprocated. He asked me about the Bangalore weather and I asked him about the American economy. Both incidentally had been dull and cloudy.

Now, when two freshly minted B school grads meet, it’s like the meeting of two pistol totting cowboys with finger on the trigger. It’s about who lets it fly first. I was conscious but still erred. Taking the Dravidesque slow and steady ‘How are doing – is it fun out there – are the women pretty’ approach was bloody well long winded. He went for the jugular almost immediately. ‘So?’, he asked me. ‘How was the B school experience and all that?’. I paused and then paused more. He had let fly before I did. ‘Well, it was touted as a rollercoaster ride and it bloody well was. I liked it. It was well worth the effort’, I replied.

‘Mmm’, he responded; clearly unsatisfied with the lack of depth in the answer.

‘But that said and done, the bottom line is – the MBA is not the answer to all woes in life. I so well hoped it would be. Like at the end of it all, there would be bright light and reason and the meaning of life like in a 20th Century Fox production. But alas, that’s not how it works’

‘Well said. I completely agree’, comes the reply, with a smiley and all.

We MBA types like reassurance. Now, who doesn’t? But I am still left wondering. When does the bright light appear?

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What dumbness

Mount Carmel in our days was what Jerusalem is to a Jew. It was holy land. It was where every woman was pretty and every second woman a Miss India contestant. Or so the legend said. It was where beauty met brains and if the girls looked down upon the rest of humanity, it was considered slightly arrogant but yet appropriate. And when ‘Cul-ah’ (the ah we always thought was orgasmic, but let us not digress here) happened, the best of men in the best of clothes lined up in serpentine queues to get into the forbidden land. Come to think of it, it could only have been the male libido which could have braved pesky policemen, the occasional swing of the lathi and the almost disappearing self esteem to still stand there and hope for utopia.

Anyways, we went there with the best intentions to participate (however believable that is). And at the coffee table yesterday, we were talking team names, which is why I am writing this in the first place. Dumb Charades was one of those big ticket events. Suri, KB and Paaps formed the triumvirate while me and Seige preferred watching from the sidelines and every now and then gaily suggesting ‘What dumbness I say’.

The boys had practised for god knows how long. They had almost ceased talking. Even words like ubiquitous and preposterous were being enacted and cracked. Secret cheat codes were practised. The mid night oil was being burned. Anyways, there the boys were finally – on stage. The moment of reckoning had come. A smart looking girl who was organizing the event called the team on stage and asked one of the team members to go register the team name. Paaps was obvious choice to be sent as envoy with team name. He strides up to the three pretty women in the ‘spotters’ panel and registers - ‘Two plates idly with extra sambar’. The girls giggle. And then recomposing themselves in full MCC demeanour blurts back – ‘This is too long. Make it shorter’. Paaps turns back and communicates the message. ‘No worries’, quipped Suri. ’Make that one plate idly then’. Paaps turned back and with a charming smile told the girls -‘Make that one plate idly please’.

Mount Carmel girls don’t smile at strangers. At least, not at ‘Cul-ah’. But I think they smiled then. And the name stuck.

The only other team who had a wackier name was one called themselves ‘Men wh(o) pause’

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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

CTR re-visited

I had been through the revered gates once. And the milling crowds had dissuaded me two times. Non-descript and unpretentious, it stands oblivious to the endless traffic that weaves past it in an all too obvious urban frenzy. I was mildly hungry and it was purely incidental that it occurred at the revered corner. Perhaps, it’s a hunger that most if not all at Malleswaram will vouch for, when they reach this neck of the woods. It is after all, one of the Holy Trinity – the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost of masala dosa.

CTR, Malleswaram has stood the test of time. And their Benne Masala Dosa is probably as divine as divinity can get. We jostled past a waiting crowd and scanned the seating arena. Blank walls and expectant faces – waiting like pilgrims wait for the pearly gates to open. It’s old world fairness. You jostle around and find place for yourself. Today was a lucky day; a day when being at the roulette table would have been as good an idea as being at CTR. Two gentlemen rise and we slide in, like in a musical chair. What a fair world.

Traffic flowed ceaselessly on the main thoroughfare. And the little boy, who came for the order, flashed no menu card. The order is placed and Nicky re-iterates the ‘bring the coffee with the dosa’ routine that is very much the style. I talked like I always do; about some inane happening that both of us at that point were hardly interested in. The dosa does not take time; and it probably should not, the waiting crowd will cry out loud. Small, golden and crispy – every morsel tastes of soaked in butter. Like some divine entity the butter is never visible and yet all pervasive. Put one morsel into your mouth and it appears mysteriously in your hands.

At CTR, people hover around you as you eat, like defenders at the Arsenal goal mouth; silently hoping that you would finish at the earliest; praying you are not one of those gluttons who would order for one more. We just take our time and deliver justice to what is on the plate. The trick is in being in oneness with your food; and ignoring the unnecessary. After all, at CTR you earn your right to be where you are. By the time we get to the wash basin and back, different men and women are already gracing our seats and waiting expectantly for their plate of happiness to be delivered.

Twenty-two rupees is what it takes. But the old Bangalore experience as a television commercial selling credit cards once said – is probably priceless.

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