I woke up to a bright sunny morning. Only to find out it was late afternoon!!

Baaki sab theek hai.

The office is around 10km from my house. But it took over 1.5 hours in traffic!!

Baaki sab theek hai.

The cook skipped work , as the building lift was out of order & she couldn’t climb 7 floors. (True Story!!)

Baaki sab theek hai.

The Indian stock markets keep crashing to new lows. My investments erode faster than Earth’s Escape Velocity.

Baaki sab theek hai.

The laundry shop called. They “accidentally” burnt my shirt as the new guy forgot to take the iron off while talking on his mobile.

Baaki sab theek hai.

I spent 4 hours last weekend downloading a movie. Tried opening it today only to find out it was the wrong movie!

Baaki sab theek hai.

The Mumbai city administration plans to provide access to car-makers for testing on Mumbai’s roads. Their way to justify the need for pot-holes.

Baaki sab theek hai.

We give “Most Favored Nation” status to our neighbor. They reciprocate by killing our soldiers.

Baaki sab theek hai.

In short, today is in a total mess. Yet, I shall be hopeful for a better tomorrow.

Baaki sab theek hai!!

10 anxious relatives. Waiting. Some for the last several days. Some are new-joiners tonight (like myself). But the mood is already set. The night is going to be long. Really long.

Each time the door opens & a “bed number” is called out, all 10 of us tune in to the announcement. With eager ears trying hard to discern the meaning of that number. Is that our relative on that bed? Oh dear lord…. what could have happened?

The first such announcement is for the relative perched on a couch next to me. His wife (in her late 70’s) is admitted for acute breathlessness. The poor husband seems more restless than a first-time-father pacing up & down outside the maternity room. The doctor calls him over. Hurriedly, the old man pushes off the couch & into a quick dash towards the doctor. What follows next are a few tense moments of conversation. From the distance, I can see clearly that the doctor is trying to re-assure the husband. After a night in the ICU, she is going to be shifted to the general ward. Nothing to worry at all.

A wry & tired smile breaks on the man’s face. With creases accentuating it, gently hinting of his age, the feeling behind it is beyond my humble means to describe.

Now then, there are 9 others in the room. The routine kicks in. Each hoping, praying, literally beholden to God that their bed number hasn’t been called out yet. But, the night is still long.

There is an eerie silence in the lounge. It’s been over an hour since the last announcement from the I.C.U. Apart from the occasional humming of a generator in the distance, there is no other sound.

I shoot a quick glance at my clock. Its 2 am. There is a lady on the couch opposite mine. She has been in this lounge each night past entire week. Her father-in-law is in the ICU. She is reading a book. I can’t clearly make out which one. But I am sure, this is one book she is not going to remember all that well. Her mind & thoughts lie elsewhere.

2:20 am. The nurse re-appears. “Bed no. 410″ it is this time around. As is the unspoken protocol now, all heads turn towards the nurse. Albeit  this late in the night, the speed of comprehension slows down. Little surprise of course, given that we all have come here from a long & tiring day. It then occurs to me. That’s MY sister on Bed no. 410! Why on earth is my sister asking for me at 2:20 am in the night? My heart sinks.

With a lump in my throat, I limp out of my couch and take a few big strides towards the nurse. My mind is running in infinite different directions. Speculating. Analyzing. Hoping for the best. Fearful of the worst. Those few strides have just caused a whirlpool of emotions within. None which help to soothe my over-stressed nerves.

As I reach within the nurse’s earshot, all my senses are only tuned in to her. It’s almost as if the rest of the world has just faded out. I ask her if my sister is ok. She says: Oh yes. nothing to worry. I called for you as your sister is asking for her toothpaste & face wash when she wakes up in the morning”.

What????? For a few seconds, my mind refuses to accept what my ears have just heard. It can’t be. Can it? Well, my sister is known to have such crazy demands at totally inappropriate times! But right now? While in the ICU? At 2:20 am? Unbelievable!

But everything said & done, I am surely glad that she is doing fine. The doctor in shift has assured me that she will be shifted to the general ward in the morning. But, being the skeptic that I am, I want evidence. So I go up to the monitor next to my sister’s bed & stare at it intently. Trying to make sense of the curve floating across like a wave. The occasional beep is reassuring. But i still track the wire coming out from the back of the monitor all the way to my sister. There is so much corruption in India nowadays, you just can’t trust anybody or anything!

After spending a few anxious minutes trying to pacify myself, I return back to the lounge. Convinced that, come tomorrow morning, I will not have to come back for another night at the lounge. Weird as it does sound, I kinda hate this place. Not because of the constant vigil you need to put up for your loved one, but also to grapple with a constant, although feeble, fear of losing them.

It’s 4 am now. My tired eyes are telling me to stop worrying & get some rest. In a matter of few hours, dawn will be upon us. And I shall have no further reason to be here. In that hope, I put my mind at ease and finally call it a night.

Disclaimer: The following is a result of 2 out-of-whack, idiosyncratic & downright sanity-deprived friends from different hemispheres sharing a common love for procrastination-inspired, joblessness-led & a mutual liking for convoluted thoughts. Please do read without any serious expectation of a worthy prose of intellectual underpinnings. Good luck!!

Professionals that SHOULD NOT have a sense of humour while working:

1. A surgeon
2. A Lift operator
3. A fashion photographer giving final touches to a client’s pics
4. Gynaecologists: jokers who were ex-cons
5. Psychologists
6. Undertakers
‎7. Boob-reduction plastic surgeon. (I don’t see any humour in this one!)
‎8. Negotiators for Israel and Palestine
‎9. The janitor at the American President’s office
‎10. Waitress at a comedy show

The top 12 places/situations when you should NOT smile -
1. At a funeral
2. Right before entering a court room in a tense situation
‎3. When you hear your wife is having twins but only one of them is yours!
‎4. When a girl you like says “I love you…” and ends with saying “…your brother”
‎5. When you use a pick-up line on a girl right before her Arnold-sized boyfriend walks in
‎6. When you haven’t met your sales targets and your boss calls you in his cabin
‎7. When the pilot suddenly announces May-Day and he is trying to do an Emergency landing
‎8. When the pool-boy comes over and you know you don’t have a pool
9. When your wife is in labor and you are rushing her to the hospital only to have the car go out of gas!!!
10. It’s a Friday afternoon, you plan to leave office but the rest of the colleagues still have to stay back to finish your half-done work
‎11.You see a pic of urself when you were a child tagged by your mom, and you smile, only then to realize you were forced to wear what looks like a dress!

12. WHEN IN A MALL WITH THE MISSUS & SHE REMINDS YOU ABOUT FORGETTING TO WISH ON HER B’DAY & YOU ARE JUST CROSSING THE LOUIS VUITTON STORE!!

Title courtesy & other contributions: Vije Vijendranath.

Circa the 80’s. An era of abundant hair…
Of thick manes, oh what a love affair
Stroking fingers, you stayed firmly rooted
Must have been an angel’s gift, feeling abluted!

In the wonder years, what an asset you were,
Working as my accomplice, together to persevere…
To win attention, oh you made it so easy,
Just a toss here, a flick there, bingo! she had to see!!

As age beckoned, so did stress…
Tried every treatment no more, no less
You hung on, like a faithful friend
Fighting back, till the very end

And then when I touched you,
It felt you were still there,
But upon taking a closer look,
On the ground, you appeared somewhere

Gone are the days now,
When the barber down the lane
Would know I would visit him
Only to show-off my glorious mane

As the world debate rages on,
for who’s responsible for the global meltdown
I resign to my bed, silently at night…
With my sadistic scalp reflecting the moonlight…


Coming soon -

The HAIR Supremacy: A CLOSE Shave.

The HAIR Ultimatum: The BALD Truth!

My Dentist. Well, not the real one ofcourse…

I have never seen a needle that big. Or maybe it appears so given the background flood light shining right on my face, exposing every expression, every crease on my forehead signalling the increasing levels of stress. Oh and blinding too! But wait. That’s not all. There is one more light source. A small, but powerful beam, emanating from a bulb, right at the centre of his reading glasses perched dangerously on the ridge of his nose. I am confused. Should I worry more about that bulb sliding down & into my gaping mouth? Or that needle which seems to be the size of a rhino horn drawing menacingly closer. As a timid kid shying away from the bully at school, I just close my eyes, ready for that rush of swarming pain, hoping it gets over soon.

Not Yet. The doctor pauses. I am waiting for my destiny. But nothing happens. I slowly open my eyes to see what’s going on. And there they are. 2 huge eyeballs! Magnified 10 times by the spectacles in front of them. And that blinding light beam. Looking intently towards me. Trying to look through my soul and absolve me of my sins. But not really. The doctor is merely marking his territory. He wants to get it right the first time. Appreciate that. Afterall, no one wants to be injected in the mouth… twice!!!

And then it happens. Almost taking me by surprise. With my eyes still open :(. That giant needle just appears out of nowhere! Marches straight inside my mouth. My heart skips a beat as the needle draws first blood! What starts off as a prick soon transforms into a tsunami of pain as I feel the pressure. But thankfully, it lasts but a few seconds. As the needle withdraws, I can see a certain sense of pride on it’s tip, almost mocking me. Making me feel helpless & vulnerable towards accepting it’s supremacy. Soon, the anaesthesia kicks in as I lose sensation on my lower lip. I slip into my cocoon. Hoping I won’t feel a thing of whats gonna happen next…

What happened next!!

With eyes firmly shut, I still see a halo around me. And occasionally a few shadows of objects floating past. The doctor keeps murmuring to his assistant. Who seems to be rather quiet with a somewhat serene demeanour. And then it begins. The moment that I have been dreading for weeks now. As one instrument after another marches in my mouth looking to conquer all. I keep my eyes closed, my prayers soft, my screams inaudible…

Oh wait!! I can feel that tooth… My nemesis!! Falling in this epic battle of mind over matter. Where it leaves no stone unturned to cause pain & misery for weeks. Finally, yields in front of the army of instruments. It stands no chance :). But it sure puts up a brave fight! Respect… It does not go down quietly. On its way out, it pops the cap of the tooth in front!! Damn. And it leaves a gaping hole behind. Like the blitzkrieg of German soldiers in WW2 retreating from their forward positions & burning everything behind them. Ok. Maybe not that bad. But then getting stitches inside of the mouth ain’t an everyday affair. Not for me!! Hell NO!

Asta la Vista… Toothsie!!

The doctor, all this while, working incessantly towards conquering my enemy, now appears less hostile. I realize his contribution in this war. He keeps talking to me. Giving me updates like a faithful general to his king. Telling me how much progress he has made against the enemy. With the occasional murmur to his assistant. And all his weapons of enamel destruction!! Oh how I love them. Scary as they sound (There was a drill machine involved too!!). Some even laid down their lives for this noble cause. (Apparently, one of the mirrors broke during this epic war!!). A few seconds of silence observed in it’s honor.

In what seems to be a struggle going on for eternity, after around an hour, the doctor proclaims victory. He proudly holds the carcass of my enemy in his forceps, showing off his bravado & unparalleled combat skills. I slowly open my eyes. For the first time in weeks, I open my eyes with hope. That the worst is over. That the enemy is defeated. That the decayed tooth has finally come out. Time now to salvage the situation. The doctor quickly gets back to attend the wounded gums. Ah yes, the poor gums. Who stood silently watching the horror unfold. The doctor quickly stitches them up. Conceals the wound. With a re-assuring dab of cotton soaked in beta-dine to nurture their wounds. My heart goes out to you – O mighty gums of the lower left jaw!

Its celebration time! But not so soon. As the saying goes- every cloud has a silver lining. Well, the converse is true just the same :( . Time to pay up. A whopping sum! (Actual sum undisclosed to protect the doctor from Income Tax issues). Its after seeing the bill, that I realize, perhaps, it would have been better to have followed Tom Hank’s footsteps from the movie Cast Away. It may not have resulted in a SMILE all the same, but at least I would be happy knowing that it’s not the doctor SMILING all the way to the bank…

In pursuit of MY Happyness

Posted: February 3, 2012 in Why me?
Tags: , , , ,

Every passing minute, is another chance to turn it all around.

What an incredible journey of self-awakening it has been. Every breath, every step, every turn, every fall. And yet, the timeless memoirs of a fulfilled life fade away into oblivion as destiny mocks me in my face. A never-ending precursor to a life where every indulgence awaits me like the gleaming doors of heaven. Only to blind me from the truth. That the journey is never really meant to end. For every “success”,  there are ten more in sight, yet to be pursued, yet to be conquered, yet to be happy.

In each phase of life, I always looked forward to the coming tomorrow knowing what would make me truly happy. But when tomorrow came, & fulfilled its promise as well, I wasn’t still really happy. Well, maybe for the moment, yes. But something somewhere seemed amiss. Something which I felt could have been there. Perhaps it was there, only if my eyes could settle down to enjoy the moment in its presence rather than yearn to make it better than what it was already. & most of us invariably do the same thing. Keep looking for that something better. & it is such a wild goose chase that we are involved in, we seldom appreciate what our present has to offer to us.

It is not over yet. The journey is still long. The wheel is still spinning. Fortunes will still be made. Paradise will still be gained, & lost as well. My happyness cannot be relative. It must be absolute, independent of the world around me. With little regard to others’ success. A personal barometer, constantly acting as a reality check of my present state of “happyness”.

As a great ol’ urdu saying goes -

“Har kissi koh mukkammal jahan nahi milta…

kissi koh zameen, kiisi koh aasmaan nahi milta…”

In the literal sense, it means – You get not all as life goes by. Some not the land, some not the sky.

I hope, someday, I will prove it wrong.

But then… should I?

Come August 15th, (India’s Independence from colonial imperialism from the British in 1947), Indians (at least a handful of them) are yet again setting up the stage for another showdown. Yet again, it is against a common public enemy, although this time, the “enemy” aint no outsider. But India itself. Or at least it’s government & the constitution (which I feel is, arguably, representative enough of a nation)

Over the past year or so, India (& its various institutions) has been under fire from all quarters -

1. The government, for abusing its powers to no end with one scam after another surfacing like potholes in monsoons.

2. The bureaucracy, for silently spreading corruption deep into the very fabric of democratic processes which were essentially the reason why we threw out the British in the first place.

3. The media, for it’s drama-like portrayal of public issues and its unacceptable political polarization inevitably leading to skewed opinions and further fueling public outrage.

And then comes along a man, white clothes draped, a white cap adorning his balding head, hands folded in humility to represent an image cognizant of the “aam aadmi”. Mr. Anna Hazare. A man, who has over time achieved almost the impossible. Common public acceptance of his ideals and methods. Playing on popular consciousness, Anna is well-intentioned, but ill-informed –  and in his recent campaign against corruption, least about public policy and the democratic process.

He is a fantastic crowd-leader, one who captures mass imagination through his self-restrained acts based on gandhian principles which are irrefutable in India. So, here we are again… in the 21st century…. still resorting to out-dated methods of expressing public discontent. For sure one might still argue their relevance, and rightly so. But I have serious doubts on the outcomes of such acts in current times.

But coming back to Anna’s recent agitation against corruption, his intent is well understood and accepted. But the civil society that he represents seems adamant to bring the government down to it’s knees. Such blatant and thoughtless badgering of the very institution which has kept this totally diverse and chaotic country still together is only reflective of  the myopic vision which plagues the civil society. Media plays a role in endorsing the civil society un-challenged instead of acting as a transparent and un-biased medium and thus discharging one of the most fundamental democratic provisions of free speech.

For starters, the civil society’s demands in the Jan Lokpal Bill are more emotional than rational. I am willing to bet that not a very significant % of the population even knows what the Bill entails and what its implications will be. The civil society is acting like a bollywood hero who promises justice to the down-trodden and exploited masses against the rich.

The entire stand-off between the civil society (who behaves like the self-appointed messiah of the masses) and the government (alienated by the very people they are supposed to represent) is fundamentally on the issue of corruption.  It is only sensible to spend a few minutes here to delve deeper in this concept itself. Firstly, the word is poorly defined and lacks scientific rigor while being assessed. Bribery is by far the largest indicator of corruption. And politicians, by default, are assumed to be corrupt. Much in contrast to the judicial approach to any case- innocent until proven guilty. Politicians today are stereotyped as the messengers of evil and accused of self-aggrandizement of public wealth.

And that stereotype is the key motivator behind Anna’s and his civil society’s agitation. The eroding public wealth in light of the recent scams has dealt a severe blow to public trust in the government. Such angst & discontent is very likely to over-ride logic and reason – the basis for any public policy debate in a democracy. And that is exactly whats happening in the context of the Lokpal bill standoff.

What the civil society proposes is to setup an independent ombudsman with (literally) un-limited investigative and executive powers capable of bringing the entire public services setup of the country down in a single sweep. This bears scary resemblance to a dictatorial setup of government. In essence, the civil society proposes a dictatorial form of democracy. Where democratic principles are “enforced” out of fear of persecution rather than “embraced” out of free will. The civil society is unsure on how to govern this governing body itself and prevent it’s own structure from being infected by corruption. They give loose suggestions at best to tackle the issue of governing the watch-dog.

While I don’t patronize the government here, nor allow them any opportunity to redeem themselves from their indiscretions, I still believe in the democratic processes that mark the very identity of India’s democracy. Being the size that we are, given the diversity we reflect in our cultures, one must not forget the role of these government institutions in keeping the country from falling apart & drive its economic growth. Public policy in a Democracy needs time. And it must have that to be able to deliver results.

So, on the coming 15th August, when Anna sits on his well-campaigned fast-unto-death against corruption, I hope that he doesn’t misguide the massive public support he enjoys in the wrong direction and lead them to demand, what I call, a Democratic Dictatorship. Fingers crossed.