Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The koward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!"
                     oscar wilde , the ballad of reading gaol







When was the last that I thought of you...I know not...but am I the one who goes alone on this path...and should I but care only a little for the souls that follow or those as march ahead?

Mode C is a way of life, perhaps my way of life: C for Cool, C for Cold, C for Chaos, C for Calvin. Ultimately, all of it boils down to the way you look at things. Are they not how they are but just how they appear?? No...and yes...Almost all the seriously critical fundamental concepts of life...aren't they just the bogies under Calvin's bed that he is afraid of? Miss Wormwood, Susie, Mom and Dad, and of course above all, Hobbes...aren't they all merely the means that he uses to attack these bogies?

Reflecting on 'living the Calvin way', I have started to believe that life and our reaction to it can only be explained by a number of Calvin and Hobbes strips combined together. The philosophy, as I like to call it, is to know that you are not alone. It is not just my perspective alone that is going to help me fight my bogies. I will be able to inch towards the Calvin way only when I perceive the other perspectives on my way.



   
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Monday, May 02, 2005
Birthday celebrations and Patna eat-outs

It was really sweet of Shanu to have been waiting for me to cut his birthday cake. He has always been like that...a little partial towards me and that is to be expected, too. Despite being a cousin, I guess I am more of a brother to him than anyone could have been and he is the same to me. Ever since he started identifying people, he has seen me around and has spent quite a major chunk of his childhood playing, fighting, going to school, having fun with me. Having stayed with my maternal grand parents for my school education, I have always had the same amount of affection for Shanu as he took away from me, the mantle of being the youngest in the household.

I am glad that the weekend and the fact that I am doing my training in Kolkata (which is so close to Patna) gave me a chance to go to Patna and be a part of Shanu's birthday celebrations...or as much of celebrations as the cake-cutting was. The ceremony part was actually left for the morrow...the Saturday, when all the bachcha party went to the movies. Patna, incidentally, has some good cinema halls and given the low entertainment tax or some such reason, the rates are pretty cheap, too. I don't think that it is possible to watch a movie in Dolby DTS in an air conditioned theatre for as low a price as twenty bucks...that is Patna cinema for you.

Well, we did not get the tickets of Kaal for twenty and that is another aspect of it altogether. The poor me was given the charge of arranging for the tickets while Shanu had the responsibility of getting hold of all my cousins (five of them, actually) from different places in Patna and bringing them along to the theatre. The queue at the counter, despite all my good intentions, was impossible and with the free swing that the policewallahs were giving to their sticks, I thought it prudent to stay a little distant from the proceedings. Staying away from the proceedings, the only option was the dus-ka-bees...which actually was bees-ka-sau in my case...that is, for people who still did not understand (duh!!!), the tickets worth 20 bucks cost me a hundred bucks a-piece when bought from the typical Rangeela black marketeer.

I had hoped that Sunday would be a chilled out day at home with nothing to do except catch on to loads of gossip and apart from a few instances of going out, once to get Shanu's bike repaired and another time to stuff something in at one of the new eat-outs, I was at home. The rains on Saturday had made the weather amazingly pleasant and with no sun and sweat to bother me after a long time (3 weekends in Kolkata do seem to be a long time if you consider the amount of sweat that you can generate in all these days), I was having fun.

Even the eat-out venture was good, despite my stomach playing tricks with me. I did not have the speciality Golgappaes at the place but did have a good Baskin Robbins scoop to cool my stomach down, or so Shanu convinced me of doing. The Bollywood Treats, as the place calls itself, is located right down the Maurya Clarke Hotel (Patna's only five-star), and has a huge area, given its location. With a mini amusement park for kids in the lawns outside and some video games inside the restaurant, the place with its theme of Bollywood has come up quite well. The right side of the menu does give a few shakes to the left side of the chest but then, that is to be expected now...what with Patna's middle class competing with the rest as far as purchasing power goes.

Luckily, my wait-listed ticket in the Sunday night Amritsar Howrah mail was confirmed and I had a comfortable journey back. The journey to Patna, earlier in the weekend, was not too bad, either and was my first experience in the Jana-Shatabdi or the poor man's Shatabdi, as some call it. The train reached Howrah a little late today morning and the queue at the pre-paid taxi booth was quite long, too. It was only at 11 that I was able to reach office but Sunita, my sub-guide, was pretty cool about it. It seems that today's meetings are scheduled for the second half of the day. The second half of the day has just arrived and the work is beckoning. This week should be busy work wise, with the presentation to the PwC UK person also due in the middle of the week...I just hope that I am able to stand up to it.


Posted at 03:29 pm by Nitai

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Right now it's K...

Galtiyaan insaan karta hai
Ilzaam jaanwar par lagta hai



One wonders if Kaal is more than yet another thriller on the block but when one is engrossed so deeply in the thrill-a-minute caper, one hardly has any time to wonder any more. Based and shot in Jim Corbett National Park (the high profile producer duo of Karan Johar and Shahrukh Khan are also facing some problems on this count), the movie is a high quality thriller that tries its best to pack some high quality stuff in its short duration of two hours and sans any songs (well..apart from the title song featuring the newest Item-boy, Shahrukh Khan, of course).

Kaal is the story of Orbit park, one of the biggest tiger conservatories in this part of the land, which has recently become rife with reports of killings of tourists and researchers by man-eater tigers (by the way, I always thought that tigers were called baagh in Hindi and the word sher was reserved for lions but apparently, the film makers do not think so...but that is besides the point, anyways). Kris and Rhea (played by John Abraham And Esha Deol), two researchers associated with the Discovery Channel (or was that Nat Geo?), think that something fishy is going on in the National Park and they decide to find out more about it.

Dev (Vivek Oberoi) and Ishika (Lara Dutta) are off to Saajid's farmhouse with their friends Saajid and Vishal, when their car breaks down and the person who offers them a lift also offers them the adventure of a lifetime. Baggha invites them to spend their vacations in the Orbit park, which he says, can offer many avenues for the entertainment of members of the group, whether it be silent corners for the romantic couple or opportunities at big game hunting for the restless and gun-savvy Saajid. The two teams of tourist and researchers, as expected, collide and start moving together till they come across a life threatening situation with nothing between them and death...well, nothing except Kali Pratap Singh. The dramatic entry of Kali (Ajay Devgan) puts the story in a tailspin, from which the viewer is able to escape only at the end of two engrossing hours of dead bodies, screams, sudden chillers, and of course, the group's Kaal...their imminent death.

To say more about the story would be killing the fun but let it suffice that the twists and turns are not too dramatic and can be rather made out from the way the story progresses. Anyway, speaking of the story, I must say that the screenplay is as taut as it could be and with no songs to interfere with the flow, the chills and thrills of the movie leave you with hardly any time to breathe. The cinematography is brilliant, especially because of the light-and-darkeness balance that is maintained throughout the movie. Generally, in a story like this, the director and the cinematographer tend to be a little partial towards darkness and though it does add to the mood, the expressions of the actors have to lose out in the bargain. Moreover, the forest and its trails could not have been captured so beautifully, had it been nights all along.

The music of the movie has been topping the charts and this is one time (after Bhoot's moderate success) that the soundtrack of the movie has come out and got its share of acclaim despite the movie not actually carrying the song videos, a la Hollywood. The title track is played during the titles and with Shahrukh and Malaika shaking their legs, the item song draws its share of whistles, and so does the Tauba Tauba song that plays at the end of the movie. The rest of the movie impresses with the background score...whether it is the "eye of the tiger" foot tapper or the just-when-you-thought-nothing-would-happen bang.

The debutante director, Soham, has done some really good work with his actors and even the normally wooden Esha Deol can be credited with screaming at just the right intensity. John Abraham as the serious, brooding researcher and Vivek Oberoi, as the short tempered, spoilt brat are just right and give the right amount of histrionic contribution. Lara Dutta is good, too...especially in the scenes where she is shown disbelieving some tales...she does it with a kind of arrogant and sarcastic smile that does its job without a word being spoken. Once again, Ajay Devgan walks away with the performance of the movie. The actor has been going leaps and bounds and if it is a serious and sarcastic role, there is no one to beat him (somebody please tell him to have a teeth job done...or ask him not to smile...and given the kind of roles he has been doing, he can be the next big thing after Amitabh's Jai in Sholay).

The only place where the movie fails is when the director and the screenplay writer try to create the suspense out of nowhere. There are quite a lot of moments in the movie that do give rise to the Whodunnit question but showing people smile cunningly and others giving them the side glance is not just my idea of trying to throw suspicion on characters. With effects, background score, performances matching the best in the business, there was no need to go the Gumnaam days of melodrama to keep the audience on their toes...the typical Hollywood style of cool and I-care-a-damn expressions might just have been suited for this kind of a movie (of course, the Barjatyas can't dream of using it).

Before I end, two questions that you will understand only if you have seen the movie and will not spoil your fun if you haven't (well, not at least till the scene comes in the movie, which is right at the end, when the suspense is all but over)...

Why does a Sony Handycam differentiate between voice and image?
Why does the mirror not differentiate between object and non-object?

Kaal is the movie to watch in the coming days if you are, even in the least, given to thrills...or are partial towards some good cinematography and background music...or are a nature freak with some strong views on poaching and tourist intrusion on animal territory...or if you want to know the reason why I asked the questions above and want to give me your version of the answer. :-)

Posted at 02:24 pm by Nitai

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Thursday, April 28, 2005
My squirrel is fairer than yours

It's that time of the year again as the squirrel gets its share of heat and the war beckons all and sundry warriors whose swords and shields had come close to be declared out of service. Yes, the time is ripe once again for the famous Squirrel wars of IIMK (comes as a sequel to OCS wars, the multistarrer superhit caper that had audiences gasping for breath and rooting for more). The best part about these wars is that they are started by the most unexpected of people on the most trivial of issues (or even if the issues are not trivial...have to say this or I run the danger of being hanged till the next squirrel war...the treatment of the issues definitely is :-)). This time around, it is all about the access...access to what, you may ask...well, of all the things on this universe, the war is about access to the information about the incoming batch at IIMK.

Points are being raised about inadequacy of information preventing people from approaching prospective juniors to make them more aware about the institute and attract the best of the lot towards IIMK. Personally, I feel that it is more to do with getting the email id, yahoo id or phone number of whatever few girls there are in the coming batch. More than anything else (this is not an all pervasive statement...excludes the really serious will-do-anything-for-the-insti sorts), people are more interested in how soon they can make a pass at the fairer one-twentieth of the batch (or is it even less this time?). With the Student Council members wisely restricting the yahoo group (made exclusively for the doubt clearing for juniors) membership, nearly a dozen feathers were ruffled yesterday and I am sure that the mail box is going to be witness to a few more ruffled feathers before long...the SCon reply is yet to come, too...it is going to be fun and for a change, I shall have something to look forward to in the day. :-)

On a more serious note, I believe that IIMK has a lot many things going for it and we do not really need to bother too much about always keeping the sunny side up. Of course, we are the brand ambassadors of the institute as of now, and if the incoming batch (whether the particular person joins IIMK or not) has any doubt about the institute, it is our duty to clear the same...to go out of our way to attract people is perhaps, in my humble opinion, not something that any of us are going to need to do in the conventional sense but when it comes to war, there is nothing that is unfair...or conventional.

With even well-established institutes like IIMC and IIMB doing it, we, being backed up by some really good things to market (our small batch size, our campus and infrastructure, to name a few), can always take the aggressive route and market ourselves well because obviously, it is the students and future alumni who are going to shape the destiny of any educational institute. It goes without saying, of course, that aggressive marketing does not mean telling lies about your product (and in effect, being insensitive to the career plans of people, as in this case) because in the long run, it is the product attributes that are going to sell and not the catchy slogans. All that is needed is to prevent misinformation, ensure information and the rest should follow.

Talking about the students of IIMK, I and Sandipan went to IMS yesterday to play our role in the crusade and talked to the center manager there. It seems that we will be able to get a list of people with K calls and who are likely to have calls from no other higher IIMs...contacting them and arranging an informal meet with them should help. We also had a meeting arranged yesterday with a few seniors (three of them, in fact...Gautam, Pralay and Rupam) and one person of the incoming batch. I can't really call him a junior and once you get to know his profile, you will know why not. An MBBS of the batch of 1996, two years spent doing something in radiology...joined Civil Services in 1998...placed in BSNL right now with a work experience of six years to boot. And so it was that Mrs. and Dr. Jaidev Rajpal were with us as we made our entry to the pub, Someplace Else, at Park Street. This place has a nice lounge bar kind of ambience and is ideal for a little, though expensive, chit-chat. The happy hour allowed us (or should I say, the three seniors) to get away without a serious dent in their wallets...or at least, not too serious :-)

With my long-suppressed desire of having a pizza (it had been ages since I last had a pizza, what with Calicut being such a modern city and all that) coming up at just the right moment (with the seniors subtly hinting that we should foot the dinner bill and we knowing that it will never happen), we went to the now-famous 22, Camac Street. The place being deserted at the time, I did not really carry back the first-timer's fascination with the environs that I had heard about from many first-timers to the place, but the oldest Pizza Hut in Kolkata did not disappoint. A huge place with some colorful decor and more colorful people (by the way, people at Someplace Else were colorful, too and despite Mrs Jaidev bringing some decency to the rogues' group that we were, most of the guys in the group still feasted their eyes on the absolutely obscene and over-the-top skin show), Pizza Hut was good and the pizzas even better.

With a full stomach and a good dinner conversation, I was in for another late entry into the PG. This time, I made the journey from Camac Street to Park Circus in a cab (charged me a bit more than it should have, I guess) and from there to Salt Lake in a shared shuttle van. I must say that Kolkata streets and the vehicles that ply on them are unique...different from any other place in the country. In no other city would you find tram lines intersecting the roads (even the most posh and famous of them) right across and giving a roller-coaster ride to the people sitting in the taxis, cars, scooters and three wheelers. Talking of three wheelers, I feel that it is a sacred and unwritten code for the three wheelers in the city to have as non-existent brakes as possible. I mean, I have had my share of loose brakes in my own motorbike a number of times, but the three wheelers of Kolkata beat me hands down on any given day...scares me stiff especially when they come near a signal at top speed and have to swerve in all possible (and impossible) directions to avoid a major accident and loss of limb (my limb, that is...since I mostly get the front seat...the privileged one, right besides the driver).

Once inside the PG, there was the serious choice that I had to make between a movie and sleep and I am glad that I made the right choice, what with the busy schedule that I have been having at work for the past few days. "When Harry met Sally", the "inspiration" of Hum Tum, and one of the defining romantic movies of Hollywood, was worth the one and a half hours that I spent on it last night. With Meg Ryan looking a million bucks and Billy Crystal making the picture complete with his often-dazed and expressionless expressions, the movie was good. I specially liked the parts where couples kept talking about their experiences between scenes and then the movie subsequently showing Harry's and Sally's lives as being so different from those experiences. 12 years and 2 months...don't know if I will be able to wait that long for anybody or for that matter, if any body will wait that long (or wait at all) for me...but then again, a good story...touches the heart strings some what.

No work seems to be coming my way this week and with the salary processing date coming close, my guide (and the entire HR department) is still busy...I wonder if I will get to leave for Patna tomorrow. If I do, it is good bye to the blog for three days...should be making an update on Monday with the Patna experiences and in all probability, a review of Kaal (the movie releases this Friday and my cousin is hell bent on making one of the first few shows...on my sponsorship, of course :-( )


Posted at 12:02 pm by Nitai

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005
On the wrong tracks

Rarely do I come to overtly criticizing a movie and considering the efforts that go into making a movie and more importantly, into making a movie palatable for the viewers of a country as diverse as ours, I justify myself and my afore-mentioned actions. However, Mumbai Express derailed me like no other movie had for quite some time. As far as I can remember, the last comparable movie which I had to struggle to complete was some caper with Preity Zinta and Venkatesh, some absolutely forgettable movie which, I am sure, does not even figure in Zinta's filmography.

I was just thinking about Kamal Haasan's language problems the other day but did not realize that even after solving those to a certain extent, he will still be plagued by problems...the ones of obesity and absolute lack of interest in the proceedings being just a few of them. The puffy face does little to help the apathy with which Kamal goes about playing Mumbai Express (that's what he is called in the movie, for those who have not even bothered to see the trailors on television) and the absolutely insincere attempts at comedy that are spread across the movie. I don't know if Kamal tried to re-create the Pushkar magic by going deaf in the movie but unfortunately, the viewers were not deaf and dumb enough to like the movie, which has been reflected in the movie's fate at the box office.

Quite a lot about the movie...on to more important things now...like work, or the absolute lack of it. It has been two whole days since I did anything substantial (in fact, four if you count the weekend) and I am getting kind of concerned about the project. There are only two other trainees who are doing anything worth the salt at all. Anirban from IIML, after a false start with some highly technical XBRL project, has moved into hardcore finance, something he is finding difficult but interesting. Sivaram from IIMC has started going to the client site with PwC consultants (am not sure what he does there). For the rest, it is the same story as mine and though they try to busy themselves but for most of the day, they do end up trying to find ways and means of taking yet another break.

Anurag came back to PG after two days and contrary to our expectations (or darkest fears, if you like to call them), he did not end up in becoming a model, what with the fashion show that he was busy choreographing at his college, IIIT. With the electricity doing another vanishing act (second time in two days and I thought Salt Lake was a posh locality), the entire PG gang was up on the terrace and of course, Anurag, Asif, Anand, Abhinav (funny how I know so many people whose names start with A), Rajiv, and myself were up there too. Apart from the cool breeze that gave respite from the Kolkata heat, the only other point of grace was a small game (not too small...lasted for about an hour) of I-can-laugh-more-hysterically-than-you-and-can-be-more-scary-in-the-darkness with people on the terrace of the neighboring house (two of the voices...in fact, the loudest ones, were of the foreigner couple residing in that building). It was good fun for as long as it lasted and before we were forced back into our rooms by the power coming back, for the torture that Mumbai Express was about to inflict on our poor rails...oops, souls.

I simply must get some action today at work or else, I will be too rusty for any work this week. I am planning to go to Patna for the weekend to see my cousin, Shanu on his birthday and I just hope that all the pending work does not come knocking at the wrong moment.


Posted at 10:48 am by Nitai

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Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Language lessons in the jhups

With the HSBC form-filling occupying most of the day and attention of my project guide, I was left with not much to do on an even otherwise lazy and extremely sweaty Monday. In fact, the Kolkata weather has been showing signs of going beyond any hope of redemption and if this is going to continue or worsen any further, all my wet bed covers and night clothes are surely going to take their toll on me and my early morning blues.

Also, the number of breaks that the gang of summer trainees take have been increasing in proportion to the heat. With Aditya back (he had to miss a few days due to some back pain problems) in action, we had another mind to think of ways and means to escape from the often dreary schedule of many. We had come up with the soup break on Friday apart from our regular Singhara break at the neighboring jhups (as Sandipan likes to call them). Monday saw the birth of the tea and sutta break which happens just outside the back gates of the office at a very shady looking tea stall that has more used tea leaves and empty egg shells than perhaps space for the stall owner to sit.

With Anurag missing from the PG for the second day in a row, I could not get to the CD shop for my quota of the day but I did make full use of my movie time by digging into the reserves and taking out the copy of Saagar that I had so painstakingly ripped from a DVD. I must say that I had thought so little of lingual differences in the past that this movie sort of re-opened my eyes. An allegedly (???) fine actor like Kamal Haasan was reduced to a caricature in this movie just because he was not able to pronounce his dialogues with as much ease as perhaps a decent, yet limited by his talent, Rishi Kapoor could. The sentimental scenes that might have impressed me when I was naiver actually made me laugh this time because I could relate to the difficulties that Kamal was having in expressing the emotions in a way that he was not used to doing. In my little time at Chennai and now at Calicut, I have seen similar things happening to myself and my friends and I can guess how comical we appear while trying to test our new found linguistic skills.

The guitar practice did start but the first day disappointed. I could not get the hang of what the instructor wanted me to do. I guess these are just initial exercises and the first few days are going to be a bit tough, anyways...got to persevere.

As another morning beckons, I realize that it is going to be a Tuesday with an empty stomach, a razor sharp morning and afternoon and a diametrically opposite and inefficient evening and night. Ideally, I would like this day to be relatively a little more productive, what with two things requiring my immediate attention in the project...an interview with the payroll staff and another with the appraisal people to get the details on the only two processes that I have not yet been able to chart out. Work ho!


Posted at 11:02 am by Nitai

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