Photobucket had recently changed their policy and now all the images from my 650+ blog posts are disabled. I am slowly editing them by moving my images to my own server at AWS, but it will take time. In case there is a particular old post you want to see the images of, kindly drop me a mail at mizohican@gmail.com and I'll keep that at a high priority. Thank you.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Chp 50. Of older women n younger guys

It took me quite a while to come out with an opening line for this particular post. I thought of “Why do older women find us younger guys so cute, adorable and irresistible?” But then I’m not that young anymore, and not that cute too

Through out the ages, the male species have always had this strange unexplainable fascination towards the older female species. The laws of attraction proscribed such a relationship stating that a man reaches his peak of sexuality at the age of 45’ish while the female species reach that around 35. Hence a gap of 10 years has always been commended. Yet, the male species is always attracted towards the older female counterpart. Why?

I’ve always been curious with this strange phenomenon but it has never really bothered me enough to rehash this matter in-depth, until tonight when a very close friend of mine called up and told me he has completely fallen heads over heels with this new woman in his life. She is 21 years older than him, a widow with three kids, two 16 and 18 years old sons and a 21 years old daughter. And he’s only just 25!

He called me up because he considered me to be a “man of expertise”! LoLzzz. Anyway, at first I was completely amused at the whole situation. A 25 years old and a 46 years old? But then, it dawned to me, I know so many of my really close friends who are very serious with their girl-friends who are much older than they are.

My friend told me it’s the best sex he ever had. Now that is not something new. When guys talk and the topic shift to older women, one of the crude jokes they, I mean, we, usually make is that, older women are more experienced in bed. But from experiences that many of my friends had, it’s not just the sex. There is this very mysterious attraction that pulls young men towards them. Sex is sex. Unless there is a deep mutual emotional understanding and attraction between the couple, it’s all the same. Then what is it that makes man so satisfied with the sexual relationship he just had with an older woman?

Spoke to another very close friend of mine who is like one of my sister’s best friend. She’s 37, currently seeing somebody who’s 26 (just a freaking year older than me). My apologies for waking her up at 4 in the morning just to ask her this question. But then, I was a bit tipsy and curious as Hell.

Why do older women fall for younger guys? Because it makes them feel younger and rejuvenates them. It brings out the fire they once thought was extinct a long time ago. Younger men who really care about them don’t care about the stretch marks on their belly or the extra fat accumulating on their forearms or the wrinkles appearing on their forehead amidst the gray hair. To most women, age is a sacrilege word. Tell them they are getting older and they come flying towards you with sharp finger-nails ready to dig deep within your flesh.

But why do younger men fall for older women? I guess it’s because many of us needs to be pampered, just like how our dear mums or elder sisters do. Through-out time, we’ve grown fonder with the affection shown unto us by older women. Sub-consciously, it registers deep inside our twisted minds and triggers the release of unprecedented pheromones.

The laws of attraction somehow makes man feel safer with an older woman. Just like his elder sisters or cousins who are always there to look-out for him, he has some sort of a complete trust in an older woman. We’ve always been hyped as the superior sex. But those of us who had been brought up with somebody always looking after us (this is in particular, very common in our Indian society) and especially those of us who are the youngest with elder siblings always watching our back, it is not surprising at all to fall for a girl older than us.

Girls mature faster than boys. That’s the Universal truth. Yet I’ve come across so many of my friends in a serious relationship with women much older than they are. What do they all see in them? I guess it brings about a certain level of comfortness. Older women don’t usually play around with their emotions as most younger lasses do. Older women know they’ve lived the prime of their life already and are now looking for a nice quiet settlement. Touché.

Another wild assumption. When a younger guy manages to “bag” an older woman, guess it brings about a great sense of achievement. Fills his head with new found ego, maybe. Accomplishment at its highest peak.

Anyway, I may be wrong on a few grounds here, but the writing on the wall is simple. Younger men always have a thing for older women. This is probably one of the reasons why the “MILF” series of “mature porn” is doing so well in the sex and sleaze market.

I will never forget what one of my closest frens from Hyderabad told me two years ago. We used to take her trip as to why she never sees anyone of our own age group and why all her “guys” are just high school and college kids. She told us directly “What younger guys lack in experience, they make up for it in passion”. Hmmm… must be true I guess.

I hope this post of mine has nothing to do with the fact that my girl-friend, the love of my life, is 10 days older than me. I love her truly, madly, deeply, not because of her age but because of the way I feel whenever I talk to her and hear her sweet sweet voice… May our love grow deeper and stronger with each and every passing day. Amen.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Chp 49. Tuscan Verve

After the name “Taika” hit the streets of Bangalore a couple of months back, the latest word on the street seems to be “Tuscan Verve” (actually not that latest, more like 2 months old, but its undergoing a change every now n then).

Tuscan Verve, a new lounge pub in our city, seems to be making a lot of waves among the hiphop Gen-X. Downright chillax in nature, it has the complete ingredients of a typical Lounge Bar. What hit me when I first entered the place was the settings and ambience. Déjà vu of good old Hyderabad when the Lounge fever first hit the city two years ago. Infact a regular “lounger” from H’bad might mistake the place for “Touch” (Ironically, we had our IIM-B fresher’s Meet dinner at the restaurant attached to “Touch”)

Dim neon rays, no disco lights and lotsa extravagant sofas (as compared to an average Pub). But that particular night was Tuesday night, christened “Hiphop Night”. Rihanna’s “Pon de Replay” and Pussycats’ “Don’t cha” seem to fill the air as young homies and biyatches of all ages bounced their bootie from east coast to the west.

Really enjoyed that night, although it felt a bit weird to “yo wazzaa” in that setting. I did feel something was definitely out of place with all that arrangement and especially with the music blasting and shaking the very floor you are walking on with thundering woofers. Very “un-loungely”. But then, once the alcohol slowly sets in, one slowly fused with the system. No draught beer, just pint. Each pint costing the usual 100 bucks. And à la Sparx, girls free entry ofcourse, and guys gotta shell out 300 bucks with 200 cover. Unless ofcourse if one is a regular, but then that’s an urban legend with a deep conspiracy theory of its own….

Hiphop night was covered by DJ Ivan, the same dude who used to DJ at Club-X. Apart from that, they had a very impressive line up of other DJs for every other night like DJ Nash, DJ Wayne, DJ DeeJ etc. Each night has its own theme ofcourse.

But just as there is a silver lining on every cloud, there is also a “Yang” to counter the “Yin” so that good and evil will always be balanced. Negative markings will definitely go to the dance-floor. Tightly packed, it may seem like just another attached dance floor. But once you’re in there, believe me, its nothing like those packed times we used to have at most of the regular Pubs with attached boogie floors. The dance floor is open to one and all. Meaning, there are more guys than the opposite sex in there. Club-X on Sat nites or Sparx on Thu nites used to be packed, but at least the bouncers let “couples only” inside the dance floor. That was fun.

In Tuscan Verve, sofas encircled the dance floor. That was quite reasonable as people can relax and look at the people dancing or sit with somebody special amidst all the hoola-hoo or simply catch their breath, but then, along with the sofas, there were tables present, where people could leave their glasses n stuff, hence making the total area of comfortable “danceable” space much smaller.

And here’s the worst thing about the dance floor. With a place as tightly packed as that night, it kinda gets a bit irritating with people coming past you now and then while you’re dancing. But then, that happens at every disc, so it’s something one has to live with. After all, when you are entering the dance floor for the first time before you finally find your “spot”, do remember that you are brushing past many other people who are already there. But that place Tuscan Verve was different. Its not just people brushing past you every damn second, but waiters. Lots and lots of waiters. With trays. Serving those people who are sitting on the sofas encircling the dance-floor. That was so irritating! I did not enjoy dancing at all that night. Very bad management indeed. I could see a lot of other people around me too who were completely irritated with this.

But apart from that, everything was great I guess. The management staff showed great PR during the entire event and socialized with everybody. Most of them were from Club-X. Met a lot of people I know and it was fun that way. Saw a lot of familiar faces too, people I’ve always seen at these kinda places but hasn’t actually spoken to. The party ended around 11:30. By 12, the street was empty, once again reminding Bangalore about the cruel talibanization decree declared by the Police.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Chp 48. X'mas in Aizawl

This year there will be no decorating the Christmas tree with friends in my room. There will be no singing of Christmas carols with people I treasure and getting drunk with them. There will be no treating of special Christmas dinner at some fancy richly decorated with mistletoes and Christmas stars restaurant in Bangalore, Hyderabad or Coimbatore. And there will be no singing of my favourite sad sad Christmas song by Mud “Lonely this Chistmas” anymore.

Try to imagine a house that’s not a home.
Try to imagine a Christmas all alone.
That’s where I’ll be, since you left me.
My tears could melt the snow.
What can I do without you
I’ve got no place, no place to go

Chorus:
It’ll be lonely this Christmas, without you to hold
It’ll be lonely this Christmas, lonely and cold.
It’ll be cold so cold without you to hold, this Christmas

Such a lovely song, nearly brings me to tears every Christmas. This Christmas is going to be different, for I am finally going home after 10 years for Christmas!!!! The last time I ever went home was after my 9th standard. After that I never saw Christmas in Mizoram again. Gawddd… I am so looking forward to spending Xmas with my family and dressing up in new suits and going to church and wishing everybody a merry merry Christmas. Also really looking forward to decorating the sitting room with Christmas papers and tying strings from one end of the room to the other so that we can display the Xmas cards we received. And me and my sisters always used to fight over the best places on the strings coz we each want our cards to be the most prominent on display. Sigh*

Unfortunately my sister from Mumbai wont be coming home, as she doesn’t have leave. But my sis from UK who I haven’t seen ever since she went there, will be flying home. I think its been more than 5 years since I last saw her! I might not even recognize her. He he he he. My eldest sis will also be there, the rebel. And then my nephew and nieces totting around in the house, and all my numerous cousins and uncles n aunts. And then there are my friends from my locality who I grew up with (not exactly grew up with, but still, they were the only mizo friends I had back then, whenever I go back home for the vacations). And most important of all, there’s my loving dad and mom. I still remember those days when I thought there really was a Santa Claus and dad used to put gifts on our traditional “thlangdar” and “em” (made of bamboo twines used for cleaning rice and carrying firewood) which me and my sisters used to line up in the kitchen next to the chimney. My “thlangdar” always used to be the closest to the chimney.

And I will be meeting Eve’s family. I’ve never ever talked about my girlfrens with my parents before and this is the first time. It feels so good to share it with my parents about my love interest. Am confident they will welcome her, but am kinda tensed her folks won’t like me. After all, a person with a past such as mine isn’t exactly the most eligible bachelor in Mizoram. But as Doug Robb from Hoobastank crooned in that song “The reason”, “I’m not a perfect person, there’s many things I wish I didn’t do… I've found a reason for me, to change who I used to be, a reason to start over new, and the reason is you.” I have changed a lot ever since I got back from Delhi, changed not just because I wanted to be a better man for her, but also because I simply had no interest to revert back to my old life.

It is definitely going to be one exciting Christmas. This Christmas is not only going to be a celebration of the birth of our Lord n Saviour Jesus Christ, but also a celebration of the birth of a new Kima. Amen.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Chp 47. Enter Eve

“25 years and my life is still
trying to get up that great big hill of hope
For a destination.”

Ah. It’s as if the 4 non blondes sang that song specially dedicated to me. I’m 25 now. With an unsure destination.

Why have I been so silent these past few months you might wonder. Well, the reason is, I fell in love! Fell in love with the perfect woman in whose eyes I see the future of my unborn children’s happiness. She’s nothing like I’ve ever come across. Everything about her is so perfect.

We met at www.izawl.com during my summer internship. It started off first as casual mails. We discussed about the mizo way of life and Christianity. She understood the reason why I hardly mix with other mizos. We were still anonymous then. I was “Sandman” and she was “butterfly5”. I would ask her doubts and reasons on God and Christianity and she would give me answers that completely satisfy my queries. Finally around May, she gave me her phone number. And believe me, I’ve never enjoyed talking to anybody as much as I do with her. No flirting, no casual sex talks, just plain conversation. Topic ranging from anything to anything. Gawd how I love listening to her voice, her cute English accent (She was in UK working as a volunteer dealing with de-addiction and other missionary work).

Even after I got back here, we talk almost every nite. My phone bills would sky rocket high, yet here I am, truly happy to find someone I really enjoy talking with. Told my closest frens Amol, Amra, Monu, Tommy and Ankita about her. I was basically on the phone with her nearly everyday. And I’ve never seen how she looks like. Finally on 19th July 2005 she mailed me her snaps. Oh she was so so pretty! I just couldn’t believe this was the girl I’ve been talking to for the past four months.

Told my sis in UK about her coz they met each other when she was in UK a couple of years ago. My sis is a PhD in psychology (University of Lancashire) and she advised me that even though I really enjoy talking to her, I must not rush it coz things are different when one speaks face to face. And she was a bit surprised too coz we were poles apart in our interest. I party a lot, she doesn’t. She’s deeply religious, I am just a Christian for namesake. But it’s only after talking to her that I realized I am meant to take the same path that she did but somewhere along the line I got diverted.

Many a times, my best fren Amol would tell me to fly to Delhi and meet her. Yet, deep inside I was scared. Not just scared but was also confused. I was pretty much enjoying the life that I was leading… was I willing to throw all that away? But it’s only when I went to Delhi that I realized what lied in store for me. Suddenly, all these partying n binge drinking made no sense. Everything became so empty. She was like that missing piece of puzzle in a jigsaw game of my life. Without that piece, you can still make out what the picture in the puzzle is all about and enjoy admiring the picture, but still, something is not just complete and that nags you at the back of your head day in and day out, until that missing piece of puzzle is found.

With love, one suddenly becomes scared of dying. Never in my life had I been so scared to fly (Delhi-Bangalore). And you have no idea how scared I was when I heard she went to Kashmir for two weeks!!! She had to go to Kashmir coz she’s working at EFICOR, a Christian NGO, which was dealing with the relief work at the earthquake affected areas in Kashmir. Everyday we spoke on the phone for hours, and there were three cases of terrorist bombings and shoot-outs during her stay there. I prayed to Almighty Lord to keep her safe, and He answered my prayers. Now she is safely back in Delhi.

Adam found his first true love in Eve. So did I. But then, I still have both my kidneys intact.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Chp 46. YMA: Young Mizo Association

Recently I have been very busy. Was taking part in this debate at zoram.com which is an interactive forum for mizos living all over the world to discuss about the latest situations concerning mizos.

One of the most hotly debated topics is about the YMA. YMA is an acronymn for the Young Mizo Association, a so called NGO whose members comprises of more or less every mizo youth. For those people who are not interested in knowing about the culture and latest news from one of the North eastern states, this would be the right time to stop reading as you might find this boring. This post is for those individuals who are interested in knowing what is going on in that part of the country.

For those of you interested, let me start by saying what the YMA is all about. The YMA, as I have mentioned before, is an NGO. They help the society by doing charity work, like conducting funerals, helping families who are victims of natural calamities like landslides, fire etc. All these are based on a term every mizo is proud to represent, a term called “tlawmngaihna”, where every mizo look out for each other. A mizo is always expected to help out another mizo. We treat guests with the highest priority and honor in our culture.

But recently, the YMA have come under much criticism. They have started taking the law into their own hands, especially after they started their drive against drugs and alcohol. They beat up anybody who is dealing with these so called evils of society, and this year alone, lynched 4 people to death. Many of us have loudly raised our voice, but the situation does not seem to change at all. People accuse them of “talibanizing” the State of Mizoram and even call them “Youth Murderer Agency”. We mizos are proud to tell the rest of India that we are the only State in the north-east that does not have any terrorist or separatist problems. Yet here we are, victims of our own endeavor. The YMA has even forced the head of the Human Rights Commission in Mizoram to leave her home in Mizoram because she protested against the Human Rights violation by the YMA. David M. Thangliana, editor of Newslink (the most prominent news portal for mizos on the net) even resigned from the Central YMA's literature sub-committee as a mark of protest, drawing applause from individuals of all walks of life. Many of the people have asked for a consensus on whether the YMA should be granted a God-like status or not. Some even believe the YMA should be disbanded as it is not a part of our culture. Given below is one article I have posted in zoram.com regarding the relationship between “tlawmngaihna” and YMA.

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Quote Jewelle: "Sandman, when you say "inside" I hope to God you don't mean to imply that you Mizos living outside Mizoram are outsiders."

Now now, my dear Jewelle, you're blowing this WAY out of proportion. Do read my post again. What I meant to imply is the fact that this struggle against human rights violation would be more effective if the battle takes place right at the backyard rather than hundreds of miles away. One has to be “in” the system to fight it, not miles away. Look at Aung-Sang-Suu-Ki for example.

As I have stated many times before, I still believe in the YMA. It’s just their ways and policies that must be corrected and if necessary, the Organization must undergo a complete change. If this statement is going to incite a debate from our esteemed members who believe the entire YMA should go, then I humbly rest my case for we have had more than enough discussions regarding this. Is YMA a part or not a part of our mizo culture is a hotly debated topic, and I intend not to go down that road again.

Let us just assume for a brief moment that, this actually does happen, that there is no more YMA. The entire organization has been disbanded. The offices burnt, the flags buried, the members scattered everywhere, and the new emerging society making it taboo to utter the Y-word in public.

Can you imagine a Mizoram like that? With no YMA? Would feel be a bit weird huh? Anyway, the point I'm trying to make does not end here.

So now, there is no more YMA. And very soon, as one of our members Zoliani has said, "tlawmngaihna" creeps in, even though there are no YMA around. After all, it’s a part of our culture rite? Opponents of YMA - 1, Proponents of YMA - 0.

This is only the short-run picture. What exactly happens during this era is as follows. Please bear with me as this might be a bit long. Am just introducing an imaginary "veng" (area) and fictitious characters to make this as interesting as possible.

Scenario 1:

Location: Tualveng.
Pu Tawna, a retired Govt employee, has just passed away. He was a popular figure within his veng, being born and brought up there. When it comes to organizing the funeral, digging the grave etc, Pu Tawna’s neighbour’s son, Jimmy decided to step in. Jimmy is a young athletic bachelor of 23 years. He called up his friends and asked them to help him. Within a few hours, Jimmy and his friends have dugged the grave for the late Pu Tawna, raised tarpaulin sheets around the house of Pu Tawna to protect the mourners from rain or sun, collected enough benches from various houses in Tualveng for the people to sit, even organized the zual-ko (informing everybody details about the diseased). Jimmy’s girl-friend Hma-i called up her friends and they made tea the whole day at the house of the dearly departed. At the end of the day, Jimmy and his friends did an excellent work and people praised their unselfish dedication. The local newspaper described him and his friends as tlangval/nula chhuanawm (praise-worthy). Isn’t this what “tlawmngaihna” is all about in our culture?

Scenario 2:

Soon word spread about this, and whenever there was a funeral or a disaster like landslide, Jimmy and his friends were the first one to reach there and help. They became the topic of petty conversations during family dinner and office breaks. The mothers would say “Jimmy a kha chu a ti tha khawp mai, a va han fel em em. Lal Hma-i te chu a luck khawp mai”. The fathers would say to their son “Mama, i u Jimmy a thil tih ang te hi ti ve ta che. In hmang deuh rawh tiang thil ah hian, nileng a internet i khawih ringawt te chuan i puitling lo ang”. Jimmy became some sort of a role model, somebody that everybody looks up to.

Scenario 3:

So far we have looked at “tlawmngaihna” at its best only in the short run. Now, ladies and gentlemen, let us proceed to the long run. We aren’t exactly there yet though. This is the intermediate phase.

Jimmy and his friends are now very popular. Many more young men and women started joining him, and his circle of friends grew tremendously. And somewhere else, in another “veng”, moved by Jimmy’s selfless act, other young people started making their own organization to help others. These groups grew in size as time progressed. And they even started linking up so that there would be synergy. They found it easier if they shared their resources, and it was making their work easier too. Soon they started coordinating and eventually in the end, all these groups of various “vengs” became one big organization. All these were formed due to Jimmy’s tlawmngaihna.

Scenario 4:

We are now in the long run. Jimmy is now the most talked about person in Mizoram. Every house-hold knows his name. And he was growing more and more powerful every passing day. People trust him completely. After all, he’s doing it out of his own volition and not getting paid for doing any of his good deed. He started enjoying a Godfather status. Whenever there is a burglary, people come to him instead of the police for they have more belief and faith in him. And then, he and his friends would set out hunting for the thief. They would use their own tactics and nobody would question them, after all, it is their trusted and loving dear Jimmy. Soon, Jimmy and his friends started introducing new laws to improve the life of the society, like banning of alcohol and drugs. The society welcomed this move with open hands; after all, it is their loving Jimmy once again. What he says must be in the best interest of the people. But Jimmy and his friends were getting frustrated with the fact that inspite of their selfless act, people are still not obeying the one simple favour they ask them to do: do not deal with drugs and alcohol. So they started beating up these “scums of society” who drink and dope. Beat them black and blue in order to pass a message to others. Sometimes, they even beat them to death. Jimmy and his friends feel this is necessary, and that they believe they do have the rights to do it, after all, they have done so much for the community as a whole.

Scenario 5:

Very slowly, as the number of deaths and house burnt increased in an alarming rate, some people started becoming uncomfortable. This is not the Jimmy they once knew. This is not the tlawmngaihna they once believed in. The number of dissident voices started growing with every new cases of torture and death. But Jimmy and his friends are too powerful now. The police are scared of them, the politicians are at their mercy. But as the number of protest started growing, questioning Jimmy’s method, Jimmy started becoming more and more unpopular. Slowly his friends stopped talking to him one by one, and most of them avoided him. Soon, it was just Jimmy, all alone. Even his girlfriend Hma-i left him, marrying another guy that nobody has heard of before. Jimmy was reduced from the all powerful to a mere vagabond, roaming the streets of Tualveng all by himself. People never mentioned his name anymore. Thus ended an era of Jimmy.

Scenario 6:

Location: Tlangveng
Pu Zara has just passed away, a victim of cardiac arrest. His family members are poor and they cannot even arrange a simple funeral service. Jimmy was not around anymore to organize this unfortunate event, so Pu Zara’s neighbour’s son, Michael, decided to step in. He called his friends up and within no time they dugged the grave, raised tarpaulins, made tea, collected benches…..

And history repeats all over again. Deja-vu?

People, I believe disbanding the YMA is not a feasible solution. Correcting it is. No matter what we do regarding the YMA, there will always be similar organization formed because of our commitment to “tlawmngaihna”. Frankly speaking, as of now, I do not know what suggestions I can give to let this happen. Maybe age and experience that is yet to come along my way will make me wiser, and perhaps then, I will be able to give more constructive ideas. As of now, we are just mere spectators living hundreds of miles away from Home. Dear Jewelle, I hope I made my point clear enough now that just because we live outside, we do not consider ourselves as “outsiders” and that we love our Home as much as you do. God bless Mizoram.



Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Chp 45. Friend "ship"

Semester vacation in progress. Leisure at its best. I can’t believe I haven’t blogged anything for more than a month!

The past one month has been very hectic and tiring for me, both physically and emotionally. Our end terms were coming up, and that means loads and loads of project reports, submissions and presentations. There wasn’t any time at all to mug for the end-terms. In addition to this, all my closest frens left for their exchange program, making my life even sadder.

Monu, Amra and Girish were the first to leave me. We dropped them at the airport late in the night even though I had a big ManComm submission the next day. I stayed up that whole night completing my assignment. Didn’t go to class the next morning and all the profs later wanted to meet me and know why I didn’t come to class. It sux being so obvious in class, even though I am the most silent one during class discussion. After that it was Shubha, and I had a test the next morning so I couldn’t see her off. Later Tommy was next and Amol n I dropped him at the airport. From then onwards, it was just Amol and me. Amol who was supposed to join his Copenhagen University a long time ago had some minor problems with his visa. But that didn’t last long, and on the eve of my exam week, Ankita and I went and dropped him. Man, it was a sad scene indeed which as a guy I wouldn’t wanna talk about in public.

Life really becomes one big vessel of emptiness without frens around. Even if you don’t hang out at places or have dinner together, the mere presence of frens by your side gives you a deep sense of togetherness. After I repeated my first year here, I thought things won’t be much different from last year. Oh how wrong I was. One semester has come and gone, and yet I hardly know my current batchmates. Last year, by this time, I was very close to many people already.

What constitutes friendship? What gives a person a membership rights to that exclusive circle of trust? (And why am I sounding like SJP? Guess I’ve been watching too many Sex and the City) Having common interests and similar wave-length are just a few of the factors that lay down the foundation for an ever-lasting friendship. What really brings about people close to each other is the number of times they end up hanging out with each other. Right from playing one quick game of pool together after dinner to designing birthday charts together, all these small small things add up to one huge bonding of mutual trust.

25 years of age now, I feel I am quite old enough to look back at life and analyze what brings people close to each other. The first thing people talk about their group is that, they all have common interests. I feel that is too big a term to use. Because when I look back at my life and ponder, all the people I’ve grown close to are very different from me. Back in Engg College, my circle of frens had completely different taste in music from mine. They weren’t into dating and romancing as I was. Even here in IIMB too, my personal interests are very different from my frens’. Yet there is something there, a very mysterious and unseen entity that pulls us all together. In Engg College Paolo, Johny, Thomas, Jacob etc were all mallus, Varasidhi was tam, Abhishek was marwari. I thought I was clicking well only with Southies due to my South-Indian upbringing, until I started having north Indian frens. My ex-girlfren of 2 yrs was also a Rajasthani. And then there were Clement, Elezar, Jabo etc, my very very close frens from Rwanda. After that it was Hyderabad, living with Arabs. Hyder, Haj, Alaa, Amoudi etc became my blood brothers. And here in IIMB, Tommy is bhong, Amol mumbaite, Monu tam, Kata is gult etc etc. At one point I even thought diversity has a role to play in all these. But then, this year, I found a lot of new mizo frens who had very similar interests as mine, leave alone similar background.

Looking back at all this now, I realized there is one very important factor that pulls people close to each other – it’s not the diversity nor the similarity in background. Just one very important criterion – The Same Sense of Humor.

The more we laugh out to each other’s jokes, the more we become closer subconsciously. With closeness comes trust. Ask yourself this, don’t you suddenly have this unexplainable attraction/closeness to someone who can make you laugh when you least expect it, and who genuinely laughs at your jokes too? The Power of Laughter is greater than you ever think it was. It’s like the Vanguard of an army set out to conquer frens. It never fails.

I miss my frens. And at the same time, I must take more effort to get to know this new batch. No man is an island, and even if I am, then I must build more harbors for other ships to dock and at the same time send out my vessels to other ports. friend-Ship Ahoy, mate!

Chp Interlude 1: A Warning

Am back at blogging!
The following mail has been sent to me by my senior and good fren Ali. I’ve just spoken to him regarding this and he assured me it is not a hoax as my credibility is at stake here. This really happened to his colleague.

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Hi!

I would like to bring to notice a certain injustice that I have subjected to at the Bangalore Railway Station (Majestic). On September 30 (Friday), 2005, I had been to the station to see off my fiancée and her mother. They took the Karnataka Express (Train #2627) to Jhansi at 6:30 pm.

On my way out I was asked to present my platform ticket by a railway official. On producing the same, the TT turned around and told me "What if I say that you haven't given me the ticket?" Before I could react, he along with his colleague pushed me into the adjacent enquiry cabin and physically manhandled me. I was slapped several times, my spectacles were grabbed and deliberately crushed by foot, and my phone was flung away from me. The RPF comprising of one RPF and four constables, appeared on the scene. The surrounding public was whisked away. None of the railway police officials cared to listen to me and they started hitting me indiscriminately with lathis. They dragged me out, and all the 4 constables continued hitting me with lathis from Platform 1 to Platform 3/5, till we reached the station master's cabin. Racist abuses and threats were made on the way. At the station master's cabin, I was told that I have been charged with a non-bailable offence and would be behind bars for 15 days.

Not for a single moment was I allowed to speak. All of a sudden a stranger came to the scene and he claimed that he was there to help me. Having lost all my physical strength and mental senses, I was happy to see some sort of help. He, claiming to be V Srinivas from Infosys, talked to the officials and the railway police in Kannada. He told me that the only way I was to get out was if I was willing to pay my way through. Being in no state to make a rational choice, I gave him my ATM card and pin. He took one of the RPF chaps along with him and said he would clear the matter. He returned some time later saying that everything was okay now.

I was asked to sign a statement which said that I hit the police and TT in a drunken state. I refused. Finally, they pressurized me to write that I did not produce a platform ticket when asked. I wrote the same and then V Srinivas took me out of the station. He joined me in an auto and took me to the ICICI ATM at Anand Rao circle. He withdrew Rs. 15000 from my ATM and got back. he took the cash under the pretext that while helping me he had left his wallet in the train he had left behind and that he would return the same through his ICICI Internet account. Having broken down mentally I did not realise that I was being cheated. He then took me to a Samsung showroom and tried purchasing a cellphone worth Rs. 18500 with my card. It was only then that I realised what was happening. I grabbed my card back, caught him by the collar, snatched my cash that lay in his pocket, and got into a running auto.

I have now realized that all of this was a plan. There is a strong nexus between the railway officials, the railway police and the fraudster. The railway officials identify a victim who they think is well-to-do, the RPF beat that individual till he has no physical or mental well-being. Then this fraud chap comes on to the scene, takes advantage of the situation, and takes all your cash away. Also, this series of events generally occurs on the last day of the month as they know that the salary gets credited on this day. (This strikes me now because the self-proclaimed Infy employee, V Srinivas, clearly asked me whether I had received my salary. He said that he just wanted to find out if there was cash enough to tackle the case.)

Now three days hence, I have tried to run from pillar to post. I have been forced to miss office hours in my effort to get justice. But I don't want to give up the fight midway. If any of you are in the media, or have friends/relatives who are in the industry, I'd like to speak with them about this in greater detail. I can be reached on 09886179319 or 08030933067. I believe it would catalyze my efforts.

Also, please pass this email to all the people who reside in Bangalore, so that they don't fall into the same trap.

Regards,
Nimish V Adani
IIML Batch of 2003
ITBHU Batch of 2001


Thursday, August 25, 2005

Chp 44. Banyan County

Don’t you just love that feeling you get when you wake up way beyond your usual time on a late sunday afternoon, knowing you’ve just partied your brains out the previous nite? Ah! Your entire body aches and your eyes are burning from over-using that contact lens, yet thinking about the previous nite, you just can’t help but release a big smile as you stretch your body while still lying on your bed. And even better if there is some hot chick lying next to you sleeping peacefully… but alas…

Last Saturday nite I decided to party hard. The last few weeks, it has been only house parties. Advantages of a house party is, there is no time limit (party goes on until the neighbors threaten to call the police aka “Hoysala”), you know almost everybody at the party, there is always a spare room available for those who wanna make out, and basically, its cheap. But what a house party cannot offer is the ambience, and the P3 societal atmosphere all around.

And I was also really looking forward to partying with “S” n her frens for the first time. A really amazing bunch of girls; funny, quick-witted and hot. Left for “The Club” around 10pm as the dance floor over there usually opens by 11:30. Actually “The Club” is so close to my campus. As you go out of the Insti, take a left towards Jayanagar and keep on going straight for about 10km until you reach Mysore road dead-end T-junction. Take a left and a few more km and viola, you’re reached Ibitza.

But that night, as we drove inside the pearly gates of our party destination, stereo blasting the latest Hiphop chartbuster “Lose Control” by Missy Elliot, Ciara and Fat Man Scoop, adrenalin pumping and quite tipsy from the pre-party drinks, the security guards approached our car and said the Disco has been shifted to Banyan County (Aaaaargh, for the umpteenth time, I hate it when people say “Disco”. Either say “disc” or “discotheque” plz.) He gave us a small map.



So our long distance journey began. Around 10kms down Mysore road, terrible roads, pot holed and dusty, son of a bitches coming from the other side high-beaming me all the time (but then, it’s a national highway I think, so what else should I expect). Finally found the right-turn I had to take. The road is even worse, and smaller. No traffic to worry about, but that itself became a big worry as the entire stretch of road was completely deserted. I even slowed down, but not a single vehicle passed by. Slowly we rolled up our windows, locked the door and reduced the volume on the stereo

The map says “5km towards Banyan Tree”, but even after 6km, there was absolutely no sign of life. The very few houses here and there were completely dark. We were convinced we were lost, so we took a U-turn and disappointingly said we’ll go back and have our usual house party. And luckily, from the other direction we saw our first vehicle: a bike. On it were two dudes in complete hiphop attire! Either they were lost just like us or the party’s right ahead. I stopped them and they grinned wildly and said its just a couple of meters ahead! And there I was already taking a U-turn and about to head back!

Banyan County. Very secluded. Open air, typical farm house party. We could hear the music from the car parking area but the trees blocked our sight. Lots of bouncers everywhere. Entry was 300 bucks per couple, and even the girls had to pay 300 per each pair. And no freaking cover charge! The guy at the counter was like “Same rate as “The Club”.” My ass! “The Club” is like 200 per head with 100 bucks cover. Maybe he meant to say “Same coupon as “The Club”.” Bastard. Coz when one has come so far, it would be absolutely meaningless to go back without partying.

We shelled out 900 and romped inside. The place was really nice. No official Bar or dance floor. Everything was make-shift, including the DJ table. There is this amazing swimming pool with fountains and aqueduct like structures a lá Roman style, where water was pouring down continuously from above.

The drinks were quite expensive, 90 bucks per beer can which slowly metamorphosized into 100 bucks/can as the night progressed. All hard liquors were 100 bucks/60ml, and the pepsi/7up added to it is 30 bucks. Even a 500ml water bottle is 30 bucks.

The crowd was ok. Not that great. The music was only house. Bummer. We hardly danced and spent most of our time drinking by the pool. But slowly, as the morning got older, more and more party animals started arriving. Very soon the place was filled with an amazing cocktail of people: Around 30% Africans and Arabs, 30% North-easterns, 30% mainland Indians and remaining 10% firangis. DJ started playing Hiphop around 2am. It was amazing from then onwards. Had so much fun…

People danced everywhere, not just in the designated dance floor: Outside the floor, by the pool side, underneath the fountains, everywhere. And the best part is, everybody’s so friendly once high. No drunk rowdies looking for a fight. Everybody smiled at me and I did the same. We all felt this connection among each other even though we have never met and will probably never met again. Even gave a “Yo muh niggah” hug to many of the African dudes too, and the girls I was with knew quite a number of them.

Special mention must be made about the DJ’s girlfren (Both names withheld, to save myself from some embarrassment incase they ever come across my blog). She’s HOT! And probably one of the best dancers I’ve ever seen. Lucky him, me too definitely gonna become a DJ once I graduate from here And the girls I was with told me that they’ve been together for almost 3 years now.

Finally we left our beloved place around 5:30ish. People were still dancing when we left. The ride back was sheer torture for me. Sleepy and tired, I just wish I could doze off like the rest of the girls happily sleeping in the car. Damn.

Dropped them and came back to hostel around 6:30. Felt good to know I had such a great time. But well, I don’t think I’ll be going there again in a hurry coz, it’s too far, and kinda too expensive. It would be great if I can go there in a large group. Must talk to Monu, Amra, Amol, Tommy etc regarding this, and plan one day to go there in 3-4 cars. That would be amazing chapter 2.

Till then, it’s back to the grind here at IIMB. Sayonara…

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Chp 43. Relative Grading!

In the Beginning, God created land, water, the sun, the moon and animals n birds. And then he created man and woman. Just one man and one woman. That itself was Paradise for the man, for he had no competition to worry about. Hence he need not leave the toilet seat down, nor did he have to ask for directions in that little garden. Similarly, the woman was happy, for she need not shave her legs nor make chapattis for her man.

Everything was going great until one fine day, the woman gave into temptation (just wondering why all the “other” things they must have done is also not termed as temptations). Anyway, God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and made their life utterly miserable. He thought of the worst possible way to make them suffer: He thought of floods, he thought of fire rain. Until one brilliant idea hit him. He had just thought of something that will make Mankind suffer for the rest of his life: He created Relative Grading.

Within no time, Cain murdered Abel, hence making Abel the first victim of frustration due to relative grading in the history of Mankind. Fast forward thousands of years later and here I am sitting in my room and feeling like doing the same thing to some of my classmates

Being a below average student sux, but here in IIM, it doesn’t hit me that hard. I am more than happy to be a below average student in this prestigious institution. But what really sux is the fact that we guys never gain recognition. People treat the toppers like celebrity. They even award them medals and throw a party n get drunk, when in fact it is them who are screwing up everybody else when it comes to grading. Whereas it is us guys who actually push up everybody’s grades. For every small mark that we screw up, we know deep inside that somewhere out there, there is an individual being pushed above average (Yes, I am doing QM for the second time, so I know perfectly well how a normal distribution is calculated! )

Had I not been here, I assure you, there would have been quite a number a people on the other side of the mean, and the standard deviation would have significantly decrease.

Humility aside, I sincerely feel that, just like the top 10 students who are awarded the DML (Director’s Merit List) award, us bottom 10 should have been awarded some sort of medal, strictly from the Student’s Union side.

He he he… okie, was just kidding. Actually all u DMLs and toppers rock. Especially those of you who are always ready to help me out whenever I have a doubt. As much as it sux, Relative grading is something that we’ll always face in the real world. It brings about competition.

And this is not just regarding acads or business. Even when it comes to flirting, mankind always competes. Who has the bigger car or smaller cell phone. Looks take a back seat, and charm now sits in the driver’s seat. For most girls, it all depends on how much of a smooth talker the guy is, whereas for most guys, how hot the girl is. For girls, it’s easy to score as guys will fall for anything. But for guys to score, it takes a lot of meticulous planning, cajoling, serenading, impressing, and most important of all, making her laugh. Ofcourse when I say this I don’t speak on behalf of all the ladies who feel that guys shouldn’t be just smooth talkers but also non-alcoholic, career oriented, financially stable blah blah blah.

Anyway, to sum up everything, I guess Relative grading is something we can never run away from. It will always be there, waiting to pounce on us when we least expect it. Sometimes it’s a good thing, like when the paper is really difficult and nobody knows how to solve it. But when it’s a moderately easy paper, everybody leaves you far behind and you suddenly realize nobody’s around you to share your sorrow. You become, once again, an outlier. Gnite.


Friday, August 12, 2005

Chp 42. Here comes the weekend

Exams finally over!!!

Well, I slogged much harder than I did last year. Why, I even put two nite-outs during the exam! The only time I ever put nite-outs last year when it comes to acads, was that one time when I was writing my man-comm assignment about pitching for a condom company, and once more during my eco final exam. And here I am now, happily nite-outing just half way thru the 1 semester itself. It kinda looks like history is not going to repeat itself…

But Alas! The end result is the same: utter disaster. Royally screwed in Accounts, Eco and Statistics, and “peasantly” screwed in BGS and MO.

And then something strange hit me. I did not feel so bad screwing up. Funny. Coz last year, had I studied and done badly, I would be like, man why the fuck did I waste my time studying anyway. But now, I feel a wee bit sense of satisfaction. Another metamorphism of a human mind bcoz of IIM, I guess.

And I found out recently that if you type “IIMB sux” at google.com and click on the “I’m feeling luck” button, it will take you directly to my blog! Even if you Google search, my blog is the first result it will show when u enter IIMB sux. LoLzzz.

Anyway, after two more days of classes, here we are, with a solid 3 day weekend! Something extremely rare in the IIMs. And before I can heave a sigh of relief and relax a bit, every time slot was filled up. Friday evening: dinner party at Lin’s place, Friday mid-nite: MST’s bday house party, Saturday aftie-evening: Bangalore Mizo fresher’s party, Saturday nite: Poison Ivy and her fren’s combined bday house party, Sunday morn: Catching up with “D” n gang, Sunday aftie: Church with “P”, Sunday evening: Freedom Jam rock concert @ Palace Grounds with huge gang, Sunday nite: The Club with “A” and her frens, Monday morning: uh… flag hoisting ceremony at IIM Monday aftie: Lets see…

It’s going to be tough to keep all the appointments. Even my poor sister who was planning to fly down from Mumbai to spend the weekend with me had to cancel her plans coz I’ll be busy. And I still haven’t changed the water in my fish tank… I must do it today, no more procrastination. Them poor fishes are having a tough time and the death-rate is now very close to one every 4 days!

Anyway, today I went to have a haircut again, Mohawk style. And then I thought what the heck, exams over and I do deserve to have a good time. So I indulged myself with a nice menthol oil massage, shehnaz facial, shampooing and grooming. And that’s not all. Decided to do something radical just like that, so I told their in-house beautician to color my hair! I made a lot of calls to all the girls I know here in Bangalore regarding what color would best fit my complexion. Finally decided on L’Oreal Copper blonde 8.3 (Don’t ask me how I remembered the name. I wanted something not very prominent as this is my first time n I don’t know how its gonna turn out. So I called up every girl I know again n asked them what they think of L’Oreal 8.3 )

I learnt a lot that day while waiting in the girl’s section of the beauty parlour. Like, I now know why girls never go to a parlour alone, coz the waiting is pure dullesville. I had to sit there with my hair mask or whatever u call that thing and wait for some whitish cream to set on my hair, for like 30 minutes. And then the beautician applied the main dye for which I have to wait another 45 minutes! Man all this waiting was just killing me softly, or atleast killing the man in me softly

One of my frens who’s a beautician at Shanaaz (hope I got the spelling rite) Beauty Parlour in Indiranagar told me to colour my hair in streaks n not completely. So I did just that. Man it kinda hurts! As the beautician pulled out strands of my hair from the holes in the hair-mask with a small stick (She said my hair is too short to use the tin foil or whateva), I feel pain electrifying thru my entire head. It was then that I realized how much pain girls go thru everytime they go for their threading n waxing n other girlie stuff. New found respect for my sisters yo.

What I hate the most at that place was, there was absolutely nothing to do. It’s extremely difficult for a guy to just sit there with beauty products all over the hair and do nothing. I tried passing my time reading the magazines. WTF, they are all girlie magazines. “50 ways to deal with PMS”! Why the fuck would I be reading that. I know just one way of dealing with PMS and that is: “Stay away from the girl and go out drinking with the guys.” What could be more effective than that? :D And then there was “How to tell if your boyfren really loves you”. Comon ladies, just give him a couple of tequila shots and trust me, he’ll love you like nobody every loved you before he he, ok no more potshots at the ladies. Love you all. Muuaaahh*

Have a terrific weekend everyone. And hoping to see all you Bangalorean bloggers at the “Freedom Jam” rock concert at Palace ground this Sunday. I’ll go cheer for one of my fren Fahad’s band “Catatonic Rage”. Plus I know a couple of guitarists from other bands too. Hoping to meet y’all rocking away to glory there. Just keep a look-out for a chinky with a Mohawk hairstyle and weird streaks of brown running thru it. Hard to miss me! Ciao everyone.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Chp 41. Bummer Party scene

I left a happening Bangalore 2 months ago for my summer internship. 2 months later, I came back to the Pub city and what do I find? A pre-historic Bangalore! Not a single disc is open beyond 12 anymore! Gone are the days of partying till 5am at Club-X. WTF, Club-X isn’t even there!!!! Freaking cops closed the place down.

Word on the street is that this is only just a temporary phase because there is a new Police chief or whateva in the city and the cops wanna lay things low for a week or two. Comon, it’s already been more than a month since I came back and the condition don’t seem to be improving at all.

Saturday night and no Club-X. I can’t believe this shit. Jeez, that’s my freaking Church, man. I went to other places, but none of them could substitute Club-X.

Pubbing on a Saturday nite sux. Went to Pubs I’ve never been to in years, like Peco’s, Mojo, Guzzler’s Inn, Bunkers, Cosmo Village, Jeffrey’s, Library Bar @ Leela etc… Well, once the alcohol hits you, its kinda fun, but nothing can beat a nice dance floor with psychedelic lights and DJ playing hiphop or house that u simple just have to shake ur ass to.

My frens from Bangalore told me the two new discs, Oblivion and Club Sin sux, and advised me never to go there, so I didn’t. Another fren of mine told me to check out “Fabulous”. Well, she is one heck of a party animal so I took her words for granted.

Went to “Fabulous” one fine Saturday nite. It’s on Intermediate ring road, just before reaching Airport road. Nice place. Valet parking, and the best part was, no entry or cover charge. Maybe because I was with a date. But soon, I found out this was a bummer. Because muh date “B”, well, she’s more of the hiphop kinda gurl. I mean, yeah, even I am so into hiphop, but I was brought up partying on songs like “Sweet dreams” by La Bouche and 2 Unlimited’s “No Limit”. I mean, comon those days, the only music closest to hiphop was MC Hammer’s “You cant touch this”! The ambience of “Fabulous” had a very late 80’s early 90’s setting. DJ played songs like “YMCA”, “Voulez Vous”, “Karma chameleon” etc. After two pints, I was already shaking my shoulder and clicking my fingers like the 80’s style, while my date just sat there cribbing about the music. That spoilt the whole vibe, man. Anyway, I managed to drag her to the floor around 10:30 and had a great time dancing. Then at 11pm they announced that the Bar is closed and at 11:30 they played their last song!!!! Sad! WTF do we do after that???? Anyway we went to a fren’s house party and I tried my best to have fun for the rest of the morning.

And then, I went to “The Club” the other nite. And it just occurred to me, the last time I went to “The Club” was the first time I ever went to a disc in my entire life. 10th standard summer break. 9 years ago! OMG, I feel so old. And I can’t believe “The Club” is still there. Another disc we used to go to those days, “J.J’s”, aint there anymore. But “The Club” is still there, bringing back such wonderful memories. And what’s even more surprising than that is, in 9 years, the place hasn’t changed at all! I can still remember the same swimming pool, dance floor and the balcony over-looking the dance floor. Anyway, I took out my four hot air-hostess frens “A”, “P”, “M” and “J”. George n “K” joined us. Everywhere I look, it was nostalgia all over again. Man, even the plastic beer mugs hasn’t changed in 9 years! I had an amazing time that nite. The placed opened till 2:30. Well, I guess its worth it, coz the place is so far away from the city. Had food at Com Street at 4 in the morning. “P” passed out n I was so freaking scared she’ll puke in the car, but thank God nothing happened.

Other than that, the only disc I’ve been to recenty is “Taika”. Even on a Sunday nite, there’s an entry with cover charge costing a cool 600 bucks. Girls free entry ofcourse. One cover charge gets you 4 pints of beer or 2 cocktails. Went there with my 4 air-hostess frens and then, I threw my party there when I found out I was allowed to continue in this Institution. It was just me and my close circle of frens. Amol, Tommy, Monu, Amra, Ankita, Shubha and Momo.



[Yours truly, Tommy, Amol and Momo]



[With Shubha, blog name Elysia :) ]



[Ankita, always smiling and cribbing :) ]



[Momo, Amra and Shubha. Sorry Monu, ur not there in any pic!]

Thus ended nights of partying. Every one of them great, but still not as great as Club-X. I’ve had a lot of debate with my frens regarding this. Some of them even claimed the crowd at Club-X is cheap. I don’t care. Coz I always manage to have the greatest time whenever I go there, so all I do right now is pray and hope Club-X open soon…


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Chp 40. da Resurrexion!!

What do you think was the first thing on Lazarus' mind when he was brought back to life? Boy it sure feels good to be alive once again? Well, thats exactly whats on my mind right now. Boy it sure feels good to blog once again.

I haven't updated my blog in a loooong time. Many reasons. To keep a long dramatical story short, lemme just brief you all on what happened since my last post. Will keep it as short n sweet as possible. Completed my summer internship, flew back to IIMB, bad news, academic results not up to mark, got chucked out, depressed, appealed, PGP Committee, Director hearing, Board of Governor meeting, faculty review board, closed room discussion, verdict, accepted back into the Institute, rejoiced, celebration, treats, party, party, party, party, class commence, studies, tests, exams, assignments, party, basketball match, tests, assignments, party.

Its been one heck of a month since coming back here. Thanx a lot to everybody who continued visiting my blog. I've been really busy because of the above mentioned incidents. I would really love to reply to your comments at my "sonargachi" post (some of them really smart-assed comments too) but guess now the fire has died down :) Anyway thanx a lot wimpy, mihir, jam, nirav, chaichat, poweryogi, rikhi, vin, wiseorotherwise, jerry, chiru, ronnie, kaashyapeya etc. for all your comments.

After I got the news that i had to leave this place, well, I was devastated ofcourse, but at the same time, I looked at life on a broader perspective. Because after working in BP for just 2 months, I realised this is what i am meant to do. Finally in life I have found something I truly enjoy doing that is not related to basketball, designing, clubbing or drinking. If you have read my earlier post you'd know that I wanted to quit (around 2nd semester) and I even talked to the PGP Chairperson about this. Thats why I never had the real motivation to study anymore bcoz I thought I was doing something that I am not meant to do. But I wanted to work in an Organization, so I completed my 1st year with minimum marks. And then work I did, and found out I fit in so well, but alas, it was too late as my marks were too low and I did not qualify, hence I had to leave this Insti. Now what? An incomplete MBA degree, but what I have learnt here definitely made me complete. Its not the degree that IIMB offer which I will miss the most. It occured to me that what I will miss the most if i have to leave would be the time I spent with everybody here. In a way, this has completely changed me. Anyway, my appealing procedure went on for 2 weeks! While most of the other students who were also undergoing this appealing process were all tensed up and nervous, yours truly decided to face my fate like a man and instead spent my two weeks hanging out with my frens. Every single nite we all went out, checking out new restaurants and pubs. I went to that new disc on intermediate road, Fabulous, went to Taika over and over again (ClubX is still closed), The Club, Peco's, Mojo, 100 feet restaurant, Little Italy, Casa Picola, Magnolia, Jeffrey's, Oasis, Bunkers, Cosmo Village, etc etc...

After 2 weeks, I was finally informed that the Institute has reviewed my past performances and allowed me to continue! Praise the Lord. Got sloshed that night. And then I was busy catching up with Acads etc... its backto the grind once again. But this time I am not going to screw things up again. More updates coming up soon....

Friday, June 10, 2005

Chp 39. Sonargachi!

Finally, after much hesitation, I decided to check out what this Sonargachi is all about.

Sonargachi, the sex capital of the East, infamous for its prostitution and sleazy red light areas. Pick up a copy of the Newsweek or any other news magazine, and if there is an article about prostitution in India, I can bet my ass Sonargachi is mentioned in it. Tell any taxi driver “Sonargachi” and you can’t help notice a sly smile on his face.

I’ve been working here in Cal for almost 2 months now. I’ve seen places in North India that I’ve never seen before these past two months. But Sonargachi, which lies right here in the very city I go to Office everyday, has never passed before my eyes. Everyday I tell myself, “Kima, just for the heck of it, go see what’s it like”.

So one fine day, I left Office early, took a long drag on my cigarette and then told the taxi driver to go to Sonargachi. He smiled. I didn’t.

While on the way, the driver looked at me and asked whether he’ll wait for me! I was about to tell him that I just wanted to see what the place is like and I’m not going there to “do it”, but then, I realized it sounded so lame and he’s never going to believe me, so I just said we’ll see.

Even when I’m with friends, now and then, the topic on Sonargachi would spring up. Some of my friends even tease me not to go over there too regularly (typical guy’s talk). Well, here I am, about to see my first red light district.

Got into a conversation with my driver. He told me Sonargachi is situated right on the main road. And the name of that road is Mahatma Gandhi Road. How ironic! :)

He turned to me and said we’ve reached. As soon as we passed a petrol pump, for the first time in my life I saw prostitutes. Thousands of them. All lined up on the pavement luring customers with their charm.

I was disappointed. Utterly disappointed like Hell. They were nothing like what I expected to see. Maybe I’ve seen too many Hollywood movies. Coz here I am expecting to see prostitutes in laced stockings, 8 inches high heels, mini skirts revealing more than what’s necessary, black leather jacket over a teeny weeny blouse or spaghetti, deep red lipsticks and black eye liner over-done around the face and swinging a black leather hand bag wildly while chewing a gum.

Nah. They were nothing like that. A majority of them were wearing saris and salwars while a few of them were dressed in tees and jeans. And the ones wearing jeans, man, I couldn’t help notice that their jeans were so out dated. Most of them were wearing those 80’s jeans type that goes tight around the ankle and making their asses look so flat. And a whole bunch of them had too much make-up on, making them look so horrible.

As we drove past them, my dear driver who seems to be enjoying his time here, slowed downed a bit. The moment he slowed down, hundreds of these girls ran towards my taxi! I screamed at him to drive on!

Very soon we drove past the place and I told him to take a U turn and we’ll go home. He turned to me and ask whether I was not interested so I told him the truth that I just wanted to see the place. He then told me that if that was the case, then, the main Sonargachi is inside the alley from M.G.Road. and he’s willing to show me around for free!

What the heck. So we parked the car on the other side of the road after making a U turn and made our way INTO Sonargachi. As we crossed the street, he told me that the girls I saw are 50 bucks girls. I was like, what the fuck, you get girls for 50 bucks???? That’s even cheaper than the amount I spend on cigarettes everyday.

He told me that there are much better girls inside. There are 100 bucks girls, 500 bucks girls, and even 5000 bucks girls! Whoah. I asked him how many times he’s been here and he just laughed. Man can you ask for a better driver than this? He’s God sent!

As we walked into the alley, he told me not to make any eye contact with the girls or they will rush towards me. That, my friend, was a bit difficult to do. But yeah, I did try not to look at all these girls surrounding me and waiting to have sex )

Inside Sonargachi, there were buildings after buildings, which my driver told me were places where people do it. I saw a couple of guys, really mean looking and “dacoitic”, staring right at me (the tamilian word “rowdy” would best fit them). He told me that those guys are pimps and are here to see that no one makes trouble in their area. The more they stared at me, the harder I clutched my bag which had my lap-top inside.

As we passed a couple of buildings, the girls were getting more and more... sexier. Some of them were even really HOT! Those were definitely the 1G-5G girls. And there was nothing “prostitute” about them. They look just like those typical babes who you see at discs dancing seductively and flaunting their bodies. They knew how to dress up too. Nothing extravagant or over done. Man oh man, if my mind was any weaker, God knows what would have happened then.

Finally I told my driver I’ve seen enough and wanted to go home. He told me that most of the girls are inside the building and that a “madam” looks them after. LoL, sounds like one of those Jackie Collins novels. Much as I’d like to go inside one of these buildings, I remembered what one of my friends told me. He had done it with a hooker, and it seems in real life they do not scream out oohs and aahs. All they scream out is “Jaldi karo, jaldi karo”! LoLzzzz!!!!

As I drove past Sonargachi, I felt satisfied in a weird way. Finally I’ve seen what Sonargachi is about. Another point to strike out from my “List of things to do before I die”. )





Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Chp 38. Mumbai Shock!

30th May Monday:
Walked into Office. Everybody welcomed me back and said they missed me It was indeed nice to walk around in the Office once again. Mrs. Margaret was there as usual wishing me. My makeshift desk has been placed next to her and half the time we pass smart comments about each other. Everything is so much peaceful, now that my road trip is finally over. Until I received a mail from the Bombay Head Office telling me to be in Mumbai on June 2nd for my project presentation! WTF! I spoke to my guide who told me to relax and said he’ll speak to them. So I continued with my data analysis.

31st May Tuesday:
It’s the Month end, so every Sales and Marketing executive was busy. Meeting after meeting took place in the office. As for me, I just sat in my desk trying to come up with a pattern from all the data I’ve collected. Was about to leave in the night when my Mentor, Mr. Shankha Banerjee, the BP Brand Manager, called me and said I have to go to Mumbai day after tomorrow for my presentation! Good news is, I just have to tell them what all I have done so far and what I still plan to do. Bad news is, I have nothing much to tell them as I am still working on my Jharkhand and Orissa report.

1st June Wednesday:
Spent the whole day working on my Phase II report. Got my tickets for tomorrow 6am flight. My presentation’s tomorrow 2pm. Finally I finished my report at around 10pm and submitted them to my Mentor and also to my Guide. Rushed home. Started working on my presentation at 12 mid-night after packing.

2nd June Thursday:
Worked on my presentation till 3 in the morning. Decided to sleep for an hour since I was damn tired. I ended up sleeping for 2 hours! Panicked and rushed to the Airport. Missed my flight by 40 minutes!!!! #@$#%$#@!!! The next flight to Mumbai was Jet Airways at 1pm. Bought a ticket for that out of my own pocket. Made lots of really embarrassing phone calls to many people, which I’d rather not talk about :)
Boarded the 1pm flight. Rehearsed my presentation for sometime during the flight. Good news is, Bombay Office said they’ll reschedule somebody in my spot and its ok as long as I reach today. Bad news is, all the Big Bosses of Castrol now know about this and they will definitely have a bad opinion about me. But I do not regret it at all. Wanna know why? Well, guess who I sat next to on this flight to Mumbai? Mr. Mahendra Bhagat, the Marketing Manager of ESSAR! We ended up talking about everything that ESSAR is all about, right from retail outlets for Fuel to Hutch mobile service provider. We talked about the Steel Industries too, which is ESSAR’s flagship. And I happened to know a great deal about the situation of the Steel Industry in India due to the Strategy Project I had back in College, which was on TISCO. He gave me his card at the end of the flight!!! How cool is that. To me, it’s the next big thing to being offered an on-spot job offer!
Reached Mumbai at 4:30pm. Went directly to Technopolis on Mahakali Caves Road. Reported to Ms. Savitha, the HR Manager. Met all the other interns and boy it felt good catching up. At 8pm I was informed that my presentation’s tomorrow. Got a room at Hotel Tunga International. My dear sister came to pick me up. Had dinner at my room together. Oh by the way, today is her birthday, so I decided to do something really special. I sent her a happy birthday sms while I was in the plane, 5000 ft above sea level. James and Vikram too came to my room for dinner that night. They are the Castrol summer interns from IIM-A and MICA respectively.

3rd June Friday:
My presentation went off well I guess. The panelists consist of Mr.Sasidharan Vice Presi of Marketing, Mr.Sanjeev Kaul, GM of Automobile, Mr.Rajiv, GM of North and East, Mr.Srikanth CT Manager and Mr.Anand the General Manager of HR … Even though I couldn’t conclude much due to my limited analysis, I think they were quite impressed with some of my suggestions. Spent the rest of the day in Office waiting for my sister to pick me up. She came around 6pm and we moved into her friend’s place at Bandra. A very nice girl. Her name’s “M”. She’s like 7-8 years older than me but she’s still very hot and… exciting.
Very soon, it was time to party! Started the night at Toto’s Pub where my sister’s other fren "S" joined us. I kinda felt a bit awkward being the only guy and two really hot n sexy girls (am not talking about my sister ofcourse) dancing with me. Luckily Ganesh, my senior from Engg Coll and IIMB and also Castrol Area Sales Manager, was in town. I called him up. We went to Shooters on Lincoln road where he came and joined us. Danced a lot there and was quite drunk by then. But that’s not the end of it all. Around 2am, we went to “Avalon” at Bawa International. Fucking amazing. 800 per couple but it was all cover charge. Lots n lotsa hot hot babes all around, but I stuck to MY hot hot babes
Partied till 6am. Was completely sloshed by then. Slept as soon as we reached home (“Slept” is the politically correct word for “Passed out”. LoLz!)

4th June Saturday:
Woke up at 4 in the afternoon! Puked as soon as I got up. Took a long nice shower and tried to remember if I have done anything stupid the previous night. My sister’s peacefully sleeping between me and “M” and she’s not clutching a knife so I guess I behaved well with her frens. Although I did vaguely recollect getting a lot of “kim, I’d love to continue dancing with u this way but I can’t because I am ur sister’s fren” from "S"
Saturday was dull compared to Friday. My sis, “M” and I went to Trafalgar Chowk for dinner. After that we drank at home coz none of us had any strength to party. Slept by 12.

5th June Sunday:
Woke up at 9 and went out to meet Amol. We had breakfast at the coffee shop in Globus. After catching up with what’s all been happening in our lives, we went to Independent Café for lunch. Ordered draught beer along with the food. Son of a bitches served us bottled beer. When I complained, they insisted that the beer is indeed draught and not bottled. Bastards. Am a regular draught drinker and I can easily differentiate between a bottled beer and draught. But Amol didn’t wanna create a scene so I let it go. Am never gonna go there again.

My sis dropped me at the Airport around 4pm and reached Cal by 7pm. It was raining heavily and since I had my laptop in my hand baggage, I spent 2 freaking hours in the Airport waiting for the rain to stop.

Chp 37. British Petroleum - Part Two

Phase II of British Petroleum:

When I reached Cal, I submitted a brief report of my Uttar Pradesh trip to my guide. As I sat there infront of him while he went through my report, I really felt proud. Finally somebody was going to appreciate my work, which did not involve sports, DJ’ing or website/graphics design. It really felt good, especially after working my ass off endlessly for 10 days at a stretch. Then he looked at me and shattered all my dreams. It was like those moments when you’re nominated for a Grammy and the MC announces that not only did you lose but your Record is the worst ever. Although my guide did not use those exact words, I can make it out that he was disappointed. I have failed to analysis the price factor. That includes the DLP, MOP, MRP, dealer margin, net margin, scheme margin, FOC, cash discount etc of each and every product that the dealer is selling. Those are really complicated and complex issues, so I thought since I was just a mere summer trainee, I didn’t have to get into all that. How wrong I was.

So on my next market tour, I had just one target in my mind: Pricing. I was even more determined than before, but at the same time disheartened. Coz it really sux to work so hard and then realize all those hard work isn’t worth all the trouble you just took.

Anywayz, landed in Ranchi on . The place was amazing! It was like a miniature Calcutta. Lots of shopping malls, MNC fast food joints, pretty young girls, pirated hiphop music video CDs, chaat wallas, etc etc. The place is definitely a commercial hub, modernized to its max. I think the best part was the climate. Just like Bangalore. There wasn’t any need to sleep with the AC switched on during the night. Doing the local and upcountry market was very pleasant. Except ofcourse when I had to travel to Gumla. Those are the rural tribal areas infested with hardcore naxals. It was indeed scary to drive through those parts. My DSR told me not to stare at anybody right in the eye. We had to leave the place around 3pm so that we can reach Ranchi before the Sun sets. Driving through those areas after dark is pure suicidal. Fortunately nothing happened, except for a small incident where the people threw sticks at our car. LoL! I mean, it would make much better sense to throw stones at people you don’t like, but boy am I glad its just sticks. After 5 days, I left for Jamshedpur. That very next day, I read in the papers that naxals (Maoists) killed 9 people of a family of 3 at Lohardaga, one of the areas I drove through barely 10 hours ago!

To cut a long story short, I had a great time at Jharkhand. It wasn’t anything that I’d expected. Bought a lot of pirated Hiphop music VCDs, each for a mere 20 bucks.

Orissa on the other hand was terrible. Rourkela was a freaking furnace. The street is completely deserted between 12 and 4pm because of the heat wave. Man, I had to cover my face with a towel even while sitting in the auto due to the hot air burning up my face. Had food poisoning too. Thought it was heat stroke and I panicked. But the symptoms were not that of a heat stroke. Had high fever and an upset stomach. No appetite. Spend the whole day lying on my bed, with no strength to even watch TV. Finally, I rushed into the loo and puked my guts out. Within an hour, I was completely back to normal! The next day, I continued my work as scheduled.

Bhubhaneshwar and Cuttack on the other hand were completely different. Much bigger and developed than Rourkela. Watched the FA Cup final in the night. Arsenal won on penalty! Woohoo!!!!! Balasore was another beautiful place. It rained cats and dogs the night I reached that place. The highway looked really scary with lightning and thunder all around us. Spent my last two days there and finally went back to Calcutta.

I felt really proud because the data I’ve collected is way way better than what I collected in Uttar Pradesh. 18 days, 16 cities, 2 States and 1 food poisoning later, I reached Calcutta.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Chp 36. British Petroleum - Part One

Haven’t updated my blog in quite a while. Not only is there no time to spare, the blogger login page has been blocked by the Office Admin. Anyway, here I am updating with the latest from me. Past few weeks, I’ve been busy as Hell. I’ve started my summer internship at British Petroleum. Or bp. They’re the ones who bought Castrol sometime ago and Aral recently. It’s a Global Organization, and a truly amazing one. Its my first work experience and my sole intention is not to screw it up.

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Calcutta

Free accomodation! How cool is that. Am staying in Cal for my bp summer internship at my dad's friend's son's appartment. Free of cost ofcourse. Two huge bedroom, one of them with AC, and both beds are Kingsized double beds. Bathroom's huge too, with shower and washing machine. 24hrs water and electricity. And a huge Salon too. I love my life. Just one sour apple. The location. I mean, locality wise, its perfect. Close to Howrah Railway Station. But my building is one hell of a scary building. Its actually a combination of shops and offices. My appartment once used to be an office which my "landlord" converted into a residential flat. But all my neighbours are offices. When I return from work late in the night, I have to go up 4 floors of empty corridoors and stairways. In the night, I am the only living soul in the entire building. Trust me, its very scary. And the gate of my building is locked at 10:30pm sharp after which the watchman leaves. So if I reach my building after 10:30, I gotta stay in a hotel for the night. Other than this, I am absolutely happy with my flat.

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Life in bp

Life in bp rocks, especially when it comes to traveling. Wherever I go, it would be either by plane or train, and when I say train, I’m talking about 1st or 2nd class 2-tier AC compartments. It felt really good to sit there inside my first class cabin knowing I’m traveling on company’s expenditure. It was then that I realized many other people are also traveling on company’s expenditure. Of the three people sharing my Cabin, one was a sales executive from Britannia; another was the regional HR of TCS. The third person, well, he kept to himself and his laptop so guess he didn’t want to socialize with us.

Long time ago, when I was a young school kid, I used to look at all these people traveling in my flight, and when we reach our destination, there will always be this uniformed chauffeur waiting for them at the airport, while I had to settle for a taxi. I used to think, man, these are rich folks and someday I am going to be like them. Well that someday hasn’t come yet, but what I do know now is that, most of the people who travel this way are not all that rich, but rather because they work for a “rich” organization. Most of the chauffeurs waiting for them at the airport are under contract from the company they work for.

I mean, take for instance my trip to Mumbai for the orientation program. The Company flew me from Aizawl to Mumbai via Kolkata. There at the Mumbai airport was a smartly dressed chauffeur in white waiting for me with a nameplate that reads “Mr.Vanlalruatkima, Castrol India Ltd.” Boy I’ve never received that kinda treatment before. I mean, yeah, when I land in Aizawl, there’s always my driver (and sometimes one of my three irritating sisters along with the driver) waiting for me at the airport. But a professional driver, and that too with a luxury car packed with 5 different newspapers, soft drinks and eatables? No sir! And he dropped me at this amazing hotel, where I was supposed to share a deluxe suite with another intern. I found out later that the cost of that room was a cool 15K per night! After 2 days of orientation, the company flew me back to Kolkata, and once again I had a chauffeur awaiting my arrival.

Apart from all that, as I have mentioned at the beginning of this section, the company is paying for all the tickets for my fieldwork too. And ofcourse all the expenses that I have incurred during my field trips are all reimbursable. I have been with the company for hardly a month and they have already spent more than 80K on me alone. Initially, when I tell others that I’m getting 12.5K as salary, they laugh. Because the average summer internship salary for an IIM student posted in India is around 20K. But I’ve found out that most of them have to pay for their own transportation, accommodation and food while on tour etc. Eventually, me and my 12.5K are much better off than them and their 20K. Ofcourse I am not comparing myself with my friends like Tommy and Shubha who are doing their summers in an Investment firm in London and Singapore right now. Those guys are literally minting money. Talking purely desi here, I am indeed fortunate to land up in such an amazing Organization as this.

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Party scene in Cal

Well, first of all, my most regular hangout joint here is Haldiram’s on AJC Bose Road. Its just around 200m from my office. The place has amazing Chaat items, and they make it really fast too. And then there’s the usual Forum, not as big as the one in Bangalore but consisting of the usual ingredients like Swarovski, Nike, Reebok, Adidas, the Candy Shop, movie multiplex etc… which is right behind my office (3 minutes walk). I go there now and then after office to eat. But Haldiram’s is a more suitable place to go to especially if you’re all by yourself.

When it comes to partying or chilling out over beer, I usually park my ass at “Some Place Else”, which has an amazing LIVE band performance almost everyday, and once went on a Saturday with my friend Matea who’s working at Hyatt Regency in Salt-Lake and his friends. But the only night I can truly call a good party was when we all went to Dublin and boogied away till the wee hours of early morning. Our group of friends definitely owned the dance floor that night. Other than that, I hardly find the time to party anymore. Am slowly developing a tummy and I haven’t done anything physical in ages now. Am dying to get back to IIMB and start my morning joggings again.

Then there is the new Lounge Bar called “Fusion” at The Golden Park, which was once upon a time called “London Pub”. I had my IIMB GD and interview at that hotel and I still remember going to this London Pub with the other candidates after our interview and getting drunk. Alas, now the place has changed completely. Anyway, it had a nice ambience and service was great too. Reminds me of Hyderabad, especially when the Lounge Bar fever hit that city.

When it comes to entertainment, I’ve seen just one movie so far, and that was “Hitch” with Tenny on my birthday. I got the day off on that special day and I indulged myself on a lot of things, like excessive shopping, expensive booze, and trying out atleast 20 different Giordano wrist watches and then walking away I spent that night at Matea’s flat, partying, drinking and passing out to welcome my 25th year of existence in this boring World.

Just before leaving for my UP trip, we had the IIMB Fresher's party. We conducted it at "One Step Up" on Park Street. Since there are only three interns from our batch working in Calcutta, 4 of our seniors came along to help us out. Around 15 freshers turned up. All in all, it was a great evening, and guess the best part was the free food Although I was a bit disappointed because nobody inquired about sports or partying or even music. One guy did asked if there was a gym, and another talked about carnatic music. No rockers, no hiphoppers. I'm sincerely hoping that atleast some of the rest of the freshers are not like them.

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“Hi, my name is Kima”.

Lately I’ve been thinking of changing my name. Not that I hate it or anything like that. I just don’t think my name fits well in the Corporate World.

I mean, my name had its modest share of fun. All those countless numbers of basketball tournaments I’ve played during my school and engineering days had wonderful memories of the crowd chanting in great unison “KI-MA, KI-MA, KI-MA”. In a way, it encouraged me to play even harder and better. And it was also an excellent crowd puller. Neutral spectators usually end up supporting for our team as they joined the rest of the people screaming out my “strange” name. To them it kinda made sense for me to have a “strange” name since I had a “strange” face. Even when I’m not there playing basketball, my name does make me popular. Everybody in College knows who I am. After all who can forget such a unique and easy to remember name like “Kima”. Even when I compare my name with my friends’ names, mine sounds relatively much better. Take for example, a bedroom scene. A girl will find it much easier to scream out in ecstasy “Oh… Kima… Kima… Kimaaaaa” rather than “Oh… Shankaranarayannnn…” or “Oh… Srikantannn Selvamaniiiii…” Comon, ladies, admit it. Wouldn’t you all rather say my name?

But now I live in a different World. The Corporate World. A World filled with fast decision making and complex strategy implementation. Also, a World governed by names like Ben, Michael, Dave, Bill and Tom. Or in the Indian context, Amit, Anup, Anil, Pradeep and Rajesh. In the midst of all this, it does indeed seem a bit strange to be a “Kima”.

Consider my situation. I walk into a room filled with Sales Managers, Marketing Specialists, Retail Managers and Distributor Special Representatives. The ASM stands up to introduce me and inform them that I’ll be visiting the various markets under their control for my project. He says, “Meet Mr. Kima”. I can immediately see the reaction of the people, trying to suppress a laughter.

Its not their fault. After all, I too would definitely laugh if somebody comes up to me and say “Hi, I am Mr. Biryani” or “Whats up dude. My name is Masala Dosa”. The name “Kima” isn’t exactly a serious sounding name here in India. And many people too had a lot of fun teasing me with names like “mutton kheema” or the corny “I’ll make a kima out of you” line.

I still remember one really funny incident back in Hyderabad. An old friend of mine, Anita, has come down from Mumbai. She’s supposed to meet two of her friends for lunch and told me to join them. After catching up with old times, Anita and I went to the restaurant a bit late and her friends have already placed their order. As we sat down, Anita introduced me to her friends Celina and Aseem. Upon hearing my name, Celina screamed out. Her face suddenly turned rosey red and Aseem burst out laughing. It seems she has ordered “Kheema balls” for lunch! I’ve never laughed out that much in a long time, and neither have I seen anybody blushing that red! Obviously, she did not eat the “Kheema balls” she ordered, so Anita and I happily shared them between ourselves. It was delicious, I swear.

Maybe I will change my name someday. Now and then, many of my close friends lovingly call me by different names: Kimsy, Kim, Kimkim. Of the three, the most common one would be Kim. Yeah, I kinda like the name Kim. Much better than Kima. But in a way, it kinda seem so… Chinese wannabe types, you know. Kim-Pok-Wong or Chang-Kim-Xiang or my favorite, Kim-Big-Dong. Kim is such a common name in Asian countries like China, Korea, Vietnam etc. The funniest name I’ve ever come across was this Chinese athlete. Dunno if it was just an urban legend, but it seems this dude was running a race and was leading until the crowd started chanting his name to give him moral support. Instead he got demotivated and lost the race. His name was Kim-Yoo-Suk. LOL!

I definitely do not want one those English names. Nowadays many mizos have “first names”, something that we mizos usually don’t have, like Paul Lalthangzela, or Stephen Lalhriatpuia. Even tamil Christians have mixed names, like Paul Dhinakaran or Michael Muthuswammy. Atleast most mallu Christians have complete English names (Joseph Thomas, Matthew Xavier, or the funny tradition of naming their son the reverse of their name, like Anthony Paul, son of Paul Anthony, grandson of Anthony Paul, great grandson of Paul Anthony and so on). But even then, we do find some mixed names among the mallus, like Paul Chako etc. I don’t want a cocktail name. I love my name, but it unfortunately does not fit in well here in India.

I love Arab names too. Ahmed with that “khh” sound at the back of your throat. Only thing is, they are all too religion specific. I love African names too. As that stand up Indian Comedian said, “Real African names are wicked”. I would love to have a click in my name too. “Hi, my name is *click*ma”

Other than “Kima”, I sometimes browse or chat under my nicks “silverchild”, “illusionaire” and “sandman”. These are the three names I’d love to have, but they don’t sound too business like. Can you imagine the CEO of a Multi National Corporation called Mr. Silverchild? Until then, let me continue facing the oh-so-common question people ask me every time I tell them my name “Do you know that Kima is the name of a dish here in India” and I’ll be like “Really??? I didn’t know that.” Oh boy…

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My trip to Uttar Pradesh

10 days in Uttar Pradesh. It was an awesome trip when I look at it from a tourist’s perspective. But from the Organization side, man, it was one of the most tiring 10 days I’ve ever gone through.

All my life I’ve been in the South. Never been to any North Indian cities. And when I found out I had to go to Lucknow, Allahabad, Varanasi and two other places I’ve never heard of before, Lakhimpur and Gorakhpur, I was over ecstatic. Finally I was going to see what North India looks like.

Due to my commitment with the Company, I cannot disclose the exact nature of my project or the details on what I’m supposed to do at these places. To keep it short and simple, my project is to analyze the stagnated British Petroleum products in the Eastern Region and come up with a strategy to increase its market share. That is why I had to go to all these markets and interact with the dealers, distributors, mechanics and consumers, and ask them appropriate questions that are relevant to my project.

I nearly missed my train on the day I left Kolkata. I can’t believe how much these bloody taxi drivers are capable of ripping you off. I told him I have to go to Howrah and he said 50 bucks. Son of a b*tch. From my apartment, the meter won’t even reach 20. After asking atleast 10 other taxis I finally took one for 45 bucks. Reached my train with just 3 minutes to spare!

Lucknow:

The first feeling I got when I arrived at this much talked about city was of utter disappointment. Standing there at the station, I was shocked to see not a single auto around. Just plain rickshaws. I wouldn’t even compare it to Salem, Coimbatore or Madurai. More like Theni or Dharmapuri. Is this really Lucknow? Took a rickshaw and went to the hotel my friend Amol has recommended. Hotel Deep Palace. It was a freaking 3 or 5 star hotel. But since I got no other place to go, I stayed there for a night in their cheapest room, which was 2200/night. The next day I shifted to Presidency Inn. It was also quite an expensive hotel, 1500/night, but for Castrol employees, the rate has been reduced to 800/night. Nice.

On my very first day itself, I witnessed with my own eyes what north Indians just love doing. Chewing tobacco. Even before reaching the hotel, my rickshaw driver turned to me and said “Saab, kuch paan paraag ko khilai karenge?” It was from that day and throughout my entire trip in Uttar Pradesh that not a minute goes by without me spotting someone eating a gutkha. 90% of the people who are with me (the drivers, DSRs, dealers, distributors, mechanics, shop keepers, bell boys, waiters etc etc) all eat it. I mean, I got nothing against it, as I too sometimes chew tobacco. Ofcourse I am not a regular, and I just take it (for formality sake) when I’m offered. But these guys, man, they rip open a packet and eat the whole thing at one go. That same pack would last me atleast 8 “trips”. What I can’t stand is the fact that most of these guys spit it out. You can see red stains everywhere, on the walls, stairs, pavements, drainage, theatres, even hotel corridors. I mean, comon, even I eat them and I swallow after chewing. Whats the need to spit it out. If you’re gonna spit it out anyway, why eat it in the first place?

Met the RS (Retail Specialist) and he went with me on my first market visit since its my first time. Man, I never expected so many people to speak just hindi. Every passing minute was like one of those hindi movies my dear ex-girlfren used to drag me to :) I just sit there not understanding the exact meaning of the sentences they’re saying but at the same time knowing what they’re talking about as a whole. As I stand there talking to the mechanics, images of my mother advising me flash through my mind. She always used to tell me “I know you’re in tamilnadu and all your friends don’t speak hindi, but atleast put an effort to learn hindi on your own, you’ll find it very useful someday”. And I’ll be like “mum, I can shop in hindi and also argue with the taxi driver in hindi. What more do I need to know. As of now, I am contented with English, Tamil, Malayalam and French.” Damn, how right she was.

I guess the only thing I liked about Lucknow is the multiplex that came up very recently. It’s kinda like Forum, with around 4 theatres. There’s even a MacDonald’s there. And the crowd was not bad at all. Only problem was transportation as it takes like forever to travel by rickshaws.

Lakhimpur:

I still find it really awkward when the DSR calls me sir. No matter how many times I tell them not to address me as sir since I am just a summer trainee, they just don’t get it. But I kinda got used to it later. And everywhere I go, I was always offered something to drink. The dealers always ask me whether I’d like a “thanda” or a “garam”. “Garam” means a tea or coffee and a “thanda” means some cold drinks. How I wish it meant a nice chilled draught beer.

Lakhimpur was a pretty small place. But the lubricant market is huge due to the city mainly thriving on transportation. Met a lot of Lorry Fleet owners that day. Had a great feedback. Some of the fleet owners were really nice to me. They spoke to me in English and asked a lot about my origin. I ended up talking more about Mizoram rather than Diesel engine oil

Before going to Lakhimpur from Lucknow, I had to change cars because the car I hired initially did not have a seat belt at the back seat. Its against our Company Policy to travel anywhere without putting on the seat-belt. Its also against our Company Policy to travel more than 200 kms in a day by car or bus. When it comes to safety of employees, bp wins hands down.

Allahabad:

I found out that the correct pronunciation is “illa-ha-bad”. The city runs purely on rickshaws. The streets are really small and narrow, and the traffic is all crammed up. Noticed something really funny. Suppose a rickshaw is traveling at a certain speed and the rickshaw infront of him stops suddenly, then instead of braking to avoid hitting it, the driver bangs directly into it! And no reaction whatsoever from the driver infront! It seems this is a common thing here. Even I got bumped from behind a couple of times. Kinda awkward at first, especially when you’re so used to driving cars and abusing the person who gave you the slightest bump on your car. This is a completely different experience. And when you observe it clearly, it’s really funny too. As soon as the traffic lady shows the “stop” sign, every rickshaws on the street goes bump bump bump, like a chain reaction.

Stayed in a hotel which I must say is far worse than any of the other hotels I came across during my trip in the entire UP. The freaking AC sounded like the turbo engine of a plane and I have to switch it off in the night if I don’t wanna have nightmares about machines rebelling against humans and ruling the World. But food was great, especially the aloo paratha.

Did the upcountry market on my first day in Allahabad. Went to a Xerox shop to get some more copies of my questionnaire and guess what. Met two north-eastern girls there! Ofcourse I didn’t speak to them as we passed each other on the doorway of the shop, but I could see from the look in their eyes that they were equally surprised too to see another north-easterner at that area. I mean, we’re not even in Allahabad, I was like 90kms outside the city.

Saw Arsenal’s match against Blackburn, FA Semifinal, where Henry didn’t play and yet we won 3-0, thanx to Van Persie’s 2 goals in the last 8 minutes. Believe me, that guy is going to become the next Henry. Rejoiced when Arsenal won, even though I was all by myself. Guess indulging on TV is the only thing preventing me from going insane right now.

Gorakhpur:

On Day1, I did the upcountry market. That means I traveled 190 freaking kilometers on the back of a bike! My ass was completely numb that evening. Day 2 was the local market. Much much better.

One thing I have noticed so far. All the rickshaws have a unique different design everywhere. No city had the same kinda rickshaws. Some of them have seats higher than the others; some had a small extension at the back to keep bags etc, and some even had mirrors for the passengers to adjust their make up or whatever.

But rickshaws are really dangerous too. If a car from the opposite direction hit a rickshaw, the passenger is bound to fly out. I have come up with a way of safely riding on those rickshaws. I call it “A hitchhiker’s guide to rickshaw safety”. Just follow these simple steps given below:
1. Hold whatever handbag you’re carrying tightly with your right hand
2. With your left hand grip the side bar firmly
3. Place your left leg completely flat on the foothold of the rickshaw
4. Now press your right leg hard on the bar that is connecting the cycle and the cabin. This is directly below the driver’s seat
5. Sit up straight and be alert. Ofcourse it is important to relax otherwise if you sit in that position nervously, people will think you’re constipated.

In Gorakpur, the local RS booked a room for me at Hotel Shivoy. The tag-line of the hotel was “the affordable luxury”. And man, they really lived up to it. Coz the hotel was freaking amazing. The room I took was 1000/night but it was on the level of those 3stars which had 1800/night rooms. But then it doesn’t make much of a difference to me since I pay around 700/night at each hotel due to an agreement between the hotel and the Company.

Met this dude called Aubrey Ireland. He works at Room Service and his shift was after 6pm. One of the most charismatic and respectable guy I’ve ever come across. We chatted about soccer, rugby, pool etc and he was indeed a very nice and polite person. I promised him that I’ll speak to all my friends working in various hotels all over India and see if they can help him get a job in their hotel. Because although Hotel Shivoy is a great hotel, Gorakhpur is a sad place, and he too admitted that he wanted to work in one of the metro cities. Lets see what I can do for him.

Varanasi:

Not to repeat the mistake I made in Gorakhpur, I hired a nice AC car for my upcountry market visit this time. Varanasi was by far the most developed city (commercially speaking) among all the 5 places I’ve just visited. They had autos everywhere, place was really cool, and I was put up at Hotel Hindustan International. Amazing hotel, 3 or 5 star definitely. The room I took was around 1900/night, but for Castrol employees it has been slashed to 800/night. That’s like more than 40% reduction (I’m bad with math, always been, always will be ). How cool is that.

No wonder it’s a holy city. The place is so peaceful. And clean. I really wanted to take a bath in the Ganges, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time. And my guide for the day (the local DSR) told me that due to the crowd, I would have to spend atleast 3 hours standing on queue. Damn!

Sometimes I think being an “oriental” saves you from embarrassment. Coz I was on my way to Varanasi from Gorakhpur and I asked the people in my compartment which stations they’re getting off, as I’ll be reaching Varanasi at 7 in the morning and I wanted somebody to wake me up incase I oversleep. One gentleman said he’s getting off at Benaras. And I was stupid enough to ask him if that is before or after Varanasi. The entire compartment burst out laughing. Seriously I never knew they were the same place. I always used to think they were two different Holy cities. But then, they all kinda understood since I had a “different” face. Yay.

My train back to Cal was delayed for over 3 hours! Thank God it wasn’t that hot. Spent my 3 hours eating aloo-puri and drinking fountain apple juice. Overall, when I look back, I think my trip to Uttar Pradesh has been more than successful, and I have learnt a lot of new things apart from my work.

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Reached Calcutta after 10 days of Uttar Pradesh. The first thing that happened to me once I was in Cal, was the fleecing by taxi drivers. Nobody was willing to go to my apartment which is not even 20 bucks for less than 100 bucks. Finally found a shared taxi for 50 bucks. Sigh* I really am going to miss the cheap rickshaw rates of Uttar Pradesh. Better be cheap rickshaw rather than a ridiculously expensive taxi.

Next trip: Jharkhand and Orissa. Reports on it will come up soon.