Archive for the ‘My Life’ Category

Why I Want Dowry

August 27, 2012

Dear Girl,

I am writing this letter to you with a deep sense of anguish.

Today you have declined to marry me because my family and me wanted the dowry to facilitate our happily ever after.

To my utter dismay, you rejected me!

This is unbelievable!

How could you?

How the f*** you had the audacity to decline my proposal?

Let me impress upon you the gravity of your loss that emanates from you rejecting me as your future husband on the flimsy ground of “not willing to pay dowry”.

You see I am an extremely well settled professional.

I work for a stupid blue-collar Indian software body shop where I, along with my one hundred thousand colleagues, work 24 X 7 to collectively promote mediocrity by performing electronic scavenging tasks for businesses based out of the “white world”.

My future is bright as I aspire to go to the “white-world” soon and I plan to settle in those parts of the world in the distant future.

I swear I don’t aspire to learn any of the cosmopolitan inclusive cultural lifestyle of the west but I aspire to immigrate just to dig more gold.

As I calculate, if I spend X years in the “white-world”, I shall amass enough wealth to buy a Farm House in Gurgaon and a Mercedes and thereby fulfill my life’s ultimate goal.

So, by declining my offer your future stands bleak, as you will be relegated to the job of a housewife in some dingy B grade town of North India- married to some desi oaf.

Now you also stand to miss out on being a part of my great family.

Our family is a very close-knit unit and you always have the pleasure of the company of my parents 24 X 7.

Privacy is a western concept and we don’t care about stupid western views.

But hey, we have an exceptionally well-decorated completely western style home in Gurgaon!

There are air-conditioners and 40” televisions in each of the 4 bedrooms and we even have a bar- though I must admit I have no clue what is the difference between whiskey and single malt or Martini and Margarita, beer and lager and so on….

We are very modern but we always consult vaastu to ensure each thing is kept at a place where the grand celestial design is not annulled.

We are very scientific and forward-looking but we completely believe in astrology and we have to find auspicious dates for doing all the important works.

We have all the latest “must-have” appliances but I challenge you to find a single book anywhere at home!

The closest things to a book that we have at home are cheque-books!

Books are boring and none of our family has the habit of reading books- they are only useful for passing examinations.

But we are very well educated (from D grade mushrooming colleges of course) and we speak excellent English- though we pronounce October as Uk-too-Bur, station as Us-te-ssan and so on…

I am proud that no one in our family has any hobbies.

Our only collective interest, obsession, passion is Money.

We are a bunch of living-breathing-f***ing price tags and we love to boast of that at all times- like the house we live in costs 1.25 crores rupees ($0.25 million)- the bar costs 200,000 rupees, the rug costs 40,000, the sofa set costs 80,000- the milk jar costs…..

Money is our real god- the reason why we are all alive and why we are here in this world…

My elder brother (henceforth called Bhaiya) is a great money machine.

Bhaiya works for a same type of company I work for and also has a surreptitious side business- though the side business has a conflict of interest with his current job- but who cares- he mints money!

Bhaiya  has an offshore bogus bank account and he has 40 lac rupees ($ 100,000) as black money in that (who cares about color in post apartheid era, it is money after all…)

He makes money in his sleep and dreams, eats, talks, breaths money at all times.

Bhaiya married his girlfriend but still managed to arm twist 800,000 rupees in the process- such the money making genius!

So, by not accepting my match you are sure to be cast to eternal despair of destitution of being married to some honest wager.

Finally, why did we demand dowry?

You see we married off my younger sister last year and we paid a hefty dowry there.

We also bought this great 1.25 crore home.

With so much outflow, I am sure you would agree, we need some inflows and what better than getting some dowry?

After all, this would have been your home post the marriage and should you not be looking out for the collective well-being of your would-be-in-laws?

Consider this, your father would be our relative post the marriage, so is his money not a part of ours in the larger context?

You must be weak in logic Girl!

And then again, I welcome you to look at the demands we forwarded.

As my marriageable resume in the matchmaking portal says- “No Dowry Demand”, we only wanted you to bear the full cost of the engagement ceremony, marriage function and the wedding reception- that is surely a legitimate demand after all I come from the groom’s side, don’t I?

And all we asked for you to pay for the small insignificant expenses like all the food and drinks, 3 day lodging arrangements, air travel for our 150 strong marriage party, entertainment options along with the usual ubiquitous deliverables like jewelry, clothing, gifts etc.

This is surely not a demand of dowry and there is no reason to over-react, right?

Wasn’t this a small price to pay for the awesomeness my family and me could have brought in your sorry miserable life?

But still you rejected me!

This is completely unjust and uncalled for.

Let me tell you, this is ultimately your loss as you are being deprived of the connubial bliss that you would have encountered with my cultured-modern-educated-wealthy family and me.

You lose girl, you lose big- now deal with it!

Yours Greedy and Needy,

The Awesome Boy

Anna Hazare and the “Deathly Hallows”

August 29, 2011
Anna Hazare - The New Saint of India and the awakened Indian Middle Class

Anna Hazare - The New Saint of India and the awakened Indian Middle Class

History was made today. The great Indian democracy had another shining mantelpiece up its wall of fame of self-professed greatness. Anna Hazare and his thousands/millions/billion supporters (real number is unknown so choose your favorite approximation) made the JanLokPal bill a distinct possibility. Raise your glasses to a corruption free India folks- we did it.

As thousands gathered at India Gate to celebrate the historic turn of events in their stonewashed/gunshot denims, holding the tricolor in their manicured hands and getting a tricolor tattoo on their moisturized cheeks and shouting slogans hailing the victory, Mahender a 26 year old was busy logging the hours of the 100 odd laborers who toiled in muddy fields of the construction zone of super luxury apartments just a few tens of miles away from the great Indian Democracy’s victory orgy.

Earning 5500 rupees ($130) a month with zero holidays, zero benefits, zero raises and 12 hours of duty and a verbal employment contract, his job is to log the hours of laborers who earn 4300 rupees ($100) a month for 8 hours’ daily job (rupees 3500 for women = the lowest minimum wage, BTW) with zero holidays, zero raises and zero benefits and of course the ubiquitous verbal contract, Mahender has to support his family back in some god forsaken district of Eastern Uttar Pradesh.

I asked him, what does he reckon of Anna’s movement and more importantly his own future and he stared at me as if I asked him about his opinion on string theory and if the LHC experiment in the Alps would create a micro black hole. “I don’t know, but I think it will be good in the long run”. Here is a citizen of the greatest democracy of the world unsure about it’s second freedom movement and his own future. May be he is not important at all and his opinion should not serve as a dampener in the newfound atmosphere of celebration.

But then, I tend to be dumb and pause and think a little. The JanLokPal and government’s version of LokPal is silent on corporate corruption and now it is clear that the judiciary is also given its much-needed long rope. That should be a good news if you were a CEO looking to mine Bauxites or build an expressway- too bad Steve Jobs quit a day before this wonderful 2nd windfall, err…. independence day!

Indian middle class and upper class and the elite lives in a comfortable denial cocoon of what we subject our “lowly” unskilled, untalented, uneducated citizens to. Mahender and millions of laborers work with zeros (holidays, benefits, raises and even employment contract) each day to make the expressways on which our cars can use cruise control, malls where we can shop till we drop, plush marbled floor apartments with video door phones etc etc. This is the lowest denomination of corporate corruption- direct exploitation of humans (if they are regarded as one in the first place).

Then we have the unquestionable judiciary that always seems to be in congruence with the corporate urge of “development” and routinely finds it absolutely convenient to displace millions with the tiny flick of their mighty pen. In fact India has the world’s largest internally displaced population, that India leads the tally of industrial deaths in the world, that India leads the world tally of unresolved court cases (about 15 million) should speak for its undisputed champion status of corporate malpractices and judicial callousness.

And surprise-surprise, the LokPal bill of any flavor has left these two guys alone. They can’t be bad guys, right? This is the highest common factor of Indian corruption story, while the corporates are free to exploit the human capital, the judiciary is free (as it should be in a democracy) to be acquiescent about creating a Petri-dish where Mahenders can be trans-mutated into indoor heated swimming pools, tolled expressways, large dams, iron mines etc.

What are we celebrating for? For Anna Hazare has finally awakened the nation? Which nation? The nation that holds mombattis as if to taunt the millions of villages’ un-electrified status? The nation that celebrates one homegrown saint’s eating habits where 60% citizens of the same nation eat as much as Africa’s poorest countries?

Are we celebrating that we short circuited the democratic process of creating a bill, just as we like to short circuit the law’s course when caught for a traffic violation and blatantly offer bribes to traffic constables to do an on the spot settlement- you know a fast track justice, something our judiciary loves too – the fast track courts? Look we made great progress, now we have a fast track bill!

The Prime Minister of the world’s greatest democracy says he has no magic wand to cure corruption- may be he is reading Harry Potter a little too much – would explain his invisibility splendidly for he may have been wearing the cloak of invisibility after all!

Everyone, including the PM, agrees that the “whatever” LokPal (prefix, Jan or Dalit or whatever dish you like) bill be, if it does not cure corruption completely- would at the very least halt the juggernaut.

Now, if you are a Harry Potter fan you would know what does not die completely leaves Horcruxes (images of self, protected by black magic) which are extremely hard to find and even harder to destroy. We stand to leave the Corporate Corruption and the Judicial mess as two horcruxes that would forever crush Mahenders and millions others.

I don’t know should I also go to India Gate with a mombatti or should I start looking for the magic wand that the PM has lost, for the Deathly Hallows of corruption are still upon us. The Lord Voldemort, aka great Indian democracy’s corruption will be back.

You are hereby warned!

The Good, Bad and the Ugly World Cup……

April 11, 2011

Indian Team: World Champions

Yes folks, it has finally happened. India is the champion of the World Cup Cricket! An incredible feat from the men in blue, a great augmentation of national pride, a long cherished desire finally achieved, an awesome expression of a wannabe super power nation in the world stage!

A lot has been written/spoken/televised about the greatness of this win. We all know the “Good” part of the world cup. I am a huge sports enthusiast and for me it is surely a moment to be deeply satisfied for not only the game was good; my team – my country has won it. We all know the “Good” part of this world cup. I am happy that I saw it in my lifetime and it happened when I cheered for them with my friends- over my favorite pizza and my favorite drinks.

But then if you ask me what is top most sporting success that I have witnessed in my 30 years’ lifetime on this planet as an Indian, then unfortunately I would not be able to rate this world cup victory as my top moment. That would be Indian women’s relay teams’ 4×400 meter victory in the Commonwealth Games of 2010 at New Delhi’s JLN stadium. There is something spectacularly visual about seeing your team out-sprint the much stronger sides (like Nigeria, UK, Canada and Australia). You don’t need 6 weeks and 8 hours each day to see your team through to the podium.

And as soon as Dhoni lofted the final six of the game and a huge pandemonium broke out- an absolute orgy of nationalism and chest thumping. And that is where my gripe with this huge hoopla around the World Cup victory starts to surface.

The winning moment

For last seven days the newspapers, tv channels and every media front end is just catering to this hoopla. This is the “Bad” world cup. When all traffic goes one way, you can be sure there will be a traffic snarl. With every penny, every dime and every dollar going cricket’s way I wonder why would someone ever pick up that javelin, that bow and arrow, that oar, that racquet, that football, that cycle, that running shoes and worse of all that hockey stick (the moronic national game, remember?)!

The money on the table for cricket is a sky-high mound as compared to the other “less than important” sports. Your son plays for Ranji and plays for IPL then his base price starts at 2 million. Your son wins a world cup- gets millions in prize, land in premium locations, frontpage picture, even you get an interview….etc-etc. But if your daughter wins a gold medal defeating all powerful international challenges, gets 500 grands and a place in 11th page of the newspaper. Why would someone play other games?

If we want a sporting nation, a nation that wins sporting events then we cannot afford to keep all eggs in one basket- read just fuel cricket. Money distribution is always a zero sum game. You spend more on clothes; you spend less on food- simple. You spend huge on cricket and miniscule on athletics- you never win athletics. As a sports loving person, I am pained to see that we just got a little farther away from the wholesome sporting culture by going top heavy on cricket.

A friend of mine who trains with Indian national cycling team laughed when I told him that Indian cricket team has million dollar pay-cheque psychiatrists who tells the boys how to cry on his shoulder when they drop a catch to recover quick. He said- “The national cyclists don’t even have their own cycling jerseys which cost a few thousands”.  The “Bad” world cup is this. A nail in the coffin for other inferior sports for they have no money to bury their own bodies.

But there is one part, which completely disgusted me over the past few days. How can we equate a sporting event with national pride? The media and the public attitude towards the game of India vs Pakistan was such as if we were at war. As if losing was not an option. The corporate and the media have played a great hand on the naive middle class of this country. We have been made to believe that it is a matter of national pride to decimate our opponents on the 22 yards. Just 22 yards- never has been the concept of nationalism so narrow.

Indian vs Pakistan: Nationalism or Sports

What about our famed national pride which is battered and bruised and beaten black and blue and made to bleed blue in all the Olympic games for last 100 years? But then why would the guy with the cash care? The more cups Dhoni lifts, the more the middle class will drink, the more will they eat, the more will they wear, the more will the cash counters ring! So, the concoction continued to be passed around, each party pleasurably scratching other.

The great Indian middle class, that has the aspirations of a developed nation and therefore deems it as a right to have a sporting identity in the international arena and is ready to play this dangerous game of nationalistic fervor for a sports run by a body that has no government funding, no democratic process, not even a respectable track record of honesty! Is that what a country needs for its desperate nationalism- a bunch of vandals and corrupt leeches? This is the “Ugly” world cup.

The other ugly part is religion-izing of cricket. To make it look like a crusade. To turn our cricketers into demi gods (one is already elevated to the god’s place); this is dangerous.

Finally, look at this from a neutral angle. We laugh at American University Football’s world cup. But at least there are 200 teams there. Here, a cricket world cup has 6 teams (come on, don’t refute that by citing the fly by night teams like Ireland and Canada etc). Its like a mega soap opera with just a handful of actors (read nations) becoming evil, saintly, great, nasty etc at different times. Can you wear a world-beater image in say Indonesia? China? Japan? Germany? They have never played cricket- and never will.

So, the only place where we can carry our jingoistic world-beater image is Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh? Did you see the ugly nationalism being passed in your blue drink?

Savor this fantastic victory but if we really want to become a sporting nation, the nation that wins medals and laurels in really well participated sports events, we need to cut short this cricket craziness and embrace other sports. Otherwise we give in to this greed of naked nationalism and end up looking as clueless as some Poonam Pandey!

Ponam Pandey: The girl who double guessed everyone

TFN 2010: It is About the Bikes and the Numbers

October 21, 2010

What it promises to be: A photograph from TFN recce (courtesy Rajesh Nair)

 

45, 3, 100, 40, 8, 2.5, 1!

By the time you start thinking that you have landed on a page of a mad mathematician going to bowl you over with his silly mindless rants on some bi-quadratic, sinusoidal, esoterically cynic number series, let me set the numbers with some description to create a meaningful context.

So, here it is…

45 million revolutions…

3 million calories…

100 Homo sapiens…

40 ascents and descents of Mount Everest…

8 days…

2.5 times around the globe…

1 ride!

Yeah, I agree it is an odd countdown. Lacks the drama. Totally boring! Right?

But then when you factor in that we are talking about the most anticipated and celebrated biking event of India, the numbers start to fall in place and make sense.

The TFN 2010: India's most awaited and cherished biking tour

 

Yes, the Tour of Nilgiris is just 7 weeks from now. And hell yes, it is about the bikes and the numbers!

In 7 weeks’ time 100 cyclists from all over the country are going to reach Bangalore to ride for 8 days through the lush green Nilgiri mountains doing a total of 90,000 km (that’s 2.5 times around the globe!), burning 3 million calories in the process (that is the equivalent of keeping a light bulb switched on for 15 days!), climbing 350 km (40 climbs up the Mount Everest!) in some 45 million turns of their wheels – all in the name of one ride: the TFN 2010.

There are no rules what is allowed and what is not as long as it is self-powered and on two wheels. So, expect MTBs to ride alongside super specialized road bikes, hybrids, bamboo framed bikes and what not. It will be a great bike show at the same time being a great bike tour!

So, how does the ride look like? Thanks to Google Earth and the recce details, I was able to piece together a simple route profile. Here is what these 100 guys planning to do. Yeah guys, you saw it first here :-). Take the days marked in red with a pinch of salt, as the organizers are tight lipped about the days’ route- so expect some real drama!

Click on the picture to see the full sized image.

TFN 2010: Distance - Elevation Profile. 900 km riding in 8 days with 3500 meter of ascent and descent- It is a blockbuster!

A look at the rider community is also interesting. It comprises software engineers, lawyers, doctors, ad-world guys, big corporate honchos, self employed, unemployed, students, teachers, businessmen and even scuba divers! The same is true for the volunteers who are making this wonderful event a reality.

And they come from every possible parts of the country, even from Andaman! No, I do not think the TFN guys were trying for a national integration of some sorts, but inadvertently that’s what it is going to be – a perfect symbol if India’s amazing diversity.

Yes, I am also going to be riding this time. And I am going to blog about it. For past two years, the bike has given me some amazing memories and touched my life to some fabulous places in the country. The charming outdoors of this wonderfully diverse country is a goldmine to excavate through- on a bike. You are just fast enough to see it all, slow enough to observe it in details. Nothing beats the serendipity of laboring up a hill and passing through a sleepy village teashop and hearing the boiling tea and smelling its aroma and making an impulsive stop! You just cannot fathom it unless you have biked!

I have done a few multi-day cycling events and put a few blogs around them. Latest was my stint at the world’s highest ultra-marathon blog from Ladakh this year and my own cycling sojourn from Manali to Leh and then to the world’s highest road the KhardungLa pass, last year. I am sure this time it will be fun to report!

So, check out this space from Dec 15th to Dec 25th for daily dosage of what happened at India’s most cherished bike tour. Yes riding and writing do not mix. So, I will be careful not to write when I ride. And it will be fun to write for it is all about the bike, the amazing folks, the great enchanting Nilgiris and above all India’s most cherished bike tour- the TFN 2010.

Cheers,

Manasij Ganguli

Manasij.ganguli@gmail.com

+917838237844

Yours Truly- in close up..........

Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010: A City that was Never Prepared as a Host!

October 5, 2010

The biggest sporting spectacle on Indian soil is unfolding in plush stadiums of Delhi today. The largest contingent of international athletes for any Commonwealth Games in the history has descended in India’s showcase capital. With over 15 billion dollars in expenditure, it is the most expensive Commonwealth Games ever.

So one would probably imagine that the stadiums would be jam-packed? There would be long queues outside with impatient spectators? Well, yes it is jam-packed with security professionals and filled with impatient security marshals but no spectators! The stands are empty, the seats are vacant, and the galleries are deserted. The world’s biggest democracy is unmindful of its own accomplishment of holding the biggest sporting spectacle.

Empty Stands of CWG 2010 at Delhi

I do not find it odd though. This is an expected outcome. The international media is speculating on lots of reasons for Delhi’s non-attendance in the sporting arenas. It has placed its bets on perceived corruption related disrepute, high security cover, less number of ticket stalls and difficulty in getting online tickets and confusing information about events on Commonwealth Games’ website etc. I am laughing at these reasons. They are not the real reason at all. These are western world’s reason for non-attendance. The real Indian reason is far more shameful and that’s why no one seems to get it.

The real reason of this shameful non-attendance is not corruption. India queues up in millions to cast votes for people with excellent corruption skills- proven beyond doubt over ages, every few years. We can smell out money making corrupt ways in the most creative ways and we are immune to corruption. Corruption is not the reason why Delhi is not coming to watch the Commonwealth Games. Everyone expected the Commonwealth Games to be a corrupt affair and our great leaders delivered that faithfully just to prove that our belief was not a misplaced one.

The reason is not also the unprecedented security cover. Delhi is immune to it. With close to 5000 pea brained VIPs in the capital, Delhi is used to the security infested tamasha. It is no deterrent.

Neither is lack of ticketing booths and difficulty of information a reason. Come 2011 and Delhi would host World Cup Cricket games where to make money the BCCI will award a ticketing partner and a handful of those booths will dispense tickets to millions. No, lack of ticketing booths is not a reason. Delhi can handle that.

So what is the real reason? Ok, let me help you find “that” reason. Lets play a game and then lets tell you the reason. Ready?

Question1: How many players are there in netball game team? (no don’t go to google!)
Question2: How many sets are there in a lawn bowl game? (Wikipedia is also not allowed!)

Question3: What is the difference between Team Pursuit and Time Trial?

Question4: What are the different criteria based on which a diver’s performance is measured?

Question5: What are the different swimming styles?

Any average Delhite would score a perfect 0 out of 5! They just do not know what the hell are these games about. And that is the real reason; we the Indians are NOT sports conscious. We ignore sports and we don’t understand and relate to more than a handful of sports.

Our great leaders who thought to bring Delhi International fame by spilling billions of dollars from whole Indian taxpayers’ pockets; evaded every rule book to decamp with billions in corruption which after the games will forever meander in blind legal alleys and special parliamentary committees; rounded up the poor and the beggars to throw them in Bawana jhuggis; erected tall structures some of which fittingly came down; turned a city to a veritable fortress; somehow clawed to make things work at the 11th hour and thought the only way to seize the international limelight was through creating a 2 hours’ long wonderful joyous escapism of an opening ceremony, forgot one very important aspect.

They forgot the people of Delhi. They forgot the community integration such a large event needs. It needs the people to be ready for the great event. Where was any community event to build up sports as an exponent of our daily lives? Where was the education needed for people to understand what the 7 players of netball try to achieve or why is the approach, the flight and the entry such critical pieces of diving or for that matter how different is the track bike from the regular ones. Without these awareness these sports means nothing to anybody.

In one of my previous blogs, I had mentioned that we the Indians are not a sports loving country. Now after spending 15 billion dollars and getting the international heckling for shoddy workmanship and corruption charges and a false inflation of national pride through a 2 hours long well planned and executed spectacle, our dark secret is about to be revealed. The secret that we not sports lovers- a big slur on a country which hosts a game like this!

Finally, today a friend of mine brought an amazing piece of information. He said that the tickets for 2 games are sold out. They are women’s swimming and women’s gymnastic! Knowing Delhi for these many years, I know exactly why this has happened. I hope we just end here, with the shame that we are corrupt, unprofessional, poorly administered bunch of non-sports lovers and not ALSO with the medallion of Delhi’s most notorious crime statement against women.

Alas Delhi was never prepared to host this event.

I Hate Landlords #$%^%^&*(*(&@#

June 28, 2010

Yeah, in a face-off b/w the tenats and the landlords, the outcome is rigged

Delhi.

Rich and suave, chaotic and bellicose, frenzied and abusive,fast and short-fused – that is the city; the city of opportunities and the real kaleidoscope of India’s new found “affluence in selective pockets” identity over its millennia old recognition of the capital of the “country which does the great rope trick” or the “land of myths and miracles”……

The city is hosting an International sporting event – the Commonwealth Games 2010– in 3 months’ time. The last minute “lets do this somehow” construction boom and the much needed arterial adrenaline shot of Metro Rail connectivity is turning the city into a veritable hotspot of new found opportunities.

And here am I, attempting to wet my beaks in this socio-cultural melting-pot in one of its meteorically rising satellite city of NOIDA. What was nothing more than a sleepy suburb designed to probably offer a peaceful retirement life for the Army, Navy and Air-force of India has now metamorphosed itself into a bustling metropolis with all modern facilities, sometimes a notch better than the average Delhi neighborhoods.

Alright, so now you know the protagonist (of course that is me) and the stage settings (the NOIDA city), now let us draw the plot around it and introduce the characters/villains etc.

So, the plot essentially contours around the protagonist’s quest of finding a good rented accommodation in NOIDA in the summer of 2010. Being a member of the “newly achieved affluence” group of software professionals, I set a generous budget of 20 grands for the monthly rent- absolutely certain of getting a decent abode.

“You know what, I am going to find a house in just a weekend’s time- you see that” I tell my wife, Mausmi, over the phone. She is still in Kolkata and is due to join me in NOIDA in August.

“All the best” she said and then added, “be sure to ask for the terms and conditions of the owners”.

Prophet speaks in many tongues. Sometime that form can be your wife too!

So very soon in an extremely warm summer afternoon of June, I am in a big drawing room in one of NOIDA’s plush sectors meeting the landlord whose house seemed a fit for my requirements (not discussing them as they are out of scope for this blog).

At first Mr. Potbellied Meatball (name and identity with-held, a nearest visual impression has been used for christening) does a full round of visual inspection, measuring me from tip to toe with his penetrative eyes. I could hear him as he did that-

“Ahh the chap has long hairs….”

“and look a goatee too….

“and wearing dark shades…..”

“and is flipping his car keys…..must be a rich SOB doing some stupid MBA spilling his dad’s black money”

I was getting a bit uncomfortable with this visual examination (I am not a woman so not accustomed to it really).

Then he spoke.

“But this premises is only for married couples, not for you.”

I: “I am married”

Mr. Meatball: (full of surprise): “You are?”

I: “Yes. My wife is in Kolkata and she would join me in a few weeks’ time”

Mr. Meatball: (now looking at my sporty shorts) “You don’t look married. You look like a student”

I: (no idea what to say) “?????”

Mr. Meatball: “How long have you been married?”

I: “5.5 years”

Mr. Meatball: “?????”

Needless to say, I did not get the house. I looked like a fibbing student who wanted to use his premises for all sorts of illegal activities.

Yeah ass***e, I forgot to invite you in my marriage so now I know you are getting back at me.

Not married? You will not get the house. But then I am.....then??????

Round 2!

This time the villain comes in a lady form with two daughters, one of which was a pretty stunning damsel.

This was a nice 1700 sqft 2 bed room, 2 bathroom, 3 balcony, 1 huge hall and a fabulous modular kitchen unit. I fell in love with the house at the first glimpse, who said there is no love at first site!

This time I was dressed in a jeans and a tee with sneakers and did not wear my shades- an attempt to look more mature probably.

Mrs. World is a bad place: (again identity withheld, this time naming convention is based on what she would repeat after every sentence): “Ok so you are a married couple with no children and two cars and jobs for both and friends visit you often and family visits you seldom, is that right?”

I: “Yes”

Mrs. World is a bad place: “Ok, so what is your caste?”

I: (a bit puzzled) : “I am a bharmin and my wife is a kayastha”

Mrs. World is a bad place: (probably pleased) : “Ok. So what is your name son?”

I: (with my usual James Bond gusto): “Manasij, Manasij Ganguli”

Mrs. World is a bad place: (jumping up almost): “Are you a Bengali?”

I: (not sure how to respond to the excitement generated) :”Yes”

Mrs. World is a bad place: “Oh no no….we don’t rent out to Bengalis”

I: “??????”

Mrs. World is a bad place: “They always cook fish and smelly stuff and we are allergic to fish, you see….”

I: “But we don’t always cook fish. Besides my wife is a Bihari.”

Mrs. World is a bad place: “Oh no no, Biharis make the place very dirty. We have let out to so many people that we have all of these experiences…..”

And then she said the killer words: “You know son, THIS WORLD IS A BAD PLACE. I have two daughters in my house…….”

Yeah lady, sure it is – in a place where all Bengalis force feed fish to their landlords and Biharis poop in their drawing rooms and have dreams of landing in a threesome with your daughters.

that what the landlady was safeguearding herself and her two daughters from....point is, we don't cook fish at home at all!

My last interview session was by far the best of the lot.

This was again a great house and the landlord was an ex-military man.

The house was great and I was very keen to get it on lease. So, this time I dressed up in formals and went to meet the landlord.

I was received well by the landlord whom I would call Mr. Butterfly because he had butterfly mustache.

However, the start was not auspicious. It was 10 am and the time for the power cut.

I pretty much walked into a furnace of a drawing room.

I sat in one side of a huge table and over me was a fan that was not moving.

However, seated on the other side of the table, the ex Colonel was under a fan that looked to be running on some serious steroids.

Colonel Butterfly: (pointing to my fan) There is no power and I am saving my inverter battery. You are a young fellow, I am sure you are fine, for at your age I could hike 50 miles a day….blah blah”

Then the conversation followed a general pattern.

First was “tell me about yourself”, followed by “tell me about your family”, followed by “who all will visit you and when and for how long” and then Colonel Butterfly took over the talking reign.

I was taken through “my harrowing experiences with my previous tenants”, followed by “Army is the best” and then I intervened.

I: “So, do you have any general do’s and don’ts?”

Colonel Butterfly: “Young man we fought so that you have all the best things in your life. We want you to live as you want to.”

I: “Thank you sir.”

Then we happened to reach the last leg.

Just as you reach a point in a job interview where you would be given a price for your head, pretty much the same way is the case where the landlord puts a price on the property.

Here it was fixed at 17 grands per months.

I was fine with that. Looked like I was getting the house!

Colonel Butterfly: “Ok, there are a few rules that you must know.”

I: “Yeah, please tell me”

Colonel Butterfly: “First, I charge Rs. 250 per month for maintenance.”

I: “Maintenance? What for?”

Colonel Butterfly: “For cleaning your apartment.”

I: “But I will hire a domestic help and would get the house cleaned anyway.”

Colonel Butterfly: “No, I have seen tenants don’t clean the lamp shades, fans, window panes. My chap will do it.”

I: (biting by lips) “Ok, I think we can manage this. Anything else?”

Colonel Butterfly: “Yeah, periodically my electrician/plumber/carpenter would check all fixtures and report any breakage/abuses. If that happens, you will be responsible for fixing them.”

I: (biting my lips harder): “Ok. Anything else?”

Colonel Butterfly: “Ok yeah, when you leave finally- you will get the house painted.”

I: “I don’t understand. Why will I paint a house I am leaving?”

Colonel Butterfly: “Thats the rule here. And yes, if you leave before 11 months your 3 months’ security deposit will not be refunded.”

I: (speechless): “????”

Colonel Butterfly: “And I only take cash for rents, no cheques.”

I: (amused by now) : “Don’t you think your terms are too steep?”

Colonel Butterfly: “No son, I am asking for fair things only. After all I am not money minded.”

Right Colonel, you are surely not money minded. Never-mind you charge for every breath taken inside your palace and want it all in hard cash. You are surely not money minded, for you did not ask me to paint a flower pot even though I came to your house to see you and left far before 11 months which obligates me to paint the house.

It has been 3 weeks and the house still eludes me.

Sometimes because I don’t look old enough (too bad in a world that wants to look young), sometimes because I am a fish fighting Bengali and my wife is an all dirt-loaded Bihari (not sure if I can help it, afterall I could not choose my parents right?) and sometimes because I don’t let my landlord do a broad day light robbery on me, even though the robber is an ex army man!

I am sitting in the cafe and I see the NOIDA telephone directory.

I think I am gonna try calling Santa…..

Oh no Manasij, there are no homes available for you

Manasij Ganguli

manasij.ganguli@gmail.com

+917838237844

My Dream Jobs…………..

March 15, 2010

Date: June 10th 2002
Place: Trivandrum, Kerala, India
Time: 09:00 hours

I was wearing a deep blue full sleeve formal shirt with a silverish-grey colored formal trousers and a chic silver tie. My hairs were neat with a healthy bounce, thanks to the shampoo and my boots had a high shine. I needed to look good. After all who does not want to look good on the first day of your work life?

I wanted to be a software engineer from way back in 8th standard in 1993 when I discovered I was good in programming. On that summer day of 2002 my dream turned into a reality. The next few years were a great ride and it still continues. No, I have not won a Nobel Prize yet, not even filed for a patent yet; but the work keeps me interested and I guess I feel I am very much at the right place.

But then this blog is not about boring you with the details of what I do day in and day out. I am changed from a kid of standard 8th and today if I were to dream about choosing a profession, what will I pick?

Presenting to you, a one of kind countdown! A countdown of my dream jobs….. (Spoiler Alert: If you are already tired of your job, I suggest this is the time you quit reading….)

Rank #3: Wild Life Conservationist

I peer down from the helicopter window. Through the shallow cloud layers I see the river Mara. A great drama is being enacted. The river is muddy and has a sharp current. I look closely and I see numerous Wildebeests at the bank. Among the Wildebeests are many Zebras and Thomson Gazelles.

All the animals are piling on top of each other and their cries and grunts are growing louder and louder. The annual migration of 2 million strong mega herd has reached its last leg. Surely it is the most dramatic phase of the migration and I am in the planes of Kenya and Tanzania in East Africa where the herd of 1.5 million Wildebeests, 500,000 Zebras and 300,000 Thomson Gazelles would cross the mighty Mara River to reach the safe heaven of the Savannah grasslands. But the animals are scared. And there is a real reason for the scare.

As soon as the first Wildebeest jumps into the water the rest make a mad dash for it. From the Helicopter window I see the herd start its spectacular river crossing that happens each year. The heroic herbivores who have partaken in this marathon of over 800 km are now doing the final lap. But not before they get tested.

In blink of an eye a huge group of Nile Crocodiles appear from their watery camouflage. The herd is attacked from all sides by these powerful predators who have been patiently waiting for their turn to sink their dagger like teeth in to the herd’s flesh. As the crocs take a few victims, drown them, tear their bodies apart and chew on the flesh, the mega herd crosses by. The muddy river is now a full continuous line of thousands of animals crossing with their new born calves, mothers, alpha males and other members in search of greener grass. What a sight……

Welcome to Serengeti National Park, Tanzania. I work here as a wild life conservationist looking after this annual mega herd migration and seeing the biggest drama in the animal kingdom unfold in front of my eyes. I deal with lions, hippos, elephants, crocs, cape buffaloes and many herbivores and ensure that the planet never sees a day when these magnificent animals don’t roam it.

The world is full of amazing bio diversity. The outrageous Okavango Delta, the amazing Amazon Rain Forests, the eerie Gobi Desert, the fabulous Gangetic Delta of Sunderbans, the harsh Russian Siberia, the frigid Arctic…. I can never get bored of the wonders and what best I don’t just sit and write stupid blogs about it, I strive to keep them in pristine conditions. I love my job!

Rank #2: Mountaineer

It is -17 degrees outside. The weather looks good. The group leader gets off the radio. It is a go from the Abruzzi Spur base camp! The team gathers around for one last time together. It is 05:00 hours and we may have full 14 hours of daylight to complete the ascent to the summit. We are 600 meters shy of the magic 8611 meter mark of the summit of K2.

The team is an experienced lot. We have 14 climbers from different parts of the world with one mission, to climb the toughest mountain on the face of the planet. The same team did the other extremely challenging climb of Mount Annapurna and the spirits are high. I am not marked a summiteer, which means I am not designated to reach the summit. I would be playing my part in the team so that the earmarked climbers can summit and the mission meets its objective.
Not every climber summits in a challenging climb like these. The team rallies around the most efficient climbers who are the chosen summiteers. You have to respect a mountain which claims one out of every four who try to climb it. You have to respect a mountain which has not let anyone conquer it in the winter months till date, a fate shared by only one more mountain- Mount Annapurna which this team has tamed in the past.

We work with extreme caution. We are at the final hurdle of the climb, the “Bottleneck”. It is an extremely narrow gully (couloirs) with major overhangs of ice columns (serac) that intersect the crevasses of the glaciers. One false step and the whole group’s safety would be compromised. We are now very much in the death zone, which means altitude in excess of 8000 meters, a dizzying altitude!

The view from here is surreal. The sun is bright and I can see white cotton cumulus clouds below me. Also below me is the rugged south face of K2 which goes right down to the Godwin Austin glacier. White snow and blue sky, the vastness of each just mesmerizes the beholder. Around me are the various Karakoram peaks, all wearing white coats of snow.

“We did it. We did it.” The radio shrieked. The voice was shrill and everyone in the team pumps their fists. We climbed K2. 6 of our team summit and finally we retrace our path to the camp. The feeling of achieving the summit is awesome. The dedication and the effort that we undertook dotted with courage and amazing sense of team spirit which made this possible fills me with deep satisfaction.

What next? There are so many above 8000 meter peaks to choose from; Makalu, Dhavalgiri, Kunchenjunga…. I can never get bored of the wonders and what best I don’t just sit and write stupid blogs about it, I strive to summit them. I love my job!

Rank #1: International Cyclist

The team meeting was tense. I come out of the team tent and check my bike. It is a state of the art carbon fiber made one mean machine. I take a final sip of the energy drink and line my bike up with my team. We are in the final stage of the Tour-de-France. Today we are riding from Longjumeau to Paris over a distance of 105 km.

Our team has 16 riders; each one with a mission. Our number one rider is the one with the Yellow jersey, which means he is still the overall leader of the tour. However, he holds a wafer-thin margin over his closest competitor. Our team’s job is to ensure he protects his lead and reaches Paris as the winner of the tour. We have to put a good show against our closest opponent.

Our opponent team starts in great pace. 4 of their riders storm out and start at a brisk pace. Some of our riders go on hot pursuit of them. I continue in the peloton (the large group of riders riding together) riding just ahead of our number one guy. This ensures that I take the wind resistance and he rides with relatively less wind resistance. This is called drafting and it helps our number one conserve his energy for the final showdown in Paris’ cobblestones and tarmac.
We are cranking a decent pace and overall there is nothing to choose between us and our competition. I and my team take turns in staying just ahead of our guy giving him the benefit of drafting all the time. As we near Paris, the rural France is eaten up by the bustling metropolis’ suburbs. 20 km to finish!

The tempo rises steadily. Some teams drop behind. We are riding strong and fast. The race is reaching its finale. Finally at 2 km to finish line, our number one launches his final assault. He darts from the peloton towards the finish line. I along with a few more sprinters join him to protect him from the sides. Our opponents immediately launch their counter attack.

Everything becomes a blur. We ride like wind with the pilot car blaring its siren just ahead of us. The last 500 meters are hellish. Our number one torpedoes ahead of us and a one on one fight ensues with his rival. A huge crowd has gathered at the finishing line but all I see is a haze of colors.

As I cross the line and get off the bike I hear the cruelest words. “He lost it.” The words hit me like a sharp blow. But amazingly the man is smiling. He must be aching inside. After years’ training, laboring through 21 days and over 2500 km and coming so close and yet remaining so far…. But the man is still smiling, congratulating the victor, sharing a few light hearted words with people, thanking and crediting his team….. That is sportsmanship! You lose some, but you never lose to lose.

International Sports is amazing. I can never get bored of the wonders and what best I don’t just sit and write stupid blogs about it, I strive to compete and learn the spirit. I love my job!

The Reality

By this time, I am sure I have lost a lot of readers.
“This is a rant of a real procrastinator”.
“This is stupid”.
“This is not a blog but a teenager’s fantasy.”
“This is one pathetic attempt of mixing dreams with words”…blah blah……

I am sure I can never ever measure up to what I have put down as my dream jobs; that is why they are DREAM jobs at the first place.
Sure I can not do anything to get these jobs. For a few I don’t have enough knowledge, enough mental and physical fitness and for most due to abject lack of talent. But can I do something to make my job look a little better? I think, yes I can.

For the start, I can definitely take over the leaf of understanding the environment better from the dream of being a wildlife conservationist. I can surely connect to people better and try making the lives for all better by abstaining from petty issues and keeping the focus on bigger goals. I can surely strive to conserve the bests for everyone around me.

From the Mountaineer’s dream I can surely learn to respect the adversaries and prepare myself for them. I can learn to be a great team man and keep my team interest ahead of personal ones. I may not summit, but as a team we must!

From the International Cyclist’s dream I can learn how to lose. Life is not a one way traffic and losses are commonplace. Learning to lose is a great art and being gracious in defeats is the hallmark of the best.

Since you are still with me, let me tell you I do not believe in “Dream Jobs”. Just the way I don’t believe in the fairies and daemons. I think there is nothing as a dream job. Every job has its shares of good and bad, potentials and pitfalls. It is how we absorb them makes it a rich experience. How you will do that is purely onto you.

As far as I am concerned, I see there are numerous avenues to get better. I can never get bored of the wonders and what best I DO sit and write stupid blogs about it. I love my job!

Shop….Shop….Shop….SHOCK!

March 11, 2010
So, my cousin arrives from a different town to attend a marriage.
She is a vivacious young lady, well read, well dressed, well pedicured-manicured, well mannered and well to do……
So, when she said if I would like to accompany her to the shopping mall for picking a few lipsticks for the marriage function, I said “Ummmmm….AAhhhh…Eeeehhhh….”

Soon I found myself in the parking lot of this uptown mall with my cousin beaming in the co-driver’s seat. I park my car, take the lift and come to this mega shop floor of Spencers.

Before I proceed any further let me make a very honest confession that I am not the kind who enjoys shopping at all. In fact I often fantasize about a great world where you could buy everything online and get them delivered at home. I defer my visit to market places and malls till the time a small trivial need has just started to metamorphose into a full blown panic situation, like if you don’t buy the toothpaste-tomorrow you won’t get to brush your teeth!

Then again, I always find that inside a mall your life seems to go into an algorithm.

Step1: Park your car
Step2: Get frisked and discover hidden wonders in your pockets/jacket linings
Step 3: Take the lift
Step 4: Reach the top floor
Step 5: Loiter around aimlessly at each floor
Step 6: Stop at PlanetM / Musicworld / Book Café etc (probability of a buy is 50%)
Step 7: Force your wife to try a few outfits knowing she won’t buy them
Step 8: Use the escalators for going to lower floors for maximum laze
Step 9: Finally arrive at McDonalds / Subway / Cookie Man / Juice Bar.
Step 10: Eat hastily as if a gun was pointed at your head
Step 11: Take the lift
Step 12: Take you car and go back home with happy memories

Therefore I am a real anti-mall person and my visits to the malls are strictly for three reasons.

Reason 1: Buying ration for the fortnight
Reason 2: Getting a hair cut (blame it on my long hairs which can not be cut in local barber shops)
Reason 3: Watching a movie

In fact none of my last 10 mall visits have been for more than 1 hour. Generally, Mausmi, my wife, and I always fan out at the shopping floor each one with our own agenda of procuring groceries independently. Years’ of experience has taught us about who has an eye for what and therefore we divide the labor and do it in parallel to save time. Thankfully Mausmi is not a mall person herself and we just rush through the ritual in an impressive timeline. So, when I entered the Spencers store with my cousin, I was gearing up for a short brisk stint.

Right at the entrance was this counter of some anti-ageing cream. She stops.

I: “Why stop here. Surely you don’t need these. You are just 26”.
She: “It is for mom.”
I: But we came here for lipstick.”
She: “So, if we buy anything else, will that be a sacrilege?”
I: “But then you can come with your mom. May be she will have a better idea.”
She: “I want to surprise her.”
I: “mmmmm…….”

The lady on the counter was quite attractive, so the 10 minute discussion did not seem too dull! Did we buy it? No.

So, we left that anti-ageing counter and were sucked into appliance section. There was everything on display. Refrigerators, televisions, mp3 players, microwave ovens, dvd players…. She stopped.

I: “Why stop here?”
She: “Are baba, we are in no hurry are we?”
I: “No. not really”
She: “Then let me look na.”

At this moment, a handsome bloke approaches us. He completely ignores me and says: “Good evening ma’am, are you looking for something…..”
She: “Ummmm actually we are looking for….ummmm….”
I: “We are looking for lipsticks”
My cousin turned to me with a look which said “#%$&%*%&*^*(“
The salesman was puzzled. “Ma’am lipsticks are that side.”
I: “Oh thanks a lot.”
Then I tucked at her arm and we left the appliance section.

They say a scorned woman is worth a thousand foes. And I was to learn that.
We stopped at the luggage section.
Soon there were three salesmen enthusiastically demonstrating the various sized trolley cases to her.

“No no no no…. this is not the right size.”
“That will never fit my jackets without folding them.”
“Who carries a black suitcase?”
“This handle will surely break in no time.”
“This will never get inside the trunk of my car…..”

Soon the three salesmen are panting as if they have been fielding the whole day without any success of catching a cricket ball.

Next victim was the grocery help.
She picked up a chocolate doughnut and demanded:” How many calories are in this?”
The saleswoman looked as if you had asked her the capital of Djbouti.

After repeatedly making mince meat of the utensils’ section, food section and clothes section, we finally arrived at the make up desk.


I: (trying to extend an olive branch) “I think this dark brown shade will look good on you; after all you are a fair lady.”
She: (curtly) “I am wearing a pink saree in the function. Brown with pink, how juvenile.”
I: ?????

She turned to the ladies in the counter (who were Northeastern girls) and said “Show me the pink shades please”.
In moments the counter was filled with all kinds of pink.
“Too light”
“Too dark”
“Not glowing”
“It is not water proof”

Then she turned to me and asked; “Dada, what do you say about this one? Isn’t it better than that one?”
To me, this one and that one and the one previous and the one next, all looked just pink and with every passing minute I could sense that I was not in the pink of my health despite being mobbed by chinks showing pinks (no racial abuse intended). I was about to sink.

I: “Ummmm yes it is nice, you know this pink.” I said with a wink.
She: “No, I don’t think so.”
She went back again to the ladies.

I excused myself and went to the men’s room and splashed my face with some water. The mirror reflection looked like a pale replica of my usual upbeat self.
So, finally I started my journey back to the lipstick counter hoping she has picked “her kind of pink”.

50 feet from the counter, my cousin saw me and started waving and king of jumping up and down.
I was relieved. “Looks like we got the stuff.”
I reached with a genuine broad smile.

She: “You know dada, I picked an amazing shade. This is just going to be fabulous. No one in the marriage function is ever going to come close to me…..”
I: “Wonderful.”
She: “Yes, this one has glitters on it, is water resistant, topped with moisturizing elements and the best part is that it offers sunscreen too.” She showed me the lipstick encased in a black sleek looking case.
I: “Wow that’s great. So what shade of pink is that?”
She: “Oh no, this is not pink. This is magenta. See…” She showed me the color.

By now I had started to get scared. A nagging doubt, a chilling suspicion was creeping up my spine.
I: “But your saree is pink right? Will this match?”
She: “Of course not. Are you crazy?”
I: “Then?”
She: “Now we need to pick a magenta saree.”
I: “*##^%*%&^(&^*&&()***&%%&^$”

“Manasij” vs “Monosheej”

March 8, 2010

Tintin was one my favorite cartoon characters during my childhood days.
I absolutely loved them and enjoyed flipping through the pictures much before I could actually read the English and comprehend the storylines.
Tintin’s talking dog Snowy was a very loveable character and time and again a situation would arrive when Snowy would have a critical choice to make.
Like the picture above, Snowy gets torn between two choices; one delivering the letter to Tintin and two enjoy nibbling the bone…..
The “good” Snowy (as denoted by the white fairy) and the “bad” Snowy (as denoted by the red devil) would wage a battle till one emerged as winner.
And, just in life, so in the comics, the battle of alter egos was really interesting.

This blog is dedicated to the battle of two identities within me.
“Manasij” is a cosmopolitan youth who believes sky is the limit where as the alter ego “Monosheej” (the real Bengali pronunciation of Manasij) is a more anchored to traditions guy- a little fastidious to accept new things, a little frightened of changes and wants to weigh down his alter ego “Manasij”.

Let the battle begin………….

I was born in Kolkata, brought up in Patna, did my engineering from BITS Mesra Ranchi, worked in Trivandrum, Kolkata, Delhi NCR and Indore. Being born as a bong, it was just a matter of time when I started speaking absolutely hilarious and sometimes outrageous Bengal-ised Hindi, like Mamta Bannerjee and Pranab Mukherjee do all the time.

However, my parents sent me to a Hindi medium school, for they wanted me to speak fluent Hindi and appreciate the linguistic richness of Hindi. I grew up reading Nagarjun, Nirala, Premchand, Dinkar and loved them. We used to get the Hindi literature magazine “Hans” at our home each month and that kept me glued to the new age Hindi writers like Azgar Wazahat, Rajendra Yadav et al.

Side by side, my mom was extremely particular about me learning Bengali. So I read all the contemporary and classical Bengali writers ranging from Ravindranath to Satyajeet Roy. And of course, I was reading Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie even before majority of my schoolmates ever new their names; blame it on the Hindi only medium of teaching and thanks to my mom’s English lessons at home.

This exposure to multiple languages paved way for the appreciation and respect for every language and their identities. Advantage to the cosmopolitan “Manasij”!

My childhood days saw the biggest shame of the free India enacted right in front of my eyes. On Dec 6th 1992, we pulled down the Babri Masjid. My family was politically aligned to the left ideology and therefore naturally I disliked it, as a direct result of home grown political beliefs. I would have long debates with my mates, who would defend the destruction and that would bewilder me. The fact that I was brought up in Patna, a deeply casteist society and equally fanatic and that I was swimming against the current, made me appreciate the “different” religions and their customs. Another advantage to “Manasij”.

I ended up marrying a girl after a long standing affair in Dec 2004. She is neither my caste, nor speaks Bengali. But I know you don’t need a linguistic pretext to connect to someone. Advantage “Manasij” once again.

By now, it seemed as “Manasij” was winning all battles hands down. But then on June 10th 2002, I entered a new phase of my life. I joined the beeline of the worker ants of the Indian Software market.

I had entered the software sector dreaming of creating bold software products hitherto unheard off. Soon, I realized that Indian software services scene is a tragedy than a heroic tale of success. Mediocre mundane tasks dominated the scene with ferocity. For the first 4 years of the journey, I largely surrendered to it. I quickly learned about the charms of going abroad, owning flat, driving cars, craving appraisals, anticipating hikes…… “Monosheej” was getting back on track.

If not for an unanticipated governmental dictum of January 2006, may be “Monosheej” would have crushed “Manasij” under its wheels. In Jan 2006, I did a land deal and “Monosheej” was smiling, for finally “Manasij” had succumbed to the peer pressure of buying a land/house/flat. However, a governmental decree sublimated that victory. A six lane highway was to be constructed where “Monosheej’s” kitchen would have been erected.

I don’t know why, but I was gripped by euphoria about this cancellation of the land allotment. I suddenly felt free and save one botched attempt of buying a flat- never again treaded the path!

By then I had moved to a new company, which made software products. Innovation, striving for inspiring ideas became a way of life. The next 3 years, I did some of my best works in the office and met people who seemed very satisfied. As the CTO of the company said: “the pull towards making more money is real, but not at the cost of sacrificing the innovation”. “Monosheej” was in trouble again!

Then, by a quirk of fate, I happen to pick up a mountain bike one day in Oct 2008. That changed the game for “Monosheej” for ever. Now “Manasij” was travelling all over the mountains on his mountain bike and meeting people who turned a mild infection of “zest for life” to a full blown pandemic. I met people who were travelling round the world, meeting people- seeing places- seeking diverse experiences- building friendships- not worrying about an uncertain future but living the present to its best.

Risks exist in life and surely exist in the future. But, the fear psychosis of risk is more paralyzing. Status quo is seductive and always attempts to capsize the voyage to the unknown. As far as I am concerned, “Monosheej” is dead for all he does is psyche “Manasij” about the uncertain future and pulls the strings to walk the path treaded by almost everyone.

Now, a career break for 3 months does not sound scary at all. It appears as an option to pursue an interest with vigor and return to work with more intensity. Neither does a decision that I will not buy a house puts me under any duress. The fascinations of going onsite are long dead and promotions and appraisals have started to look just as mundane as shaving and shampooing.

Life is a great journey and I am surely a very late starter. The fact that it took me so long to embark on it is itself atrocious but then when you have so many “Monosheejs” around you, it was just an imbibed pathogen.

So who wins the trophy “Manasij” or “Monosheej”?
My answer is simple.
I am “Manasij”.

Racially Fair and Lovely

February 26, 2010

My sister in law was supposed to be married and we were beginning the process of considering prospective grooms.
I was in charge of creating the “marriageable resume”; in English of course.
I thought I did a good job till the time my father in law (henceforth denoted as FIL) happened to review it.
My FIL went ballistic for the resume had a fatal flaw.
Following is the snapshot of the exchanges we had:

FIL (with a loud chuckle): What have you done? This is pathetic.

I (puzzled): What is wrong with it?

FIL: See you have put all statistics correct, except the complexion one.

I: Why? I have put “fair” as her complexion. (FYI, Rashmi, my sister in law, is quite fair for Indian standards)

FIL: You do not understand. Fair means, she is dusky and make up will make her fair.

I: Then do you want me to change it to “very fair”?

FIL (frustrated) : This is not an English grammar class, very fair and fair means the same. You write “gori” in the complexion.

I (flipping out) : “Gori”?

FIL (as if explaining elementary geometry to middle school kids) : Yes write “gori”. Fair, very fair, milky white these things do not convey the fact that she is fair. It is “gori” that would appeal to the imagination of people better.

I (speechless) : ???????

So, Rashmi’s marriage resume said her complexion was “gori”!
“Gori” when translated to English roughly means “Fair Caucasian female”.
Which means, without the façade of make up and beauty products’ induced effects, Rashmi is as fair as a Caucasian female.
Calling her fairness “fair” would be fairly unfair and would not fare well for the welfare of her marriageable prospects.

Alright, so why everyone seeking marriage alliances is looking for gori-s? Why it is a natural logic that “gora-pan” (fairness) is the panacea of all beauty? Isn’t it ironic that the country with one of the richest reserves of circulating black money, black market, black magic still holds everyone sway with its maniac quest of fairness in complexion? This deep, insightful, intelligent blog would uncover why. So sit back and enjoy the ride and for better understanding keep a tube of “Fair and Lovely” handy.

My thesis is very simple. We, the Indians are definitely a racist community as a whole. Therefore, we react to fairness of the skin in a nakedly racist manner. Whether the fascination of the fair skin is something we imbibed in a century of colonial rule or not is immaterial, what is for sure true that we have this fascination deeply etched into our culture. We are indeed racist.

I know we like to believe that Indians are not racist and we have always fought apartheid with passion, stood behind the nations suffering from racial discrimination, voiced our concern with fervor over ill treatments meted out to native settlers in the hands of imperialistic/colonialist iron fisted rules and blah blah…. I agree, when it comes to taking international stands, we have a reasonably respectable track record. But, when it comes to putting matters straight at home, we look the other way.

For generations, we have treated racism as a celebrated exponent of our culture. “Oh no, we just practice casteism, untouchability, communalism, marginalization, alienation….but when did we become racist?” This is what we say in our defense of not being racist. The truth is we are worse, as a society, than the ones adhering to apartheid. After all the color of the skin is on your face and you can distinguish between a fair skinned and a dark skinned. But the mass scale discrimination we show to each other as part our cultural excess baggage makes us the most racial community in the world. And, we have been quick to learn the apartheid as well.

I was married in Patna. The marriage venue was on a road which was called Gardener Road during the British Raj. It was an Indian free zone with markers erected that warned “Dogs and Indians” not allowed. The years of oppressive British rule left India its scars. Most important was the psychological scarring.

India was ruled by foreign forces in the past as well, but no community left an impact as lasting as the British. The Moghuls and Turks conquered by force and ruled by force. It never made the people have this awed image of Moghuls and Turks because they had nothing much to dazzle the natives except for their superior military might. British on the other hand, not only had that military might but captured the imagination because of their superlative administration, economics, advances in science and technology, education, governance and vision. Result was simple. The colonial India did believe that British were a better race. And then, as a by product of this inferior psyche germinated the fascination for the white skin.

So, today how big is this fascination?
According to latest reports the brand “Fair and Lovely” grossed some 500 crores (100 million USD) last year and the total Indian market for fairness products is nearly three times this value, which is a whopping 1500 crores (300 million USD). So, it is fair to assume that fairness is big buck business. So it is indeed a million dollar question!

The corporate India, which sells these “whitening” products have cashed in to this psychosis. In fact it has at times deliberately flamed it to sell more units and made more money.

So, as long as we are ready to accept “gori” brides only and dream of someday landing in the land of the “goras”, poor SRK will appear for Fair and Handsome and we continue to have this unreasonable fascination. If you ask me, it is not going to end soon as I believe that we are truly a racial community.

Let me end this blog with another real life experience.

One day, I got a call from an ex schoolmate of mine. I am not naming him so let’s call him A. Following is the excerpt of our call:

A: Hey Manasij. I am getting married.

I: Congrats A. That’s great news. So, what does the lucky one do?

A: She works in my office. So it is a love marriage.

I: Great. So where is she from?

A: She is a South Indian.

I: Great. I think you ………

A (cuts me in the middle hastily) : lekin wo kali nahi hai. (She is not dark).

I (speechless) : ??????


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