Sep 16, 2008


I was going through some of my old posts, and am pleasantly surprised by how many of them seem even more relevant today! I've thought about writing about some of these subjects recently, and now I realize that I already wrote about them like 2 years back, and the same still holds. Check it out!

Un-Jihad is about terrorism, communal disharmony, and the need for a shake-up.

Judicial Joke is about our freedom vs. the government's desire to introduce curbs etc. and move towards prohibition, when there are more fundamental issues to be dealt with.

Both issues have become even more serious now - terror's striking closer home, and we seem to have no answers. And the curbs on nightlife/leisure establishments have become more stringent than they were. Is it just me, or is anyone else also worried about the direction in which we seem to be going...

And, on a lighter note, this IS an eternal truth: 10 reasons why a pint is better than a woman

Also, check this firm out. (Old reference here, if you really care)

The Ruthless edge

After the last couple of races (ya, this is primarily an F1 post), some people have called Lewis Hamilton 'unsporting' and a 'cheat'. I understand how they feel, and agree that Lewis may have crossed a few grey lines, but I have another point to make. True Champions - the ones that go down in history as the greats - always have a ruthless, somewhat-unsporting edge. This is what enables them to distinguish themselves from the also-rans. 

Let's face it. Cut-throat competition is a reality of life, and sport is no different. The ones who become 'great', begin with setting themselves lofty targets that border on the impossible. To achieve these targets, they have to try as hard as they can, and there is no room for sympathy towards their competitors. Roger Federer isn't expected to give away a few games or sets if he's playing against less-skilled players. He's thrashed people like Andy Roddick so bad, they've lost some faith in their own abilities. Sachin Tendulkar is expected to play big, destructive innings against Zimbabwe. Not to 'respect upcoming talent'. And in soccer - even the greatest players dive, pretend they didn't get the last touch, pretend the ball did not cross the side line... It's all means to an end, and no quarter's to be given. 

If you are competing at the highest level, you can not expect other people to 'be nice'. You have to be tough. Along with skill and self-belief, you need a touch of ruthlessness. Otherwise you simply don't belong at the top. All you need to ensure is that you stay within the letter of the law (and not the so-called spirit. If people were going to respect the so-called spirit, the law wouldn't be needed in the first place)

Even in Formula 1, two drivers are considered to be the greatest ever - with opinion divided evenly - Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. Both were notorious for being tough on competitors and flirting with the law of the game. Senna took out Prost at Suzuka '90 and was penalized. What happened? Senna qualified on pole and Prost was 2. But, the pole and odd positions were marked on the dirty side of the track, and 2nd and evens had an advantage, starting on the clean side. Senna thought it was unfair, and as Prost came alongside at turn 1, Senna crashed him. And all the Ferrari fans would know about Schumacher's behaviour at Adelaide '94 and  Jerez '97 - both times Schumacher crashed his car into a rival's in a bid to retain the Championship lead he had before each race. Lewis may be an unpleasant bully on the track, but hasn't done anything as grave as the greats before him had done. Nakajima can be hated for recklessness and a misplaced will to dominate. But Lewis has the skill and the self-belief to command on the track. He IS superior to all his competitors, and I see no reason he should not try and crush whatever stands between him and the Championship - and greatness.

History - will remember how many championships were won - and the gaps by which competition was beaten. Not who was upset along the way...

Sep 9, 2008

The Worm Effect

As a kid, I was told one's aim in life should be to gain skills and knowledge. To develop an all-round personality with depth, objectivity, compassion, ambition etc. etc. Great treasures were promised at the end of the toil - high-flying career, comfortable life, general respect from people...

There was, of course, fine print which we missed. That effort would be required all the time to maintain high standards. That line beyond which all the treasures lay (which would theoretically allow one could chill in life thereon), kept moving away everytime u thought you were there. '10th boards', 'JEE', 'CAT', 'Placements', 'Sales stint'... everytime u crossed one, there was the next...

I felt cheated the first couple of times. At IIT, I was all 'WTF?! This was supposed to be Aladdin's lamp, not a 4-yeat long series of JEE's that'd be tough to pass'. But then I matured a bit, and accepted that the struggle would never end. At least I had got most of whatever I'd dreamt of, so what if I had to continue working hard.

There is one area, however, where I feel completely cheated. I was also made to believe that the desirable women eventually settle with the good, successful guys. And I had hoped that, one day, I shall also land one on merits. This was one misleading promise I'll never forgive the world for.

The truth is this - with women, I've discovered, all rationality fails. Results are not correlated with  'knowledge', 'skill', 'character', 'success' - history, present or forecast - or anything you can work at achieveing. Independent of 'who you are' and 'what you've done in life', there is an extremely high probability that an attractive woman will completely ignore you, as if you don't exist. The way you treat a worm. You see it, you know it's there, but you pretend you aren't aware of it's existence and continue doing whatever you were doing with absolute nonchalance. This, my friends, is the 'worm effect'.

If you're a guy, God has played a nasty joke on you.

1. He's given you testosterone. Don't underestimate the implications of this. This is why you don't cry. This is why you enjoy cars going round and round at high speed. This is why you like beer. And this is why sex is always somewhere on your mind.

2. The 'worm effect'. As a result of (1), you WILL be attracted to women. And whatever you've done when you were running on stuff other than testosterone - all your achievements and things that define you - will come to NOUGHT - and you will be made to feel like a powerless, virtually non-existant little worm. You'll go 'Bye bye self-respect'. And He and she will quitely point at you (when you're not looking - bowed head, drooping shoulders 'n all). And they'll go 'Ha-Ha! (sucker!)'

I've given up trying to understand the 'worm effect' and the reasons that drive it. Either there are none, or God just didn't wish for me to know them (as I might find a solution). 

I pray that, one day, when He's had enough, He'll put up a complaint box. Where we can drop in names of the women who played the 'worm effect' on us. And then justice shall prevail!

Sep 7, 2008

The tragedy at Spa-Francorchamps

Finally, any F1 fan who missed the Belgian GP today, lost out bigtime! It was one of the greatest contests seen on track in recent years - with the top 3 being within 10 seconds of each other all the way! There were brilliant overtaking moves pulled off by Kimi and later by Hamilton, the little bit of pit-strategy drama, and a good amount of wheel-to-wheel racing. All this against the very picturesque Spa-Fracorschamps backdrop!

And the best part was surely the last 5 laps - Kimi and Lewis, less than 2 seconds apart, driving the wheels off their cars in increasingly wet conditions that meant no grip and little car control. They traded places, went off-track, slipped and slid, but didn't back down. One - or both - crashing out was inevitable. There's no way they could have carried on - in conditions like that, under pressure like that, at those speeds - for more than 4 laps.

Given that scenario, I'm glad Kimi crashed and Lewis won. Though I do feel terrible for Kimi - he deserved at least 8 points for his performance, and did NOT deserve to fall another 8 behind Massa. Had Alonso been involved, I'm sure he'd have taken 2nd behind Lewis/Kimi. But between these two, there was only one way the matter would be settled. And this makes Kimi a winner in my eyes - even though he was classified 18th with 0 points today!

Unfortunately, we may be looking back at this race as the tipping point, if Kimi decides to hang up his helmet a few months from now. That'd be a much bigger loss for any F1 fan, than having missed watching this race.

Added later: Now I read that Hamilton has been penalized and demoted to 3rd. Massa gets 10 points. Thats just so bloody unfair. 

For one, Kimi was leading when he made a mistake and crashed out. Lewis can't be blamed for that. And i don't think Lewis did 'wrong' even earlier. I'm sure McLaren will appeal, and hope they win.

After these two battled like true heroes and showed they belonged in a different class, that #$%$# Massa gets recorded as the winner. Massa just didn't do enough to deserve 1st. I'm disgusted.

Weekend viewing recap

There was a lot of engaging stuff to watch this weekend - on the TV as well as the big screen. (Those who  know me a bit - probably know I'm gonna write about Sports and movies, and offer several biased opinions on the way :) )

It started with 'a Wednesday', which I had seen the trailers of and not thought much of, till the reviews came in. The movie received extremely favorable reviews, and I completely agree with them. It's just the kind of movie I like - good story, great acting, some element of realism, engaging (and entertaining) screenplay, and most importantly it had a strong point to make. 'Rock On', which I saw last weekend, was also good and met most of the criteria listed - except the story was rather weak and it didn't have much of a point to make. There wasn't much to discuss afterwards, except the great music. 'a Wednesday', on the other hand, strikes a raw nerve, and if you start thinking about the ideas thrown up - your mind can go places... 

This also explains why I liked Rang de basanti much more than Lage Raho Munnabhai a couple of years back. Both were great movies, but RDB had so many layers that you could watch it multiple times and connect with some new, finer thoughts each time. And RDB was about the kind of extreme shake-up we need in this country today. Gandhian philosophy, as 'good' and 'correct' as it sounds - IMHO it is not very result-oriented. It assumes the 'conscience and inherent goodness of others', an assumption that isn't valid a lot of the time. And even when it does hold, Gandhi's proposed methods are neither the quickest nor the most efficient routes to results. (I've always wanted to blog about this, but been too lazy to. Someone will have to provoke me, in order for a lengthy discussion of Hitler vs. Gandhi vs. Bhagat Singh to materialize)

Onto a completely different subject, I saw the US Open semi-finals and it confirmed the reason I like Fed and Djoker much better than Rafa. In the Fed-Djoker match, there were few long rallies. Both players served with power, pulled off some breathtaking plays, and each tried to dominate by hitting winners. I enjoy watching these virtuoso displays by sportspersons. They display the kind of skill, self-belief and disrespect for 'limits' - that feeds the human spirit!

In the other match, Rafa was trying to do what he always does - wear down and outlast his opponent. Though I admire and respect Rafa, I don't particularly enjoy watching him, because he doesn't try to be flamboyant or spectacular. He tries to win through a work-man-like approach. Through graft and patience. That's the kind of drudgery we have in our own lives, and while his success is inspiring, it's not quite in the same league as Fed's and Djoker's.

(Not closing post. Carrying on with F1 in a separate post)

Sep 5, 2008

The problem...

... isn't very simple. Because it spans not one isolated aspect of life, but nearly all.

I grew up in an 'army' environment. My dad got transferred after every couple of years, and I, obviously, had to shift too. New cities. New schools. New people. New challenges. And new possibilities. Life was never stagnant at any one place for a long time. It was an exciting journey.

Cut to mid-2008. I'm in Bangalore. A city where everyone I could possibly care about, works beyond 7 pm. And everything shuts down at 1130 pm. People argue that the city isn't equipped to handle people who've had a few drinks - to become 'horses without reins' - and in the interest of 'public safety', everyone should stay at home after 2330. Also, a city which claims to represent 'India in the 21st century' - where it's against the law to dance in a 'public' place, even if the 'public' place only allows couple in, for an entry fee of Rs. 1,000 or higher. And a city that, for all the hype and hoopla, is regressing towards being a village with Taliban-esque social standards.

Screw 'nightlife'. During the day, one has to spend nearly half an hour to traverse a 5km distance. If you are driving, it's like playing a video game - nothing and no one is bound to behave in a rational manner on the road. You are responsible for youself, your vehicle, and also the idiot who doesn't understand queue or lane discipline. If you opt for public transport - you either discover it doesn't exist, or find that the fare you have to pay obeys Heisenberg's principle. It's not as simple as 4km X Rs. 7 per km = Rs 28. It could be anything between Rs 26 and Rs 40, and is skewed towards the higher end of the range.

Reach office and the chaos continues. For starters, you work with a bunch of people as diverse as possible, who aren't necessarily willing to adapt. Who are overpaid to the extent that they start believing they are so good - they don't have to fall in line with any rules or standards, that they deserve all the priviledges they have, and they can get anything and everything they want. I'm not against rapid economic growth, or evolution of social standards, or personal liberties. But I do believe that all this should be tempered with some basic discipline and sense of responsibility.

Next, you work with seniors who got sucked up into senior positions because they were the only ones available during the explosive growth phase, and not because they have the knowledge, experience and skills to handle great responsibility. I have to admit that, to an extent, this applies to me also, and it is inevitable when the economy grows at the rate it is growing. And it's not something I'm terribly pleased with.

Then, there is the 'core' work. For one, people in Bangalore work with clients across the world - who show them different degrees of respect. There are some who genuinely respect you and treat you like partners, if not experts. But there are also some who treat you like their personal secretaries, and seem very aware of the fact that you cost even less in US$ terms.

For another, the work is routinized to the extent of mindlessness. What companies proudly describe as 'processes' - are essentially efforts to de-humanize everything thats being done. Efforts to strip away our creativity, freedom of thought or action, and make everything so standardized that anyone who knows english and can read/listen and then type/talk - would achieve more-or-less the same results.

Finally, lets talk about social life. For all my life thus far, I've had friends at the same lifestage as I am. People I can relate to, who can relate with me, and we could hang out and get through days, weeks, months...

Right now, I'm stuck in an awkward place. Most of my friends are married, and not at the same lifestage. The others, who are also my age and single, usually can not relate to my professional and social life and vice-versa. And in most cases, I simply dont like/respect/trust the people I come across. Work is so hectic, there's no time to meet new people. Even if there was time, Bangalore rules/traffic/population - and Indian social standards in general - don't allow for much.

There is a sheer, and deeply disturbing, emptiness to life. Something's gotta give...

Tough. 4.

There comes a point when you know you've hit rock-bottom. Things can't possibly get worse than they are. Nobody can disappoint you more than someone already has. You can't stoop any lower. You can't be treated worse. 

The only upside is... everything can only get better. You deserve better. It's important to remember that. And more important to work at making things better for you. Just think straight...