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Archive for July, 2009

H.O.M.E

(Planning to migrate a few posts here, from my older blog(which i had to close down due to ‘edhir katchigalin thittamitta sadhi :P’). These are the ones I think are worth migrating, atleast so that I can read them whenever I want to without logging in, giving passwords, etc. This post was written exactly a year back. Happy anniversary HOME!! :))

A paint peeling, concrete arch proclaiming the name of the street. A narrow tar road dug up in a few dozen places. The tiny grocery shop at the corner. A primary school. Pullaiyar Kovil. Methodist Church. A few hundred houses. And another few hundred hearts. This is the constitution of the place that I’ve been calling ‘home’ for the past 10 years. Whenever I think home, it’s never a single building. It’s always a parcel of the street, friends, neighbours, roadside cricket, the huge neem tree next door and occasional squabbles. The picture is incomplete without all these.

When my parents decided to buy a plot and build a house where it is sitting pretty right now, they almost drowned in the discouragement that followed. The place is good for nothing. It is nothing but a breeding ground of pigs and stray dogs. It is thief infested. There are only two other houses in the entire locality. It is a low lying area and will not survive the first monsoon of the season. And the worst part was that each of this was true. Even my mom was half sceptical of the idea. She always wanted her dream house in a posh locality. Anna Nagar was top on her list, not some nameless hole in the by lanes, a region between the heart of the city and its suburbs. But dad was adamant. So in six months, the parents and 12 year old me shifted to our first own house, all eager and joyful. It was a modest one bedroom house. A very modest beginning. The house was ridiculously small when compared to the one ground of empty space that lay sprawling in front of it. But in less than a month again, the empty space had transformed into a lovely garden. Marigolds and Chrysanthemums framed either side of the pathway leading from the gate to the main door. Coconut trees were planted dotting the compound wall. The rest of the space was a mini farm growing ladies finger, brinjal, tomatoes, green peas, pumpkins, snake gourds and herbs. The garden became the pride of the neighbourhood (which consisted of five houses now), and they contributed seeds and saplings zealously. It was like living in a separate planet away from the pollution and noise of the city. The early morning Bharatnatyam practice surrounded by the scent of blooming jasmine flowers and roses, badminton sessions in our very own farm-cum-playground, hide and seek with the chameleons and frogs, all stamped in memory, fresh now as ever.

Slowly I graduated to high school and the street graduated to a few more houses and tar roads. Globalisation reached as far as our private planet and dad thought we needed a bigger home. The flowers vanished, vegetable patches were pulled out and we got a majestic gleaming new home in return. Now new houses mushroomed, one here and another there at a rapid rate and we suddenly had neighbours smiling at us through window sills and bringing home sweets for Diwali. There was Sundari aunty in the opposite flat who waited with piping hot coffee every evening when I came back from school. Now I didn’t have to stand waiting on the road till mom came home if I forgot to take the house key. I could take my pick from Teacher aunty’s rolls and buns or Shobha Akka’s idli vadas and keep munching to my heart’s content till mom was back. Street cricket with Sathish was a daily affair till his dad got transferred toBangalore. Even after moving to college and hostel subsequently, Friday evenings back home were never complete without snacks at Vaishu’s place. If animosity existed, it was fought out at Margazhi kolam competitions and diwali crackers. Pullaiyar and Jesus sat smug and contended, a stone’s throw away from each other. Even during the first few weeks in hostel, when I was home sick, I missed my neighbours as much as I missed my parents. Only then did I realise how the entire neighbourhood had become an integral part of what I called my ‘home’.

Things seem to have become a wee bit different these days though. All the kids have grown up. Some are doctors, some engineers and IT professionals, some settled abroad. The youngsters are too busy to notice neighbours and the grown ups are too old to socialise like before. Their occasional window sill conversations have shifted from sweet making and sarees to diabetes and arthritis. The warmth and love exists but it is more restrained and even a bit wary sometimes. The owners of a couple of high rising apartments that the street can boast of now, hardly ever open their doors or windows and sneak in and out of their own houses like burglars. I realise now that it has been more than six months since I dropped into any of my neighbour’s home for some hot coffee and hotter gossip. I make a mental note to do it this weekend. It takes a wedding, a birthday or an occasional power cut to bring everybody together and relive the old gold days again. People seem to be afraid that if they stop to talk to each other or care, life may whiz past by. I wish we could rewind back to the time when all that life meant was to stop, talk and care.

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All in a day’s work…

When I worked for an IT major, I always thought my manager had it easy. We were 42 people under him in 5 different teams. As far as I knew, all he had to do was

1)    Take up weekly status calls with the client who’d ask a million questions (none of which would be answerable unless you are either God or the Solaris box on which the product is running) and get insulted in the most polished polite manner possible.

2)    Call for team status meetings and transfer some of the scalding he got to the team. If the team didn’t take him seriously enough (which is almost always), start using menacing terms like ‘mitigation’. ‘productive competence’, ‘recessive trends’etc.

3)    Make up elaborate AI’s and ETA’s which never, repeat NEVER, are met on time.

4)    Make up excuses as to why the AI’s and ETA’s are never met on time.

5)    Draw up totally incomprehensible bar charts and pie charts in Excel and make PowerPoint presentations with notes copy pasted from Word. Yes, the three technologies my manager had totally mastered were Excel, PowerPoint and Word. Nobody could ever beat him at it.

6)    Take the Client out for coffee and discuss world politics and oil price in Kazakhstan with him for hours so that he’d be too confused and distracted to notice that the latest build we released has a thousand bugs which would never, repeat NEVER, be fixed up.

7)    Take the Client out for lunch to Mainland China and feed him up to his throat. Don’t forget to bill him for the food. Don’t forget to keep all project review meetings ONLY after the massive lunch every day.

8)    Make you work like crazy for 6 months sweet talking about ‘Outstanding’ appraisals and then give you a ‘Meets Expectation’ stating ‘wrong attitude towards work’ and ‘does not gel with the team ’

9)    Join the gang for lunch (reconfirming the belief that God never really listens to sinners’ prayers) and talking nonstop for 45 minutes about all that we despise in the world (stock markets, railway budgets, SEZ, yawn!!!). At the end of lunch we are usually left with neck sprains from all the heavy duty nodding.

10)   Power nap on in the cubicle leaving the rest of us yearning for some sleep but forcing eyes to continue staring at the monitor however bleary it may get.

Now after having such horrid notions about managers (which are almost always true), imagine my consternation when P told me that I’ll be working mostly in a ‘managerial’ capacity when I joined his company!!! An alien work place and culture, a field I was totally unfamiliar with and on top of that a job I know nothing about. I’m constantly interacting with people within the business and outside of it, making decisions, telling people what to do what not to (!!) and now I painfully acknowledge it’s not as easy as I thought it was. It was a zillion times easier working with that piece of overused machinery (read computer) than working with people because

1)    The machine doesn’t talk back. You ask what 2+2 is and it says 4. It doesn’t say nonchalantly  “Depends on where both the 2’s came from” or  whisper conspiratorily “Ummm.. don’t believe 2. It isn’t what it seems to be”. It simply treats facts as facts and doesn’t attach human elements to everything unlike human beings.

2)    The machine does not point fingers at others. Again in the 2+2 scenario, it doesn’t say, “Hell, I’m not the accountant. That’s not my job.” It just does what it’s told to do.

3)    The machine most importantly does not play work place politics which I find is on par with what is played by Mayawati, Mamata and the others at the national level.  You ask the machine what 2+2 is and it doesn’t say, “I always told you that 2 was more attached to 3. If you put 2 with another 2 they’ll start bitching about each other and you can never total it up. What about 3 and 6 instead. They’re very sweet” Or it doesn’t whine, “Why am I always asked to do all this difficult addition and she gets all the easy subtraction. This is not fair.” Or it doesn’t retort, “I can’t work with 2. I HATE it” It doesn’t cry to you saying 3 treats it badly or it needs more pay to sum up to 4. The machine simply adds the two numbers. People do everything else but that. By the end you finish dealing with all the politics and dynamics of who has to what job, who can work/can’t work with who, who can be/can’t be trusted with the job, you end up forgetting what the job was. Like I always do.

4)    The machine does not give you a you-are-out-to-make-my-life-miserable-look every time you look at it.

5)    The machine doesn’t smile sweetly at you and pass nasty comments once you are out of sight. In short, the machine doesn’t bitch.

And the machine doesn’t do a million other unnecessary things that people do. It only does its job. Probably this is exactly how my previous manager felt too but even now I feel managers in the IT field have it a bit easier when it comes to dealing with employees since in IT, there is at least no public cat fighting or open bitching. People at least pretend to like and be nice to each other. Any animosity is not taken up to the managerial levels and is just left to cool off by itself. When asked what 2+2 is, they do all the fighting and bitching among themselves and only tell the manager that it is 4. He is spared of the means! The rest of the world isn’t so hunky-dory and I face new challenges and pressures every day. It’s been a great experience to be fair and I’m NOT hating it. I love playing the ‘Naataamai’ and love discovering new aspects about my work and the people each day. All I want is to hang around and see if that wonderful day when 2+2=4, without any other strings attached, will ever arrive. Hoping it does. SOON!!

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Shirley…

(A very long personal post ahead. Not for light reading.)

Shirley weds Antony.

I saw the simple, elegant wedding card lying on the sitting room table, half of it peeping out of the white cover. My mind drew a blank for a fraction of a second before registering that Shirley was actually getting married and I got to knew about it only accidentally. From a card lying on a table. Dad was watching some news broadcast on TV as if his life depended on what happened in the Parliament meeting for the day.

“Shirley’s getting married?”

“Ummm… hmmmm” He grunted, eyes fixed on the TV still. Clearly, my question didn’t even sink in.

“DAD!!!”

“Ok, What???”

“Shirley’s getting married?? Nobody even told me!! She didn’t even call me to tell…” My tone grew more accusatory by the minute.

Dad cut me off rudely.

“When was the last time you called her? Did you invite her personally for your wedding? You only get back what you give” His eyes were cold and he went back to his television news not even giving me a further glance.

I opened my mouth to protest only to close it again not knowing what to protest about. What dad had said was true. When was the last time I called Shirley? So long ago that I don’t even remember when. I couldn’t let myself argue saying she never made the effort to keep in touch as well. I knew she wouldn’t. Not after all that she had been through.

I met Shirley for the first time while we both were in tenth grade. Our mothers were old friends, who had got in touch after a decade or so when Shirley’s family shifted to the same neighbourhood as ours. As the two women caught up with the details of the years gone by, they left their two shy daughters to get acquainted with each other. Both Shirley and I were painfully shy kids back then and I remember how we used to sit in the same room for 45 minutes a day without saying a word to each other, merely looking at the walls and ceilings, not wanting to catch each other’s eye. It took a while for me to open up to the lanky bunny toothed soft spoken girl with whom I spent a lot of time more out of compulsion than by choice. We were put in the same school, travelled in the same school van and were in adjacent classes studying the same subjects. So talk we finally did. We had to. A few words at first. A hi in the morning while getting into the van, a smile when we came across each other in between classes. Later sitting next to each other we would talk for a couple of minutes about zoology lectures and maths problems. Then we would start ‘catching places’ next to each other in the school van so that we could talk all the way home. And then we started dialling each other’s number first thing after getting home. As with all girls, once we hit off, there was no stopping us.

Shirley was shy. She was funny. She was an introvert. She had loads of wit. She spoke softly. Each word was laced with slapstick and sarcasm. She was frail. She was a tough nut to crack. Oh, duh! She was a bundle of contradictions. One minute she’s almost be in tears that it’s been years since she saw her dad in person (he left to work abroad when she was really young and visited very rarely) and the next moment she’ll be smiling through her tears and singing a song, flitting across the room. We loved each other’s company. But what Shirley loved most in the world was her mother. Since the father was away, Shirley’s mom doted on her boundlessly. Her entire being revolved around making life comfortable and hassle free for her daughter. I’d even noticed that most of her conversations with my mother started with the words “my Shirley…”  Shirley had the perfect confidante, friend and guide in her mother. I even remember envying the kind of pampering her mom showered on Shirley. She was a blessed child.

We grew up together for 2 years. When we were in high school, every weekend we used to go for entrance exam coaching to join medical college. We did everything other than getting coached there. We bunked classes and roamed the streets, cola in hand. We licked ice cream cones and chased kids on bicycles. We shared and confided in each other our dreams, hopes and ambitions. And the deepest secrets and darkest fears too. I knew what Shirley feared the most was losing people she loved. She yearned to be with her father and fought to him over the phone almost every day to come back home so that they could live together as a family again. Her father always promised he would but never kept his word. And Shirley was determined not to let go.One day, she seemed hyper excited and started whispering excitedly as soon as she got into the van. “I did it!!! Dad’s coming back!!!! It’s final. Only the paper work remains!! In a week!!” The words came out in gasps coated with joy and excitement. I was happy that the only piece of jigsaw missing from her life was finally falling into place. I prayed along with her for next week to come sooner.

Next week came. It was the morning her father was arriving. I was busy rushing for school when the call came.

“Hello?”

“Shirley here”

“Hey!!!! Dad came??? What did he…”

“My mother passed away. Heart attack.”

I was left standing with my mind numb and the click of the phone echoing in my ears.

The house was crowded. I had never seen her father before but I knew him from the way he was weeping inconsolably, sitting at his dead wife’s feet. Relatives were scattered all around the place like chaff. I scanned the room for Shirley. She was not near her mother. She was not sitting in any corner weeping. I asked a stranger and he pointed me to the kitchen. I went in. She was sitting on the floor by the door, hands around her folded knees, staring at the kitchen sink. I sat next to her.

She spoke softly as usual. “Remember she used to stand there making coffee.”

“Shirley…”

“She was so particular about the sugar. It had to be just right. She used to pour some coffee separately and taste it before serving guests” She turned to me. “Remember??” I couldn’t stop myself anymore. I broke down and started sobbing loudly. She continued staring at the sink. A relative came rushing near us. “She’s been sitting like this from the morning ma. Not a single drop of tear from her eyes. We’re all scared. Tell her to cry and let it out ma… Ask her to give vent. Tell her please…”I couldn’t say a word. All I could do was sit next to her and sob until her mother was taken away to be cremated. She didn’t come out to see her mother being carried out for the last time. She didn’t budge.

That was the last time I went inside Shirley’s house. Her days after her mother’s death became hell. It was more hell because she wouldn’t let the hurt penetrate and show through her. She came back to school in 3 days as if nothing happened. She spoke of the changes that the death caused as if they had nothing to do with her.

“I plaited my hair myself for the first time today”

“Do you know where I can get a good mop? The old one is worn out”

“I made sambhar today. It was burnt up.”

She only made matter-of-fact statements but I knew how hard it was for her to lose her mother at an age she needed her most. The girl who didn’t even know to turn on the stove or hold a broom was cooking for the family, doing the washing, cleaning and trying to cope up with the loss of the most precious thing to her, all at once. I sometimes felt like shaking her up and screaming at her to let it out. To cry and get it over with. To scream and yell that life was unfair. But I knew she wouldn’t. And I knew I couldn’t do anything to make things easy. We joined different colleges and kept in touch occasionally. She got used to the life she was thrown into or so I presumed. She never invited me home or came if I did. She was topping her department in college and called up every semester to compare scores. I always scored lower and started dreading her calls. Sometimes I wouldn’t even pick her calls especially if they came close after semester results. I was home from hostel for a particular weekend when dad asked me over coffee one evening, if I’ve been in touch with Shirley. Not recently, I said. Six months since we spoke or longer. Why?

“Her father has stomach cancer. Incurable stage. The poor child is running from hospital to hospital but no hope. He only has a few months to live. Give her a call”

I didn’t give her that call. And I regret it till date. When I look back and think about what held me back from reaching out to her during those dark days, I have no answer. I could have been there with her, holding hands and speaking comforting words. But I didn’t. I knew it was because deep down I didn’t have the mental strength to comfort her. I couldn’t hold back tears like she did. I couldn’t pretend to be strong and brave seeing her worst fears coming true. I might have rushed to her side if I knew that she’ll come running into my arms crying out for help as soon as she sees me. If I knew she would sob her heart out pouring out all the mental agony and get soothed by my gentle pats and tears. I knew she wouldn’t. She’ll probably show me hospital reports and discuss the prospects. I was simply not strong enough for that. I did not make that call. I was afraid of her grief. And I did not go to visit when her father passed away a couple of months later. I thought I don’t have what it took to be with her in her toughest times. What would I say? What could I possibly do to ease her pain? Even trying to comfort would seem meaningless, I reasoned. I didn’t realise that I didn’t have to do anything. I didn’t have to talk. Didn’t have to hug or hold hands. I only had to be there. And I wasn’t.

I always used round about means to enquire how she was doing. Mutual friends, distant relatives, her classmates in college, her neighbours who I met in supermarkets… Once when I asked a mutual friend about Shirley, she shot back, “Why don’t you ask her yourself? She always tells me you used to be her best friend but stopped being in touch all of a sudden.” But I didn’t call her once. We used to bump into each other sometimes in Church. I had a thousand things to talk about. A ton of unanswered questions. But all I could manage was the usual how are you and how’s work. She smiled, answered and left hurriedly. I knew she thought I betrayed her. It wasn’t her fault. I was the only one who could have bridged the gap and I never did.

The wedding card still lay on the table. I would go for the wedding even if I was not invited. I didn’t want to go up the stage and tell her how happy I was or ask her to forgive me for not being there when things were tough. But I would still be there, sitting in a corner, seeing her smile. But before everything else, before it’s too late, I would first make that one little phone call.

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Doc Talk!!!

I really don’t understand why some doctors are really this arrogant, snobbish, self indulgent, errr… and a lot more I wouldn’t put up here and pollute my blog. SOME. I’ve come across doctors who are nothing short of angels, only thing is they wear white coats instead of frocks and carry stethoscopes instead of the harp. And being the sick child I was, I’ve always been stumbling across doctors right through childhood. And I’ve seen that the character profiles of those very people who play Gods on Earth vary from the extreme white to the darkest black with all shades of grey thrown in.

Dr. Srinath has been my family doctor for as long as I remembered. The first word that comes to my mind when I think of Dr. Sri is Soothing. Long after he finished his daily duty rounds and left, his benign smile and quiet cheerful words lingered in the bright blue curtains of the hospital windows and the friendly pats of the nurses. He had this amazing quality of not being ruffled under the most trying circumstances. I remember one such incident in particular, some ten years back. I was running a very high temperature, shivering from the chills, and blabbering incoherently when I was carried to Dr. Sri’s clinic one rainy night. I always talk a lot of nonsense when I’m sick. My mom says is it’s my way of fighting the germs away! But yeah, it’s a proven fact that the more I talk, the sicker I am. Digressions apart, there I was a shivering bundled up mess yapping away to glory lying on Dr. Sri’s examining table. He was there beside me talking to my parents in that quiet comforting voice, smiling at me with his eyes crinkling up and before I had realised it to start bawling, given me an injection and also a candy to counter its effect! He didn’t give my medical test reports to my parents and answered with “Oh nothing, She’ll be ok in a couple of days” when my folks asked him what really was wrong with me. Only after the third day, when the temperatures came down to near normal and I could be taken back home, the doc thrust my medical reports into dad’s hands and said, “She came here with a severe form of typhoid. Could have caused sensory impairment if not treated properly on time. I didn’t want to panic you. Now she’s out of the danger zone. You can take her home. The diet would be…”  Dad could only just gape.

I’ve had this special, you can even say superstitious belief that once Dr. Sri writes Rx and hands over a prescription to me, I’ll start getting better the next second onwards! I know, it’s ridiculous but sometimes healing has more to do with the psychological than the physical. And this precisely was the reason why I was muttering under my breath that Dr. Sri should have been a darn ophthalmologist when suddenly my right eye started swelling up and getting all itchy like some dust was perpetually lodged inside. I had grown into a comfort zone with Dr. Sri and had not even consulted any other doc except him for as long as I remembered (except maybe a couple of dental checkups). Now suddenly I was in the waiting area of this Ophthalmologist, to get my eye checked. After maybe an hour of waiting, the Ophthal arrived in a purple sedan and strolled majestically into his room without even a mere glance at the lesser mortals – his patients. I was the first in waiting and soon the high priest –read nurse ushered me in.

There were no questions asked. The Ophthal merely raised an eyebrow from behind his huge glasses which it seems was an indication for me to rattle off my case. The nurse nudged me from behind and I started.

Me: Doctor, my right eye has been swollen for the past few days and it’s been irritating too, like some dust fell inside.

I looked at the doc’s face for some sign of information being heard or registered. None

Me: And ummm… the lymph glands near the ears seem to be swollen too.

I pointed to the gland only to see the doc looking at a calendar above my head. I stopped talking, determined to carry on only after eliciting a response from his mouth.  He wouldn’t give up too. He merely raised an eyebrow again and pointed to another chair as if he were the Queen offering me a royal throne. After peeping into my eye for some five minutes, the doc opened his mouth for the first time only to ask, “What made you say some dust fell into your eye? How can you be sure?”

Me: I’m not sure doctor. The eye kept irritating like there was something inside. So I thought it might be dust…

Ophthal: So it was all guesswork??

Me: (thinking) Of course, you are the doctor not me. (saying) Ummm yes.

Ophthal: This is not because of dust. It is probably due to some allergy to dust.

Me thinks ‘very enlightening’ and stays silent.

Doc starts writing out a prescription when I asked a question.

“Doctor, the lymph node enlargement is a side effect of this eye infection right?”

He peered up at me as if I had committed some kind of sacrilege by asking such a question.

“How am I to know?? I’m not God. We will have to wait and see. Come and see me in two days”

I was only too happy to get out of his office. Two days. His medicines did nothing to my eye. In fact my eye seemed to get worse with each day. I went back to him a day earlier than he had asked me to come.After the usual bureaucracy (guess it’s easier to meet the President), set eyes on his Majesty, the doctor again. And as usual, it was a mere twitch of the eyebrow – a sign for me to speak.

Me: Doctor, my eye is not getting better at all. It’s even more puffy and swollen now. So came back to check again with you.

Doc: (Not bothering to take a look at the eye or examine anything) What do you think this is? A machine? A robot? It’s a human body. Patients expectations are soaring sky high these days. They just want to take a pill and clear the entire system. That doesn’t work even with a piece of machinery these days. Go back and continue the dosage I gave. And come back when I ask you to.

For this raising eyebrows and rude talk routine he charges an exhorbitant 200 bucks per sitting. Me flees out for the love of dear life.

Since nothing got better even after another two days, checked with another eye specialist who immediately diagnosed the infection as viral conjunctivitis, the most common symptom being lymph node enlargement near the jaw. Wished I could fling this report at our know-it-all-majesty-ophthal’s face and raise and wriggle both my eyebrows in front of his smug looking face. He darn couldn’t even recognise an infection from its symptoms for four full days and on top of that, so much arrogance and high-and-mightiness!! Guess the arrogant facade was nothing but a mask to cover up his inadequacy.

All said and done, there are all kinds of people in the world and I suppose I’ve met samples of both, the best and the worst in the medical profession. The rest remain!!!

P.S. Erich Segal’s Doctors is one of my all time favorite reads. It showcases the world of doctors with all their agonies, ecstasies, heartbreaks, triumphs, disasters, euphoric highs and fumbling lows with gritty depth and honesty. A great read!

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A post after long. Assuming that the 750 pages of nonsense I’ve written for my exams won’t go in vain and I’ll clear all of them in style(which  of course would be on-the-border), I’m probably done with exam writing in my life. No more hall tickets, pen pouches, identity cards and question papers. Yayyyyy!!!

I read more Coelho in the past one week than I read Security Analysis and Financial Derivatives for exams. I’ve never been a big fan of Coelho. The Alchemist went way above my head and Eleven Minutes went errr…way below it. But after reading The Winner Stands Alone, I understood that with Coelho it’s never about believable plots or storylines. It’s more about the human psyche and its exploration. The Winner Stands Alone, I believe is the least complicated of his books. There’s not much of ‘the search for hidden meaning’ or counting sheep but still Coelho writes with a great deal of heart and sincerity that it made me wonder of I’d been unnecessarily prejudiced against him. The basic premise of TWSA is almost laughable. *SPOILERS* <Igor, a Russian business tycoon goes to Cannes during the time of the famous Film Festival to win back his wife who has left him for another man, a famous haute couturier. And he chooses to do that by ‘destroying whole worlds’ as he calls them, which in simpler terms means that he goes on a serial killing spree murdering people for no reason and sending text messages to his wife after each killing. There is no real justification for Igor’s action except possibly one – that he is a homicidal psychopath. But the book hardly projects him as one. He is suave, sophisticated, rich, intelligent and yet there’s this bloody murderous streak hidden deep within him. As with every other human being in this world. Some of us manage to keep the psycho within us buried deep inside and the not-so-unfortunate ones unleash themselves upon the world, like Igor. There are various other sub plots too, dealing with the lives of the filthy rich and the dirty famous, their success, their insecurities and the agony behind the botoxed faces and Armani suits.> Coelho peels layer after layer of masks from the faces of his characters until they are all left standing stark naked, blinded by the hidden truths of their own lives. Aha!! After all it is a Paulo Coelho book. There has to be a ‘hidden truth’ somewhere  🙂

Saw Life in a Metro yesterday. Wouldn’t say I was bowled away by it but it was a sensible film which could have had some better writing. The initial portions were really good with the way the characters seemed to be interlinked with each other being brought out beautifully along the narrative. But towards the end the film was utterly predictable and the last portions extremely bollywood-ish. The film simply doesn’t end as well as it started. But what blew me away was one man’s delightful performance. Irrfan Khan. The man is nothing short of an acting superlative and he’s going places now. He’s nuanced his role so finely that I couldn’t possibly put my finger on one thing and say, “There! That’s why this is such a great piece of acting.” It is a great piece of acting only because he doesn’t seem to be acting at any point of time. And the revelation of the movie is Shilpa Shetty whom I thought couldn’t act for nuts. She has given the next best performance after Irrfan as a mentally battered and suppressed housewife with a dominating chauvinistic husband. Konkana was good too but she usually is good and I’ve sort of got used to good acting from her. A superior ensemble cast, sensible storyline and fine performances balance the negative aspects of this film. A better watch!!

For the past few weeks, I’ve been having this desire to do something nice for my parents. Feel like taking mom out for shopping and buy her all that she wants, take her to lunch in fancy restaurants, take dad for a master health check up, spend some quality time with them watching movies, laugh, cry, fight, joke or just be in their presence. I wonder what I was doing all these 23 years when I was in the same house with them day after day, year after year. Probably I was busy reading Ayn Rand or listening to U2 and Linkin Park shut up inside my room. Or I was fighting with them to extend my curfew time or cribbing about how they still treat me like a kid. Or was on the phone or in front of the TV. Guilt and shame eat me up as I write this. It was not like I totally ignored them or didn’t care but I wasn’t too bothered either. I just took it for granted that my parents were there and they would always be. Only when they are away now do I realise how much time I had let go, not being with them when I had the chance. Well, all’s not lost. I hope to make up for the lost time. At least now before it’s too late. Waiting for those precious one or two days I get with them in a month now almost seems like a penace. How things change with life!!

‘Sometimes, when one person is missing, the whole world seems depopulated.’ said some wise man. In my case, make it two. Miss you Amma, Appa…

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