Monday, April 28, 2008

Farewell JS...

(This image is courtesy Viva books)

Jyotirmoy Sanyal, or JS or ‘Chicha’ as we fondly used to call him, is no more. He died after a heart attack on April 13, 2008.

I met JS while I was the training head (customer contact) for a major Indian bank. We wanted our customer service representatives to write better. Clear English India, was then a fledgling institution and we had our doubts. All those doubts cleared away during our first interaction.

I have never seen so much passion in a 20-year old. The enthusiasm he has is very contagious and in five minutes flat, I was a convert. Me and another colleague pleaded, persuaded, and premeditated the top management for a training program by JS and Ajoy. We were allowed two programs, one each in Mumbai and Hyderabad.

I usually used to spend at-least 2-3 weeks going through the program details, interviewing the facilitator at days on length before launching a new program. With JS, the next time we met was for the session in Mumbai. Over the next two days, JS changed the way we looked at writing English. The program, according to every one participant, was the best they attended. But some of them couldn’t handle JS’ firebrand enthusiasm and temper. Ajoy would step in from time-to-time but he was also not spared. A few women were offended by his language, some offended by his ‘non-veg’ jokes, but most wanted JS to come back at-least once a year. That was typical JS. You can not be a fence-sitter when it comes to your views on JS. You can either love him or hate him. I adored him.

The next program in Hyderabad was a tremendous success. He became (of-course behind his back) our ‘chicha’ – a term of endearment used for an uncle. I still remember Vidya, Abhishek, Avinash, and a few more trailing him every minute he was on premises. And for these kids with zeal, you could see the love in his eyes. His advice: ‘Write as you would speak’ still rings in my ears. And each time I sit down to write anything more than one sentence, I ask myself if JS would’ve approved.

(Unfortunately some complaints from the session in Mumbai did not go well with the senior management and the program could not take off.)

That evening, we went for a drink and my wife came along. It felt almost like family! We chatted up till late at night, and on a wide range of subjects from English to Dog-food! That was the last time I saw JS.

We were in touch regularly till about a year ago. Then the frequency of our e-mails to each other dropped to about once or twice a month. And then this morning, Ajoy’s mail with the sad news.

I write today in gratitude to JS for enriching our lives in such a short acquaintance. I can not begin to imagine his daughter’s grief. The only other time I saw the glint in his eyes was when he was talking about her. The void left by him will be huge. I pray for his family.

I also grieve for his colleagues. Especially Ajoy, to whom he was a friend, philosopher, and guide. Some others who will miss him dearly will be Janet, Abhishek, Vidya, Deepali, Joyita, Avinash, Sirisha and a whole group of us to whom he was our ‘Chicha’. Also my wife, who in the course of one evening became a huge fan.

For all those who knew him, whether they loved him or otherwise, his demise is a huge loss. Because whenever we write, we secretly ask ourselves if JS would’ve liked what we wrote. I’m asking this to myself as I write this post. Pardon me this time, JS. I can’t seem to write with a heavy heart.

Update: I chanced upon Reshma Sanyal’s (JS’ daughter) blog and a few goodbyes.
Reshma Sanyal
An angry young man called Jyoti

Friday, April 25, 2008

The Cheering goes on....

I happened to chat with Pratibha on the Cheerleader issue. Prats is herself a great writer. Read her blog here.

Unlike me, she's a woman and she's Marathi. But like me, she's a true blue Hyderabadi.

I decided to post this interview 'uncut and uncensored' to bring out the Hyderabad chemistry in two friends who could easily be mistaken for siblings (apart from looks that is...)

Pratibha: Kab lere interview?
Me: Abhich?
Pratibha: Chalo… Chicha… Ishtart
Me: Sure: Do you think that there should be a ban on cheerleaders?
Pratibha: :
Pratibha: Deccan Chargers ke t-shirt ka kya hua?
Me: Kochhana answer kartey?
Pratibha: Karte bhai… pehle mere answer karte?
Me: Baingan mei mil gaya.... 1 mahina lagta kathey 'official merchandise' ku
Pratibha: Maaki… Kaun leta tab
Me: Mai next week jaarooo, kuchh settinga kartooo
Pratibha: Dekh muft main mila to leke aa :P chal pooch
Me: On record now....
Pratibha: Ok
Me: Do you think that there should be a ban on cheerleaders?
Pratibha: Ye chindi questions nakko… kuch aur hai to poocho nahi to Khuda haafiz
Me: Yeh padho ji…
Pratibha: Phir time piliss… Padhna padta nai
Me: Padhke bolo mereku
(long gap)
Pratibha: Please shoot. I will love this
Me: For the third time... Do you think that there should be a ban on cheerleaders?
Pratibha: No. Never. Nahi. Kabhi nahi.
Me: Could you explain your vehement stand?
Pratibha: 1. They are better than the Dhakkan, errrr I mean Deccan Chargers. At least they stay on the field the entire time. Actually this is a boring interview… Can you ask me other questions?
You've interview’d Anu and Sujata already :(
Me: ahem... I hope you realize that this interview is about the cheerleading issue and its effect on Indian men...
Pratibha: What do I care what effect it has on men! You think if you ban cheerleaders, men still won't get their share of eye candy?
Nahi to kal ko bolte porn sites bhi Indian girls ka ich dekhna… And khaas kar ke mumbai main only the unemplyed bar girls will have their own porn site!
Me: hmmm... Interesting perspective.
In your opinion, is there a path the Govt should tread to diffuse this aituation?
Pratibha: I would certainly not want to see lavani being performed at the stadium when a boundary or a six is hit.
Better still bharatnatyam for Chennai Kings , Robindra Shongeet for the Kinight Riders and so on. Full on Indian Feeling !
The Govt is actually bored of having nothing to do now… And there is no situation… Give it two days, you will also see these ministers sitting in the stands, watching the cheerleaders more than the matches
IMHO, I think the ministers are pissed off because the Mumbai Indians have not won a match as yet
Next question please
Me: Talking about the Mumbai Indians not having won yet, what is your opinion about Deccan Chargers?
Pratibha: For my opinion, please visit the LiveJournal entry
Me: Dum nakko karo ji.. ek 'Gist' de do please. Izzat ka sawaal hai.
Pratibha: :P
Dhakkan errr I mean Deccan Chargers need to drop Laxman out of the team if they want to win. Just being from Hyderabad does not qualify one to captain the team.
And the team has just disappointed a Hyderabadi (read me).. To be the only one supporting the team in midst of the Marathi manoos is a task
I gave them 3 chances
I might just have to shift the loyalty to Rajasthan Royals if this continues
But on second thoughts, I won't. Once a Hyderabadi, always a Hyderabadi.
Me: Respect!
Pratibha: Next kochhun poochte, ki khatam ho gaya?
Me: Hai ji...
Pratibha: Poocho phir chichi… Ramzan ka wait karre?
Me: So, what do you suggest as a strategy that DC needs to adopt to win the remaining 11 (or at-least 1) matches? This is other than throwing VVSL out...
(another pause)

Pratibha: Bowl first? Then they will know how many runs they need to make. It might just work…
This is well dependant on whether they win or lose the toss.
Hmmm in that case, I think Laxman anna should be out
Me: Okay... final question: How many matches, in your opinion will DC win? (11 left)
Pratibha: I'll be glad if they win one at least!
And to think I was sure that they would be one of the semi-finalists!
Pratibha: that was the sarcastic me, but being a true blue Hyderabadi, there is a tiny hope that they will win all the 11 and go to the semi-finals!
Me: Respect! I knew you would say that! People would call US hopeless romantics, but well... Hyderabad is Hyderabad!
Thanks for your time. I appreciate it.
Pratibha: Welcome.

In case you are unable to understand some of the slang, we could answer it for you in the comments section :)

In Good Cheer...

Cartoon by Ayan

I was depressed this morning, but thank God I stay in India… You can never be short on amusement. I am referring to this article about the ongoing controversy regarding cheerleaders in the IPL.

Like always, I had my own opinions. Then I thought, why not include you – My readers. And It was not difficult as there are just a few of you. I tried using G-Talk for the interview. The first guest was, but of-course, Anupama Datye – the worldly wise, with an opinion on just about nothing and everything.

TheWalker: Good Afternoon Mrs Datye, and welcome to the first interview of “Keep Walking”. It is indeed a great pleasure to have you as the first guest to…
Anupama Datye: Get on with it!
Me: err.. My bad. Do you think that there should be a ban on cheerleaders? (I am not asking if cheerleading is necessary.)
Anu: These matches are just for entertainment, no one is losing in the bargain. They add glamour to the game, so let them be.
Me: Don't you feel that this shows women in poor light and "increases voyeuristic tendencies in men" as claimed by some of our politicians?
Anu: Men will be men! They could get turned on by women in bhurkha… Other politicians don't seem to have any problems... only these guys sitting Mumbai, I think they have nothing better to do in life. They will be the 1st to ogle :(
The sena is making news for all the wrong reasons.
Me: But in your opinion, do you think it is 'perverted'?
Anu: Perverted is when a man lecherously looks at women twice his age or half his age that is bad
Me: Does that mean that you will not stop your 4-year old from watching the matches?
Anu: Rubbish! What does he understand? I don’t think that there is anything scandalous happening here. And btw cheerleading is a tradition - every girl worth her penny will want to be a cheerleader (watch "bring it on")
Me: Any parting thoughts? (I better end this fast... unless I want her to come over and smack me on the head)
Anu: I don't think cheerleading that is the problem it is the mental attitude of no good politicians that needs to be changed. They cover up things like that models (Jessica Lall) murder because their sons do it (probably because they were themselves deprived by their perverted parents) and likes of Shivani Bhatnager suffers a horrible death
Me: Thanks for being a part of this interview. I appreciate your time.
Anu: LOL

Well, folks, that was Anu. The next interview was with Sujata Chakraborty, my first cube-mate at workplace. Su’s a great writer herself and she calls a spade a spade. This was going to be interesting.

TheWalker: I was about to ping you
Sujata: Tell… wassup?
Me: I need your interview for my next post on "Cheerleaders"
Sujata: ?
Me: For my blog re
Sujata: Oh ok… ask and I’ll tell
Me: Do you think that there should be a ban on cheerleaders?
Sujata: Of course not. no bans. Cheerleaders are fun. But they should be local.
Like, in Bombay matches, they should be Marathi Manoos.
In Cal, they shouold be the bong beauties
In Kerala, the Mallu babes
In Delhi, the Punjabi kudis should take over
Me: But don't you think that it will 'do harm to the morality of the already deprived Indian men and cause irrepairable damage to our society' as our politicians claim?
Sujata: The answer to you question is in it. The 'already deprived' and 'irreparable' cannot be redeemed methinks. So, let's all enjoy. And u never know. It might actually be some balm for those souls. IMHO, most of the crime in India is caused by repressed libido and unsatisfied sexual appetites. ;)
Me: Hmm... Have you read the news in Mumbai Mirror (April 25, '08) about the man who tried to commit suicide because it was the 'wrong time' for his wife on his 'suhaag-raat'? How much longer do you think before the politicians blame that he could take it no more because of the IPL Cheerleaders?
Sujata: Oh I didn't read that. But that's hilarious! Mumbai mirror rocks.
Read this:
Me: Yeah. That piece of news in the Mirror was hilarious... written in all seriousness by the usual horde of Pulitzer prize-winning Mumbai Mirror journos...
Sujata: I generally like Mumbai mirror. Keeps the crap out and does a good job of covering the city. Very tabloid.
Me: okay back to the topic on hand... Do you foresee a solution to all this?
Sujata: I don’t see it as a problem. What’s porn in England is art in France.

That summed up Su’s opinion. Crisp and to the point as always.

What will follow in the next few posts will be your opinions. I have a few lined up:
Ayan Chakraborty – My favorite cartoonist
Pratibha Pal – My friend in grief when it comes to Hyderabad and Deccan Chargers
Jayeeta Das – Legally speaking

I would love to have some of my favorite bloggers and writers to find some time for me. Like Sue of the sushi bar, Morpheus of Morpheus’ dreams, Ajeeth - My only fan, Chandu – writer of the blog I can’t access… Hyacie, Shantanu… now, that’s a list

This exercise seems to be working. I don’t need Valium anymore. But I do need a job :)

Hyderabad Blues…

Deccan Chargers have disappointed again… They threw away another match in the last over. Now, they are at the bottom of the table after losing all their three matches…

I must admit here that I am not much of a cricket fan. I still feel that it’s a pseudo team game that relies on weird rules and only individual merit. That that’s another debate I would like to avoid, especially today. I think I’m getting into depression!

I have always been a huge fan of Hyderabad. The people there are warm, friendly and welcoming. They are a bit too relaxed, but that I can bear with. I met my wife there; we got married there, and now even buying a home there. I have never felt so much at home in any other part of the country or the world. So, even though I belong from Kerala, studied in Ooty (TN), worked in Delhi and Mumbai, married to a Bengali, I am a Deccan Chargers fan.

Even before the team was announced, I knew that I will always support Hyderabad. And when the team was announced, I was elated! The charging bull, the understated uniforms... Then I looked up the stars of the squad and knew that we had a winner. C’mon, look at the line-up:
Adam Gilchrist – IMHO, the best cricketer in the world,
Shahid Afridi – A top class hitter,
Andrew Symonds – Aggression personified,
Herschelle Gibbs – Reinvented top order batting for South Africa,
Chaminda Vaas – No body invokes more fear in batsmen,
Scott Styris – THE pinch-hitter,
R P Singh – A hugely talented bowler,
VVS Laxman – well…

So, I expected nothing less than dominance from this team. And, I reluctantly became a cricket fan (much to my horror – my dad could disown me if he ever found out!).

As I was chatting with a couple of friends downstairs, I just realized that I could turn suicidal if Hyderabad ever has a Soccer or F1 team… That seems a very distant possibility. For now, I think my longevity is safe. For now, I could use some Valium.

Whatever said, one thing is for sure – Even if they lose all their matches, I’ll be a Deccan Chargers fan. Forever!

All links and images courtesy the official Deccan Chargers site.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The newest circus...

I love to be entertained. To be honest, I have a morbid craving for amusement… Every morning I wake up, I thank God I am born in India. I would have been bored out of my wits in any other country…

The Hogenakkal project – an innocent proposal to provide drinking water to two districts in Tamilnadu using Tamilnadu’s share of the Cauvery water. A agreement between the two states in 1998 had ensured that neither of them will object to any project that the other does with its share of water from Cauvery. So, the TN Chief Minister lays the foundation stone for the project in February ’08. Everything’s well? Far from it.

Why? The reason for this is evident – elections in Karnataka are fast approaching. And what better election propaganda than some good old regionalism? And nothing excites us more than someone singing a parochial song. Who cares about eliminating poverty? Nobody gives a rat’s ass about corruption. Only sissies talk about good things. We want divides! Indians are quick to polarize, so one issue and you can win an election. This is the only tried and tested election tune. So much for the background…

The media, quick to act in such situations, has blown it into an epidemic that promises them TRPs. The Tamil film fraternity organizes a day-long hunger strike. It is attended by Rajnikant, Kamal Hassan, Sharat Kumar, Vijaykant, Madhaven, Ajith, and many such big names. The K’taka cine stars also staged a similar protest in Bangalore, but nobody remembers who came…

Rajnikanth, Asia’s second highest paid star, criticized the instigators for making such a big hue and cry over this issue. He warned that the people will not keep quiet. The Kannadiga brigade was quick to ask for an apology. For what? Even they don’t know! But you can gauge the general state of mind from the comments section of Rediff. Scholars, philosophers, thinkers, all putting in their two bits. Do spend a minute or two extra to admire the erudite nature of the comments and the wonderful prose…

Though the Devaki given birth to Lord Krishna he was fully owned to Yasodha, as same case Rajnikanth thougth he was was born in Karnataka he raised his in Tamil Nadu”

“it is u kannadigas who r the arrogant lot. Refusing to cooperate with u r fellow indians and having a dispute with all u rneighbours. In the north u have stolen belgaum from maharashtra, u dont allow krishna water into andhra, In south u r fighting with kerala for kasargod,usurped coorg which is not urs at all, now u want h ognekal.”

“We dont need ur explainations poge is tulu word which is also karnataka language and this has been copied to tamil so taminadu is ours....get lost with ur logic”

Disclaimer: I have not altered even a character in the above excerpts. All rights belong to Rediff.

(The beauty of these comments are that they hide more than they reveal, like in thr first comment, "raising his in Tamilnadu" I need to know now... Raising his WHAT??!! Tell me please...)

The part two of this circus started in Mumbai with a newspaper taking pot-shots at Amitabh Bachchan for not being like Rajnikanth! But I’ll leave that issue for some other time. Currently, I am enjoying the South Indian angle and am addicted to the comments on Rediff.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Tibet? You bet!

Cartoon by Ayan Chakraborty (You'll find his link on the right)

The solidarity for Tibet – the ‘in’ thing this summer. Everyone is crying hoarse at the plight of the ‘poor Tibetans’. And what are they doing? Stopping the Olympic torch! As if putting out the Olympic flame will magically restore Tibet as a free region…

Do not for a moment think that I am siding with China on the Tibet issue. Far from it… And I am not even a CPI activist, who are quick to switch their loyalties from India to China as we have seen in the past. I don’t blame them… after all; they need to justify the funding they receive.

I am puzzled at Indians jumping into this juggernaut. Don’t we have enough issues at home to handle? Let me give you some:
- The plight of ‘North’ Indians in Maharashtra.
- The Hogenakkal issue.
- Staying the death sentence of the ’93 blasts accused.
- Sanjay Leela Bhansali making a new movie.

And what’s this talk about boycotting the Olympics? Our boycotting the Olympics would make a difference other than to the occupancy at the Olympic village. We send about twice (nearly thrice) the number of officials compared to athletes. A better plan would be to force China into bankruptcy by winning all the Gold, Silver , and Bronze in the nation. Evan that seems far-fetched looking at past performances… In 2004, we were 65th among 74 countries that finally got medals. The only time you get to hear about countries like Belarus and Lithuania are when they are placed above (much above) India in the medals tally. And those calling for a boycott sound as if the Chinese are sweating bullets over the prospect of India pulling out.

You need to clean your house before telling your neighbor to be tidy. So, for now, the Tibetans have my empathy and a silent prayer. I do empathize with Tibetans. It is wrong for a country to displace ethnic groups and undermine their rights. But isn’t that the same with Kashmiri Pundits? And how many of our ‘celebrities’ endorse the Kashmiris and their plight?

“Kashmir? Its so passe’ dahlin… Tibet is hot this summer!”

But for me, until the Kashmiris are given justice and an Indian has equal rights all over India, the Tibet issue will not give me sleepless nights.