Monday, July 30, 2007


Summer of 007

Some of you might have stumbled upon this page thinking you’re about to read about James Bond’s adventures one summer. However, I’m afraid you won’t get any descriptions of Aston Martins, Ultra-tech gadgets, hot women or shaken and not stirred martinis here. Its Ian Fleming you want. But if you want to read about Lefty’s highly eventful summer, stick around. You might not be disappointed.

The summer of 007 started off with a brilliant trip to Bombay. Cousins were visited after a long time, old memories were rekindled, fond moments were spent together and we were back to the good old capital. The highlight of the trip was a visit to Sahara City, or Aamby Valley. If there’s no paradise on Earth, these guys will ensure there is one in a couple of years. Majestic place. Our eyes couldn’t take in enough of the great expanses of greenery surrounded by mountains and sheltering a coupler of serene lakes in their midst. Add to it a sumptuous meal in which I managed to devour both Mughlai and Continental delicacies, and you get a fair idea of the kind of day it was. Getting back to Bombay made me take a solemn oath that there was no way I could ever live in that city. Planning is an unknown word there. The side lanes in my hostel are wider than their main roads. Its no wonder that the city is flooded every time 5 dogs decide to take a leak together. 2 hours to traverse 15 kilometers, I ask you? Give me Noida any day.

Having put the trip behind me, I was pressurized by my family to get rid of my highly cool (a list of people who admitted it will soon be posted) hairstyle to pander to the eccentric demands of the corporate world. It was to be the first of many occasions in the summer when I would curse myself for having landed an internship in GENPACT. That’s not to say the internship was not a great learning experience. It was. It did me a great deal of good. It’s just that I am unbelievably lazy and the assignment, though by no means an exacting one, did demand that I showed up at the office Monday to Friday. So there’s no need for any GENPACT employee to take umbrage.

The six weeks I spent in Gurgaon on my assignment were a unique experience. I had to clothe myself in fancy dress (trousers and full shirts), sport a good boy hairstyle and explain to all and sundry why I, an engineering student, was doing an internship in finance. I thought about doing an Agastya Sen and giving demented answers to each person who asked, but in the end decided against it and stuck to conventional explanations. I met a whole lot of people there. My team was a very dedicated one and I admire them for the commitment they showed to their work. Someday, I hope I can emulate their example. I also spent a lot of time with a motley group which forcibly reminded me of my days in the Audio Section. I had to keep a smile pasted on my face, let out a polite ‘Ha Ha’ every couple of minutes and keep praying that I could find an excuse to run away from such people who were determined to prove that they had an IQ only slightly higher than Lord Emsworth who, if stories be believed, has an IQ slightly lower than a newly hatched chicken.

I’d like to tell you some anecdotes about the work I did, but my company made me promise that I would keep their information esoteric. I shall therefore not fail the trust that the company has placed in me. All I can say, as I have said to many who’ve asked me this before, is that I did statistical analysis and data reconfiguration. And yes, this is also Chandler Bing’s job and I say this to show my fervent admiration for the character

The GENPACT internet filter tended to make life miserable. Here I was, in front of a comp. with the whole wide net open, and free, before me and I found out that they’d blocked all email sites, social networking sites and sports sites. Uncyclopedia was blocked under the heading ‘Pornography’?! Wikipedia, though not blocked, was ‘frowned upon’ as an overly law-abiding employee had the grace to tell me. Blogs turned out to be my salvation and I used to mentally urge all Blogo-Sapiens to keep posting regularly to provide some office entertainment to me. Old Man Poochie rose to the challenge magnificently, churning out posts almost daily from his evergreen imagination. Bang Bang made me sick trying to Ima-jee-ne. He’s probably still got the same thing on his blog. Raps posted thrice in a single shot and then felt that his debt to humanity had been paid. Matty Boy showed great promise in the beginning but then his enthusiasm seemed to have fizzled out. I notice he’s got back to blogging with a vengeance now that I no longer need regular posts. Talk about fair-weather friends. Good Girl pegged away, slowly but surely. The Lazy Labrador started a blog and immediately forgot that he had done so.

The third eventful thing that happened this summer was that I rode a bike. At last. The miracle came about thanks to The Complete Man, who not only obliged with his mean machine, but also planned a cricket match, which was the reason he was there in the first place. The two matches we played were pretty good. We lost the first but won the second. I played the mature role of a sheet-anchor in the first match. I even bowled a couple of overs. The blazing sun meant that I was in no mood to deliver my usual scorching yorkers so I had to resort to my once famous Shaahi Leg-spin. The sting was missing though, and I got hit for a dozen runs in one highly forgettable over. All this finger-biting play paled in comparison to the brilliant experience that riding a bike was. As The Complete Man also pointed out later, it felt as though I had all the power in the world in my hand. The afternoon made me determined to buy a bike the minute I start earning. It’s going to be an uphill task though, for my parents would sooner accept the idea of Lefty entering a live-in relationship with a Playmate in Pakistan than the idea of Lefty on a bike. Let’s hope they soon change their point of view.

Oh, and I also turned Twenty over the summer, effectively ending my teenage.

Those were the best days of my life!

Friday, July 20, 2007


Twenty. And a toast to JKR.

In a couple of hours from now. I’ll turn twenty. One full score. And I’m not looking forward to it at all. Probably the first birthday of its kind. It was ok when it was happening to other people. But I wasn’t supposed to be one of them. Twenty sounds so serious and boring. A sheer contrast to the ebullient and energetic nineteen. Twenty is synonymous with trousers and jobs. And serious looks and responsibilities. And it’s nature’s unpleasant way of reminding you that your hairline is about to start emulating Bald Boy’s.

The only time I’ve felt twenty was when I was doing my interns this summer. I’ll blab about it in proper detail another time. For now, let me lament and curse everyone in sight. It’s a bit of a comfort to fix ’18 till I die’ on your playlist, but it’s only a matter of time before my sister comes and demands that I put on one of BSB’s or Westlife’s lullabies. So much for rebellion.

I did one thing I never thought I would accomplish before turning twenty, though. I managed to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows yesterday. The book is absolutely brilliant. It’s exceedingly well written. Possibly the best in the series. Very fast and even moving and inspirational in parts. A fitting end to a great series. It was awesome reading it knowing I was one of the very few people in the world to do so then. And once I had finished, I felt I had such tremendous power in my hands. I seriously contemplated calling up Aaj Tak, but then decided against it. Go read the book, all of you. Otherwise, go boil your heads.

A guy had come to change our net connection today. I forget the context but he mentioned to someone that I was probably around seventeen-eighteen! I almost corrected him, but then decided to savour the moment for these last few hours. This is one sad birthday, but the next nine are going to be better and better. Then I’ll be like wine- better with age. After that, Thirty. Then of course, it’s all downhill. But that’s a long way ahead. I can find some solace in that.

Less than two hours left now.
And then, Twenty.
Damn it.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


I tell brilliant jokes

My Room-mate in RJB was an amazing fellow. While the rest of the wing was fainting left, right and center after hearing my latest concoctions in the kitchen of humour, he would brave it all with a straight face. It was he who got to hear the jokes first of all, and he who generally had to hear them all over again when others dropped in. I can’t really say whether it did him any good or not. Despite the tremendous bonding between us, my presence didn’t really help him much. I guess it’s difficult to study when your room-mate makes up his mind to do anything but that and spends the hours before the dreaded TS’s happily browsing through Sherlock Holmes. Everything ended happily ever after for him though. The minute we had to move to separate rooms, he began an intense love affair with his books and started performing hitherto unheard-of feats of almost hitting 9’s on the blasted CG scale. The best thing is that he remains the brilliant TT player and the fun-to-be person that I grew so fond of. As for Lefty, I’ve resolved to do well next sem, for the fourth time I believe. Let’s see what happens this time. But that’s another story.

My reputation as a master of brilliant jokes came into being not long after I had put up in R. I guess the Pink-colour Polka-dotted Ping Pong ball might have had something to do with that. It’ll probably go down in history, and those who were denied a first-hand experience of the same can lament for all I care. One fine day, however, good old, and I mean old, Raps began to barge into my terrain. His USP was ‘intellectual’ jokes, and of course, his Dino style. While my faithful lousy louts were convinced that there was no one to look up to me as far as brilliant jokes were concerned, some doubting Thomases felt otherwise. Plans of a showdown were made. I don’t know how or when. As one of the master showmen, I was spared the menial tasks of planning.

The great day dawned, or rather set. The arena was prepared. I was given the home court advantage. I forget who my faithful supporters were, but I wish them all the best in whatever they do. As for my worthy opponent’s troops, I thank God for their existence and wish them all the best in their endeavours too. The rules were simple- 5 jokes each. The person who made his opposition laugh the most would win.

I started strongly, with my brilliant jokes eliciting more guffaws than those of Raps. Halfway through, I was heading to a sure-shot victory. I could hear the victory bells ring in the distance. Poor Raps was trying valiantly to keep up but his jokes were becoming too intellectual and a tad too short. I would genially beam at him, thinking he had a long way to go, but held much promise nevertheless. But then Raps used Bombard Canons and Paladins against my Skirmishers (yes I have been playing AoE a lot these days). For the War time aficionados, he dropped an atom bomb on my tommy-gun wielding troops. To be precise in the details, he unleashed Mr. Churchill.

I forget the exact details of the Mr. Churchill joke. Raps has got a link on this page. Pester him for the same. I remember that it was a typical thing to happen to the esteemed British Prime Minister of the World War II years. But the minute ‘Mr. Churchill’ had been uttered from Raps’ ancient lips, all hell broke loose. My dear supporters, who had stoically braved the onslaught so far, fell about in fits of uncontrolled laughter. Those that didn’t were affected by this contagious collapse and suffered a similar fate. For more than ten minutes, I lost point after point after point. It was bit like that scene in Pyaar ke Side Effects, when I, the Rahul Bose of the script, suddenly started losing badly in the face of Mallika’s tears. Two God-forsaken words, Mr. damned Churchill, were enough to bring my dreams of victory crashing down to earth.

I don’t think it were the words exactly which did the damage. My troops had heard Mr. Churchill’s name before without falling to pieces. It were Raps’ gestures that spelt doom. The lethal words in question were uttered at a progressive frequency somewhere between that of a baby’s first words and a rubber doll’s squeak. You know, the kind that you have to press to get a sound out of. Add to that, a cross-legged Raps with a very Rapsy look on his face and I’m surprised if you’re not down laughing on the floor yourself by now.

Needless to say, Raps won in the end. He deserves credit. He won fair and square. But after the event I got thinking. The whole tournament had been erringly called the ‘PJ sammelan’, and as far as PJ’s are concerned, the guy who gets the least laughs should be champion, right? Guess the moral victory was mine after all. And whoever the ‘official’ winner may be, Mr. Churchill can still not compare with the Pink-colour Polka-dotted Ping Pong ball. Yippee.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007



There’s been this huge hue and cry over the “new 7 wonders”, and the “duty” of every Indian, everyone who’s proud of the Taj Mahal to vote for it so that it can be included in the prestigious list. Everyone, from A.R. Rehman to Khurafaati Nitin on 93.5 Red FM (they've not paid me to write this, the slot is still open) is telling anyone who cares to listen to vote, vote and vote again. News channels are dedicating special episodes to the purpose. A committee has also been created whose sole purpose is to ensure that the Taj makes it to the list which will be unveiled on 7/7/7. Net users from India have decided to make it their prerogative to flood everyone’s inbox they know with e-mails reminding them to vote. Everyday Lefty’s scrapbook gets an increment from some kind soul who thinks it necessary to urge Lefty to vote, and I have to take the trouble of deleting it to maintain my scrap count at a respectable, albeit rebellious 4.

It’ll be evident to the reader by now that I’m not exactly supportive of this whole brouhaha. Mind you, I don’t dissuade anyone from fulfilling his duty. It’s just that I have no intention of casting my vote towards the declaration of the new 7 wonders. It’s not only a matter of principle, as the Raps of his pre-Lords days would say. There are many reasons, some of which I feel are pretty good.

This whole hullabaloo is not a UNESCO initiative. There’s some private NGO which is conducting it. Therefore, the first question that arises is, “Is it even necessary to recognize such a poll?” And the very fact that the new 7 wonders are going to be decided by means of a poll raises a huge question mark over their merit. For I am not one of those who feel that the only way to make such a list is through popular opinion. I believe that to make such a list, a team of experts should be nominated, who would study each monument before meeting together and deciding.

I have seen the Taj Mahal. I am a great admirer of it. I definitely feel that it should be one of the seven wonders. But my opinion should ideally count for naught. For I have not seen Machu Pichu, the Great Wall of China, the Church at Hagia Sophia or for that matter, any of the 20 other monuments that are in the reckoning. How then, am I even fit to decide if the Taj deserves to be in that august list which is to be prepared? And I don’t even know the first thing about architecture or beauty, from an expert’s point of view. And I am supposed to take part in making this list? How ridiculous!

Another thing which aggravates me is the frequent announcements that can be heard on TV or the radio or can be seen in any newspapers, “Show your national pride. Vote for the Taj.” Why should national pride be a factor in voting? Sadly, this poll is nothing but a contest of national pride. For an Indian will only vote for the Taj, a Chinese for the Great Wall and a Yankee for the Statue of Liberty. This despite the fact that an Indian will not have seen that Great Wall, a Chinese wouldn’t have seen the Statue of Liberty and Mr. Clinton is probably the only Yankee to have seen the Taj. Apart from the idiot who got conned by Bunty and Babli in the same movie. This is not the way it’s supposed to work. And this whole process is supposed to decide the new 7 wonders.

Most importantly, the medium of voting being the internet makes it certain that countries which are heavyweights as far as no. of users who have access to the net are concerned (read USA) are basically deciding which the new 7 wonders are going to be. According to ET Forecasts, as of 2004, 19.7% of internet users were American. Next on the list was China accounting for 9.98% of users, almost half of USA. India was 6th on the list accounting for a mere 4%. Little wonder then that the Statue of Liberty is almost certain to be a new wonder, and also the Great Wall of China. In fact, if the house Mr. John Robinson of Brooklyn had also been among the nominees, it would probably have made it to the final 7 as well.

All Indians are insanely proud of the Taj, as we should be. It’s one of the greatest symbols of our national pride and an epitome of everlasting love. There is no doubt in out minds that it rightly deserves to be one of the 7 wonders. But do we need a poll and such a biased one at that, to tell us this. Will the Taj be any less in its magnificence and grandeur if it doesn’t make it to the final 7? Will that be a slap on the face of Indian patriotism? Why then are we so obsessed with this whole meaningless exercise? Enthusiastic voters would wax lyrical about the importance this list has assumed and how great it’ll be for Indian tourism if the Taj is included, but I believe that the India of 2007 has enough clout to publicly assert that she does not recognize such polls instead of pandering to such idiocy.

After all the hue and cry that has taken place, I sincerely hope that the Taj makes it to the list. I wish that the papers on 7/7/7 show the headline “Taj Mahal- A new wonder” under a magnificent picture of Mumtaz’s tomb. And if it does happen, it wouldn’t be victory of the Taj’s beauty or charm.

It would be a victory of jhingoism.

And come to think of it, that isn’t too bad either.

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