Sisyphus and some Economics

(This post is built out of several ideas I had been working on simultaneously. While they could not each become substantial posts in themselves, this aims to be something of an anthology that brings these ideas together. It also, I hope, explains my hiatus)

There’s an ancient Greek myth I’d read about when doing a Coursera course on Greek and Roman mythology about Sisyphus. As I was randomly scrolling through some of my Dad’s documents, I came across an HBR article called the Sisyphus Trap, which draws parallels between Sisyphus, and working for the Government.

To recap, the Legend of Sisyphus is about a treacherous Greek King. He was punished for chronic deceitfulness by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this action forever. Even the French absurdist, Albert Camus, in his famous essay ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ goes on to observe that Sisyphus was the absurd hero who lives life to the full, hates death and is tragically condemned to a meaningless task.

This story becomes important for the likes of us, the batch that will be stepping out as managers, consultants (that term makes me laugh, but I’d not want to paint the profession with my myopic, and negative view) and entrepreneurs, into a country where ease of doing business, inspite of the government going crazy in PR exercises is abysmally low. Camus is interested in Sisyphus’ thoughts when marching down the mountain to start anew, and calls it the tragic moment, when Sisyphus becomes aware of his wretched condition and does not have hope but still keeps pushing.

It is this moment that I’m scared of. The moment where I realize that I’m too small to make a difference, but have no other option but to do so. My greatest education in these 18 months at TISS has been my stint as a member of the Placement Committee. Conflicts, crises and celebrations aside, this stint has finally attached a tangible meaning to the phrase “Character Building”. As my responsibilities drew to a close after running two placement processes, I realized that what bound our committee together was us being oblivious to Sisyphus’ tragic moment. Because once that hope disappears, no matter how hard you push, your mind works lesser, your bones ache more, and you yearn to not reach the top of the mountain, because the boulder’s going to roll down anyway. However, maybe it was the boldness of our ambition, our the naivety of our thoughts, or the fact that we didn’t know about Sisyphus, that such a day never came about. And sadly, as the term slowly, but inevitably draws to a close, the anguish of being close friends who never hung out just to chill out together has slowly started creeping up to us.

I was having an interesting discussion with a professor a few days back, about how I really hated studying science as a kid. Now don’t get me wrong here, everyone who knows me, knows that I love science. And not only Asimov’s science, but studying science in general. My interest worked in the opposite way. Through history. The heroes of Bletchley Park and more importantly, Los Alamos, made outstanding contributions to science, and it was this very fact, their genius, coupled with their heroism, that made me feel that science was something I’d like to learn. After all, Fermi estimations just become a whole lot cooler, when you realize that Enrico Fermi built the first nuclear reactor on a racket court. Maybe it is the geek inside me, maybe it is innate curiosity but Oppenhiemer and Hiesenberg competing against each other to build the bomb first was something that made me read their works in greater detail.

Simple enough, no?

Similarly, my liking for economics is fairly recent. Sylvia Nasar’s work, ‘A beautiful mind’ made me read up about the Game theory. Another instance is Levitt and Dubner’s debut work Freakonomics, which made me explore the neoclassical microeconomic concepts of rational-utility maximization, something I’d have consigned to a few notes taken in a class otherwise.

Another book I’ve recently picked up is the new sensation that’s outselling both fiction and non fiction on Amazon, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. A book replete with charts, tables and equations, Piketty’s magnum opus (as the Guardian puts it) in its graphic Ivory and Red cover is unmistakable. Even though I’m only a 100 odd pages through it, it says as wealth grows quicker than the economy, (a concept, Piketty captures elegantly in the expression r>g), there will be soaring inequality, unless there’s a global tax on wealth. I quite like the idea, taxing the rich. If Robin Hood were an economist, he would be Piketty. I will be writing more about Piketty as and when I finish parts of the book, but it is, if nothing else, an excellent link between history and economics.

The last part of this post is again, as unstructured as the parts above, and mainly recounts a recent evening spent at one of the popular clubs in Bombay, the Big Nasty. For someone who’s been averse to going out partying in huge groups, this was a welcome change. An overcrowded pub, a fun bunch of people, good food, and Miller High Life. Quite an excellent start to February, I’d say. Everyone had fun, whether it be headbanging in the course of a normal conversation, bumping into an old acquaintance after 7 odd years, spilling Millers on a friend’s clothes (and not getting beaten up for it) or just screaming out north Indian names in a heavy, pronounced south Indian accent, it was a fabulous evening.

That's a Nasty bit of fun!

That’s a Nasty bit of fun!

However, what was interesting to note was a particular guy, who made constant attempts to hit on a couple of my friends, through the DJ, through shady compliments, a bottle of kinley water (he said, “you girls are so hot, so I brought along some cold water”) and at one point, he even tried to make me drink Blenders Pride straight from the bottle. (Blenders’ Pride? Some class man, if you’re trying to join people having better stuff?). He was one of those muscular brawny types, but didn’t have a lot of brains, apparently. And then, I remembered the famous scene from A beautiful mind, where John Nash trashes Adam Smith and says that no one should go for the blonde. This guy, however, decided to go for everyone. It was quite funny. Also funny was the fact that I was thinking economics with “This club can’t even handle me right now” playing in the background.

To close, I’ll quote the American Economist Robert Solow, “Everything reminds Milton Friedman of the money supply. Everything reminds me of sex, but I try to keep it out of my papers.”

Ishiguro’s Love

” When we are scattered, afar and asunder,
Parted are those, who are singing today
When we look back, and forgetfully wonder,
What we were like, in our learning and play
Oh, the great days, will bring distance enchanted,
Days of fresh air in the rain, and the sun
How we rejoiced as we struggled, and panted,
Echoes of dreamland, Hailsham lives on. “

–  Rachel Portman,  Never Let Me Go OST.

The lines above were not written by Ishiguro, but they are exactly like his writing. Because Ishiguro’s writings about love aren’t complex, but so simple, they’re heart rending and they’re funny and they’re inexplicably tragic.

A post by a friend on Social Media prompted me to open all my Ishiguro’s and give them a read. And somewhere between ‘When we were orphans’ and ‘The Remains of the Day’, this post was born.

For the uninitiated (Oh, poor soul you’ve missed out on life itself!), Kazuo Ishiguro is a Japanese-British Novelist, the winner of the Booker Prize in 1989 and the author of seven wonderful books, some of which I’m going to talk about today. Two of his books have been made into excellent movies, The Remains of The Day, by the fabled Merchant-Ivory productions, and Never Let Me go, by Mark Romanek.

The Remains of the next few months?

The Remains of the next few months?

Ishiguro’s writing style is unique. Instead of consciousness awakening to the natual world and its immediacy and immutable nature. subjective memories and thoughts are opened, in a way, layer by layer to expose consciousness. His writings are like ramblings that try to fill the wide chasm of existential angst that has opened up in a being, like a sinkhole, sucking everything, even you, into the vortex.

Ishiguro’s Love is the most pristine, pure and beautiful ever written. Man is often destroyed by the ideas upon which he has built his life. Sometimes, I think we are so occupied by the “greatness” we wish to achieve, and this notion breeds deep resentments for anything that comes in the path, and it is the inarticulacy of emotions that destroy love.

Ishiguro writes the most nightmarish novels I’ve ever read. I read these books the same way as I wake from a disturbing dream with feelings of disorientation and anxiety. Ishiguro says that love has a proper time, a time that may be lost or missied, and then, the rest of our lives we’ll spend wondering. what could have been. That’s  thought which is nightmarish and Ishiguro tells us this with simple sentences, from the words of Stevens, or Kathy H. Very few books can evoke the feeling of Despair. The kind of despair that makes you want t break things, or go out for a run so you can let out the agony bubbling inside you.

The Master Storyteller

The Master Storyteller

His books are about the near impossibility of our being understood by others and yet our endless desire for such understanding. His books are always written in the simplest of prose, but reading them isn’t easy. The beauty of his books is not in the plots, but in its execution.

I’m writing this post in the morning after having a vivid dream, which was very disturbing. It was my subconscious, watching me make all the wrong decisions I did, and all the mistakes I made and struggle helplessly, because the outcome of future events that would transpire were known. It never occurred to me that those people, with whom my life was interwoven, could unravel with such speed. If only I’d known, I’d have kept a tighter hold of them. Being in that dream was like being in an Ishiguro book. Descending down the flight of stairs where she told you, you weren’t the one, and resolutely walked ahead, her steps growing longer than yours till she was past the the horizon. Like those memories buried deep down, where people would sit on rooftops, hands together, their silhouettes drifting apart in dim light, and talk of there being the right time, the right place, the wait.

And then suddenly, when everything falls apart in front of you, you realize what Ishiguro’s Love is. This post is also a commentary to Meera & Vikram, two characters I frequently write about in different settings, two people, who are inexplicably, to their own misfortune, in Ishiguro’s love.

I’m very jobless these days, and this solitude I’ve grown to like. I like curling into a good book, and knowing I’ll have my daydreams, a cold breeze, and test cricket commentary for company.

The Timelessness of Hindi Music

So the last two posts have been works of fiction, and just for a bit of a change, here’s the latest idea that caught my imagination. As my friend Anurag and I were sitting and listening to old Hindi Music (Hemant Kumar, Mohommed Rafi, Geeta Dutt, and the types), when we started talking about the actors, the cinema and what made movies of that bygone era worth a watch.

Concerts and Names of a bygone Era

Concerts and Names of a bygone Era

This takes me back to the days when I’d sit with my mum and try and figure out what kind of movies did she like when she was young. While my mother’s favourite star remins Amitabh Bachchan, she’d always find my interest in Black & White movies surprising. Her obvious questions would be, “Why’re you bothered with things way before your time?”

Conversations with my Dad would be a little different. He’d tell me stories of how Guru Dutt’s acting would be something the new Khans and Kapoors could not even come close to.

So, after recapping these conversations, I thought, why not dedicate the post to the music Old Indian Cinema, and voices of the iconic performers who were able to draw hordes to theatres through word-of-mouth, and not retweets and favourites, paid previews and critic reviews.

I’ve seen quite a lot of Rajesh Khanna, and the way he serenades Sharmila Tagore in Aradhana is something all of us closet romantics would want to do, at some point of time. After all, there’s an honesty in the lyrics, an honesty that ‘Kaka’ conveys through slight shaking of his head, blinking of his eyes, and fighting for the wheel of the Jeep with the famous character actor, Sujit Kumar. A song that wouldn’t even be areound if R.D Burman and Kishore Kumar wouldn’t have collaborated together to come up with one of the most timeless tunes, ever

The Rise of a Star.

The Rise of a Star.

Another favourite was the movie Anand, where it is said that the superstar Rajesh Khanna realized that the next superstar was waiting in the wings, as Babumoshai. A transition that was poetic, with Amitabh Bachchan following up his stupendous performance in Anand with the angry young man in Zanjeer a couple of years later.

Hai Apna Dil, to Awara

Hai Apna Dil, to Awara

But if we rewind the clock a few more years, some beautiful music was pictured in Black & White on Dev Anand. A man who in the words of my grandfather ‘could light up souls with the mischievous twinkle in his eyes’, was a fantastic actor to actually watch. One of my favourite songs with him is ‘Hai apna Dil‘, where Dev Anand brings an entire train compartment to life by singing to Waheeda Rehman, with the beautiful melody of a mouth organ as the only distinctive music. A song sung by Hemant Kumar, there’s a nasal twang, along with the unadulterated Indian accent that puts this song above the songs that star our contemporary artistes.

Lakh dukhon ki ek dawa hai..

Lakh dukhon ki ek dawa hai..

A lot of us would have heard of the ‘Champi’ song starring Johnnie Walker, sung by Mohammed Rafi from the movie ‘Pyaasa’, a Guru Dutt masterpiece, but few of us know, that Johnnie Walker got his name since Guru Dutt loved his acting of drunk characters and named him after his favourite whiskey. Johnnie Walker being a teetotaller was a small detail Guru Dutt chose to ignore.

Since we’re talking about Mr. Walker, another song that all of us will connect to is ‘Ye hai Bombay meri jaan’, which resonates with all of us even today, trying to make it big in this city of dreams. After all, how different are we from Johnnie Walker on marine drive on a tonga singing away to his fortune, his misfortune and the indomitable human spirit, and the indomitable spirit of Bombay.

Cinema. At its best.

Cinema. At its best.

Kishore Kumar’s versatility has never needed introduction, but if you really want to see it on the screen, watch this video, of him absolutely lifting your spirit, just through his actions, and making you want to fall into the old fashioned kind of love. The love of the fifties, not the simple excuse that Aditya Chopra and Co. sell us today, for a fortune. A beautiful song from an iconic movie, it makes you want to spend an evening with your rain drenched sweetheart in a garage, doesn’t it? With the perfect increase and decrease in tempo, like crests and troughs that come together like a range of emotions in your heart, its a song like no other.

‘Mili ek ajnabi se, koi aage na peeche, tum hi kaho ye koi baat hai?’

When you look at legends like Guru Dutt, Meena Kumari and Geeta Dutt, their genius could never ever get them to have a happy personal life. All three of them died near their forties, consumed by alcohol, depression and a lack of love in their lives. The love that they so effortlessly portrayed on screen through, was never present in their lives. Guru Dutt was a strict disciplinarian professionally, but never maintained it in his personal life, ultimately dying at his own hands. Similarly, Meena Kumari’s life was a tragedy, that she tried expressing in poetry, but it never gave her an escape the way alcohol did, and she died a few weeks after her masterpiece, Pakeezah was released.

Just to save the best for the last, I doubt there’s anyone who’s not heard ‘Pyaar Hua Ikraar Hua‘, in the simply stupendous voices of Lata Mangeshkar and Manna Dey, with the acting brilliance of Raj Kapoor and Nargis giving unforgettable images to the melody of those words. Simply magnificent.

There are so many legends, so many movies I haven’t even seen, and this post in no way does any justice to anyone of them, but by writing about them, maybe I’ve been able to adequately express what I feel about them.

A birthday, not too far back!

A birthday, not too far back!

I’m also going to use this post to wish a belated Happy Birthday to one of my closest friends, oldest confidantes and the person who can guess my likes and dislikes with surprising ease, because they match as much, and she likes them as much as I do. Right from Authors, to Music, to the choice in drinks, its all the same. And all brilliant. She’s been a strong bedrock in my life for the past few years Here’s to many more years of awesomeness.

Happy Birthday, Annima.

To close this post, I’m gonna insert 3 videos, which are my absolute favorites. Do listen to them when you can!

1. Hai Apna Dil To Awara – Solva Saal (1958)

2. Mere Sapno Ki Rani – Aaradhana (1969)

3. Pyaar hua Ikraar Hua – Shree 420 (1955)

“Kehta hai Dil, rasta mushkil, Maaloom nahi hai kahaan manzil’

The Pilgrim – II

(A continuation of The Pilgrim (read the first part here), this is something that tries to build a backstory to the plot, and set up the scene for a (hopefully!) riveting few chapters ahead. Do pass on the feedback!)

The Stock Tip

5 years before Vikram’s disappearance

There’s an abandoned mill compound in South Bombay, called Apollo Mills, and right across the road stand a set of skyscrapers, the contrast between them startling. Black stones with brown moss growing on it, caved rooftops and foliage complement what, across the road, are buildings with shiny panels of glass, glaring at humans like monsters in a concrete jungle. Nature’s ravages and Man’s creations, standing face to face and staring each other in the eye.

One of these buildings was the VermaNet building, and the home of its smallest, yet most prominent business, the Indian News Network. A network, with the tagline, “Built to Last”.

Meera graduated from the Government Law College in Mumbai and was interviewing for a position in the legal affairs department of the Indian News Network. In an economy where good jobs were not that easy to come by, she desperately wanted this job. As she paced outside the interview room nervously, she was wondering about how the interview was going to be.

She snapped out of these thoughts when Peter Noronha, the General Counsel for Indian News Networks beckoned her in for a quick chat. And like most interviews she’d given, this again did not test her on her knowledge of law, but was an old fashioned, CV based interview. She absolutely hated it.

One of her friends, Meher, a Human Resources manager with P&G once remarked.

“The difference between Life and CVs? CVs don’t list out your relationships, and that’s where you learn the most”

So when Mr. Noronha asked about here relationships, she instinctively lied, and said she had no attachments.

Meera didn’t get the job, and hated the Human Resources team for sending her the news through an automated email.

And that’s where her career as a Public Prosecutor began. Specializing in White Collar & Organized Crime, she’d decided to earn her living the hard way. By taking on the mighty, corrupt and the Powerful

Peter Noronha, in his late nineties, almost 40 years later would go on to remark, “I didn’t know why I didn’t offer her the job. I think she said the year of some obscure Act incorrectly. Stupid mistake. All the bloodshed, all the chaos, all the destruction, I could have stopped it.”

All of this started at a nightclub, on a Saturday Night. Meera and Meher, after a really hectic week, decided to head for a girls’ night out, at Felix’s in Bandra. Dressed to kill, the two ladies had no idea about how they’d meet someone destined to change Meera’s life forever.

Meher and Meera walked into blaring music, and an overcrowded bar. It was a Saturday night, and the young working folks in the young folks in the suburbs had (mostly) a forgettable and ordinary week to put behind them.

Meher happened to be dating a successful executive from a media firm, and he’d invited her to Felix’s. Meher thought it was only logical that Arjun met Meera. After all, Meera’s approval was essential. It always had been, right from school days, where the shy and reserved Meera, formed a very unlikely bond with the rich, spoilt and outgoing Meher. Every boy Meher dated, Meera would have to approve.

Arjun was waiting for the two of them with another companion. Tall, a little older, and grim looking, he seemed to be very serious, even about having fun. That was the first time Meera met Vikram. Very soon, Meher and Arjun were on the dance floor, jumping away to some new Honey Singh song that was ruling the airwaves, and Meera and Vikram were left in each other’s company, trying to strike up awkward conversations.

Vikram was a little odd, Meera thought. One look at him and she could see expensive gadgets, designer clothing and an attitude of success dripping down. His complete disinterest in striking up a conversation with her also struck her as weird. Suddenly, the odd feeling became uncomfortable, as Vikram never met her gaze, and when she tried to make eye contact, he would consciously avoid it. Maybe he also understood that this wasn’t turning out to be such a great idea, so he decided to step onto the dance floor.

Maybe it was an impulse, maybe it was the fear of being an intruder in Meher and Arjun’s moments, Meera also stepped out. As she did come out onto the street, she felt alone. Apart from one man in an overcoat, talking in a hushed voice over the phone. His back was turned to Meera, so he couldn’t see her, and Meera could just about hear snatches of his conversation.

“….. Keep Selling … we have some ways of keeping the price up on Monday…. Keep Selling, but not through the same broker. Spread it out, but sell on Monday”

“… The board has agreed…”

“…. Just sell…”

“….Then? Then dump it all!!! Don’t worry about insider charges, this is a secure line…”

“…. Pheonix shares!…”

“There’s a story breaking on Tuesday,… just get rid of all our shares… trust me…no?…fine… trust the pilgrim! ”

Meera wasn’t a whiz at the stock market, but in the snippets of conversation she’d managed with Vikram, he’d mentioned something about being an Economics graduate. She was keen on knowing if his knowledge of economics extended to the stock market as well.

She quickly went back into the club and found Vikram in an animated conversation with Meher, which had her angry again, because she realized that this man does talk sometime. Just not to her. She walked upto Vikram, grabbed him by the hand and said “Mr. Verma, we need to talk, and its urgent”, and dragged him towards the exit. Once they were out on the side walk, Meera pulled a somewhat surprised and confused Vikram into her small, second-hand hatchback.

She relayed what she’d heard, and was surprised at Vikram not taking too much of an interest, again.

“Seems like a speculating broker, you find them in all parts of Bombay. Must be trying to give some trading instructions to an intern”

Meera was livid at this man not taking her seriously, so livid that she didn’t even bother saying Goodbye. She knew Meher would find her way to Arjun’s place, and she wanted to figure this thing out on her own.

As expected, the Stock market continued its bullish run on Monday, rising up by over 2%. And the run continued into Tuesday. Maybe Meera was wrong and Vikram was right. She called Amit, a friend who was into the market, just to check what was really happening.

“Meera! You and stocks? When did the nerd become a money-maker!?”, hollered Amit on the phone.

“Amit, shut up, and gimme the dope on Phoenix Infra. I don’t have a lot of time”

“Fine, it’s a Nifty component, fairly stable Real Estate and Infrastructure company, and a family run business. Dips are hard, and it is a stock that’s known to create shareholder wealth. Even with two hours left to go in today’s trading session, I can bet that it’ll close above its 50 day moving average.”

“How are the Volumes?” said Meera

“High. For a stock like this. Its actually listed as a Volume shocker on money control. Which is a little surprising, but that shouldn’t be a cause of worry for a stock in green”

Happy with her research, Meera figured she may have been wrong after all. And much to her anger, Vikram had been right.

After a coffee break, she thought it was time to check the Twitterverse and see what was happening. After going through some tweets by a retired judge out to expose the judiciary, the PM talking about the India growth story, and retweeting some of Rohan Joshi’s jokes, she felt it was time to call it a day, when suddenly, #Phoenix started tending

A network error led to her blackberry not loading the tweets for a few seconds, and she kept tapping till it did.

With 400 retweets in 60 seconds, this was the Big news. And had emerged from a handle called the Soothsayer. A first tweet, with a graphic image.

“#Phoenix CEO, Rajiv Puri jumps off the 17th floor of the Phoenix HQ in Mumbai. Suicide or Murder?”

She opened moneycontrol to see that the shares had tanked almost 15% to 500, and seemed like they would be going even further down in the last 15 minutes.

She put her phone back in her pocket, a little shaken by what she’d seen, when her phone buzzed.

It was a whatsapp message from Vikram (she had no idea how he got her number, must be Meher), and it read, “Seems like you were right, and this is really bad news. Maybe if I listened to you, I’d be a little richer. So buy me a coffee?”

The Pilgrim

(Typed out after a conversation with a very close friend, this is a feeble attempt at writing Fiction. I finally plan to start, what I believe will be my Magnum Opus. As of now, there is no title, but someday, if these stories are good enough, there will be. The stories of Meera & Vikram are very close to my heart, and while all the stories are fictional, I pour a little bit of my soul in my characters. I’d really like some feedback if you have the time.

Here is an old story about Vikram, but Meera makes her debut in this piece)

Prologue : Into Icy Depths

November 15th, 2013, Midnight, Off the Coast of Greenland

Vikram was onto his 6th drink for the night. And for some reason, his mind was crystal clear. The bartender passed him his 7th with a look of concern. Vikram was onto his 7th drink. As always, Glenmorangie, on the rocks. Apart from the fact that his eyes appeared bloodshot from heavy drinking, he appeared as sober as ever. His steely gaze had a purpose.

Vikram wanted to forget it all. Every single bit. But they call it undying love for a reason. Grey haired, in his mid-forties and successful, Vikram had a million reasons to be happy. And one to be sad. Unrequited love.

Vikram walked towards the hull of the yacht on which they were cruising, somewhere in the Arctic. He took off his shoes, and his socks kept his feet warm and safe (albeit briefly) from the ice cold water that had splashed onto the deck and was now seeping through the wool. His tie was billowing in the cold arctic winds, and his silhouette, moved quietly, one step at a time. Vikram was wearing his favourite Chelsea tie, a tie that he’d worn on every important day of his life. And of all days, today.

It hadn’t started like this, this day, but a startling discovery about Meera’s death made him take the decision he had. As he stood on the ledge, his arms stretched out like the statue of Christ the Redeemer, he wondered, wasn’t his life supposed to flash in front of his eyes at moments like this? And all he could see was Meera’s face, with her misleading, gorgeous smile and as she bled to death in his arms, he could just hear her last words “It’s gonna be okay, don’t worry, beautiful”. Meera, as fate cruelly would have it, was his life.

As Lemony Snicket once said, “It is a curious thing, the death of a loved one. It’s like walking up the stairs to your bedroom in the dark and thinking there is one more stair than there is. Your foot falls down through the air and there’s a sickly moment of dark surprise.”

Vikram took that extra step, and went sprawling into the icy cold waters, his last moments as a Media baron devoid of any grace, his eyes, devoid of any hope.

3 Months Later

Vikram Verma’s disappearance wasn’t very widely reported probably because a body was never found. However, his last will and testament, which was to be opened if he wasn’t found for 90 days, had to be executed. The lawyer, Peter Noronha final opened a buff envelope, in presence of three witnesses to read one paragraph, handwritten on a blank piece of stamp paper.

“In case of my death, or disappearance, I decree that Ms. Meera Mehra be appointed the Chairperson of Verma Media Networks. All of my stake in Verma Media Networks is to be sold, and the money raised is to be put in a trust fund, that can only be accessed by my legitimate heir, if found. If none of this can happen, then the company is to be run by the board of directors, as they deem fit”

Peter Noronha was a seasoned lawyer, but never had he seen such a will. Meera Mehra was dead. And Vikram had no legitimate heir.

A billionaire had gone cuckoo.

6 Months Later

Vikram Verma’s archive of videos had been found in one of his bedrooms. A keen photographer, it seemed as if all of the videos had been shot with a Super 8 Camera. They videos were all the same. They were pointed at a framed portrait of Meera, on a fireplace, with Vikram’s voice in the background, recounting every single day he’d spent with Meera. There were countless films, countless dictations, and all full of every single moment Meera and Vikram had spent together.

His last video, however gave hints about his disappearance.

“I will be back. When you think you’re happy, when you think you’re safe, when you think no one in the world can touch you, I will lake it all away. For I am become death, the destroyer of worlds”

1 Year Earlier

Meera’s gruesome Murder had been in the news for weeks. Shell Shocked, the city could not believe that one of their best lawyers had been murdered in cold blood. The Police seemed in no hurry to investigate the case, because Meera had taken on some very powerful people. Working up the chain as a public prosecutor, she’d taken on the corrupt, the high and the mighty. A feared and famous public prosecutor, Meera was never going to look back.

One of her most famous lines in an interview was “The day will never come, when I forsake the citizens of this city”.

She’d been shot by a sniper, during a press conference after the arrest of a Member of Parliament for a case of Fraud and Forgery. A murder that was streamed live, the last shot of her, that was splashed over the newspapers was her in a white shirt, fast turning red with blood, dying in the hands of Vikram Verma.

Incidentally, it was the last time anyone ever saw Vikram Verma in public too.

The murder shook the Police Department, the lawyers and even the judges. Corruption, evil and Crime was back to Bombay, and with vengeance. The assassination made an example out of those who dared stand against the might of the dreaded kingpin, the one who they called “The Pilgrim”. No one really knew much about him, apart from the fact that his tentacles had completely spread in the world of crime.

Vikram had wanted to take him down, but he didn’t know how. And The Pilgrim knew Vikram was out to get him. He was a very cautious man, the Pilgrim. No one could find a trace of him. No photos, no records, no known aliases. He was an Urban Legend. He was off the grid. He was but a whisper, in the backalleys of crime, a whisper, menacing enough to destroy anything.

The only way for him to draw The Pilgrim out would be to disappear himself.

Vikram would have normally smiled, but today he didn’t. But he knew how he was going to avenge her. And the first step would happen a year from now. A year after Meera’s assassination because, as the Pilgrim had said, no one hunts a dead man.

Music & Lyrics

I’ve been planning on writing a Music tribute for very long, but like multiple ideas, it always ends up in the drafts section of my Blog. So yes, at last count there were close to a 125 drafts, all about different things that are gathering cyber-dust. Soon, when I have enough readership, I’ll come up with an anthology of drafts. Till then, the excruciating process of composing half a post, and then not knowing what to do with it, will continue.

My favourite Maiden Album!

My favourite Maiden Album!

I got onto the Heavy Metal bandwagon a little late, and the credit for the same goes to a really good friend, Rahul (who is now a consultant with Deloitte, and almost impossible to trace!). Rahul was a peculiar character back in Engineering. From someone who absolutely refused to study, to a marks hungry, crazy nerd, he was the epitome of the Butterfly from the Caterpillar Story (and if he were to read this, I’d be so dead). Manipal’s a fun place, and there’s a nice hotel, Valley View where I attended my first ever Metal concert, had my first ever Budweiser and found my first favourite band, Iron Maiden.

Any talk of Manipal is incomplete without talking about Iron Maiden, simply because every corridor in the hostels would have their band, and every band would have a signature Iron Maiden Track. some of the less ambitious ones would perfect ‘Fear of the Dark’ while the crazy ones would go any lengths to get ‘Dance of death’ right.

There’s a beauty about Iron Maiden’s music, which is not in the music itself, but the lyrics. Lesser known Songs like Montsegur, which tell the tale of a Cathar Massacre, Paschendale, which speaks of the battle of Paschendale in the first world war are right up there with songs like the Trooper (charge of the light brigade, remember?) and Brave New World, which is about Aldous Huxley’s dystopian masterpiece. It got me into the habit of listening to songs with  history, maybe that’s why, in Contemporary Music, Viva La Vida remains one of my favourite albums. There’s always a mystery in words, a mystery in the music, and a mystery in behind every Maiden Song. They’re all lyrical stories, like the Rime of the Ancient Mariner (which remains one of my favourite poems of all time) and The Wicker Man (which is based on Christopher Lee’s classic movie) which make you search for the backstory. Every single Maiden Song has made me go to wikipedia, (or sometimes even more) and read up on what the song is really about. A lot of you may say that many songs carry Hidden Meanings, but for Maiden, the meanings are not hidden in words, but in the Riffs of Dave Murray and Adrian Smith’s guitars. Its up to the curious metalhead to go look for them.

Another band I absolutely fell in love with back in the college days was AC/DC. And this time, it was because of songs like ‘You Shook Me all night Long!’ and ‘Back in Black!’. The sheer audacity of AC/DC was something that one absolutely loved. The Schoolboy uniforms, the baby walks on stage and the high pitched singing, all totally worth it. AC/DC music was always something that would pick you up, and I remember, I bonded with my ex, Niharika in a big way over AC/DC music. Who’d have thought?

Tenacious D : Epic Music!

All of us totally love Jack Black for his acting, but for his singing? A lot of us wouldn’t have even heard him sing (apart from School of Rock, and trust me, that’s not even close to his best). My friend with the long name, Anantharagavan Subramanian, (subbu) introduced me to a movie, Tenacious D. An inappropriate, nonsensical movie, if there ever was one, but it had me and Subbu singing Tenacious D (which was also the name of the band in the movie) songs throughout Manipal, much to everyone’s annoyance. Good fun, those days were. If you wish to start off with Tenacious D music, i’d say Kickapoo is the best song to start with. A song that has vocals from Meat Loaf, Jack Black and God himself, Ronnie James Dio is totally worth going crazy over.

Scraper, Topper, Flunker.  In that order!

Scraper, Topper, Flunker.
In that order!

My roommate Narasimha had the knack of finding awesome bands from the middle of nowhere. A Pirate if there ever were one, he discovered the band Nationals before they sang ‘The Rains of Castamere’, introduced my to Nightwish and a lot of other fabulous music. The best thing about that chap was, he would keep changing his music players from Songbird to Winamp. And curiously, he’d never get the point that they were all just playing music! I still remember the look of disdain he would give me for using iTunes! (Hey, I had an iPod, come on!). A lot of one hit wonders were his discoveries, and they served us well, with quarters of Old Monk sourced from our very own, Open Bar!

While there have been bigger bands I’ve listened to religiously like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Queen and Judas Priest, there’s been something about the music I’ve written about, that’s made them attach themselves to memories. Headbanging with Rahul, Irritating the fuck out of people with Subbu, and quietly sipping Blenders’ Pride with Narasimha are fond memories.I haven’t seen too many concerts in Bombay (because of all the work I did over the last few semesters!), but with a relatively chilled out semester up ahead, I think the time is ripe to make up for all the lost days. Mumbai is a fascinating city, teeming with culture, and I think the next few performances at NCPA, some plays at Prithvi, and a few parties in South Bombay is something I have to ensure I add to my CV. Because Life, as I’ve said earlier, isnt all about Competency mapping, and Organization Development.I was at the South Asian Bands festival yesterday, and the music was simply scintillating. Whether it be a Bangladeshi band called Chirkut, Mrigya from Delhi or Zeb from Pakistan, all of them had a message, which was music unites people. While uniting India and Pakistan cannot happen with music alone, music can make some everlasting friendships. Or atleast leave behind some happy memories.

“This music that you play for us, comes from the depths of Hell
Rock ‘n’ roll’s the Devil’s work, he wants you to rebel

You’ll become a mindless puppet, Beelzebub will pull the strings
Your heart will lose direction, and chaos, it will bring!”

P.S. : Here’s wishing a Happy Birthday to a very close friend. May you be as successful as successful can be. Interstellar, is on!

Patriotism and Humour

‘This is…a  large crisis. In fact, if you’ve got a moment, it’s a 12-storey crisis with a magnificent entrance hall, carpeting throughout, 24-hour portage, and an enormous sign on the roof, saying “This Is A Large Crisis”.’

– Captain Edmund Blackadder

Blackadder has, and will remain one of the greatest Comedies of all time. And the Fourth Series (because it was shot when the word, Seasons wasn’t as Popular) remains the funniest and the most poignant of all, in its brutal, yet funny retelling of the First World War. And that brings me to the subject of today’s post. And for all those who’ve seen Blackadder, while the humor does have racial / regional tones to it, in no way is it malicious or derogatory (mostly!).

I’m half way through a month long vacation, and, as expected, I’ve been watching a lot of TV. Now, before the Internet Police jump on me, and the supporters of our Prime Minister start reporting my post as anti-national, there’s absolutely no connection between Patriotism and Humour as I’m going to write about it. So please, go easy.

Honour , Glory & War

Honor , Glory & War

I happened to watch Fury today, and my, my, after doing cinema like Killing them Softly, and The Tree of Life, Brad Pitt felt, he needed to get his hands on a .50 Cal and let some rounds rip into Nazi scum. Excellently made, and a shining example of why the War Film Genre is a money spinner in the West, and non existent in India. While advertised with the Tagline Honor, Glory, War, honor and glory are short in supply in the movie. The crew’s morals are mutable, and the honor is non-existent. It portrays a violent transformation of Logan Lerman’s character, Norman, from an army typist, to a seasoned killer. A movie that is, in all aspects a finely made war film, but not a jingoistic advertisement for America. Their war-cry is not “This is a great adventure for the American motherland” or “Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Hitler we’re coming, Berlin or Bust” but a very simple line which is “Best job I’ve ever had”

Overt displays of Indian Patriotism have, of late shifted to how much we hate the neighboring country, and not how much we look into our own failings as a nation. Case in point here being the reaction that Vishal Bhardwaj’s masterpiece, ‘Haider’ evoked. Heated debates, accusations that the movie was anti army, pro sepratism, anti India, pro India were found to be a major part of the repartee surrounding the movie. And if we look at the core argument which formed, it was mainly based out of strong jingoistic rhetoric. Nobody wishes to discuss, the simple truth, which is staring us in the face, that the insurgency put J&K back by decades.

Our nation needs to rise up, and take its place on the world stage, not by being a warmonger, or a nation ridden with distrust for a particular community. We have, of late seen Eunuchs (a wrongly maligned section of Indian Society) step up to stop Communal Violence in the borough of Trilokpuri in the National Capital, and we have seen violence re-emerge in another region of Delhi for the first time in years! This calls me to question the very definition of Patriotism we have assimilated. A lot of people in my generation had their first exposure to Patriotism through J.P. Dutta’s famous movie ‘Border’ and to a certain extent through his failed magnum opus, ‘LOC : Kargil’ and the same jingoistic emotions that form the crux of why a soldier fights a war, cannot be the crux of the reason why a civilian loves his country.

After all, they have to protect, so we can prosper. Our duty as citizens is to make the nation prosper, and not look for enemies within. The same jingoistic fervour, that serves the forces guarding our borders well, need not be how we view nationalism. As a very dear friend of mine, after reading a lot about Kashmir said ‘Our interests in Kashmir are strategic first, and national pride comes in later.’

And organizations are playing upon this card, simply have, on their own, decided to brand India, the nation, as Bharat. While nothing may be wrong here, I do believe that we are proud Indians, and staking claim to ‘Bhartiyata’ does not belong to any one group.

Now, since that’s done, I better run for cover.

Blackadder! The best, ever.

Blackadder! The best, ever.

The second bit I wish to write about today is Humour, and how the moral high ground has made people less likely to laugh. Jokes, historically have been cracked on the basis of idiosyncrasies of races, sects, groups and in a lot of cases, religions (Didn’t all of you, who watched Happy New Year, laugh at Boman Irani’s mother?). Any simple attempt to crack a joke today must be gender, race, religion and class sensitive, otherwise you’re branded a racist. . While I do not advocate the creation of a class divide or a gender bias through jokes, I also believe that everyone who makes fun of the amazing capacity Punjabis have for alcohol, or the anger a wife may have for a habitually late husband is not out of malice, but moment of humour. We need to start taking life a little less seriously. The racial divide and hate emerges, sometimes (especially among the young), when someone, takes a joke seriously. Heath Ledger immortalized those words, “Why So Serious?”, and maybe, they were probably the wisest words ever written for him.

“I remember Massingbird’s most famous case: the Case of the Bloody Knife. A man was found next to a murdered body. He had the knife in his hand. 13 witnesses had seen him stab the victim. And when the police arrived, he said “I’m glad I killed the bastard.” Massingbird not only got him off; he got him knighted in the New Year’s Honours List. And the relatives of the victim had to pay to wash the blood out of his jacket!”

– Captain Edmund Blackadder

To be (free), or not to be (free), that is the question…

The heavens have opened up in Bombay, (in evenings) and the Jim Morrison’s voice crooning, along with a hot coffee would be a perfect start to this long weekend.

The Doors have created some mind blowing music. And now, after almost a year of crazy committee work, internships, academics, assignments, I have absolutely nothing to do, so what’d be better than hearing Jim & Co. sing ‘Riders on the Storm’ and devouring chocolates, courtesy of my field work organization, Mondelez.

Presents for the festive season!

Presents for the festive season!

So, my insane efforts put in my summer internship at ITC have paid off, and I shall be joining ITC next year after being awarded, what in B-School lexicon is called the ‘Holy Grail’, or in simpler terms, a Pre Placement Offer. All those days spent reading about competencies, Validity and statistics seem to have paid off. And with most of my committee responsibilities done, I can look forward to a relaxing few months ahead before I rejoin corporate life. These few years have been so different. From doing an engineering role at a global industrial powerhouse like GE to a Human Resources role at a true blue Indian FMCG company is a remarkable transformation indeed. Even when it comes to dating, before TISS, I dated a psychology graduate in a whirlwind romance almost half a year, in a relationship like no other. A relationship that does not have too many memories due to its very alcohol induced, hazy nature, but was a great one, none the less.

That's how much weight I've lost!

That’s how much weight I’ve lost!

So, yes, I’m at a happy place in life, and I absolutely cant wait for the coming vacations, because of planned trips to Jim Corbett, travel plans with close friends, and party plans with family. These vacations will probably be the first set of stress free holidays I’ve had. Sometimes, I’d wonder how poets like Wordsworth or Tennyson could immortalize Daffodils or a Brook. Now I know , that you truly need to let nature touch your happy soul, for words like that to emerge from your pen.

'To be or not to be?'

‘To be or not to be?’

I’ve been reading a bit of Shakespeare of late. And this odd choice (today in the world of Rowlings, Martins and Levitts) was because of how impressive I found the trailer of Shahid Kapoor’s upcoming movie, Haider. After all, is an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I remember, my first introduction to Shakespeare was by this 2 hour play I saw in Calcutta at Kala Mandir, which covered all 37 plays of Shakespeare in 120 minutes. An absolutely rip roaring comedy, it made me delve deeper into the writings of the mysterious man from Stratford-upon-Avon.

Hamlet’s brilliance lies not only in its plot (which is full of mystery and intrigue), but also the complexity of human emotions, where love and lust lead to incestuous relationships, ego towers over love and jealousy brings the worst out of men. A potboiler, indeed. One of my favourite plays of Shakespeare however, remains King Lear, maybe because it is a simple story of a father. And it is touching, to say the least.

I’ve been called opinionated, strong headed and on many occasions, unreasonable, but I have a firm set of beliefs (one of them is, be smug!), which I do not compromise on. Of late, I’ve noticed people form judgements and opinions without having complete information. And these very people were characters Shakespeare made legendary. Brutus, Ophelia, Othello, all of these characters made the same mistakes, because they didn’t know what was happening, and they chose not to find out too. My advice to all such peers of mine is to please, form opinions and judgements on complete information.

So moving away from Shakespeare, and back to TISS. TISS is a wonderful place to be in now, for people like me. No effort needed for office, no effort needed for lectures, its just a countdown to the days when I can be back home in Delhi, with close friends, family and good food. This, I think is going to be an absolutely fantastic set of holidays.

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,

But I go on forever.

Blurry Reflections!

After following the recommendation of a TISS Senior, I’ve started spending a lot of time on the Caravan Magazine website, and there’s something or the other that always catches one’s attention. Reproduced below is a letter written by an Indian Soldier serving in the Great War (link here), and this thought, for an Indian in the early 20th century is forward indeed.

A Brilliant read!

A Brilliant read!

Khalil Ullah (Hindustani Muslim) to Ganiullah (Muttra District, UP)

[Urdu]
2nd Lancers, France
3rd March 1918

I am sending you a picture of an American lady aviator, I want you to study it and see what the women of Europe and America are doing. I want you to contrast them with our womenfolk, and to think what sort of education they can give to our children when they themselves are lacking in knowledge and training. I am hopeful that, if you pay careful attention to what I have written, you will be able to effect some improvement. The advancement of India lies in the hands of the women; until they act, India can never awake from her hare’s dream. Forgive me if I have spoken too strongly.

Almost looks like Sunny Paaji!

Almost looks like Sunny Paaji!

Somehow, there’s something very romantic about Great Wars. Rhetoric of heroism, a battle against all odds, and victory, or defeat. I recently had a discussion in my Power & Leadership class with the Professor about how ‘History is always written by the victors’. The thrill of victory is equally strong as the crushing disappointment of defeat. While all of us in India know about winning the 1965 and the 1971 war, all of us have probably grown up playing ‘Border’ with our GI Joes, we’ve probably never known that there was a Pakistani Pilot, who shot down 4 Indian aircraft in 30 seconds in 1965, a world record.

But leaving India & Pakistan aside, even when it comes down to our daily lives, the victories are celebrated beyond reasonable measure, and the defeats, barely discussed. Victors never look at the vanquished as equals. It’ not the lack of effort that decides a favourable out comes. A lot of times, it is luck.

I recall, that during an interview I had an FMCG major for an internship, I described myself as someone who works more with a sound backing of theory, than instinct. While that interview was unsuccessful, I’ve still tried to look for a theoretical backing to all things I do. Whether it be theories in Psychology to back irrational day-to-day behaviour (One Freud fits all, as they say), or theories in Economics to analyse why my bank account is always in the red, there’s sound backing for everything.

A very key part of an HR professional’s life is two courses, namely Organization Behaviour and Compensation. While, an indutry veteran once told me, ‘There are two types of HR professionals. Those who believe in OB, and those who believe in Comp, but when a star performer is leaving, it’s a 20% salary hike that stops him, not a discourse of Vroom’s Expectancy Theory’.

The Principal-Agent Problem?

The Principal-Agent Problem?

While the argument is compelling, a lot of Compensation principles evolve from theories of Human behaviour, which in turn evolve from issues in Economics. Let’s simply look at the Principal – Agent Problem. This is the theory that backs up incentive grants and Performance pay, but it is an economic theory, which in the words of our Professor, ‘takes a very dim view of human nature’. Sumantra Ghosal, in his final article goes on to say ‘Casting shareholders in the role of “principals” who are equivalent to owners or proprietors, and managers as “agents” who are self-centered and are only interested in using company resources to their own advantage is justified simply because, with this assumption, the elegant mathematics of principal– agent models can be applied to the enormously complex economic, social, and moral issues related to the governance of giant public corporations that have such enormous influence on the lives of thousands—often millions—of people.’

Ghoshal then talks about Martin Seligman, and Positive Psychology. Seligman argues that after the Second World War, research has been grounded in the ‘Disease Model’ of human nature, and this is what Positive Psychology tries to change. The Holocaust irreversibly affected, not the nature of one man, but that of an entire race, and when that race, today destroys schools in Gaza, Americans do not look into their past to understand their actions, but justify them, because Israel and USA have been victors together. While I am not the right person to comment on the politics of the issue, simply from a human perspective, Israel’s actions in Gaza, can never be analysed from the lens of Positive Psychology, because hope, optimism, altruism, courage, joy, and fulfillment are something that the Semitic races (and yes, Semites include both the Arabs and the Jews) have never grown up with.

But, then leaving Israel and Palestine to Natanyahu and Hamas, it’ very important to look at one-third full glass as one third full, but not drink it, because as Stephen Colbert says, ‘the last third is usually backwash.’ As HR Professionals, we’ll be expected to take sides. Between Unions and Managements, between Employees and Managers, between girlfriends/boyfriends and excel sheets, and I personally believe that by not looking at situations as battles, would lead to us having happier lives. The phrase, ‘pick your battles wisely’ might work for General Douglas MacArthur, but for simple ordinary souls like us we shouldn’t really fight non existent enemies.

Another course I’ll write about here is a course on Leadership, where a lot of the discussion revolves around defining who’s a leader, what are the characterstics that define a leader. A definition of a leader depends on whether the person checks the boxes literature sets out. Business leaders are expected to be ethical, but there’s a thin line between fair and unfair competition. There’s a thin line between lobbying and corruption. and does crossing of these thin lines not make you a leader? I find the whole debate a little confusing. And hence, my reflections on the same are. Maybe leaders are born, but then so is everyone else. Maybe leaders follow their instinct, but so does everyone else.

To sum up, what started as a post praising the brilliance of the Caravan magazine has now become a 1000 word ode to human resources. I guess they’re never wrong when they say, ‘Give an HR manager a blank page, and he’ll make a living out of it’

A Good Laugh!

Resistance to Change comes in many ways. The first of those ways probably is the refusal to use the new WordPress Editor for typing out your posts. Thank you very much WordPress, I prefer the classic editor. Now that unrelated bit is out of my system, here goes!

‘We’re getting ready to get on a plane for that first frog town we never jumped into. All of a sudden Heffron stops dead in his tracks. Bing and a bang and a boom. Everybody banging into each other. Heffron’s just staring at the nose of the plane because on it is panted this beautiful pinup. And written underneath: “Darling Doris.” Doris, which just happens to be the name of the skirt who just, that day, sent Babe one of them letters.’ – SSgt. William ‘Wild Bill’ Guarnere, Band of Brothers.

William ‘Wild Bill’ Guarnere, Tyrion Lannister, Stephen Colbert, these three funnymen have something in common. They know exactly WHEN to crack a joke. So, yes, while most of us may have a sense of humour, the timing is very important.

The joke's on you, Joffrey!

The joke’s on you, Joffrey!

So when Wild Bill cracks a joke after Easy Company captures Normandy, Tyrion talks about Kings dropping dead like flies, and Stephen Colbert roasts George W. Bush at the annual White House correspondents dinner, you can’t help but feel, that humour is something we all need in our lives. A set of videos are doing the rounds on the Internet of late, with Bill Gates, Satya Nadella, Mark Zuckerberg, all dousing themselves with a bucket of Ice Water to spread awareness about ALS. While cynics may dismiss it as the ‘billionaires’ hobby’, if a few of us actually opened Wikipedia to read about ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, the joke would have achieved  something. (I personally cant wait to see Elon Musk take it up!)

There’s a laugh to be found in every moment spent at TISS, whether it be Malvika’s siestas, Menon’s Hindi, Damahe’s assumptions or Saha’s plain and simple laziness. Every corner one looks into, there’s a heart warming laugh. We’ve fought, we’ve cried, we’ve kicked and we’ve screamed, but now when you look back at those moments, there’s nothing but a big smile plastered across all our faces. That’ the power of humour, which I suppose is enshrined in the power of hope, and optimism, love and camraderie.

That's a cast!

That’s a cast!

I recently saw Wes Anderson’s latest movie, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, and simply put, the movie is a masterpiece. Set in the 1930s, it followed the adventures of M. Gustave played by the magnificent Ralph Fiennes, the hotel’s concierge, making “a marvelous mockery of history, turning its horrors into a series of graceful jokes and mischievous gestures”. The movie reinforced to me, the importance of humour. After all, who could find a prison sentence, a country ravaged by war, and a death report with four fingers missing, funny, if not Gustave H.?

There’s always some mention of love or women in my blog posts, simply because they’re both fascinating to write about. Out of personal experience, I’ve felt that more than looks, money or other materialistic things, the better halves (it goes for men too!) value humour and wit (However, please don’t ever be in the misconception that ‘it’s so bad it’s good’ works, ever!). A joke becomes so much more powerful when cracked at a tender moment, as an interruption between days of seriousness, as a way of letting of tension, and giving people relief. After all, what’s love, if not a joke (a cruel one at times, ask all the guys in the friendzone if you don’t believe me!). A friend of mine, who spent some time with me, in Vellore, knows the impact of a simple phrase like ‘What’s up?’ cracked at an (in)opportune moment. But that story is a post in itself, so more on that some other day.

Love’s funny, and while our generation today scoffs at the concept (as two people are always dating, but never in love) because having someone for keeps is not an aim, but a scary thought, and the fact that we want to know where the exits are so we can leave when we wish to has made us cold, bitter and machine-like. People set shelf lives to their relationships, or restrict it under rules, under regulations, and this leads to pain, to grief and to the loss of humour. My resolution is to never fall in what I call, ‘Conditional Love’, because I wish to be Severus Snape, and say the words ‘Always’, I wish to make sacrifices the way Rebecca did, and I wish to love with both intensity and tranquility, and I wish to live a life of acceptance. And if I fail, then I want to crack a really good joke out of it. Haha.

Forever in our memories.

Forever in our memories (Taken from the Apple Tribute)

To wind up, a deep sense of loss is what I felt when I read about Robin Williams’ passing. Ever since I was a child, I remember him making me laugh, and his comedies weren’t the Ben Stiller or Jim Carrey kind of mindless laughs, but comedies that touched you and made your soul smile. Right from Patch Adams, to Zathura and Jumanji to Flubber and Good Will Hunting, there’s a part of me that’s wanted to be a doctor, an astronaut, a wildlife conservationist and a Professor. And when I realize that there was a small contribution that he had to my dreams and visions, I can’t help but smile. Even in his absence, that goofy smile, the defiance in his eyes and the heart of gold will never leave us.

“Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand.”