Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Sunset at the Kerela beach 30 kms from Mangalore

Yes I know. I haven’t written like for ages. No, I didn’t forget all about blogging. There was too much happening in life. Both professional and personal. And blogging sometimes takes a back seat. Even temptations of undergoing blog therapy didn’t motivate me to come back to the blog. But the important thing is, that I am back. It doesn’t matter now why I went missing, right? A crab is allowed to crawl back into his shell once in a while, allow me the liberty.
Now for the updates. I am in India. After nearly 10 months, which is a long long time. On a “pure” vacation (hopefully) for the first time in the year. The last few times it was more of a partial vacation. The past 2 weeks have been a crazy rush.. almost like a mad chase, I don’t even know what it was all for. I’ll cut to the essentials, because it has also been interesting :). Heres what has been happening for the past 2 weeks.

  • Hectic week before travelling to India... as if millions of things were chasing me.. almost as if my manager didn’t want me to travel back..
  • Customer escalation.. the worst ever. Last day of work at Sweden.. My nastiest meeting ever.. senior clients screaming.. multiple projects escalated.. enough to worry both internal and client execs..
  • An eventless flight to Frankfurt and from Frankfurt to Bangalore.. the latter filled with Indians settled in Canada. Good to know there are people other than me trying to escape from minus fifteen degrees!
  • Royal treatment on reaching Bangalore... a new apartment, me likes. An Ayurvedic Rejuvenation massage leaves me rejuvenated :).
  • One last week of work from Bangalore.. much more hectic than the one in Sweden. Killing traffic takes most of the time.
  • No time to breathe, but a lunch at IndiJoes and a beer at TGIF thanks to some friends. And comfort, peace of mind and good food at home, thanks to MBF :).
  • Journey to TAPMI Manipal for MBA Workshop, I lose my travel bag on the way to the station (with my MP3 player, camera, and T-shirts I got from Paris, Amsterdam and Rome :( sniff sniff ). I manage to retain my Man Utd jersey coz I am wearing it :phew:
  • For my senior exec and me, we have one ticket on RAC and one wait listed. We also have confirmed Volvo AC sleeper tickets, but we decide to risk the train.
  • The ticket checker allows us to board the train, we do not have a seat, it’s a 12 hour journey. After 3 hours the ticket checker gives us one berth for 2 of us. No bribe asked for! I am shocked. India IS changing!! Or is it just South India?
  • Very little sleep on train (2 people on one berth.. we manage).
  • Royal reception at Mangalore. One small glitch, the banner says “TAPMI welcomes Merlin and team”. My senior exec is 10 years senior to me, and 4 band levels above me, he is anything but “my team”. But he has a good sense of humor, just winks at me. When will students realize corporate protocols :sigh:
  • Vada sambhar breakfast at Mangalore. I realize I am in a football jersey and jeans, and have no luggage on me except a laptop and a laptop bag. No deo, no toothbrush, no formal clothes. I need to go shopping.
  • In Manipal the Alumni committee generously gives me a pulsar and directions to a shop I can buy a shirt.
  • Its been 10 years since my senior exec sat on a bike, I am tempted to show him some bike stunts, but I suppress my wicked urges and drive carefully.
  • A discovery that Manipal, the hep the yo and the happening student town does not have one decent shop where I can buy one Allen Solly shirt
  • Forced to buy an unbranded black (the other colors were HORRIBLE) shirt from Riverdale, which is a shop which is planning to close down and has NO options
  • Awesome workshop. I think we managed to keep 98% of the students awake for 2 hours (bless the girl who blissfully slept through it all on the last bench), which at a 2pm lecture is the greatest feat for any speaker.
  • Lot of attention from students post the workshop, am successful in diverting all the attention towards my senior exec saying (he is the guy who will make hiring decisions if any, I am a small fry)
  • Hire an Apache bike for 24 hours for 1500 bucks and a 5000 bucks deposit. Yes you are right - I have been fleeced. Its all right, I am a NRI in India, and this is the only way I can get a bike in good ol’ Manipal
  • Thanks to my “juniors” I have an awesome dinner and “bakar” session till midnight. I cant believe TAPMI has a in time of 12 am for girls AND guys! I miss my late night bike rides!
  • A most enchanting dawn!! Up at 6 am.. don’t remember the last time I got up at 6am without having a meeting.
  • Joined by MBF and family.. A bike ride to Karkala and other nearby places. Finally give up bike and shift to a diesel Ford Fiesta. An awesome car.. but I prefer driving petrol cars on highways.
  • Lunch at LX in Udupi.. refreshing old memories… awesome buffet topped with caramel and bread-butter pudding desert.. Drive down to Mangalore, movie “Rocket Singh” at AdLabs.
  • Some rest and then draught beer and a Chinese dinner at “Froth on the Top” at Mangalore. I can vouch that it’s the best draught beer in Mangalore!
  • After being deprived of sleep for 2 days, I finally sleep like a baby.
  • More draught beer at 10 am, its not good staying a 100 metres from “Froth on the Top”. The earliest I have had beer ever!
  • A drive down to one of the Kerela beaches in the Ford Fiesta. I was driving but I was well below the minimum driving alcohol level ;)
  • Awesome trip to one of the temples and the beach. A romantic sunset.. with some romantic company :).
  • Drive back to Mangalore.. more of Froth on the Top and American Choupsey for dinner :). An affirmation that I love “Indian Chinese” more than authentic Chinese :).
  • Morning and a beautiful train journey from Mangalore to Bangalore on Konkan Railways. The train trip is certainly recommended if you want to see the Western Ghats... absolutely breathtaking
  • Feels so good to be back to a culture where everybody on the train talk to each other.. the children are playing with each other even before we have put the luggage in. The adults start talking about the trivialities of life.. family, politics, rising prices and education. Soon even some common family ties are found.
  • Everyone shares their lunch, either bought on the train or from their “tiffin boxes”. They also share snacks, marriage related opinions and a lot of advice for one kid who is ill.
  • Incidentally the lunch on the train (vegetarian biriyani with raita) costs Rs 20, for the benefit of my European friends that is approximately 3 SEK or 0.3 EUR!! And I have a feeling it’s more expensive on the air conditioned coaches, I don’t know if it cost lesser in the non AC coaches.
  • And now.. back to the Bangalore grind :sigh: When the time comes to retire, Manipal will certainly be one of the options as a place to retire in :). By the way, the second option is Paris, the third is Rome !!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Fall is here. The temperatures are dipping. The sun seems to be getting shy and peeps out only once in a while. Very soon it will be honoring us with daylight only for 3 to 4 hours in a day. The temperature today is 6 degrees, and it has been progressively dipping to the dreaded zero and sub zero temperatures. The general climate is becoming dull, drab and morose. People are quieter, are more serious and have shifted back to wearing their grays and blacks. MBF with her pink gloves and scarf is the only refreshing change I find in this dull and drab European winter fashion trend.... she brings the only whiff of color in my life :). I wish the other Swedish girls would also follow the trend. People are becoming more focused on their jobs and work, and this will continue till late December till people start shifting to the Christmas mood. There are lesser and lesser things to do in town. The Desis have their own Durga Puja, Kali Puja and Diwali celebrations... but I am feeling more and more restless and impatient. I have loved Sweden and everything it has offered to me.. but I am getting kinda bugged of this whole weather thing. I have lived in cities with extreme weather conditions, Nagpur, Delhi and Kolkata... some of the hottest and most humid cities in India. But this is much worse than all of those. It is not just about the weather here, but it is also the overall mood which dips and becomes morose along with the weather, I dont know how to explain this.

Maybe the time has finally come to make a move. I have cribbed about being a vagabond and craving for a stable settled life in my post before, but a settled stable life still eludes me. Maybe its just me, my restlessness and my refusal to accept something as a permanent life and settle down with it contentedly. A close well wisher told me "You have the greatest job, awesome money, amazing brand name and an exotic foreign posting, dont be a fool and think of ever throwing it away". I agree to all that, but in the end its my happiness that matters. If the great job role, money, foreign posting and brand name has stopped giving me the thrill and excitement it used to give me, it is time to move on. I am not sad, not upset... not even bored... but I realized a few days back that I am missing the zing in my life. And its a familiar feeling. Like the feeling I had when I was in my first job, when I quit to go to business school. Or like when I was in engineering college, and decided to leave civil engineering after a year to join electronics engineering. Alas, it is time for a change again. I dread change, I detest and abhor it, and yet I cannot live without it. Such is life.

For those of you who asked me how the singing went, well, it was awesome :). The photos will appear on FB soon, for those of you who are on my FB. I was dressed in a traditional embroidered Kurta... and jeans (I know I am such a loser to be wearing jeans but I didnt have much of an option so dont groan). The crowd actually went "Once more, once more" and we were all completely taken aback.. we didnt know a crowd was allowed to say that kind of thing in a religious setting. LOL.

I am heading back to India for a month in December. And I am absolutely thrilled about it and am eagerly looking forward to it. Some very important decisions will be made while in India... I guess we need to make such decisions every once in a while :). My friends in India are fed up of me because I keep trying to make plans about where we will go and what we will do when I land there in December. As one guy said "Dude.. this is India... you plan what you want to the next day just one day before... we do not have the European way of planning a year in advance.. come over and we will have a blast.. without planning anything". SIGH! I guess he is right. But can I still just keep myself happy by thinking about some awesome late night bike rides and some early morning long drives into the highway? Some midnight pav bhaji after a late night movie and a trek to the nearest waterfall? And wearing a light jacket and zooming away on a bike in the middle of December! :)

I need to make up for my last nasty post :P. So here is something to make you feel better. A video that always cheers me up and makes me smile. And not just because Salman Khan is so cute, but because I find it extremely amusing to watch the blondes doing all the Indian dance steps so perfectly. I wonder what my European friends would have to say about it :)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Blogging Woes

I am in a bad mood. I really feel like lashing out. So please do not feel obligated to read on unless it amuses you to read the thoughts of a guy in a really bad mood.

If you are thinking I will now write down the reason of my bad mood, I am sorry to disappoint you. I do not know the reason. I have absolutely no clue. And before you label me as insane, I would say in my defense that there has been too much piling up and I guess it has all reached a point where its just brimming over.

I am kind of disillusioned with blogging. I know, I know, you all told me so. But it was fun till it lasted. And I know most of my close friends have already gone through this phase (yes Iya, SG et al).. the phase of finding the joys of blogging, reaching peaks, having blog fans and then finding that the blog is not able to justify the freedom of expression. That there is too much pressure to write something or not to write something. Or that the comfort level with known people reading the blog is not good. So I have reached the last phase. I can either shut down the blog, or make it limited to people who are really close and who live in the real world. People who accept me for what I am. People who dont have weird expectations from me. I am sorry but I cannot blog about Obama winning the Noble Peace prize because I have some more real life concerns to take care of. No.. this is not meant as an insult to all the people writing about serious world issues. I write about generic stuff too... but not when my own life is kinda all tangled up and needs straightening up. Sigh! I told you.. this will be more of a venting post.

So there are a lot of other things about blogging that has been bothering me. Maybe this is the most unpopular thing anyone ever said on any blog post ever... but the motive behind me blogging wasnt exactly popularity so I shall say it anyway. I do not believe in Blog Awards. I respect all those who do, but I dont. To the extent that when someone gives me an award, I do not post it on my blog. And this has resulted in lost blog friends and lost blog followers. I do not mean to provocate you into a pointless debate, but my point of view is that my blog is for me to express my views irrespective of who likes it and who doesn't. I appreciate appreciation, however self created or passed on jpeg images titled with some fancy names to be put up on my blog template as awards is going a bit too far. I am not against fancy things or aesthetics, and would put them up for the heck of it, but my objection is on the principle that when you give an award to someone and refrain from giving it to someone else, in effect you are saying that one blog is better than the other. It is crazy. How can you compare blogs? It is like comparing apples with pears. So here was one blogger who was a regular reader of my blog. He/She gave me a very generous award.. I was honored, however did not think that I could put it up and declare my blog to be better than others and hence I went and thanked him/her on the comments section and then did not put up the award on any of my posts. The person in question stopped following my blog henceforth. I also heard of bloggers not getting awards and getting disappointed and not talking to the person giving the award. Also heard of bloggers changing their writing style/template/content to be more popular. Well.. this whole concept beats me. Seems to do more damage than good, and seems to serve no purpose. We are all mature people in blogosphere, so if I really appreciate someones blog, why cant I just go and comment on his/her post and let him/her know how much I liked the post or the blog? Why do I need to compare someones blog with someone elses and give an award to one person and not give it to someone else? Who am I to decide what is good and what is not? If a blog has received tonnes of awards does it really mean that it is better than others.... or even that it is really good? If not then what is the point in the awards at all? If it is just a meaningless fun thing then why do I see it causing more harm than good to all my fellow bloggers? I honestly do not think that my writing is worthy of any awards, and I do not think I am great enough to decide if someone else should get an award. Hence, ladies and gentlemen, I shalt take a polite bow and back out of the awards section. And if by doing this I offend someone, then my sincere and humble apologies to the person. For all those who do believe in awards, I respect your belief and do not intend to offend you. This is just my stated opinion, so kindly keep me out of the award circle :).

I have a feeling this post is going to make me very unpopular. And maybe I will not have to shut down my blog... I will be labeled as a crazy person and left alone with zero readership :). I love my blog followers from the bottom of my heart, but when they expect pressurize me to behave and write in a certain way, I feel that the whole purpose of blogging is being lost.

Bear with me. I have been down with flu and working on the escalation with high fever. And have had friends ignoring me... And the work escalation just seems never ending. It seems so impossible when the client and my own company super senior execs are on call and debating on a topic which is simply not relevant to the escalation. Now I know, there IS something called being TOO high up on the corporate ladder. SIGH!

Hopefully will write a more calm and "happy" post soon. Till then let me go spoil some friendships and get back at all the people who have been ignoring me! :). I am in a wicked mood.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Durga Puja @ Stockholm

Thats a pic taken yesterday at the Stockholm Durga Puja mandap. I would have found it tough to believe the presence of the Goddess in all her splendour in the middle of the Nordics. But such is life.
I will be singing today, right in front of Goddess Durga. I have never been overly religious. But I believe in the almighty. If you would have had the kind of crazy life I have had, you would believe in the almighty as well. Because there is no other way how I can explain the innumerable strange things that have happened in my life. Except that there is someone somewhere who is guiding me, in what so far has been the right direction. And I hope and wish, that the guidance shall always be there, and I shall be on the right path... and it doesnt matter where that path leads me, as long as I do not deter, wander and get lost.
It is so ironic, that after losing touch with Durga Puja for so long, since I moved out of Jamshedpur, I should rediscover it once again in Sweden, of all places. And have "bhog"... and fold my hands, bow my head and "give" pushpanjali... and watch all the women dressed in the brightest colored Sarees and Lehengas, the men trying to appear comfortable in Kurtas... watch kids sing old Bengali songs, and perform Bharatnatyam dance... and then me.. practicing to sing in front of the Goddess, in a language I am so scared of forgetting. All in Sweden. Reconnecting with the 50% of the bong me. Life is strange, and I think I should come to terms that at every step it will have new surprises for me.
I came to Sweden, craving to go back to a country I called my own. And discovered that in some ways, I could discover a part of my patriotism, my culture, my love for my homeland here more than I could discover it when living in my motherland. Would I be singing a bengali song in front of Durga ma, dressed in an embroidered bengali kurta after having an excess of delicious bhog if I was in Bangalore... or Delhi... or Nagpur... or Manipal? I doubt it. So once again. Life is strange :).

A comment from Shimp...

My blog does not entertain guest posts. Ususally. So this is the first one, and probably the last one. But I was so touched by a story Shimp put up as a comment to one of my posts, that I just had to put it up. Thank you Shimp for a touching story. Sometimes when I feel that my troubles have become so bad that I cannot take it anymore, I read such stories of struggles much greater than mine, and get inspired to achieve greater things in life. Because my troubles are miniscule compared to what other have had to go through, and I feel lucky and appreciative of all the good things that I have.

Here is Shimps comment:
"The nomadic life has its charms. "I'm not tied down. I never have to turn down an opportunity because my roots have grown too deep." Like you, every wanderer I've encountered comes to a point where they crave roots. I think, in part, because all of the places that they end up going, they are surrounded by, essentially, a root structure.

Just like when you were in India, and craved going elsewhere, eventually the difference of being settled is the difference that is craved. Being settled starts to become the "different" structure that appeals.

I'm sure there are particular concerns when living outside of your culture, and that informs your choices also.

We did know a man a little bit like you in terms of wandering, nothing more. He was Indian by way of Australia, then Canada, then four different places in the U.S. before he landed in the same company with my husband. He had a family, and when his kids got to be school age, he sent them to boarding school within India. He and his wife eventually made the decision to return to India to be closer to their children.

There were a lot of farewell parties for him, he was a very well liked man, but it did turn out he had a secret. As a young child he had strep, and it went untreated for a bit too long, not through neglect it was just one of those things that happened.

Twenty years later he found out that his heart and kidneys had been irreversibly weakened. Eventually there came a point where he knew his heart was failing. He didn't tell anyone that was part of the reason for going home, but he did die within a year of returning to India.

His wife still had affairs to settle here, and we saw her several times. She eventually told us that was the reason he had returned to India,

He was a lovely man, and much missed by all who knew him. I did find it fascinating and heart rending at the same time. He left India as a teenager but there was no question in his mind that he would return home.

There's no real point to my telling this story, nothing profoundly revealing or anything of that nature. I've known a fair number of people from different countries, and a fair number of people from India. The Indians I have known have, for the most part, tried to convey that there is a complexity to being from India that you don't necessarily find in people from other countries.

A sort of love, plus distance, and fond irritation. I'm absolutely terrified of misspelling this man's name, because it's been several years and I really only ever heard his name, vs. read it. Anyway, the reason I'm bringing it up, is that a huge part of Vinkata's (please forgive me if I'm butchering the heck out of that) decision to return home?

He wanted his son to be able to make an informed choice. He assumed his son would basically repeat the pattern.

I can't define this well, but that pinpointed the complex relationship to home better than anything anyone has tried to explain to me. Being there wasn't the goal, as much as having the love engendered, so it could be taken with his son (and he also had a daughter) wherever the journey ended up leading. "

Monday, September 21, 2009

Life is Strange...

Life is strange. You plan for it. You strategize to get the best out of it. You look ahead and base your current actions on how you want the future to be. You chalk out your career, your personal life, your retirement. And after all of it, life just happens. And you realize how little you are in control of it.

I am a meticulous planner. Very career centric. A control freak. I cannot accept not being in control of things. I have tried to strategize every bit of my life. I have tried to build a career that would fetch me the label of “successful”. That would make my parents proud. I have tried to manage my finances so that I can be secure, and can support my parents if ever they need it, and a future family. I have tried to prioritize things in my personal life to guarantee happiness for those I love and those who love me. I have tried to gain control of my health by making elaborate work out schedules and diet plans (don’t grin, I HAVE done this at one point of time). And inspite of it all, life has just happened. And nothing, absolutely nothing has happened according to how I planned it. Some things have happened for the better, some for the worse. But nothing has happened according to what I had planned.

I always say this. At any point of my life, if I was asked to take 3 guesses about where I would be 5 years down the line, none of those guesses would have included what actually happened 5 years hence. In high school I could have sworn I would be a journalist, or a media person. I turned out an engineer. In engineering college I could have sworn I would be in the electronics industry, I ended up in IT. In my first job, I could have told you I would stick around because I was good at what I did. I left at my peak point and joined business school. In business school I had it clear in my mind that I would be in a management position in IT Delivery in India. I ended up in consulting and business development position in Europe. When I landed in Europe the first time, I promised myself I will not stay beyond a few months, and here I am, in Europe for the past 2 years. On the personal front, I have forgotten the number of times I have been sure whom I am going to end up with. And am with the most improbable of them all. Someone whom I could have sworn was beyond my reach. I was sure that when I reached 30, I would never be thinking of settling down, I am so much of a vagabond. And here I am already craving for a city I can call my own and a more settled life even before I reach 30. I could not have imagined me being bored of booze, girls, clubs, dancing, I thought anyone who didn’t have one leg in the grave, would be interested in these. And here I am thinking that there are so many more ways of enjoying life and having fun than just clubbing. I never thought I would be a traveler. And here I am… having visited 11 countries and still going strong.

To all those who ask the question in interviews, “Where do you see yourself 5 years from now” can I please say that I have given up trying to see myself in the future? For all those who ask me how I am planning my personal life in the next 2-3 years, which country I will be in the future, which job I will be in, can I please say, I have absolutely no idea? Because I tried the planning.. and it doesn’t work, at least for me. I have to quit being a control freak, and start to believe in destiny. No I do not want to stop working smart, and doing the right things. I do not want to stop being dedicated, and honest, because these things will always fetch me positive results in the future. But I do not want to do meticulous planning anymore. I want to make sure I am ready for whatever life gives me. I want to make the right investments. I want to be nice to the people who care for me. And I want to give the right direction to my career. But I do not want to try to control it and plan so much when things anyway have to happen with a mind of their own.
The escalations still continue. I still get approached by multiple recruiting companies who see my profile on LinkedIN, now I have stopped feeling awkward about it. I am looking forward to Durga Puja, it has been ages since I was a part of an Indian festival or a cultural programme. I continue wondering where I will be 2 years down the line, which country, which job role, how close to India will I be…

More to come in this space… after all I promised to be regular with the posts. :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Escalations! Sigh!!

Photo courtesy:

Things have been very very busy and hectic. There are multiple escalations at work, things have gone really bad.. the client is in pain.. and is screaming. All rescue missions till now have failed, and now drastic emergency services are being rendered. It is never pleasant when the customer gets hit, sometimes I feel it is worse than when your own company gets hit. But the escalation has now hit the highest echelons of management, on both sides. In big corporates, like in the firm I work for and the customer firm, that usually means trouble. When escalations happen, for a person who is caught in the middle of it, it can either be good news or bad news. Because escalations, especially the critical ones, get you a lot of attention from the big guys in the company. The VP level and above. And when that happens, you can either come out of the escalation an absolute star. Or an absolutely worthless manager. Statistics say that its more often the latter than the former. My Global VP has always thought that I am a star. That is why I am where I am. So I have more to lose than to gain. SIGH! The intricacies of professional life.

Today on the metro train, I was sitting alone and this 30 something girl got on. She had a huge suitcase with her, and a big bag. The train was empty but she just stood near the door. She had tears in her eyes... and a far away look. And suddenly she started crying. She was weeping, without any sound, without trying to wipe away the tears, without trying to hide it. Just standing there clutching her suitcase tight and weeping. My heart somehow went out to her. And I felt so helpless. If I was back in India, I would have gone and talked to her. If she had been an Indian, or even an Asian, I would have still gone. And known that she would have appreciated someone just talking to her. But there is a huge cultural difference between Asia and Europe regarding things like these. I know she would feel very awkward if I walked upto her. Hence I could just look at her and send a silent prayer to God to take care and to give her the strength to face whatever she was going through. Her face said that her world had fallen apart. And I wished that she would be able to pull it together and start a new life. Wherever she was going.

Strange how some incidents affect one so much. Some random incidents. I had friends sitting around me who were totally unaffected. They didn't even notice her crying. Everybody went about their lives as if this woman was not there. And I just cannot get her face out of my mind. I know there will always be sorrow in this world, and there will always be pain. But I wish God gave us the opportunity to help others going through the sorrow and the pain.

Durga Puja is coming up. I am singing on stage. In a group song, but still, I am singing. And that too a Bengali song. I am proud of how brave I am. I have always been a stage guy since I was in 3rd grade. Elocution, Debating, Compering, Quizzing, Dancing, Dramatics, Mimes, Paper presentations, JAMs... I have been up on the stage on every opportunity there could be. Except when there was singing. I suck at singing, and I never could gather the courage to sing on stage. But I am now. And that too in a language which is not my first language and I am not very confident about it. But I am singing. :)

Will try to be more regular with the posts. Till then pray that the escalations go away!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Home is where the heart is...

Its been some time since I was here...
There are times, every crab shall go into his shell... but he will always emerge back out of his shell, when he has recovered, recuperated and feels secure and strong enough to face the world again.

I missed my blog therapy. Sometimes other kinds of therapies work better. But then, as always, there is a searing need to right, to express, to let the thoughts flow out. Without any restrictions, without any controls, without any reins. And so here I am back again :).


Home is where the heart is. I say this often. Because I have been pretty much the homeless wanderer for most of my life. I have enjoyed it in the beginning, but after a point it starts getting to you and you crave for geographic stability. But circumstances have kept me on the move through most of my life. Through 7 cities in a span of the last 10 years, out of "home" since the age of 17. And I crave to settle down now. Not like forever, though I would give anything to have a city I could call home forever. But, if that luxury shall not be granted to me, then at least give me a city for 5 years at a stretch. And for those of you whom I have heard talking about craving to be a wanderer and a gypsy of the world, well guys, let me tell you, try it for 10 years of your life, before you jump to conclusions. Because every other "senior wanderer" I have met, has told me the same story. That after 10 to 15 years there’s a craving to settle down. And beyond a point, wandering is not the best thing to do in life.

There are two parts of me, and they seem to be in conflict. The first part, craves for stability. Stability in relationships, in social circumstances, in finances, in geographic locations. I do not like changes in these things. I am a true cancerian. Dont groan if you do not believe in sun signs, I don’t either, but its just a coincidence that I am born under the sign of the crab and all the standard crabby definitions fit me perfectly. But there is another part of me. The ambitious, restless part. Which seeks change in what I do in my career... a constant recurring change. Any kind of stagnation in my professional life just won't do. Which does not let me languish and relax in a job, in a role, in a college, in university, until I keep getting newer challenges. This has made me switch roles nearly every year of my life, and has given me a diverse spectrum of work exposure, from HR Recruitment to BPO to Mortgage technology to Information Technology to Consulting to Sales to Business Development. And for some reason the latter part of me has governed my life, has dominated all the major decisions taken at the cross roads. But maybe its time I let the former part of me take more control. Maybe its time the wanderer settled down. Maybe its time to take out the gypsy hat, to wear the regular baseball cap and settle down to a more "regular" life.

Which brings me to an interesting discussion I had the other day. We were a group of consultants and managers from.. umm.. lets see... 3 companies. All of us "desis" and all of us abroad for approx 2 years or more. And the discussion was regarding the same old "do we settle down in India or abroad". So this one guy came up with this extremely interesting theory about which is the best country to settle in. For some (or should I say most) of the members of the group, India was out of the question, because there is no way they see themselves fitting back into that work culture. For me it still is the biggest option, but maybe I am an old fashioned desi crab. So the next country discussed was, yes you guessed it right, the US of A. Our dear old amreeka. Lot of pros and cons thrown in, distance from homeland too large, fewer number of home trips, weather conditions (you are living in the Nordics for heavens sake, anything in USA is better than this!), safety and security, financial condition etc etc on the negative side, and more desi population, ease of fitting in, no language problems, no cultural divide and more desi stores and restaurants (lol) on the positive side. But given the market situation, US of A today is certainly not one of the hottest destinations. So what are the other options? Elsewhere in Europe? Germany? France? UK? Everyone shook their heads together, Sweden is certainly one of the better places to be in. Even the UN says that it’s the 6th best country to live in (read about it HERE). So what are the other options?

So this guy comes up with this amazing idea. Singapore. Modern city. Excellent work culture, mostly derived from the west. Multi-cultural, but with no language issues, universally accepted language is English. 3 hours from most cities in India, which means you can almost fly back home every weekend!! And will never have to miss any wedding or festival back home (one of the major regrets of NRIs). Now our brain-stormer had everyones attention! Weather.. as good as any city in India, temperature ranges from 22 to 34 degrees (not bad if you come from Delhi or Kolkata). Humid... very humid, but then not worse than Kolkata or Chennai. Absolutely modern infrastructure, a paradise for shopping and generally considered a safe city (again, heaven as compared to any Indian city). And the best part is the taxation. It ranges from 0 to 20% and if you are middle or upper middle class you will end up paying 8.5% tax (more info HERE) Compare this to the 32% tax one pays in Sweden!! Or the 10-20-30% slab taxation in India!

I am sure a there were a lot of hits on Singapore job portals that night. Sometimes I wonder about us NRIs. What it is that we seek? I wonder about the restlessness that doesnt allow us to be happy anywhere, neither in our home country, nor outside. No I do not speak for the entire NRI community, I am certainly no spokesperson for them. I just speak on behalf of the NRIs I know of.. first generation and outside India for less than 10 years. SIGH! What will become of us?

Drop me a note if you know of an opening in Singapore. I know of some very talented ladies and gentlemen who might be interested in a shift :). Sometimes, just sometimes, job, career and profession is not everything in life. Even for corporate geeks. Sometimes, just sometimes, being at home matters. After all, home is where the heart is.


I had another one of my parties. And together with MBF, whipped up a great menu, thought you might be interested in the pics....

P.S. I do not want this blog to appear like a food blog. But it still remains the blog of a foodie, so it is inevitable that food related updates will be given :P. You might be interested to know that I have been accused as being the only male desi blogger in the world who blogs about cooking. I do not know whether to be flattered or to get offended ;).

Menu: Chicken Tikka Masala, Bengali Chhole, Dum Alu, Rice and Sewai Kheer (Payasam) and Gajar ka Halwa :)

And a closer look at the dersert for today: Sewai Kheer (Payasam) and Gajar ka Halwa :).
All credits for Gajar ka halwa goes to MBF.

Picture credit for title picture:

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Brick in the Wall - Again

The dinner was good. In all the hustle and bustle, the self-obsessed cook even forgot to take a snap of the food. But I think I have put enough and more snaps of food on this blog. Thanks to all who wished me luck for the dinner :).

I was taken out for dinner by some “entrepreneurs” today. They are starting a new venture in Sweden, wanted to know if I would join them if it became successful. Tough to answer these kind of questions.
I am going through a lot of dilemmas in my head. Trying to search for answers. I was reading something I wrote sometime back.

For me a look at my past means a read of what I had written 2 years back. So here is something I wrote when I was still in India.. at a juncture where things were a wee bit hazy. And I guess I crossed the phase and came to the crest.. and maybe life is so cyclic, that maybe, just maybe I could be going back to this phase….


A Brick in The Wall
Written on 20th June 2007...

Sometimes things are very obscure, the color tends more towards grey, and there is an over hanging haze. Uncertainty rules over everything, and life seems to be like a car that has skidded out of control in spite of you being in the driving seat. Sometimes it feels like you're bobbing amidst a huge ocean… struggling to stay afloat and looking around for a piece of wood to grab on to… surrounded by the eternity of things that make you but a speck of dust in the galaxy. You’re just a part of things, a drop in the sea, a grain of sand in a desert…. And you wonder about yourself. You wonder about your identity. You wonder who you are… You wonder if you’re just a brick in the wall…

When you set out on a journey, you have a destination in mind. And the image of the destination, the pleasure and the satisfaction of reaching it is what spurs you on. And there are times when after a long journey, after a lot of toil, a lot of sweat, you finally reach your destination, and look around, and wonder… have I really arrived? Is this what I looked forward to throughout the journey? Is this what I yearned for? And then you wonder… about yourself, about the empty feeling inside you. You wonder if you’ve reached your destination, or just an intermediary stop… You wonder if there is a destination at all…

There are times when you set a goal and try to achieve it. There are times when it seems so out of reach. There are times when it seems just impossible. There are times when it feels not worth it. But you just strive on… and at a point achieve what you set your eyes on. But somehow after the initial exhilaration has died down, and you look around at what you got, you wonder if this is what you tried so hard for, so long for. And you wonder if after all this is what you want… you wonder if this is your target, your goal, you wonder that in life what is your final call…

Right now I feel all of this... and lots more. I have everything I ever wanted and I don’t know what it was that I ever wanted. They say I am a good listener and a good mentor too. So if anyone would have come and told me the same thing that I state above I would have laughed it off and said, chill, its just a phase. Maybe it is… maybe it isn’t. Whatever it is, it is tough. The only thing that’s certain is uncertainty and it stands mighty and tall.

I don’t know where I’ll be in another 2 months time, whether I’ll be in the same role, whether I’ll be in the same division, whether I’ll be in the same house, whether I’ll be in India at all. But I shall plough on. There was a time when some people, whom I had relied on, had counted on, had suddenly moved away. Life almost seemed to have been doing an orchestrated dance against me. And the trough just seemed to be getting deeper and deeper. Till I was actually looking forward to hitting the rock bottom so that I could come back to the crest sooner. But the time is past, and even through the haze I can make out the outline of the crest.

They say that in the journey of life u gain some, u lose some… some friends, some confidence, some valuable emotions. And it has never been truer for me. Even as I bend forward on the edge of the cliff thinking I have support, the support is drawn away from me, and I feel the void, the feeling of being suspended in free space. I realize that the support I had looked forward to was an illusion. Sometimes friendship very closely resembles an illusion, a hoax, and it is difficult to tell one from the other. Just when u start thinking that something is too good to be true, something is a hoax, it blossoms into a beautiful friendship and maybe love too, sometimes when u think you have discovered the truest of friendship, it turns out to be an illusion. In the past 3 years I have experienced both these feelings.

I struggle on. I have surprisingly formed new relations, new emotions, and new love. And it feels so good… like salvaging back a lost treasure. There were some people who were close to me… I have let them fade away. Maybe the verb is wrong, I have after all struggled to hold on, but sometimes a one sided effort is not enough.

Amidst the haze and the fog I grope, I trip and I stumble, but I go on. And I hope that my new relations, my new hopes will overshadow the things that I have lost, I hope they will be support enough for me to go on, even if I do not know my destination, even if I cannot see my next step. I hope that what I have gained is much more valuable than what I have lost. And I hope that wherever I am, in whatever role, as a Team Lead or a Client Manager, in India or Sweden, it will not matter. The haze will not matter. Because for myself and for a select few others, I will not be a brick in the wall.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My cooking and me...

Is there something called too much of blogging? What will they term it as? Over-blogging? Blogochondria? Blogomania? OCBD – Obsessive Compulsive Blogging Disorder? When do you know you have crossed the limits? When you are a very busy senior manager in a company and you find yourself reading blogs in meetings? Or while having lunch? When you come home from a party at 3 am and still feel like gulping down your daily dose of blog reads for desert? When you meet your friend after a long time and over beer you feel like discussing all the stuff you read in blogs? When you quote blogs at the client dinner?

Well, I am sure one-post-a-day and a few blog reads in 2 days will not classify me as a “Blogochondriac”, though I suffer from some of the symptoms mentioned above. And I need to make up on the blogging time I lost when I left blogging for almost… errr… a week? :P !!

I am going to have a very busy week. But my blogotherapy shall continue. I had a very interesting “patriotic” night with a gang of desis, complete with desi food (malai chicken, maacher jhaal, shrimp curry, baigan bharta, chana masala, shahi capsicum, tomato chutney and a host of starters and desert) and patriotic songs antakshari, which soon turned to all kinds of songs, patriotic and not-so-patriotic. It was fun. As I said, the patriotic feeling is a bit more outside India than within India. But I think staying in a place where your identity is judged a lot by your national origins puts patriotism in a different perspective.

Today will be spent in preparation of a party at my place tomorrow (Am I sounding like I live my life from party to party? If I am then its SO not true). Only my European friends are invited, and they have want to have “Authentic Indian Cuisine”, whatever that means. The only problem is that most of my European friends cannot have the slightest of spice in food, and the last time I invited one, he went so red while eating, I almost called the emergency services. Hence I have learnt my lessons, and at the cost of not having the cuisine as authentic as I would have liked it to be, the menu shall be a bit “bland”. Which makes me realize that adjectives like “bland” and “spicy” are relative terms. I thought that I ate less spice, till I met my European friends. Incidentally, the British folks from London are very used to Indian food and can eat more spicy food than I do. The same however cannot be said about the Scandinavian friends. Tomorrow I have a mix of them. Which doesn’t make things any easier for me. The planned recipe is:
Starters: Crostini with Shrimp Salad topping, Peanut Masala and Papad.
Main Course: Peas Pulao, Plain Basmati Rice, Paratha(not sure?), Butter Chicken, Chana Masala, Raita, Alu Chokha
Desert: Pineapple custard and Rosogulla.
Drinks: Sheraz Red Wine, Bishops Finger Öl (beer), Vino Frizzante (Champagne).

I am very apprehensive about the success and popularity of the above menu. Also whether it is adequate or whether there should be more variety. Just to add, that I have limitations, unlike India, in Europe we do not have “domestic help”, and hence everything from chopping onions to putting dishes in the Dishwasher and cleaning up has to be done by myself. Your comments and suggestions are most welcome, but don’t say things like “Why don’t you make Biriyani?” or “Why don’t you add Tandoori chicken to the starters?” I would love to, but then I can only do so much in 24 hours.

Wish me luck for my adventurous venture. I need it.

Heres a catchy Swedish song which I cant get out of my mind.. listen to it if you ever wondered whether there was Swedish music beyond ABBA.

The main chorus of the song, translated is thus:
I laugh now... may I cry later?
I want to live in the moment... undo me later
So I live today, today, today
Tomorrow is too far away but we are here today
So I laugh today

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Matters of the heart.... literally!

I have been away. For a reason. But I am back, like always. With a load to unload. Back to blog therapy. Back to my own space. Back to myself. For better or for worse.

A lot of stuff to come on this space. More regularly that is. Are you with me?


The Swedish medical system has me stumped. There’s a bit of admiration, though the intrigue is more than the admiration. Sweden, as a country, has an excellent social security system. This basically means you pay an obscene amount in tax, but they make sure you get the returns. As a temporary resident, I had only felt the tax burden, but had not seen the benefits (primarily because the benefits mostly involve kids, which I don’t have, unemployment, which I have not faced and the medical system, which I didn’t have the need to interact with.. till now). But now I see the benefits. Or what seems like the benefits.

I was suffering some amount of chest pain. Nothing extraordinary, I initially thought that it must have been due to playing excess volleyball (too much sudden physical exercise after a long time), or eating too much. But when the pain persisted, I decided to check out the Swedish medical system. They have a weird but good system, which means that as a tax payer, I cannot spend more than a certain amount on medical expenses in a given year; there is a ceiling to my expenses, beyond that the government pitches in. In my last two years I have never felt the need to go to a doctor (yes I am that fit ;) ), so my balance to that was zero. I first had to struggle to get an appointment. In summer, when the whole of Sweden is on vacation its not the easiest task. When I finally got an appointment, I had a most intriguing session with the old lady doctor, who couldn’t understand English very well. I tried the 2 lines of Swedish that I knew and realized I needed to talk more than just “Hi, How are you?” The doctor was sweet enough to say “my Engliska... not so good... but not worry… we will still communicate” which made me think, we better do, I just paid a handsome ransom so that we could communicate. She listened to me and then immediately scheduled a million tests for my heart, ECG, stress ECG on a treadmill, ultrasound of the heart and a long term (24 hours) ECG with a portable device. It left me stumped. For two reasons. One: in India when you fall ill, you go broke because of the costs of the tests, and I couldn’t understand why this lady wanted me to go bankrupt. Two: I was not ill, and my heart was just fine, beating systematically for the one I love (smirks), I did not know why I needed to do all these tests. Both my questions were answered. All tests, including really complex ones, are free of cost (you pay only the basic fee to see the doctor). And in Sweden all doctors like to play it safe, which means they won’t even talk to you before they do tests to eliminate the possibilities of all serious medical conditions in the book. I think it’s a bit too much. They make me sound like a severely ill heart patient. Give me a break. I am on the right side of 30. I have never had any major health issues. And I am fitter than most people my age. But you never argue with a doctor. And it doesn’t cost a dime extra. So what the hell… I have to live upto Russell Peters “proud-to-be-cheap” Indian image! I gave in, and agreed to be examined.

I came out of the doctors chamber and walked up to the clinic laboratory. A young but cranky nurse approaches.

Me: Hej, Jag heter Merlin, Hur mår du?

She gives me a wry smile which could turn water into ice. She has called my bluff, in some unknown way, she had figured that’s the only sentence of Swedish I know.

Nurse: Take off your shirt.

I swear, those are the first words she said to me. No “hi”s, no “hello”s, no “how are you”s. Just “Take off your shirt”. I have never been told anything like this by a member of the opposite sex at my first meeting. But the tone was pretty commanding, and I obliged.

Nurse: Do you exercise?

Me: Err.. yes, I mean I play volleyball, table tennis, and football

. Does that count?

Nurse (with a I-don’t-believe-you-don’t-go-to-the-gym look): No.

She performs the ECG without a word. Then with a grunt says “Everything is normal, cannot find anything wrong”. I start saying “I would have thought so”, but she was gone by the time I opened my mouth. This lady does not approve of or socialize with someone who does not work out at least 2 hours in the gym. Which rules out all IT consultants. With a lot of difficulty I found my way out of the maze like hospital, to be caught at the reception and told “Someone will get back to you”. Someone did, and scheduled me for a wide array of more tests where I was subjected to more of the Swedish medical technology and a lot more of “Take off your shirt”. At the end of my ordeal, I was introducing myself as “Jag hither Guinea Pig”.

To give them the due credit, they did find a few heartbeats out of place, which should not have been there. But I shrugged and attributed it to the girl I am in love with, and the nurse did not seem to have objections. And that was that. Oh, and by the way, I did reach the limit of my medical expenses for the year. Which isn’t much, but I guess they made sure I contributed my bit to the Swedish

medical system.

I am not much into tags. But some I do. Here’s the tag where I have been tagged by Rhapsody and by Wishesgalore . You can dodge one, but there is now way you can dodge two talented bloggers. So here goes.

Here are the rules :
Use the first letter of your name to answer each of the following questions. They have to be real- nothing made up! If the person before you had the same first initial, you must use different answers. You cannot use any word twice and you can't use your name for the boy/girl name question.

1. What is your name: Merlin

2. A four Letter Word: Mess :)

3. A boy's Name: Michael (in memory of MJ)

4. A girl's Name: Midge (the cutie from Archie, remember?)

5. An occupation: Management consultant (cough cough)

6. A colour: Magenta

7. Something you wear: My attitude (corny, I know, tell me if you have a better suggestion ;))

8. A food: Maacher Jhaal (ah! At last, I can use my Bong skills :) )

9. Something found in the bathroom: Mirror

10. A place: Munich!!

11. A reason for being late: Metro delay (not common, but still usable)

12. Something you shout: It starts with M, but is not mentionable here!!!!

13. A movie title: Matrix (the one and only!)

14. Something you drink: Margarita and Mojito :)

15. A musical group: Metallica (oooohhh!!)

16. An animal: Mammoth

17. A street name: MG Road :)

18. A type of car: Mercedes McLaren SLR (Anglo-German supercar jointly developed by Mercedes-Benz and McLaren Automotive.. just awesome. I should also put a pic.. I know, I am such a "guy")

19. Something scary: Merlin :P

20. Ice cream flavour: Mango

Happy independence day! The Indians in Sweden seem to be more excited about this day than the counterparts in India. Maybe because outside the patriotic perspective is more pronounced. So I shall partake in the celebrations and party hosted by a friend and be engulfed by true patriotic feelings! Ciao till next time!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Sometimes in life you are looking for something and you do not know what you are looking for. Sometimes, the thing you are looking for is right under your nose, but you fail to see it.

Sometimes it takes a bad phase in your life to come and make you realize that you dont need to go very far in your search for the things you have always wanted.

Sometimes it is right there in front of you, and all you need to do is to walk and claim what has always been yours.

Why do some things elude us till we stop running after them, and then they just come fluttering to us? So calmly, so easily, as if they were always meant to come to us. Why do we sometimes think that something is very important to us, and losing it realize it isnt? Why on losing something that we thought was important, we realize that something totally different is much more precious, and we have never realized it?

I was going through a rough patch. Rough is a relative word. Maybe my rough was not as rough as that of some people I know, some blogs I follow. When I look around me, I see people going through worse situations, and being brave about it. It gives me the strength to be brave in my situation.

There are some things in life I am unlucky with. On the other side, there are some things I am very lucky with. In the end it balances out. Or maybe tilts a little bit more on the lucky side. In the end life just happens.

Sorry for the abstract thoughts. I will not be able to answer tags or write "happy" posts, not for some time. Bear with me. I have been rescued by an angel, and I consider myself very lucky. I need to ensure that the angel stays beside me forever. And I hope the angel realizes how much being rescued means to me.

Pic: Taken with a stupid automatic digital camera by yours truly. Location: Prague.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Bloggers Block

Do you ever feel like writing about something, start off, and then lose the steam and dont feel like writing about it anymore?

Do you ever sit down to write a poem, pen it down, read it and find it absolutely intolerable and press SHIFT + DELETE? (in earlier times the poets would tear up the paper and throw it away)
Do you ever write a mail to a friend, read it, think it is intolerable, then remember that your friend is used to you being so intolerable and still send it?
Do you ever write a sob story about your life, then write a continuation of it, rewrite it, rewrite it again, and finally delete the whole stuff?
Do you ever write an essay for school, reread it and decide its better to not submit anything rather than submit the piece of crap you have just written?
SIGH. In all probability the answer to all of the above is a No. Its only wierd people like me who have such wierdieties. Since I started blogging in March, there must have been more than 50 times in 5 months when I started writing a post, then midway lost steam and just crumpled it up and pressed SHIFT + DELETE. Thats just me.
Why have I put up the pic with the LinkedIN statistics?
a. Because I am a self-obsessed show-off and a narcissistic jerk
b. Because I have become a complete geek and a nerd, and my professional profile is all I have in life
c. Because I do not understand that everyone on LinkedIN probably has the same statistics
d. Because I have seen too many girls show off about their number of visitors on Orkut, LinkedIN is my only way of getting back at them
e. Because I think I have arrived just because I have great LinkedIN statistics.
f. All of the above
You can take your pick from any of the above options. I select option f.
No, I am not one of those sugar coated bloggers who blog only happy emotions or deep and intellectual thoughts, sometimes my posts are mean and sarcastic. Yes, I had a bad day. Hope tomorrow will be better.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The most random post ever...

This pic was sent to me by Iya from Vegas. Thanks Iya for remembering me on your trip. Reminds me that someday I have to blog about why I call myself Merlin, and why this blog is called Merlins world :).

Every post does not need to be thought out and have a flow. That is the beauty of blogging, it doesn’t have any rules. Its your space and what you make of it is upto you. Sometimes there is no logic, there are just some abstract “random tidbits”. This post is such. Do not read further if you are looking for some logical or comprehensible reading material. There is no specific point in me jotting this stuff down, its just there in my mind, and I just want to put them on my blog :).

Ever wondered how some typical guy talk would sound like if it was recorded and reproduced? Here is one random conversation between two guys from real life, of course it has been toned down and the expletives have been omitted to make it more readable for a general audience, but I hope the essence has not been lost:

A: I think its time that you got married or at least became committed. Its been too long that you are single, I am not used to seeing you single for this long. What has it been since you last broke up, a year?
B: I am trying, I am trying. The problem is that there are too many girls in my life
A: Dude, that’s a PROBLEM??
B: Yes it is. Don’t be a typical guy. Quantity of girls around you doesn’t signify heavenly bliss. It’s the quality that matters.
A: It does? I think most of members of the male community would disagree. For most quantity is a serious issue because the value of that is zero. They never reach the quality stage.
B: Now lets not talk about the losers
A: Ok, so you have a lot of girls. They are all “prospectives” I assume. So choose one. What’s the problem? You waiting for a Swayamvar or something?
B: They all bitch about each other to me in very subtle ways and convince me that the rest of them are faking, they are not what they appear to be. I think that they all don’t like each other.
A: Duh! Of course they don’t. Theres only one of you, and as there is no polygamy so only one of them gets you. And nobody likes competition.
B: Each one thinks that she is “The One”, the one who connects to me, the one who understands me, the one who relates to me intellectually, emotionally and physically. The one whom I should get married to. And every time I hear that word “marriage” I want to run as fast as I can!
A: Physically (smirks!)
B: Gawd! Will you stop being a guy for once! They all think that the rest of them are Bimbos.
A: So are they?
B: Are they what?
A: Bimbos?
B: No, most of them aren’t. They wouldn’t be in my prospective list if they were. I cannot relate to a girl if I cannot connect to her at an intellectual level. And I cant tell all of them that most of them are not bimbos.
A: So some of them are
B: Umm… yes, maybe a couple of them are… theres the one from the air hostess academy, and the call center girl, they are so hot that you cant just resist “connecting” to them. Their intellect doesn’t matter. They have too much of physical magnetism, the rest doesn’t matter.
A: LOL. So have you.. umm.. taken advantage of their “physical magnetism”?
B: (Grunts) For heavens sake, I am not going to answer that question. I don’t kiss and tell.
A: Ok, whatever, so is this a clash between the intellectual geekiness and animal lust?
B: Absolutely not. I cant imagine being with a girl only because she is hot. What will I do when I want to talk?
A: Err… maybe call up your guy friends?
B: No, my girl should be my best friend.
A: Ok, can we do it this way, you go and propose to your best friend. And give me the phone numbers of the ones with the “physical magnetism”
B: And ensure that no other girl ever trusts me with her phone number again? I will die before I introduce you to any girl I know.
A: (Sighs) And you say you are my best friend..

Here is another one, this one is on the metro train in Stockholm…

H1: Are you feeling ill? Do you have fever or something?
H2: No, I am perfectly fine, why?
H1: A hot, good looking blonde in micromini shorts and a bikini top just walked past you, and you didn’t even lift your head
H2: Yeah, I know. I have also noticed this change in me. But I am kinda bored of these semi nude girls. There are too many of them around
H1: Are you KIDDING?? The sex starved, girl hungry virgin with a pumping overflow of hormones is saying that he has lost interest in semi nude girls?? Someone pinch me, I think I am dreaming.
H2: Cmmon, don’t be dramatic. Its summer. People hardly wear clothes, everyone is over obsessed with getting a tan. Outdoors the girls are not leaving much to the imagination. Everywhere you look around, everyone is in a bikini. So you get an overdose of it. And you get saturated. Then you get bored. Then you lose interest.
H1: So are you telling me that when you get back to India, you will walk into a bar/club and not look at any of the girls around.
H2: Don’t be ridiculous. The only way I am going to stop looking at girls in an Indian pub is if I turned gay
H1: So this is a discrimination only against the European ladies?
H2: (Shrugs) You can say that, I just don’t find them interesting anymore
H1: (Sighs) I don’t know what mistake the European ladies have made, to have lost the opportunity to get the attention of the darkest, ugliest and most moronic guy in India.

I know, I know, these are the most random of conversations ever, and there is absolutely no point in putting them up here :P. But I was just “reminiscencing” (if there is a word like that) and these conversations kinda came back to me.

I was just reading a blog which talked about how coincidences come together to build ones fate, and on looking back, they do not seem like coincidences at all.

Made me think back to one of my most favorite movie of all times, THE MATRIX, and the dialogues about coincidences and fate… here are some of these most amazing dialogues of Morpheus. The Matrix has the MOST awesome dialogues.

Morpheus: "Do you believe in fate, Neo?"
Neo: "No."
Morpheus: "Why not?"
Neo: "Because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my life"
Morpheus: "I know exactly what you mean."

Have you ever felt that something was destined to happened? Do you think you're in full control?
There are no coincidences, no random events, no casual happenings. Every event of your life is exactly what you need, part of your personalized program to complete your life's mission.

The tapestry of world history is unrolling, all according to plan, yet you have complete freedom to choose how to react. There are events that will happen. History has a destiny. Your life has a destiny. But it's up to you to decide if you will embrace it, or watch from a back row seat.

If you seize the moment, you will find that unique role waiting for you.

Todays planned menu:
Chilli Chicken, Panir gravy and Fried Rice.

And for those of you who keep asking me, yes I do cook all the stuff for which you see pictures on the blog, even though it seems unbelievable. And though I am not the best cook you would have ever met, I try, and I love cooking. Don’t think you will hear that very often from a guy :).

This is the most random post I have ever put :). Ciao till next time!

Neos Picture and Matrix dialogue courtesy:

Friday, July 31, 2009

Blogging Behaviors

Nearly all bloggers I have ever interacted with and discussed the topic "Why do we blog?" have come up with the clichéd statement "I blog for myself". Duh! Of course we all do. If we wrote for money, or for fame, or for others, we would be writing a book, or contributing to a magazine, or writing for a website. But we dont. We write our own crap on our own space, hence we blog for ourselves. True. But I have a problem with people who say "I blog ONLY for myself". Especially when they have public blogs and know that they have a good readership. Now cmmon. You cannot blog ONLY for yourself. If you wanted to write stuff ONLY for yourself, you'd pick up a paper and a pen and pen down your thoughts. Or open a MS Word file and type down all your thoughts and save it on your hard drive (I have done this and still do it at times when I write ONLY for myself). Or, even if you did choose to use the Blogosphere, your blog would be a private one. So if you blog on a public blog, then apart from blogging for yourself, you also blog for the readership of a lot of people who might choose to visit your blog. And when you do that, you ensure that you write something which you connect with and relate to, but at the same time also something which your blog followers relate to. And not to mention my old "wife and prostitute" theory, you can read about it on my post on About Orators, Bloggers and Prostitutes.. HERE .
But now that I have started on the wrong (or right?) note by angering all those public bloggers who have declared "I blog ONLY for myself", I will come down to the point which I wanted to discuss. Ok, I am assuming that every blogger blogs primarily for him/herself and secondarily for the audience. Given that, is there discrimination amongst the readers of blogs? If so why? If not, then why are some blogs more popular than the others? Does popularity of the blog affect the blogger (either in a positive or a negative way)

Recently, thanks to the Sweden summer vacations and the excess of time on my hands, I was able to wade through a lot of blogs on blogosphere. Some I liked, some I didnt. Some I found absolutely and shockingly disgusting, and some which completely bowled me over. I dropped in a comment on some posts that bowled me over, but not all because I have an aversoin to "celebrity-bloggers-with-a-fan-following" (more on that later). And with my limited knowledge and visibility of blogs I noticed certain trends in readership and popularity of blogs.
  • Blogs written by female bloggers are always more popular. Now dont growl at me for being sexist, I swear I noticed this trend and it has very few exceptions. I came across very few blogs run by male bloggers that had overflowing popularity (with the exception of celebrities like Aamir Khan and Amitabh Bacchan). Certainly there were male bloggers with an exceptional gift of the gab who had extremely popular blogs, but they were the exceptions. If you ask me for the reason for this trend, your guess is as good as mine. You may say that the fairer sex are better at expressing themselves, and are more capable of deep emotions. But I will not be entirely convinced about this reason being the only reason for the above mentioned phenomenon. I can make a few other guesses but then I dont want to make this more controversial than it actually is. I MUST mention though that some of the female bloggers had an exceptional and mind blowing skill of expressing themselves. And they deserve to be as popular as they are, their popularity has nothing to do with the sex of their author, I follow quite a few of them and it has nothing to do with the authors being female. But to be honest, in some cases, I wonder if the blogs would be as popular had the author been male. I also wonder why somehow nearly all the followers of these aforementioned blogs are male, is there a connection?
    Disclaimer: None of the blogs I follow or comment on come in the category mentioned above, so ladies who own blogs I follow, please do not take offence :)!
  • There are some blogs whose popularity is uncanny, even given the fact that the author has an amazingly unique line of thought and a very good way of expressing herself. Like this one blog which I was reading, it was only the authors third post and she had started the blog 2 days back. She had 40 followers for her blog (no kidding) and her first post had 74 comments. Whew! She did mention that she earlier used to have another blog which she closed down and this was her second attempt at blogging, but even then... this kind of popularity is unprecedented. As far as I could see, she was neither a celebrity nor a professional blogger, just an ordinary blogger like you and me. No doubt she has an exceptional and unique way of expressing herself and writes like no one else, but whats the secret of having such amazing popularity? Tell me, tell me. If I could have that kind of popularity, I would seriously think of giving up my boring life of a consultant and think of doing some professional writing. Rane, if you are reading this take my suggestions seriously :). Disclaimer: Most of the blogs I follow come in the above category, will any of you guys share the secret of your popularity, so that I can switch my profession and become a professional writer?
  • Blog followers for each blog have a very distinct categorization. You can say that "birds of same feather flock together". Some blogs I read have the most classy and sophisticated followers, nobody bullshits in the comments of the blog (one example of this is the blog I mentioned above). Shobha De's blog is another example. I love such blogs, the comments of such blogs are almost as interesting as the posts themselves. However there are blogs with the most disgusting group of followers and you almost want to curse yourself for being one of that group. I even came across a pretty sophisticated blog with the comment trail having the worst profanities you could think of. Some blog followers use certain blogs like social networking sites, flirting with each other or some even wooing the blogger. Its almost funny when you read comments like "I-liked-the-post-so-much-that-I-swooned-and-now-I-am-in-love-with-you-will-you-marry-me?". Guys, grow up, and dont tell me you came to the blog because you were interested to read what the author writes... I am sure the author is very good looking and you are crazy about her and are looking for ways to catch her attention, but please respect the sanctity of the blog. Dont pretend to like the intellect of the blogger when your interests lie elsewhere. And puhleazze dont convert a blog to a dating site, please use for such endeavors.
  • Sex sells. Even on a blog. So you have a whole group of "erotic writers" out there with pretty much their own exclusive blogosphere. Dont venture there if you are not into pornography, I wandered there by mistake and retraced my steps. No, I do not have anything against them, just that I wonder, if someone wants pornography shouldnt they just go to the numerous pornography websites complete with photos/videos. Or maybe I am just one of the ignorant fools who do not understand the beauty of erotic writing. Honestly I did not expect such an exhaustive category of erotic writers, some even giving detailed descriptions of their personal encounters. Needless to say these had immense fan following! Disclaimer: I dont think I need to say this but NONE of the blogs I follow or comment on come in the category mentioned above, so bloggers who own blogs I follow, please do not take offence :)!
  • There are professional bloggers who blog with the sole intention of blogging to make money or to popularize their blogs. Refer the first para of this post, these bloggers are not blogging for themselves at all. They will write things that make their blogs popular and will do anything in order to get more hits. Once again, I do not judge them, just that I find them very superficial and it is not interesting to read the blog of someone who is not genuine or someone who is faking. For most of it, you can always make out the genuine ones from the fake ones, if it seems too good to be true, know that its a fake. But sometimes it is scary, because I dont want to get carried away by a fake blogger pretending to be a genuine person. Disclaimer: Once again, I dont think I need to say this but NONE of the blogs I follow or comment on come in the category mentioned above, so bloggers who own blogs I follow, please do not take offence :)!
  • There are bloggers who, though they run public blogs, are not very keen on a lot of publicity. In a way I respect that feeling, and I dont think I myself would be very comfortable with the kind of popularity some blogs have. I was requested by one blogger whom I know in real life to remove the link to his/her blog from my blog list because he/she felt that the blog was getting too many hits, and some of them were through my blog. He/she felt that the consciousness of knowing that there are too many people reading ones blog, some of whom could be people you know in real life, hinders the freedom with which you can write if you dont have a care in the world. And then of course there are bloggers in my friend circle who changed their blog from public to private with very limited readership, so that they could write in peace and write whatever they wanted to. There are bloggers I know who changed their blog domains in order to retain their anonymity. I might ponder one of these soon :).

All said and done, most of the blogs I read have helped me broaden my horizon. What I love about most blogs is that it makes me think. It gives me a glimpse into the minds of people who are in different phases of life. Some remind me of the phases I have been through, some make me realize that there are phases of life that I have not yet reached. There are some very interesting high school bloggers, and believe me there is nothing kiddish about their blogs. For me it brings back so many memories, I so completely relate to them. There are college going bloggers, my favorites, writing about the difficulties of adolescence. There are romantic bloggers, who write about the beauty of love, and the sweet nothings of life, they take you to a different level altogether. There are bloggers with children, and it is fascinating to read about how different life is when you have kids, something which seems so far away for me, but yet it seems so exciting.

I am a bit wary of "Blog Celebrities", and I dont know why. There are times when I come across an awesome post, and feel like commenting, I click on comments and go through a sea of people who have already commented. Sometimes as many as 70 to 80 people. Everything that could be said has already been said and I dont feel that I shall add any value to the comment chain. And I humbly bow out. Sometimes its good to follow blogs silently, because there are too many loud vociferous followers who are already giving all the required flattery/criticism/opinions and there is more than enough competition to catch the bloggers attention :).

I also feel the need to explore the blogging world outside of the Indian blogosphere. I somehow mostly read blogs of NRI bloggers, people who have an Indian origin, but live outside India. Obviously I am able to relate to them better, and I am very curious to know how others cope with the life of an Indian outside India. However I have lately been thinking about reading outside my "Indian" and "NRI" blogging world, especially as my blog has an international audience. I dont think I will be interested in technology blogs (in spite of being in the technology profession, I prefer technology articles to technology blogs) or political blogs, but international blogs which tell us about the lives of people all over the world is something that will surely interest me. And as always, I shall keep you updated of any note worthy blogs I come across :)

And heres something to chew on:

Truth in Blogging
Modern Day Bully

Top image source: Cartoons from: