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: