Sunday, 27 June 2010

Of Ticks and Triple-Stripes

There aren't too many things which can conjure up such great prominence in such a short span of time like a simple check-mark, an innocuous M or a half-eaten apple! I wonder at times whether one could have ever foreseen this present day world even as recently as a decade ago. 'Free Enterprise' - the Americans would call it; socialists would denounce it as a diabolical plan to ruin mankind - but the bottom-line remains that Capitalism has come to rule the urban world.

Now, let us not fool ourselves here. India is not a mixed economy; even if it is now, it won't be in another decade. Our leaders have embedded their faiths in individualism and competition almost as firmly as Uncle Sam. While Obama is being denounced as anti-American for telling his people the positives of community-service and selflessness, India's demagogues talk about economic equality of the people while pushing through deals for one mall after another. Where is the scope for equality when you ask the Indian pushcart to combat an International Retail Mammoth? Of course, you will give me the argument that greater competition leads to a pursuit of excellence and hence a better India. We could continue this debate for a while, if it weren't for a fact that this isn't the point I'm trying to make!

I hardly care for the 'Is capitalism correct?' debate if it wasn't for the fact that it causes so much pain. There was a point of time when people actually cared about service quality, product calibre, durability, return for money, warranties etc. Nowadays, these are thrown to the winds in exchange for one simple thing - a logo.

It is truly disturbing that someone should choose shoes with three stripes on them knowing only too well that they are greatly overpriced when an equally good pair, if not better, can be bought two stores away. Why doesn't one squeeze a few oranges instead of piercing a pack of Tropicana? Why do you buy a McBurger for nearly a hundred rupees when the Tikki at a Nescafe joint tastes a million times better? Why are people desperate to show off a Macbook when it's quite apparent they are rather incapable of understanding Apple's OS? Why does logic fail?

If only everything can be solved in a completely intellectual manner! But proving a point to society and flaunting expensive useless accessories, sadly, are beyond the realms of intellectual pursuit. Brand loyalty is for morons... I'm not saying the concept of branding is useless as a whole; but I'd have it limited to where it makes sense. This has plagued me for a while now, as I find myself being sucked into a hopeless struggle against myself. I would like to think that most people today recognize this problem but are afraid to admit it, even to themselves! I wouldn't have written about this today, if it wasn't for yesternight's visit to HRC - Mumbai... An experience I am still confused about - for I am unable to understand if I enjoyed the experience or whether I thought I did!

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Mumbai meri What?

Almost six years ago, on a summer night, Mom, Aashrai and I alighted the Konkan Railway service and headed to Appa’s outstretched arms, who proudly said, “Welcome to the city that never sleeps!” It was my first visit to the commercial capital of the country, or as the indigenous folk calls it – Aamchi Mumbai. Half-dozen years ago, I thus spent my vacation in Andheri, opposite Leela Palace – where Dad used to work, in a rare apartment building (in those days, at least) complete with Swimming Pools and a Sporting Complex – hardly something one expects in a city like Mumbai!

But a few days and an Amoebic dysentery (courtesy: Juhu Vada Pav) later, to say that I absolutely reviled the place and was dying of claustrophobia would be an understatement. I wanted to get out and was glad when I finally did.

I returned to the port city today after risking my life in one of the fastest landings I have ever experienced. The pilot, being absolutely reckless, hit the ground hard enough to sink Mumbai a few feet into the sea. The air hostess smiled at our alarm and said, “Welcome to Chattrapati Shivaji Airport – Domestic Terminal”. I would be lying if I said that my initial feelings of apprehension were subsiding.

I was welcomed, however, by one of the most beautiful overcast skies I have ever seen. The airport having undergone a major face-lift had me standing in awe in the middle of the pick-up bay. The cabbie from Schlumberger told me that I would be going to a Thane guest house. And so we left…

I have seen a lot in the past hours: the winding road around the Powai Lake, the scenic Hiranandani gardens springing out of nowhere, shanties and malls juxtaposed, rather friendly people and a young lad by the slums with no shoes leaping through the puddles in dazzling blue Samsung – Ballack number 13… Even if all these didn’t influence me, the fluent Hing-lish conversation I had with my Tamilian driver did!

I sit here on the 24th floor now, wondering if I’ll have to revise my ‘Favourite Cities’ list real soon…

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Face Off

Burning red eyes in the darkness fix'd
A cold stare, unerringly ahead,
As if to shatter the air betwixt
Himself and wherever he looked.

His chest heaved heavy under the breath
A cold dry draught hurriedly inspired
And as if to bring life to apparent Death,
The air was warm through a choleric fire.

In a brilliant blaze of magnificent wrath
Became apparent the scars of conflicts prior
- Evidence of battle and the tumultuous path
Taken by his Life, Fate and Desire.

His locks were heavy, dark and curled
Flaunting an air of immaculate power,
An intrepid heart and a spirit unfurled...
So mighty did his countenance tower.

His lips curled to suppress a smirk
As if to forget the gashes of ere
Seasoned in war, Past ne'er him irk'd
As if he kept only the Present near.

It was a deadly, menacing face
Like one never to be seen before
Or after. For not even the minutest trace
Of emotion seemed to linger on it.

And then came by a squeaky man,
Absolutely mortified by the sight
From which even the best men ran.
This visage was mankind's blight!

The coward crept up behind the face
And he made brave, though filled with cold,
So as to pull the mask to his own face.
Now he could terrorize the world.