Tuesday, 27 December 2011

The Truth About Giza

If I had known it would be such an experience, I wouldn't have minded working twice as long in the western desert. Never before has something managed to stand up to hype of such tumultuous magnitude surrounding it; the great pyramids of Giza simply stood-up and delivered, the way they have been doing for the past two millenniums, when their time came.

The knowledge that each block of the great pyramids weighs over two tonnes should be reason enough to be overawed by the tremendous structure, but it goes beyond that: to build such a massive pyramid wouldn't be an easy task even on this day! And then, let's try building something like that without cement. So, when somebody tells you that it's just a set of rocks and that they'd do it themselves if they had enough slaves doing their bidding, it gets rather irksome.

One of the lesser known facts about Giza itself is that it's not 'Giza' in the first place! Well, in Egypt, it is... but that's only because they replace every 'ja' in Arabic with 'ga'. So, 'Al-Jizah' becomes the world famous Giza! Another thing people hardly notice is the anachronism that the mighty structure is. Unlike in India or in any place boasting of an ancient civilization, where the great examples of erstwhile architecture are surrounded by small settlements of people having some roots, at least, in that period, the pyramids of Giza stand alone. I suppose it is mainly due to the broken history that Egypt has: the major periods being (1) the Pharaonic state, (2) the coming of the muslims and (3) modern Egypt, the world wars etc. Almost all symbols of the Pharaonic empire have been thoroughly eliminated over the course of history.

Interestingly enough, there is probably a logical explanation to all this and it lies in the Old Testament. When Moses led his people out of Egypt, across the Red Sea and into Israel, he kick-started three different religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The people who formed these religions were the slaves who were part of the great Exodus. And since it was the Pharaoh's wrath that they'd always feared and his self-indulgence and pompous arrogance that they had disapproved of, when subsequent dynasties of Christians and Muslims ruled the land, they slowly eroded away the Pharaoh's people. The Pharaoh, who held the whip on thousands of slaves, was a villain after all.

Modern day Egypt has roots in the beginning of the last millennium and one would be lying if he said that it is more ancient than that. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that the day Egypt becomes a really wealthy nation (a la Saudi Arabia or UAE), they would want to have nothing to do with the pyramids at all! It's just something which fills their coffers up pretty well.

Everyone is entitled to an opinion (not something Arabs believe in much), but I'd want you to think that every nation must be proud of every bit of its history, even the 'darker times'; for it is our history that makes us. I'm no fan of Indian Governments seeking out roads named after British viceroys and generals, and renaming them 'Rajiv Gandhi Road'. The British were in India for two hundred years, for better or for worse, but they were there alright. And you cannot change that. So, it goes without saying that a country which depends so greatly on these spectacular architectural feats should do better than asking its people to be indifferent to the Pyramids.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

I'm No Jogger

At 3:25 p.m. the final bell would ring and I’d be among the first lads to run out of class, while most people remained focused on packing their bags. I’d sprint all the way to the autorickshaw which would be my ride home. It paid to get there early as we always beat the rush. Getting home at 3:45 always felt good, and I’d take a shower, have a snack and immediately sit on my homework. Usually, everything would get done by five and I’d run out of the house with my new cricket bat and Cosco ball. Aashrai would follow me out usually, albeit unexcited by the games humans play.

Tennis (or rubber) ball cricket is probably the most widely played sport in India and I was its most ardent fan for the best part of four years; I fancy myself a pretty good spinner even today. Years later, when the days of cricket really did end, it was in favour of a more spirited and I suppose ‘manly’ sport: Beach football. While I can’t defend for my life, I’m pretty good when I’m supplying that final flighted ball for my strikers to finish. Then again, being quite selfish and short-tempered on field, I’d probably go for the shot myself.

The days of regular football did end too, mostly because most of the other kids I’d grown up with no longer thought playing in the sand was what ‘men’ did. Too grown up, that they’d become, they moved further away from the water, closer to the road, closer to the girls… Soon, I was no longer addicted to physical exertion and the sportsman in me died. Roorkee probably burned his remains completely, seeing me play four or five times a semester!

At the end of it all, the mind wants to rekindle the excitement of sport and the thrill of winning but the body fails to come through. Stamina is dead and Strength is left wandering in the desert. While people consider gymming a way out of their misery, it remains to me a poor excuse for your inability to play. However, it is better than nothing at all.

And hence I championed gymming for all of six months, until they decided to throw me into the middle of nowhere. Well, Schlumberger does provide five-star facilities considering the location we are in, but even they are unable to provide us a Gym, it seems. And hence, I decided I will run anyway.
And thus, when fellow Field Engineer and Delhi’s track-champion geared up for his evening jog, I made it clear that I’d be tagging along. “I run in the open desert,” he told me. “Near the road, it’s mainly rocky… Little bits of sand.”

The desert is a funny place. You can see far away objects but you’ll never figure out how far they really hour. They could be a kilometer away or they could be ten, you’ll never know. So, when he pointed at an oil-storage location, “Hah, how far will that be,” I thought. And I ran.

I kept running until I was out of breath and then I ran some more. We reached the oil-station an eternity later when track-champion says, “Hey, we’ve been running six-minutes. Why don’t you wait here? I’ll finish my run…” I looked back an saw the caravan I had started out from at a distance. As I told you, you can’t figure out distance in the desert: it could be a kilometer away or it could be five. Let’s say two. I was damn proud of myself.

It was while running back to the camp that I took note of the most wonderful thing. You never need music while running in infinite space. You’re never fiddling with your iPod searching for ‘Brothers In Arms’ while trying to maintain your pace. You don’t have to change the song to fit your mood. All you have is the wind. And it’s always singing the most perfect notes.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Izzai ek, Habibi?

"Sabbah Al Khair", "Salaam Aleikum" and all that stuff. Ever since I've come to Al-Masr, most of my vocabulary has been rendered pointless - the English vocabulary at least. Some basic Arabic verbs, pointing and grunting help you fare better than elaborate expressions in English. In fact, in the very beginning, I could converse as well with a camel as I could with an average Arab here. And hence, in a desperate attempt to obviate (or at least delay) the onset of the "Me Anirudh; you who?" stage, I write this post.

The past two weeks have been a learning experience to say the least. From picking up basic phrases in Arabic and learning concepts which govern occurrences sixteen-thousand feet down-hole to mastering the art of picking up pipes which are heavier than most dumb-bells I lifted in the Roorkee Gym, there has been a fair amount of inflow into the grey-cell area. It has been a great knowledge sharing experience for the people around me too! For example, the other day I had to explain to a fellow that Hind was not near Mexique but near Pakistan. He found the information hard to digest but he managed a smile at the end of it all. And then, there have been numerous occasions where I've had to inform fellow members of the human race that Islam and Christianity aren't the only two religions available to mankind. Another stunning fact, no?

As ignorant as they may seem, Egyptians are really friendly people. They make an effort to talk to you slowly and explain things again and again until finally you gather the essence of what they're saying. They're open and warm too. In fact, Egyptians impose their opinions upon strangers all the time. It's not something they consider rude. And they can barge into your room and then ask you  if it's okay to come in. You can do the same to them, of course. They're a welcome change actually after all the stuck-up foreigners we get to see.

And then, there's the food! Salads and salads and a few salads more... There's olive oil, rice, bread and meat. These guys eat everything - from camels to pigeons. My 'bland' diet alarms them as much as a Vampire's would. I never thought I'd say this about salads, but they're quite delightful.

It's all a mix of the fun of discovery and the discomfort of change - something every travel is about, I suppose; the same bittersweet feeling that passes through you when the sun is about to set over a lonely oil rig in the desert. You know it's going a brilliant sight. But then again, it's going to get so cold!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011


Little is it known that the statement "Let there be light" is incomplete, for what He really said was - "Let there be light... (then, in a hushed voice) and when it's out, Thou shalt have sex!" And sure enough, ever since the very beginning, it has been the purpose of man's existence in this world.

Looking at the whole matter with the disinterest of a scientist and emotions of an Amoeba, it's rather laughable that the purpose of our eighty-odd years in this world is to create more people who will live hundred odd years with the same objectives. Gone are the days of childhood when you would ask Ma - "Ma, why do old people die?" - Because, godammit, you're going to make half-a-dozen kids soon! Who's going to give them homes?

But I guess it's only fair that God gets rid of the old and gets fresh faces into the world; even kids get bored of their Ben10 toys in a week or two these days. In fact, I'd say he's being rather patient. What irks me though are the kinds of games He puts us through! I'm pretty sure that He's laughing his backside off looking at some poor bloke right now - "Hey, look at that poor bastard! I put a new chick in his class today... Look at him go! Hahaha... Hey, pass me that beer."

You can say a lot of things about how the steam-engine or the modern banking system has revolutionized human activity, or how the internet and the television have been tools which have irrevocably changed the course of human evolution... But all that is a farce! All that these inventions and discoveries attempt to do is create an illusion of 'purpose' and 'achievement' while the forces which really drive us remain the most fundamental, primal urges. (Yes, "3G pe bijji" will not work)

Well, agreed, they could be the most mind-blowing, brilliant, reasons-to-live-for experiences in a man/woman's life but that's not the part which entertains Him; the most brilliant part of this master-plan is Behaviour Control. During the first twenty years of our lives, we are taught to develop logical thought structures and rational behaviour patterns... And then, we are taught morals and values - forgive, forget, trust, share, think and all that rot. I see no reason why we must forget all this elaborate coaching even a for fleeting moment, let alone long periods in our lives! In fact, the most brilliant part about the control mechanism is that it is immune to both atavistic knowledge and experience. So basically, while the fear of snakes can be inborn, at no point of evolution will Man be wary of the feelings. And while you can burn yourself once and learn to stay away from flames, you'll always remain a sucker to that 'one cup of coffee'.

Never in history has there been a peaceful coexistence involving a stable mind and a great love story - it's simply not possible. Man was given a brain to make decisions and a heart to pump blood. When you start using the heart to make decisions, all you're doing is messing with the blood-flow! But that's what each one of us does; even the wise ones like me, who understand the wicked ways of the world, cannot escape this convoluted trap. Ladies and gentlemen, the human race is doomed.

Friday, 21 October 2011


Runs are hard to come by, with the ball not really coming onto the bat. With boundaries not possible in this format of the game, batsmen are made to toil for each and every single they take; an insurmountable task if dashing between the wickets didn't seem so much fun! But there's a flip-side too - all this sprinting saps you of juice and Fatigue, the slayer of giants, pays you a visit. And then, the cramps - the scavenger which feeds on the dying. The moment your guard is lowered, you die.

So it is indeed a monumental moment when a batsman reaches his century - as it is a victory of human-will, nothing less. And as I'm doing precisely that today, I raise my bat. It has been a very satisfying knock.

I can hardly believe that I have lasted four years in this world where more blogs are indiscriminately discarded than created. Only a blogger, and an avid one at that, would probably understand how much this little space on the web means - something as special than a friend you share most things with, a brother who understands you completely, standing by you through good times and hell.

Since the probability of you being here for the first time is rather low, I suppose you've already witnessed my meaningless rants, random philosophy and sullen melancholy. Usually, this blog has just been a voice of dissatisfaction trying to break the run-of-the-mill days and chase one foolish dream after another. There have been moments of bliss, but as all moments of bliss should be, they have been ephemeral.

And since Life is all about running after a mirage, there will surely be more stories to tell. There will be victories and there will be losses, but they'll all be experiences. And hence the scoreboard will keep ticking.

Thank you, dear reader, for keeping me going all these years; without you, this space would be nothing more than a personal diary... and where's the fun in that? Anyway, here's hoping for a hundred more! My fingers are crossed.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Arabian Knight - Part Two

(Read http://konfessionsofageenius.blogspot.com/2011/09/arabian-knight-part-one.html first)

Part Three: Great Gig In The Sky

Scheduled to land in Mumbai at 2030hrs, my plane reached ten minutes early as if by magic! Clearly there's a greater force dictating all this, I thought to myself, as I pulled my rucksack out of the overhead cabin. Sadly, in India, no one respects another person's urgency - everybody is in a hurry, you see - so I had to wait in line to deboard the plane. Running the length of the Mumbai Domestic Terminal, I reached the spot for International Transfers. Another baggage check and frisking later, I was on the bus to the international terminal. It was 8:45. The driver told me that he could reach the airport in twenty minutes if he drove fast. I reminded myself that the flight would take-off at 9:15. If I ran, I could perhaps make it.

At 9:00, we were at the international terminal and Jet Airways had the decency to send someone to pick me up from the bus. The lady in blue began helping me fill out my Emmigration Form, when her phone rang. She nodded twice and then looked at me in the eyes. "I'm sorry sir," she said. "You won't be able to make it."

There was a thunderous silence, which was only broken by the ringing of my cell-phone. Ismail was on the line. I didn't pick up. "We'll put you on tomorrow's flight," she said. I nodded meekly.

SLB HR has a weird way of hitting you when you're on the ground already. So, I should have expected their call next. "If you're not in Abu Dhabi by tomorrow morning, we might have to cancel your training," said the sing-song voice on the other side. Brilliant.

I begged and pleaded with Jet Airways once more until they finally gave in. "We got you a seat on a flight to Muscat, sir. Then you can take Oman Air to Abu Dhabi. The flight is in one hour; so hurry up with emmigrations..." Suits me, alright!

Part Four: Check Mate

The emmigration queue, like all queues in Mumbai, is really long. But it moves really fast, like everything else in Mumbai. So, I prayed to God that everything would go well when my chance came. As luck would have it, I was sent to Counter Six, manned by a rather strict, bald, old-looking man. When I gave him my passport, I noticed that he looked bit like ACP Pradhyuman.

Everything had been moving smoothly until now - until the man said the words, "Kya bakwas hai yeh? Visa dikhao..." I showed him a copy of my visa. Scrutinizing it for a while, he said, "Main tere ko nahin jaane dega," and ordered me to follow him to an inner room (which resembled Hollywood's representation of a KGB interrogation room) where we met a rather stout gentleman.

"Yeh dekhiye sa'ab," he told his boss. "Inka documents sahi nahin hai... Mujhe nahin lagta inko allow karna chahiye." The boss looked at the documents and then looked at me.

"Sir," I told him, "The Emmigration Check is to protect unskill..."
"Are you teaching me my job??" he demanded. "What is your visa validity?"
"Well, my company got it for me. It's a short-term visa... I'm only going for training, you see."
"I don't see," he said. "It must be printed here on the visa, but it's not here." He was right. There was nothing about validity on the visa copy. Great.

So, I telephoned SLB again. "What's my visa's validity?" I barked.
"I don't remember exactly," came the prompt response. "But it's short."
"How short?" I asked.
"Well, the validity is printed on the back-side of your visa... but we didn't scan that side of the document."
You're a bloody genius, aren't you? I hung up. There was still one way out - my degree!

I waved the Provisional degree on his face and said, "Sir, this is a BTech from IIT... Surely, this'll help us resolve matters."
"Degree kahan hai?"
"Yahi to hai..." I said.
"Yeh Provisional hai... I need original degree. Layega kya?" said the smart man.
"That's not possible... Please tell me what I must do... I need to go," I pleaded with the unreasonable fool.
"Visa validity chahiye. Ask the airline guys - they'll have it," he said, after some consideration. 30 minutes to take-off!

I went to Jet once more, this time to ask for my visa's validity. They said that they'd need a few hours to search their database using some highly advanced queries. Murphy, you freaking genius...

But even Murphy get's it worng sometimes. Another official came up to me and said, "I'll tell you what... Try going to another counter. Try your luck again... It might work." So, he made me enter another section of the line.

Fifteen minutes left and the final boarding call was announced. I was summoned to counter 31 this time. On the other side sat a dark, young-ish woman who looked far more affable than the idiot at Counter Six. She took my passport, turned the page and winced. "Visa?" she asked. I produced mine.

"Twenty days," I said. "Here's my return ticket!" I showed it to her, trying to look as pleasant as possible.
"I need proof, no?" she said, almost staring through me.
"Ma'am, my flight has almost left! Besides, I'm going to UAE to study, not for work!" I lied.

Thoroughly confused, she began saying something when my name was announced on the PA once more.

"Ma'am, that call is for me... It's all in your hands now. If you stop me, you'll damage my life forever," I said to her slowly. She looked at me once again and then reluctantly, she banged the stamp on my passport.

Muscat, here I come!

Part Five: Private Plane

I don't have fond memories of Seeb International, Muscat, as I associate it mostly with leaving the beautiful country in 1999. All that has been changed now.

At 0040 Oman Time, the friendly Omani at the boarding gate called me, not by announcement but by gesturing with his hands. Then he told me, "My friend, I have some news for you... You are the only passenger on the plane."
"Only passenger... You understand? One only! Warahada..."

I don't know if I was flabbergasted, elated or anxious, but the next one hour was one of those special hours in one's life. As I entered the flight, I was greeted by both the air-hostesses, an Arab and a Filipino, who said, "Welcome to Oman Air. Choose your seat... You can take any one!" And they giggled.

I got myself a wonderful window seat in front of the wings. With a scheduled departure at 0120, the main flight attendant, a middle-aged Arab, walked up to me at 0105 and said, "If you are ready, we can take-off... Air-space clear, you see?"
Here he was asking me if I was ready for take-off! "Oh, alright! As you wish!"
"But first, we shall instruct you," he said, and the air-hostess was by my beside once more giving me personal instructions. The flight attendant even showed me where exactly the life-jacket was under the seat. (I've never been able to find it until today) "In case of emergency, we have two exits in front, two at the back and four over the wings... Choose your exit as you please, sir!"

Soon, we were in the air, and Capt. Wilson made his announcement. "Hi Mr. Anirudh, this is your captain... Hope that you are enjoying your VVIP flight. I don't have the privilege of flying too many passengers alone like this; thank you for flying with Oman Air. In case you need anything, please feel free to contact Ahmed, your flight attendant or any of the air-hostesses. Hope you have a pleasant flight!"

A few delicious Arab bites later, my flight came to a halt at Abu Dhabi International. As I left the plane, I used one of the words I read in on the in-flight magazine. "Shukran!" I said, raising my palm to my forehead.

"Aafwen," they said together.

Arabian Knight - Part One

As an escape from the usual codswallop I usually have you read on this blog, I bring to you this story from the land of Djinns and Flying Carpets. Below is a true account of what happened on September 23rd, 2011.

Part One: Fine Print

Schlumberger's 'Field Engineer' job profile is one of the most exciting jobs available to any person who calls planet Earth home, so it isn't surprising when you get your visa around 30 hours before D-Day H-Hour. An oil-man is expected to have nerves of steel. So, even when the ticket arrived just a few hours prior to take-off, I hardly shuddered (much unlike mom, who was completely in a soup). But as I've come to understand, even the seasoned oil-man can be rattled every now and again.

What happens when you don't read fine print, you may ask... My answer: It all depends upon what the fine-print says. If it says "Ensure that your passport has an ECNR (Emmigration Check Not Required) stamp before going to the airport", it just might be worth paying attention to.

With packing half-done at 1230hrs and my flight scheduled for 1745hrs, I was cutting it fine already. That was when I re-read the informative email. I cooly reached out for my passport and checked it with an air of nonchalant ease; all was fine and pretty soon, I'd be over the sea and far away, I thought. As I turned to the second page, I was met by the following words:

As you see, the Emmigration Check is in place to protect the unskilled Indian labourer from exploitation in other countries, especially in the Gulf. It shouldn't be much of a problem, I thought to myself. Since I had procured myself a provisional degree from Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, I couldn't exactly be classified as unskilled. And besides, I wasn't going to Abu Dhabi to work; it was just training.

All the same, when people around you hyperventilate, it sort of rubs off on you. Soon, there's collective hyperventilation, mass hysteria and pandemonium in general. Dad's contacts at the airport told me on phone that I had a fair 50% chance of clearing the EC. Dad getting worried, ordered me to zip my bags as they were and head staight for the airport. It was 1:15 pm.

Part Two: Telephone

Reaching the Chennai Domestic Terminal insanely early (at 1345 for a 1745 flight), I was met by a few officials who studied my passport carefully. They told me that there shouldn't be any trouble in Emmigration. In fact, if the flight was from Madras, they said that they'd be happy to ensure that I get through EC; however, since it was from Mumbai, they said that I'd have to talk sense into the officials there. That shouldn't be too hard, right?

My flight was scheduled to land at 1945hrs at Mumbai and the international flight to Abu Dhabi would take-off at 2115hrs. So, having checked my luggage straight through to Abu Dhabi, I relaxed over a coffee in the Chennai Airport Lounge. One never knows how time moves when you're in semi-sleep mode - so, after a while, I checked my watch again: 5:30. Why am I still not on the plane?

"I'm sorry sir, your flight has been delayed. It will depart at 6:30 pm," said the suave Jet Airways official who I wanted to punch. Controlling the impulse, I asked innocently, "Does that mean that the landing will also be late?"
"Oh yes," he said, happily.
"How do you plan to get me on your flight to Abu Dhabi then?"
"What flight?" he asked.
"Jet Airways to Abu Dhabi. It's at 9:15."
"Oh, that! I'm sorry sir... You won't be able to make it. Why don't you take tomorrow's flight?" he asked me, as if he was offering me tea in place of coffee.
"No, no... I need you to get me there, somehow. Anyway, I've checked my luggage through to Abu Dhabi," I pressed.
"That's not an issue. I can get your luggage off the plane," he retorted, gleefully.
"I'd like my luggage to stay where it is. Get me there somehow... Make your other flight wait a few minutes for me if needed! Isn't that why I've booked myself into Jet Airways both times??"
He told me that it'd hardly be possible.

Seeing that an impasse was reached, I telephoned the ever-helpful HR hotline at Schlumberger (SLB) which no one ever picks up. As usual, no one picked up. After a few minutes of frantic searching, however, I managed to reach somebody in SLB who transferred me to the bilingual travel agent who had booked my tickets, Mr. Ismail.

Mr. Ismail was furious with Jet Airways for their callous attitude. "How can they do this?" he asked me, righteously. "I don't know," I said. Meanwhile, the Jet Airways official told me that he'd fly me to Bombay if I was willing to undertake the risk of missing the connection and being stranded in Bombay. He assured me that Jet Airways at Mumbai wouldn't be helpful (unlike him) and they couldn't care less about one more passenger being stranded in their mammoth airport. He asked me "Are you ready to take the chance?"

Next, I talked to Ismail again.
"How can they do that!" he yelled. "Main bhi dekhta hun aapko kaise chordke jaate hain yeh log! It is their duty to take you," he said. When I relayed the message to the Airlines, "Who is your stupid agent?" they asked. "Who books two flights so close together? He seems a little soft in his head," they said.

There was only one way to resolve this! I dialled Ismail's number and handed the phone to the Jet official and told him, "Talk." He picked up the phone and began talking. He paced up and down as they abused each other as politely as they could and I noticed that they were close to discussing the issue at hand. Five minutes later, at 6:17 pm, he ended the call, threw me the phone and ran towards the tarmac through the boarding-gate. "Hey, what did you guys decide?!" I yelled. There would be no response.

As a normal person would do, I called up Ismail to find out what decision they had reached. The phone was still ringing when the announcement came loud, "This is the final boarding announcement for Mr. Anirudh Arun for flight..."

Oh crap. Okay, I'll take the chance, I thought. To Mumbai...

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Portrait of a Young Man as a Football Manager

Only after Football Manager 2011 have I even begun to comprehend the immense difficulties of managing a team. I'm quite sure the case is the same for any sort of management, but this job epitomizes leadership and genius. If the whole of our life was stuffed into 90 minutes of power-packed highlights, I'm sure it'd result in a game of football. Football after all is a reflection of life in the closest possible way.

Most of us have played various versions of PES and FIFA over the years and many of us consider ourselves tactical geniuses. Set a staggered 4-2-3-1, push your players up and play a short passing game and lo, you win the Champions League. Well, it would be that easy if everyone shared the exact same thinking-space like on your computer. Sadly, a game of football involves 11 different minds playing for your team. The probability that  any two of them independently have the same idea at any point of time is close to zilch. Well, that's where the manager comes in.

To impose your ideas on an entire squad is possibly the toughest task you can ask a man to do. Not only does he do that on the pitch, like begging the hot-headed Defender on a yellow-card not to throw himself into tackles, he needs to do it off the field as well. And that's something for which I've begun respecting AVB so much for. You would think it is impossible for a man of 33 who has never been a pro-footballer himself to handle legends of a club which has only recently tasted success. People like John Terry and Frank Lampard are probably as big as the club, and therein lies the problem.

While Sir Alex could threaten Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney with a good spanking now and then, and command awe and veneration from one and all with the simple question "Who's your daddy?", hardly any manager can claim to be the true daddy at Stamford Bridge. Thank you, Mr. Abrahamovich.

Surely, it couldn't have been easy at all for the manager of Manchester United in 1986, but he was given time... And time is the most precious commodity available to a manager of any sort. To cajole the Torreses into firing goals, to create legends like Leo Messi and to fill the CR7s with enough pride and vanity to etch them into footballing lore forever... all these require time. There is only one Mourinho - 2 Minute Success-Recipe - in this world and even he is to be tested over a long period of time. One could probably say that since The Special One was the closest anyone was to being daddy of a new Chelsea team in 2004 and a new Galacticos team in 2010 - hence, his jobs aren't the most difficult ones available.

I'm not taking anything away from TSO: it takes tremendous vision to see that Terry+Lampard+Drogba = GOOALLS; something Mancini is achieving through trial-and-error, buying everybody available in the market and taking United-want-aways. All I'm saying is that such success cannot live beyond the aforesaid manager's tenure. And the next guy in will almost certainly face the firing-squad. You can never change daddies overnight.

I'm writing this in the immediate aftermath of a 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford, one which has filled me with a new belief that AVB might be the man to change Stamford Bridge's destiny forever. Not often would I be in such high spirits after a loss but I feel this young man is a genius. The result could have been a lot different, and while we deserved no points from the game, the scoreline definitely doesn't say the whole story. 

One thing is apparent to me: this fellow AVB has, to use a euphemism, guts. But he'll need a lot more of that (those) to ensure that the legendary numbers eight and twenty-six come off the bench more often. The big man Drogba isn't going to be around forever either and he should be made to understand that. There's no point being a sentimental fool and having these fellows occupy space in a football pitch, hoping that one day they'll produce a glimpse of their glory days. I believe AVB is doing a great job by remaining in the good-books of men almost as old as himself - men who are more decorated than he is - while politely reminding them that they aren't as young as they used to be.

I just hope this fellow sticks around... For truly, the times, they are a-changin'!

Friday, 9 September 2011

F*ck-Ups Among Other Things

Seeing the drunkard of hadduland traversing the streets of Chennai isn’t something which one would call a rarity, but it isn’t commonplace either. So, when he announced his presence to me over the tele, I was quite glad… Soon, the venue and time of the rendezvous were fixed and with the car at my disposal, long distances daunted me no more.

Having completed a few chores, I called the aforementioned friend and told him that I’d meet him outside the gates of CLRI. And I did, after scouring the streets a little bit. So, with ‘Maine Banaya’ in the shotgun-seat, I decided to drive up to a decent bar – establishments which are as difficult to locate as Dragonballs.

All the same, I located a very respectable sports bar in Thiruvanmiyur and since the day was yet young, we expected no crowds and hence special service. Alas, the only beer he had was a Budweiser 675mL which cost a whopping Rs 290. Allowing logic to prevail, we touched nothing and left the place in peace.

“I’ll take you to another bar, man,” I told him. “Don’t worry, it’ll be much cheaper. But a lot less classy…” He nodded in eager agreement and I began the drive towards the slightly-seedy establishment.

Let me tell you up front that as a driver, I’m neither a zipper nor am I a vroomer. So, I don’t zip and vroom through the roads. Dodging the mean pot-hole might be something I’m yet not a master of, but my weaknesses end there. I am not a frequent driver either, so I’m still wary of the wheel: I’m not overconfident, see?

So how did the man walking alongside the car on my left manage to get his left foot underneath my left wheel? The question will remain unanswered as most important questions are, but the result was obvious. Blood.

One can drive in all the traffic in the world… It’s the pedestrians who fuck everything up. So, an onslaught ensued. While Rathish accompanied the man to the nearest hospital, which was luckily in clear view, I tried negotiating a tough U turn at a T-junction, which elicited questions like – “Dei, otta theriyuma? License irruka?” The incessant barrage of questions ceased only when I waved the RTO’s certificate in their faces!

I ran to the hospital to witness more blood. Then saline solutions, anaesthetics, sutures, analgesics and anti-tetanus injections… And then X-Rays. Well, I didn’t see anything wrong with the X-Ray and I can swear the man’s foot was perfectly fine. But he was in pain and perhaps the doctor wanted to make hay while the sun shined. So, I coughed up the cash.

And as my dazed luck would have it, the people involved would speak nothing but Telugu… So, I watched like a mute, illiterate idiot while Rathish and mom tried to make them see sense. What sense? Well, I don’t know.

In the end though, I’m left with one lingering feeling – that of pity. While I helped provide him with the best possible treatment, I cannot help but wonder what dastardly tricks fate plays on us. Two perfectly innocent beings going their separate ways – when this happens! It’s not my fault, but I’m not going to drive again… Not for a very long time.

P.S. Thank god we didn't touch that beer.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Important Conversations

" The point is, there may be three or four big choices that shape someone’s whole life - and you need to be the one that makes them. Not anyone else." - Mr. Wyatt, "After School Special", (Season 4) Supernatural.

There's nothing profound in the above quote; it doesn't say much we don't know already… But it's a line each one of us requires to hear from time to time. Without these rather meaningless reassurances, life would become unfathomably difficult. But I digress from the topic – the sentence which contains unquestionable truth.

These are the decisions which shape our lives, the difference between what is and what will be. They make all the difference between today and tomorrow. These decisions usually result in conversations, which are more often than not, highly unpleasant. Creamy, sugared dialogues aren’t usually the ones which take us to the land of our dreams.

Dissatisfaction is one of those special feelings humans are almost perpetually capable of… And it is this dissatisfaction with status-quo which throws us into that ‘I must change this’ phase. Although what needs to be done is generally slap-across-the-face obvious, we’re filled with trepidation before the final step. What happens if the whole thing implodes, destroying even the meagre happiness we currently enjoy? Is change really that essential; can we not live with it? Is the land on the other end of the bridge really what it promises to be?

In fact, we are so full of dread and angst that hardly can we muster the courage to take the final leap. We rehearse carefully, in our minds, how we will phrase our sentences and our questions – and we chisel these into perfection. Just when satisfaction is a step away, the complexity of the situation becomes completely apparent! What response will I elicit? How will I react to such a response? In the end, it’s all an intricate game of chess – and we’re all bad chess players.

When the moment comes, you are very aware of your epiglottis, now a massive flap blocking the larynx. Compared to the situation you are in, you’d hyperventilation really comfortable. Beads of perspiration run down your forehead and settle on your eyebrows as the first syllable begins to form on your tongue. And then you try to look at it from a third-person’s viewpoint at it all seems rather laughable. And then, you want to die.

It’s now that the conversation begins. You’re in a trance and you realize that the well-rehearsed conversation in your head has been thrown to the winds. Autopilot. You’re saying things so easily and you wonder why it seemed so difficult to surmount. Every setback you face in the dialogue, you wave away nonchalantly, and each point you win seems unimportant too. You wonder why you attached so much importance to the conversation in the first place! The words flow smoothly and the only person who is thinking before talking is not you. And then, you part ways in peace.

Ten minutes later, you try to remember what you said, the words you used, the points you made… You ponder about the impact your words had. You stomach is filled with cruel acid and you pray that it all ends well.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The Revolution

In the wake of the greatest country-wide protests since the days of the Emergency, one only wonders how such a vast and diverse people, which can normally be dismissed as a bickering population at best, is united by a common and singular passion. Stranger still is the fact that thousands of people who have taken to the roads don't have an inkling as to what they are protesting. But that doesn't matter, does it? After all, in Hitler's great words, "Nothing unifies a nation faster than a common enemy."

Turning one's gaze towards the so-called educated lot - the ones who speak sense on Television rather than simply "Hum Anna ke saat hain... Jo bhi Anna karenge, wahi hum bhi karenge" - the uprising seems to be based on much stronger fundamentals. In fact, most of us can empathize with these people even as we attempt to comprehend the simplicity of a Gandhian struggle. While Anna, a man, can be done away with, "ideas are bulletproof."

Ideas alone have molded our civilization into what it is today. These are ideas which aren't intrinsically right or wrong; the notion of 'right' and 'wrong' is decided by the observer alone. But how independent are we in choosing our stance? While we continue to ridicule the fools who have no idea what they are fighting for, although they happen to support the righteous side by chance, we must consider how our own viewpoint on the matter came to be...

Most debates are won, not on logical grounds (as it is hardly possible to pitch the merits of one idea against different merits of another) but by appealing to one's sentiments. While Anna Hazare's motives are perfect and flawless, the Jan Lokpal Bill seems to be the only logical course of action. But imagine, for a moment, that our ruling Government wasn't such a supercilious, high-handed bunch; that Kapil Sibal didn't always carry that disdainful sneer and didn't declaim everything that the civil society did; that our thus far mute Prime Minister was able to address his people and make them understand that - while the idea of a Jan Lokpal Bill is excellent, a parliamentary democracy cannot allow such a movement to succeed as it will set a precedent which future governments may struggle to cope with... Then, would so many people still be on the roads?

If there is one emotion human beings are perpetually capable of exhibiting, it is Dissatisfaction. Channelize this, and you win the war. After all, if everyone understood what they're fighting for, no revolution will be possible. And debates are never won on logical grounds.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Hasta La Vista

"I'll be back" - Arnold Schwarzenegger, 38th Governor of California (during his prime)
"Hasta La Vista, Baby" - Also Arnold Schwarzenegger (shortly thereafter)


It's not often that I read a blog-post which I think I could so easily have been the author of, but given the state of affairs over the last few months, it's not really that surprising: Any 'Goodbye' post I read seems to srike a chord.

I absolutely detest those lingering moments at the door, before you turn your back, knowing that you may never see a person ever again, but leaving prematurely is probably only worse. At least, this way, there is some closure.

It's really weird that in a world which we claim has grown so small, it is easier to lose touch with people than it was in the feudal age.Of course, people will argue that with the telephone and the internet, one can never be cut off from friends, but let me assure you that it is not the case. The aforementioned devices are but cheap virtual substitutes to something which is very real - much like the food-pills in SciFi world... Oh, one can only hope GoogleBelch doesn't become a reality!

The break-up with Roorkee is still fresh in my mind, and although it doesn't hurt now, it alarms me... When something stops hurting you, complacency sets in. And this is the beginning of The Drift. Soon, the person just becomes a red/green name on your GTalk friend-list, and you can never ping them again. But you won't delete them either. It's rather irritating, and I'm sure you've faced it too.

The only way out is never to say goodbye. There must be no permanence in absence, and one must endeavour to make this real: As Murty keeps saying, 'au revoir' is the way out.


In Tamil, it amazes me that there is really no word for 'Goodbye'. We simply say 'poitu varen' or the shorter, more colloquial 'varen' - which means 'I'll be back'. It simplifies things.

For nine long years, Bessi has played home to a bunch of people who had nowhere else to go and absolutely nothing else to do. This is not goodbye. There will be so much more 'nothingness', I assure you!

Na varen.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011


It's an average afternoon and you're terribly bored. When surfing frustrating channels on the television has finally bored the crap out of you, you decide to walk up to the kitchen-cabinet and grab a few quick bites. Tossing the remote onto the sofa, you stagger towards the food in semi-siesta-mode. That's when it happens.

The sharpest corner of your refrigerator door finds the softest spot on your little toe, managing to break the nail in half. Off-balance, hopping on your left foot and trying to stem the flow of blood, you try not to cry out in pain. Spotting your sofa at the distance, grinding your teeth and keeping blood off the carpet, you attempt to walk the unfathomable distance. With great effort, you finally make it there and plonk yourself on the sofa, only to realize that you've sat on top of the TV remote, which rips cleanly through the seat-cushion!

You are filled with deafening pain and a blinding rage, but what hurts the most that it's nobody's fault. If only there was someone to blame, to curse, to slap or bludgeon! You cannot swear. You cannot hurt anyone for inflicting hurt on you! That's when you curse Him.

That's why I cannot be atheist or agnostic.

Monday, 4 July 2011


Long before side-wheels became popular and when India was still in the nineties, under my mum's able tutelage, I began learning the art of balance on two wheels. She would constantly hold the handle-bars and run alongside me, refusing to let go. It all came back to me today, in one of those black-and-white flashes we're all so familiar with, thanks to Nolan: the first day I rode my first cycle, all by myself. Strangely though, it wasn't my mom at my side on the day it happened. It was grandpa.

Like a loose rock causing a landslide, a barrage of memories come back from the forgotten corners of the brain. I vividly recall that day, in Bangalore, when I tripped and fell, thus knocking out my first milk-tooth. It wasn't the pain which had affected my that day, but the sight of blood. Beyond that, I only recall staring into the sky as grandpa carried me home...

It feels strange to acknowledge that the very man who once used to carry me with consummate ease - someone who would, in those days, boast about his days inside battle-tanks and his travels across the globe - has waned in strength. Time is a cruel taskmaster. But one realizes that there are certain things that even Time cannot take away from us.

We talked at length that day about the culmination of my four years at Roorkee and life in the offing. Mentioning 'Schlumberger' as an 'Oil-field Service Provider', as I have so many times in the past, I ran him through the job-profile the company offered - to the extent I knew, that is. Most people don't understand what a barrel of crude is; few people know how a rig-functions and some people are quite baffled when they're told that oil comes from underneath the earth's surface.

But that day, I watched grandpa sitting on the sofa by the window, bent-double, uncomfortably picking at the mango with his fork, as he explained to me, in detail, what the oil-industry is about and what kind of rugged life a field-engineer must expect - eliminating a few doubts which have been growing inside my head. Having thrown in a bunch of stories from his work at Houston and Vancouver to supplement his facts, and having finished his mango, with some effort, he finally rose from the table.

At this age, he was not nearly as big and powerful as I once knew him to be, but clearly he was the tallest person in the house.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

I Shall Always Remember

1.      Roorkee monsoons – for taking me, every time, to the beginning of four wonderful years

2.      The Meta wing – for showing me that not all people change
3.      The BC Dream – for coming true
4.      Watch Out News Agency – without which I’d still be typing in ‘Times New Roman’
5.      LitSecTM – for being the only group I haven’t been thrown out of
6.      Bone-chilling winters – for moongfali, coffee and rose-cheeked girls
7.      The slope – for letting speed thrill, in the days before the humps
8.      Numbers 62, 63 and 64 – and their occupants
9.      Kondy – for being my name

10.  Se7en – even if it’s on the second floor
11.  Comfortably Numb – for having been my favourite song for most of my college life
12.  Valentine’s Day – because it never came
13.  My old (Atlas) ‘Flame’ – for taking me to places where my legs could not
14.  Mussoorie – for being so close by
15.  Café Coffee Day – for a lot can happen over coffee
16.  Orchid Pharma & Chemicals Pvt Ltd  – my first internship
17.  The Grand Old Men mentors, if not anything else
18.  The Farjical engineers – for loving Fun more than I do

19.  Chelsea FC – for finding me so many new friends. And enemies.
20.  Cognizance 2010 – for helping me draw half a lakh out of a man who threw a two-thousand rupee cheque at me when I was in school
21.  The Formatting Days – which made me the diplomat I am today.
22.  Pro-Evolution Soccer – because it’s so bloody awesome
23.  iPod Shuffle – for always knowing what to play next
24.  Six Registration Cards – because I cannot forget them
25.  My CGPA – for being the roller-coaster which never went off the rails
26.  The original Krows and Helmet-head – for being who they are
27.  The Schlumberger days – “Money for nothing”

28.  The Newspaper man – who has tossed papers into my room unfailingly for three years
29.  Karan-Arjun in BR – which remains an eternal source of déjà-vu
30.  The Ganga canteen-wala (whose name I still don’t know) – who disarmed me with his smile, every time
31.  ‘Late’ Team-WONA – for being people I will love forever
32.  Delhi and Chandi Debates – for all the cute girls
33.  Old Monk – for coming at 35 Rupees a shot (RP)
34.  The Gym – for helping me put matter over mind
35.  My dying laptop – for staying alive
36.  EDC IITR – for being there through my fourth year
37.  Department of Chemical Engineering, IITR – which god-alone-knows-how is the best department of the country
38.  Spirited Fellows and Solani Nights – “To more of the same!”
39.  Chest-monster and the Robot – Madmen
40.  Gambit and the Camera-man – for sticking around
41.  Team Goa and the Goat – “Next time, Tito’s!”

42.  You, Blog.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

A Box Among Other Things

Being the trunk broker that I've become in my final days on campus, it is only fair that I part with mine too. It became all the more important since mum keeps reminding me over the telephone: "Get rid of all your junk!" But the question which kept me dilly-dallying forever was just one: To sell or to give?

It only takes you a moment to come up with an answer to that one, actually. It's a response which comes to you as naturally as, "Mom, stop calling it junk! I've really gotten attached to each of these things I've used during my four years here!" You realize that you can never put a price tag on something with such great sentimental value, and since it's rather impractical to lug an elephantine aluminium trunk over 2000 kilometres, the rational way to go about things is to give it away. As of tonight, my trunk is owned by a lad named Aditya Gokhale.

One would think I'm stupid to post stories about cycles and trunks, but inanimate objects are powerful memory tools. While I often find it hopelessly difficult to shut my eyes and recall a face, the way these everyday possessions of mine bring people back to life is rather eerie. However, to be very frank, I didn't care much about this large ungainly object which inhabited one half of S7, Cautley Bhawan long before its very last moments.

I was shifting stuff off the lid so that I could empty its contents when I spotted the ink. Much like the Camlin ad for permanent markers, my handwriting stared back at me from three years back. I remember that day, outside the Cautley cloak-room, when, as a kid who had just put up a status message "25% complete", I was instructed to ink my name on the top for identification purposes.

Obedient that I was, I began writing my name. I followed it up with my enrollment number '070607'. And then, I wrote the following words:

B.Tech (M

My hand froze at that point as I realized what I had done. I'm rather superstitious, and I still say a prayer at the beginning of every exam I write. And superstition freaked me out that day as I realized I never should have started writing 'Metallurgical and Materials Engineering' in the first place - not when a possible branch change was in the offing! After considering striking it out, I decided that I'd much rather let it stay there, and I thought, 'one day I might look back at this and smile... and it will remind me of this day.'

Well, that day was today.

Saturday, 7 May 2011


On 23rd July 2007, I first set foot on Roorkee soil. Being the responsible maddu that I was, I telephoned the only R-person's number I possessed. Obviously, being a long-drawn maddu connection (cousin of friend of school-senior), the person in question was himself quite Maddu. I was with mum when I met Venkatesh Nandakumar outside the Saraswati Mandir some four years ago. And Venky told me the stories and the legends of the land. He also introduced me to the Velociraptor, who I came to know quite well during his years here.

Anyway, the two of them later informed me about how a first year is expected to behave. What they said, in nutshell, could be retold as: Be a proper Maddu who doesn't speak Hindi, wears the quintessential black and white shirt and trousers, and never looks at anything but his feet. And DON'T buy a bicycle.

To be quite frank, I was so terrified by his words that I almost sold my bicycle back home. But as time wore on, I realized that the distances were too much to be negotiated by foot. And so, filled with trepidation, I bought the black Atlas Flame which would become one of my closest companions in IIT Roorkee.

Having dinner early that evening, I decided it was dark enough to mingle inconspicuously with the campus environs. Cool autumn breeze blowing powerfully across one's face is motivation enough to up the speed. Pedalling furiously up a speed-breaker-less slope, I was greeted by the dazzling Central Library which was as new around these parts as I was. Overawed that I was by the sights that I encountered, I made a few wrong turns and didn't make a few right ones. And I ended up getting thoroughly lost.

'Transport Engineering' was the board that I stood in front of, and I didn't know what the hell it meant. And harbouring that perennial fear of being found-out, I decided not to ask anyone the route back, which only meant that my nerves took a tremendous beating. Naturally, I did find my way around eventually but these are  the very first memories I have with my bicycle.

Over the years, it helped me reach meetings only twenty minutes late and classes only five. It helped me climb the slope a million times, just so that I could enjoy my ride down. It helped me outrace packs of angry stray dogs and do countless other things. It is only ironic that, never having left my side for three-and-a-half years, it chose to get stolen this semester, thus robbing me of a chance to say goodbye.

Rest in peace, Cycle.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Lavender Girl

The decibel is upped, swallowing the still
In the burning lamps, red turns green
One thousand people palisade him, til’
He’s aware of none but the Lavender girl.

Standing her side, he watches her long
Until in her eyes, he finds his own…
A maudlin sigh, then with a smile so strong
She gazes at him through the cast-iron bars.

He has grown to love the way she laughs
And wishes she wouldn't do any of it now;
For when your world is being torn in halfs,
You cannot bear to listen to that voice.

As a monochrome man on grey cement earth,
Clumsily, he clutches the cold window grille
Black and white and colours without mirth
She reaches out but cannot touch his hand.

He opens his mouth so he can speak
But words don’t flow from a gated heart
Words for the brave, tears for the meek
He fights them back as the Lavender girl leaves.

Bow out with dignity, to himself he says
Kill all passion and restore peace:
He begins to erase their together-days
And erases a part of himself too.

The moment has passed, the train pulls away
Along the platform, he keeps up pace
Knocking over many an invisible man
As he wipes a tear off her face.

A million greys pile upon him
As he gasps and falters; seizes to run
He watches the train disappear dim
That Lavender shade is his no more.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Goodbye TS

The blogger in me was still unborn when I first undertook the rigorous time-trial of a mid-semester examination. Those were days when my Branch-change dreams were still in their infancy; when I saw everything through rose-tinted lenses. The new Central Library had just been opened (and wasn’t the hostile MGCL of today) and India was yet to win the T20 World Cup.

Today, I see tinges of grey even as I re-read my post, though I know that the rose-tinted lenses have just sauntered back on for their second-innings. TSs have always been a time when I’m at my element – at least on my blog (my Glory, Glory Ghissing days are a distant memory). I once made a promise and I've endeavoured to fulfil it over the past few years: Write a blog-post on the eve of every TS. 2011 hasn't exactly been the konfessions’ golden age, and I must be forgiven for last time.

But I won’t fail twice. The days prior to a TS are days when the mind is at its creative best. Make all Indians write TSs and I swear to you that we’ll be a superpower before Armageddon – 2012.

It feels strange and rather disturbing that there was once a time I could write seven exams in two days in relative comfort. Today, three in as many days feels like an ordeal. But it’s probably a lot when you think of the fact that we have only five contact hours in a week. Nevertheless, I must turn away from my blog so I can ensure that this TS is, indeed, my last.

Goodbye TS. I shall miss you.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Lest We Forget Goa

Like most self-respecting Maddus, I don't dance - at least when I'm not inebriated, I don't. However, that's where my similarities with the stereotype end, for I don't sing either - not for the public at least. So, when the lady at the bar asked me to sing karaoke, it was only obvious that I'd decline.

We had come to Goa for a whole lot of things - bikes, beer, babes, beaches... Karaoke, however, began with a 'K'. So, the bearded one just said "One Budweiser, please" before the blonde waitress bothered us any further. And thus began our story at the second bar of my first ever pub-crawl.

Rounds of vodka, rum, gin and fenny can do weird things to your head. All the same, yours truly was clever, as he had switched off his mobile phone and taken out the battery, lest he should fool around with it and end up as a fool the next morning. A few more beers were thrown in by the courteous waitress, about whom someone commented - "These foreigners are so pleasant, man! Why can't Indians be like them?"

I cannot vividly recall all the happenings of that night - but I certainly remember poring through a song catalogue, complaining about the randomness of the list and Pink Floyd's conspicuous absence. The senti one, who was thoroughly hammered by now, suggested that he's return to Goa in December if they promised to get new songs. Drunk people are particular when it comes to such matters, but they're not finicky. So we sang.

My cacophonous rendition of 'Hey Jude' quickly put Jetty's utterly horrendous 'Yesterday' (which sounded more like Bieber's 'Baby, baby, baby') to shame. The lady was there to rub it in: "You told me you wouldn't sing!" she said. "Well, I wasn't drinking then, was I?" was my deft reply.

Jetty continued to hog the title of 'worst singer ever' with consummate ease, even as the bearded fellow sank into a conversation with the waitress.

"What's your name?" he asked.
"Zena," she replied.
"Like the Warrior princess?" he ventured.
"No. With a 'Z'," she smiled.

Sadly, their romantic chat was shredded apart by Jetty's 'Yellow Submarine'. The chorus was insane, with Jetty convincing the rest of us with irrefutable logic that we all do, indeed, live in a Yellow submarine.

Soon, it was time to leave, so we could reach the next shack. The bill came and we paid. As we left, the waitress ran after us a hundred yards just to say goodbye. After all, I've never tipped like that in my life!

Monday, 14 March 2011

Off My Bucket List

Some of my fondest moments in Watch Out News Agency, and thus on campus, involve staring at the old tree which the wise old dog speaks about so highly. I’m sure most people who have stared in wonderment at the old tree’s majestic upper-branches will empathize with me when I say that the profoundest of thoughts jump out of its withering bark.

I’m quite certain campus Wi-Fi jumped out of it while it was a few rings younger and maybe co-ed hostels will emerge one fine day, as most of us fancifully dream. But usually, staring results in – The E&C Tower. What to do with the E&C tower? How to blow it up? How to throw oneself to the Gaon using the mighty concrete tower as a giant trebuchet? And so on…

While the greatest ‘Rank’ I’ve written would involve ways of getting oneself into SB and staying there undetected, all other spots in my top ten list would have something to do with the mysterious phallic structure. Fucchas, year after year, are bedazzled by the brilliant Main Building and baffled by the weird tower mastering the slope. And seniors leaving the institute inevitably harbour one unfulfilled dream – “Damn, I never scaled it!” Well, I did. (Albeit with a few score others)

Having gone four dry years, I’ve scaled it twice in two days now: courtesy Cognizance 2011. The fifteen story climb is an arduous one – but like in all great treks and pilgrimages – totally worth the effort! The summit has something for everyone: While flying paper planes off the top never occurred to us when we stared at the tree, the bearded one’s ‘Dragon’ demonstrated what fine aerodynamics must consist of. Gelf’s own multiethnic jackass spotted Kerala on the horizon and the Shutterbug was busy capturing anything and everything under the sun (including the sun itself, which, he very intelligently realized, was a few feet closer).

For me, it was about what R has always been about.

WondeRland lies in full brilliance in front of my eyes in uncorrupted pristine splendour. I watch the people, who have meant so much to me, scamper about like tiny ants disappearing into the trees. The sun drowns us in radiant ochre. And I understand why I’ll never stop loving this place.