Friday, January 10, 2003

Pseudo Indians

Back in India our office had a car driver. His name was Shafi and he was a very honest person and would do his work with utmost sincerity. Never did he complain one bit about anything. But there was only one fault that I hated about him; his ardent support for Pakistan. Be it cricket or any other sports he would openly (yes, openly) support Pakistan. I asked him once why he did that - for which he had no ready answer. I asked him if we Hindu's or for that matter Indians had in anyway hurt his feelings or made him feel unwanted. His answer was negative. Try as I may to get to the bottom of it, I couldn't. Even today I don't have an answer for his behavior. Someone in the movie Kaante says there are two things that Indian's can't stomach: India losing cricket on the field and someone saying nasty things about his country. The latter applies a lot to me.

We should be patriots. Regardless of which religion or creed or caste or whatever it may be, the first thing that a person should imbibe within himself is a sense of respect and love towards the land that has given him his daily salt. Until such time a person develops Deshabhiman, Bhashabhiman or Gnyanabhiman the rest of his possessions are worth mere sand. My Indian friends here have great respect for UK. That is because they were born and brought up here and I admire their loyalty to the adopted country. Now why am I saying all this? What provoked me to say all this? It's an article that I read yesterday in Dawn (Pakistan's National Newspaper). It's my habit to read it everyday just to be in the know what goes on across the borders. Let me share some of the excerpts of that article.

"Question: Why does India's, and perhaps the world's, premier umpire, Venkatraghavan, chew gum like an adolescent? Sometimes the gob on one side becomes so prominent that he looks as if he has put a whole packet of that mindless narcotic in his mouth. He also seems to chew either angrily or hungrily, implying that he is either being eaten by a secret sorrow, or there were not enough vegetables available for breakfast. Both theories have their merits..... On the other hand, hunger works equally well as a reason. Where in South Africa is he going to find idlis for breakfast? ....Whoever created this miserably useless bit of rubber obviously took inspiration from the cow. Chewing cud is not the most inspirational thing you can do while judging the fate of nations in front of millions of television viewers. .........It is possible that he will be the only Indian visible on the television screen in the second half of the Cup, after the Great Indian Team has returned after being defeated by Zimbabwe. He cannot let the side, and the country, down. He can have all the paan he wants when back home."

"Question: Here is one I think I do have an answer to. Why do so many applicants for jobs, when wanting to describe their marital status, call it instead their martial status? Is dyslexia a natural trait of Indian English? Or is this some deep sign of Indian wisdom that hints at the truth by the elliptical process of insinuation? Marriage is so often a martial art. The better explanation is that English is at last becoming a democratic language.......Till the sixties there was open conflict between English and Hindi for the status of link language, or the national language if you like.....As English seeped down, its grammar took a hammering. Which is preferable? Growth or grammar? English is safe in India because of bad English."

These are just the beginning and ending snippets of the entire article. The author has a go at Indian cricket, BJP, Congress, VHP and all the lot. You can read it here. Who wrote it? Our own MJ Akbar - editor of the Asian Age. And this is not the first time he has written such articles about India and Indians in Dawn. I wonder what stops Akbar from migrating to Pakistan. If ever I meet him I will vent out some choicest vocabulary to this two faced rascal.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

Money penny

Is money bad? Personally I don't think so. It's what people do with money that can be classified as good or bad. There is an old saying "it's easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle than it is to get a rich man into heaven". But I do know many rich people who are equally humble and never flaunt their wealth. They are also averse to using their wealth or money to bring upon influence on any person or place.

Needless to say we all would love to have money. The other day a friend of mine was saying that he would love to have so much money that he shouldn't think twice about buying anything in this world. I told him that his life would be too boring if he had so much money. The entire thrill is in the chase and not in actually possessing it. Chasing and wooing a girl is actually more fun than having her as a girl friend ;-) The same goes with money. Trying to earn the first million and then churning more and more of those millions is exciting.

Mario Puzo, the author of the famous Godfather, starts of his book by stating - 'behind every success there is crime'. I don't agree with that. There are lot of rich people who have earned the green money by sheer hard work coupled with lady luck. But I can get the gist of what Puzo meant. He was talking about all those mafias and politicians who happen to land with burgeoning bank accounts whenever the wind sways. But I was confused with another quote (when I look at from money point of view) that read: "a honest man is one who has never been caught." Are you honest? ;-)

Wednesday, January 08, 2003

Strange freaky incident

It snowed again last night. Not as heavily as the night before. The met fellows had said it would be heavier than ever before but they got their predictions wrong. But it was much much colder and probably that's the reason it didn't snow. There are a couple of tiny waterfalls and a small canal that flows next to my house. But a large part of it had turned to ice. It looked real nice with the light reflecting off it.

A funny incident happened yesterday. The last couple of days I have been in search of a new house for myself. My present landlord wants to renovate his house and so I will be vacating it by the end of the month. I went to my previous letting agents company and asked for Anthony, a very friendly person that I know, but they told me that he had left the company a while back to work somewhere else. So I just told whoever there was that I was in search of a new home and gave him my budget constraints. They said none were available right now but will let me know if something drops in.

You can't rely on these agents. Even if they have they will not let it out because they would like to force you to rent a costlier house knowing fully well that you are restricted by time. So I was searching the Loot (a free ads newspaper) in the classified 'houses to let' section. I found a nice apartment that was available very close to where I was staying and within my budget. So I called the agent.

Me Hello, my name is Maltesh. I was just looking at your ad in the Loot and was wondering if the house was still available for rent.
Him I am sorry that house has already been let out but we are letting agents and if you tell us your requirement we would be able to offer you a similar one.
Me I was looking for an apartment for single person somewhere close to the city. Right now I am based near St. Katherine's Docks and I would be happy if you could find me one within that area.
Him Ok sir, right now we have only one available in that area. Probably you could come and have a look at it tomorrow evening.
Me That would be wonderful. Shall we say tomorrow around six in the evening?
Him That's fine with me. Can I have your name and number please?
Me Sure my name is Maltesh and my number is #### ######.
Him Maltesh... that name sounds very familiar.
Me Does it? That's strange. Not many people in London have my name. What is your name?
Him My name is Anthony.

It was the same Anthony that I had gone looking for in the other letting agent's office! Now what are the odds of that happening in life? I search a local free ads paper and search for a house among the hundreds that are advertised daily. I pick one out and the first one that I call leads me to the same person I was looking for. The more I think about it, The more I get freaked out :-)

Tuesday, January 07, 2003

Bathroom with a view :-)

I wake up every morning at 5:15 so that I can hit my desk by 7am. I take my own sweet time doing my morning chores. I can wake up however early I want but I can never hurry through the morning tasks. I need at least fifteen minutes for the dump (just long enough to turn an Archie’s comics through) and another 15 minutes for brushing and shaving (while I admire my handsome face -not!) and cap it all with a half hour shower. I hardly take couple of minutes to dress up after my pooja and am usually having breakfast by the time the 6:30 BBC business news comes on.

It was the same routine today except for one thing. I woke up and drew myself slowly out of the bed towards the toilet. I pushed the curtains aside and surprise surprise...there was snow outside. I blinked a couple of times to make sure I was not seeing things. I was right!! I shouted to my flatmate immediately to come and look at the snow. Obviously he found my excitement in poor taste considering that he had slept at 2am the previous night. He just mumbled and went back to sleep. I on the other hand decided to enjoy the beautiful sight. I consider myself blessed because I don't think there are many people in this world who get to see from their window the Tower Bridge covered with snow while they take their morning dump :-) Even the pavements next to the river where stark white and I could hardly see any brown earth.

I had a hurried breakfast because I was eager to step into the snow. I covered myself with layers of warm clothes and put on my gloves and cap. One small step for Teshu and it was a giant leap of childish joy. As I walked I had to be careful not to slip and fall as most of the pavements had become ice. I took off my glove and ran my hand on the snow. It seemed warm. I knew another couple of hours it would have all melted off. We don't often see snow in London. But when it comes I make the most of it :-) As I walked to work I could see most of the cars were driving with heaps of snow on top of them. Cycles and bikes chained to railings were fully white. Old people were cursing the weather while young ones were enjoying the white powder. I was the silent observer :-)

Monday, January 06, 2003

Bugsy strikes!

Ok what do you guys see in the image below? Of course it's not as apparent as it seems. It's an illusion

Work, work, work...

Today is my first day at work for the year. Walked in here at precisely 6:55am after braving the early morning cold weather. I had put on three layers of warm clothes but still the wind seemed to be able to easily penetrate and freeze my bones. I hate it when my ears freeze. It hurts a lot as they thaw when I enter a warm room.

No one from my department had yet arrived. Few of them are still on their holidays. Others are taking their time knowing fully well that the New Year is yet to kick off as most fund managers will not report to duty till early next week. I switched on my PC. The monitor took its own time to warm up because it had been lying idle for more than three weeks. Applications slowly came to life - DataStream, Reuters, Outlook, Word, Excel etc. As always the first thing I checked was the mail inbox. There were 776 mails from various sector analysts. About a couple of dozen or so from my family, friends and relatives wishing me for my b'day and New Year. It took be about half an hour to delete all the analyst mails. I didn't need to read them since most of the news by now would be stale.

By 7:30 I went to the usual morning meeting. Hardly any speakers and there wasn't much news to speak of. Car sales around the world had been better than anticipated and so the general news was to keep a tab on the stocks of the spare parts manufacturers. Came back from the meeting and decided to catch up on the news in my sector. I still have loads to work on and so I will sign off here

Sunday, January 05, 2003

To India and back again...

I am back. I sort of went on a hiatus without actually telling that I was going on one :p The last 21 days have been really great. I went to so many places and yet I felt that I have been staying in one place. I guess that's the feeling we get when we return to India - the whole place seems like just one big thing.

My last update on the blog was on 16th December. That was on my bro's birthday. It took me literally an hour to write that up for umpteen reasons and that made me decide to just stay away from computers. I am glad to see my computer in my room, which has a full keyboard and a steady connection ;-)

The best part about going home is the attention and pamper that you get. Well at least initially. I always notice this - during the first week everyone is like eat that and eat this and they serve you more than you can stuff yourself. During the second week that sort of pampering wanes down and they just call you for lunch or dinner and at most they serve the dishes of your choice. And by the end of third week they will start having their food whether you are at the table or not. It all picks up when it hits them that you will be leaving again in the next 3-4 days and again they start to stuff you with all the lovely food.

The same goes with all the relatives. The moment you land up at the house they all call you and invite you. "Teshu, you surely must come to our place this time. Last time you came you didn't even stop by". The next call from them will be when I am about to leave the country once again "Teshu, make sure you make some time for us when you come by next time. Bon Voyage." But nowadays I have made it a habit to tell them that I can't travel all over the place and it would be best if they could come down and visit me and stay with our family.

The best feeling is when your favourite cousins drop by without telling you. And that's why they always remain favourites coz they know how to put a smile on you. My cousins did that this time and we had a ball. They stayed with me for two days and I went back with one of them to his village, which is about 300 kms from my place. I love going to his village coz it is much smaller than ours and is nudged between four stony mountains. His village is also along the banks of Tungabhadra River just like ours and we spent hours together catching up on the gossip.

I have many stories to tell but I shall save them for another day. I landed in London on my birthday and I missed home a lot. I am sure they missed me too. After landing I called home and then all my friends here. Surprisingly most of my friends remembered my birthday (maybe I have been advertising it too much :p). Its Sunday morning and I am just going to relax the whole day. Tomorrow work starts at 7 and I am sure I will have lot to catch up on. My video game has been lying idle for last 3 weeks and its time to get it back in action ;-)

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