The Symphonic Rhythm of Rain on My Umbrella as My Shoes Fill with Water

This rain is unusual, really is. It’s odd. It’s downright crazy. It’s been raining for months, without let up, without recompense. It’s upsetting and also I like it. I am torn between the love of watching the rain and hating it for making me wet and my shoes squelchy. Early in the morning I love it and later in the day my love turns to hatred, pure hatred. The dam in Artiste Village is overflowing and every morning I stand near the sluice gates watching the water as it shoots out, in huge torrents, turbid, overturning, foaming and frothing. I wonder at the beauty of this life-giving liquid that could also kill and disrupt. Scientists believe that at the start of the world, when the atmosphere was newly formed, it rained for years on end, as in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s novel. Today, I am on my morning walk and as I stand watching I can feel the fine spray of the rain on my face. It’s most uplifting and elevating experience. But my shoe is slowly filling up with the precious liquid. Hm.

Later in the day, from my office I can see a sky that is the colour of molten lead. (Aside: I used to work in publications, you know, that used molten lead to set type in the age of letterpress printing. Have you heard of linotype machines? They were a hundred times the size of the modern computers and laptops on which you compose type. Magazines like Eves Weekly [Eves weekly used to publish short stories, poems, yay!] and Star & Style [Who was seen driving to Khandala with whom, yeah, stars used to have affairs then too!] used to be printed on these machines. We did fine, though each page had to proofchecked thrice before a final proof was taken before printing. Today I wonder if they even take two proofs, as publications are full of mistakes, are dry and uninteresting and don’t publish short stories! Aside finished!) Just as it was when the earth originated in a miasma of ceaseless rain. Many say the world will end in fire, but, no, I think it will end in water. Today as I leave for work, there’s the constant chatter of raindrops on my umbrella, an unending rhythm of symphonic music. I usually write a poem when it rains, have a collection of rain poems. This time I am doing something different. Watch this blogging space as I am fond of saying.

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How Strong Are the Dot Coms?

Has it occurred to you? You are doing something on the net and they ask you to download a plug in and then you go ahead and download it, and the net gets disconnected, ending your session (as it is called) and you are left chewing your already chewed up lips. Grr.
After having worked in dot com companies (3 of them) which collapsed without a trace, I am mighty sceptical about the internet and websites. After all, there’s no brick and mortar attached to it. Tomorrow the web I spend a lot of time on can collapse and another application can take its place. With it you will lose whatever relationships and friends you have so painstakingly built up. Even today I am sceptical that the dot coms will fade away just as myspace has faded away from public memory. It used to be the best until Facebook took over.
I was a crazy follower of, another website and social networking site. I had made a lot of friends on it. But now I hardly ever look at the website except go to a few forums I still follow which are anchored on it. And whereas I would get three or four messages a day on it, now I don’t ever receive any messages. Zero. I guess my friends have realised I have moved on. I am an eternal net wanderer.
I think the internet and the dot coms have made us all unfinished people using products that in themselves are unfinished and tentative. If you don’t use the net for a few weeks then the trickle of replies to your blog or facebook page also goes down proportionately. Your net persona is there only as far as you are. If you don’t post you are lost.
I guess it is inherent in the meaning of the medium, the very fickleness. Or, may be I am fickle myself. I do agree I am fickle, here for the fickleness of it. In fact, relationships in today’s world are fickle and short-lived. It’s a very selfish relationship over the net.  
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Onam Celebration!

Today was Kairali Belapur’s Onam celebration. Kairali is one of the few communities in whose activities I show an interest. Having worked in associations such as Bombay Management Association and ASCI (not to mention the church committee) I lose interest in these communities very fast. They are the playgrounds of a few ambitious individuals and I tend to keep away.

Now, that’s said.
The rain doesn’t stop. The sky is a uniform grey like a sheet of steel has been riveted over it. There are what are called cultural programs. Songs and dances by children of members (the children giving everything, carrying a tune in their breaking voice, which really breaks my heart because I didn’t have time to attend Ronnie’s cultural programs in school), a quiz or two, a dignitary in the form of a smiling member of the municipal council who comes when the program is all but finished. She proceeds to give a speech, but nobody listens to her.
We troop down to where the Onasadya is being served. I am hungry and so is wifey. Ronnie is busy so he didn’t come. He used to enjoy this when he was a small kid, those many years ago. I guess I am growing old. The first batch of people has already found their places and we wait for seats to clear for the second round so to speak. I am feeling hungry and the smell of rich food is assaulting my senses.
Children bawl, mothers tell them to shut up. The rain falls. I try to take it all as an experience, an intuitive kind of experience. No, not as a gathering of people slurping sambhar, ten types of vegetables, payasam, ada pradhaman, pickles, avial (I typed avial and word processor changed it to “Avail,” he…he…), and sambhar.
We then sit down to eat all the abovementioned on plantain leaves. The secret is to eat slowly and savour each dish giving rise to the ultimate in a culinary experience. So I put each morsel dunked in sambhar slowly and seductively into the mouth, not in the wildly excited way in which pigs hog. Just the same as the man next to me is doing.
The man, well, I haven’t even spoken to him, asks my permission to get up. My permission? I am aghast at first. Then I look around and give it. It’s just a nicety. “Onashamsakal,” I say.
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Blogging from my mobile

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India’s Floods and Noah’s Floods

There’s a passage in John Steinbeck’s Travels With Charlie (which I read years ago) that states that ultimately when civilisation and mankind self-destructs and reaches a sort of Armageddon, life would tentatively start from the little known encampments and villages around the world. (Charlie is by the way, Steinbeck’s French Standard Poodle.) Global warming, by the way it is advancing could see the extremes of weather and when the oceans submerge the coastal cities, then life could only exist on the plateaus and hills.
Else, how could I explain this weather? It’s still raining in Bombay and I hear that there are unexpected floods in Delhi. The city that rarely gets rainfall is inundated. So, Delhiwallas have now got a taste of what it is like to be marooned, as we so often are in Bombay. It has been raining continuously for more than two months, i.e., sixty days in Bombay. What’s depressing is seeing all those plastic caught in the starkness beneath an overcast sky. True, we have screwed up this world and no one seems to care. They are more worried about a certain drug addict’s marriage to an ex-porn star and his dalliance with the mole of an underworld don. Such is life! Hm!
Noah’s floods occurred for only forty days of rain, so, in a way, we have exceeded Noah’s floods. Even all the modern drainage systems may not be able to handle the pressure of huge ice caps melting in the Arctic, in the Steinbeckian future. According to this article, Bangla Desh is one country that could be badly affected, around 17.5 per cent of its area could inundated with a rise of 40 inches of the sea level.
Written in a despairing state of mind while feeling sleepy. So, mistakes please excuse please, huh?
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Mesmerised by the Googleplex! But, How about Some Customer Support?

I saw this video of Google and was taken aback. What luxury! They get the best food to eat all the time, they get to sleep during work hours, they don’t swipe their cards, they can do their exercise, they can do their laundry, most, most important of all, they can even bring their pets (Does this include boy-girl friends? Worth checking out!)!

Imagine! Imagine! Imagine, working in such an office. Oh, but then I can’t.

All these past thirty years of my working life (Yeah, I am one of those old drones who started working in 1980, the year Kareena Kapoor was born!) I was educated in the old school that says that customer is king and all employees should serve customers and understand their needs. However, Google doesn’t believe in customer support, all they do is point you to some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) and have their burgers in the Googleplex, or snore in their Snoring Pods while you desperately scan through the FAQ containing loads and load and loads of text, some of which needs an expert to decipher it.

Now can you imagine? Now can you imagine all those employees eating multi-multi-food and snoozing when you curse your stars?

Recently I answered a Google ad offering me Rs 1500 worth of free Adword advertising (Adword is the ads you see on the right side when you do a search on Google.) I responded. I received a call from a Google executive who mentioned that yes I will be getting Rs 1500 worth of Adwords but first I have to open an account and spend something on Adwords. I said okay I will do likewise. (Anything to get a campaign going for my blog.) He said he will call me back. He never called.

I am still waiting for him to call back. I am still, still, still waiting, Google. Google are you listening? As a customer am I not important?

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Kya Meherbani Kar Raha Hai Kya?

I usually don’t write about the professional life in this sacred space but this is an exception. Well, I will do it this once because it’s a crime not to mention it here. Or, I will burst! I wrote about telecallers plugging credit cards here, well, this one is similar.

Media buying is part of the job, a marketing thing I do for a living. So when I was talking to an executive in this media I was shocked to hear her say thusly:

“Kya meherbani kar raha hai kya?” (What, are you doing us a favour?)

I know I come across as the repressed and depressed type on the phone but this assault on my senses was unforeseen. Whoa! Can you imagine a customer being told “What, are you doing us a favour?” God, I can’t imagine. I wanted to tell her I am doing her a favour by buying her godforsaken media. But I didn’t. A weird sense of decency forbade it. If everyone in the world talks and behaves as a tyke (yeah, tyke) then there would be fights over everything which is what is going on in corporate culture in India these days. Companies are war zones these days without even a “no man’s land.”

But we survive and thrive on such culture. What’s to do?

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