Goodbye Viru



Rebels mellow. They adjust, they compromise. They buy a house, settle down, change diapers, drive below the speed limit, nod along at work to whatever the boss says, and score excruciatingly-painful-to-watch double centuries without driving through off.

Not Virender Sehwag. He started a rebel and signed off as one.

“I also want to thank everyone for all the cricketing advice given to me over the years and apologise for not accepting most of it! I had a reason for not following it; I did it my way.” [Link]

Yes he did. He did it his way. Day in and day out. He played cricket the way a schoolboy played it, pahele ball ko chauka marenge, century ko sixer maarke layenge, and he did this at the highest level, against the best of opposition, over years, on hard foreign pitches and on domestic dustbowls, all without losing a beat. Coaches grabbed him by the collar, experts urged watchfulness, and yet he never listened, he never toned it down. Some may argue that the backup provided by the greatest batting middle-order India has ever seen gave him the license to be Sehwag, but something tells me, that he would have been the same, either way.

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[In keeping with the tradition of Durga Pujo fiction, here is my attempt at a Durga Pujo short story]


I have always had a crush on Katrina Kaif. She is gorgeous and confident and modern and yet somehow traditional, and I don’t care if she can act or not.

So what are the chances that my girl-friend, yes my girl-friend, would be a dead ringer for Katrina Kaif?

I don’t know if I was looking for someone who looked like her (maybe I was), or whether Ma Durga had planted the seed of this connection years before, but then there it was. Madhushree could pass for Katrina’s twin sister, and to be honest she did accentuate the similarities with her makeup and hairstyle (not that I would ever tell her that to her face, I may be stupid, but not that stupid), so much so that even people at work called her “Kat” and though she would of course would ask them not to, I knew that she quite liked it.

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Social Schadenfreude



If there is anything I struggle to understand more than the convoluted structure of relationships in the Indrani Mukerjea case, it is how the hell did Rahul Roy become the spokesperson of celebrities? He has somehow, because I see him on Times Now, whenever there is some celebrity-related outrage, and I wonder if it’s because he has a body double like Saddam Hussain, or whether it was because he had a song in Naughty Boy which went “Iske kabhi room main taake, to uske bedroom main jhaanke, kabhi kaheen durbeen lagake, kabhi kaheen parda hatake” that he is considered to be knowledgeable on celebrity scandals. Whatever it be, the great man, brave as he was in Sapne Sajan Ke to make love in a tabela with well-hung horses prancing about, himself does not sound too convinced, repeating ad nauseam “In my twenty five years as a celebrity” as if trying desperately to convince himself of his fame.

What’s a disappointment even bigger than his presence is that he does not say anything scandalous or insightful. Not that I want to pick on just him. The phalanx of Botox  that Times Now has assembled  are as placid, uttering obviousities like “when you are in a committed relationship you should be honest ” and the rare gem like ” I don’t support this murder”. With no one to shout down, and not even a pretense of a “debate”, even Arnab is muted, and he drones on and on about the same thing, trying desperately to create excitement through the use of hushed tones and flaming graphics, like a polite woman feigning orgasm for the satisfaction of her partner.

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Desi Parents And Their Expectations



This IS the typical desi parent.(picture via NDTV)

After all that Sangakkara has achieved, here is his dad’s reaction.

1. Says his son was kind of okay, should have done much better.
2. Compares him to his friend, and says friend was better
3. Claims that he wins all arguments against his son.
4. Advises his 37 year old millionaire son on career choices

You just CANNOT please a desi parent. You CANNOT.

And in that vein, here are some other “desi” parents through the ages.

Don Bradman’s dad: What? 99.94? What am I going to tell the neighbors?

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Empathy and the Global Corporation



New York Times recently ran a shocking “expose” on Amazon with the ominous title “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace” and the even more scary sub-heading “The company is conducting an experiment in how far it can push white-collar workers to get them to achieve its ever-expanding ambitions”. The article is worth reading. There are stories of people crying at desks, of employees seen to “practically combust” (not sure what that is, but I think I get the general drift), and then this:

A woman who had breast cancer was told that she was put on a “performance improvement plan” — Amazon code for “you’re in danger of being fired” — because “difficulties” in her “personal life” had interfered with fulfilling her work goals. Their accounts echoed others from workers who had suffered health crises and felt they had also been judged harshly instead of being given time to recover.

A former human resources executive said she was required to put a woman who had recently returned after undergoing serious surgery, and another who had just had a stillborn child, on performance improvement plans, accounts that were corroborated by a co-worker still at Amazon. “What kind of company do we want to be?” the executive recalled asking her bosses.

To counter this corporate PR disaster, Jeff Bezos then sent a note to  his employees, where he referenced a LinkedIn post of an employee who wrote a rebuttal. While taking issue with some nominal factual inaccuracies, what the Amazon-employee says isn’t radically different from what the New York Times article tried to put forward. Ezra Klein in his excellent post on Vox explains why he thinks that’s the case [Link] (I agree) but here is my very personalized TLDR.

The Amazon employee, if you go through the note, is not really challenging the basic premise of the story. All that the man is saying, and many would agree with him, is this.

“Yeah these sissies are complaining cause they were not good enough to work in the greatest company on the world (To quote: Not everyone is qualified to work here, or will rise to the challenge. But that doesn’t mean we’re Draconian or evil. Not everyone gets into Harvard, either, or graduates from there. Same principles apply) but there are many people who are great at their work here, are motivated to work nights and weekends, and feel adequately compensated by it.  Take the heat or get out of the kitchen.  Booyakasha”.

Without judging the tone and tenor of his post, or sentences like “Yes. Amazon is, without question, the most innovative technology company in the world” (Psst Tesla) , I find the employee’s very alpha-male response extremely honest, as it pretty much lays out the world view of those that “win” in our present corporate environment.

James T. Kirk: Why would a Starfleet admiral ask a three-hundred-year-old frozen man for help?
Khan: Because I am better.
James T. Kirk: At what?
Khan: Everything.

Yeah. That kind.


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The Fight For Freedom



We won independence in 1947.

Freedom. Not yet.

No this is not going to be one of those “How can we be free as long as there is poverty and exploitation” rant. The cynic in me knows that want and disease and violence and injustice and Salman Khan movies that make 500 crores are what define the human condition. The order of the world is one giant step-ladder of exploitation, that just as we get exploited by our masters above, we too must exploit, be it the earth we claim we want to leave for our children or indentured laborers making Apple components in sweatshops. Freedom in that sense is an unattainable ideal, or to put it in the words of Robin Williams, “Only in their dreams can men be truly free. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be.”

What I am talking about is individual liberty, not as an ideal, but a very low economy class version of it.

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Bajrangi Bhaijaan—A Comment



Bajrangi Bhaijaan is the best-Bhai vehicle ever but that’s like saying that the seventeen Venkatesh Prasad scored in Cuttack was his best batting performance. It’s not a high bar.

The cinematic quality is of course not really what held me in awe.

It was something else.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan is a stupendous exercise of image-engineering,one from which everyone, from PR gurus to husbands who have been caught sexting by their wives may draw lessons.

Bhai is a golden-hearted Hindu fundamentalist, the kind of half-man half-child that Aamir Khan plays in every film (no wonder he carried a towel to cry in, this should have been him), someone who never lies no matter what the consequences, so pure that he makes Yudhishtir look like Suresh Kalmadi. This portrayal of an orthodox Hindu as a saint, novel as it is in the annals of mainstream Hindi moviedom, is a marvelous way to placate the group that has traditionally not been his hottest demographic, and this is not just because he needs their business.

No that’s not the main reason.

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