A Birthday Story

Late night. A glass of rum-coke by my side. Surfing the net when all of a sudden my ICQ window pops up. There’s a message:

From BirthdayBoy_at_20: Hi. I know this sounds kind of weird. I am you ,when you were 20. I just wanted to see if you are online….had some questions to ask you.

Yeah right. This has got to be a practical joke. A few of my friends—the very few I have know its my 30th birthday on the 30th of December and this must be their idea of a joke. Very funny.

I type back. Yes BirthdayBoy_at_20 , this is BirthdayBoy_at_30. Nice joke. Now which clown is this?

From BirthdayBoy_at_20: As I said, BirthdayBoy_at_30 this is going to sound weird. I am actually “you” 10 years ago. I don’t know how this is happening but somehow we are being able to communicate through chat—-and I want to ask you basically—-how did I turn out?
Some people take the gag so far that it becomes unfunny.

BirthdayBoy_at_30: Okay smart guy, I may be a bit drunk but not that sloshed. Buzz off.

BirthdayBoy_at_20: Wait wait. I have proof. I am sending you a picture—-no-one else is going to have this picture, at least none of your friends . It feels strange saying “yours” because these friends are mine too. Or will be. See this picture. Recognize the guy?

Holy moly. That’s me at 20. I could not believe it. How the hell did this guy…………………..

BirthdayBoy_at_30: Okay I don’t know how you did this. Or what in the name of Mithun is happening. But it seems you are me at 20. How creepy meeting you again, like this, just when I am going to turn 30. So what do you want to know?

BirthdayBoy_at_20: First up, am I a MBA from Columbia making 7 figures a year, driving a Lamborghini and jetting around the world first-class?

BirthdayBoy_at_30: No you are not. Listen to yourself. What expectations baah !

BirthdayBoy_at_20: Sooo….what am I then? You mean I am not an MBA? Dont joke man…..I gotta be an MBA from somewhere……

BirthdayBoy_at_30: No you aren’t an MBA. The only thing your car will have in common with a Lamborghini is that both of them will have innovative doors—the Lam’s open upwards, your passenger side door will be frequently jammed. It’s a 94 Honda Civic, for your information.

BirthdayBoy_at_20: Cool at least a new car. Ooh wait I forgot. You are in 2005 right?

BirthdayBoy_at_30: Yes I am. Very clever of you to realize.

BirthdayBoy_at_20: So if I am not an MBA what am I ?

BirthdayBoy_at_30: I am sorry to have to break this bit of news to you dude. But you are a PhD working in a R&D lab.

BirthdayBoy_at_20: Haha now you are pulling my leg. You know me better than anyone else and you know I have always wanted to be like Banerjee uncle upstairs with the company car, the Calcutta Club membership and the masseur who comes in on Sundays.

BirthdayBoy_at_30: Immature. Of course I forget you are only 20. You see at the age of 30 I have come to the conclusion that I am, in the final analysis, way too much like my father. I value my freedom and I am willing to make a financial compromise for it. It was tough coming to terms with this realization but it is true.

And this epiphany didn’t come all of a sudden—it was a lesson acquired by walking the path between 1995 and 2005. So straight off the bat, this may be a bit too much for you to understand right now but trust me on this one—-maybe we did not set out to be a PhD but it’s a rather good place to be. Considering the type of person we are and what we value in life.

BirthdayBoy_at_20: Please don’t mind but you are kind of sounding like Dad. Change of topic: have I traveled the world? Have I been to all the places I wanted to go?

BirthdayBoy_at_30: Well quite a few of them as a matter of fact. You have been to Copenhagen, Switzerland, Barcelona , Vienna and around USA and Canada and all the European countries you have visited has been on funding money (ie not out of your pocket). So you see a PhD is not without its corporeal benefits also. And the thrill of publication, presenting original work in front of peers and interacting with some of the best minds in the world is a heady experience—-something a twenty year old might not value but I have come to love.

BirthdayBoy_at_20: Ooh good. Sounds fine. So I do my PhD in US…mm…feels kinda uncomfortable asking someone who is so much older than I am….but since you are me after all….do I turn out to be the super-rocking stud I always wanted to be? You know chick-magnet, party animal, bohemian hedonist without a care in the world. Do you remember how constricted you used to feel at 20 in an all-guys engineering college, growing up in a middle-class Bengali milieu, wanting to break free—total social and ethical anarchy. Do you remember, BirthdayBoy_at_30 ?

BirthdayBoy_at_30: Yes BirthdayBoy_at_20 I remember. Only too well. I am sorry to have to break it to you—but things didn’t quite turn out that way. Again what you cannot accept right now is that you have your limitations. As a matter of fact, turning 30 is possibly the stage when you truly realize the magnitude of all the things you cannot do. Its a sobering thought and one which, even though it comes at the cost of heartbreak and much sadness, makes your life that much easier.

BirthdayBoy_at_20: Excuse me but could you repeat that in plain English?

BirthdayBoy_at_30: It means “No”. You won’t have that lifestyle because your background and your upbringing and your sensibilities (the ones you are still not aware of) will pre-program you to take a different path. Plus lets face it—-you wont cut a dashing figure in a club, you wont have the cash nor the style. Your time will be spent better staying at home, reading a book, doing creative writing…..”

BirthdayBoy_at_20: In other words, no Ecstasy-induced sandwich dance, no bumping and grinding.

BirthdayBoy_at_30: Well there will be a lot of ham sandwiches. And burgers. Which will bring in a lot of pounds. The bad kind of pounds….not the currency.

There will be grinding work and a few bumps along the way. And oh a factoid: Do you know that Tiger Woods was born same day same year as us? Somebody born that day sure achieved a lot.

BirthdayBoy_at_20: So I let myself go and become fat. Not good. Will I get married?
BirthdayBoy_at_30: Yes you shall. To a lovely person who is exactly right for the type of person you will grow up to be.

BirthdayBoy_at_20: Oh ! That’s good…..So summing up, how do you feel now?

BirthdayBoy_at_30: A bit sad. The sadness from knocks sustained, trusts broken and overall cynicism about the institutions I once worshipped. The sadness from seeing ideals break and idols cracking. The sadness from knowing the things you can and cannot do. At 20, the world lay before me—I could be anything I wanted to be. I am not so sure anymore.

A bit afraid. More responsibilities. More thinking of others and less about myself. More aware of my own mortality and those others whom I love.

And finally more than a bit glad. Things could really have been much worse.

BirthdayBoy_at_20: Boy you do sound old. I cannot believe I shall grow up to be you. In any case, thanks for all the crap old-timer. I have to go and start watching the cricket match—my favorite cricketer Azhar …Don’t want to miss his batting.

BirthdayBoy_at_30: I am sorrry again to tell you this but Azhar fixes matches—he has put money on the other side.

BirthdayBoy_at_20: Get lost….ewwwwww…….I am better off not knowing.

I sit head in hand. Did I dream that all up? Was it the alcohol? Perhaps.

Feeling emotional and light-headed, I think of the innocence , hopes and the aspirations of the person I talked to right now—so familiar and yet so strange, so present and yet so lost. Caught in the twilight haze of rational thought and hopeless dreams, my hand moves to the keyboard :

To BirthdayBoy_at_40: Hi. I know this sounds kind of weird. I am you , when you were 30. I just wanted to see if you are online….had some questions to ask you.

103 thoughts on “A Birthday Story

  1. wow that’s fun to read and pretty interesting too! hope after 10 years, i’ll be able to read your post again. 😉

  2. Hmm, a sad story by the looks of it. Happy Birthday GreatBong!

    Considering I am at the halfway point (26) and that I am just about to go for my MBA, I wonder what this makes me?

    Funnily enough, at 20, I didn’t think the world lay at my feet at all, but I do think it lies at my feet now!

  3. @Anon: Hope so too.

    @TTG: Sad to an extent. The sadness comes from failed heroes and from losing one’s idealism–a natural concomitant of advancing years and seeing more of the world. And good for you…very happy to hear that.

  4. Happy Birthday GreatBong,

  5. A Very Happy Birthday, GreatBong.
    Wish you a wonderful year ahead.

  6. Yes! the dreams, the hopes,the imaginations, the aspirations…some of which slowly start taking a backseat as we tread along life’s pathways and face the realities of life …A regular reader of your posts, wish I could write like you as well 🙂
    Do keep posting as you grow and a very Happy B’day to You!

  7. happy birthday….
    ur post is as usual great but more introspection inducing that entertaining today…have a wonderful year ….hope to read many more wonderful posts also….

  8. To sum it up, a brilliant post, one that will surely make it to the “best of the greatbong” archives.
    P.S Happy Birthday

  9. Hey there.

    This was a very nice and touching post.

    Join the 30s gang! 🙂

    A very Happy B’day to you Greatbong! And a very Happy New Year too!

  10. hello greatbong,
    i am all of 18 and reading your post imbued me with a lot of enthusiasm for the journey that lies ahead of me. broken ideals, fallen heroes… are a given for this is an imperfect world and i have realised that but that does not stop me from idolizing or pledging allegiance to high sounding, morally correct ideals because it is a habit deeply ingrained in my psyche. maybe the vicissitudes of life may teach me to behave otherwise but that isn’t my botheration now. i can only hope that i succeed in actuating my dreams.. that by the way, are not as farfetched as yours but chimerical enough to set alarm bells ringing in my parent’s ears.

    your post has only reinforced my desire to see the world in all its hues and derive my own conclusions like you have done.
    see, i am already idolizing you..baah!

  11. happy birthday greatbong. You are right about 30 being the age when you realise the magnitude of things one cannot do, but it’s an excellent point from where one can start living in reverse. Random order. Pick any age between 1 and 29..and jump straight to it.

  12. “To BirthdayBoy_at_40:”

    (takes off glasses, rubs eyes in resigned fashion) Yesssss … ?

    Believe me, the next instalment is not very different.

    Have a great decade, Birthday Boy.


  13. that was great. i have been reading ur posts regularly and wish i could write as well as u. i feel the same when looking back (i am still!! 1 yr away from 30). it would have been fun if i was 20 but had the wisdom of 30.

  14. Lovely piece !
    A Happy New Year to You !

  15. I’m on the right side of twenty right now, but I must say, your post was rather depressing. You mean to say, the world isn’t at my feet?

    Oh, and Happy Birthday, by the way. 🙂

  16. wonderful read … and very thought-provoking indeed …

  17. Happy BD !

    I am new to blogs and found a great mine in urs.

    Motey, u have great great creative talent.

  18. The real sound of inevitability!!! Its freakin’ me out man!

    Happy birthday though!

  19. This was excellent. You’re a creative writing God! Abso-fucking-lutely amazing!

  20. First of all dada,

    Very many happy returns of the day! Great minds are born on 30th – LOL – I am next month.

    “At 20, the world lay before me—I could be anything I wanted to be. I am not so sure anymore.”

    — Truer words were not spoken; I am going to be 27 though, but I already feel like that these days! Hehehe – and yeah, had my share of umm… bumps and grinds and sandwiches meant to take you high hehe!

    This post immediately reminds me of Calvin and Hobbes, where calvin goes into this transmogrifier and goes to meet his future Calvin to check on him if he’s done his homework 🙂 – The writing exactly reminded me of that episode!

    Greatone here greatbong, cheers to your bday!!


  21. GreatBong,

    First of all many happy returns of the day. My birthday is some days after yours and I could relate to each and every thing that you said, although I am a few years younger than you.

    About the post: Very very poignant and very reflective. It has to be one of your best posts. The Capricorn merry gentle dreamer almost broke through the chains of Saturn there.
    Having read each and every on of your posts till date, it will be in my Top 10 list.

    Not to mention, as you mentioned the PhD over MBA thing, your father (PhD in economics) would be proud to read this post and your wife would be very happy too. Marital bliss is a myth and often an illusion but by the way you projected it, you are a happy person indeed.

    Having gone through your CV, it shows a Matthew Hayden (post 2001) like consistency ….and reflects a lot of zeal and enthusiasm. Of course ,it goes without saying that you are a great dreamer. The amalgamation of such qualities really means that you really could have achieved anything that you wanted to be.

    A lot of your fans would think reading your posts that you are a jois de vivre person who is the star of every show. But from whatever I have gauged from your splendid posts, the contemplative and serious person lies behind the funny facade of an image. Blogging , therefore is probably the perfect medium of expression for you. And in a strange way, maybe, the 20s guy would probably not have been happy if he was in in his 30’s what he wanted to be in his 30’s.

    Since you are in this frame of mind, why dont I point you to the last lines from a great poem by Yeats, “The Circus Animals’ Desertion ” (http://ireland.wlu.edu/landscape/

    “Those masterful images because complete
    Grew in pure mind, but out of what began?
    A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
    Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
    Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
    Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder’s gone,
    I must lie down where all the ladders start
    In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart. ”

    ….and also to recharge those dream batteries, just read my favourite poem here (http://www.gober.net/

    Have a great day tomorrow and a very happy new year to you!

  22. Happy B’day!

    [wears a hat and blows a whistle]

    have a great year, and a wonderful decade, too 🙂

  23. Very imaginative post. Very sensitive too. At times I felt you’re gripped with the desire to talk about your life and how it has treated you — not necessarily between 20 and 30, but in general, as a migrant, keeping in touch with India through new economy devices like the net, dvds, blogs, et al. Somewhere there’s also the desire to talk about your life in a country that’s seen as a dream destination but in actuality not quite a that but not too bad either. I couldn’t help thinking you wanted to say more. I wish you had. Esp, explored a little more as to how your samaskar, or the social milieu you grew up in, shaped your choices in life. Or are these choices made inadvertendly as a result of your overall sociological construct? I wonder.

    Happy birthday 🙂

  24. Happy Birthday, I too ditched my MBA dream and started my PhD in CS recently, not a badlife really.

  25. Very interesting and a nice coincidence. I turn 30 on 30th too 🙂

  26. Happy 30th, GB. And thanks for all the wonderful posts. Keep ’em coming.


  27. Wait wait, it’s still the 29th, omg, more brainfreeze. Anyway, happy birthday!! 😀 😀

    But what you wrote is very sobering. Things won’t get better? I’ll get fatter? Noooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

  28. Greatbong, happy birthday!

    And I really appreciate the innovative way of your bringing this about. And I liked that PhD part the most. Me too applying!! 🙂

  29. Slow at first, too soon the years quickly fly
    Far beyond our short reach and fragile hold
    Just like the birds which polka dot the sky
    Then sit and laugh, while, like fools, we grow gold…

    With just their voice, they sing to show the way
    Living the high life, laughing and soaring,
    As we fret over mirrors wrinkled gray,
    Along with nonsense, judgments, and snoring

    So when your star rises again each year
    And you see those mockingbirds light nearby,
    Keep in mind they come not to taunt and jeer at
    They’re here in hopes this is the year you fly

  30. with all the realities kicking in those last 10 years, do you also realise that you’ve broken new paths (your awesome blogging being one of them)? i am not too aware of other things in your life but am sure that blogging has given you a medium not just to express your talent but also create a fan following (the “anonymous” critical ones as well as the staunch supporters) that surely makes your life a little more interesting(!!!).

    anyways, young man, have a bash on your 30th.

    and oh yes, keep blogging

  31. Happy Birthday Arnab! Have a great year ahead.

  32. Someone is taking their Dickens very seriously!
    And yes,Happy Birthday too…

  33. Happy Bday…have fun…luv reading ur blog….me at 22 shall be in US for masters.lets see how things turn out by the time I m 30..

  34. Arnab, *theoritically* there is nothing stopping you from getting a Columbia MBA even now. Every year lawyers (JDs) and doctors(MDs) who spend an equivalent number of years in training are present in the Columbia cohorts. I am not so sure about PhDs, but I’d expect them to be present at least in the part-time programs.

    Though, increasingly, there is little co-relation between money and MBA – at least in the US of A. Its a myth propagated by the BSchool marketing machinery.

    You must graduate to Lagavulin for your 31st though 🙂

  35. lmao! u almost had me believe its true. i thought some body was playin a gag on u. damn ima dumbf*ck. later as i went deeper thru it i realised it was a word of fiction but good one there. 😛

  36. EDIT: Happy Bday. Live more n keep postin. We luv it!

  37. Happy Birthday Arnab !!!!!

  38. Congrats Birthday Boy!! And may you reach a Lamborghini-driving 8-figure earning 40th, MBA or no MBA.
    btw, your looks from 20 to 30 have changed quite a lot, except for that flab in midwicket 🙂

    I had a draft post in the making on the same topic…not so sure now

  39. I wish you Happiness and Joy…
    And Blessings for the New Year.

    I wish you the best of everything…
    That you so well deserve.


  40. Happy Birthday Arnab 🙂 Fabulous post and reminded me of meeting you – way too many years ago – 1994 right?!!

  41. Awesome post to ring in your b’day. Many many many happy returns of the day. Here’s wishing you more popularity(dunno how u’ll handle anymore comments on the blog tho’;)), lots of laughter and a great life. The 30s rock, believe a veteran;)

  42. Happy Birthday Arnab..

    “I made a financial compromise because I value my freedom” is a typical line you hear from academics/researchers. To be an entrepreneur (or hold a job with potentially high financial rewards) a person needs to have an appetite for risk.. doesn’t that have something to do with career choice rather than simply choosing between “greater freedom” and “more money” ?

  43. First things first! This was AMAZING!!! What a style you have to express your ideas.

    Second, Happy (perhaps belated) Birthday!

    Third, nice way to let everyone know of your birthday 😉

  44. Happy Birthday Arnab!!

    Amazing post-once more!!:-)

    Keep blogging!!


  45. Happy Birthday Arnab!
    This one was really good. I am not yet there (30) but fast on my way there 🙂 and I identified with a lot of the stuff you wrote.
    Oh Yeah, This is Swaroop here, was with you at Stony Brook for a short time.

  46. Cheers to a b’day full of reflections g’bong…………and
    …….best wishes for more sarcastic random thoughts from the ol’ man

  47. HAPPY BIRTHDAY and many happy returns of the day.Needless to say that you write awesome. After reading your post I sat motionless – drenched with emotions. Yes, there are a lot of heartbreaks in life – you reminded me of mine. But there are a lot of priceless gains also – you reminded me of them too. As the saying goes you win some and you lose some. What can I say – you have said it all in an extraordinarily fantastic manner.
    I know it sounds unoriginal but I agree with yourfan2 with his remark -“And in a strange way, maybe, the 20s guy would probably not have been happy if he was in his 30’s what he wanted to be in his 30’s.” because you wrote “I value my freedom and I am willing to make a financial compromise for it. It was tough coming to terms with this realization but it is true.”

    I don’t agree with the concept of achieving one’s dream. Goals can be achieved not dreams. Dreams are something which by definition is unachievable either because of financial, social or temperamental factors. My understanding of you (however little thru your blog) tells me that your temperament for zest for freedom stood in the way of achieving your dream. Otherwise one who has done a PhD and gone on to so many places on grant money can easily go for a MBA if one truly wants that at any cost(even at the cost of freesom). And let me tell you at 30 it is not too late. Anyway let us not get into that argument.

    I have a complaint to you. You do not answer the question that I ask (ex: I asked whether you will be equally deft to make outrageously funny comments and funny analogies on a social and family movie like Pareenita). I feel slighted that you only answer other’s questions.

    HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and your family.

    @yourfan2: I wrote previously that I feel honored that you use my name with a modification. But how come I agree with you also(see above and also on other posts). People might think we are the same person – or is it yourfan2_

  48. @Jagadish: HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you

  49. GB: I am just curious … have u managed to find out whether yourfan and yourfan2 are females or males 😉

  50. @ Bonatellis: To abate your curiosity I am a female. I don’t know nor do I care to find out whether yourfan2 is a male or a female. So I can not shed any light on that info. All I can say is that there is another person by the name of “another yourfan”. How come you are not curious to know about this person – that is whether this person is a male or female? How come you are not interested to know about all the anons (specially who calls GB a moron) whether they are male or female? Do you have a gender bias – if so which way? Since you are a media person, do you want to write an article on either male or female readers –hence the curiosity?

  51. brilliant post.

    hope u have a wonderful birthday.

  52. @yourfan: I don’t wish to hijack GB’s blog with the response … but your empathy is forcing me to 🙂

    To respond:
    a. I haven’t yet noticed “another yourfan” as I am new to this blog
    b. I think most of the anons are males (incl the offensive ones), going by the language used in their comments … u knw, it reads very male-male … so i decided to reign in my curiousity reg them
    c. I only got curious abt yourfan and yourfan2 becoz the comments intrigued me and tickled my curiosity
    d. I have no desire to write any article on u … errr, at this stage 😉

  53. Hey Dude,
    I have anti-blogged a couple of times here especially on the Sourav issue (or non-issue??) 🙂 I cannot stop myself from patting you on this great piece. Happy B’day and have a great year ahead. I am sure most ppl can relate to the stuff here. At 30 your dreams are more realistic. Yes at 20, one thinks his/her possibilities are just infinite and is always in a constant state of denial about his/her limitations. At 30, you start accepting the truth. Excellent post, dude! I usually envy seeing people who seem in tremendous awe of u but this time I realise you deserve it 🙂 Once again, happy bday!

  54. Happy Birthday GB,

    Why does the pounds of GB seem linked to you 😉

    Nice post. I have been reading your articles for quite sometime now & it sure does make my day.

    Another Bong or whats the politically correct statement “Another Indian first then a Bong”



  55. hmmm … that was lot of fun reading. btw, happy b’day man !

  56. @ALL: Thank you thank you thank you. You dont know how much all your good wishes mean to me—emotional ho gya yaar.

    I am sorry to be late for replying to your comments but here goes.

    Normally I reply to all my comments in a First-in-First-out fashion but since one of my valued readers who goes by the name “yourfan” has taken issue with me for not answering an old question of hers, let me clear that up.

    Yes I am quite capable of doing a hack job on a movie like Parinita also. What makes these movies “hackjob worthy” is their ridiculous presentation and execution. Let’s consider “Asoka”. Now thematically it is impossible to lampoon. But the amazingly horrible job that Santosh Sivan does on it while transferring a great story onto celluloid is what makes it, imho, the movie everyone should be poking fun at. (A review of Asoka will be done in the future). I havent seen Parineeta and so cannot say whether I would be able to make fun of that movie per se. But yes in principle (and keeping in mind the amazing abilities of our “dreammerchants” to reduce good stories to utter infantile crap) I am sure it can be done.

    Now let me start replying to the wishes.

  57. Great Bong
    Late for the party, but heres wishing you a great decade ahead.

    May you lose the wannabe in front of the politician in your side bar in the years ahead:)

  58. @Nitin: Thank you and great to have such an eminent blogger over here.

    @Sanity Starved: Thanks..

    @ Sonia: So it does.

    @ Silbil: Thank you.. yes I try to keep introspection at a premium on my blog.

    @ Sourav: Thank you…honored.

    @Aparna: A very happy new year to you too.

    @Rahul: 18! Sigh ! This is your time….dont let my weariness rub off on you (I see it hasnt as you point out). So set on the world and the lessons of life will come naturally.

    @Comic Project: Good idea. I pick 6. And I have all those scanned Indrajal comics on your site for company !

    @JAP: If at the age of 40, I am able to become even half the success you are (in terms of influence and power) and retain twice the hair that you have, I shall be thankful.

    @rishi40023: At 20, the wisdom of 30 —Dont think thats good. That would make you a stiffneck, a killjoy and mature beyond your years.

    @Tarit: Thank you

    @Jasmine: The answer to whether it is at your feet is locked away….shall be revealed in good time 🙂

    @Bonatellis: Thank you…and yourfan answered one part of your question.yourfan2 and another yourfan are the same–it is a guy.

    @unknown: Thank you…

    @Aradhya: True. Smith was right.

    @Nandz: Honored.

    @Supremus: Yes great minds are born on the 30th :-)….Happy Bday in advance.

  59. @yourfan2: Thank you…and for those lovely lines. Yes you are right , blogging is the perfect medium for me becase yes I am introspective and essentially a person who values “time with myself”(and no dirty thoughts here please 🙂 ).

    And in a strange way, maybe, the 20s guy would probably not have been happy if he was in in his 30’s what he wanted to be in his 30’s.

    Very very true.

    @Teleute: Thank you thank you…my “para-r blogger”. [Teleute, I found out, lives very close to where I stay in Kolkata..so she is from my same “para”]

    @Rani: Thanks.You may be right. Perhaps I did want to talk a little bit more about myself–about the speedbreakers hit, the realizations about human nature, the betrayals, the ideals destroyed. But since this is not really a “personal dear diary” kind of blog I thought it may not be thematically appropriate here. Plus I did not want to totally destroy the wide-eyed wonder of the 20 year old Birthday Boy.

    @Anil: Yes it has its charm

    @Jagadish: A happy birthday to you too…we are twins.. lets find out if we visited the Kumbh mela 30 years ago.

    @KM: Thanks..and do keep coming to my blog too.

    @Srin: Maybeeeeee…….

    @Sudipta: Best of luck…

    @Kausum: Nice.

    @Arjun: Thank you…yes the blog thing was something the 20 year old never saw coming. And finding such a medium of self-expression has been, without a doubt, an unforeseen positive.

    @Sd: Thank you and a happy new year to you too,

    @Anon: Christmas Carol wasnt on my mind when I wrote this.

    @JJ: Yes lets see :-)…best of luck in US.

    @Bengali Guy: Lagavulin it shall be for my 31st :-). Yes perhaps a part time MBA someday…but only if I am convinced that there is some utility to doing it.

    @Exinator: Thank you 🙂

    @Atanu: Thank you.

    @Suhail: You are seeing a midwicket region in my 20 year old photo? Oh no no. I can guarantee you I was very slim (everywhere) in those days…Thank you for the wishes..shall reply to your mail.

    @Avik: Thanks…

    @Urmea: I think you are the only one here who has *actually* seen the 20 year old GB. But you havent seen the 30 year old GB and so you can thank the Lord for small mercies. Thank you for your wishes.

    @Priya: Yo the 30s do rock…I am sure.It has to…now that I am in it. Thank you for your wishes.

    @Debashish: The work I do has its risks—I am asking for thousands of dollars to deliver results which I alone am responsible for. If I cannot do so ie make good on my proposal I am professionally in hot water. So I dont think this is a risk-free job, its just that I wont be pulled up from bed because a client’s server went down or a worm has hit the company Intranet or the Tokyo exchange has taken a hammering.

    @Mobius..thank you…and yes its a nice way to tell everyone “Wish me, wish me” :-)…I enjoy it all.

    @Nilesh: Thank you.

    @Swaroop: Oh yes great to see you here. Thank you. Its always a cause for great joy when people I know from my real life visit my blog.

    @Bombom: Yes the sarcasm of an old man—wait till you feel the chill.

    @yourfan: Thank you and sorry for being remiss replying to one of your questions. Yes I truly value the academic freedom I get (ie I know my company’s value is not obtained by getting me to do the same thing year after year) and also the free time I get over the weekends where I can indulge in non-professional pursuits–blogging the chief among them.

    @New Dik: Thank you

    @Kaushik-Bidisha.. Thank you and a happy new year.

    @ynot: Thank you…a compliment from an “anti-blogger” is rare and treasured. A blog becomes boring without “anti”s like you….do look fwd to having you here regularly.

    @Ashit: Thanks… and Political Correctness is best left at the door.

    @Anon: Thanks

    @Dreamweaver: You are not late…its still 30th where I am. Thank you

    @ALL: Thank you, thank you, thank you once again. Have a safe and happy new year. And do remember to see Mithun-da’s ‘Chingari’ slated for a 2006 release.

  60. happy birthday greatbong!

    ’twas a beautiful post!

  61. Happy Birthday!! As I look back on past blogs… well, this IS the 1st time I can really say that you have Grown up… from the dreamy 20 year old to a mature, cynical and worldly 30year old. (and since i am half-buzzed with tons of white rum, I can freely say that I dont have a clue as to who you are, or have been before… but after knowing you through your blog, now I know the birthday-part of you.

  62. “I value my freedom and I am willing to make a financial compromise for it.”

    I loved that line… I feel the same way, but most of the people around me don’t. It was nice to know that you also feel the same way…

  63. @yourfan:

    Thanks. I also think that you misunderstood the PHD vs MBA thing. GB got his masters’s in 2001, before the bubble burst. He could have gone for a few years of workex, written GMAT and breezed through Columbia. But his decision to go for PHD was taken out of volition and not forced by circumstances. It was a decision that evolved continously and not overnight. For example, in the course of studying Random Processes and Formal Methods, he got
    inrigued by the content , and then the option of studying stuff like that in deep,and contributing something to the field of Modelling of Distributed systems seemed more appealing to him than studying Kotler’s book on Marketing. Hence the decision to do PHd than the jack-of-all-trades MBA. So while his current job he may be doing may not have the corporate glam, it is immensely satisfying intellectually and allows him his own time and space . The creative work he does on his blog is just a spill over the creative work that he does in office. What he also means is that this freedom he enjoys has its own intrinsic value and therefore, he would be loath to lose it for extra monetary benefits that an MBA degree might bring. Its therefore more of a contentment at this job independent of other factors than a happy compromise of MBA dreams.

    Also, it is a myth that every MBA ( even from Columbia) gets 7 figs salary. If you look at the CEO’s of the big companies of Corporate America, you will find a lot of PHds. Mark Andresseen, one of 2 men behind Netscape; Page and Brin of Google fame all were computer sceintists. If GB comes up with something innovative and revolutionary , he is smart enough to commericialize it and reap the benefits. MBA degree is therefore not exactly a mandatory key to financial success.

    And yes, :)) Im happy we agree a lot but then thats the way with all kinds of fans.:) regarding rankings..ahh…well…think ill stick with 2 just like yourfan2. I have posted in this blog as anonymous(only once), Harriet E. Miers/H. Miers, John Roberts and “another yourfan”. But I rather like yourfan2 ..maybe cuz names like Kevin Mitchell Jr. (curator of Gabba) and Pope paul 2 always fascinated me…:))

    A very Happy new year to you too!

  64. Happy Birthday,Arnab!!
    And wishing you a very happy and prosperous new year..

    With best wishes

  65. Happy Birthday to you Arnab.

    Your post reminds me of the words,” If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans”. Even I am at the mid twenties and still think I still can do a lot with a little personal compromise like settling down blah blah.. I don’t know what I will think at 30. of course at 20 i was living like there was no tomorrow and never had plans of an mba OR EVEN getting a good job lol. so far so good though.. No regrets.. Only more hopes..

    Anthony of anthonysmirror.blogspot

    PS ur comment page is still not loaded completely…

  66. @Yourfan2: I did not misunderstand the mba vs phd thing. I understand GB’s decision completely. Somehow there must be a communication gap.

    Anyway, I was really surprised to know that you used to send comments on this blog as Harriet E. Miers/H. Miers. I remember clearly (although I forgot the exact post) that I supported your view on that particular post and condemned somebody who was attacking you personally. There can always be differences of opinion – but personal attack by anybody is despicable. I sometimes wondered what happened to Miers – thought that Miers got discouraged by the personal attack. So here you are. Glad to know you thru this blog.

  67. Tremendous, Arnab. Its strange to realize how fast time passes by.

    Good wishes.

  68. Awesome post!!
    Really hilarious and at the same-time sensitive. Also i shall turn 26 shortly and having finished my MBA(a lifelong dream), I can tell you that I actually think a PHD would have been a better choice for me. But I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. Keep writing dude.

  69. Tiger Woods, Lebron James, Anurag Pandey and the Great Bong ….
    4 deady people to be born on the 30th…….

    Happy Blated Birthday and Happy New Year!!

    I was reading you post on Sourav and all I can do is Thank You…. In any future arguments abt Ganguly I am going to refer the same.

  70. I do keep dropping by your blog once in a while. By the time I finished reading this post, my hands were neatly placed below my chin and I had a smile on my face that means, “its beautiful”… the kind of smile when you see a picture of a moment well captured… Brilliantly put.

  71. Made for an interseting read. Wow…. a refreashing look for years past by. Does birthday around the end of year helps?

  72. hi

    ur a damn imaginative but u also reflect the change a person goes thru with a parameter called time

  73. Arnab, this is awesome. Superb.

    Hope a brilliant decade will follow you where you will turn grey from current black-n-white state.

  74. Awesome post. Found it extremely interesting,imaginative and a bit touchy too. And 30thDec is my B”day too 🙂

  75. Somebody- a Bong incidentally!- passed on your blog to me after checking whether Alok Ray actually did teach at IIMC. Am glad he did. I was rivted and have read all of them through this one. Will be a regular from now on (or something equally flattering).
    You could check out my blogs if you wanna, but I am terrible at it. For one I don’t update often enough, plus am so tech-unsavvy that even a simple task like posting images has me break into sweats.
    About turning 30, my entire group of friends (school, engg, MBA, work, misc) have turned 30 mostly within the last two years. I’ll tell you what I tell each of them as they near the dreaded three-oh, “Being in your 30s is much the same as being in your 20s, except you have more money”.

  76. brilliant man!!! something on the lines of Roald Dahl ‘Twist in the Tale’ kinda stories and oh yeah! some Quentin tarantino type movie..:D

  77. One day i ll also turn 30 on 30th

  78. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB: Guess what – I reread this incredibly beautiful post and I think this one is one of your best. I have a suggestion (now don’t get scared and you know why I am saying this). Why don’t you make a list of your 10 posts which in your opinion make the 10 best list and see whether your readers agree with you or not. I shall bet my money that this awesome post will be within the first 5 of your best posts. I want you to know that the idea, acceptance of realities, the writing style, of this post is simply superb. Thanks again for a marvelous post.

  79. I second YOURFAN on this. I also reread this now and this is definitely one of your best. I would love to see that list of your favourite posts. And yes, I still hope you will be posting a Ray review retrospective.

  80. YOURFAN writes:
    @Joy Forever: Thank you for seconding me. But I must admit I was really surprised to know that you too reread this amazing post now. I knew great men think alike – but now it seems great men (sorry don’t want to be a man even for this, I am really happy to be a woman) or I should say great soul reread alike!!! I read all your comments regularly and mostly I agree with your view points, just as I agree a lot with yourfan2. But I did not honestly know that we also have similarities in selection of GB’s post. It sure is a nice feeling. Since we agree on so many things regarding GB(barring a few things) how about you joining our club by writing your name as yourfan3-Joy Forever- that way you still get to retain your previous identity and honor your likings at the same time. Well, you can omit the number 3 and I can call myself no3 – no problem.

    @GB: Come on, answer us! Are you going to take our suggestion or not? Please don’t say that all your posts are like your children and hence you can’t discriminate – that will be a politically correct answer but reality is that you will be avoiding the issue. Besides, we all know parents do discriminate amongst their children – although the parents love all their children yet they have favorites. One thing I forgot to write in my previous comment is that is if you accept JoyForever and my suggestions then you should ask your readers to write at least one or two lines about the reasons for their preferences.

    And what about the comment that I posted on Why oh Why ( I think that was the title)?

  81. @Yourfan: That comment was answered…did you not see it yet? And yes I shall put up a post on my favourite posts at RTDM….that is a good idea.

  82. @YOURFAN: An innovative and tempting idea no doubt, but I’d rather post with the name Joy Forever. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, I have a blog of my own where I write under this name. Secondly, the readers of this blog have become accustomed to seeing me post with this name. But most importantly, I feel Yourfan and Yourfan2 are the star commenters of this blog (purely my opinion, GB may disagree) and by adding Yourfan3 to my name I will be trying to enter a league where I do not deserve to belong. I do not have the knowledge on various topics, nor the logical analysing skills as the two of you. So let me be Joy, forever. But I am really honoured and flattered by your invitation and your saying that we think alike.

    I have been a big fan of GB since I first read his Pather Panchali Review in August last year. Even before that I had interacted with him occasionally in Orkut Forums. As a visit to my blog will show (sorry for this bit of blog whoring), I was so impressed by his changing banner I put something like that in my own blog page (though I wrote the code myself and did not lift it). Several of my blog posts have links to his posts, and some more were based on ideas sparked off by his posts. Similarly, I am also a big fan of your comments, and was really upset when you stopped commenting for a few days.
    Just a funny thought that occurred to me: there are some people who feel and say “Yourfan” and “Yourfan2” are pseudonyms of GB himself as nobody can have such names. If I do become “Yourfan3”, then no doubt these people will feel that GB has sprouted another avataar. 🙂

  83. YOURFAN writes:
    @Joy Forever:
    You wrote“by adding Yourfan3 to my name I will be trying to enter a league where I do not deserve to belong. I do not have the knowledge on various topics, nor the logical analysing skills as the two of you.” This is THE understatement of the year – of course I am taking the liberty of talking also on behalf of yourfan2. Like everybody else I read your comments regularly .Since I am usually in tune with your thoughts I make it a point to read your comments with apt attention and I would maintain again that you are being so modest that it is not only THE understatement of the year but also ridiculous. If my comments are logical to you then yours are exactly of the same logical level to me.

    As for “I do not have the knowledge on various topics” let me be the judge for which I need to read your blog. Your mention of your blog did not imply ‘blog whoring’ as it was mentioned in a particular context. Blog whoring occurs when there is no connection at all yet people put down their link.

    You wrote: “Similarly, I am also a big fan of your comments, and was really upset when you stopped commenting for a few days”. Thank you so much for being so kind. I don’t know whether you read my last reply or not. Without going into detail, I honestly thought that writers of GB’s standing should not be ‘dispassionate and clinical’ for a topic as volatile, multi layered and sensitive like the one – that is the job of a lawyer. But when he wrote that he didn’t mean to be insensitive and that was not in his mind then I believed him because he always came out to be a sensitive person through all his other previous posts. I just needed a few days – that’s all.

    “Just a funny thought that occurred to me: there are some people who feel and say “Yourfan” and “Yourfan2″ are pseudonyms of GB himself as nobody can have such names. If I do become “Yourfan3″, then no doubt these people will feel that GB has sprouted another avataar.” Yes, you are very correct about those people who insinuated that both of us were GB in disguise!! Where are they now? I wonder why aren’t they bold enough to come out clean and say that they were wrong.

    GB has agreed that he will have a post on his favorites. I am in anticipation of that – not that I have read all of his posts. But I am also in anticipation whether my list matches with yours or not and if not, why not.

    Lastly, I honor your wish to remain Joy Forever – I understand all your other points but not the logic of not belonging to ‘the league’(here I go again with logic!). By the way, when I first read your name I thought to myself that sure is a nice pseudonym. Are you really joy for ever? Then I am jealous of you.

    p.s. No way – we are not the star commenters of this blog. They are some body called Akash(he got me so mad that I still remember his name) and what’s his name – the filmmaker who makes a million dollars or rupees(who cares!) a minute and there are others – proud Indian or someone like that(hope I am not wrong – I am very bad with names) – they are the stars all right.

    @Yourfan2: Do you agree with me on all these points? If not, where not and why not?

    @GB: Sorry for the long comments but we definitely are not off the topic. You allowing this interaction amongst the commenters make your posts so interesting.

  84. YOURFAN writes:
    @GB: I must be turning loony because by mistake I have posted the previous comment of mine in this segment. Please delete it. I shall repost it at the proper place. Sorry for the inconvenience.

  85. YOURFAN writes:
    GB: I have been too long at the computer. I was right the first time. The second one is the one which you should delete. Please do the needful. I quit for the day. Sorry again.

  86. @YOURFAN: Ha ha… I too remember Akash Sen and Proud Indian Producer. But they are stars of a different kind, black holes probably?

    I try to be in joy forever, but that is not really possible. In another way, I am Joy Forever because ‘Joy’ is my nickname. 🙂

  87. Beautiful, beautiful post. Was sent here by you at 31, incidentally 🙂

  88. Great post! Just loved it!

  89. Wow nice post. I liked that.


  90. Jesus! man that’s some brilliant writing.

  91. this is one of the best posts i have ever read… god.. its a classic in itself… are NCERT people listening. i mean reading? its high time that they start following blogs too.. 🙂

  92. really!! i feel like reading it over and over..truly one gb classic

  93. Great Bong, I have become a regular reader of your blog over the last couple of months or so. And I have read this particular post multiple times. Just love it. Very creative and dramatic. I am nearing 30, into a PhD program and was considering MBA over PhD at some point during grad school-so I can relate quite well. I still haven’t lost a big deal or gained something worthy, but I am just moving along with the flow and hope to stick it out someday. This post deftly sums up an average middle class engineering student’s dreams and what they achieve deservedly.

  94. Speechless…

  95. Brilliant! I am 25 and already feel somewhat like you at 30!

  96. Lovely post , happy birthday and cheers !

  97. Happy Birthday! This is so beautiful. 🙂

  98. Reading this again after 10 years… Happy Birthday!

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